Patience wanted:

First off,  I wanted to update you all about Little Bear and Todd, they have been adopted!! Fantastic! and now for ….Patience..

I have been working with one of our adoptable dogs, Barney, who is still basically a puppy although he is full grown. Many people have come to visit Barney and potentially adopt him, but no one has yet. Barney has a lot of puppy energy, which is normal, and is also very strong, as he is a pitbull/lab mix. He is mostly black with a white chest and paws. Whenever I tried to walk Barney on a regular leash, he would pretty much pull me around. I will be the first to admit that this is not a pleasant way to walk a dog. I tried switching to a halter, which he was convinced was a toy to play tug with. When I finally pried his mouth open and got it away from him, he would try to jump up and grab it, thinking I was playing keepaway. You see, Barney thinks life is full of games. Which is not a bad attitude to have. In any event, the halter didn’t make much of a difference. Then I tried the choke chain collar. I was wary of using this type of collar, but it actually made a world of difference because Barney doesn’t want to choke himself, go figure!

Barney has another side of his personality too. His sweet, lovable, cuddly side.  Barney still thinks he is a lap dog. In his mind, he is still a small little pup who can curl up in your lap, which is right where he likes to be. Barney is  a friendly, affectionate, cuddly, sweetheart of a dog. (Pitbulls usually are in my experience)  I cannot understand why nobody wants him. When you approach him he does a happy dance, prancing his front paws up and down, and wagging his tail so much it makes his whole body sway back and forth. When you reach out your hand, he greets it with a kiss. He is just so frickin happy..and excited.

I know that Barney will calm down as he gets older, and walk better on the leash too. He just needs an owner with time, and patience to see it through. He wants to please. You can see it in his soulful brown eyes, filled with love and adoration and curiosity. Everyday, I pray that the right person will come along.. someone laid-back,  patient and loving, understanding and firm. I wish I could take him home with me, because we calm each other down, and he responds well to calm energy. He immediately settles down, and rolls over for a belly rub, or just snoozes with a paw touching you.

Patience is something that can be applied and needed in many situations; from driving behind a slow driver when you are late, to waiting for food when you are starving..patience is often what one tries to summon to get them through the rough patches.

Patience is needed while waiting for your scared foster kitten to come out from under the bed, and rub up against your leg.

Patience is needed when working with feral cats, as they start out fearing humans and eventually come around with the right amount of love and kindness shown to them.

Patience is waiting for the right human to adopt a cat that may not show well in a shelter environment due to stress, or one with a disease that has a stigma but no real health effects. ( like FIV, feline AIDs)

Patience is trying a bunch of different types of leads and collars with a dog who has no training walking on a leash, until you find the one that works best.

Patience is training that same dog to walk well on a leash.

Patience is letting a shy animal get to know you, and waiting for it to jump on your lap eventually, and trust you. When you are patient, the reward is sweet.

Patience is what is needed to gain trust. Patience and time..The animals at the shelter are waiting, they have all the time in the world. They wait patiently for their turn to get attention, to get fed, to have their needs met. Patience is the person whom the animals are waiting for to walk through the shelter door and adopt them. Patience is the perfect pet owner. Be patient, adopt a shelter pet today!!

Sometimes The Cat Saves You

The Basement cats comprise new intakes, ferals, and male cats that don’t get along with other cats. We also have a place down there for our leukemia kitties and cats that are fiv positive. Our shelter has 3 floors, the basement, the first floor, or general population, and upstairs, which has 3 rooms with doors which close. When we have a cleaning shift, we usually split the chores by floor. I usually do the basement because the other girl that cleans with me is really tall and hits her head on the ceiling down there. I love cleaning the basement.  I love taking my time with the basement cats. It’s quieter down there and you can’t hear the phone ringing or someone banging on the door. I just get lost in the semi wild cats we have down there. I take my time cleaning, and just being with them. Giving them affection.

One of the “ferals” Little Bear, who hid behind his litter box for the first few months after he arrived,  recently has gotten so affectionate, he will follow you around while you clean, just waiting to be pet. It’s like he missed out on human affection for part of his life and now he wants to make up for it. He looks at you with these adoring eyes, just begging for some love. He also allows me to kiss his head as much as I want to. (Some cats swat you when you do that, which I admit I was surprised to discover.)

Sometimes if I am standing and reach down, he will meet my hand halfway by standing up on his hind legs..what a diamond in the rough. He is a main coon type cat, very big and muscular, yet extremely gentle.

Then there is Todd. Poor Todd has been with us for about 9 months, and wouldn’t let anyone touch him for the first 8. He would sit in the back of his cage, and hiss whenever anyone came to scoop his litter, or clean and refill his food and water. Todd is a real feral, you can see it in his eyes, they have a wildness in them and a long-standing fear of humans.

The day after Sid died, ( my iguana),  I went through the motions, going to the shelter to work, and distract myself. I didn’t really feel like doing anything, but I didn’t like being at home, because it felt like something was missing. I had barely slept the night before, and I felt really out of it, and emotionally drained.

When I got to the shelter, something magical happened. It was as if the cats could sense my despair, and the complete and utter heartbreak I was feeling.  First, when I walked into the laundry room, the pissed off cat that hid from everyone and growled the week before, greeted me nicely.  Prilla, as we call her,  climbed onto my shoulder with no prompting and started purring. This same cat hated everyone the week before.  Now, she clung to me, as if she knew I needed a hug. I can only describe the changes as mystical, and loving.

But Todd surprised me the most. As I went about my business,  topping off his food bowl, he walked over, licked my hand and then let me scratch the top and sides of his head. Then he gave me love bites, the cat equivalent of a hug and kiss, and the ultimate display of cat-to-human affection.  He even leaned in for the cheek scratching. Poor Todd has never had human contact in his life before he arrived at our shelter; At least not positive interactions.  This was a big step for him, and it left me  so excited and flattered.

When I told my boss she looked at me with utter disbelief.  Todd and Prilla helped me that day more than any human condolences or words could. The love and trust I received that day was so unexpected, and yet, not surprising.

I ambled in feeling like a ghost of myself, and the cats just sort of relinquished any fears or reservations, and opened themselves up more than they ever had before.  Animals are more sensitive to us than we can even imagine. A dog can hear a human heartbeat from 5 feet away!! They know exactly what is going on.  It truly amazes and inspires me to make a difference in their lives, and to make them happy and healthy and feeling loved. In return, I feel happy and loved as well. It’s a win-win!

Sid, the iguana..

 

I have not written for a while.  My pet iguana, of 13 years Sid, had to be euthanized a month ago due to kidney failure. I have been having an extremely difficult time adjusting to his non-presence. I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child, if  the pain I feel for losing an iguana is this intense. It is only now, a month later, that I can sit in my living room and not immediately think of Sid.   Sid roamed free in my house and has since she was about 2 years old. Her last cage broke while we were driving across the country from Colorado to Connecticut in a snow storm. I lost control of the 4runner I was driving and rolled it 3 times down the side embankment along a highway in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. Somehow, when the car finally landed, and I got out, I found Sid in the snow, totally freaked out. I grabbed her and stuffed her into the sleeve of my jacket to keep her warm. All of the windows in the car broke, and all of my belongings were spread about the highway and down in the snowy ditch. Truckers were literally picking up my underwear and other belongings and bringing them down to me.  When the cops came, they wanted to take me to the hospital, but I had Sid with me, and they didn’t know what to do with Sid. So the state trooper put us in the back of his car to stay warm, and called  around and found a pet friendly motel for us to spend the night. The weather was too stormy for my dad to come and get us until the next day.

That night, I put Sid on the heater in the hotel room with a blanket, and picked shards of glass out my hair for hours..and since then, Sid has been cage free. When I got my cats  as kittens, I knew I would have to teach them to respect Sid. Luckily, Sid was bigger than they were for the initial meeting. For a while I kept them separated when I wasn’t at  home, but eventually, Manolo, my boy cat, figured out how to open the door to the room Sid was in. He would go in and lie down, facing Sid, and I would come home to find them hanging out. One day, I heard Sid scratching at the door to get out of her room, and I watched as Manolo, ever curious that he is, went over to inspect. Together they slid the door open..Sid walked out, and crawled into the living room, Manolo, walked into Sid’s room and curled up on the heating pad under the fake sunlamp. Apparently, they had teamed up! Soon my other cat Sophie went and explored Sids’ room as well, and tried out the heating pad. Animals are so funny. From that day on, I never really worried about them. Here is a picture of them, this year, before Sid died, all sharing the couches in the living room.

 

 

 

Sid, Sophie , Manolo