The health of our fur babies improved noticeably when we switched them over over to filtered water years ago. As bottled water would be too expensive for so many animals, we have a multi-stage filter system under our sink that I built. For the most part it just works. We don’t give it much thought until the water pressure through the special spigot slows down and then I don my headlamp, get under the sink, clean out system and replace filters, like I did tonight.

Maintaining the system isn’t much of a chore really but you have to be very careful and make sure everything is sterile, including your hands. The old filters are little buckets of concentrated germs. Get that in a cut and you’re looking at a trip to the doctor’s office or possibly worse. Don’t lick your fingers and don’t touch your mouth, nose or eyes. Additionally, you want to make sure the inside of the filter containers are clean before you put new filters in them. Otherwise your system is just pumping germs. After the system has been reassembled, you need to run it for a while to clean out and saturate the new filters. When you have completed the maintenance process you are assured of pure, healthy water for you and your pets. Seriously, filtered water makes a huge difference in their health but it is not without expense and effort.

We clean and refill four large water bowls for the dogs several times every day. (There is a lot more than four bowls for the cats) The dogs love fresh water so whenever we get done with the bowls, we yell out “Water” and they all come running and when they’re done we wash and refill the bowls again. We always wash the bowls before we refill them. There are three water bowls in the kitchen and one in the family room. It’s the same water in both locations but Mumford is convinced the bowl in the family room is better. She’ll walk across the house, get a drink and walk back to where she was napping, just a few feet from the other bowls. Go figure. 

We have the water filter not because we read about the need in a pamphlet or on a website. We have it because we have walked through the valley of the shadow of death and learned through those experiences. That is another story for another time.

Yes, our dogs lick themselves and sometimes drink from mud puddles. We discourage the latter. The former, you can’t fix. What I am saying is that we go to great lengths to keep everyone healthy but we really don’t think about it or talk about it like a lot of folks do. It’s not a big deal so we don’t make it out to be a big deal. It doesn’t make us special or better than anyone else. It’s a lifestyle that is natural to us and it’s no different than washing your hands before and during the preparation of a meal.

Our animals depend on us and we won’t let them down. The day could come (heaven forbid) when we and they may not have the luxury of a simple, clean environment. It may take much more work than it currently does but if or when that day comes, we will rise to the occasion because we know what to do and why we do it. You might say we are preppers in much the same way our grandparents were preppers. They lived through the Great Depression and learned to make do with much less than what others had. They also never forgot that hard times will come again, it’s just a matter of time and they prepared accordingly.

The Budster, the Duchess, Miss Annie and Mumford don’t think about the purity of their water or where there next meal is coming from. Well, Mumford might because of her past. They live in peace because they trust us. That’s where peace comes from. Trust. You know people who don’t live in peace even through they may call themselves Christians or believers or whatever their title du jour is. You also know people whose peace is so permeating that it’s almost contagious. It all boils down to trust. Somewhere along the line those who live in peace have learned how to trust. Those without peace don’t trust anyone but themselves and they know they will eventually fail.

I grew up poor, real poor, but I didn’t know we were poor because my parents took care of us kids. We ate poor folks food but we didn’t go hungry. We trusted our parents and they never let us down. After I was out on my own, I experienced was it was like to be really poor and I learned what it was like to be hungry. I ate poor folks food and sometimes I didn’t even have that but I survived and the experience changed me. I now have an understanding that many don’t have. I have a determination. I have compassion for those less fortunate because I have been less fortunate. Today, I still eat poor folks food and I know how to make do with much less. I can show you how to eat for next to nothing. I can show you how to do without. Leveraging these skills is how my wife and I manage to care for so many animals. They were all unfortunate at one time but we share what we have and that’s how we make it through. Together.

Most people have never experienced hard times. I mean real hard times. Only those who have lived through them can understand and only they can empathize with those who are down and out. Some think they have experienced hard times but they have not walked through the valley of the shadow of death. Some think they have a plan to survive if or when hard times come their way but they’ll never really know if they can make it or not until they’ve been tested. Until then, all they have is a theory.

We have walked through the valley of the shadow of death and once you have done that, you can tell who has and who hasn’t. I don’t look down on others who don’t have that experience but they think I do because they don’t know how to process what they feel. When they’ve been there and come back, we will look at each other a nod. Nothing has to be said and suddenly, we trust each other on a different level. We’re not special. We’re not better than anyone else but we’ve been tested. How we come out the other side varies but it’s the coming out that sets our mind.

Every single one of our animals has been tested. Some managed better than others but every one of them has been changed by what they’ve experienced. We trust each other because we all have something in common. The Budster has seen hard times and he trusts us because we proved ourselves to him. He knows we won’t let him down and he is at peace now. I trust him more than I do most people and he trusts us more than most people.

I believe we will all see very hard times in the near future. If those hard times affect everyone around you, who will you feed first, your neighbor or your fur babies? I know the answer to that and you do too but only those who have walked through the valley of the shadow of death will understand and it doesn’t matter what the rest think.

Tonight, we are grateful for what we have and we are thankful for the opportunities we have had to live without.

Psalm 23
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

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About the Author

Joyce Ellis is the CEO and Caretaker of WarmFuzzy's Animal Shelter & Sanctuary. She was born with the vision, the Energizer Bunny who keeps going and going. She is Fuzzy1 of all WarmFuzzy's.

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