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At Tails and Ales, suds for dogs and their people

By Phil McPeck

DENVER — Scores of people poured into a brew house in Denver's Park Hill neighborhood on Aug. 24 for some T and A. No, not that T and A. It was Tails and Ales, an annual fundraiser for MaxFund Animal Adoption Center — A True No-Kill Shelter.

Pet owners, craft beer aficionados and roller derby fans flocked to the converted fire station — Station 26 Brewing Co. — for the second annual dog wash and beer fest that also benefited Rocky Mountain Rollergirls, the local women's roller derby franchise.

Skaters fresh off their 10th anniversary bout soaped up and hosed down dogs. As they wet the dogs, beer lovers whet their whistles. It was suds for the dogs and their people.

William and Jessica Fresh, of Denver, brought Barley, a 2-year-old cattle dog, and Walker, a small, 5-year-old mutt. Soon Barley was being lathered up by Taylor Soderborg, of Denver, aka DopeaMean of the skating team Kill Scouts. Soderborg shared that she and her MaxFund cat, Sasha, are about to celebrate their one-year "adoptaversery."

Meanwhile golden retriever Kuma was getting the works from Jen Frale, who skates for the Red Ridin' Hoods under the name She Who Cannot Be Named. At 9 1/2 years old, Kuma still thinks he's a puppy, said owner Mari Higgins, of Castle Rock. "He has to meet every dog in the place. He's a happy dog. If there were a pool, he'd be swimming in it. He loves to swim," Higgins said.

The thought of adopting a cat from MaxFund was swimming in Bianca Moreno's mind as the Denver skater left Station 26. She said she had fallen for Alpha in the mobile adoption van. Moreno, who goes by Ghostskate Killah of the Red Ridin' Hoods completed the adoption Aug. 29.

Phil McPeck
Denver, CO

Lucky Seven

I have loved cats since I was a small child, and now as an adult I have adopted six of my own....and as cat lovers know, cats are like potato chips, you cannot have just one. But my three sons told me six was enough, so I haven't visited the local pet shelter in quite a while.

About two years ago, I noticed my seventeen year old cat Ziti rolling around in the grass with another animal, protecting his turf. I ran outside and saw a white cat with an orange striped tail crying hopelessly, showing me teeth that were not very vicious. I knew the cat was scared to death, and hungry. So of course, I started feeding him, and he became a daily visitor, and although he kept his distance he would give me kitty kisses with his eyes after he ate and would sleep on a chair on our deck. I sensed his sweet nature and named him KittyKitty.

Winter was close and I knew I could not let KittyKitty stay outside to freeze, so I found a way to get him in. Mommy's have their tricks and he had begun to trust me. Once inside, we all found it hysterical how he walked by the other cats with his head down, waited to eat, and followed me around like a puppy. KittyKitty is the sweetest and most grateful cat I ever had and he is an important member of our family and my boys love him too. He is my Lucky Seven.

Deborah Mahon
New Haven, CT

Christmas Eve Foundling

Christmas Eve, my roommate said he heard noises. I found hiding deep in the garage, a kitty, bleeding and badly wounded. She was crying for help. Although tiny, flea bit, staved looking, and injured, she had on an old flea collar. I know how I would hope my kitties would be treated if lost. I headed with her to the emergency animal hospital at almost midnight. They said she had been badly savaged by another animal, bitten all the way through her leg. The wound had abscessed and broken open. The vet didn’t offer much hope, patching up her wounds. I spent the holiday taking care of this foundling. My vet then saw her, re-cleaned her wounds, suggesting that antibiotics and TLC were our best chance. Somehow one week later she was still hanging in there, offering hope. My vet checked for a chip, all of us having assumed the emergency hospital had done so but they hadn’t. She was chipped! We got hold of this kitty’s owner. Their family had lost the kitty during a move and family emergency and now lived out of state. I offered to foster their kitty until they could come get her, but they could not come back. It is now 7 month later. Against odds she is all better. She is still a little timid. At night, if we are all very quiet, she will climb onto my bed with me and the other kitties to sleep, or play with the string I keep there just for her. Most nights, when the house is dark, I hear her squeaky toy as she hunts it over and over. Somehow it finds its way to the foot of my bed by morning. I renamed her Eve, for the night she came into my home asking for rescue.


From Parking Lot to Paradise

Twelve years ago, I was a new mom with two young sons. You'd think that would be enough wildness but I was desperately lonely for feline company. I begged my hubby to bring home a kitten being fostered by one of my coworkers. He agreed. The next morning, I asked my coworker about the kitten. Unfortunately, the kitten had already been adopted. She then told me the veterinary practice she volunteered at had a male cat that had been found in a parking lot. He was due to go to a traditional shelter by the end of the week. Would I be willing to take him?

I talked it over with my husband, and decided to rescue him sight unseen. I arrived to pick up "Sylvester." I waited anxiously behind the desk as they went to get him. I had no idea what to expect but what I wasn't expecting... a cat so big he didn't fit in a traditional cat carrier! I didn't care, I took him anyway.

Home we went and immediately he darted upstairs and hid under the bed. Then, while I was playing with my son, I looked up to see him looking down at me from the second floor balcony. To my shock, he jumped from the balcony to the floor and promptly curled his enormous self onto my lap.

Sylvester, now Cruiser has been my friend for a dozen years now. He's loving, expressive and intelligent.... All 20lbs of him!

Jennifer Roundhouse
Pewaukee, WI

My Julie Bee

When I moved into my apartment it didn't take too long before I felt lonely and I needed a furry friend. So a few years ago, me, my cousin, aunt and mom went to the humane society to go get a kitten. I got there looked at a few, took two of them out to see I wanted them but as cute as they were they didn't hit that spark. But when we were putting the kitten back in a cage, I saw this kitten named Julie running back in fourth in the cage and meowing. As soon as I saw her name, I thought it had to be some sort of destiny cause my name is Julia. So I got her, brought her home and on the first day we had her all she did was sleep, you would pick her up and she wouldn't move. And from that day on, she stalked to everywhere. She was an odd cat, she liked to play fetch and she would even talk to me (Sometimes argue with me).

But a few days ago I noticed she wasn't eating treats or cheese (She was a major cheese addict) and she was also breathing kind of hard so I brought her to the vet thinking it probably wasn't anything major. But when we got there she had an X-ray done which showed she had fluid around her lungs and she also tested positive for feline leukemia and there was nothing I could do other than put her to sleep cause she was only suffering. I only got 4 years with her, but those were the best 4 years with her. She was my best friend, my stalker and someone I could talk to. I will always miss her, and I am in tears as I am writing this =(

Always miss you my Julie Bee

Julia Bork

Mutual Caretakers

My wife and her sister used to spend a week every summer in the mountains camping. On one of these trips as they were pulling into the driveway I noticed an extra head in the cab of the pickup - a small furry feline head. My wife found this beautiful tortoiseshell kitten abandoned in the McDonalds parking lot in a rural town on the way home. I suspect that a family with a bunch of kittens in the car stopped at McDonalds, everybody piled out including this kitten. Then when everyone got back into the car they did not notice this little girl was missing. My wife lured her close with some hamburger, and when she scooped up the little furball she started purring. We named her Mickey Dee. She was always terrified if she happened to find herself on the wrong side of a closed door.

Mickey Dee was special. She seemed to dedicate her life to taking care of ME. If I was ill or even just down, she was RIGHT THERE. It was very mutual though. I have a downstairs home office, and she always knew when it was just about 'quitting time' because she would show up and patiently wait for me to close the keyboard drawer and say to her, "Let's Go!" Then she would scamper to the foot of the stairs, waiting for me to pick her up, carry her upstairs, and set her on the bed. I usually lay on the bed for an hour or two just reading, and Mickey Dee viewed this as her special time with her daddy.

And in the mornings she was the most reliable alarm clock ever. At 5:30am on the dot she would gently tap me on the head and say, "Mrrrt!"

Mickey Dee crossed over Rainbow Bridge a few months ago due to kidney failure. I miss her very much. I'd trade all of my tomorrows for just one more day with Mickey Dee.

Dave Barnhart
Phoenix, AZ

Little Roo

In the summer of 2010, I was still living at home with my parents and my dad and I were outside on the back patio grilling dinner. As soon as my dad set the salmon on the grill we both heard a little “meow” from under our storage shed. A few minutes later a little black cat emerged looking scared and hungry. He wouldn’t let us near him at first, but we decided to set some food out for him. Each evening when we all got home from work, we’d go sit out on the patio and soon the cat became more friendly with us and would sit in our laps and fall right asleep purring. He had a collar on when we found him, but no name tag, so I took some pictures of him and posted them around the neighborhood hoping someone would claim this sweet little boy. No one did. He was all black with a little white pouch on his belly, so I started calling him Roo. As he became more comfortable with our yard, he started venturing out into the front, and we worried that he would be hit by a car so we decided we should take him to the shelter. My dad was just devastated thinking about taking him to the shelter, and in the end my mom and I couldn’t do it either. We took him to the vet to have him checked out and neutered and brought him in the house with our other two cats and our dog. The vet estimated him to be around 9 months old and he had some pretty bad burns on his paws and belly, but otherwise he was okay. He came in a skinny, scared little stray and now he is a very smart, confident (and spoiled) house-cat who rules my parents’ house and has learned how to “sit,” “bow,” and give you “five.” He became best friends with the other two cats and he has recently become my mom’s little sidekick after the passing of our dog.

Irving, TX

Bonnie & Clyde

I've always loved cats, but my husband - not so much. It took a lot of finessing but between my daughter and I , we convinced him to let us get one. I joined a "critters" group on FaceBook and started looking. I knew I wanted a kitten but beyond that I wasn't picky. A really sweet lady posted a picture of several rescue kittens she was fostering and one stood out to me. She was furry and gray and really tiny. The lady said she was about 5 weeks old and she loved to snuggle. She was the one! I wanted her so much! We drove to meet her, 45 minutes away. When the lady stepped out of her vehicle, she was holding my princess...and another little gray one! A boy about 6 weeks old, they were buddies, partners in crime she said. Well, I couldn't break up Bonnie & Clyde! So I took them both. My husband was not a happy camper. He had agreed to one, but not two! I pleaded with him, and he eventually gave in. We named them Sookie and Sushi. A few days later, we realized something was not right with our princess, Sookie. She didn't make it and we were devastated. My daughter took it pretty hard. I explained to her that Sookie came to us so that we could love her during her last few days here. Sushi was missing his buddy. He would walk around meowing, obviously looking for Sookie. I think it was meant for us to have them both. If I had said no to the second little kitten, we would have lost Sookie and maybe not have gotten another kitten for a while, but because I took them both, we still had our sweet Sushi cat to love! He just had his first birthday this past June and his favorite spot in the house is anywhere near me!

Monica Jackson
Houston, TX

The Queen of Absolutely Everything

My best friend of 22 years left this world in September 2012: he was a 24 year-old Siamese cat who had adopted me when I was just a little girl. When I lost Sammy, I was obviously heartbroken. My mother convinced me to make the drive over to Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton (Long Island, NY) to see if, perhaps, I might be able to find a new best friend.

After signing in at the Adoption Center, we were led to a building full of cats, cats, and more cats. As much as I love and worship cats, it was a bit overwhelming! Deep in my heart all I saw were the cats that I wouldn't be able to give a home to; I held a few of the cats and I fell in love with each and every one of them. There was no clear way for me to select one lovely feline over all the others, so I decided to allow fate to make the decision for me. "Which of these cats will have a hard time finding a new home?" I asked.

Well, it's been nearly 2 years since that fateful day and Fannie Mae is the PERFECT addition to my family. She is a beautiful girl with so much love, sass and determination. She might have been abandoned by her original humans and lost an eye to illness, but from the second her little white paws touched the floor in her new home she's been living like a queen. (In fact, her grandmother refers to her as "The Queen of Absolutely Everything".) She loves to play and explore and her "handicap" has in no way slowed her down. She even has a younger brother - a lilac Siamese that I adopted from a local animal rescue group - to boss around each day. Simon knows not to mess with the Queen!

Maybe someone will see her photograph and see flaws, but I see a wonderfully beautiful and flawless feline. In my eyes, she's a beauty queen!

Jean Schantz
Shoreham, NY

Campus Cat

I'm a biology professor at a local university and spotted this little black and white cat one evening just before my night class during finals week. It was the fall semester and by the end of school (beginning of December), temperatures were pretty cold and this particular night the wind kicked up, sending temperatures plummeting even more. This tiny little black and white cat was curled up on a dry spot of pavement, crying and obviously cold. I was sort of stuck at that moment since I had to give a final exam but promised myself that if she was still there when the test was done, I'd take her home. She wasn't there when I returned and I was worried about her being outside in the frigid cold. The next day I chatted with the administrator of the biology department and she knew which cat I had seen and even told me the name most everyone called her: Oreo. Apparently she had been hanging around the campus for years. No one was quite sure where she had come from but several people fed her in various spots around campus. I brought a cat carrier to campus (I have another male cat that I've had since he was a kitten) and Julie managed to catch little Oreo. I took her to the vet where she was pronounced relatively healthy (she was malnourished and had to have a bunch of rotten teeth pulled). The acclimation process with her and my other cat, Buddy, took quite a few months but it's been worth it knowing that she will be safe and warm and spoiled rotten the rest of her little feline life.

Shay West
Grand Junction, CO
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