what loving animals has taught me

i grew up in a small mountain town in colorado. typical of many small mountain towns of that time there wasn’t much diversity.  there was a certain percentage of latino or hispanic population, but they were several generations from the time their familiars had emigrated, and quite honestly were just the “chavez’s down the street”…or more specifically, the very popular gym teacher and beloved football coach (to this day) who also had sons.  and when a black student moved to town, they weren’t seen as inferior, but different and kinda cool!  we weren’t taught prejudice, and so didn’t “practice” it.  but i can specifically remember in college, as i initially went to college basically in my own “backyard”- at the local college in town, and not having a problem with gay males, but typically finding lesbians as gross…bleck!  who could go there!  not me!  (hey it was the 80s…and a small mountain town)

and then i moved to washington dc!  to be a nanny for what they called at the time a “whitehouse family”.  i went to my first gay club, and despite being somewhat “shocked” at what i saw there, i also was pretty intoxicated along with my friends.  it was a popular night club for the lbtgq community at the time, and it was in a dangerous part of town.  the friend who really wanted to go, was my gal pal and fellow nanny from ireland.  ireland of all places!  and in all honesty, pretty much all of dc was dangerous.  it was at that time the “murder capital of the usa,” (the 80s still) with something like  220 murders just in the first two months of the new year.  but the thing was, it was the start of those walls of ignorance and naivete of mine beginning to tumble down.  based on what all was portrayed on tv, it was the black men that i should of been afraid of and the white boys that would treat me right.  however, what i found, was the the poorest military black servicemen were actually the most respectful of me, and the rich college whiteboys who snuck into the women’s bathrooms to sneak a peek when me and my bestie from ireland had to use the “loo”!

i would later move back to my mountain town home, only to see things changed.  by 28, one of my closest guy friends was 6.4, solid muscle, very intimidating looking and also black. he was great at pool and was as cool as a cucumber.  he never let the ignorance of others get under his skin, and even “chilled me out” when i really wanted to verbally let a bunch of “mouthy english chaps” have it! during a game of pool, when one of them called me a “cheeky c**t”.  he explained to me that they weren’t worth my time, and that the USA had always won when it mattered.  if he could walk away from the insults they threw his way…then so must i!

by the time my 30s rolled around, i was a homeowner, working and living in another small mountain town just down the road from where i grew up.  a few years into home ownership, my next door neighbors were a gay male couple who i loved and adored!  one offered to help mow my lawn, and the other would invite me over for dinner parties and feed me wonderful home cooked meals!  they eventually moved away faced with discrimination, and yet were guilty of it themselves “complaining” about the latinos who were moving in across the way “yada yada yada”.  ironically, the neighborhood i lived in was very HOA focused-don’t ever live in one it’s a nightmare- just my “sage” advice- and the so called “latino” had the nicest yard in the subdivision and was one of the biggest complainers of others whose yards and houses didn’t “conform”.

it was also about this time, that i “accidently” fell into rescue, by taking in some kittens a co worker from work had land on her doorstep and who was also conveniently moving out of town.  thus began my education not only in rescue, but become an advocate for animals in general.   it was also around this time, that a long time friend came out of the closet.  i hadn’t seen her in years, and coincidentally ran into her when another friend and me had gone into town for breakfast.  i could feel the “vibe” she was giving off, and my friend who has great “gaydar”, really picked up on it.  it was during the conversation that my longtime friend came out and well….what does one do when a longtime close friend that you love and adore comes out of the closet?  i wasn’t going to reject her.  afterall she seemed very happy, and she was still the same great person i loved and knew, and who was i to tell her who she should and should not love?  afterall, my own love life was definitely not any kind of wonderful success story, or traditional in any sense…and quite honestly i didn’t want it to be.

again more walls came tumbling down, and  not only enjoyed hanging out with my old friend again, but joined her in going out to some of her favorite haunts and really getting an education, so to speak, in diversity.  once again, the folks at the gay club we attended were very polite and not anything as “portrayed”.  they had a code of “friend or family”, and used this to identify just that.  other friends of mine went with, and if anything, was sort of disappointed that no one hit on me even if i was straight.  hey!  rejection hurts regardless! (lol)

i also was completely shocked at the number of so called “straight people” that i knew who were there!  and if anything, kinda lost respect for those that i felt, were misleading others, not to mention some who i felt were just basically hypocrites! (because of other behaviors i had seen them portray that were discriminatory)  i saw all humans as sexual creatures, and if anything,  felt that that the gay community embraced and accepted that. meanwhile the so called “straight folk” were really hypocritical with all those skeletons they had in their closets!

time passed, and my involvement with rescue grew. ..into a passion at the time.  i had boyfriends here and there, but nothing real or substantial, and issues with family grew bigger.  it seemed during really hard times, all i had were my pets, and the animals who came thru my door that needed me.

meanwhile outside my door, the prejudice people of all kinds, were tearing each other apart. and inside what i observed of my furry family, fosters and rescues, i saw the ability to be kind despite being treated otherwise.  both to other animals and to humans despite what horrors they might have experienced at the hands other “humantype”-i do not use kind because those humans were anything but!  i had come thru my doors, furry critters who despite being altered, had their own sex drives and were different from the other “pets”.  regardless, the animals, didn’t care and you would still find them all cuddled up together on my bed, or in a chair.

whether dog or cat, that didn’t matter either….or breed…having had one of the most “notorious allegedly violent” breeds of dog cuddle up with kittens and treat them with a gentleness of a mother with a newborn!  not to mention tolerate ALOT when it came to little claws!

long fur, short fur, breed….even species type.  it didn’t really matter.  there seemed to be an unequivocal understanding that we were family and all in this (world) together.

ok granted, there was alot..ALOT of educating of me by the world prior to me arriving at this conclusion about animals… and people… and what i feel i have is a love for diversity. but if anything, the pets in my life continue to remind me of what acceptance means, and what our current world could be, if we all just bothered to reach out and learn a little about each other.  unfortunately we don’t, and in the end, it literally could mean the end for ALL of us on this planet, not just the human factor.

and so i sit here dreaming of one day, when we as humans can see the world just a little bit thru animals’ eyes.  that there are cats and dogs (and humans) of different colors, shapes and sizes, and that those differences really don’t mean anything.  that what does really matter is what’s in that person’s heart; that maybe we really aren’t all that different, regardless of what we look like, and do like, and don’t like.  and that maybe what IS most important, is who is the best cuddler!  and i mean that as an analogy for something……hope? well..we can pray.

 

 

 

Heartbreak: Another Champion Rescuer Gone

just moments ago i received notice that an awesome rescuer and champion of the pitbull dog has lost her battle to ovarian cancer.

Shanna may not have been known all over the country like Jackson Galaxy, cat rescuer champion, or even Best Friends, but to me she was an institute of knowledge when it came to the pitbull breed and rescuing them.  she was passionate, stubborn, and literally gave her last breathe, providing not only rescue but sanctuary to so many of the breed.  (fortunately Shanna had an ever faithful partner/husband Bill who needs to be given alot of credit too).

i met Shanna, via facebook, so many years ago (2009?) and came to know her not only in the rescue arena, but personally as she shared with me her rescue knowledge and connections. as a mentor, and in my eyes a hero, she was a friend who was a shoulder to lean on not only with my own rescue endeavors, but so many of the  challenges life threw at me.  she taught me to “go high” long before it became a national mantra; because of her i learned to “ask why” when i was scared and helped me to face many fears.  even after becoming ill, there was Shanna taking in another dog, spreading her wings of rescue; unknowingly encouraging me to figure things out,  rather than succumbing to whatever was in my path.

Shanna didn’t go for the easy, most adoptable rescues, either.  she took on the ones that were broken and scarred.  she helped them heal, and if possible, find the perfect  home. for some dogs, the right home never came, and instead Shanna and her hubby Bill became home for them instead.  for other dogs, homes were found, but not before Shanna screened each potential adopter and took the time to fully investigate.  no adoption was rushed, and yes, some dogs did come back due to circumstances that changed through no fault of their own, but Shanna and Bill were always there to give sanctuary if needed.

when it came to dogs, the word “no” was rarely in Shanna’s repertoire.  and often as is the case with so many rescuers, supplies and resources were stretched to the nth degree to provide for all-with most of what it took to provide, coming out of Shanna and Bill’s own pockets.  Below are just some of the dogs Shanna and her husband rescued.

 

even when Shanna’s world was hit with ovarian cancer, it didn’t slow her down.  (she had been suffering symptoms for quite some time, and it took having to go to the emergency room is severe pain, before someone in the medical community finally took her seriously enough to investigate her symptoms, and sure enough, days later she went into surgery).  upcome recovering from the surgery and later throughout her chemo treatments, Shanna continued to rescue.  during this time, Roswell NM animal shelter became a huge nightmare, and Shanna’s rescue, Grand Valley Pit Crew, began doing what they could for pitbulls that wound up in hands of the nightmare known as Roswell Animal Control.  Regardless of  pain, loss of balance, symptoms of neuropathy and so many of the other challenges that develop from chemotherapy, Shanna continued to rescue, transport, and advocate for the breed.  and it wasn’t really until the summer of 2016, late summer, that Shanna quit taking in dogs simply because she was no longer physically capable of doing so.

along with rescue, Shanna became a voice of paying attention to your body; insisting and encouraged other women to pay attention to their bodies, regardless of what doctors told them, and getting early screening for possible symptoms of ovarian cancer.  (i was one of the few who  listened, but was also fortunate enough to have a dr who also screened for it automatically-and am currently waiting to find out the results of testing myself).

probably one of the biggest challenges during her battle with ovarian cancer, a new home had to be found her, Bill, the dogs and all their other pets.  once in the new home, new challenges arose with neighbors and one of the local commissioners when it came to licensing of the new facility.  Shanna and Bill persevered and in the end won.

as with so many other rescuers, Shanna and Bill sacrificed travel and many other luxuries, but one of her passions was gardening and in particular, a love for her waterlilies and ponds, and would take many pictures of them and share online.  she also enjoyed antiques and what family relics she had that were passed down to her from her mother and father, too.  pictured below, one of Shanna’s waterlilies.

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for me, Shanna also had a very strong presence online, and it wasn’t until maybe last fall, that that started tapering off.  i looked forward to her posts, and it was a challenge getting along without them.  close friends of hers have kept us updated on how she was doing, along with Bill.  (i can’t even imagine what Bill is going thru.  Shanna and Bill have literally  been life long partners; their children being the so many pets and dogs that they rescued, and yes while Shanna wouldn’t describe herself as a cat person, she did have cats, and would reach out to me for advice when one of her cats became a challenge behaviorally or healthwise).

i don’t know what i’ll do now that she’s gone, but i can also hear her voice in my head too, tell me to persevere as she had done.  i see Shanna on the other side, with all the dogs she rescued that have passed on, surrounded by the waterlilies and ponds that she loved.  i am going to really really miss you Shanna!

 

 

The Spirit of a Christmas Kitty, Passed

it goes without mention that i’ve pretty much done a terrible job of blogging here this year, but maybe this one will at least make up for  it a little.

i couldn’t help but ponder the two youngest boys of my crew and what they share in common with my past kitties, in particular, my cat Eli. Eli passed in January 2013.  it was sudden and a complete shock.  (he had previously lost a little weight and was less active, but i had attributed it to old age).  so much of a shock, that i didn’t even blog about it because it hurt.

it took quite some time for me to move on from Eli’s passing, and yes, to this day i still look for Eli in other cats, particularly snowshoe/siamese looking cats, that i see up for adoption, but only one ever hit that spot and it was a kitten and at the time, i was not in position to adopt.

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Eli

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(Eli christmas of 2012, a few weeks before he passed)

ironically, sometimes we get so busy looking, that we don’t see what’s right in front of us.

beginning of december last year, a feral kitten, who made his presence known under the trailer i rent, was safely trapped and i agreed to keep him. he was buff colored with longer hair and a mess of a face, but he sure was cute!

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with a visit to the local vet and medicines, and a good scrubbing of his face, as well as time, Augustus Noel grew and not only entertained us in the process with his adorableness, but with his handsome-ness as well!  he is to this day, quite the stately gentleman.  IMG_0058

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laid back being his primary personality trait, Gus pretty much got along with everyone and you would even find miss picky pants, Merry, grooming him on occasion; and she doesn’t groom anyone!  however, our reigning Adonis, comes with one flaw.  Well… i suppose it’s all in how you look at it! lol  he probably doesn’t see it as a flaw, but some days…..  like our kitty Eli of past, Gus is a kinky boy. he gets his thrills masturbating on blankets, and some days it is nonstop!  this was habit of Eli’s as well.  the only difference being that Eli was vocal! (Eli even won a contest for it, and you can read that here on the I Have Cat bloghttp://ihavecat.com/2010/03/27/winner-most-embarrasssing-cat-story/)  i am thankful that Gus is not!  what gus lacks in vocals tho, he makes up for in..well…urges! and some days…it’s a bit tooooo much!  i’ll interrupt him and scoot him away, especially if he’s “busy” while i’m on the bed trying to read, sleep, relax, ect. it must be that he’s in his juvenile years is all i can think for the sheer volume of his activity.  GOOD LORD! lol

in june/july this summer, a client from work decided they no longer wanted the kitten they took in.  he was too wild and constantly getting into mischief and clawing up the couch and curtains.  the client was considering getting him declawed, and i stepped in and offered to give him a good home.  the kitten always snuggled and purred in my face when i was visiting, so how could i not?  he was such a cuddle bug!  and as far as the troublesome nature, well that was part of being a kitten!

enter rufus who for his first few weeks, remained in isolation from the rest until he weighed enough to be treated for terrible ear mites!  his space was the front bathroom and i would often see him sitting in the little bathroom window upon arriving home.  he hated the ear mite treatment we used until he weighed enough for the vet to prescribe something stronger.

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poor little guy!  but i couldn’t have the ear mites be spread to the rest of the gang so in the bathroom he stayed.

finally, Rufus’s ears were cleared and he was released from the bathroom.  what a nightmare!  he gave all the other cats a hard time, “recruited” Gus into his gang of two monsters, and continuously wreaks havoc upon us all!

i find myself cussing him out, only to have him come and cuddle and purr, making me forget all about his bad behavior!rufus2

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while there may not be anything that makes Rufus standout as far as looks, a typical cow kitty-white with a black mask-his personality is 100% max!  he will do something extremely irritating, only to be followed by something cute and adorable that makes it hard to stay angry.  high energy he is, and we have been exploring leash walking outdoors, where he gets timid ironically, but helps with this cat that runs at mach 3!   (and while i think on it, i did take Eli leashed on walks with the dogs occasionally too!)

this was typical of Eli in his younger years as well.  the other two cats in the house at the time, were my mom’s cat Cinder, and my sweet little girl cat Lizzy.  both of them i’m sure wondered why i had inflicted them with this disease called “Eli”.  the only one that Eli did get along with, was my then pooch Keehta.  again just like Eli, Rufus will hang with the dogs of the house and enjoys a good romp with Lola, too!

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(Eli with his “life partner”, Diva Ashley who passed away this spring @ 16.5)

Eli was truly one of a kind, and when i came to the realization that i now have TWO cats that fill his shoes, i guess i shouldn’t be so surprised.  of course it takes two cats to fill his “big personality”  i just didn’t see it coming!  but maybe that’s the point of christmas.  to help us discover blessings we previously didn’t realize were there.  i am truly blessed!

(p.s.  we will be trying Rufus in an xmas suit very soon!  wish us luck!)

 

A Kiss Good Night

it’s been awhile since i’ve written, and partly in due to the fact that Planet Kitty lost our resident senior diva Ashley.

Ashley was over 16 years when she passed, more like 16 and a half, and if you think about it, 16 years is a long time.  i got Ashley when i was 33, a home owner, and resident of a completely different town and job.  i adopted her in hopes she would become the best bud of my kitty Eli, as Eli was constantly torturing two other cats, senior cats, i had living with me, Lizzy and my mom’s cat Cinder.

Ashley did become Eli’s bud, but what developed was Eli teaching Ashley all his bad habits and then Ashley teasing the two senior kitties as well.  as you can see by the following pic, Eli and Ashley were close. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

in appearance, they couldn’t be more different, but they sure were close.  Eli was a wild child, but for the most part, Ashley was alot more calm.  she wasn’t a cuddler, but always slept by my head.  she liked my lap when it was her idea, and was a total “hand addict” when it came to being petted.  in her older days, she developed the habit of bopping, gently, someone on the head if they were lying down and wanted petting.

Ashley was a smart kitty who loved her toys.  particularly micies with rattles inside of them.  she could spend hours having me toss them and her fetching them.  her favorite thing to do was to go thru my purse when i came home to see if i’d gotten her any more micies too!

Ashley was also quite the vocalist as well. she even was featured front and center on my answering machine back in the good ol’ days when people used em! at about the age of 12, Ashley developed really bad stomatitis.  it would be a chronic,  painful problem that dogged her even after most all of her teeth were removed in 2014.  there were times when she just couldn’t stand to eat, and her weight dropped from around 11 lbs to 8.  old age also caught up with her as well with her muscles atrophying and issues with her GI.

despite her age and troubles, she always kept her position as diva.  even with the dogs.  no one dared give Ashley any ‘tude!  She was the ‘tude! lol as you can see in this pic.  it also didn’t take much for her to get irritated, either lol and she was a master at the dirty look! course there was nothing that a few pets and a good scratch couldn’t fix, and she would then again be purring.

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as she grew older, Ashley became more of a mama’s girl.  she would take advantage of my lap whenever she could, and always took her spot at the top of my bed next to my head.

in later years, she would kiss me in greeting when i got home, but also often would do the same at night after i was tucked in.  sometimes on the lips, sometimes on my forehead.

Ashley below weeks before she had to be gently put to sleep

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i’m sure of everyone i miss her the most, what with them constantly having to deal with her diva ‘tude, but you could definitely feel the change once she was gone.  there was a definitely space, that eventually was slowly filled in by the rest of the animals here at Planet Kitty.

she was running a high fever, severely dehydrated to the point she couldn’t pass stool, and had ruptured tumors on her chest.  it was apparent she was suffering and yet despite this, she still gave the vet ‘tude as he was examining her.  we talked sub q fluids, but i knew Ashley wouldn’t go for it.  i felt in my bones she was suffering and couldn’t bare the thought of the cancer continuing to ravage her.  i knew it was time.  she let me hold her and talk to her, and the relaxant they gave her put her more at easy.  she gently slipped away, and i knew she was finally at peace.

i know she’s over there, across the bridge they say, her youth returned and hanging with Eli; playing and giving other animals, both human and other, ‘tude.  these two images below is how i can see them together; Ashley and Eli and it will forever make me smile. eliash

 

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A Kitten In the Sun..

it was an unusually warm winter day and Gus took advantage of the sun.  we let the pics speak for themselves! 🙂

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IMG_0057IMG_0058gots to love that ear hair!! lol

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we had to do one shot with special effect sepia…he looks so good! 🙂

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time to flip over and get the front!

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nothing was gonna get this kitten to move!

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ahhh the beach, the sun…nothing like sand in your toes…ok we lost track….lol

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what a way to spend one caturday!!  or maybe it was sunday…who knows?  all days are caturday for Gus!  purrz!

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Grumpy Gus’s Big Journey to the Vet

it was another day of firsts for Gus. first time in a carrier. first time in a car. first time outdoors since his gotcha! day. and his first trip to the vet. it was a bit overdue as i originally meant to get him there about a week and a half sooner, but life got in the way and so it was this day instead. he had been having diarrhea over the weekend and i was concerned. he was also off his food. so i got him in asap that monday.

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for being a tiny little feral kitty shoved into the big world of humans, he did pretty good. no crying. not when they took blood and not when they took a stool sample. he let me hold him willingly and would slink to the back of the crate whenever he could.

the stool sample came back negative. and his snap test for FeLV/FIV was negative too.

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he had been having crud continuously collect in his eyes, despite my cleaning and so i was also concerned with an URI. meds were prescribed, (and by the next day the diarrhea had already cleared up) and we were sent on our way.

the vet said to keep him isolated for a good period of time, and to get some weight on him. she also said it would help with socialization too. she estimated him to be about 7 weeks and confirmed he indeed was male as well.

he was such a good baby kitty tho!! and when we got home he purred! in the safety of the bathroom of course!

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