Rescue Journal

Turtle Gardens

Carol  ·  Dec. 21, 2007

i am so tired...i have had a total of 5 hours sleep in the last 48. it is strange how the world crashes back on top of you when you return from a temporary other worldly foray but then that is just how life sometimes goes. my family had need of me when i was too far away to be reached.

sometimes the things that life demands of me are bigger than one little me and i am so tired at this moment that i am even less than i usually am.

but there is a little redneck (with very cool boots) living in the freaking freezing north waiting to read what i say so i better find enough inside me to get it done right.

i have dedicated my life to rescue, i have loved and hated and feared every minute of it. and i came back from turtle gardens utterly and completely humbled by the simple monsterousness of it all.

what i found in that place was not what i expected in the least...i expected to find a small shelter struggling to survive. i didn't find that. i found something much more.

i found 3 generations of a family whose love for each other and the animals in their care touched me to my very center core. i found intelligence and thoughtfulness, compassion and respect, i found the simple but often missing common sense that helps us meet challenges much bigger than we.

sheila and i spent almost 12 hours watching and observing and listening to everything that went on around us. we went inside of the kennels and we went inside with the dogs, we were invited into the beginning of a dream of a shelter to house the ones that only one small family struggled to save. we saw and i touched 2 of the aggressive dogs that we were told we would not be allowed to see but we were...we saw how well the animals of turtle gardens themselves, spoke of their care, and how much they trusted this family who gave them a chance for a much better life.. we understood what the vet staff of burns lake had to say when they met with us...that they deeply respected and valued this family who cared for the homeless of a vast northern area. and they knew it was their community which overburdened them and then depended on them not to weaken and fall.

and what touched me most was the 12 hours we spent with a strong northern redneck and his favorite little strong red neck was their honesty and their humour and their ability to recognize how they wanted things to change.

turtle gardens is an outpost of rescue so far from the rescue we find here in the south everyday. there are real life hero's to be found a in small isolated, northern family who against the most brutal of odds, actually manage to do solid gold and very real rescue better than any of us possibly can.

turtle gardens needs simple things....they need money and they need alot. turtle gardens needs chevron gas cards because yesterday alone, the business of rescuing animals ate up almost $100 of fuel, turtle gardens needs building supplies and good quality dog food and people down here to help them by getting them the simple things so they can do their very difficult work.

they do not need my approval and they do not need my respect but for whatever it is worth, they have them both and with not a single string.

to the labbatt family...thank you for your generosity, thank you for sharing your world, thank you for your honesty and insight and for taking 12 hours out of your very long day to educate 2 innocent southern visitors from an alien rescue world.

and thank you for helping me find real hero's in a world that i thought just did not exist.

and a very special thank you to 2 very strong and compassionate rednecks for being the absolutely most remarkable rednecks that i have ever had the true pleasure to meet.

permission to cross post and or copy granted in advance.



thanks to Carol and sheila. I don't think some of the other rescues ever thought another person or rescue would step up to the plate and head up to the"great white north" at this time of the year being "WINTER" and "Christmas" time. I am very glad you got to come up and visit yvette and her rescue and the local now know how long a drive it is from Smithers to Topley and i am the opposite way from smithers abit longer to drive (I would have come to see you too but I am a wimp(I hate winter driving, yeah i know i live in the wrong place)If hubby would have been home we would have gone for a Sunday drive on a Thursday ;-)

we are a different breed up took alot of adapting for me and after 2 1/2 yrs i still have alot to learn...i must say i do like the Fraser Valley more then this i believe you said "freezing Isolated north".

thank you writing those kind words about TG what my husband and I already knew. next time you should come up during the summer and we could drive you all over the areas up here that TG helps with taken in rescues...but i think you might need a little more the a 12 hour day (wink wink)

thanks again


You've made a tremendous difference to this family
up north. Thank you and all the best.



I am one of those very blessed to be awaken each morning with kisses by 1 of the 4000 dogs rescued by TG, and also to appreciate the rednecks in my family.Thank you to both you and Sheila for traveling to Topley.
During this season "Of Good Will to All" we are fortunate that cooler heads did prevail.

Wishing all at SAINTS a very Merry and Peaceful Christmas and prosperity in the New Year

marka akins

thankyou Carol for writing so eloquently. they are wonderful people and need volunteers and donations.
i wrote to Yvette on the TG blog and basically said that they seem to be in that in between (hole) part of the system we call LIFE, not so stable now, but with the decision to transcend rather than collapse I firmly believe they will reorganize and become stable and at a higher level than before.
I must also say that you are pretty special yourself and Saints has helped many dogs in our community as well.
get some sleep, that is a long journey (we drove it in an old 1978 Westy last summer to see them.)
happy holidays, Marka and furry friends


So grateful, Carol and Sheila. So, so, grateful.

Now it's time to get down to work and ramp up our support for TG.

Ya HOOOO!!!!!

Sandy (1atatime Rescue)

Thank you Carol for this update. You have described things so beautifully. You have afforded those of us who have not gone up there as yet, to have a small glimpse into the world of northern community rescue. Its great to hear that Both the Labatt family and yourself, had a chance to come together as rescuers.
It is my deepest hope that peace and respect for one another's efforts will be more prevelant in the rescue community in 2008

Baby Redneck

Knowing that you made it home safe and happy was super but, to see your blog this morning, made me exceptionally happy! I walked into the living room right after I had woken up and automatically got pluncked in front of the computer from my glowing grandmother, she loaded the page and made me read the whole thing before I could even think straight, I'm so glad I read it! Thank you for
your consideration to our happy family and all our furry little buddies,


Oh my Carol.....this brought tears to my eyes. I have been waiting to read what happened at Turtle Gardens. Your amazing to take the time out of your busy schedule to visit Topley and stop all the wondering what was going on up there. I am so happy to hear these people are doing such a great job. It is sad that they have to do without so much to accomplish this. My thoughts are with TG and all the beautiful animals they are saving. I will do my best to find these people supplies and money to send up to them. Merry Christmas.


I'm glad your trip was safe. The way of life up north is very different from any where else in the province. There are challenges that would never happen any where except in the north country, it makes people very aware of how fragile life can be. You both had a very special opportunity not only to experience some of the beauty of the land up there, but also the family sort of community that exists in isolated places. Meeting the Labatt family and being a part of thier world, even for a short time, has brought a sort of enlightenment to you. Spiritually, emotionally, in ways that will make them selfs known as you continue to absorb every thing you saw and experienced. A very special gift to receive.


Carol - your comments moved me deeply, brought
tears to my eyes. I've been saddened by all
the crap that has gone on the last few weeks
by grown women who have been behaving like
a bunch of whiny spoiled brats. I had never heard of TG before until this summer when I met an elderly gentleman in my neighbourhood who had adopted a wonderful special needs dog from TG. There is just so much more to the TG picture than 'them' taking some
photos of their debris and junk pile and of a dog
who was chained temporarily. Yvette also mentioned in her blogs there were a number of females in heat so for the life of me would these people expect her to let all the dogs run around loose? Anyways, let's
not go there anymore.

I hope your blog today will put this to rest.
The naysayers should channel their energy into something more positive, not spend hours typing away nitpicking and trying to read in between the lines. Do something postive and listen to TG and start addressing their needs, not yours.

Wishing you, your family and all the volunteers
at SAINTS a very peaceful and Merry Christmas.


I read Carol's comments an hour ago and have come back to and then started to write and then deleted and then looked at the screen and then went and sat down and thought about what I am going to write and still didn't.

And now I think I can finally say what I need to say.
I went up to Topley BC not even knowing where it sat geographically on the map of BC (I didn't even know where Smithers was)let alone understand where it sat in the cultural environment of BC. I went up with all the controversy, well wishes, and negativity this one visit was going to have on a little cyber world called "rescue". The controversy sat not in my head or in my heart but in my stomach as I could feel it churning on Wednesday night.

If all that had not been sitting with me I would have described my day in the north as very cold even with all my layering, that all the people we met up north are were very polite and hospitable to me and there is something to be said about that small town hospitality, and that I met a very nice people that made sure that their animals and 16 year old child in this family received all the comforts before they did.

But the emotions of another world were sitting with me and what should have been a normal visit became not only a physical but an emotional journey. Unlike Carol it takes me a while before I can express myself publically as I am not a person who is willing to expose my emotions to the world.

I wish I could say this as well as Carol ....
The Labatt's are a family that will always have my deepest respect and admiration. I am humbled by them.