I first encountered Big Ears whilst working as a vet in Tasmania. The one certain way to make friends with any vet is to provide the animals in your care with an excellent standard of living, and Big Ears does just that. Jacqui and Brett Steele were also always willing to take in any stray creature in need of a home, no matter how many of the poor critters I sent them. It was hugely comforting to know that if an injured stray came into the clinic, I could patch it up with no concern about finding it a safe home afterwards.
Of course, some strays I rehomed there generated more vet bills after they arrived at the sanctuary. A certain little pig turned out to be quite a lot of trouble, but Jacqui and Brett never complained. They were always willing to try. There was no such thing as ‘just’ an animal.
Sadly, in 2011 Jacqui was diagnosed with breast cancer. It is a terminal diagnosis, and placed the future of the sanctuary in doubt. Big Ears runs primarily on donations and only survives from year to year.
After initially slowing down whilst undergoing treatment, Jacqui has never given up and Big Ears continues to provide a safe, permanent home for hundreds of animals in all shapes and sizes. There are struggles, of course, and some days are worse than others, but the good work of Big Ears Sanctuary has continues despite this tragedy.
Though I no longer work near the sanctuary, I wanted to be able to help in a concrete, long term way. I decided to write ‘Fairy Tales Written By Rabbits’ for the sanctuary and for Jacqui. I hoped it would bring some comfort on the bad days, alongside royalty payments from any and all sales.
I never told Big Ears that I was writing a novel for them. I wanted it to be a huge surprise, and I didn’t want them to know in case I failed. I’ve sent them a copy of the book today, along with a letter explaining why I have written it, and promising them every scent of royalties from all sales. They should receive it on Friday.
Good people like Jacqui and Brett deserve good things to happen to them. Fate has been uncaring and unreliable, but by our own two hands we can make the world a better place.
All photographs in this post are (c) Big Ears Animal Sanctuary. Click here to visit them.