That was the name I gave to a male homeless cat I'd just trapped in a very dangerous situation at the Albuquerque International Airport. Rex was named in honor of a friend having some medical issues, and was also the husband of an unstoppable TNR advocate. The "Sweet" part of his name came from Rex's caregivers at C & W Rustic Hollow Shelter once they met this fine, lovable gentleman. Just minutes after he was trapped, he was meowing to be released, never to utter a hiss of fear or stress. He was just good natured, 'Sweet.'
As an animal advocate with a home already too full of lovable felines, I relinquished Rex to the local Animal Humane branch . . . he passed all the tests of sociability . . . only to test positive for FeLV . . . they were going to euthanize him! Horrified at the news, I convinced them I would responsibly find Rex a home, or at least a rescue organization where he would be safe.
That's when Sweet Rex's luck began to change. A superb rescue group in it's own right in Corrales, NM, stepped up and agreed to sponsor and help Sweet Rex find a home. Meanwhile, I was frantically searching privately for a forever home, even placing a newspaper ad with his picture. The responses to that ad were alarming and it became clear Sweet Rex's plight was desperate. But hope was never lost. The director of the Corrales rescue group knew of a shelter, almost 1,200 miles away, in Nashua, Iowa, that just might have a spot for Sweet Rex. Shortly after the request, we got the 'sweet' news . . . news that C & W Rustic Hollow Shelter would make room & welcome Mr. Sweet Rex into their fold, for the rest of his wonderful life. My heart nearly burst with relief & joy!
But how were we to get Sweet Rex to Nashua? It's at least a 2-day drive each way from Albuquerque to Nashua. How about a round-trip pass for a human passenger escort on an airline that accepted felines in the cabin? And yes, that very pass was donated by an animal lover upon learning of Sweet Rex's need. I just happened to work for that very same airline at the time and was able to easily persuade the gate agent to waive the reservation fee so Sweet Rex could board free of charge!
And so off they went. Sweet Rex and his escort. Sweet Rex didn't know that his escort on this journey, in his professional life, was an aide to a sitting US Senator, and the husband of the director of the Corrales rescue. But this trip was part of the escort's private life, and this was Rex's chance at his new life! It was in August, 2012.
Sweet Rex's story is also the story of C & W Rustic Hollow Shelter. I love what the word 'shelter' connotes. It gives hope to the infirmed, the wayward, and the homeless & their advocates, that there is a welcoming place to call home, no questions asked, forever!
Sweet Rex crossed over the Rainbow Bridge in April, 2014.
In an email notifying me that Sweet Rex had passed, Co-founders Carmen Linda Conklin & Wanda L. Orric wrote, "He fought the good fight, but the feline leukemia is something they cannot fight once it has a stronghold and is active in their bone marrow. Sweetest kitty ever. He is so missed. Always tears in our FeLV room when a kitty leaves, but Cristina (Swinton), his caregiver said, it's still the quality of life they have here, not the quantity. It is so true. They don't know they have this awful disease that could take them any time. They just live and are content and happy and loved. So sad today. Wanted to let you know right away.
Carmen and Wanda"
In my most humble opinion, C & W Rustic Hollow Shelter 'IS' unequivocally the 'DEFINITION' of a 'GREAT NONPROFIT!' The shelter constantly seeks ways to fundraise for all the necessary items essential in maintaining and sustaining a shelter. I'll never quite comprehend the day to day pressures involved in caring for an ever-growing number of wayward & homeless, medically & socially compromised cats. It's a selfless staff with many volunteers that make a great team, along with their passion, commitment, compassion, dedication & love for their clients, that makes C & W Rustic Hollow Shelter one of the VERY BEST!!! I will forever be thankful to them for the care & love gracefully afforded to just one amazing cat, . . . SWEET REX!!!
C & W Rustic Hollow Shelter, Inc was a life saver for myself and the nonprofit I volunteer with ( Feline Friendz in Ne). We have had many cats and kittens that were quite able to live out their lives, but finding fosters became non existence. After fostering them and reaching out across the country to find adopters for the cats that were completely blind, to as simple as suffering from stuberness and urinating all around the homes, or suffering for either FIV or Feleuk. C & W was a savor to them by excepting them into their nonprofit shelter,
In our hearts they are #1 in their community
Rustic Hollow has welcomed three kitties from our rescue in Wisconsin, two FIV+ girls and one healthy in need of rehoming. Our rescue is extremely finicky; we did the research, we visited several sanctuaries before placing these precious ones at RH. Rustic Hollow won our admiration and our support for their over-the-top care of each and every kitty there. Staff develop real relationships with the kitties in their charge, and treat them almost as their own. Medical care is high-quality and on-site; there is even an in-house clinic, and they host a low cost spayathon there every month that is a godsend for shelters in central Iowa, serving as many as 75 cats on those days.
Cats roam free in homelike houses. They get along with each other because anything that could cause competition is eliminated.
There is even a guest room for visitors!
I cannot praise Rustic Hollow highly enough. They do a beautiful job. (Photos of the kitties I've personally placed at Rustic Hollow, left to right: Holly Noélle, Jeannette Isabella, and Purrsia.)
Rustic Hollow has over the years continued to "be there" for a dear friend of mine when she was in need. She was a foster home for our little non-profit cat rescue in Wisconsin & she opened her doors & her heart to abandoned or stray cats & kitten, working daily to socialize them for adoption. However, her landlord took issue with the number of cats in the home he rented to her & told her that several of the cats must go. After much research & heartache, we decided on Rustic Hollow for these cats, both of whom were FIV+.
This past year, the house she rented changed hands & the new landlord terminated her lease. At this time she had 3 much-loved cats, all her own. After much searching of available places to rent, she reluctantly had to agree to an apartment that allowed only 2 cats. So Rustic Hollow was again called upon to help, which they did.
This cat had been doing well until at the shelter until several months ago when she contracted pneumona & was near death for several days. Her recovery was long & arduous & Carmen & Wanda, who founded & run Rustic Hollow, took this cat into their own home in order to care for her around the clock. They were there for her continually, seeing to all her needs & lavishing her with love & constant care. This kitty did recover altho she continues to be frail, but she never did go back to her quarters in the shelter. Carmen & Wanda have kept her in their home as one of their own cats so they can continue to care for her & see that she is well & happy. Carmen & Wanda are not young women & taking cats like this one into their own home to live as their own is a burden that they assume with love & tremendous compassion.
It is Carmen & Wanda who have from the beginning opened the doors of Rustic Hollow to cats who can no longer stay in their current homes for any number of reasons. They operate on a shoestring but the health & well being of the cats are never compromised. Their staff is imbued with the same compassion & dedicatiion to the cats that characterizes Carmen & Wanda. Surely these women & their Rustic Hollow Shelter are most worthy of recognition for being an outstanding home for cats in need.
A great group of people who give endlessly to cats with special needs who would otherwise be euthanized. They provide medical care, and a quality of life that many would not have if C & W didn't exist. A wonderful organization, a great colleague and compassionate peer. Highly recommend you support them.
We went to visit C&W Rustic Hollow and I have to say, it was one of the best days of my life. The level of care given to each and every animal is outstanding. You can tell that these cats aren't just taken care of, they are loved. You can see it in the way the volunteers and staff respond, that this is a place where any cat through whatever circumstance brought it there, will be cherished. It was an experience I will never forget, I wish there were more places like this.
C&W Rustic Hollow Shelter is a wonderful place! We could no longer take care of our cat, due to his medical needs and with their love and medical team, he's doing so much better! I get frequent updates on how our cat is doing and we go visit him and volunteer when we can. The facility is well maintained, clean, and the staff care about the animals. So thankful for the help C&W Rustic Hollow Shelter has given our family! 5 stars!!
I first encountered Rustic Hallow Shelter in December 2015, after I was advised our local shelter had no resources to assist. I am employed by a law enforcement agency and had come across a subject that had in excess of 40 felines. I was devastated, frustrated and upset at the lack of any available help. I was given Rustic Hallow's number and hesitated due to it begin forty five minutes out of my jurisdiction. What an amazing experience I had. I wasn't even sure that Rustic Hallow could assist, but several months, phone calls and arrangements later, I can truly say if it wasn't for Rustic Hallow, most of the felines would have been euthanized. Carmen not only "adopted" several cats, but found homes for kittens, found a foster home for several adult male felines and arranged to have many neutered at no expense to law enforcement or the subject. I am so thankful for Carmen and everyone involved with Rustic Hallow. I know I owe so much to Rustic Hallow for all that was done from pure advise to the connections they have and used to help me. To this day, I have yet to meet Carmen or visit Rustic Hallow, but it is an absolute on my to do list. Thank you for having such a caring heart and safe place!
We have been volunteers/supporters for the shelter for years. The staff helps so many cats and a few dogs that have illnesses or physical problems that no one else will even consider. The shelter is not only clean but being in the country, it's very peaceful. After every visit, we come away with such a warm feeling....we are supporters and now friends. We have helped with spay/neuter clinics....what a great way to get the word out to the public. We're looking forward to future trips and can't wait!
I love C & W's Rustic Hollow. This cage free, no kill sanctuary for special needs felines is just amazing. Carmen, Wanda, their staff and many volunteers care for cats with medical & physical needs, seniors, cats that are feline leukemia+ and FIV+ and many others. In addition to daily and medical care, they socialize the cats, hold spay & neuter clinics, do fundraising events and I know for sure this is only a small portion of what they do . When they take an animal in, they are committed to that animal for life. They have accepted 2 special needs cats from our shelter in Emporia, KS and I drove them to Iowa on both occasions. I have seen first hand how wonderful this sanctuary is and the love and care given to these felines who all deserve that 2nd chance they would not otherwise have received. I can't thank C & W's Rustic Hollow enough for what they do. They are awesome!