January 10th, 2020
Working with animals is one of the best jobs I have ever had. They bring us such joy, fill our hearts with love and make us laugh uncontrollably sometimes. The camaraderie we share in working with them, caring for them and loving them is indescribable. They bond everyone who meets them instantly and it is this tenacious cohesiveness that holds us together in difficult times.
We are facing one of those difficult times again. On Friday, our precious donkey Daisy, crossed over Rainbow Bridge. Although she was not ill in any way that we were aware of, other than a recurring abscess in her front right leg that was being treated, she did not appear well on Thursday night and was keeping to herself in the shelter. It was the first cold night of the Edmonton deep freeze and we didn't blame her for not wanting to venture out into the cold. When Jess checked on her the next morning, it appeared that she had not moved far from where she had been and she looked COLD. We got her into the barn and called the vets.
The vets came out and took blood work immediately. They gave her warm fluids and went to the lab to get results. In the meantime, Mel had come out to assist Jess. When the vets called shortly after with the results and we were on the phone making decisions, Daisy suddenly died. She did not suffer and was with her loving companions Ceilidh, Moonshine, Mel and Jess.
I was at an emergency visit to a friend in palliative care and before I returned, the complete core Dreamcatcher™ team was here with Daisy and her friends, helping in every way they could. Thank you Jess, Mel, Cara, Emily and Reesa. You are all amazing.
We are very sad to announce this and to lose another beloved co-counsellor and friend. The vets think she may have had something for a while and did not have symptoms. They theorize that she may have been able to keep it at bay but when the cold weather came, she couldn't stave off the illness and the cold at the same time and so something gave. It took her life but she did not suffer long. For that we are grateful.
We are also grateful to the Delaney veterinarians, specifically Dr. Jodie Santarossa, to our staff and volunteers who took care of Daisy and to all of you who loved her for the 15 or so years that she was here at Dreamcatcher™.
We thank Sue McIntosh of Healing Hooves and her family for kindly giving us Daisy (Maisey) all those years ago.
Most of all, we are grateful to Daisy as she gave her love to thousands of people, was always kind and gentle and helped many, many people to heal.
Her sister Ceildih and brother Moonshine appear to be coping well and are managing to navigate this deep freeze so far.
RIP Daisy. You are deeply missed. 💞🌼
October 17th, 2019
Working with animals brings moments of joy and heartbreaking sadness. Once we have them, they are a lifelong commitment and their health and welfare are our responsibility, to the end.
Our baby goat Ruby got very sick this week. Despite all efforts, she passed away peacefully at the Hastings Lake Animal Hospital on Tuesday night. She was heavily medicated for pain and did not suffer in her final hours.
She was laid to rest with Buttons,Starblanket and Snow by her loving caregivers and team. the same team that helped bring her into this world.
Ruby was sweet, loving, polite and wonderful and she will be greatly missed. Her mother, Wanda, and her brothers are doing well.
Thank you Karen at Hastings Lake Animal Hospital - Dr. Karen Allen and everyone who took care of her and loved her throughout her short life.
A student on a field trip asked me yesterday: “how do you deal with losing the therapy animals?” “The same way I deal with losing my family members and friends” I said. “I grieve.” Rescuing animals, living with animals, working with animals, loving animals requires full attention, sacrifice and tough decisions. Animal assisted therapy is not for the faint of heart.
RIP Ruby. 💕💐
Mar 21st, 2019
This never seems to get easier…
Our beloved Trixie the Guinea pig has passed away. She brought so much joy and love to so many. Trixie helped countless individuals to come out of their shells, build confidence and self esteem, develop empathy and trust. She taught others about the importance of boundaries and building trust in relationships.
Her little wheak wheaks were the highlight of the day for clients, volunteers, and staff alike as she chattered away at us, telling us how it is and how her day was. When she heard the opening of the “cookie” bag, she was sure to be the first one in line, squeaking up at you.
Her sister Winnie, and brothers from other mothers MJDB and Jerry all gathered around her to say their goodbyes. Although it has been quite lonely without her sister, Winnie has been given a tremendous amount of support from everyone around her.
Rest easy Trixie. You were such a cheeky, lovable little sweetheart.
Sad news to share:
As you all know, February 19th marked a devastating day for Dreamcatcher as we lost our wonderful Pedro. Just 17 days later on March 8th, our sweet sheep Bilbo joined his mini-donkey brother from what the vets suspect was old age.
Bilbo was just the best: always one of the first for a head scratch, hip scratch, bum scratch, any opportunity he could find for a good scratch and he would take it.
He and Emma the Sheep were the best of friends. Always side by side, ready for a good lawn-mowing adventure. Bilbo loved to go for walks with clients and would stay with them as they sat and talked to him about their lives.
Dreamcatcher™ is quieter now without his big belly "bah" to greet us. He helped hundreds of people and will be missed by everyone.
Feb 19, 19
Although we have not had the chance to tell each one of our special volunteer helpers or clients yet, we have to announce publicly that we have lost another special Dreamcatcher™ therapy animal.
Our mini donkey Pedro was donated to us about 5 years ago. He was a gentle, loving spirit who helped many people work through their feelings of anxiety, fear and not feeling like they could do things. Pedro was so little and always cooperative and patient. He encouraged people to succeed by waiting for them to figure things out and then doing whatever they asked him to do. His beautiful soft brown eyes were encouraging and supportive and he never said no to anyone who wanted to work with him.
Pedro suffered from Cushing's disease and was on medication daily for it. Our amazing volunteers and staff made sure he got his meds regularly, even though he clearly did not like taking medication. We tried to give it to him in feed, oats, anything he liked, but he always rejected every attempt we made although in the end, he received his meds graciously and i think it made a huge difference in his health over the years.
Pedro was very bonded to his donkey friends Ceilidh, Daisy and Moonshine. He was one of four in his family of donkeys and one of 7 in his equine herd. He was by far the easiest going and sweetest, no matter what happened.
In the past two years, Pedro seemed cold all the time. He would shiver and go into the main shelter, out of the wind, when it was cold here. Someone always noticed and we would blanket him to help him with the wind chill. We often delivered hay to him when he would isolate in the shelter. We were not sure what was going on with him but thought it likely had something to do with the Cushing's.
Last week, on Friday, he was shivering in the shelter. It had already been two weeks in the deepfreeze here in Alberta and so we thought he just might have met his limit with the cold. We knew we did. We put him in the barn for the weekend with lots of straw for bedding, feed and water and checked on him regularly.
When he was not better, we called the vets. Pedro had something unknown and to save him would have caused him far more suffering. We chose to let Pedro be free from his suffering even though it caused ours.
We laid our dear, sweet Pedro to rest and he went peacefully and gracefully. In his last moments, we thanked him for everything he has ever done for anyone here and that included all of us...staff, volunteers and especially the recipients of the Dreamcatcher™ program. We loved Pedro with all our hearts and this program will never be the same without his gentle presence.
Rest In Peace Sweet Pedro. You were truly one of the most amazing souls we have ever known and we are so grateful to have had you as part of our family of love and kindness. You had qualities that I can only hope to one day encompass and you were one of my best teachers.
Hugs and love.
Eileen and the Dreamcatcher™ Team.
Nov 17, 18
It is with great sadness that we announce yet another loss to our Dreamcatcher Co-Counsellor team. Our beautiful, young, gentle Snow llama has gone to Rainbow Bridge to be with her friend and past Co-Counsellor Mr. Spitzy llama and her friend and Co-Counsellor OJ sheep.
Snow came to us about 3 years ago when her family got divorced and she was in need of a new home. She came with Emma sheep and spent some of her time living with her and some of her time living with Mr. Spitzy and the horses. When Spitzy died earlier this year (RIP Spitzy), Snow went back to live out her life with her Emma sheep friend and a herd of goats. New goats came to live with us this year to keep Wanda goat company as we had lost Joey goat (RIP Joey, my baby) last year. A baby goat was born from the new goats and Snow took on the role of Nanny with the new baby and his mommy.
Snow was always gentle, always kind with people. When she had to be caught to do her feet, for shearing or veterinary care, she went along with whatever was asked of her with the utmost kindness. She was never angry, often cautious and always loving to her goat and sheep herd and her friend Mr. Spitzy.
Snow was underweight this year for unknown reasons and the Dreamcatcher volunteers and staff worked hard to ensure she got extra supplements to put weight on for the winter to come. She looked healthy and happy and eagerly awaited her supplements when they were being delivered. She was never pushy, always polite and always appreciative.
On Friday, she was suddenly showing symptoms of being in distress physically and upon examination by our wonderful West Wind Veterinarians, she was ill for unknown reasons. A host of medications were delivered and tried to alleviate her symptoms but to no avail. Snow was laid to rest yesterday and is no longer suffering.
Thank you Dr. Carroll and Dr. Melissa from West Wind veterinary clinic for being available to us in our time of need and for doing everything you could. Thank you Emily and Jess for your help with her; Reesa, Rose, Jess, Danielle and Dale for your unwavering support and assistance; Mimi, Mel, Rose, Reesa and Jess for helping me make the decision and everyone who fed her extra and loved and cared for her in our time with us.
She brought happiness, patience, gentleness and kindness to us, the animals and the Dreamcatcher children and youth. We loved her deeply and she is sadly missed. RIP gentle Snow.
May 11, 2018
Our gentle, beautiful, stoic llama Mr. Spitzy has reluctantly left us to join the rest of his herd who had gone before him to Rainbow Bridge. Mr. Spitzy was laid to rest on Friday May 11, 2018 here at his Dreamcatcher home of 15 years.
Mr. Spitzy came to us as a donation from a wonderful lady, Cindy Gilette, who rescued him when he was 4 years old from a family who was going to take him to the auction where he likely would have met an ill fate. He was accompanied by our paint horse, Rain, who was also rescued by Cindy and he spent everyday of his life thereafter with her. Spitzy loved Rain and where she went, he went. He was a true protector and he never let his horses out of his sight, even though it was hard for him to graze all day long in the warmer seasons on his 40- acre home.
Spitzy never complained about anything. He took everything in stride and did what he had to do, pleasantly and quietly. He worked with children, youth and adults in many different capacities and excelled at everything he did. He allowed many novice people to learn about themselves through learning about him and he taught people valuable lessons about their relationships with others. Mr. Spitzy was an excellent therapy animal. He was a teacher, a patient companion and an effective skill builder for humans.
Spitzy was always kind and gentle and although he was more than 6 feet tall, he worked mindfully with children as young as 2 years old, being careful where he stepped, how fast he walked and ensuring they were safe when they were anywhere near him. He made everyone feel special and provided increased confidence and self esteem for thousands of people during his time at Dreamcatcher.
Mr. Spitzy was 19 years old which is elderly for a llama. He stayed strong and battled through the long, cold winter but unfortunately developed dental disease and had difficulty eating, resulting in a deterioration of his health. Surgery may have been catastrophic and extremely intrusive for him in his old age and so we opted not to do it. Mr. Spitzy passed away peacefully on a warm, sunny day surrounded by his human colleagues and best 4-legged friends. We imagine him laying in the sunshine next to Buttons, Buddy, Kenya and Shimmle with Uncle Snee and Minty. We all loved him very much and he is deeply missed.
Mar 29, 2018
It has been a tragic week. Our beloved Buttons had a freak accident on Monday. She fell in between some trees and could not free herself or get up. I found her and we think she was there possibly for an hour. The team responded immediately to the emergency and the 5 of us got her out. She was stiff and sore but doing okay until Wednesday when we were trying to give her pain medication and she was resisting. To help her take a break, she was moved to turn her away from the fence but unfortunately, her injury in her back was too much to turn and she fell again. Much was done to try and get her up, to save her, but it was to no avail. To end her suffering and allow her dignity, she was vet-assisted to pass and is now at rest.
She was the leader of our herd, our very best therapy horse, our best teacher, our colleague, our beloved friend and my baby. She was 19 years old, much too young to go yet. She was strong and healthy and happy.
Buttons was the second horse here at Dreamcatcher™ and was with us from the very beginning, 15 years ago. We will all need to learn to function again without her as she was an integral part of our herd and our team. She helped hundreds of people understand horses and understand themselves. She was an exceptional teacher and a solid healthy leader for her herd. We loved her dearly and deeply miss her.
My Dear Buttons
Some would say oh she’s just a horse
But not me of course
She was so much more to so many people
She touched lives, opened hearts, mended hearts and souls
When I seen her with children I was amazed
Cause with me she could be half crazed
She could be testy, she could be sweet
But to be around her was such a treat
She has now crossed over and gained her wings
She will be sure to do great things
Therapy was her game
Buttons was her name
She will be missed down here; we know she’s in a better place
With no more pain
And everything to gain
Watch over her until we meet again
R.I.P my dear Buttons
Written by Rosemarie Craig
Jun 12, 2017
It is with sad hearts that we announce the passing of our amazing warrior gentle soul, our 32 year old horse Buddy. On Monday June 12, 2017, Buddy went to be with his friends Kenya and Uncle Snee.
Buddy came to us approximately 5 years ago. He was an athlete and a cowboy's horse throughout his lifetime and was dearly loved and cared for by his previous owners. In his older years, he sustained a back injury and lived with a sway back. When he came to Dreamcatcher™ he had difficulty maintaining his weight as his teeth were wearing down and he had trouble properly chewing hay. He also appeared to be in a great deal of pain from his back injury. Buddy's age and life's work were taking a toll on him. His loving family kindly found him a place where he could continue to give wholehearteldy, which he did with every loving piece of himself, right up until the end of his life.
Through the guidance of our Veterinarians at WestWind Vet Clinic and the love and kindness of our amazing staff and volunteers, Buddy had his pain managed and his weight maintained through supplements and medications.
Buddy was the first horse to greet everyone and was so gentle that even 2 year olds felt safe with him. He helped many people overcome their fear of large animals and built the self esteem and confidence of anyone who was near him as his loving nature made every person feel special to be with him.
Buddy fought the good fight and was strong and stoic until the very end. He went with grace and dignity, the same way he lived.
We loved Buddy and miss him terribly. We will forever hold him in our hearts
Sunny & Cocoa
Apr 4, 2017It is with sad hearts that we announce the passing of our dear sweet therapy rabbit, Sunny.
Sunny was found by a boy who lived in a foster family several years ago. She was sitting on his front lawn when he and his family were leaving their home for Church one Sunday morning and he loved her instantly. The family tried to find her rightful owners as she was obviously a domesticated pet but to no avail. They allowed the boy to keep Sunny and she lived in their home for a year. The boy became very busy with his responsibilities and so could no longer care for Sunny. He was a past attendee at the Dreamcatcher™ program and so he asked us if we would take his beloved rabbit so that she would have a "good life and take care of kids." We took her. We had Sunny for approximately three years and we think she was not young when we got her.
Sunny worked with Seniors on our mobile Fuzzy Face Express program, visited children in schools where traumas had occurred, provided stress relief and comfort to homeless youth and provided safety and hope for traumatized and abused children. She was quiet, accepting, loving and kind in all her interactions and helped people to feel good, if only for the moments they held and pet her.
Sunny also provided hours of search-related, crawling-under- buildings and scouring-the-forest work for our admin staff Jess, helper Dale and countless volunteers when she managed to escape her shelter several times. Oh, Sunny! She loved to roam.
Sunny will be dearly missed. Thank you to everyone who took care of her.
(This was Sunny basking in the sun one day while a child dressed her for a princess party).
Feb 26 2017
It is with sadness that we announce the passing of our dear sheep Ojeron, also known as OJ. OJ was given to us by the Lakech Ecolodge program and lived with us and his son for the past almost 2 years. OJ was very sweet and gentle. He loved alfalfa cubes and head scratches and was very snuggly on occasion. He lived with Emma and Bilbo and spent his days munchin on hay and laying in the sun. OJ was loved by many and will be sadly missed. Thank you to everyone who helped to take care of OJ and make his last days happy and healthy. RIP OJ.
Mar 31, 2016
our loyal, faithful 14 year old retired therapy dog Axle passed away in his sleep on March 31, 2016. Axle was the best therapy dog and best friend anyone could ever hope for. Whenever anyone was sad or angry, Axle went to them to help. Sometimes he wasn't treated so nicely in these moments but he never complained. He stayed by that person no matter what happened and offered his calm, quiet strength until they could overcome their intense emotions and regain their control. Axle survived 4 surgeries throughout his lifetime and in the end, the arthritis from these events took a toll on his mobility. Although he could still walk, he required assistance to get up but again, he never complained. Other than his mobility, Axle remained relatively healthy up until he died peacefully in his sleep. He was loved and cared for by many when he needed help and especially in my absences. Those who made his life a better place in these times included Dale and all members of the Dreamcatcher™ staff; Jess, Delia, Dani, Alsiha, Reesa and Olivia as well as many of our volunteers. Jess staff went above and beyond to ensure he was comfortable and that all of his medical, medication and comfort needs were met. Thank you to everyone who cared for Axle in his time of need. His big brown loving eyes that he practically spoke with and his puppy nature will be with us for eternity. He will be forever missed.
Jake & Winter
Marshmallow & Latte
Dolly & zen