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My Guardian Angel

14 years ago, we were given two kittens from my sister. One was a long-haired tabby named Tiger, and the other was a blue-grey Nebelung named Toker. Tiger was a very special kitty, having some health and mental issues due to being the runt of the litter. But she was a little love-bug. Toker, six months older than Tiger, was a very shy, recluse cat who disliked everyone. She only came out after everyone was asleep to eat and drink and use the litter box.

A few years later, we moved and took the cats with us. Slowly but surely, Toker came around to me and started to open up. She would jump in my bed every night, wait until I was just about asleep, then go off and do kitty-things. We became inseparable. She soon began waiting for me to get home from school, would always watch as I fell asleep, and would even let me pick her up from time to time. She blossomed into a very beautiful, smart, loving cat.

When I got married, I took her with me to my new house. She settled in, though there were a few issues with our new kitten at first. Toker resumed her nightly watch over me (and my husband), and things returned to normal for three years.

This past July, she started losing weight. I didn't notice it at first, because of all her hair, but when I picked her up I realized that she was much lighter than normal. We took her to the vet, and they didn't find anything. But she still refused to eat. After a very short, very traumatic battle, I lost her to cancer. Her last night with us, she slept at my head and held my hand. All night. I knew it was her telling me she was ready, since she had never done that before. She was giving me one final night to carry in my heart.

I know she's still with me, and I talk to her constantly. She was (and always will be) my best, closest friend.

Phaedra Joseph
Albuquerque, NM

Gunpowder the Grey, a Very Timely Arrival

It was the day of my father's funeral, he had been a tough man with a gentle heart who could never turn away an animal in need, and the family had gathered at his horse farm to prepare for the services. My younger brother was out taking care of the horses, dog and barn-cats on that blustery grey day while myself and two other siblings tried everything we could to keep our mother's spirits up enough to face the day. We were almost ready to leave for the service when my younger brother stepped inside, is large hands were cupped around something as he entered. He looked at me and said: "We have a problem."

I stepped away from my mother, fearing that a horse had been injured or some other calamity had fallen on the animals, but he opened his hands to reveal a tiny, dirty kitten. The creature barely stirred in his hands, and I could immediately see why: this tiny, helpless creature--still too young to open his eyes-- was covered in paintball paint. His face was swollen and bruised and he cried out when he shifted his injured limbs. I took him from my brother, and did my best to clean him up give him a meal and get him settled in a warm box before we left.

The vet gave him slim chances, and we didn't bother to name him for fear of losing him. It took a month for him to recover from the injuries, but like any kitten he was on his feet as soon as his eyes were open and tormenting my poor German Shepard. His toughness reminded me of old Westerns, so we named him Gunpowder Grey, Fastest Paws in the West, and he's been with us for four strong years.

Natalie Fullmer
Murray, UT

A love story

I wasn't looking for a dog when sweet boy came into my life. I was going through a rocky time with a myriad of things, including my health. My dog, who is now named Ted E. Bear, or "Teddy" for short, came into my life as a gift. I picked him out at the local Humane Society, feeling excited but also certain that I was not equipped to raise any living thing while in grad school (I had a few sad, droopy plants in my living room as evidence of this). I knew getting a dog was not exactly a logical decision for my stage of life, but, heck , I went with it anyway. It turns out that sometimes I'm only book smart and don't think enough with my heart, because taking Teddy home was one of the best decisions I have ever made. He is loving, playful, energetic, and fully engaged in each day. It is a strange thing to admit, but I learn a lot watching him earnestly approach life each and every moment. No matter the ups and downs of my life I can always count on Teddy to softly lick my hand and wag his tail with joy. Every day, without fail, he enthusiastically greets me at the door and is by my side, reminding me of the one thing in life that is constant and often defies logic: love.

Robyn
Grand Rapids, MI

My family baby girl...

I was just about to start high school and my family was putting down our oldest dog because she was sick due to old age. My sister, mom and I was in the process of talking my dad into a choc lab and was actually looking at breeders in the area because we always had rotties. However, my God-father had a different idea. He had known a family who's little boy had rescued a puppy off of the streets and was feeding and taking care of it without his parents knowing. Well eventually they found out and already had 3 and he said he knew someone who was looking because they had to put their oldest dog to sleep (yes, we were the family).

He had told us she was a pure bred rottie pup and my dad told him to e-mail us over a picture of her. He took the picture just right so we couldn't see the white on her or the fluffy fur. We told him yes because I had totally feel in love with just her picture and has already started to pick out names for her (I ended up picking Cassie). When my dad was zooming in to look her brown spots he noticed the white and almost didn't want to take her. I plead and begged with him to take her. My dad and sister was going down to jersey to pick her up and was suppose to go down when she was 6 weeks, however they couldn't get down for another two weeks due to issues.

Cassie has been a part of my life for just over 10 years know and has been through everything with me from losing my parents and moving from PA to NC, back to PA and know this year to AZ. This dog has been my rock when I've wanted to break down I know she's getting up there in age and each day it hurts to know that the time I have with her is getting less and less.

Anonymous
-----, AZ

Abandoned but now Found

We had recently lost one of our male cats and had been trying to get another cat. We preferred to have another male, hopefully fixed and had made trips out to our local SPCA. There was one stumbling block, our landlord. When we had moved into our apartment, there was no restriction on the number of animals we could have. Unfortunately, the rules had changed. We could no longer have 4 animals. Just as we had given up hope on getting another cat, there came a knock on the door. It was the building manager. He said that he had something for us and asked if we would be home for awhile. I thought it was probably some cigars for my husband but agreed to stay home.

When he came back, he was carrying an animal carrier. Inside was this scrawny adolescent cat. The building manager said that the cat had been abandoned in an apartment for a month without food and just the water in the toilet. He said we could have (her) if we wanted but not to say where we got (her).

We named (her) Houdini because she opened up our cupboards that night. Little did we realize that (she) was actually a he and already fixed.

This is a picture of him now, you would never know he was the same cat as when we got him.

Anonymous
Saskatoon, SK, Canada

9 Lives and Still Going

In the summer of 2001 I was given a great gift by my mother; one of her friends had a cat that had several kittens and she asked me to go see them to pick one out to adopt. My mother was leaning towards a fluffy bundle of grey and white fur, but I wanted to pick the right one. I stepped into the small porch where my mom's friend had gathered the kittens for me too choose from. The kittens scattered, hiding away from me. Three of them had curled themselves up in an overturned coffee can just to keep away. There was one small bundle of orange and white fluff that didn't run away. He was sitting on the brick steps leading up into the house and as I approached him he hunkered down and hissed at me.

It was love at first hiss. I loved his willingness to stand his ground. I immediately chose him.

My baby boy Sera, the orange fluffball (pictured) was mislabeled as a girl at first, which is how he came by his name. By the time I figured out he was a boy it was too late to change his name - he was used to it. He's a very smart cat and there are times I do believe he thinks he's human. He is definitely spoiled and loved by our family as he grows into his senior years of 13 currently.

Recently the friend who had the momma cat (Missy) posted a picture of Sera's birth mother, still alive and kicking at 18-19 years of age. It gives me hope that Sera may live just as long since he is the last of his brothers and sisters to be alive. I also found it interesting that Missy had a rim of white fur around her eyes and it seems that Sera shares that trait with his birth mom. I'm so glad, that as Sera's adoptive mom, that I get to keep tabs on his birth mom for him.

Katrina R.
Angier, NC

Logan and Loki: Brothers-in-Arms

My wife and I adopted a small pup to befriend our two-year old rescue cat. Selina was a large cat, while Logan was a scrawny little pup. Selina became somewhat unpredictable. One moment she would snuggle up with Logan, and the next she might chase him away. About a month after adopting Logan, Selina ran away. After a couple days without her, we noticed that Logan had stopped eating and drinking. We knew that he needed a companion, so we took him to the shelter to pick out a new friend. When Logan met Loki, they instantly got along. So we adopted Loki and took the two of them home. These two were inseparable brothers. They slept together, they ate together, they even wrestled with each other. If Logan managed to cause Loki to yell when they wrestled, he'd stop and inspect Loki to make sure he was okay. Loki eventually learned how to topple Logan (who was easily twice his size) and beat him in their play-fights.

One day, we got word that Selina had been found. We were happy to bring her home, but her couple of months alone had turned her feral. As soon as she had the chance, she cornered Logan and started to beat him up. We heard it from another room, and rushed to find out what was going on. Suddenly Loki (who was easily a third Selina's size) charged into the room and toppled Selina over. He got in between Selina and Logan, and herded Selina back into the cage. We closed the cage, and realized that we had no choice but to give her up. Ever since then, Logan and Loki have watched out for each other. They work together, they play together, and they won't let anyone mess with the other.

John Duffy
Greenville, SC

Ozzy: Learning How to be a Dad

When our daughter Gwendolyn bonded herself to my wife and began to ignore me, I was sad, and went to find myself a buddy.

I found Ozzy at a local animal control. They overestimated his age, and he wasn't eating the adult food they gave him.

I took him away, angry, at a whopping 0.55lbs and 4 weeks old and so frightened. Shots and tests, then home, we made him formula.

He slept on my shoulder at night, and nibbled my beard when he was hungry. I bottle fed him formula every few hours.

We watched Star Trek together. He is now 2.

Sadly, at 6 mos he began to limp, and it only got worse. At 1yr we took him to the vet. Diagnosis:

Luxating Patella in the back knees. He hadn't really played like normal cats, not much jumping, and took few steps before falling over

onto his side. He became lethargic and defensive against everyone but my wife and I, and rarely even us. He no longer wanted to be

petted. It hurt to see him like that, scared of everyone and everything.

We saved and had his first knee operation. A year later (one month ago), his other. He'll be taking glucosamine chondroitin forever, due

to heavy arthritic damage, though he's only 2. I don't know how long this recovery will take, if he will ever stop limping, play, trust others like he does us,

like he used to. Some days, I despair.

But I do know that he's taught me how to be a dad; joy and pain, lost sleep, pride, laughter, care, trying desperately to understand

his communication. Did I mention he's an awesome (gentle) alarm clock?

He's perfect with the litter box, he tucks me into bed, sleeps under the covers, grooms me, kneads me, rolls onto his back and stretches when I come home, for chest rubs. We love and cherish him, he's the best buddy I could have hoped for.

Alessandro D Romano
Hazelwood, MO

Maddie

A friend on Facebook had posted that a stray she had been taking care of needed a home. She had named him Bob and I felt so bad for him. By the time my 11 yr. old daughter and I convinced my husband to go see Bob, someone had already adopted him. Finally, after a few days my daughter convinced her father to visit a local shelter.

It's there that they had decided on Julia, a 1 yr. old black and white cat. She was adorable and my daughter was very excited and wanted me to see Julia so I met them at the shelter the same day. After signing the papers to adopt Julia and as we were on our way out of the shelter, I was looking around at all the other cats. It was then we noticed Maddie, a medium-haired black and white cat around 3-5 yrs. old. She was practically shoving her face through the cage at my hand so I could pet her. She then stuck her paw through the cage and tapped my arm. We opened the cage and it was then I noticed that she only had one eye. They said she had a benign tumor and the vet had to take the eye. She was the most lovable cat ever! That night we couldn't get Maddie out of our minds.

The next day we went back to the shelter and after seeing Maddie again, it was clear she was our cat. We took her home two days later and she has been a joy! She is the most lovable, sweetest cat!

Janine
East Haven, CT

My little dragon, Kaida Marie.

Kaida's story begins after my little bengal, Leah, was discovered, dead, in my neighbor's garden my junior year of high school.

Five days later, I was eating lunch at school in the outdoor picnic area, when I heard a bunch of freshmen boys yelling, "Get it, get it!" As I looked up, I saw out of the corner of my eye a little dash of grey booking it across the courtyard. I figured it was a squirrel and went back to eating. Not but ten minutes later I heard the boys yelling yet again, "Get it, get it!" It wasn't until then I realized it was a kitten. Before I could get up to intervene, I heard the distinctive sound of a pissed-off cat, intermingled with pained human screaming and vast profanity. One of the boys had three elongated marks and blood flowing down his leg.

I had to bite my lip to not laugh; this kid just got his butt handed to him by a four-pound, ten-week-old kitten.

She had no tags, no chip, and was hungry enough to beg for a complete stranger's chicken. I wanted her. I even had a name picked out, but my mother would never have it. I tried (sorta - not really) to find her a home with one of my classmates, but his parents wouldn't have her either. So, being the rational, responsible teenager I was, I dragged a litter-box into my closet, hid her, and named her "Kaida," japanese for "little dragon". She went undiscovered for a full week, following me around the house while mom was at work. Though she was eventually discovered (I know, "duh"), my little dragon has been with me ever since.

(Afternote: I read somewhere that "Kaida" is actually a baseball term for a good hit. Either way, I think it's fitting.)

Alyssa
Clemmons, NC
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