January 27, 2014

Invisible Signs

Giacomo & Slick

Giacomo & Slick

I have never believed in invisibility, unless you count that time when I was six-years old and saw The Invisible Man for the first time. For three days I pretended I was invisible. It was a hell of a lot of fun, until my dad—tired of playing the game—spoiled everything.

“You know I can see you,” he said. “And so can everyone else.”

Since then, invisibility hasn’t sparked much interest.

Jump Ahead 40 Years

My wife and I finally got the land we needed for our animal sanctuary. It was @15 acres nestled behind an older subdivision, and it was bordered on one side by 40 acres of woods. The back of the property sat next to an 18-acre horse farm, and the other side had almost 100 acres of woods, surrounded by single-family homes, farms, and people with property ranging from ½ an acre to 20+ acres.

It took us several years to get the biggest part of land fenced in. We did it to make sure our animals couldn’t get away, but also to protect them, as the woods is full of coyotes, not to mention wild boars.

The Sanctuary

We started out the sanctuary with only a few animals—three Australian Shepherds, and two potbelly pigs. Before long word spread. Animal Control “discovered” us somehow and whenever they had an abused or abandoned pig we got the call. The next few years our sanctuary grew to include 10 dogs and 14 pigs, and a horse. We told Animal Control there was no more room at the inn. And then people started calling. By the end of the following year, the numbers swelled to 15 dogs, 24 pigs, and a horse.

We had to start telling callers we couldn’t take any more animals. Cost was now a major factor.

baby rabbit

deer with broken leg

Invisible Signs

Things were fine for a few months, and then the animals started coming on their own. I still haven’t figured out how they knew to come here. How they knew they’d find a couple of suckers instead of a guy with a gun wanting to shoot them, but somehow they did know. And they came. It wasn’t just dogs either.

The first one to arrive was a little bunny rabbit. We found her in the garden by the back door. She was a newborn, and must have been separated from her mother. How she knew to come here, I don’t know. My wife took her in and bottle-fed her for weeks, and then fed her by hand. She got the rabbit healthy enough and, after a few months, we released her back into the woods. It wasn’t long after that another rabbit “stopped by.” This one was obviously someone’s pet. When he wouldn’t leave my son took him in so the dogs didn’t get him.

After that, an injured deer showed up. Its leg was broken. Unfortunately there was nothing we could do for it, and it had to be put down. But why did it come to our place, with 15 dogs on the property?

wild pigs Kirby, the dog, playing with great daneI began to think that somewhere in the woods someone had posted signs with arrows pointing the way to our place. Or maybe the trails were illuminated? I don’t know what it was, but it didn’t stop with the deer.

The Hurricane

Back in 2008 we had a hurricane come through. When I went out to inspect the damage the next day, I noticed a tree had broken the fence near the back of the property. I got the chain saw and went back to fix it, but on the way I was surprised to see two new pigs. Wild ones. They had obviously come in through the hole in the fence and had decided to make themselves at home.

Two nights after that, we heard a whimpering outside the door. My wife went to investigate and found a scruffy little dog, covered in mud and his fur tangled with stickers. She brought him inside and tended to him. I thought we’d have trouble from the other dogs, but they all took to him, and he was the life of the party. We named him Kirby, and figured he was here to stay. But within two weeks Kirby left and never returned.

Mother cat and her kittens

Cats on steps

dennis the wild boar


Things were quiet for a while and then Dennis came. This is a picture of him the day I saved him from the dogs. He had crawled in through the fence and the dogs attacked him. The vet was sure he would die, but my wife’s nursing did him right. Now he’s almost 400 pounds and the only concern is protecting the dogs from him.

It was quiet for a couple of years, with no new creatures, and then one night a feral cat showed up. She wouldn’t let us come near her, but it was obvious she intended to make this her home, as she planted herself in a corner of the barn and returned every night. About one month later, we understood why she came—five little kittens.

Drawing the Line

I told my wife we had to draw the line. No more animals of any kind.

And that very night another feral cat came by, trying desperately to make his way into the group. I didn’t have the heart to chase him away, so an exception was made.

possum eating cat food possum eating on porchTwo nights later, my wife was calling the cats to come eat, when this showed up. The damn thing came out of the barn and walked up like it belonged. Now we have not one, but two, possums coming every night to eat on the porch. I just hope they don’t have any damn babies in the pouch.

Bottom Line

Did I ever figure out where these invisible signs are? No. I haven’t. But I’m convinced they’re out there and pointing the way to our house. One of these days I’ll find them.


Ciao, and thanks for stopping by,




Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of:
No Mistakes Resumes
Murder Takes Time
Murder Has Consequences
A Bullet For Carlos
Finding Family

He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 45 loving “friends.”


Images are the property of TuskanyFalls.com an animal sanctuary.



2 Responses to “Invisible Signs”

  1. I know this scene all too well. LOL.

    Greg used to say that somewhere on our fence line is a scrawled code that tells animals this is a safe place. Kind of like the scratches hobos used to make back in the 30s as they wandered from farm to farm on where they found a meal.

    We had an ancient rottweiler sit on our doorstep waiting for us. Fortunately, we found his owner weeks later, but he knew where to find shelter meanwhile.

    Another puppy followed me home. Greg didn’t believe me, but it’s true, I swear.

    And then there was Kitty who even as a kitten adamantly returned to our door step despite being shooed away. Greg didn’t like cats at the time, but those two ended up being the best of friends.

    Somehow, they know. But I think I’d draw the line at possums–and skunks.

    Bless you and Mikki for doing what you do.

  2. Maria, I knew you’d understand. These darn animals are too smart for us.

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