Helping a Sanctuary from the Ground Up: Part 3

Rehabilitation and Love

Now I will get to the biggest reason for why it is so rewarding to help a sanctuary from the ground up: the rescued animals. (duh!!)

As I already stated, this sanctuary is called Arthur’s Acres, and there is a very good reason for that.  Arthur is the founding pig of the sanctuary.  He was rescued from this exact property by the previous owner who was a backyard butcher.  The farm fell under and gave Todd the opportunity to both rescue Arthur and purchase the property to transform it into a sanctuary.  Arthur was relocated to Skylands while all the paperwork and upgrades were performed; and once the farm was ready for him, he made it his home.  Arthur is every bit the extension of the tremendous energy flowing from this sanctuary. If I could describe Arthur in one word it would be “ambassador.”  Arthur is usually the first pig to greet you when you arrive, and always checks in on you while you are working/cleaning on the sanctuary.  He takes inventory of all the hay and straw you move around, and he makes sure Vivian and Fay live up to his example.  He will bound along the fence line when you walk to the house for something and come sprinting towards you when you show your face again.  Arthur is a peaceful soul with a heart big enough for everyone.  He loves to be loved and wants to thank you in the many ways that he can.  That might come in the form of a happy grunt, or he may award you by flopping on his side so you can rub his belly (at least I think he considers that a reward) … Also, did I mention that he’s ridiculously cute?

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Picture courtesy of Arthur’s Acres Instagram

Vivian and Fay were the second pig rescue of Arthur’s Acres and they are kids through and through.  Vivian and Fay are “retired” pigs used for testing chemicals designed to prevent burns.  They were rescued at less than 4 months old and I was assuming they would be skittish around humans for a while. Boy was I glad to be wrong! These two youngsters were everything you would expect kids to be (regardless of species). They are playful, sweet, curious, and mischievous (I think they learned that from Arthur). The one thing about these two that I tell everyone is that they are on top of you from start to finish.  Every time I am doing some kind of project in their living areas, they are standing there watching and commenting (they are quite noisy).  It is as if they are little humans asking me:

What’s that thing for?

Why are you putting that there?

Why can’t I go into that room with you?

I almost expect them to ask me about Santa Clause or where babies come from. But this is one of the things I love most about them, I’m never lonely when I’m working on Arthur’s Acres.

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Fay trying to see what tools I brought

The last pig group are the Hunger Games girls: Katniss, Prim, and Rue. These girls were rescued from a farm that was one of the most neglectful I have ever seen.  There are pictures of these girls nearly drowning in their own waste, totally emaciated, and on death’s door when they were found and rescued by the local SPCA. It took months of rehab and health checks to get them healthy enough just to come to Arthur’s Acres. But once they got there, they knew that they were safe. The first few days the girls were a little hesitant to new people, but the energy of the place and its great ambassador, rubbed off on them and they quickly became just as loving and trusting as Arthur, Vivian, and Fay.

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This is a picture of the girls during the rescue. Courtesy of Arthur’s Acres Instagram
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Only a few months later and Rue is healthy and happy!

One of these girls in particular has had a bigger struggle than all the other animals on the sanctuary. In early December, Katniss could barely walk, and Todd knew that he had to get her to Cornell to see the vet specialists as soon as possible.  This also happened to be one of the days I was volunteering.  As soon as I got to the sanctuary I could see the trailer ready, but Katniss did not have the strength to get into the back. The poor girl was so exhausted from a morning full of trying to get her on the trailer.  She could barely stand, much less walk up a ramp without a lot of help.  Todd and I did our best to guide and help push her up the ramp during her short bursts of energy.  It took the combined efforts of Todd, Jenny, Dawnell, and myself to get Katniss onto the trailer. This was the worst day of my volunteering life, but it is also the day that I truly felt like I made a difference in the life of a rescued animal.

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Todd spending some time with Katniss, while she was at Cornell. Courtesy of Arthur’s Acres Instagram

As Todd drove off to Cornell, I hoped for the best, but I honestly expected the worst.  I am extremely happy to write, that Katniss is close to a full recovery!  The vets don’t know for sure what was wrong, but after months of care, treatments, lots of love and support, Katniss is walking and getting stronger every day. Every time I go back to Arthur’s Acres, I spend a lot of time with Katniss.  It warms my heart, just how happy and appreciative that she is surrounded by people who did not and WILL NOT give up on her! Katniss is truly a girl on fire, and she is such an inspiration.

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Katniss sometimes follows me around her stall while I clean it.

I can go on and on about Katniss and all of the residents at the sanctuary.  I didn’t even mention the chickens that spend every morning with Katniss, or the rescued kittens and their momma that live on the property and are just the sweetest felines you could ever meet.  Not to mention the goofball potbelly pig Wilbur, who is not sure if he is a dog or a pig.

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I had to throw in at least one Wilbur picture!

If you want to meet these amazing characters, you are welcome to come volunteer and spend the whole day with them and have similar wonderful experiences. Words on a page, or pictures on a social media site, can only do so much; I welcome all of you to come and experience Arthur’s Acres for yourselves and have an unforgettable time.

As always, thanks for stopping by

-Paul

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