Monday, 14 January 2008

Fun Monday #4

Ann over at For The Long Run is hosting Fun Monday today and this is what she wants to hear.

I want to hear about a web site and not just about any old web site. I want to hear about a web site that's changed your life. A web site that you can't live without. A web site whose inventor you'd like to see win a McArthur Genius Grant. Maybe you want to sing the praises of a dating web site for helping you meet your spouse. Maybe the only thing getting you through the dark days of winter is an Internet comic. No story is too big, no story is too small - I want to hear it all on Monday.

There are two websites which have changed my life. Not in any ground-breaking, earth-shattering way, but quietly changed my life over the course of time, although the first did have something of a big bang effect not long after it entered my life.

The first, I am ashamed to admit, has been lost in the mists of my mind and I can't even remember what it was called. At the time I was riding a lot and so joined this equine website which had a forum. This was about 11 years ago and I was pretty new to the whole web thing then and didn't really have a clue about what I was doing. Alongside the forum was a chat room and quite a few people would meet up in there for a chat at lunch time. Four or five of us hit it off and friendships started to develop as we met online more regularly. We didn't know each other from Adam but we all had one thing in common, our love of horses.

I ventured into the chat room one day, hoping some of the girls would be around for a chat. Instead, there was only one person in there, a woman I'd never met before, and she was in a desperate state. He beloved horse had just died suddenly and she was completely bereft. So bereft that I was seriously concerned for her well-being. I kept her chatting whilst quickly e-mailing my friends to get online fast because I needed them in the chat room asap. We spent the next couple of hours helping Stardust deal with her grief and out of those few hours, fast friendships were formed.

A few of us lived reasonably close to each other and we started to meet up. First me and Ali, then Niki, then Sara and Caroline and Em. We met Lynn a couple of times as she lived further away and Caroline and Yvonne we have yet to meet as they live in Scotland. Although Stardust came over from her home in South Africa for a visit....what a heady few days they were!

For reasons I cannot remember, we were christened The Crazy Gang and the Gang still exists today although we don't see each other as often as we'd like we still have our own message board to keep in touch with each other. Niki and Ali remain my closest friends.....friends I can turn to whenever I need a shoulder. Even if we haven't spoken for months and months, we all know we are at the end of a phone for each other. This is the three of us at Himself's 50th birthday party last year (that's me on the right).

Our lives have diverged over the years but we've been with each other through birthdays, marriages, childbirth, health issues and death. We have had several mass gatherings, mainly at Em's house as she has lots of room, and it's great because all our partners enjoy each others company too and we have had some very fun times together. Long may it continue!

The second website that has had a major effect on my life is, of course, Greyhound Gap. I had crossed paths with Lisa from time to time around a couple of dog rescues websites but didn't really know her very well. Then one day I received an e-mail from Lisa saying she was setting up Greyhound Gap. I mooched about their forum for a while and then along came Lurcher No.2. He was one of Gap's first rescue dogs and I won't details the story of how he came to live with us because I've done that several times already in this blog. Tyler enriched our lives so much that I felt very strongly that I wanted to be able to give something back. The then treasurer was emigrating and having to give up the role and I offered to take over the role. Gap wasn't a very big organisation then and I remember thinking that surely it couldn't be that difficult to write a few cheques and keep basic records! But Gap has grown and grown. It has a vast number of fantastic supporters, without whom Gap could not function, and many of them have become close friends. Gap is now a registered charity and with anything between 50 and 60 dogs in our care, it takes up a fair amount of my spare time dealing with all the donations that we receive and paying anything between 20 and 30 vet bills every month! But I wouldn't give it up for the world. It has become it's own community with a lot of like-minded people always there for anyone who needs help and support, whether they have dog-related problems or personal ones. Like the Crazy Gang, Gap has also seen people through marriages, childbirth, health problems and death. It is a network of people who care and it has totally changed my life. Long may it continue too.

Don't forget to check out all the other Fun Monday blogs - there's a list over at For The Long Run.

This blog is posted in memory of Queen Bea, Lisa's much loved Greyhound, who went to the Bridge very suddenly yesterday afternoon. At only five years old, she was taken from Lisa much too soon. Forever in our thoughts.

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