During a routine day in an animal rescue you are privy to daily calls and requests of animals in need of help. Whether it’s a found litter of kittens, abandoned dogs, wounded animals, you name it, you’ll get a call about it. And like many things in life the calls come in when you are least prepared to deal with them; the coldest days, the busiest days, the days when nothing is going right. And that is where our story begins.
The call came in from a landowner about two older dogs that had been abandoned on her property. She was worried about them since the temperatures were dropping and her resident dog wasn’t getting along with them. One of the dogs also appeared to have mobility issues. Now we said that these types of calls come in at the least opportune time and this was no different. It was -27 degrees Celsius outside and Terra, who had received the call, was caring for her sick son and her truck was in the garage. But being the person that she is, Terra bundled up her baby and sick son, dropped them off at a friend’s place and began the trek out to the middle of nowhere.
Middle of nowhere was approximately 39 kms outside of town and there were no other houses nearby. As Terra pulled into the yard, she saw 3 dogs, one was on a chain and belonged to the homeowner and the two others were loose. As she approached in her vehicle one of the loose dogs, who was overweight, hobbled off into the night. Leaving the dogs, Terra went up to the house and spoke with the homeowner. She said she had pulled into work one day to find two new dogs in her yard along with a blanket and a pail of kibble. She had no idea who’s dogs they were and waited over a week for someone to turn up looking for them. But as the weather conditions got worse, she began to worry and that is when she made the call.
One of the abandoned dogs was a huge friendly male (that looked like a tiger according to Terra’s son) and the dog that had wandered off was a shy female collie Akita mix. Both dogs were overweight and appeared to be, at one time, looked after. Even though the male was very friendly he was bonded with the female so he would not come to Terra unless the female did. And the female did not seem so keen on going up to a stranger. So there Terra stood, outside in -27° weather, tempting these two dogs with food, playing ‘catch me if you can’ and after 2 hours with her fingers numb, her face chapped, and her eyelids frozen she decided to call it a night, but not until she made one last attempt. She decided to usher the female toward the deep snow and once in the snow, Terra then jumped her with a blanket. After some thrashing and snapping, yelling and growling, and a roll in the snow, the female dog just stopped. As they both lay there in the snowbank, Terra asked, “are you done messin’ around?” and took the silence as the dog’s agreement. Terra then threw a leash on her and walked back to the truck, the dog trotting along beside her like they had been friends all along. When they got to the truck Terra opened the door, but the dog just looked inside and then looked back at Terra as if to say “well boost me up idiot, I can’t get up there myself”. So, after a boost inside the warm vehicle, the male happily hopped in too and off they went, exhausted and frozen.
Back home, Terra got to work learning about these two dogs. The male was a happy friendly oaf that was thrilled just to be a part of any activity. He had no idea that he was 120lbs and his name was Morten. He went on to have many adventures with wayward martins and stealing the neighbor’s bacon to give to his ‘sister’. The female was a lady of her own mind, she learned to love Terra, decided Terra’s kids were her kids, never came when she was called, came when she wanted to, and never went anywhere without Morten in tow. She had bad hips and grumbled continuously about mealtimes or nuisance dogs getting in her way, or Terra not having things ready for her, but grumbling made her happy. She loved to boss Morten around and refused to admit she was anything shy of human, and always knew way more than Terra could ever understand. They came to call her Ferne named after Terra’s mom, who also had a bad hip and happily grumbled about many things and loved to boss the family around.
And so, we have named our Sanctuary after a dog named Ferne. A dog that was named after a very special lady. And it is in their memory that we have started up this organization. To help save more animals like Ferne and Morten and continue in their legacy.
STARTING A SANCTUARY
Our founder, Terra, has always had a profound fondness for animals; she empathized with them before she knew what empathy was. It is because of this that she has been blessed (and cursed) with the ability to find animals anytime she steps outside her front door. From crows flying down from trees to sit with her, abandoned kittens/cats darting in front of her vehicle on the road, to wild animals bringing their babies to her.
You would think that with all this interaction with animals, Terra would naturally go into a field of work that involved helping animals, but she did not. She had thought about being a vet or vet tech, but that just never felt right and shockingly you can’t earn a living rescuing animals. Instead, over the years, Terra has had many jobs, but always found a way to bring her dog with her. She even lived in rentals that didn’t’ allow pets, but still had her pets. She hauled ferrets to hotels, found animals needing help, and volunteered at humane societies. Until one day, while working minimum wage and working additional hours that she got paid for Terra discovered her true passion. She had been around dogs for so long and volunteered with dogs that needed training that those interactions had rubbed off on her. Terra had decided to begin her journey as a dog trainer, one that would focus on rescue dogs that needed her help.
Over the years working as a trainer in the rescue world, Terra grew, not only her skills, but also inadvertently her collection of dogs. These dogs all do very well with Terra at her home, but not so well with the general public. And so, being that no animal rescuer wants to euthanize dogs, this particular pack of dogs just hung out at Terra’s place where they thrived. A program was then created to support their care through sponsorships. This program was called Sanctuary Animals.
As the years went on, Terra’s family grew with more animal lovers who then added more animals to the family. There was a rescued dairy calf saved from butcher, hens from an auction, rehomed pigs and horses pulled of slaughter trucks. So, there was Terra, 3 kids, a yard full of critters, and a small pack of dogs. It was a busy life, but it was a good life, until one day the decision came to leave the rescue that she had spent years working alongside. But leaving the rescue meant a decision had to be made about the pack of sanctuary dogs that had now learned to call her place home. Terra was the only family they knew, and this was the only home where they felt safe.
Not being able to imagine putting them through a move and risking an uncertain future, Terra opened her wallet and paid the adoption fee so that all 14 dogs and 2 cats could stay with her. But she still needed to find a way to care for these animals, so a dedicated team of volunteers began working on a way to raise money for the sanctuary dogs and cats to provide for their needs. And out of the discussions and meetings, Ferne’s Acres was born.
This sanctuary is dedicated to supporting and caring for animals that fall through the cracks. The ones that are different, misunderstood, and sick. The ones that require very specific homes and ongoing medical treatment. The ones that without this sanctuary would run the risk of being put down or abandoned. Ferne’s is here to fill that gap so that, hopefully, more animals’ lives can be saved in the future.