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June 28, 2020

LIVING WiTH 19 ANIMALS!!

How Do You Do It? A Little At A Time..

RIght now Saint Roch Animal Sanctuary which is really ONLY my little ol' self is caring for 19 animals.  Thirteen birds, two bunnies, and four dogs.  

People ask me, "how do you do it? You mustn't have a minute to yourself". Well actually this is not so.    I have had as many as 22 animals on the premise and it was too much. I could tell, I was stressed and things were being left undone.  But right now this is manageable and in some ways relatively easy. 

Whereas I used to cut my own grass and tend to every plant and bush I now employ a gardener, about a half-day per month, maybe a bit more in spring when everything has to be done.  I also employ a handy-man (he put the bunny hutch together then came back to fix it when it fell apart!!) for small repairs. He is at the present building frames for our front porch / aviary which have hardware cloth on the outside and screen on the inside.  No more breach by the squirrels and rats in search of free food!  But I still clean all the cages myself, as well as the dog beddings, water troughs etc.. so there are some keys to staying sane and happy with all the critters and the ensuing work: 

1) Invest in what you need. Good easy to clean and large bird cages!  Old used up cages with trays that don't fit, missing grates etc..may save you a few bucks but will drive you crazy trying to keep theim clean. I did 4 cages yesterday in 55 minutes and the giant double-macaw cage today also just under an hour. This included sweeping the floor both days and refilling all the dishes with foodstuff and water of course.  The same goes with dog crates, dog houses, dog blankets.  Know what works for you and make your life easier and saner. 

2) Establish a routine and stick to it but be flexible!  I ususally spend a good part of the morning  letting dogs in / out, cleaning their water, maybe hanging out or washing blankets & feeding the bunnies and birds their breakfast.  Plus cleaning out the bunnies' litter pan.  Altogether it probably is 1.5 to 2 hours. But I don't have to do it all at once as if I was running a marathon.  Little breaks are great. Then the rest of the day everyone is happy and in the evening there is again an hour or two spent in feeding and getting ready for the night.   Having a routine is great for the animals: they know what's coming and they respond in kind.  For instance I have made it a habit of letting the birds exercise out of their cages (not all at once) during the afternoon hours.  They are now so used to it that I can come out to the aviary and say "go back to your house" and they do!! Trained birds!! Actually they know they will be fed a little bit later and no one wants to miss out on peanuts! 

3) Know your limit.  No one wants to end up on "Animal Hoarders" as a curiosity case.  No one wants to have so many animals that they are not cared for properly and unhappy.  I have found that 5 dogs are manageable, but 6 or 7 is definitely too much.  For me. Could be different for someone else. By the same token cleaning 4 bird cages one day and the huge double one the next day works well for me. I was offered 2 beautiful birds just recently but felt I could not take them because it would have meant 2 more cages to clean and that would have tipped the balance for me.  

4) The financial angle:  caring for so many pets can be expensive.  Again it's about creating a routine and being flexible. I take adantage of the 'special" vet care resources at the St Tammany Humane Society.  In the Spring they have Woofstock Vaccination drive and in the fall they have another one which I believe is called the Barkathon.  Whatever.  Low cost vaccinations & heartworm tests.  I take 2 dogs in the spring and 2 in the fall.  All extra funds go to grooming of the dogs, new toys for the birds, that sort of things.  Good used crates, gates, cages and dog houses are always available online and I am ALWAYS upgrading.  I find this has help decrease my cleaning chores a lot and that is a good thing.  

In the end there is NOTHING AS REWARDING as spending a day or week-end caring for lovely aniamls who are saying, 'thank you for caring for me and thank you for loving me".  TRY IT, you'll see!