What the hell am I doing with my life?
This was the question that I asked myself, back in 2009, whilst staring up at a frosty winter’s moon in Adelaide, Australia. A can of bourbon mixer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. I had a good job as a travel agent, security and an okay lifestyle, however I felt completely spiritually vapid.
I would like to now write ‘It was at that moment I had a lightning bolt revelation that I wanted to change my life to help animals. So I sucked down the last of the bourbon, stomped out my cigarette and started to put a plan into action’. Pfft, the truth is, there was definitely more alcohol, cigarettes and still that burning question “What the hell am I doing with my life?”.
One thing that was different however, was that I did make a choice to just try to change the direction my life was taking. I did not have a spiritual or even physical destination in mind, I just believed in these two principles:
- Change occurs when Action is taken
- Action is born when you – Just Try
This was the choice I made. To always Just Try.
To 2010 and I was living in London with my partner Bianca, still working as a travel agent, but now studying to be a Sports Massage Therapist and travelling within Continental Europe, when time and finances allowed. This is where my decision to ‘Just Try’ and the ensuing actions, had led me so far. Some might suggest I had made it, but all this had left me with, was a burning desire to strive for more.
On our Mediterranean holiday on the island of Ibiza in August of that year, I was first exposed to stray cat colonies. It was heart breaking to see so many feline individuals, suffering from hunger and malnutrition, illness and injuries, struggling for survival, with some females trying to feed kittens when they never have enough for themselves. And of course the age old statement of “I wish someone would do something” bubbled forth.
However, Bianca being the amazing animal lover that she is, had us purchase cat food and pre-cooked meat from the local supermarket and then back to this one colony in San Antonio to proceed to feed it all to these furry angels through the chain wire fence. Her passion and encouragement to ‘Just Try’ to help these animals, planted the seed to what would, many years later, become the core ethos of FurzAid, that:
‘One person does not have the power to change the world for every animal, but every person has the power to change one animal’s world’.
Over the following years, our choice to ‘Just Try’, led us from feeding colonies wherever and whenever we found them, to searching out colonies to feed, and then onto searching out organisations and sanctuaries to visit and support at home in London, across the UK and especially holidaying abroad within Europe. It was our holiday to the Algarve Portugal in July of 2015 that brought us in contact with the first hand challenges of rescuing stray animals.
We searched out, prepared and visited a dog rescue centre called the Goldra Dog Sanctuary, bringing them food and veterinary supplies, and then spending the afternoon with them, listening to their story and touring the sanctuary. This experience was an awakening to the fact that, when you support the people on the ground that are doing what they can for the betterment of animals, the action to ‘Just Try’ has a far greater reach to where it is needed most. You can read about this visit here.
After all of these experiences of the preceding five years, something fundamental had changed. For me? Within me? I don’t know? But definitely, something… However, recognising change in one’s life is a funny thing. For changes are often subtle, come in ‘small bites’ and awareness of change is not usually conscious until reflected upon. But now, animals in need seemed to search me out, instead of me looking out for them. Cat’s often, wildlife occasionally, but especially birds for some reason. Birds have randomly fallen out of the sky, injured in front of me, I have found featherless baby starlings on a beach under a burning sun, walked a family of ducks to safety away from a highway and have many a time stopped the car to bring aid to a bird, suffering vehicle strike. Hence why, at these times, Bianca refers to me as ‘Birdman’.
I do know for a fact however, that I am not alone in experiences like that which I describe above. For after sharing these and other rescue stories with people, many have regarded on similar occurrences and the fact that animals in need of assistance seem to find their way to these people also. It was one such person that I believe, summarises it best:
‘Once you are awakened to animal plight, you will be forever recognised as friend and found when need is greatest’.
In the ensuing years, we found need, have worked with, visited, assisted and supported organisations such as:
- the Mayhew Animal Home – adopting our rescue cat Mitchell from here.
- Dogs Trust UK – sponsoring dogs that cannot be re-homed.
- Hillside Animal Sanctuary – visiting and supporting their horse and donkey sanctuary in Norfolk.
- Animal Aid – fundraising by completing a 6km open water swim in 2015.
- Skiathos Dog Shelter – visiting, supporting and participating in their tourist dog walking program.
- FOS Thassos Animal Shelter – rescuing assistance of our street cat Calix.
- Care 4 Cats Ibiza – which is perhaps dearest to my heart and have supported, raised money for and volunteered with, for many years now, video here.
The conception of FurzAid
I read years ago on a Great Barrier Reef dive tour pamphlet ‘with experience comes appreciation’ and this could not be more true, than with the conception of FurzAid.
There is several universal truths when it comes to seeing or finding animals in need:
- Almost every person is negatively affected by animal suffering.
- Almost every person, when exposed to animal suffering, wishes something more could be done, but feel action is too difficult and the problem is too large.
- If these people do try to take action, finding the right charity, sanctuary, organisation, vet or volunteer can be neigh on impossible.
We have all lived these experiences ourselves, many times.
In the Summer of 2017, my most recent evolutionary change and the foundation of FurzAid occurred with two very large and challenging rescue experiences. The first being in June, when Bianca discovered a colony of street cats and kittens in Limenaria, on the island of Thassos, Greece. This furry family was doing it quite tough with illnesses such as cat flu, injuries & infections as a result of fighting and worst of all, Chlamydia. The second in September, whilst in Recife Brazil for a friends wedding, when we came across a street dog who was severely emaciated, could barely eat, was having difficulty breathing and had pretty much given up on life. These two experiences was when our action to ‘Just Try’ to bring assistance to these animals in need, was really taken to the next level. And although both of these rescues were challenging, time consuming and somewhat emotionally draining, they each had successful outcomes that made them ultimately far more rewarding than the energy invested. You can watch these rescue video’s below.
The last lessons that I learned from these rescue experiences and that allowed several of the FurzAid fundamental pieces to fall into place were:
- There is almost always, someone in location, trying to bring assistance to local animals.
- Finding and connecting with these local people is often very time consuming and challenging.
- How is there not already a tool to make this a simple connection?
This was my ‘lightning bolt’ revelation!
The change that I had been yearning for, all those years earlier had finally come to fruition. I have a passion that I am willing to commit everything I have, to creating the most successful outcome for any animal that I find in need. And with years of first-hand experience, I have now discovered a business model, brand and platform to empower others to ‘Just Try’ to bring assistance to any animal in need, they find anywhere in the world too. But with a faster and far simpler action.
And thus it is born…
FurzAid – Animal Rescue App.
Powering Animal Assistance. Be they Fur, Feather, Skin, Scale or Fin…