OUR SANCTUARY DOGS
We always joke- What is an elephant sanctuary without dogs? For us the two go hand in hand. We rescue those who need it, and sometimes that includes a canine or two. It’s all part of this land being sanctuary for everyone and everything.
Minnie & Molly
Approximately 5 years old
When we first arrived on the property, there were 2 farm dogs that were unable to be caught with the other 7 (that went with their owners,) so they were temporarily left behind. Being who we are, we made it our job to try and gain their trust, although in the beginning they would run if you so much as looked at them.
Molly was the first to decide not only were we ok, but affection had been what was missing all of her life. Minnie, her littermate, took a bit longer. But in seeing Molly’s comfort, grew to accept us too. When their owners discussed coming back for them, we all came to an agreement that sanctuary was their forever home.
While Molly is the love who doesn’t remotely understand the concept of personal space and would rather ride on the four-wheeler to go to the barn, Minnie is the soft sweet one with just the right amount of young and spazzy energy for Bugsy. They are phenomenal dogs but can still be a little reluctant around strangers, especially men.
As with elephants, healing is a constant work in progress and they continue to grow.
Approximately 3 ½ years old
Bugsy was a stray 6-month-old puppy that we found on the side of the road in early 2017. When we passed, we honestly didn’t know what he was, but we stopped to find a small dog in the bushes covered in mange and silver spray that is used for bugs on cattle.
Because he was contagious, he was kept separate from the other dogs and showed he was one of the most well-behaved puppies we have ever known and came out of his shell quickly.
He now has most of his hair back (he was completely naked and developed a second type of mange after the first healed) and is healthy otherwise. Bugsy is an incredibly loyal and exuberant dog. He accompanies us on night feed with the tapirs, to protect us, but sits and waits outside the corral or down the road as to not interfere with wildlife. When you return to his side he spastically runs the same way he did when he was a puppy, with his body going in all sorts of directions.
Minnie is his play friend who helps keep his energy in check and Goomba shares his toys, which bring Bugsy much joy. He is our guard dog, the one all of our neighbors are fearful of, but your best friend once he knows you.
BODHI & SAFFY
6 years old
Bodhi and Saffy were gifts that were left in a box for us when we lived further up north in Guarantã Brazil while still looking for a property for the sanctuary. We talked about missing our dogs, so someone brought us two kittens. They were covered in fleas and fungus and arrived on a Sunday when literally no stores were open and our vegan food supply had nothing to offer them.
They are amazing cats. Bodhi is a very typical tuxedo kitty: a big personality but as easy going as they come. Definitely not as sharp as his sister (they are litter mates) but loves everyone and everything. Saffy is also laid back (she even enjoys riding on the four-wheeler) but more of a love.
While Bodhi is only super affectionate when it’s cold outside (between 50 and 60 degrees) Saffy is always game for lovin’. She generally lays around in less than ladylike poses but is a total doll. Every night they come in and sleep in the dog bed together after some mutual grooming.
Clyde Kitty is a stray that we noticed one day by the elephant habitat. Slowly he made his way up to the house and would hang out at the little empty storage building across the way. He initially went between three properties, then only 2- us and Laura and John’s house (our veterinarian and her hubby who live on grounds- a 20-minute ride away). Then only ours, but would stay in the empty cabin across the way.
Clyde has always been closer with our cats than us humans. He adores Bodhi and they will play together, groom each other, and nap in the sun during the day. Clyde was hurt about a year ago, it appeared he got his tail stuck in something and degloved half of it. We were able to put sedatives in food, catch him by hand (have-a-heart traps are illegal here because of their use in the wildlife trade) and bring him to the vet to have most of his tail amputated and have him neutered at the same time. He stayed in the house during his recovery and did not appreciate his time with us.
Over time his acceptance of us has grown, but he still doesn’t allow us to touch him. He will follow us around the yards (the other cats taught him that) and will now come into the house for meals as long as we don’t close the door. The reality is he may never want us to touch him, but that’s ok. He’s a cute man with beautiful eyes who has a low rider belly and is very demanding at mealtimes. We love him just the way he is.
Jorgina and Sally
1 year old
These two are the perfect balance and trouble and joy. Supposedly sisters, they came from someone who sold goat’s milk and was ready to get rid of them so they didn’t drink their mom’s milk. We never had goats before, but always loved them from afar. Sally and Jorgie have provided us quite the lesson since.
Sally and Jorgina arrived scared and we were unable to touch them. With all of the natural forage for them to eat, food wasn’t much of a motivator. They stayed in the empty tapir yard until they settled a bit and then we gave them free run of the fenced-in area up top. Oddly enough, once they had that space, they really opened up. In just a few days they went from running away from us to running towards us, at top speed.
They say goats eat everything, and that’s simply not true- they don’t eat their vitamins or their medicine formulated into edible sugar cubes. But old motor oil and dry laundry powder is something they would love to try. Of all of the things we read and heard about goats, no one ever told us you will never be able to walk across the yard normally again. If they can, they will find a way to lean on you with every step you take. And they get the zoomies twice a day, which clears the chickens from their general area. For 15 minutes they jump on every surface possible, knock things down, and run everywhere, and then it’s time to nap in the dog beds.
One of the best things about them is they make people love them. All of our maintenance guys will now pet on them and talk to them. Mostly because Sally and Jorgie wouldn’t have it any other way. While Jorgie loves scratches between her horns, Sally prefers her neck and both love to lie down with any human who will allow it. There is not a day that goes by where they don’t make you smile and laugh. They are an absolute gift.
Jorgina left and Sally right
3 months old
An orphaned lamb who was brought to us at 7 days old. He arrived sickly but is doing much better and enjoying sleeping on the dog beds in the living room and getting to know the rest of the critters at the sanctuary house.
FEATHERED SANCTUARY FRIENDS
A variety of ages, sizes, colors, and personalities
When we moved onto the property, all of the chickens and dogs were supposed to be gone. We arrived and they were not, but there was still a plan to take them away. Well….after you start feeding them, trying to make them your friends and naming them, that all goes out the window.
It is definitely a lot of chickens, but they’re so individual and wonderful it’s impossible to give one away knowing they will be food- and that’s what they are in this part of the country.
Feeding them sometimes resembles a scene out of Jurassic Park, but they truly are quite enjoyable. Neither Scott nor I were ‘chicken people’ initially, we had a lot to learn and they have been very patient teachers.
Chickens are smart, affectionate and funny but one of the really touching things about them is that they are the most devoted and selfless moms. They will literally give all of their food to their babies and spend every moment of their day caring for them. They’re really quite special and we’re grateful for the first true residents of Elephant Sanctuary Brazil- our chickens.