Post Halloween Wrap-Up

The Sebastian House kitties are recovering from their Halloween candy hangovers this morning. Some joined in the costumed fun, while others are already getting ready for the rest of the holiday seasons with a merry “bah humbug!” to all the spooky festivities. We’ve got black cats galore this autumn, making the purr-fect Halloween jamboree.

Albus went all out, living up to his namesake (Professor Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series) with a magical wizards hat. The contrasting stars and moons make his green eyes pop in this spell-bounding ensemble.

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Ten points to Gryffindor!

And for formal wear, he donned a green and red plaid bowtie for a look that just screams elegance. No dashing cat would be complete without it.

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Shaken, not stirred.

Ferocious Apache did his best lion impersonation, but the effect was probably a little bit more mild than he had hoped – he’s only got one tooth. Still, he did his best to roar but out came a snore. He fell asleep in his comfy cozy headpiece. What a good sport!

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Maybe it’s more Ewok than lion…

Quincy, on the other hand, has fangs to spare. His bold Dracula choice is a Halloween classic. And it’s always so sweet to see timid, gentle cats try on something scary for size. Quincy is all meow, no bite!

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Do I have garlic breath?

Apache had a second costume with his best pal Luther – they cuddled up to become a two-headed-kitty. Voluptuous Luther was so brave on Halloween – he’s normally quite the scaredy cat. But with his best friend by his side, his confidence always soars. He also wants to show off his new figure. Luther came to Sebastian House at a staggering 31 pounds – but now he’s down to nearly 20! Give a round of applause to this trim boy.

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Who’s the big spoon?

The Good Witch Glinda has been snuggling up to all her new friends. She’s made a lot of quick bonds – she’s definitely a lover. She provides us all with lots of black fur and drool. It’s what I always wanted, how did she know!?

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There’s no place like a warm lap…there’s no place like a warm lap…

And a little Halloween… fairy?…(there’s no Halloween equivalent to Christmas elves) brought by some tricks and treats to all the cats.

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Thanks Luanne!

Until next Halloween, boys and ghouls…

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Rebel with Extra Paws: The Ballad of Gonji

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It was a dark and stormy night. Gonji arrived at Sebastian House during a signature New England March snow storm. He had been found as a stray and was in need of help. Living out on the streets made him rather skinny, and he still needed to get neutered. After surgery, and with a blue felt cone around his head, he made his way to the upstairs bunk. Gonji was striking – with his long legs, extra toes, and wide set eyes, he was a unique looking cat. And his affection was off the charts! He quickly became a snuggler of epic proportions, wanted to be held by everyone who came across him.

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Snuggling with Susannah

Well, any human.
He was cursed with a most dreadful affliction. He was very aggressive toward other cats. We initially hoped he could maybe live with Cheetah and Dusty, two senior kitties hanging out in the living room. It was a disaster. Hackles raised, tail thrashing, ready to GET THEM! At that moment we knew he had to live a single life. He was a loner, a rebel. He didn’t need anybody! Except humans, lots and lots of humans. He moved into the empty kitchen and we started his promotion.

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I’m ready for my close-up…

But then – he discovered he had an enemy. Poor dopey Archer, a grey long haired cat, came to the sanctuary as a stray. He was as sweet as could be, wanted to be friends with every cat and human, liked to play, cuddle, everything. Archer was about as easy going and relaxed as a cat could be. But one whiff of his existence made its way to Gonji’s kitchen lair and pandemonium was unleashed upon Sebastian House. Something about Archer really ticked him off – whether it was because another young male was on the scene, or if they were enemies in a past life, Gonji made it his mission to search and destroy. Of course, Archer was as aloof as ever. He had no idea that a one sided beef was developing.

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Who me?

Gonji started to get agitated more easily. He would try to climb the screen doors just to get a look at Archer. He would ignore cuddles to stare out the window. Putting up blankets and other safeguards didn’t work. He started to lash out at the one thing he loved – humans. Cats do this weird thing called redirected aggression. It’s when something gets them mad, and instead of attacking the thing that gets them mad, they attack something else in the vicinity. It’s usually because whatever is making them mad (scary mailman, feral cat outside, etc) is beyond their reach. So they go for the next best thing.

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Mmmm…tasty humans!

After a couple incidents, a room change, and lots and lots of gates, we finally found a balance. Gonji moved to a room with a solid door. We instituted a triple gate system so no cat could sneak near his door and set him off. We covered the gates with sheets. His room became staff only. Staff entered wearing extra layers of clothes and big rain boots, to serve as extra protection. We sprayed ourselves with feline calming sprays and moved cautiously. Even though now there was no way for him to see other kitties, the adrenaline from an attack stays in their system for a while. He was still on edge, nervous, jumpy. When cats “ambushed” him at the door, he started to associate the door with impending evil.

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Maybe if I pretend to be a frog, they’ll leave me alone.

The amount of staff, and volunteer, patience it took to help him feel relaxed again is nothing short than astounding. The bravery too. So many volunteers stepped forward to the front lines to help tame this wild beast. We started slow, just having staff behind the gate. Then staff would go past the gate. Then some volunteers would be allowed behind the gate, with supervision. Then without supervision. Then into the room with supervision. By taking it step by step, and over a period of weeks to months, it allowed him to ease back into his old self.

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John, a brave volunteer, loves a Gonji hug.
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Gonji “helps” in the office.

Whether playing with feather toys over the gate, or being courageous enough to let him give a signature Gonji hug, each volunteer contributed to giving Gonji the greatest gift of all: love. Once he realized he was safe from all the evil kitties, it was like the curse had been lifted. He felt confident, content, and most of all safe. And now, he has moved on from Sebastian House to his forever home, with a new dad who understands all of Gonji’s trials and tribulations. And his need for the bachelor life style, feline free. We so look forward to hearing about all his new adventures!

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Bon voyage!

They lived happily ever after.

Make Sure You Are Sitting For This One!

Our Companions is well known for creating a better environment for shelter animals by trying innovative ways to house them so that they are less stressed and improving/learning as they await their forever home. Our adoption process has followed in these footsteps as well by slowly integrating our shy/scared dogs into their new homes. Our amazing adopters start this unique process with the dog by bringing them home for that afternoon to get them comfortable. This process graduates to overnight trips and weekend excursions. This helps these dogs settle into their new life at an appropriate pace and helps the adopters to see how their new family member will react to a new lifestyle (videogames, hair dryers, neighbors, etc). We’ve been working with some amazing adopters over the past few months who have put in a ton of effort and patience to win over Lucy – and it worked! Lucy, who has been at the Sanctuary for 4.5 years, will be going home next week!! Sit back and enjoy one of their recent sleepover recaps and know that Lucy is one lucky pup!

Lucy was a pro in her crate last night and today. After her walk Wednesday afternoon, I put Lucy in her crate and walked to the mail box and back (very slowly) that was a 20 min trial run. She acted like nothing and I did what Marie said, just let her out didn’t make a hullabaloo about letting her out. She was absolutely fine.

The moment we have all been waiting for arrived last night when Dan got home. Apparently, Lucy had never seen Dan in his suit and tie before. When he got home it was about 6:30/6:45. Lucy and I were in the room upstairs reading so everything was quiet. When she heard the front door open and she heard footsteps coming into the house (she couldn’t see who it was from that angle in her spot on the couch), Lucy barked and growled at the closed bedroom door..

When Dan came into the room she wasn’t sure about his suit. So he sat on the couch and ignored her barking. But he threw some of her special bakery treats (pumpkin, peanut butter, & egg from a Dog bakery in Wallingford) and she settled down and ate the ones farthest from him and then made her way towards him and eventually ate them out of his hand. She would not, however, sit next to him on the couch until he changed.

At around 8PM, we went to dinner at the wooden spoon and Lucy stayed in her crate for about an hour alone. Again, no incidents, acted totally normal when we got back. Hopped right into her spot when we let her out.

Then we watched some SVU as a family

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and went to bed. Lucy slept between us but cuddled with Dan mostly. I was supper jealous, but I’ll take it. 🙂

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Since October is Pitbull Awareness month, Lucy took a photo with her Abigail the Pitbull flower

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Her walk with Dan this morning went off without a hitch. She cons him into taking her deep in the woods so she can do her business. He enjoys every second of her affection and their adventures alone. I try to give them space to bond and she is so good about leaving the house without me now! Her meals went off seamlessly.

I let her out again before I went to class at around 11:30AM. And she was in her crate until about 2:45PM. Then she got another walk (30 mins) and I dropped her off at the sanctuary around 3:30.

I just had to console Dan that she wasn’t going to be here when he got home. The house feels so empty without her now. We can’t wait to put her on our Christmas card this year as she already feels like a part of the family!

Lucy, in her very own Christmas card! No need to share the spotlight this year! We are so happy for her!

Mini-dog Mayhem!

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We don’t often get many little dogs staying with us here the sanctuary.  So, it has been quite the experience having three pint sized pooches here at once!  But don’t let their miniature size fool you.  They pack just as much trouble as the biggest lab or pit bull!  So let’s meet our tiny terrors.

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Cody is a 5 year old chihuahua mix who has been with us for a few months.  He likes to play ball and spend time around other dogs.  However, there may be a chance that he thinks he is a cat, since he most certainly does not like people paying him too much attention and cannot deal with changes to his routine.

 

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Lulu is Cody’s 10 year old partner in crime.  If Cody might think he’s a cat, then Lulu surely thinks she’s a lion.  While she’s always ready for some quiet snuggling from humans, if you get her around other dogs, be ready to hear her roar!

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And rounding out our pack of pint sized pooches is Mitch.  Whether it’s jumping up on you, tugging on the leash or your sleeve, trying to untie your shoes, or stealing any towel in sight, it’s all part of a day’s fun for him.  Just watch your fingers when it’s time to put his harness on.

Now, lest you think we’re ones to let these cuties get away with whatever they want, all three have been attending Canine College classes with our dedicated (and brave) volunteers, and are showing great improvement.  In no time, we’ll have these diminutive delinquents on the straight and narrow and behaving as the happy doggy citizens we know they can be.

It’s all part of the work we do here at the Our Companions Animal Rescue Sanctuary.

Lab Work

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As Our Companions decides which dogs to bring in to our sanctuary, the question always arises of how much and what kind of work will be necessary to get the dog to the point of being adoptable.  Sometimes it’s medical work, sometimes it’s behavioral work, and sometimes it’s both.  Sometimes we know going in that a dog will need lots of work, and sometimes the dog won’t need much work at all.  Bentley was a dog we knew would be challenging, but he was still full of surprises.

 

Bentley was a young lab mix with an cruciate ligament tear who, needed some training and some TLC.   We handle these kinds of things all the time.  But as he spent some time hear, we realized that things were worse than we knew.  In addition to the cruciate ligament tear, he had luxating patellas in both knees, and some wear on his hips and back as a result of those bad knees.  He also had a high level of frustration, as a puppy in too much pain to play, and, once he became comfortable with people, was prone to lots of nipping and mouthiness, and other inappropriate interactions.  He was going to be much more work than we originally thought.

But the sanctuary staff and volunteers were up to the task!  We put in place strict handling instructions that gave him the consistency and control to learn a better way interact with people.  We enrolled him in Canine College classes that worked his mind and gave him the skills and confidence to be the good dog he wanted to be.  We set up for a canine massage therapist to work with him on a weekly basis and brought him to canine physical rehabilitation.  And when all that didn’t quite do the trick, we made arrangements for a much needed knee surgery to get him moving better.  The whole team came together, and Bentley blossomed into a sweet, happy boy.

 

 

And, as always, fate smiled on our hard work.  His rehab therapist fell in love with the good boy under all the bad behavior, and decided his home should be with her.  He is now recovering with the best of care, under the watchful eye of his new mom and two canine “sisters.”  Bentley was more work than anyone imagined, but well worth the effort.

More From The Expansion Construction

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A big view of the new buildings.

The new dog cottages are looking good!

We’ve got walls!

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A first look at the updated dog room doorway design.

Front and back views of the new cat cottage.

Drywall going up in in the cat cottage!

Thank you all so much for your help and support of this project!  We couldn’t be more excited!

Say “AH-CHOO!!”

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Brody Riding HOME!

 

Brody is home and settling in with his new family, a family that includes most dogs’ coveted dream, a boy to call his own! Before going any further and gushing about how much he is loved and spoiled let’s take a stroll down Memory Brody lane. Brody, a purebred southern mutt, seems to be an adorable mix of Chow, hound, etc. You name it, he’s got it! Brody came to live at the Sanctuary in June of 2016 from a home that found they were unable to keep him. Being a dog that Our Companions originally helped place in 2010 we honored our commitment to take him back but thankfully this time we had a Sanctuary to support him! It’s always a hard transition for any dog that walks through our doors, especially one that knew the comfort of a real home, but we did what we do best and dedicated lots of time, love and delicious food to this sweet boy and allowed him to shine! During his year at the Sanctuary his gentle demeanor and lovable personality won him lots of friends but it was his signature “AH-CHOO” trick that made both visitors and volunteers alike, giggle uncontrollably! Brody was a pro at showing of his trick and happily accepted its reward of a cookie or chin scratch! While being such an easy going boy he did have some quirks that scared him, loud sudden noises such as one would hear from an oversized/rattling truck caused him distress but we were able to comfort him and work with him to gain further confidence in himself and his handlers. While Brody thrived at the Sanctuary it was obvious that he needed more. As with most dogs, the Sanctuary is meant as a respite, a temporary spot to stay until something better comes along and we are so happy to share with you that it was Brody’s time to move on to bigger and better! He currently lives with a boy that is beyond excited to have a new family member, in a house that welcomes him with open arms and a back yard to chase all the squirrels that his heart desires! It seems hard to think of a better place for Brody to live! We wish him heaps and mounds of well wishes, snuggles and all the treats that one could ever eat!

Brody, congrats on finding your family!

Rosie’s Recovery

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You would think that anyone who saw this face would fall instantly in love with Rosie, but there was a time when she was treated with very little love.

Rosie came to us from the Manchester Animal Control.  She had been brought to Bolton Vet neglected and malnourished.  She weighed only 17 pounds and was unresponsive.  They worked hard to keep her alive, though it was not always assured that they would succeed.  But she made it through and, once she was stable, needed a place to complete her recovery.  So, she came to the Our Companions Sanctuary, where we could slowly help her build back her weight and her strength, and assess any behavioral problems her ordeal may have caused.

 

 

It’s a testament to a dog’s resilience and capacity for love, however, that Rosie’s emotional scars were few.  She was a resource guarder, and couldn’t live with another dog or cat, but with people, she was nothing but affectionate.  She loved attention, love to hug and kiss, and made quick friends with everyone.  And she surprised us all by being one of the few dogs we’ve had here who was happy and well mannered with all ages of children.

As Rosie’s body recovered and grew up to an appropriate 45 pounds, we nurtured her mind and spirit as well.  She went to training classes and out on field trips to local state parks.  And she worked with at-risk youth as part of our Buddy Project.  She became a volunteer favorite, at least when she wasn’t untying your shoelaces or trying to sneak a treat from you.

And, as often happens here, it was just a matter of time before the perfect family for Rosie walked through our doors.  They had no other pets, which worked great for Rosie.  However, they did have two toddlers, which would have usually meant that we would not have a dog for them.  But Rosie’s love of little kids made her a perfect match for them.

Rosie now lives in a loving home with a family who will make sure she never knows the kind of hardship she previously experienced again.  And in return, she’ll give them no end of fun, laughter, and adorable, soft-eyed head tilts.

Congratulations, Rosie!

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It’s all coming together now!

Here’s our latest update on the construction here at the Sanctuary.  The new buildings are really coming together now!

 

We’ll start with an updated wide view of the Sanctuary:070417a

Check out this gorgeous cat building.  The catios are really taking shape!  The doors have all been installed and include kitty doors for access to the outside playscapes.  Inside, you can really start to see how the place will be set up.  Most of the infrastructure is in place and we’ll have walls up in no time.

And, of course, there’s also the two new dog cottages.  They are also moving right along.  We can already see some pups snuggling on couches and barking for their dinners.

We’re looking forward to sending more updates of this exciting project soon!

Thank you for your support!