June 26th 2016
Alright, so here it is. The last post alluded to some big changes. This one explains the allusion.
First relates to life now, so it makes sense to post that first. The great thing about this community is how it sustains itself by co-operation and locally invested money and efforts. In that spirit I replied to a post in a shop window for help harvesting in exchange for food (in lieu of pay). I was down with this proposal, as it just so happened that I eat there all the time anyway and I wanted to keep turning my hand to farming tasks to learn. Win-win for me. Fair exchange for them. It essentially means that on weeks when I go out to help them, I am only spending money on one meal a day. The costs of running me are coming down further! Yay!
Also, check out the awesome greenhouse we built on my first day out at the farm. Not a bad effort, if I say so myself.
It’s just as well that this cost-reducing opportunity presented itself to. The second thing is the biggie and it will mean no money coming in for probably about a year. So I’ll be needing to save as much as I can prior to cover costs. Freedom, to me, is not about amassing financial wealth or status, it is about putting our efforts where they matter (to us). Daring to seek freedom is about being willing to take a chance and do that thing that scares you the most… because it matters the most.
Now that the campaign has been approved, I’m ready to start plugging it. For those who missed Flexibility back in January, one of my key (potential) objectives was to find a proactive way to affect animal welfare in New Zealand. Lack of ability to act was a core part of what frustrated me in my previous role. Experience from within the mainstream shelter systems of Australia and New Zealand makes drives me to do more. My answer… ‘The Longest Walk NZ’. (The site is still just a shell yet, but you get the idea)
The Longest Walk NZ will consist of my dogs and I walking all over the country in a bid to raise funds and awareness for as many animal welfare organisations as possible. I plan to visit the SPCA centres, Helping You Help Animals (HUHA), any rescue organisations that want to raise their profile, foster care networks and anyone else in the trenches of the fight for the safety and care of our pets. The idea is to make people more aware of the issues that these organisations face and to make people aware of steps they can take to help relieve the strain.
The main messages are these:
1) Shelters are under resourced and often populated at maximum capacity
2) While you should definitely use shelters if they need them (that’s what they exist for), there are other options to explore first, such as:
3) (Preferred) Seeking a resolution to the problem. Local animal welfare organisations and vets are a great place to find reward-based trainers to help solve behavioural problems and local council may be able to help too. Behavioural problems and local laws disputes make up the overwhelming majority of shelter intakes. Many times, there are solutions.
4) If the problem is just too much for you, try to rehome your animals yourself with a trusted acquaintance. You are the ones best placed to make sure the animal’s needs will be met. However, it’s best to avoid ‘free to a good home’ posts as some people unfortunately take advantage of this for dog fighting rings or other unsavoury ends.
5) There are several excellent rescue organisations who can also help with rehoming through their foster networks.
6) To further help shelters and other organisations: volunteer as a foster carer if you are able. If you can’t foster, volunteer in other ways. If you can’t volunteer, donate money, bedding, newspapers, or food. Better still, ask your local organisation what they in need of at the time, as they have limited storage capacity. If they can’t donate, share promotional materials, organise fundraisers and spread the word.
Everything, including the website and associated pages, are in the very early stages at the moment. I will gladly accept any offers to volunteer expertise in website development, marketing or other relevant skills. Similarly, I am actively seeking sponsors who would receive advertising space in print and other media in return for materials, supplies or other assistance you may be able to offer.
For example, a key part of the project is to develop a mobile rickshaw shelter based on this design.
This is important, as I need to look after the welfare of my own dogs first and foremost. Mobile shelter will ensure that I can continue walking when the dogs have run out of steam or require shelter from the elements. Any offers to assist with building materials (or a custom build) or lightweight, compact (camping type) supplies will be well received. I am similarly seeking pet food suppliers, a mobile phone carrier and any vet chain that might like to offer vet checks along the way as sponsors for the duration.
What can YOU do to help?
– donate to the campaign at Give-A-Little
– contact us to arrange a visit or presentation at your community group
– let us know about your animal welfare group and the issues you face
– organise a fundraiser of your own and/or donate to your local animal welfare group directly
– like and share our Facebook page and help spread the word (https://www.facebook.com/thelongestwalknz/)
– got a yard we could park up on for the night? we’d appreciate your hospitality
– come find us and say “hi” when we come to your town
– got another idea how you could help? Contact us and we can discuss your ideas 🙂
I’ve committed to staying in Motueka for a few months yet, which gives me time to marshal support and build the shelter before setting off in late spring or early summer. If you, or anyone you know may be interested in getting behind this cause, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, please help by spreading the word. Share this post, the website, the Facebook page, the Give-a-little page, the message. Or donate to get the ball rolling!
The third thing is equally exciting to me! It seems I have found an illustrator. We still have a bit of work to do finalising the arrangement, but things are looking good. All things going according to plan, there should be something to work from in a month or so. With any luck, I will have at least one of the books published and in circulation by the time we are ready to head off on our longest walk 🙂