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  1. #1

    Willow Oak

    I have a journal on my personal website, and I write to it three or four times a week. I realize that seemingly everyone these days has a blog, but if you will indulge me I should like to share with you some of the daily experiences and activities of my home place, Willow Oak.

    I shall begin with a view of my front yard. There are the two large willow oak trees after which I have named my place. Dogs visible in the yard are (l to r) Cathy, Scamp, Oscar, Fred, and Sam. If you can see him, Thumper the cat is lying down on one of the concrete benches of the concrete settee. Living with me and sharing my home at present are 9 dogs and 12 cats (I think). Over time I should like to share with you how we all came to be together, and to share with you some of the stories involved in the day-to-day life of those who share Willow Oak.

    I live on 16 acres in a very rural part of Mississippi. The front yard is, as you can see, completely fenced in. Even in the country accidents can happen, and I want the animals to be safe.

    I have enjoyed reading the stories and viewing the pictures at Pet Talk. I hope you enjoy reading and seeing mine. I shall post to this thread several times a week.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Cincinnati, Ohio USA
    Very nice set up there, Willow Oak! Welcome and looking forward to more posts.

  3. #3
    Here is a picture I posted elsewhere on this forum of my most recent waistrel, Taz:

    He arrived on this past Sunday.

    When I left for work on Monday I left Taz at home behind one of those child gates that I placed in the back hallway. I figured that even if he got out of that he would only have to contend with Bonnie and Clyde who are "teeth-challenged," and Lu Lu. Well, it did happen that he got out. When I arrived home I found him behind a chair in the living room. I could tell there had been some activity, but he came crawling out and appeared to be none the worse for his experience. I couldn't tell what all had taken place, but there is no doubt that if the larger dogs had been in the room, Taz would be no more. I did find what appeared to be a bite mark on his hind leg, and he definitely had suffered some sort of psychological Trauma. He was all over wet, evidently from the other dogs saliva, and he cried for a long time even after I arrived home. Even then he cried and whimpered in my arms for the longest time.

    Tuesday I left him locked in the bathroom. I worried all day that he would get out of that, but when I arrived home he was still locked up. Nonetheless, he still cried and whimpered for a long time after I arrived home. So maybe separation anxiety had contributed to his trauma of the day before. I bought another dog crate yesterday on my way home from work and locked him in that when I left this morning. My mind is much more at ease now, although he did not like being locked up that way. At least I know he will be well and whole when I arrive home.

    I still grieve much when I think of Yella Fella and Goldie and how I failed to protect them. Those bad memories are flooding back to me now that Taz has arrived. Poor Yella Fella. Poor Goldie.

    What a mess I had to clean up when I arrived home from work yesterday! And then I had to endure about 20 minutes of nonstop whining and crying and yelling from little Taz. He followed me all around, trying to crawl up my pants leg. I had to sit down and hold him for a few minutes with him still whining and crying and yelling all the time. He did eventually settle down, but I do not know what kind of trauma the poor guy is enduring while I am away. He was safely locked away in his cage when I arrived home. His problem must be some extreme form of separation anxiety.

    All the other animals appear to be doing fine. Cathy still doesn't like being shut away in her cage, but I still dare not leave her loose. The dogs do go nuts when I arrive home. I let them out of their kennels and into the big fenced-in front yard where they can run and jump and play. The cats are all fine. It is good to see Cougar doing so well after having all of this teeth extracted.

    [I shall fill in the gaps regarding Yella Fella, Goldie, and Cougar, and all the others as time goes on.]

  4. #4
    When I arrive home from work today he will run around and cry and whimper and yell and scream until I pick him up and hold him for 10 minutes or so. Only then will he calm down and realize that everything is okay.

  5. #5


    Taz' behavior when I arrived home yesterday wasn't as bad as it was the day before. He did cut up for a few minutes, but he calmed down much more quickly yesterday that he had the day before.

    Today I shall continue the story of how I came to have all of these animals by introducing you to Oscar. Below is a birds-eye view of my property taken from Yahoo Maps:

    I've made a rough outline of my place in black, and as you can see I am in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by woods. You can see the two willow oak trees in the yard in front of my house.

    Over the past few years I have found several litters of puppies in the woods, and how they got there who can tell? One of those puppies I found by himself, and he is the only one of those that I have found who is still with me. The rest I delivered safely to our local shelter.

    I knew from the beginning that Oscar would not be a good candidate for adoption at the local shelter: he is a large breed dog and he is black. For some reason, that kind of dog doesn't get adopted as readily. Oscar had another problem: he was all over eaten up with mange. I treat dogs for mange by giving them about a half cc of Ivomec (Ivermectin) each day for up to two weeks. That will do it (ivermectin is toxic to a collie).

    In the beginning, Oscar was in a bad way, and I actually contracted the mange from him. He and I both were in quarantine for several days while we recovered. I can testify personally to the extreme discomfort of having mange. I would bathe Oscar in the kitchen sink, dry him off, and sprinkle him with Gold Bond powder to lessen the itch (I did the same for myself). He did suffer so those first few days!

    Eventually, Oscar recovered from his bout of the mange (as did I, thankfully), and today Oscar is a big, healthy, vibrant, and happy boy. See for yourself:

    This is one of my favorite pictures of Oscar, running with his pals, Fred and Sam. I love to see that smile on his face:

    Oscar is a gentle soul, as you can see from this picture of him with Thumper the cat:

    Before I erected the fence in the front yard I let the dogs run free. After all, I live in the country. Even so, I still would have a dog come up missing now and then, and there is a road in front of my house. Then one day I stepped out my front door to find Oscar lying at the door all covered in blood. He had been shot with a shot gun. He survived that one okay, but I knew then that even in the country it is not a good idea to let your dogs run loose. So up the fence went, and now running around outside is safe for all of my animals.

    Last edited by Willow Oak; 08-02-2008 at 09:15 AM. Reason: spelling again

  6. #6


    "Mister! Mister! Help me, mister! I am all alone in this world, and I don't have nobody to help me, mister, and I'm afraid, mister! Please help me, mister!"

    I had stopped at a convenience store in the country to get directions, and here he was, begging me to help him. Inside the store I inquired about the kitty. No, he didn't belong to any of them, and no they didn't know from whence he came; but the owner of the store hd gone home to retrieve his gun, because the kitty was bothering the patrons and scratching their cars, etc., etc.

    So, on my way back to my vehicle I scooped him up. My intention was to deliver him to the shelter. I have a policy of delivering all animals I find away from home that I deem adoptable to the shelter. This one would be no different. Except that it would be a few days before I would be able to get over that way. In the meantime he would have to reside at my house.

    That is almost always a mistake, because most of the time the critter ends up staying permanently. So this is how Cougar came to live with me. A sweeter, kindler, gentler kitty has not existed. If any have ever shown their appreciation for being rescued Cougar certainly has. In time he would be found to have a gum disease and have all his teeth extracted. But it would take me a time to realize his pain.

    Cougar is a laid-back kitty:

    Cougar began to show signs of bad teeth, but it took me a time to realize it:

    This picture is one of those that really opened my eyes to the problem of Cougar's teeth:

    I spent a lot of money on Cougar, but it was worth every penny. Here he is after one of his three visits to have his teeth extracted. As you can see, he is much more perky:

    Cougar is one of 12 (or so) cats who have taken up residence at Willow Oak. I'm so glad he did.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Cataholic View Post
    Very nice set up there, Willow Oak! Welcome and looking forward to more posts.
    Once a Cataholic, always a Cataholic!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    At university in Hertfordshire, UK
    Willow Oak, as I was away when you started this thread, I must welcome you to PT, and say that it's great to read about your many animals that live at your amazing home!

    Zimbabwe 07/13

  9. #9

    He's a real Buddy!

    Life with Buddy began about six years ago with a white speck in the distance, away off in the woods. I could tell it was a cat, since hardly any other creature is so snow white in appearance. In the beginning he wouldn't let me get within 100 yards. Months passed, and the only appearance of this cat would be distant, and if I approached, he would run off.

    In the meantime I had other animals to feed, and of the many cats I cared for several of them were of the strictly outside variety, so I had food available for them out under a lean-to, which was attached to one of the outbuildings. A year or more went by, during which time I would notice the white cat, mostly out away from the house in the woods, but occasionally I would see him near where the other cats would feed. Many months and weeks would pass before I would finally get to see that he was eating from the food that I had left for the other cats.

    "Buddy," I would eventually call him, because I could only think to call him that when I would speak to him. I would see him eating with the other cats. Fortunately he did appear to get along with the other cats. In time I would attempt to approach him while he was feeding, but he would always run off. He would eventually allow me to approach without running off, but he would only allow me to stand near, probably no closer than 10 feet. From there he would eat and observe me obliquely with a wary eye. This standoff continued for another several weeks and months. Closer I would inch until Buddy would allow me to stand within even just a few feet as he would eat. From this position I would have to be satisfied to be in Buddy's presence while he ate for at least another year before he would allow me to approach even within an arm's length.

    Eventually I knew I would make an attempt to touch him. At least three years had passed since I first saw Buddy, and it had taken me all of that time with much patience and perseverance to find myself with my hand outstretched to the cat that had come to consume so much of my thoughts and energy. In a flash he let me know his opinion of my disposition. My arm looked like someone had taken a box cutter and hit me with it three or four times. A pretty site it was not, and it felt not much different. This would be my experience with Buddy for another several weeks and months. Buddy was a "bruiser" and well endowed when it came to claws and teeth, and he was quick, as well as bold and brave. He no longer ran from me or avoided me, but he wouldn't let me touch him. I paid the price for every attempt. I knew, however, that if I were to ever help him out I had to catch him somehow.
    I did not have a small animal trap, but I did devise one out of an old hamster cage. I set the cage out and put food in it. Eventually I did find him alone in the cage eating, and sprung the trap. Buddy made one brave attempt after another to tear his way through the cage, and I had to use a garden tool to pick the cage up. I was able to successfully deliver Buddy to the Vet where he was properly neutered and even received some teeth work. He had his ears cleaned out, received the shots he needed, and just received a good going over.

    I returned home with him and locked him into one of my bedrooms. I observed him for a day or two, by easing myself into the room. He was not eating nor was he using his litter box. He was recovering from his visit to the Vet, and he was also recovering his mean disposition. He was not in a good mood. I do not have central heat and air so during the summer I leave the windows up with screens in place. After a few days in the room, buddy found a way out. I went in one day and could not find him anywhere. However I did find a large hole in the screen of one of the windows. Buddy had torn through the screen and escaped to the outside.

    It would be weeks before I saw Buddy again. He would eventually find his way back to my sister's house where I had first seen him. I live next door and would go down to my sister's house to feed the cats that were there. I had my own set of cats but always took the initiative to see to it that all of the animals at both properties were fed and cared for. Buddy was back eating with the outdoor cats there. So I had to start over, and it took several weeks before Buddy would allow me back into his presence. However, even though he was still pretty rough, he would not spit and scowl as much as he had before when I approached. Oh, I received another slash or two from those lethal claws, but I never gave up. I continued to reach forth my hand, and Buddy continued to rebuff my advances with a well-timed slash of the paw. Then one day, with hand outstretched I very quickly touched his back then yanked back my hand. At the same instance buddy turned and scowled and raised his paw, but he did not strike. He bared his teeth to me and stared with a sour warning of beware.

    Time went on this way, and I would snatch little touches of Buddy with him scowling and hissing menacingly, each time raising his paw in a striking position, but never quite launching out at me. And then one day I reached out quickly and put my hand ever so lightly on his back, but instead of retreating it quickly to avoid his retaliation I left it there. I braced for what I knew was coming. Quickly Buddy turned around and ducked his head, hissing his disapproval. But instead of lashing out with his paw as I was expecting he just moved away. And he only moved a couple of inches, but at least my hand was still intact.

    This situation continued for another week or two, but eventually I found myself stroking Buddy's back and fur, without fear of retaliation from this ball of white fur, which for so long had been a bundle of nerves and energy. Over time Buddy began to mellow. And it did not take much longer. Eventually I placed both of my hands on Buddy's sides and with much fear and trepidation on my part, Buddy let me pick him up. I would do this again and again, holding him for longer periods of time each time.

    Once again I delivered Buddy to my house. The relationship between Buddy and me improved through the weeks and months, even to the point to where Buddy would rub faces with me as I held him.

    Nowadays, Buddy talks to me when I approach him. He'll even run up to me and wait to be picked up. Face rubs are his favorite thing to do now, and if he ever throws out a paw it is to pull me back to him when I let him go. Always are his claws sheathed when he hits me with his paw.

    Buddy, I love you so!

    I snapped this picture months ago. It was a cold morning, and the camera kept fogging up, and Buddy wouldn't be still:

    At one point I had to reach out and hold him steady. There was a day when that hand would have been dead meat:

    I took the following picture after I brought him to my house to live. In his day, Buddy was a bruiser, as you can tell:

    I took the following picture just a few days after I had my heart attack. It's great to still be here to get a hug from my favorite "Buddy:"

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    You're a very good story-teller. Please keep writing.
    I don't have much time to read much for pleasure these days, but just read this whole thread. I love that you're helping these animals... and they are helping you too.

    Welcome to Pet Talk!

    I will miss you forever, my sweet Scooter Bug. You were my best friend. 9/21/1995 - 1/23/2010
    Goodbye, Oreo. 4/2003 - 9/12/2011. Gone too soon.
    Farewell & Godspeed, sweet Jadie Francine 11/2002 - 8/8/2016

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Alberta, Canada
    WO - please read Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

    And Please See "Pay It Forward"
    "To begin, begin." ~William Wordsworth

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Catty1 View Post
    WO - please read Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

    And Please See "Pay It Forward"
    I have read a synopsis of the book. You are thinking about the episode I related regarding Princess and the other dog I turned loose. You are telling me that perhaps if I did not have those haunting memories I might not be driven to save animals the way I do today. Did I get the message you were sending?


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Glenside, pa
    You single??

    I've been Boooo'd!

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Allentown, PA
    Quote Originally Posted by K9karen View Post
    You single??
    Hey, hey, hey... you have a man!
    Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History
    -Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    North Wales, UK.
    Wonderful, sometimes heart rending, but mostly heart warming reading, Willow Oak. Bless you for what you have done and still do for all those animals.

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