Thursday, November 16, 2006


Drinking water is an absolute necessity for every creature on the property. We currently have quite a shallow well and are having trouble with it running dry from time to time. We keep enough water stored on the property to drink for several days, and Mike donated a wonderful huge tank so we can go out and pick up water when necessary. As many hardships as we are willing to face here all the time, not having adequate water is simply not one we can live with for long. We really need to dig a new well. And I need your help and support to be able to do this. We've already gotten the county permit, and I have the company lined up to dig. But I need the money. It's going to cost between $5,000 and $7,000. For us, this is a huge sum of money, not something we can just dig into our back pockets and pull out. If everybody could please just muster up an extra $10 this month we’d be able to get our well done. Please help out if you possibly can.

Make a donation for the well thru and use our email address of

Send a personal check to: Rikki's Refuge, PO Box 1357, Orange VA 22960

Call us at 540-854-0870 x5 and make a donation by Credit Card, MasterCard, Visa, Discover or American Express

Thank you for your support.



Don’t miss the November 16th Edition of our E-Newsletter. Request your copy at

Critter Needs - what we gotta get
Cash or Credit
The Feed Fund
The Cash Stash
A New Well is Absolutely Necessary
and More ...
See the Magic at Rikki's Refuge, Open House, November 18
A Big Big Thank You to All the Pumpkin People
Dog House in Silver Spring
Large Doghouses Available for Feral Cats
Oh My Gosh! Did Another Year Slipped by and I Didn't Even Notice It?
Well, Well, Well, I Really Need Your Help on This One
I Was Reading a Book about Thinking Positive the Other Day
And so This Book I Was Reading, Said
Working at an Animal Sanctuary Is the Perfect Job
Animal Care Taker Position Available
And the Phone Began to Ring
Animal Friendly Housing for Rent in Orange County, Virginia
Feline Foundation Craft Show, December 2, Arlington, 9 A.M. to 3 P.M.
Thank You


Bring the family and share a spectacular day at Rikki's Refuge during the Fall Open House this Saturday, November 18, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

- Great Children's Magic Show at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. (limited seating available to the kids on a first come basis, adults welcome if space permits but kids get first dibbs on the seats for this event)

- Guided Nature Walk with Rikki's Refuge’s own Bigfoot at noon (dress for the weather, good boots, waterproof, pristine nature means no board walks or benches, paths have been improved only with a little bit of trimming and use)

- Take a tour with one of our guides, meet, pet, and feed a multitude of creatures of 18 different species (tour guides will be on hand to lead tours around the animal areas throughout the day)

- Hot cider and baked goods and loads of fun

- Admission is a can(s) of cat or dog food, per person

- Big Bonus: get a head start on your holiday shopping by visiting our Gift Shop for fine handmade crafts and other unique items. Rikki’s T-shirts, long and short sleeve, sweat shirts, scarves, hats, gloves, handbags, jewelry, and all kinds of cool stuff for you, your pets and your friends. Do all your holiday shopping right here.

No reservation necessary, the gates open just before 11. From the intersection of 522 and route 20 in Orange County, head 2.4 miles South on route 20 (towards the town of Orange), we’re on the left and the sign will be out for the Open House.

Don’t miss this event. But do wear your boots. It’s been real rainy lately and everything, I mean everything, is muddy. Next open house is December 10th.

Our Rags ‘n’ Relics Shop has many more Christmas items. Decorations as well as gifts. We’ll be open 10 - 2 on December 2-3. But if you want a private shopping spree during the open house, just ask. We’ll do all we can to accommodate you. It’s not a promise, but if one of us can get away we’ll run over there with you for your own private Get Ahead of the Crowd Shopping Spree. It’s only a mile down the road from Rikki’s.

God willing, the creek not rising, enough volunteers showing up, the scheduled staff showing up, the animals cooperating, no unexpected disasters and all that stuff ...... You’ll get a go at it before the big Christmas Clearance Sale on Dec 2-3.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Halloween with the Animals at Rikki’s Refuge 10/15 Sunday

October 15, Sunday: Noon - 4 pm

Orange, Virginia -- Route 20, 2.5 miles south of Route 522, Orange, Virginia


Wear a Halloween Costume and Trick or Treat with the Animals!!!

Best Costume will be on the Web and win an official Rikki’s Wear T-Shirt

Surprise Gift for Every Child

Refreshments and Halloween Treats for All

Meet all 18 species of animal ranging from Emus to Chuckars!

Admission: Can(s) of dog or cat food.

Come join the fun and tour Rikki’s Refuge during the Halloween Open House on October 15 from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Come decked out in your Halloween Costume! Interact with the 18 species of animals ranging from chukars to emus. There will be tours every half-hour, refreshments and a surprise gift for every child! Admission is a can(s) of cat or dog food.

Refuge is located on Route 20, 2.5 miles south of Route 522 in Orange, Virginia. Watch for the sign at the end of our driveway. BONUS: get a head start on your holiday shopping! Visit the Gift Shop at Rikki’s for fine handmade craft and other unique items. The Purrr-fect place to shop for you animal loving friends!

PS: We’re sorry, but we must ask that you leave your pets at home. Our resident animals get upset when they have non-human visitors. Watch for special events for you and your pets!

VOLUNTEER WORK PARTY: Join Jason working on all kinds of Rikki’s Projects. 10 am till dark. If you’ve always wanted to take a tour and volunteer here’s a great opportunity.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Wayne and Nanny at JC Penny

Wayne and Nanny at JC Penny
Originally uploaded by rikkis_refuge.
Nanny strolls thru JC Penny at Fashion Square Mall in Charlottesville on her way to kiss the manager.

Jan is a Natural Winner

Jan Wins Again
Originally uploaded by rikkis_refuge.
Leave it to Jan. When she’s offered a new and exciting way to help Rikki’s Refuge, what does she say? “YES!!!” Jan was the first to make a donation (substantial at that) using our new credit card acceptance program. We’d just gotten it approved. I’d just finished printing the forms out Saturday morning and rushed them over to Deloris for Rags n Relics. While I was there explaining to Deloris how to go about filling out the forms, Deb showed up to volunteer. She was the first with the opportunity to try out this new, exciting, high tech, giving option, but skeptical she was, with a “Yeah Right” comment. I was disappointed not to have one of our special people to spotlight as the first giver of this program. I left Rags n Relics with my tail between my legs and slank back to Rikki’s Refuge wondering who’d win that Spotlight Position as the first new Credit Card Donor.

Soon Jan showed up with a huge load of delicious produce for the pigs and rabbits and guinea pigs from Healthway Natural Foods. I showed her the new forms and offered her the chance to be the first VIP donor and guess what she said? “YES!” and she whipped out her credit card and made a very generous donation in Memory of Buddy the Beagle and McGruff (a former Rikki’s Refugee who’d been adopted by Mariza).

Thank you Jan for always being there for the animals.

So for those of you who want to make a donation via credit card but don’t want to use paypal, whip out a sheet of paper and write down the following for me or pick up the phone and call and tell me:
the date
the amount in US Dollars that you wish to give
exactly as it shows up on your credit card:
Your full name, card number, type of card, expiritation date and that three digit secret code off the back
exactly as it shows up on your billing statement:
Your full name, address (including zip and all that), e-mail and phone number
sign it and send it in to:
Rikki’s Refuge
PO Box 1357
Orange VA 22960

How simple! How rewarding! How wonderful for the Animals! Thank you Jan for setting the example!

All of us at Rikki’s Refuge, two legged, three legged and four legged think Jan Chetnik is a real winner. She’s always going that extra mile for the critters. As Rikki’s Official Tour Director, she’s in charge of setting up Tours and Open Houses. As Rikki’s Education Director she’s in charge of changing the future. As Rikki’s Public Relations Director she’s that warm fuzzy link between Rikki’s and the outside world.

Deadline August 31, for Ukrops, Benevolink

If you use your Ukrop’s card or any services associated with Benevolink, tomorrow is the dead line to give your earned dollars to the charity of your choice - Rikki’s Refuge, of course. Benevolink has replaced the Golden Gift Certificates for Ukrop’s. Log on to Benevolink,

and take it from there. If you’re at all computer literate you can follow it. Search for the charity of your choice. I entered Rikki’s Refuge in Virginia and we came up just fine. The full entry is Life Unlimited of Virginia, Inc / Rikki’s Refuge, PO Box 1357 Orange VA 22960. If you haven’t entered your Ukrop’s card info or signed up with Benevolink I’m sure you’ll have to do that now too.

Here’s the directions I got in the e-mail Benevolink sent me

YES - I want to give my funds! Go here to give

Don't know how to give your funds yet? It's quick and simple, learn how today!

Haven't chosen a charity yet? Choose one or more today!

Go to search at

Go to your planner at

Helpful Links:

Home =

Login =

My Account =

Shop Now =

Select Charities =

Direct Your Funds =

Help Center =

Thank you for giving your Earned Dollars to Rikki’s Refuge.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Jan, this is Christy, I need your help

Please come and get me. Remember me? You saved me back in May. If you had not picked me up and helped me, I probably would not be alive today. The day you took me to Rikki's Refuge I went into labor. And it was really bad. Some of my kitty friends say it's no big deal, but I thought it was really awful. I was in labor for almost 48 hours. I had 4 babies, my first 3 were born breach, and it really hurt. Remember my poor little babies? They were so very tiny when they were born, that we were worried about them. I took good care of them, and at first are doctor thought they were going to be OK. But by the time they were two weeks old, they had faded away and died. I helped Nellie to take care of her kittens.

It was a long time before I was healthy enough to get spayed. I'm really glad I did, because I sure don't want to have to have babies again, and those Tomcats just won't listen to “NO”. So after months and months. I'm all happy and healthy. And I’m pretty young too, only about a year old. Kerry looked at me the other day and said, “What are you doing in the 9th Life Retirement, Assisted Living and Psychiatric Center? You are young, perfectly healthy, well-adjusted, a lovely young kitty. I think you should live in a regular cathouse.” And so I moved out to Cat House #1. Vincent and Victoria, Boss Man, Sneakers, Shorty and Marty, Timmy and Kerry Potter all welcomed me. Amanda even licked my ears. But it's really scary out here! Kerry Potter kept telling me stories about evil humans. I don't think I belie her because the humans I know have been very nice. Kerry Potter says they try to capture you and do evil things to you, she tells me I'm lucky to be out here, and not in the 9th Life Retirement, Assisted Living and Psychiatric Center, where there's more humans all time.

But I want my humans! And I want to go inside! I can't figure out how to get old quick. Vincent and Victoria had some ideas for assisted-living, but I really like having four legs. But I sure can pretend to be crazy. So if that's what it takes to get back in the 9th Life Retirement, Assisted Living and Psychiatric Center, that's what I'm going to do.

I screamed, I yelled, and I figured out how to get out of Cat House #1. They just hugged me and loved me and put me back in! So last night I got out again, I ran to the hospital, and I climbed up the door, and I clung on to the windows, and I screamed, and I screamed, and I screamed. It was raining and I was soaking wet. This really made them feel sorry for me, so I've now been admitted to the Psychiatric Center.

But Jan, I think you better come and get me and adopt me, because I don't think I can keep up this Psycho act for long, and then they'll try to make me go and live like a normal cat again. I promise to be really, really good if you let me come home and live with you. Do you think maybe we can just give it a try?

Love, Christy

Parfait, the Stowaway

Parfait is a precious little dilute calico, just a little thing, not very many teeth, just a little bitty meow, but a great big purr. She's an older girl and she needs fluids every day. Parfait loves cages and carriers. She always loves to sneak inside. Sometimes when a new kitty arrives, if the carrier is left sitting there for a minute, she climbs in. She's almost ridden home with people many times.

Today is a big vet day. Lots of critters going in for various types of work for the day. The carriers had been set out, the labels affixed, and at six o'clock this morning, we were catching the appropriate animal to put into the appropriate carrier. They were loaded up into the van and driven off to Culpeper Animal Hospital.

Keeping track of the medical records for a thousand animals is no small chore. Everyone has their computer record, charts are printed every day for anyone needing medication, and charts must be printed for anyone going to the vet. Labels are printed to put on carriers, so there's no confusion on who is who, and what work needs to be done. Just imagine how you would like to be the vet who got seven black cats, seven brown tabby's, seven black and whites, and had to figure out who bites and who doesn't, and who was getting neutered, and who needed a tooth pulled. The label on each carrier gives the animal's name, species, personality (as in caution your fingers will be removed if you put them into this carrier), and what medical work is needed for the day. Each animal is also sent along with its full medical chart, showing it’s shot history, as well as its prior medical history, and what is wrong today.

The animals all arrived safely at Culpeper Animal Hospital, were unloaded, and began to get prepared for whatever procedure they were having today. For non-emergency items, we block our vet service a day at a time. Imagine calling for a vet appointment, and instead of being assigned a half-hour slot, you were assigned a day!Well that's the way it is at Rikki's Refuge! And soon the phone rang. Culpeper Animal Hospital was saying, “We seem to have an extra animal here.” The vet list always has last-minute changes to it, because if surgery was scheduled and someone has a cold it has to be delayed, if someone has come down ill unexpectedly, or someone has recovered unexpectedly they may be added to, or deleted from, the list.

I was given a description of the additional animal and I was most baffled. Didn't sound like a last-minute changed one. We went over the list of each one and everybody who should be there, was there, and there was one more. The extra kitty had arrived in a carrier with a very feral cat wrapped in a mesh laundry bag (aka feral cat handling device), with only one name and description on that carrier.

“Ah Ha”, I said, “does this look like an old girl, not many teeth, fairly small, very nice and friendly? Lena, run check and see if Parfait is here.”

Monday, August 28, 2006

Hanky Panky ??? With Chickens ?????

Why !! I Never ....... How could you accuse me??? ME ???? I’ve never been in the chicken house. Why!! The nerve of you to even think !!!!!

Rikki’s MULTI SPECIES Sanctuary has mysteries unfolding every day

As the birds grow ... the plot only thickens ... we now fear they may be Ferckens. To quote from the only source we can find, “The Fercken is believed to be an unusual cross between the feral cat and the owl. Scientists believed this to be impossible, until recently, when an entire breeding flock was discovered in the Piedmont section of Virginia. Untamed, these creatures can be exceedingly dangerous. They combine the ferociousness of a feral cat, with the stealthy hunting abilities of an owl. They have never been observed in captivity. And due to their dangerous built in weaponry, vicious feral attitude, and ability to not only claw and bite, but their penchant for flying into one’s face and plucking out the eyeballs of their victim, no scientist has yet been willing to manage a flock in captivity. Unsubstantiated rumors abound of a reclusive mountain man found living in a cave in the Shenandoah National Park who had a captive flock of Ferckens. Several nesting sites were found in and around his cave home. As the National Park Police surrounded his site two other bearded men were seen loading what appeared to be cardboard boxes into an older model black SUV. They were not apprehended. While residing in federal prison, awaiting his trial for living on National Parkland without a permit, the hermit, who will identify himself only as The Bird Man, babbles on about the importance of taming birds while they are young so they do not attempt to take over the world. He sits in his prison cell and watches “The Birds” over and over, day in and day out, begging everyone he comes in contact that they must listen to him if they are to save the world. Psychologist who had spoken to him, say it is just the ravings of a mad lunatic. Scientists who have studied his cave site insist there is no fear that he was raising the dreaded Ferckens as all scientific evidence points to nesting habits of perfectly normal chickens. “

Friday, August 25, 2006

Rikki’s Refuge needs your Volunteer Help

Remember, I’ve said it before. If you don’t hear from me, it’s not because I’m goofing off, it’s because I’m to busy to even pick up the phone and scream for help. We’re very swamped right now. Had a nasty contagious virus come in on a cat from South Carolina and we’ve now had dozens of cases of it. This calls for all night stints.

With the end of summer and the beginning of school, Jonathan, a lovely 16 year old boy who’d volunteered EVERY DAY all summer long, has left us to go back to school. I tried to explain to his mom that this was a far better education but ...

Basil, who has worked here since last fall, first weekends and then full time all summer long, has reached that sassy sixteen and decided he has better things to do than work weekends anymore. He left a phone message quitting with no notice what so ever. So we’re short staffed until that weekend position can be filled.

One of our staff has been ill and may need some extended time off, making us short off and on during the week.

Wayne, our hero, continues to be here virtually every day doing what ever. He hauls gunk to the dump. Cleans what ever needs it. Hauls water when the well is acting up. He took early retirement, moved away from the city life, bought a home near the Refuge, just to volunteer full time.

I need more Wayne’s. But if you can’t be a Wayne, at least please be a volunteer. Come this weekend ready to work. It ain’t glamorous but it’s got to be done. Scooping, mowing (thankfully with the dry weather it isn’t too long), and loving critters.

If you’ve always wanted that perfect job - it’s your chance to apply now. 540-854-0870 x8 Or be here at 8 am Saturday or Sunday morning to audition for the job.

And it’s never just one thing. We’re a bit short in the financial department too. I had to borrow some bucks to cover things for August. Vet bills were higher than usual with all the sick cats. Semi-annually we order a lot of our drugs. I picked up over $500 of drugs at Culpeper Pharmacy yesterday and the new check out lady said “WOW !!”. She seemed shocked when I said, “Yes, and I’ll be back for more next week.” Just had to restock on vaccines, Feluk/FIV test kits, Heartworm/Lyme test kits. All it takes is a few extra bills for $500 or $700 here or there and we’re scraping the bottom of the bucket.

Jan did a wonderful thing and I’ll tell you about that later. She was the absolutely FIRST to donate in a new and exciting way. Jan is always at the forefront of innovative ideas for Rikki’s Refuge. If you can log on to http// today and make a donation using it will be greatly appreciated.

We’re going to have to put in a new well in the very near future too. And I need real help with this one. Not just financially but who’s got some expertise they can lend me? We have a relatively shallow well and it’s running out. Some days we do good. Others we’re hauling in water. Thank you Mike for that 125 gallon tank. Those of you who turn on city water have no idea what it’s like when you turn the faucet and nothing happens. It’s your problem. We’ve been using 2.5 gallon jugs to haul water. It takes a long time to fill and a long time to lug out and empty.

Our critters drink 400 gallons of water a day. DRINK. Then the cleaning takes about that much again on a light day. Forget laundry. You should see Lena down at the creek with a washboard. And water is heavy. That 125 gallon tank holds about 1,000 pounds of water. No kidding. Lots of weight. Thank you Daddy for the pick up which is running great and has no trouble hauling over 1,000 pounds at a time. I promise I’ll get time to call you soon.

So we need to be saving up the $s for a well. If you know a reliable, honest well company let me know. I’m hoping to talk to the experts and get some recommendations in the next week or so. In the meantime, if you can’t dig me a well, at least come scoop a cat run or dog run.

Thanks, Kerry

He wanted to kiss a pig,

Originally uploaded by rikkis_refuge.
but got stuck with a goat .....

But instead .... Nanny goat gets a big smooch .....

sitting goat
Make me move!
Originally uploaded by rikkis_refuge.

United Way-Thomas Jefferson Area will be partnering with Rikki’s for a quick media event to bring awareness to both non-profits. The Charlottesville JC Penney Store at Fashion Mall will be holding a media event TODAY, Friday, August 25 at 4 pm, in which their manager will kiss Nanny Goat, Official Spokes Goat for Rikki’s Refuge. He’d wanted to kiss a pig but Claire has flatly refused to climb all the way up a ramp to get into the truck. Nanny goat volunteered to fill in for an Oreo.

If you can be there, come join us, 4 pm, JC Penny, Fashion Mall in Charlottesville. You can kiss Nanny too!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Claire has Quintuplets

Claire is our matronly 16-year-old pig. She lives in Bailey's (the sheep, whom she evicted) house, right next to the kitchen door. What a perfect place for a pig, waiting for a handout, to live. Claire has three favorite activities. Eating, sleeping and eating.

Yesterday morning, Lena arrived for work at 4:30 a.m. Being late August, it is still dark at that time of the morning. She heard strange and funny sounds coming from Claire's house. Now Claire is a very vocal animal, so strange sounds emanating from her house is not unusual. But they usually sound more like grunts, snorts and growls, than squeaks and quacks. And these noises, very definitely, sounded like squeaks and quacks. And Claire usually doesn’t bother to wake up until she knows breakfast is ready.

Lena grabbed a flashlight and began to investigate. There was certainly something small and yellow in there. Sometimes Claire will share her house with an errant goat or dog, sometimes even an angry goose. But what was in there now?

Five baby ducks! Tiny, tiny little newborn baby ducks, or should that be new hatched baby ducks? And Claire was beginning to wake up, stir about, and rollover. Lena began to fear she would not be able to rescue the ducks before Claire world roll over and squish them. But just in time, Mary showed up, and helped to rescue the ducks, while Lena sat on Claire to keep her still.

So where did these ducks come from? Nobody had been sitting on a nest in Claire's house. No mama duck strolled protectively about. These were very definitely, very newborn. Lena showed them to our general duck population, who scoffed at them, and said, not ours. Several female ducks were tried out as surrogate mothers, but all rejected these babies.

This would be most unusual behavior as ducks are usually very protective of their young. Once in awhile, a duck or goose hides somewhere, and we don't find the nest, and their eggs hatch. We usually do not see the young until they are several days old, and mama parades them by at breakfast time. Usually orphaned ducks, geese, or chickens are adopted very quickly, by mama wannabes. But nobody would accept these ducks.

They are currently living in the LD Chicken Center until they get a little older, and can go out with the other baby birds. These are definitely ducks, I think. Rounded off bills, webby looking feet, yellow down, black streaks, and what looks like it will be enormous tail feathers. Most baby ducks I've seen are just short and rounded on the end, but these tails are very pointy, and stick way up.

Maybe that evil flying duck had babies and hid them in Claire's house, so we have to raise them, instead of her.Or maybe somebody risked the patrol dogs, Joe’s shotgun, and the attack goats, to sneak in and put them there.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Rags and Relics, End of Summer Sale, Half Price Section, Free-bee Section, Special Savings on Pet Supplies this Weekend

August 19 & 20, Saturday & Rags & Relics Sale

Located at 10525 Hook Rd, Route 725, just off route 20, 2.7 miles south of 522, that's .3 miles south of Rikki's driveway. New things, used things, craft things, gift things, pet things, decorations, clothing adult and kids, household items, furniture, pictures, dishes, linens, books, toys, baby stuff - you name it - you can buy it there - and all at a really great price. And every sale there will be a Half Price Special on certain items as well as the Free-bee Section. So don't miss out.

Sale every first full and third weekend of every month from 10 am till 2 pm. August 5/6 & 19/20, September 2/3 & 16/17, October 7/8 & 22/23, November 4/5 & 18/19, December 2/3 & 16/17.

It's only a quarter of a mile down route 20 from Rikki's Refuge Stop in on your way out to visit the animals. And just think. If you're a helper before the sales to set things up - you get first dibbs on the goodies.

This is a great volunteer opportunity for those of you who can't bear to see “the homeless animals”, or smell the poop. Support the animals, without having to deal with them. Contact Deloris, Ruler of Rags and Relics, if you'd like to be a volunteer or donate items for sale.

Learn all about us

I wanna grow to be 8 feet tall

About a month old at this point and only 4 feet tall, he has a way to go. Ooops. Not four feet, only two. And seriously, only 4 inches tall. It's a real mish mash of baby birds. Not all of them look like this. Some look like hawks, some like seagulls, and a lot look very chicken like. These are the strangest and the ones we've had the most questions, and curiosities, about. Of all the suggestions and guesses at what they are - you might want to check out Transylvanian Naked Necks and cast your vote. With bats in my belfry and transylvanian naked necks flying about at night .........

Thursday, August 17, 2006

We will learn to out run those humans!

Please stop the suspense! People keep begging us. Please tell us what they are. The thing is, we can’t tell you what we don’t know. Baby birds look like baby birds. Some of our visiting “experts” have suggested turkeys, turkins, guineas, bobwhites, quail, and all kinds of rare and exotic things. But in reality it’s usually the usual and mundane that gets left behind, not the rare and exotic. We’re still assuming they’re baby chickens. Many are learning to fly and make it up to the top rafters to roost now. Combs and waddles are beginning to grow. Some are big, some are small. The one thing we know for certain. They are birds.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

go ...

this might be a baby chicken
go ...
Originally uploaded by rikkis_refuge.
Isn't she lovely ... soon we will know exactly what kind of bird she is.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

get set

get set
Originally uploaded by rikkis_refuge.
Another adorable little baby ........

Monday, August 14, 2006

On your mark

Your guess is as good as ours! What will these babies grow up to be? Ostriches clocking in at 60 MPH? Or turkeys waddling about? These are some of the rescued babies that will have permanent sanctuary and love at Rikki’s Refuge, no kill, multi-species, animal sanctuary.

One of the rescued baby birds hoping to get a hand out from you. Buy a bag of food through using our Paypal id: A bag of baby bird food is only $12.99, and they're eating just over a bag a day. Support this lovely little bird.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Calvin the pig sticks his nose out

close-up of pig
This photo was taken by Patricia Copeland while on tour at Rikki's refuge August 12, 2006
Calvin the pig stuck his nose out to meet the visitors on yesterday’s tour. The humans had as much fun as the animals. But the animals got to eat more treats! Everybody always has a blast on a tour at Rikki’s Refuge. Jan, Rikki's own Director of Tours, tells you stories about the animals and makes every visit memorable.

Don’t miss out, sign up now for the next tour, September 4th, Labor Day. Come and share you picnic with the critters. If you’re lucky they’ll let you have a bite or two! Sign up early, space is limited so we don’t over crowd our animal friends. This great photo of Calvin waiting for a handout was taken by Patricia Copeland while on tour at Rikki’s Refuge yesterday, August 12, 2006.

And a real big THANK YOU to Jean, who painted, yes painted by hand, the big new beautiful Rikki's Refuge sign we put out by the driveway. And if you think the sign is cool ... you should see some of the neat things she makes to sell in our Gift Shop. Can you believe Christmas is only four months away? Time to start thinking about unique gifts for your best friends (family can be friends too). If you don't want to give them an adoption certificate for an Emu or Pot Bellied Pig, I bet you can find that perfect gift in Rikki's Gift Shop.

Will Basil's Dreams Come True?

When the chickens first arrived, Basil said, ”Wouldn’t it be cool if they were all ostriches?” I can just see those of you who are afraid of the attack roosters, cringing at the thought of 300 ostriches chasing you through the 300 acres of Rikki's Refuge. And if you think the emus looked dangerous, standing at only 5 feet tall, well maybe some are almost 6, wait until you turn around and see a herd of 300 ostriches, 8 feet tall. Love this photo? Want a full sized version? 5 inches high and 37 inches wide, send me an e-mail and I'll send you the "real" thing.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

It's a Beautiful Cool Morning

And we are promised spectacular weather for the 2 pm tour. Come .... ready to meet all 800+ animals. Bring yummies and watch their excitement .... Ever heard an emu boom? Watched hundreds of baby chicks learn to fly? Seen 500+ lazy cats napping in the shade? It's such a lovely day maybe the cows will even be out instead of hiding in their cool forest. We've got room for you - no need to call - no phone lines today! Just be there at 2 pm. Gates will be opened at 1:30. Come on out.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Sometimes there is an animal that is just so good you cannot begin to fathom why its owners dumped it.

At Rikki's Refuge, we do not believe any animal should ever be dumped, or separated from its family, for any reason whatsoever. But sometimes you can understand how someone reached that frustration level and made that decision, as wrong as it may be. I have no doubt, if our pounds took human children, very few beyond the age of two would continue to reside in their homes.

But sometimes that rare animal comes to Rikki's Refuge, who has no bad habits, has never done anything wrong, is nothing but kind and loving and sweet and wonderful. And you can't help but wonder why, how could anyone get rid of something so fabulous.

Scruffy was one of those animals. He came to us on September 3, 2004. A big fat orange tabby, Morris type cat, 18 pounds and 16 years old and not a bad habit in the world. Though he was one of the most playful cats, we had ever seen at the age of 16, his owners had thought he was too old and not playful enough, and they wanted a kitten. So Scruffy was dumped at the pound, and a kitten was taken home to replace him.

Thankfully, Scruffy was somewhere where they cared. Very few people will adopt a 16 year old, no matter how wonderful they are. They tried and they tried, but no one would give Scruffy a home. In our unfortunate society, animals who do not get a home, are murdered, just killed and disposed of. But thankfully for Scruffy, and for all of us who came to know him and to love him, he was sent all the way from Shenandoah to Rikki's Refuge.

Scruffy had cataracts, a few tumors in his ears, and the biggest purr you have ever met. All it took to start that they rumble, was for someone to walk into the room and look in his direction. He loved to be held, he'd love to be petted, he'd love to be fed. He was always happy. He was always there to greet the newcomers, welcome them to Rikki's Refuge, and show them the food bowl. No matter how much he ate, he was always willing to share. Never once did he smack anybody else. Even little orphan kittens, who would run across him while he was sleeping.

Scruffy was just the best natured guy you could possibly imagine. Everybody fell in love with Scruffy. And he continued to be healthy, as he got close to 18 years old. About a month ago he had some gastric disturbances, the first health problems he'd ever had. Soon they seem to be clear to. Though he continued to act just like himself, he began to lose some weight. A suspicious lump was felt in his abdomen. I was sure I knew the answer, but I just had to check it out, just in case there was anything in the world we could do for our Scruffy.

Without exploratory surgery, which would be strictly diagnostic, and not for the purpose of curing anything, we would not know for absolute certain. But the blood work, the x-rays, and palpating the abdomen all pointed toward the same dire conclusion. Almost certainly, liver cancer. Comfort care was all we had left offer. The best most exotic food money could buy, and more love and pets and kisses than anybody could ask for.

When Scruffy finally began to show symptoms, his health went downhill very quickly, and he was gone within two days. He crossed over the Rainbow Bridge at about one o'clock today, August 11, 2006.

Scruffy is survived by Jason, who was one of his biggest fans (Jason would look forward to his weekends at Rikki's Refuge, so Scruffy, who he called Meat, could sit on his lap and purr and spend the nights out in his RV with him.) By Easter, his shy little wife, who would cuddle up in his arms for protection every night, and run, lickity split at the first sign of human life. By Lena, Mary, Amanda, Kevin, Basil, and me, whose days were brightened every day, by Scruffy in the office. By Joe, who’d come into the office every morning, and say, “hey, where's fat ass?”, and Scruffy would come running for a morning pet or treat. By Wayne and Jonathan, volunteers who visit almost every day, and always stopped to pat Scruffy. And by every other cat in the 9th Life Retirement, Assisted Living and Psychiatric Center, who will miss sharing their dinner with. Except Timothy, who is hoping to get Scruffie’s share.

Job Well Done - Well Job Done

After warming up, Kevin dons the harness again, and puts his life in the hands of Kenny, Basil, and Jonathan. His voice echoes off the stone walls of the well and we finally hear him say, “I'm touching bottom”. He hollers for a bucket to be lowered down. When he gives a tug the bucket is pulled up. In it, is a large piece of lumber. The second and third bucketfuls are lumber too. The next several buckets contained bricks. Then half a dozen bucketfuls of silt.

The lumber, I can explain. We recently had to build a new well house roof, because the old one was falling apart. Since every maintenance job is way behind schedule, because these evil animals keep coming up with various plans to delay our jobs and make us take care of them instead, some of the boards had broken and fallen in. The bricks? I haven't a clue! And the silt, I can explain that too. Recently, the electrical line to the pump had been cut. This meant digging a big trench and replacing the line. We could have just repaired it, but this is not the first time it has been cut, and it would occasionally short out in the rain. So we dug a trench from the house (thank God for the backhoe) to the well house, and ran a new line.

If you're a project person, you know every simple project opens up a new can of worms. And with the trench, we had worms climbing all over the place. So what should have been a one-day project, even a few hours project, extended to days. Of course this took place the week we were having so many rains and thunderstorms. And so the ditch would fill with water, and run directly into the well! Hence, gallons of silt.

And all that gunk had finally built up around the jet pump head, and just clogged things up. With everything down there looking clean, Kevin exhausted and freezing, he tugged on the line and hollered to be pulled up. I know with the way things usually go at Rikki's Refuge, I bet you're expecting me to tell you the line broke. And it was the only line we had. And it was after five o'clock, so all the stores in Orange were closed. And Kevin had to sit, in the freezing water, at the bottom of the well, while we raced to Fredericksburg for more rope.

But Kevin was lucky, the line held, and he was hauled out of the well, and laid out in the sun to dry. Lucky, lucky Kevin.

As Joe watched Kevin laid out on the ground, slowly changing from blue to pink, as we tried to bring his body temperature back to normal, he complained about his Supervisory Position. He never got to have any fun. He had to sit in the blistering heat, supervising Kevin, who got to have all the fun, cool fun too. No fair! And now he had to perform his weekly well disinfectant program. Another chore you end up responsible for when you can't call 1-800-Water-Authority. Sometimes I miss the city.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Saturday, August 12th: Tour Rikki's Refuge

RSVP an absolute must so we don't over crowd. On a tour you can meet the Cats of Feline Fields and the 9th Life Retirement, Assisted Living and Psychiatric Center, the Dogs of Doggy Downs, the Pigs of Piggy Paradise, the Rabbits of Rabbit Rotunda, the Guinea Pigs of Cavy Castle, the Emus of Emu Estates, the Horses of Horsey Haven, the Chickens and Roosters of Chicken City, the Guinea Fowl of Guinea Fowl Grounds, the Peacocks of Peacock Prowls, the Pigeons of Pigeon Palace, the Geese of Goosey Gardens, the Ducks of Ducky Digs, the Sheep of Ramsey Residence, the Goats of Capri Corners, the Cows of Bovine Boulevard, the Turkeys of Turkey Terrace, the Chukars of Chukar Chalet, and who ever else is staying with us at the time.

You will get to interact with the friendly cats and dogs, feed the pigs (bring apples) and sheep and goats and rabbits (bring carrots) and learn the story of why Rikki's is here and where we are going. You will see what day-to-day life is like at the refuge and you will also be invited to join in our volunteer efforts to build new housing for new animals. Tours run about two hours and you should wear waterproof shoes, old clothes, long pants, sun lotion, hats, etc; dress for the weather as it's all outdoors and you will get wet, muddy and slobbered on! Warning - lots of prickles and hooves so sandals and shorts aren't recommended. Visit our gift shop. Buy a T-shirt for all your loved ones. Bring your camera, you'll get great shots of the excited animals thrilled by your attention.

For the safety of our animals we must limit the number of people on a tour. And so we can continue to provide our animals with the care they need we have to schedule tours around their needs, medical appointments, etc. Please remember animals don't run on a schedule and a tour date may be canceled if an animal needs our immediate attention. If you'd like to join us on a tour please call 540-854-0870 or e-mail us at for a reservation.

Upcoming Tour Dates:Saturday, August 12th and Monday, September 4th.

Reserve your slot today:

Look what they pulled out of the well!

Posted by Kerry from FLICKR

man in well

They didn't find any fish down there, but look what they did pull up!
Twenty feet was the longest ladder they could find. They lowered this to the bottom of the well, with a rope. Now it was only a 10 foot climb, down the stone lining of the well, to the top of the ladder. And if you fell . . . . Some rope was acquired, and a harness was built. Then they drew straws. On this sweltering afternoon, the winner would be the swimmer. Kevin was the winner!

He donned the harness and was lowered to the top rung of the ladder. He slowly climbed down the 10 feet to the surface of the water. We all knew when his toes first hit, because he yipped from the iciness of the water. More obscenities gestured forth. The whole time they were getting set up, they continued to run the well, in an attempt to drain out as much water as possible. So standing on the bottom of the well, the water only rose to Kevin's neck, instead of 4 feet over his head. Definitely better, but still very awkward to work it.

The ladder was taking up too much space at the bottom of the well, preventing Kevin from being able to bend over, and do any work on the pump head. He was ready for some sunbathing anyway. The ladder was pulled out of the well (after Kevin). After more water was drained out of the well, Kevin would have to go back in, with only the harness, all the way to the bottom . . . .

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Kenny gets a bright idea

Posted by Kerry from FLICKR

Peering down, they could see plenty of water. But getting the water out, and into the faucets, at a reasonable rate of flow, was the problem. They walked around, they scratched their heads, they discovered a 16 foot ladder would not do the trick (Have you ever noticed, boys can't estimate the length of anything?), they searched for tools and ideas. The surface of the water was 20 feet below the ground, the bottom of the well 10 feet below that. The jet pump sat at 30 feet, 10 feet below the surface of the water.

Now diving in 10 feet of water is not a problem, but when the tunnel leading down is only 3 feet in diameter, and you go down feet first, you can't see what you're doing. And if you go down head first, without a scuba tank, you have an even worse problem. Until they felt the water on their toes, no one believed me it was a cool 55°. Coming from 100° plus on the surface, they swore it must be 40° down there.

While they were searching for tools and ideas, Kenny found a fishing pole in his truck, and some silly ideas.

As Rikki's Refuge is a no kill animal sanctuary, fishing of any sort is prohibited. Any fish living in our well, would be welcome residents, and safe in their habitat. God help us! We’d have to shut the well down as protected habitat!!!

You'll just have to come up with another idea boys . . . . .

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Animal war refugees in Israel and Lebanon need help

Life at Rikki's sometimes gets complicated. Water lines break, supplies run out, people who offer to help never show up. When it gets hot, dirty and difficult taking care of hundreds of animals we can forget how good we actually have it. Whatever crisis we face each day, we don't have to rescue and care for animals while bombs are dropping over our heads.

Each year, thousands of animals become war refugees. Over the last few weeks, fighting in Israel and Lebanon has left hundreds of pets abandoned and shelters filled to the breaking point. Animal rescue volunteers in Israel and Lebanon have risked their lives from day one to get the abandoned pets, shelter animals, and animals locked in zoos to safer locations, and to set up feeding stations for the animals they can not move.

If you would like more info on the groups that are working to save the animals in this area, check out: -- for updated info on the players involved in Israel (news is posted in English and Hebrew)

and for news from Lebanon: -- rescuing pets and zoo animals. (This group is not affiliated with peta.)

Please come inside and play

See what lovely cats we have living at the sanctuary? They adore people, and even if you can't adopt any, you can still visit with them. Bring a chair (or hammock) and a book, and let them sit on you as you read. They'll love it, and you can finish the novel you started months ago. Each cat barn has a huge outdoor run attached, so there is plenty of room for everyone.

A Problem with the Well

Posted by Kerry through Flickr

On Monday, August 31, you heard my plea for a plumber. A plea that went unanswered. As so many of mine do. It must be God's plan to teach us self-sufficiency here at Rikki's Refuge. The first issue of the day, every day, is to take care of the animals. Water. Food. Cleanup. Of course, the medical crew is working at the same time also. Kevin and Basil were ready to go to work making sure everybody had enough water. Jonathan showed up to volunteer and help. There were only minor groans, when they heard the well was producing no water. They grabbed a truck and went off to retrieve stored water. Soon all the animals were getting fresh water for the morning.

Joe was peering down the well, grumbling all sorts of obscenities, when Kenny showed up to volunteer for the day. Knowing it would take several people to work on the well, Kenny jumped in with the watering, feeding and cleaning so we would get done earlier than usual.

Well before noon, all the animals were happily snoozing in the shade, and Joe, Kenny, Kevin, Basil and Jonathan were ready to get to work on the well.

Joe and Fran pulled up a chair, and took their supervisory positions.

The pressure switch was repaired. But still, there was no water. The well was primed, and the water began to run slowly. The real problem had to be 30 feet below.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Bam Bam, the Fearful Feral

Bam Bam came to Rikki's Refuge in October of 2005.Bam Bam was a very young little boy. Bam Bam was very sick. Bam Bam had a horrible eye infection, and a terrible respiratory infection. Bam Bam was very scared of people.Bam Bam had never known a human to be nice to him. And now he would spend the next six months in a cage, being treated for his illnesses and injuries. This meant having his painful eye touched, getting poked with needles, having wounds scrubbed out, being held down and force-fed when he was too sick to eat. All this treatment, of course, made him feel much more comfortable about the human species.

By the time he was ready to be released to a cat house, he knew for certain, humans were evil. He was all healed, except for scar tissue over his left eye, leaving him partially blind. We thought he would be thrilled to roam in the 2000 square-foot freedom of his very own feral cat house. But instead, he cowered in the corner in terror. Too frightened to even come out and eat. After a few days, we felt too sorry for him, and brought him into the 9th Life Retirement, Assisted Living and Psychiatric Center. He felt much more comfortable back in his usual surroundings.

Finally he began to play. A group of other young ferals moved in, including Cola, a little feral girl, who was dispensed from a Coca-Cola machine one-day. They became good buddies. They romped and played. Soon Cola and her friends were ready to go out to a feral cat run. We thought Bam Bam would be happy to go with them. But again, poor Bam Bam was terrified. He huddled in the corner, refusing to eat. Soon he was back in the 9th Life Retirement, Assisted Living and Psychiatric Center.

But all the young ones were out playing and having fun, and the old folks didn’t much appreciate Bam Bam. One day Bam Bam decided if he didn't have young cats play with, he would play with humans, and he skittered out from underneath the couch and jumped on human ankles as they walked through his room. Soon you couldn't walk by, without Bam Bam clinging onto your ankles. It didn't take much longer before he let us pet him. And now he's become a very precious, but still frightened, little boy.

Sometimes in his racing about, he'll slide between our feet and into the next room. He stands perfectly still, looking first in one direction and then the next, absolutely terrified of the monsters that may await in the unknown. He is completely petrified, until we pick him up and take him back to his room. Then he goes back to being happy Bam Bam.

We keep trying, and we will keep trying, to acclimate him to a feral cat house, because we think he would be happier with lots of young friends, and 100 foot runway to race and charge, and big climbing toys to reach new heights. But every time he tries out a cat house, he feigns absolute terror, refuses to eat, and gets returned to the 9th Life Retirement, Assisted Living and Psychiatric Center. I'm not sure if he belongs in the Assisted Living for the Mentally Handicapped Section or the Psychiatric Center, but he sure isn’t a feral cat!

He still has some of the usual skittish feral attitudes, like the terror of being lifted off his feet.But he’d make a wonderful pet for somebody willing to give him the patience, love, and understanding that he deserves. Do you have another kitty or two friend for Bam Bam, and the love in your heart to welcome him in?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Please save somebody today

Posted by Kerry through Flickr

Save a cat or dog
Originally uploaded by rikkis_refuge.
Robin at the Shenandoah County Animal Shelter in Shenandoah, Virginia is in need of desperate help. She writes, “We have 32 dog runs in our shelter and we have a total of three open today. With more dogs coming in today. If I don' find some help soon we are going to have to put several down tomorrow. All are good dogs, most are altered with rabies shots. If you know anyone who can help me please call me at 540-984-8955. As always I appreciate everything you do for us and the animals.”

Robin does an outstanding job of trying to save the animals. But the general public keeps dumping them. By law, she has no choice, when they are full they must move them out. The law doesn’t care how they are moved - dead or alive. Robin does everything possible to avoid killing them to move them, but if somebody doesn’t take them home, she is given no choice.

Please help a dog and Robin today.

Thanks, Kerry

As I walked through the LD Chicken Center I heard the file drawer snap shut

Only one thing makes that sound. Meg, evil office kitty, shutting herself inside a file cabinet. Yes, you read that right. Not only can Meg open a file drawer, she can close it behind herself. For years, we wondered how it was that we would frequently find her inside a shut file drawer, dresser drawer, kitchen drawer, or any other type of drawer. Then one day I saw it. Meg is a climber. She came to us in 1999, healing from a broken hip. She wasn’t able to jump for the next couple of years. So she learned to climb any surface. Right up the front of the kitchen cabinets, desks, file cabinets, and walls. Nothing stops Meg.

Meg climbs up the front of a file cabinet, hangs on to the handle of the drawer just below the one she wants to get into, reaches up and pulls the handle on the drawer over her head, and as the drawer begins to slide open, she heaves herself up and into the opening. Now this is pretty clever for a cat. Of course, I frequently wonder who is the smarter species around here! But the next step is what absolutely amazes me. She reaches out, and pulls the drawer shut, sealing herself inside. Never once is she stuck, because when it's time to get out, she knows how to push the drawer open from the inside.

Meg, the amazing office cat. Meg, who has a voracious appetite for paper. Bad, bad combination in your file drawer.

Of course there are supposed to be no cats in the LD Chicken Center, only my developmentally slow chickens. I do hope Meg has not learned how to open the door to their room too. I suppose if she has, she can sell the tickets for quite a large sum. There's always a long line of hungry kitties outside the LD Chicken Center. Meg, you better remember the rules about not eating other residents of the Refuge !

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Chickens . . . the continuation . . .

Posted by Kerry through Flickr
Baby chicksn
Rescued baby chicken
Originally uploaded by rikkis_refuge.

A few posts back we began telling you about our "Great Chicken Rescue of the Summer of '06". With the baby chickens in various degrees of stress, we were about to lose the battle. And if these little babies got wet, they would die. The emergency solution would be to shut down one room of the "9th Life Retirement, Assisted Living and Psychiatric Center", and declare it as the baby chicken day care area. Chickens, or whatever they are. They all look alike when they are little. Basil is hoping we end up with 300 and some odd ostriches. I am not!

We grabbed six huge dog carriers, and began to load the babies up. We were working as fast as we could, and covered them with a tarp as a temporary measure. It would not do to put baby birds into the same room as cats in the "9th Life Retirement, Assisted Living and Psychiatric Center". The cats had to be removed from one room first. The room selected, for ease of keeping cats out, was the room where Clementine, Witchy Poo, and Shyla hang out. Three of the most dangerous psycho cats. They were not pleased and were quick to use their claws to let us know it. Cleaning the human blood off the floor only delayed moving the baby birds in a little bit longer.

By the time we began carrying in the crates of baby birds it was pouring and the wind was blowing hard, with some gusts blowing into the crates. As soon as we had the birds inside, we had to dry anyone who was wet, and warm them up with the hair dryer. By 9 p.m. that night we had all the baby birds stable. And then we could get back to work finishing our regular jobs.

Most of the baby birds continued to grow rapidly. The few who didn't, were set aside in what came to be known as the "LD Chicken Section". Half a dozen still reside there today. Hopefully we will be able to mainstream them soon. The rest of the babies have a small enclosure in one of the day runs behind the "9th Life Retirement, Assisted Living and Psychiatric Center".

Rose, Spoke Chicken for the Head Injured, has always wanted to be a mother, or so she thought. She loves to sit on her eggs, and keeps checking them to see if they hatch (a forbidden activity at Rikki's). So we thought perhaps she would make an ideal mother for several hundred little babies! She was horrified, and wanted to go home to Rabbit Rotunda immediately. We are hoping a volunteer mother will step forward soon.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Why do we care if you have a fenced yard, a job or a plan on caring for your pet?

Lots of people who want to adopt a pet believe they should be able to walk up to whatever animal they find appealing and take him home. When they have to fill out an adoption application, or they are told that a particular animal would not be a good fit for their lifestyle, they get annoyed.

If you are one of these people, take a few minutes to read this powerful (but short) article by Sally Hull called "Interview at a Dog Pound". It will help you understand -- it might even make you change your perspective.

If you are a rescuer, don't read this article at work.

The day started at 4:45 a.m. with Francesca in a diabetic coma

Lena scooped her up and started a sub-q fluid drip. I drew blood, and had a glucose level reading of LO, this means less than 30, this means very serious. I mixed the powdered glucose, and began to drip it into her mouth. Mary arrived, grabbed a thermometer, Francesca's temperature was only 92°. Very serious.

Mary loaded the heating disks into the microwave (thank you Jan for having donated several, they have been lifesavers over and over again), grabbed the hair dryer, and began to warm Francesca's belly. Soon Francesca began to thrash and kick. By 6:30 a.m. she was fully responsive, with a blood glucose level of 100, and body temperature of 97°. Still low on the body temp, and the blood glucose level now a bit high, but we were out of the critical phase.

What happened to Francesca? Diabetics are so very fragile, it can take something very small to upset the blood glucose level. The central air-conditioning wasn't working yesterday evening, the coils had frozen up from too much use. After trying off and on to defrost it, watching the temperature rise in the 9th Life Retirement, Assisted Living and Psychiatric Center, I finally turned it off, and began to run window units in each room. Perhaps Francesca had gotten a little too hot.

Perhaps she’d felt a little too warm to eat a full evening meal. I only had celery and crackers for dinner, a cool meal, but probably not a good one to keep your blood glucose level regulated. Of course Francesca had refused to share my dinner, and nibbled on her Purina canned diabetic diet, which thankfully she loves. Usually animals who are supposed to be on a special diet, hate that special diet.

Francesca also has a number of health issues in addition to her diabetes. Any of which could have flared up, causing the low blood sugar incident. For now it looks like she'll be fine. Annoyed. But OK. Her blood glucose level will be checked every hour throughout the day. Which means getting stuck with needles, a lot of times, an ordeal which no cat enjoys, but one for which Francesca is always very good.

Her temperature will be taken every 30 minutes, until we know she's holding normal. The amount of insulin she receives will be based on her hourly glucose readings. Thankfully, Dr. Vargas of Culpepper Animal Hospital, has taught us all we need to know to take care of Francesca, right here in Rikki's Refuge’s own hospital. The emergency incident this morning that took Lena, Mary, and me and hour and a half to get under control, would have cost over $600, in the emergency hospital, if we could've gotten there in time even to save her life. Thank God for small favors.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Let's play dress up!

cat in boa
um, why
Originally uploaded by mizz d.
This beautiful cat is modeling on the the Flickr Cats in Clothes group.

Rikki's doesn't have any photos for that group yet -- or the "Cats in Costumes" or "Dogs in Costumes" groups, but we would love to. We're planning a dress up photo day at the refuge for all the animals! Save your hats, old t-shirts, plastic beads -- the works. We will schedule "dress up photo day" when it gets cooler (It's over 100 degrees at the refuge today -- but we have lots of shade).

Everyone will be invited. Of course any of the animals at the refuge who do not want to play will have that option.

Baby birds . . . coming out of my ears!

So, you heard about the baby birds, who arrived on July 21. In just 10 short days, they have already eaten over 100 pounds of baby chicken food. They are growing, and growing feathers.

A few days ago I started to tell their tale. After getting a phone call that went, “Hi there. I've got several boxes of baby birds here, they're half dead, do you want them?”, Lena and I ran off to the rescue and brought several boxes of birds back to Rikki's.

The next several hours at the refuge were spent with everyone available, eyedroppering water into tiny little beaks. Six people, trying to save several hundred birds, is a very difficult job. We separated them into batches, based on their strength and health. Some were ready to start eating, all we had on hand was adult bird mash, but it would do in a pinch.

Others needed their little bodies warmed with a hair dryer, and water dripped into their little beaks. Obviously, there was nothing we could do about the ones that were already dead, except give them a home at our Rainbow Bridge Cemetery.

Thankfully, we lost very few throughout the day. After several hours, when they were all stabilized, we had to figure out where they were going to live. Vincent, Slinky, Timmy, Boss Man, and several of the other naughty kitties had some pretty good ideas. However, we humans, had a major difference of opinion.

We began to build an area in one of the day runs off the 9th Life Retirement, Assisted Living and Psychiatric Center. (If you need an explanation on the name, just come out and visit.) It would have to be protected from the weather, and have heat lamps, so the little babies would stay about 100° for the first few days. While Basil and Jonathan began to build, I went to the store for baby chicken supplies. Normally, you could walk into any farm store, and walk out with all the baby chicken food, chicken waterers, and everything you needed. Everybody in all the 4-H clubs had bought up all the supplies, to show off the baby animals they had been raising. I had to go to three stores, and still did not have everything I needed.

The baby bird area was almost built, when the sky turned black, and the wind began to blow. Was there a chance in heck that we could get the job done, before we got soaked? Drip, drip, drip, . . . . Sorry, this will have to be continued . . . . I get yelled at when I blog to long . . . .

Monday, July 31, 2006

Rikki’s Refuge needs a plumber who knows how to work on well equipment

Being in the middle of 367 acres, Rikki's Refuge obviously does not use city water. We have a well. A big hole in the ground from which an unlimited supply of water pours forth. Usually everything runs smoothly and there are no problems. Turn on a faucet and water appears. But now we have a big problem.

Late yesterday evening I went to wash my hands, . . . nothing. Not even a drip. I went to investigate and discovered that the pressure switch has been disassembled. Now I don't know a whole lot about this, but there's the well pump, lines that go down the well, the jet pump at the bottom of the well, and the pressure tank.

About a month ago we had to replace the pressure tank because it was leaking. That was the last piece in the well house that was still there when we came to Rikki’s. Over the years we had replaced all the rest. Well obviously, someone had decided something was going on yesterday afternoon, disassembled parts, and just left it there. So if you know how to work on well equipment, please, please, please come out and help us today.

Nobody's going to die from lack of water. We keep a two-day supply of water on hand. That's why I ask you to give me all your leftover 2 1/2 gallon jugs from clumping cat litter. Each one holds 2 1/2 gallons of water! So it will only take 160 of those to fill water up for all the animals today! And we keep over 300 on hand. And when we run out, it means loading them up in the truck, driving down the road, and filling up at Rags and Relics or the Retreat. A lot more hot work for the humans, but the animals will still have plenty of cool water to drink.

The animals at Rikki's Refuge drink 400 gallons of water a day! That averages out to only about half a gallon each. But some take more than their fair share, like the cows, who slurp up 10 gallons in a sitting. But others make up for it. There's not a guinea pig on the planet that could even hold half a gallon! Share and share alike, it all works out in the end.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Did you miss your morning message about the rescued animals at Rikki’s Refuge?

The weekly version of Hairballs, news about what's coming up at Rikki's Refuge, went out today! I got to write it too, because Kerry was just too busy taking care of everybody. If you didn’t get your e-mail subscription, send us an e-mail today at Don’t miss out. And best of all it’s FREE.

Hope you come to visit me soon,
Intergalactic SpokesCat for the Handicapped

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Rikki’s Refuge is one of the largest multi-species, no-kill sanctuaries

With 367 acres of land, over 3,700 animals of over 50 species rescued to date, with over 800 daily residents of 19 species of domestic and farm animals, and over 1,500 rehabilitated wildlife critters roaming about, Rikki’s Refuge is the largest multi-species, no-kill sanctuary on the East Coast. And with over 500 felines, we are one of the largest cat sanctuaries on Earth.

WOW. And we've done it in just seven years! I'm preparing the mailing list for our tabloid-sized paper newsletter. It will be going out to 4,213 members, to 4 countries and 6 US military bases overseas, to 1,177 zip codes in 852 cities, and to every state except North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Utah.

What happened to North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Utah? Are there no animal lovers out there? Help us complete our membership so that we have a Rikki's Family Member in every state.

Sign up yourself, or a friend, for a one year subscription to our quarterly paper newsletter by making a $45 donation. You can send in a check, or make a donation online with your credit card through out Paypal account. Just go to and sign in. Our ID is (If you don't have a Paypal account, you can set one up for free).

You'll love the exciting pictures of all the animals, and being kept up-to-date on all the news at Rikki's Refuge. The 20-page newsletter hitting the streets tomorrow is jam-packed full of exciting photos. Don't miss your copy!

Want another way to stay in touch? Subscribe to our weekly e-mail newsletter, "Hairballs" (that's what's coming up at Rikki's!) Send an e-mail to and tell us you'd like to subscribe to "Hairballs", be sure to give us your e-mail address. It's free to animal lovers!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

At Rikki’s Refuge, it’s Goats in the Mist

As I wake up in the morning, the first thing I feel is Cat performing acupuncture on my back. She is an outstanding massage therapist and acupuncturist. I roll over and look out towards the East. The sun is barely up, the mist is just beginning to rise. Through the veil of the mist I can see the outline of dozens of goats, standing tall on their hind legs, their front legs tucked back against their chests, stretching and straining their heads up as far as possible, tongues pointed toward the sky, grasping leaves off tall branches. I turned and looked towards the West. There sits beautiful Angel, high on her perch, grooming, her beautiful plume of a tale. Domino races up and down the ladder trying to displace Angel and claim the top position.

The ducks and geese are strolling about, squawking and quacking their morning news. The dogs are still sound asleep. The pigs haven't yet started to roll and grunt. This must've been how our great ancestors felt, before the world got so hectic, paved over with asphalt, and covered with little human habitats. If nothing else, this feeling of freedom, of living with nature as it was meant to be, is more than enough to make it all worthwhile, living here at Rikki's Refuge, caring for over 800 critters of 17 species.

Or perhaps this is simply a rosy view of the past. Perhaps Cat would've been a saber tooth tiger ready to have me for breakfast. The goats would've been Tyrannosauruses just waiting for a fresh meal. And instead of Angel simply being a psychotic feline, she would have been a pterodactyl. Instead of feeling like a part of nature, I might have been a part of the food chain.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Rescuing a duck from the chimney at seven a.m. must be an omen of birds to come

Because that turned out to be the best event of the day. As soon as the duck was happily splashing about in a ducky pond, contained in a pen, with a roof (no more accidents ‘till those chimneys get covered), I checked phone messages, “Hi there. I've got several boxes of baby birds here, they're half dead, do you want them?” This wasn't the first time Rikki's Refuge has gotten such a call, and I'm sure it won't be the last. Many things are left behind at shipping docks, and sometimes they are alive. Lena and I rushed off on the great bird rescue ....

Check back be continued...

Friday, July 21, 2006

It began as an uneventful day

Lena and I had finished medical rounds, treated the critical patients, and examined everyone else for updates for the day. I was sitting quietly at my desk, updating the medical log for the day. no serious emergencies, all the pigs were in their pen, everyone was behaving. Behind me, I heard the strangest sound. Scritch scratch scritch scratch scritch scratch. Then silence. Wait a minute? Did I really hear something? Maybe it was just a cat scratching its ears and bumping something?

I recalled hearing the sound two nights ago, and not being able to figure out where it came from. I'd searched and searched, and finally given up. And here it was again, it sounded like an animal stuck in the fireplace. The fireplace in the office is boarded over, because bad and evil cats like to climb up the chimney. This is an unapproved activity.

We'd recently had to replace the covering on the fireplace, could we possibly have locked something inside? We done a head count, and tried to pear up the chimney as far as we could, before screwing the new board in the place.

I tapped on the board. Silence. Now if somebody was in there trying to get out, don't you think they would scratch, meow, or do something to let me know they needed help?

I was probably wasting my time, but I found a screwdriver, and I began to remove the fireplace cover. Soon as I had it opened a crack, I could see something black flapping about. Oh great! A vampire bat at seven o'clock in the morning! Just what I needed for the day.

I took a closer look, and low and behold, it was the flying duck. If you recall, several months ago, someone in a little red car dumped a cardboard box full of ducks. One of my ducks adopted them, raised them, and now they roam about the farm. We never have figured out what kind of ducks they are, they look like they must be a mix between something domestic and something wild. And some of them can fly.

One bad black guy in particular, loves to fly to the top of the electric poles, to the top of the chimneys, to the top of trees. Why just a few days ago, we noticed him sitting on the top of the chimney, sticking his head down, and we had commented, "need to add that to the to-do list, cover the chimneys before the duck goes down". And at that time I had all kinds of visions of how one would remove a duck stuck halfway down the chimney. Dear god, please don't let it happen until I have time to get the chimney covered.

Well, I guess our boy shoved his head down, slipped and went all the way down the chimney. We brushed him clean of soot, and plopped him into a ducky swimming pool, where he drank down gallons of water, and then proceeded to bathe and preen. No worse for wear.

But he is staying in a pen, until the chimneys are covered!

Want to play handyman today?

Seriously, if you can come out and help us with this problem today, give me a holler at 540-854-0870. Thanks, Kerry

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A big thank you to Healthway Natural Foods

Elizabeth Dick, owner and founder of Healthway Natural Foods, has been a supporter of the animals at Rikki's Refuge from day one -- and she has just made a major contribution to the cats of our 9th Life Retirement, Assisted Living and Psychiatric Center.

The Fredericksburg Healthway store kindly gives us their leftover produce for our pigs and rabbits (and what they call "left over" is better than what you can buy in regular grocery stores). This week they donated 400 pounds of super high quality Pet Guard Cat Food. We designated this food to the cats of our 9th Life Retirement, Assisted Living and Psychiatric Center since they are older and have the most health problems. It would be wonderful if we could feed this to all our cats, but we go through 65 pounds of cat food each day, and it's just not practical yet.

If you haven't let your cats try Pet Guard Cat Food, stop by and pick some up today. You'll have a lot happy cats! When you visit, please leave a donation in one of Rikki's Refuge's collection cans, and let your cashier know that the cats of Rikki's Refuge sent you!

If you can't visit, send them a thank you note from the cats of Rikki's Refuge to let them know that we all appreciate their care and giving to the animals here.

Healthway Natural Foods carries delicious, natural, organic food for you, and your pets, as well as an outstanding selection of homeopathic and other natural remedies, and a vast selection of very high quality vitamins, minerals and supplements. Ten Healthway stores are located throughout Virgina, Maryland and West Virginia:

  • Alexandria, VA 22307, 703-660-8603, 1610 Belle View Blvd

  • Annandale, VA 22003, 703-354-7782, 4113 John Mar Drive

  • Bowie, MD 20715, 301-805-8255, 6856 Race Track Road

  • Fairfax, VA 22030, 703-569-3533, 10360 Lee Highway

  • Fredericksburg, VA 22407, 540-786-4844, 4211 Plank Rd, Route 3

  • Manassas, VA 20109, 703-361-1883, 10778 Sudley Manor Dr, Bull Run Center

  • Martinsburg, WV 25401, 304-263-7728, 740 Foxcroft Avenue

  • Purcellville, VA 20132, 160 W Main Street

  • Springfield, VA 22150, 703-569-3533, 6402-4 Springfield Plaza

  • Sterling VA 20164, 703-430-4430, 46900 Cedar Lakes Plaza, Shops at Cedar Lakes

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Still tinkering . . .

Those of you viewing our blog with the free Firefox browser are seeing our blog layed out just fine -- no matter what font size you're using. (For those of you Firefox users who don't know what I'm talking about, go to your menu under VIEW > TEXT SIZE > INCREASE).

It's the darned Internet Explorer that refuses to cooperate!

We're still tinkering. We'll get it right soon.

Want to download the lovely Firefox browser? Get info and download here. Get it! You really want it!

Tinkering with our style

If you visited our blog before, you'll notice we changed our template. We think the "Minima" Blogger template more suits us, and we are tinkering with it to come up with a look we like.

We have also added a link to the Orange County Animal Shelter adoptable pets in the LINKS column to the right. (If you don't see a column to the right, scroll down -- it will be at the bottom of the posts. That's part of the tinkering we are working on.)

If you have comments on things we should change or add, please let us know.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Animal cellphone ringtones

Recently, a woman on a commuter train left her bag in a seat and walked away. Almost immediately, a cat started crying. Startled passengers looked everywhere for the cat, only to find that the woman had a cat ringtone on her phone.

What would Rikki's Refuge ringtones sound like? Wouldn't it be fun and hilarious to find out?

A little searching brought up a step-by-step guide to making ringtones with free "Audacity" software. The instructions can be found at this site:

The free, open source, cross-platform, "Audacity" sound editing software can be downloaded at this site: (You gotta love the wonderful people who make free, open source software available to the world!).

We need to find a volunteer to walk around the sanctuary recording the animals to create the initial sound files, but this is a very cool project and surely someone will step up soon.

Any votes on which animals we should start with first?

If anybody has actually created their own ringtones before and knows of a better way, we would love to hear about it.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Caring for disabled pets

Visitors to the refuge know me as a personable guy. I'm full of life and get into everything. I've been a surrogate father to orphaned kittens and I have many daily responsibilities as a mascot cat.

Awhile back I was in an accident that left me with only 3 legs. That was bad enough, but after the accident I couldn't control where I relieved myself -- in other words, litterboxes have no meaning to me.

I usually get one of two reactions: the first group of people are afraid of me and steer clear, while the second group wants to pity me. These people frustrate me a lot. But every now and then a volunteer or visitor will see through my physical limitations and get to know ME. I think these people are the best thing since tuna fish.

Living with a special needs pet requires some adjustment. (I know, I was sent to be euthanized when my former family didn't want to make the adjustments). We've found some useful websites to help families with pets who are deaf, blind, paralyzed, missing limbs, or dealing with OCD.

Messy Beast has info on disabled cats:

Deaf Dog Education Action Fund (info for deaf, blind and visually impaired dogs, dogs with OCD and more):

HopperHome: Disabled Rabbits --

Friday, July 14, 2006

Cats want fresh treats too, so here's a recipe

It's always "monkey see, monkey do" at Rikki's. What one group has, the other group wants. Wait . . . it's that way with people, too.

The cats outnumber all other animal groups at Rikki's Refuge sanctuary, so they usually claw their way to the top of every "wish list" we create. If the horses are getting fresh-baked treats, the cats want them too.

We found one recipe for homemade cat treats at Rebecca's Soap Delicatessen. These treats don't sound as yummy as the horse treats, but the cats might like them. Does anybody want to make a batch so the Rikki cats can try them out?

Does anybody have favorite links to pet treat recipes -- recipes that you have actually tested?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Horses want baked treats -- here is recipe

The dogs and cats get all the attention from the volunteers, and the pigs and fowl get to do what they please. Some days it seems like our horses, mules and donkeys are second class citizens! (Well, sometimes people bring them apples . . . )

We found a few recipes for horse treats! Could you make some and bring them out? We don't know how long they will stay fresh, so don't make them more than a few days before coming out, and don't make a huge supply.

Most of the recipes here sound delicious (but we don't want the ones with peanut butter) :

Here's another one:

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Adopt Virginia county shelter animals

County animal shelters are always packed with wonderful animals looking for a chance at a forever home. Many of the dogs and cats living at Rikki's can be adopted, but we encourage you to start your search with animals in county shelters -- the Orange County shelter is just down the road from us.

You can find a list of Virginia county shelters at:

Many county shelters will do same day adoptions, but call before you drive out to find out what their exact adoption requirements are.

If you are looking for a cat or kitten, consider adopting two at the same time(especially bonded pairs or cats from the same family). Most cats really enjoy the company of other cats, and two cats are not harder to take care of than one cat alone.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Rikki animal photo necklaces

Rikki's Refuge has many crafty volunteers, so we thought we would ask a question: Who can volunteer to make photo pendants of our animals that we can sell at fairs and adoption days?

We have several cds of photos that can be used, or you can come out and take the shots you want. Interested? Email Kathy for images.

Pet photo pendants:

FYI: The link above goes to an amazing crafting website. If you don't want to work on photo pendants you're sure to find other ideas.

Monday, July 10, 2006

College scholarships for vegetarians

Dozens of student volunteers come to Rikki's Refuge to help care for the animals. Many of them are preparing for college. We just found out about a great scholarship being offered by the Vegetarian Resource Group.

If you are graduating from high school in spring 2007 and have promoted vegetarianism in your school and/or community, you could win a $5,000 scholarship. Two winners will be chosen.

Applicants will be judged on having shown compassion, courage, and a strong commitment in promoting a peaceful world through a vegetarian diet/lifestyle. (Full application info).

Deadline is February 20, 2007. That seems like a long way off, but why not start your essay now during your summer break?

Need inspiration? Come on out and spend the day working among the pigs, cows, and chickens.

Friday, July 07, 2006

On Beauty

Originally uploaded by rikkis_refuge.
Have you ever wondered who determines what is beautiful in our society -- and who gave them the power to decide?

Anyone who spends time surrounded by animals and nature can tell you that real beauty is all around us. If who don't think our emu model is absolutely stunning, you need to come out and spend some time at the farm.

Motivational poster made with fd's Flicker Toys.