Rural Living

Our Wildlife and Animal Stories

 

HENRY.

Henry is a Tri Colour Welsh Hill Collie.

These centuries old farm bred collies were hard agile dogs bred to run from dawn to dusk across the timeless rugged mountainsides of Wales. They helped their shepherd masters to gather and control the sheep that freely roam these areas, from late spring to early autumn. Come night they rested in a cold barn or shed, and were ready to do the same the next day, having been fed on basic food rations which was all that Hill Farmers trying to make a meager living on these tough high mountain areas could afford, whilst maintaining the stamina the dog would require to work.

These dogs were selectively bred to have the courage to move stubborn sheep that had seen little of man nor dog in the summer whilst they grazed on these high mountain areas. A dog that would back down from a ewe that was standing her ground, or a stubborn ram was of little use to the hill shepherd.

These dogs are faithful, hardworking, intelligent, and very quick to learn and respond to their masters needs., His breeding demands that he needs regular physical and mental exercise, otherwise he will become difficult and to some, impossible to live with.

Henry was a farm bred collie purchased as a family pet, without much thought as to his needs. As he started to mature his owners lost interest in him, with him then not getting the level of physical or mental exercise he required. He started to amuse himself and his owners inflicted painful punishments on him if he did things they found unacceptable, but did not reward him for acceptable behaviour, creating confusion and anxiety in his life. At some point in his early life Henry was punished but this time reacted aggressively to the perpetrator who then backed off. By this time Henry had learnt two powerful lessons, humans inflict pain, and showing aggression makes them back away and the pain stops. Henry now becomes more and more isolated from his owners and finally comes into the care of the RSPCA.

When he came into the Animal Centre he had learnt that aggression was the best way to control human interactions and that our species were not to be trusted. It was decided that his best interests would be served by coming to live with us and our dogs to build his confidence and to rehabilitate his behaviours. He has now begun to trust humans, and if he feels threatened to remove himself from the situation rather than to confront it, this is now his preferred behaviour.

Finding a home for him with the commitment and experience that he required proved difficult. He responded well to rehabilitation and settled in well to our home, so the decision was made to adopt him. He suits my active lifestyle, and this meets his needs. He has become a loyal companion and a great trail buddy on the forest trails and our days on the mountains.

 

 

OUR ROTTI.

 

He came to us as a young puppy and has stayed ever since. He is typical of the breed and a very sensible loyal steady dog. He remains calm in the presence of people and other dogs whilst still maintaining his guarding breed characteristics. He recently spent time with some Labradoddle puppies that came into the Centre to help with their socialization.

 

 

 

 

 

June 2007.

Grey Lag Goslings

In our part of the world at the end of summer we witness formations of wild geese migrating to over winter in other parts of the world. Back in 2002 a friend of ours raised two orphaned wild goslings. At the end of summer they left the sanctuary offered by our friends, migrating along with the other wild geese that had spent the summer in our locality. The next Spring the geese returned spending a few days around their field, before joining other wild geese nesting around local lakes. Every year since they have visited before raising another family.

A couple of wild goslings were rescued this week following their mother being killed. We have taken on the task of raising them, we estimate they are two to three weeks old They have not as yet started to feather up, but seem strong, and are very vocal. We have bought a chicken house and run into service giving them a secure home. Siting it in the meadow they have plenty of grass to graze on, and also have chick crumbs to add to their diet. We spend time each day letting them wander around the meadow, but they seem to prefer to sit alongside us. If we walk up the field they follow, the faster we walk the quicker they run, stretching the stumps out that will develop into wings. Our hope is that they will mature during the summer and leave us in autumn when they witness the wild geese migrating.

18th June We have now got three call duck ducklings, these have joined the goslings, and they all get on extremely well. They spend their days in the vegetable garden which is secured so that rabbits can't get in, and the ducklings and goslings can't get out. We also have the bonus of the ducklings eating the slugs, which have taken up residence amongst our vegetables.

29th Nov With numerous commitments during recent months I have not managed to keep the web site up to date, however nature continues to amaze. The goslings continued to grow through the summer turning into magnificent Grey Lag Geese. one male, and one female, even with the difference in size the geese and ducks continued to live together. Once the geese had learnt to fly, they would circle the field in flight, although they seemed to be quiet happy to remain here into the autumn. They would continue to follow the ducks into the chicken house at night, although it was getting a little crowded.

Greylag GooseWe felt after much deliberation that if we were to be in a position to foster wild goslings, or other wild fowl next year, we could not start to keep adult wild geese, and allow them to become domesticated. I contacted the local RSPB Reserve, and learnt that they had a flock of Grey Lags at the Reserve. We loaded the geese, with some sadness, into a large dog crate, and took them down to the Reserve. We released them across the lagoon from the flock of Grey Lags, and they seemed very happy as the swam around the lagoon towards the flock, who seemed quiet happy with their presence. Although a little sad to see them go, we were pleased we had been able to raise them, and release them into their natural habitat.

 

 

NogginNoggin.

Working at an Animal Centre brings you into contact with many animals in many situation. Noggin is a young Collie who was on a farm. He had a birth defect, which meant one of his front legs was badly deformed. As he was unable to be trained for farm work, he was of little use to the Farm and was left to his own devices. He came into the Centre, and on vets advice his leg was amputated. He came to live with us whilst he underwent his post operation treatment, and got on well with our dogs and cats. Although he was once caught carrying one of our ducks in his mouth, which was freed unscathed, he got on well with our other animals. Once his treatment was complete he was fostered by one of the Centre's fosterers. He has adapted well to his disability and it does not effect his mobility and he can run with the best. He is a lovely dog who is now available for rehoming at the Centre. Update 2nd Jan 2008. Noggin has found a new home with nice people who have another Collie, and they both get on well together. 14th February. Noggin continues to visit the Centre and has settled in well to his new home.

 

January 2008.

Hedgehog (Erinaceus Europaeus

Hedgehog.

On the 31st December an underweight hedgehog was brought into the Centre, he had been found wandering around a garden in daylight. Its weight on admission was 320gms, a hedgehog when it hibernates should weigh a minimum of 450gms, so was well underweight, and without care would die. We had hoped to release a hedgehog into the meadow in the Spring from the local Hedgehog Rescue. We intended to build a hedgehog house in the vegetable garden, and try to encourage him/her to stay to help control our caterpillars and slugs. With this hedgehog coming into the Centre we have decided to care for it, and when his weight increases to 600gms will put him in the Barn to hibernate in a straw nest. In the Spring we will release him. We brought him home on the 3rd Jan, and he has fed well and increased his weight to 400gms by the 7th. We originally put him into a high sided box with blankets as a nest. At bedtime on the first night we found the box empty, after a search we found him "as snug as a bug in a rug" by the radiator in the study. We have now brought a dog crate into service with towels as a nest, and put him in the drying room where he seems quiet happy and active.

The hedgehog (Erinaceus Europaeus) is a nocturnal creature that hibernates in winter. On mild days you may see the hedgehog appear to feed. An adult has about 5000 spines, and at times of danger will roll into a ball, using its spines to deter predators. It will often nest in compost heaps and piles of logs. Its main diet consists of caterpillars, worms, slugs and beetles. In the winter it lives mainly on its fat reserves, and will emerge in the Spring ready to mate. The young are normally born in early summer and each female produces approx five babies. At birth they have just a few soft spikes, but these increase quickly, and they become independent in about a month. (British Hedgehog Preservation Society)

February 2008

Our hedgehog, now named Spike has continued to put on weight and now weighs 620gms, he is very active, and a careful eye has to be kept on him when we clean him out or he will go AWOL. He now has a box fully of straw in the barn, but continues to feed well and even with the recnt cold days, seems to have no intentions to hibernate. We have fed him throughout on dog meat, with a little biscuit and he always has water available. The next job will be to build him a house, which we hope he will continue to reside in come the Spring.

March 2008

Spike continues to put on weight and is now just over 700gms. We have tried to keep contact with him to the minimum as we want him to be able to live in the wild once the weather improves.

May 2008

Spike has set up residence in a corner of the vegetable garden, and although we do not see him very often we are sure he is repaying our hospitality by helping deal with our garden pests.

 

Tess.

Tess came into the Centre last year. She was a very nervous, frightened, young dog that had lived on the landing of a house with very little human contact, and it was evident, she had received very little socialization. At the start, any approach to her in kennels received a nervous aggressive response. With time spent just entering her kennel and making no formal approach towards her, she gradually came round to accept, and even welcome time spent with her. She still found kennel life very stressful, and it was obvious that remaining in kennels would not help her progression to becoming re-homable. It was decided to get one of our experienced fosterers to take her to see whether she would settle down and improve away from kennels. It soon become evident from the feedback from the fosterer, that poor Tess would need a consistent and more formal training and socialization plan to be put into place if we were to re-home her. She came to live with us, and started a formal program of training and socialization. This included meeting people, dogs and other animals in a controlled environment, meeting situations she has not met before, including traffic, and she started to attend dog training classes with me, so she could learn good behaviours with distractions, and more importantly loose her fear of dogs and people through socialization. People are often surprised that I attend dog training classes with my many years experience of training dogs, and I explain that I do not attend to learn to train a dog, I attend to socialize my dogs. Tess soon started to show improvements and reached a standard where we could re-home her. We needed to find the right home that would continue to ensure she was socialized, and give her a firm, loving, lifelong home. Because of her striking colours and her standard of obedience and training we had a number of people interested in her, but I was looking for a special home for her. She continued to live with us, and received ongoing training and socialization, and finally late last summer we found that very special home for her.

Tess is staying with us for the next couple of weeks while her owners are on holiday. It is very gratifying to find that she has found a good home. She is a lovely dog that her new owners have obviously continued to socialize, and have a dog to be proud of.