The Maggie Fleming Animal Hospice is run by me, Alexis, with support from my beloved, Adam. The Hospice was inspired by my best friend and most special soul I have ever met, Maggie Fleming. You can read more about Maggie here.
I have had a passion for animals since before I could toddle. My wonderful, kind and compassionate parents encouraged compassion and kindness for all animals in me from a very early age. It always came naturally to me; animals are friends, and equals. Walks would take three times longer than they needed to as I would pick drowning worms from puddles and gently place them on the grass. I had many revelations as a toddler, including “I know why god made grass, mummy! So the birds have something soft to land on so thems doesn’t hurt thems feet!” and that god was a “bad man” when, aged 3, I mistook the lyrics to The Lord is My Shepherd to be The Lord is a Leopard. My three-year-old logic told me that leopards ate animals, and if god was a leopard then he must eat animals, and if he eats animals then he must be a bad man! I’m not religious and never have been but I do believe in the soul and the connection we can have with animals on a soul level.
The relationship we can have with animals if we allow them into our hearts and souls is the most special thing; to bond with an animal is to know true, pure, unconditional love, unwavering devotion and friendships that enrich both our lives and theirs. My love for animals extends to all species, but for me the relationships we can have with dogs and farmed animals are truly special.
I have been involved in animal advocacy for more than 20 years, and have worked as a campaigner for Advocates for Animals and Animals Australia. I started a charity called Pounds for Poundies in February 2013 to help raise the vital funds needed to help save the lives of abandoned dogs on death row in pounds in the UK and I am passionate about tackling the companion animal overpopulation and abandonment crisis at the source. I am area co-ordinator for Wing and a Prayer Rescue, a charity that saves and re-homes commercial laying hens, and – with Maggie – did Therapet visits in a local residential home.
Our family is currently made up of two humans, (Alexis and Adam), 4 dogs (Ri, a Staffie girl, Annie, a Staffie x Collie(?) girl, Osha a bullmastiff girl and Benny, a Staffie x Greyhound (best guess!)), 5 chickens (Iona, Jo, Shauna, Karen and Sadie), two turkeys (William and James) and two kune kune pigs (Charlotte and Emily). All of our animal family are rescued; Ri, Annie and Osha from pounds (Osha was dumped with terminal cancer), Benny needed a new home when his people’s circumstances changed, our chicken friends were rescued from a factory farm, our turkey friends were saved from being killed just before Christmas 2014 and our pig friends came to us when they could no longer stay with their people. I rescue many injured, neglected and abandoned domestic companion, farmed and wild animals and I feel strongly that we must never turn a blind eye to suffering, wherever we see it, and we must do all we can to alleviate suffering, in whatever way we can. I am vegan and deeply saddened and passionate about the plight of the animals that as a society we call “food”.
I am not medically trained, but I have many years of experience carrying out palliative care for animals I have found injured, abandoned or neglected whose bodies are beyond being able to hold on in this world any longer. To be able to give them comfort, to give them love, peace and kindness in their final few days or hours is truly a gift, and a responsibility that I don’t take lightly. I work closely with vets and specialists to ensure they receive the most appropriate care, and that they are given the most appropriate way to leave this world. Sometimes, they want to go peacefully in their own time, other times they need to be helped to pass when to let them go naturally would be too painful or stressful. Every single time this decision is made, every single time they look into my eyes and tell me it’s time, and every single time I hold them and say goodbye, my heart breaks and they take part of it and of me with them. But they also leave part of their hearts and part of themselves with me. Those parts of them that will stay with me forever are the greatest gifts I will ever receive.
When Maggie passed, she was in hospital and I couldn’t be with her. It will hurt until my last breath, and I would do anything to turn back time and be able to be with her. I promised I would never leave her, and I did. I had to – she was in intensive care in hospital and I wasn’t allowed to visit her – but she didn’t know that. On the way to say goodbye to Maggie the day after she died, as my dad drove and my mum and I held hands, crying, still in shock and overcome and numbed by grief, I turned to mum and said, “The Maggie Fleming Animal Hospice”. She nodded, and smiled. I vowed then to do this in her honor, in her name, to provide a safe place for abandoned animals who otherwise would have no where to go to spend their final days, somewhere they would know they were loved, somewhere they would know kindness, somewhere they didn’t need to be afraid, somewhere they knew was home and they would never be alone, somewhere they knew they could relax and take comfort as their end neared.
And so The Maggie Fleming Animal Hospice was born. Maggie Fleming was the most special soul I have ever, or will ever, meet. We are no longer together in body and that heartache never goes away, but we are together forever in spirit, and Maggie’s gentle, kind, loving, peaceful and most special of souls will live on in my heart and spirit forever, and her legacy will hopefully make a difference to many other special souls as they prepare to leave this world and join her wherever we all go when we die.
Maggie’s spirit lives on, and I pledge to try my hardest to be as kind and loving as she was, and that is a lot to live up to.