Friday, February 25, 2011

Sanctuary Update

The Claire Foundation Animal Sanctuary
All Heart in the Heartland
2011 Update for Our Friends and Supporters

2010 was a challenging year, but a beautiful one. We not only helped rescue and place a lot of animals, we gave Sanctuary to many more, too. Like the feral kittens we nursed and raised, and who now reside in the barn with all the other ferals.

Like Duck and Miss, whose owner passed away and left two deaf and blind 11 year old dogs that no one wanted.

We took in more abandoned housecats, and helped people who lost their homes due to foreclosure to find a place for their animals, even when we couldn’t take them because we were overcrowded. Part of our mission is free coaching for people with any kind of animal issues, and we take many calls per week and spend many hours supporting people and their animals in this way… more this year than ever before.

The animals here at the Sanctuary are never in cages… we live in an atmosphere of home, where everybody learns to get along.

Thornton, a huge Golden/Hound mix was rescued at about 2 months of age. He lived here at the Sanctuary for over three years, until he found his forever home with one of our Board members. He and Pushkin, a rescued cat who loves to snuggle with Thornton, went to their new home together. After 4 months, reports are that they are amazingly happy and well-adjusted in their new home.

We would also love to find a home for the super-loveable Honey-Bunny, a Sheltie/Corgi mix. She came to us from an abusive situation, and was quite shy at first… but over the past two years she has been here, she has really come out of her shell. She loves the cats, loves children, and is very social with other dogs. She is approximately three years old now, and has a lot of good loving to offer the right home.

Bella is the newest rescue member of the Sanctuary… a year-old boxer/shepherd mix. What a delight she is, fun-loving, great with children and cats and other dogs. We’re working on the chewing thing… and her love of using those paws like a boxer. But she is so smart that she learns everything amazingly quickly. She wants to please!

These are only a few of the stories… there are so many (over 40 animals reside here now), and so many more needing our help. Your support is what enables us to fulfill our mission of offering Sanctuary to as many animals as possible, and helping others to do the same.

This year, we hope to buy a used tractor to keep the horse pastures mowed and harrowed, to put in more dog fencing and dog doors, and to put in a new shed home with apartments for the ‘anti-social’ cats to have somewhere to call their own. And most of all, we hope like crazy for a large bequest to pay off the farm and put it in trust for the Sanctuary! We will be getting more attention this year, since our Sanctuary is being featured in a new book about animal sanctuaries. We’ll keep you posted about the publication date.

Whatever level of support you give, it is appreciated. We send you and your animal friends a big hello and heart-felt thank you!

The Claire Foundation Animal Sanctuary

Thank you! You can also mail your contributions to:

The Claire Foundation Animal Sanctuary
4955 London Road

Farmington, MO 63640

Contact us: 573-760-0984
E-mail us

Mary Alberici

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Riding the Waves

Making ends meet in a non-profit these days is like riding the ocean waves... on a quiet day, the steady waves are easily and pleasurably navigated even by children.  But there are times when the waves are so big that they threaten to engulf you... unless you learn to surf, and ride the waves home.

Well, economically the waves this past year have been huge.  Somehow we've learned to surf!  Even in the months when it looked like there was no way, somehow we've come through.  Riding the waves is not as fun as it sounds... it's downright scary when you don't know exactly where the next dollar is coming from.  But we are making it!  And a lot of thanks goes to organizations like The Katy Favre Foundation, and the Rainbow Ranch, whose support and donations have helped immeasurably in 2010.

So now, in 2011, we are optimistic that the waves will die down, and we can float on our backs a bit more... perhaps even have the funds to buy the new tractor and the new dog fencing and dog doors that we need, or even a big bequest that would pay off the mortgage and put the land in trust for the animals, in perpetuity.  Now THAT would be something! 

Maybe the waves we'll be riding this year will be waves of big dreams that really do come true! In the meantime, with your help, we'll continue to ride the waves that come. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Seasons and Time

Well, it's been a couple of months since I last posted here.  The seasons have changed, if not the temperatures.  It's 75 and sunny right now, and though it's nearly November, we still haven't had any frost or freezing weather.  My flowers are still blooming and enjoying this last bit of sunshine, being completely prolific and without thought for tomorrow.  I can sit on the deck and watch the vibrant scarlet and yellow sugar maple dance in the wind, gloriously, outrageously beautiful... I can sit and watch it for hours.  It reminds me that changing seasons are not what they seem, and that all this beauty is a celebration of the eternal nature of life.

I have a couple of new residents here at the Sanctuary.  Lucky Duck and Miss, a couple of ancient beagles whose owner died and who no one wants.  The seasons of their lives have definitely seemed to change... but here they are, enjoying the autumn sunlight with great joy and pleasure, reminding me again that changing circumstances are not what they seem, that life in all its disguises is infinite and good.

And so I am grateful for this autumn day, with its warmth and sunshine and outrageous colors and scents.  And I'm grateful for the changes that will come.  Because beneath it all lies an unchanging reality that is comforting and good, and that continues beyond the changing of forms.  That is what The Claire Foundation Animal Sanctuary celebrates.  I care for each of the animals that live and love together here... but I also know that life is infinite, and that as we each have our seasons, life goes on.  We each have our purpose in the changing of seasons and time, this rich palette of experience called life. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Different Kind of Sanctuary

My mother is in a nursing home suffering from dementia.  She rarely remembers my name anymore, but she ALWAYS remembers her cat, Mrs. Murphy.  When I take M.M. to see mom, she smiles in delight... Mrs. Murphy is just as delighted, and curls up on mom's bed for the duration.  I always hate to separate them again.

If I were to create a new model for elderly care, it would not involve more emphasis on keeping bodies alive.  It would involve loving relationships between animals and people living together in harmony, as well as between all individuals living under the same roof.  It would involve magnifying the beauty that is always present, the comfort of being together, the joy of sharing and communing.  These are not the values stressed in corporately modeled nursing homes.  Although they make a good show of 'caring' for the body and being 'nice', their aim is monetary, and the model is medical and pharmacological.  It's all about the survival of the body (which brings in cash), not about quality of life.  In other words, the doctors and investors (and the drug companies) make a lot of money, and the business provides a lot of low-end jobs without benefits to give the illusion of social responsibility.  What is even worse, many of these obviously for-profit organizations accept donations under the guise of non-profit foundations.

What does this have to do with Life in Sanctuary?  I have committed the Claire Foundation Animal Sanctuary to the very model that I would implement for elderly care for humans.  It doesn't involve more emphasis on keeping bodies alive, although we take good care of the creatures here. It involves loving relationships between animals and people as well as between all animals living under the same roof. When there is conflict, as there sometimes is, it is always lovingly and compassionately resolved, with the aggressors reconciled and happy once again.  Life in Sanctuary involves magnifying the beauty that is always present, the comfort of being together, and the joy of inter-species sharing and communing.  It is about Life, not about survival.  And when a creature passes on, it is from a life well-lived and well-loved.

So why not non-profit Sanctuaries for the elderly? 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Educating the Human Mind

"The ultimate goal of Sanctuary should be to change the ways that humans think of, and treat, non-human animals.  The Claire Foundation Animal Sanctuary is committed to the deep ecology of our human/animal connection, and how it can change the world." -- The Claire Foundation Mission Statement

As I read over the mission statement for our Sanctuary, I am filled with awe and love for the gift of this work.  Each and every life form on this land is a part of Sanctuary, not just the animals that have been 'rescued.'  There is a web of life that has nothing to do with the forms themselves, and everything to do with the larger Self that we all share.

In this little miniature of the world, we strive to awaken to the Love that lives us.  We strive to respect all life, without expecting it to be human, or ascribe human thoughts and limitations to it. 

You may think it strange that I call it Love that lives us.  After all, the feral cats sometimes kill the birds and bunnies, and the coyotes sometimes eat the cats, and the hawks and owls and black snakes all eat what is smaller.  So the appearance is one of competition and conflict.  But there is a larger context in which none of those human judgements are true at all.  There is a beauty and safety and harmony that simply IS.  

Without our human judgements, we fall again into the rhythm of Life, which is infinite.  Claire, my beloved canine companion of 15 years, passed on in December of last year.  But her wisdom, spirit, and even the remnants of her body, are forever a part of this land and its inhabitants.  Each and every frog and mushroom and bird and cat and dog and horse are forever contributing to this collective Being that we are.  

All fear and competition falls away as we realize that Life is One.  And my hope is that you will also provide sanctuary, even on a small scale, for the Life that we are.  Because we are all blessed by it beyond measure.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Berries and More

The mulberries on the mulberry trees are dwindling now... fewer and fewer berries each day.  But what a feast it has been for the past month and a half!  I've never seen so many mulberries... and the birds love them so... as do some of the dogs!  They actually 'graze' around the base of the trees and happily munch fallen berries.  Such economy in nature.  And I notice that the birds always leave a few within easy reach every day, so I can enjoy them too. 

Blackberries have been in full swing for a couple of weeks now.  I've made endless pies and crisps for family and friends.  And my ever-bearing strawberries are now yielding again.  Such abundance!  There are always a few blackberries with holes in them from bird beaks... I leave those for the birds to finish.  And I always leave the low-hanging ones for smaller creatures.  In the strawberry patch, turtles and mice feast along with a giant preying mantis who patrols the plants like a guardian angel, looking for smaller bugs to feast on.  The birds pretty much leave the strawberries alone, preferring the wild blackberries and mulberries that are everywhere.

Why all this berry talk?  Besides the fact that I have been picking berries everyday and have them on the brain?  Well, the berry patches and mulberry trees here in Sanctuary provide a huge lesson in how the world really works.  Wall Street may think world markets thrive on competition and self-centeredness... but I can see that this is a distortion of how the world works, based on the belief that there is a limited supply, and that we have to take all we can before it's gone.  Like we view fossil fuels, or a real estate boom, or any other economic opportunity in our world... it's take, take, take... eat or be eaten.

Actually, there is a natural rhythm and sharing, if we step back and observe.  There is plenty for everybody, including the rodents and insect pests (the ones that make it past the preying mantis!).  I never spray, I never cover anything with nets, and there is always abundance and balance.  All my neighbors (the ones who protect their gardens and spray everything in sight for insects) have been complaining about grackles and Japanese beetles.  But though there may be a few here and there, they don't really diminish the abundance of berries (or any other vegetable).  Even my roses look good, in spite of the fact that Japanese beetles love to munch their blooms. 

Could it really be so simple?  Could it be that if we respect and embrace all of life, and go with the flow of life instead of battling it, that we are actually included in the abundance and sharing that goes on effortlessly?  Could it be that if we look with larger eyes, the eyes of the large Self that Deep Ecologist Arne Naess wrote about, then we come to know our Self as part of the whole?

According to Naess, every living being, whether human, animal, or vegetable (including fruits!) has a vital and equal need and right to live and grow and blossom.  And it is only when we yield to the flow of the large Self that we (and all of life) experience ourselves as a natural part of the whole, in a natural rhythm and harmony.

Life in Sanctuary is not just altruism.  It's by living in the flow and harmony of life that we return to sanity and oneness.  Loving the plants and animals and people, loving the changing and ever-flowing abundance and variety of life is as necessary and vital to our planetary well-being as economics.  Berries and more berries... that's the way of life well-lived. 

Monday, July 12, 2010

Letting Go...

Life in Sanctuary is a microcosm for the rest of the world.  Animals come here to live in safety and harmony, in as close to a natural setting as possible.  We are a family here, and like all families we have to learn to let go.

Sometimes it's a mother cat, learning to let go of her kittens, as one of them dies, or as they learn to fend for themselves, or as I take them to be spayed or neutered.  Sometimes it's one of the older animals passing on, in the natural rhythm of forms that come and go.  Sometimes it's watching the 200 year old elm tree lose more branches each year, as it gracefully yields itself to the earth.  And sometimes it's counseling pet owners who can no longer keep their animals, and are struggling with letting go.  I have to let go of wanting to rescue, and simply be with them in the natural rhythm of their life choices.  I have to trust that there is an order to things, and that whatever happens, it all works for good. 

I remember the first time I really understood the wisdom of animals.  I was very young, and my grandfather was aggravated at a cat.  He was unfailingly kind to animals, but this cat got into the milk while he was milking a cow.  So he picked her up and tossed her away.  She landed gracefully, and sat and gazed at him, blinking to show non-aggression.  She didn't hold it against him.  Animals naturally let go from one minute to the next, naturally trusting the organic flow of life, even when it appears cruel.  Nothing is what it appears.  Life is unfailingly kind, unfailingly giving, unfailingly flowing and renewing if we can learn the art of letting go.  This cat sat patiently, completely unfazed, letting go and trusting the situation.  And when he was done milking, grandpa gave her a big dish of cream. :-)

Life is like that.  And offering Sanctuary to animals has given me this gift, something I didn't learn from my family, who never let go of anything or anyone!  To my surprise, I find that all true joy comes from this relaxed awareness and trust, even in the face of challenges.  The flow of life naturally takes us back to joy when we learn the art of letting go...