Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Truth Will Set You Free

Well, it surely has been an interesting time in our lives.  They say that there are things that won't kill you, but will definitely make you stronger.  In that case, I am the world's strongest woman.  It started with a mistake ....a mistake which had made a huge cloud of doom over my life. 
No more gossiping, here it is ....straight from the horse's mouth.
There has been an SPCA investigation occurring at our place.  Now, if I didn't say anymore about it, the judgements would likely roll, even without knowing the whole story - and that is exactly what the gossiping did.
The story is this, we have about 1000 mouths to feed around this place, 300 of those mouths belonged to our main cow herd.  In a ranching situation, it is acceptable to place them on winter grazing, which we did.  I pregnancy checked the cows in the fall, the thinner cows were brought home to feed with the heifers, and the rest went back to winter grazing ground - where I didn't see them.  Chris is the rancher and caregiver of the cattle, I am only the rancher's wife.  I see the cows when I can - sometimes at calving- when I am not helping someone else with a prolapsed uterus or a calving-at branding, to help move the herd, at weaning, and at preg-checking.  Really a very small amount of time when you add it all up. When you are owners on paper, you are also liable for those animals.   The water was opened up when the thermometer dipped, and minerals were given based on feed tests.  The plan was to bring them back home in late December/January (as we did last year) to the calving grounds.  That is when Mother Nature played her nasty tricks.  Blizzard upon blizzard happened, roads became impassable, and the cows were stuck. Plenty of feed was on hand, but unfortunately unable to get the feed to the cows, and the cows unable to get home.  I kept asking if things were fine, and I was told yes.  I went off to work in Alberta, and when I returned at end of February, I was told that the horrific thing that happened.  Another blizzard had hit, and with the wind (which occasionally likes to blow here) made the cattle drift - and they drifted to the end of the fence line, along the road, where the grader man, who was clearing the roads, found them.  They had piled in the corner, and the weaker ones - and yes, starving -died.  Twelve out of 300 were gone -1.2% of all the mouths - a needless death. That is when the SPCA was called out, and that is when the neighbors helped - paths were cleared by tractor so the rest of the cows could come home. Asking for help should not have been hard to do, if I had known the true dilemma, I would have asked help on behalf of Chris - but being the hard headed German he is, and figuring he can do everything, it has landed us in the worst time of our lives.
The rest of the animals at home, the sheep, yearlings, heifers, bulls and horses - were all in good condition - because they were getting fed.  Now they had a concern about how the border collies were - in their runs we use barrels and lots of straw - thinking this was a grand idea from people I had talked to , I decided I would do it as well.  That was a mistake.  Guess I have some dog houses to build in the future.  I have been studying the Code Of Practice for Canadian Kennel Operations, and did you know the minimum space for a border collie is 1.86 square meters (that is 20 square feet)?  That is slightly smaller than my 8 foot x 4 foot kennels - guess I did that right.  Apparently, tethering of dogs as a primary method of confinement is not acceptable.  The position statement on the humane training methods for dogs is also a very interesting read.
We have been working with the SPCA regarding this, the cows have put on loads of weight since they have got home, and improvements where they asked has been done.  There has been no charges laid - I am not sure if there will be, since the investigation is ongoing.
So the gossip started, suddenly it was 60 dead,  all the animals were starving, ect, ect. Certain people gossiped, allowing sewage to spew from them, and others believed them.  More people were called, resulting in more heartache for me.  The true colors of people came out as well - some of them had the decency to actually phone and ask how we were doing, not searching for information, but only searching to find if we were okay.  Others told me of their personal experiences, knowing exactly what we were going through.  When people believed that I was giving up on the dogs, I had even more people contact me with support and dismay (sorry about the April Fool's trick, it worked really well).
Talk about a test for the marriage.  It has been a hell of a storm for us, emotions like a tsunami, hitting on the side of the boat in every direction.  At this time we are still floating.
I felt that things were coming down to a simmer, when suddenly, things came to a boil again in my life.  I received a letter from my veterinary regulatory board - and a complaint from a person involved with the SPCA was concerned that as a veterinarian, I should not have let this happened.  They were concerned that I allowed my dogs to be in distress because of the improper shelter, and because I should have known about the cows.
Yup, I guess I will have to learn to drive the tractor, so I can feed the cows.  And clean the crystal ball up so I can see what is going on when I am away working.
So yet another fight is occurring, the fight of my life.  I have worked very hard to become a vet- I love being a vet - many can't say they wake up enjoying to go to work.  I have followed the rules set by the association and have gone to education seminars to get better at what I do.  Don't ask me for a prescription drug without looking at your dog...I won't do it.
The requested written letter was sent to the SVMA by me, explaining my side of the story.  I do hope they understand that side of the story, and see that I would do no harm to my dogs - they are a large important part of my life.
And I ponder, if the SVMA board got letters from others, would that help my case?
I guess that is only if you believe me, and believe in me.


  1. Wendy, I believe you and believe in you. Having lived on a ranch for some time, I understand. Sometimes when you have livestock, you end up with dead stock despite your very best efforts. So sorry for all the distress and I hope things right themselves soon.

  2. Hang in there. All will right itself. All your posts show you care for animals and people to.

  3. So sorry Wendy. Wow, this is tough. Learn from this, and move forward, and to those who took part in the gossip, quickly forget their names and their numbers.