The U.S. 2011 tornado outbreak killed 337 people in the South, 246 in Birmingham, AL alone. I was visiting my sister in Macon, GA and decided to drive to Birmingham to rescue a thin blue-eyed Cataholua Cur, whom I named Louis, pronounced as the French do, "Louie". Louis was a healthy stray found wandering a neighborhood after the tornadoes. He showed no signs of abuse and was friendly to all--men, women, other dogs, cats, children. In the years since I adopted him, he has always lived with three cats and is now 10 years old. He barks only when he feels something's a threat or out of place (he's a great watch dog!), doesn't jump on people, and is very laid back, but he does get nervous during thunder and lightning. I take him in the car whenever it isn't too hot. Catahoula Curs are wonderful dogs, read all about them at Wikipedia! They are descended from Native American dogs interbred with 17th century explorer Hernando de Sotos's European war dogs and Native American dogs that came to the Americas from Siberia, across the then existing-Bering Land Strait. Louis is always polite to his cats, waiting to jump on the bed until there is room for him! I love him to the moon and back! He is my best friend... Always adopt, don't buy a dog! There are so many lovely dogs that need a home and will bless you and your home with their love and loyalty!
I wasn't really looking for a dog at PetSmart, but our Old English sheepdog had died and my daughter wanted another dog. A woman from southern Missouri brought a van of rescues to PetSmart every weekend, so I was checking them out. In one cage was a skinny black dachshund mix along with a wild barking puppy. The doxie gave me a look that said, save me. I was hooked. He was about 6 years old and had been rescued from a kill shelter. His name was Percy, which my daughter changed to Hershey. We found out he must have been horribly abused because he was afraid of everything, hid under the bed a lot, and wouldn't come even for treats. It took a long time and a lot of patience for him to trust. But now, 10 years later, he is the sweetest dog ever. He is almost blind and deaf but still spry, and he follows me everywhere. He loves walks in the park and rides in the car. He is my Handsome Hershey.
I got Asher from a local Atlanta-area animal shelter on January 11, 2014 while looking for my lost cat, Alex. He was very sick and, as I asked about him, they told me to just walk away because he's 'just going to die here.' I didn't. I asked them to open his cage so I could pet him and I heard him weezing. He could barely open his eyes but, when he did, the whites were blood red. Against their wishes, I claimed him and brought him to my vet. He was a very, very sick, skinny kitty who could hardly hold his head up because of a severe upper respiratory infection AND a severe infection in both eyes. I was sent home with him and, every eight hours, gave him medication then held one of his paws as I read to him. If I left his side, he would meow for me because he couldn't see very well. After ten days of being quarantined in a back bedroom, he started to heal. Little by little, he was allowed to come out of his room and see my other cats-and they were curious, too! Months later I took this photo of Asher (on the right) with Cooper-a shelter cat I fell in love with months before. Asher has blossomed into the sweetest cat who loves to cuddle with me and always follows me from room to room. He's such a precious addition to our family and is so very loved!
A few years ago, there were several dogs turned in to the City Dog Pound that had Parvo. Nugget was one of these. There was a mad scramble to get these dogs in to foster homes to avoid being put down. The shelter could not handle a Parvo outbreak. We fostered Nugget and another male pup to try and help out. Unfortunately, the other puppy did have Parvo and only lived a couple more days. We decided to keep Nugget, who is now 8 years old and going strong. He never showed any sign of Parvo. He has been a pleasure and blessing to have in our home. We have since adopted a second dog to keep him company.
From my house into town, I drive 8 miles on this two lane, 55 MPH highway, mostly through farmland. I drive it every day unless I stay home. One August in 2001, taking my daughter to a 4H meeting, a tiny kitten runs out in front of the car ahead of us, and dodges back to the ditch. My daughter wanted me to stop, so I did, cautioning her that this is farm country with lots of feral cats, and he probably wouldn't let us pick him up. Well, there he sat, in the grass, meowing loud enough for us to find him. So, we have our first cat ever! We fittingly named him Dodger. Home he goes with us, and to the vet the next day, and we have a healthy 8 week old male. So, about 10 weeks later, I was headed to town for a bunch of errands, on this same highway, to see an tiny orange kitten in the oncoming lane, dodging cars. One car straddled him, as I passed and held my breath. In my rear view mirror I saw him run back into a field. I found a place to turn around and thought, if he let me, I'd pick him up. Well, no sooner did I get out of my truck, this cat found me and ran up my pants leg. So, here we go, into town to finish my errands. Later at the feed store, he gobbled up some cat food samples. He was a mess, with bloated tummy, crawling with fleas, a scab over one eye, and a tail missing most of it's fur. Next day at the vet, he was declared healthy, just full of worms and only 14 ounces. We brought him home to the other cat, now accustomed to our three large dogs. We had never had cats, but now lived in the country with so many mice, we needed some. Over the years the two boys, Dodger (the grey one) and Bubba, have been both rivals and snuggle buddies. Bubba was the bossy one, and Dodger just put up with it. Once, when a new puppy was annoying the the cats, Dodger just moved himself to the barn with the horses and barn cats, and a couple years later he made peace with the puppy, and moved back to the house. For 17 years, they were a joy to watch, always enjoying our back deck in the sun, and waiting for an empty lap in the evening. Neither of them played with toys. I think their beginnings were too traumatic to really act like kittens. Bubba died last year, and we worried Dodger would need a companion besides the dogs. But his personality has completely changed without Bubba bossing him around. He is obviously enjoying being the only cat, with his routines he insists on. He meows loudly on the bed till my husband settles in and invites him to his pillow. He demands fresh food if it has been sitting on the plate for more than a few hours. He has multiple health issues now, and gets subcutaneous fluids twice a week. We will enjoy him for his last years and his demanding bossy ways. Funny thing is, I've never seen another stray cat on that highway. Only that summer, 18 years ago, and 10 weeks apart. They were meant to be brothers, and meant to be ours.
When I was in Puerto Rico in late 2015 for a cruise, I found and fell in love with a young male cat. His instant affection informed me he had known love before. Thankfully, I was with friends who live there and do TNR work. Upon my return home, after getting the ok from my husband, I set in motion the plan to get him TNS - trapped, neutered, and sent to me in Maryland. He arrived in December, and instantly acclimated himself to the other cats in our family. Instantly, as in within an hour! The other cats ranged from 8-14 years old. My husband felt so sorry for the kitten coming into the nursing home that he suggested we find a play buddy for him. Knowing how dire the situation is for cats in PR (and this was before Hurricane Maria), we again turned to our friends on the island. We were most interested in the story of Sky, who had been trapped at a very young age, neutered, fostered, then adopted. He was returned to the shelter for reasons unknown, and was looking for a new family. There was some delay in him coming to us, which was very concerning as my husband and I were leaving soon for our winter vacation. We hoped he'd be home by Christmas, but he finally arrived - a scant four days before we left for our holiday! Sky (now Skeeter), was excited about his new home, and although we tried to keep him separate, he was in the kitchen sharing the food with the rest of the feline family literally within 5 minutes!! Twenty minutes later, he had found some toys and was running all over the house playing with them. Our first PR kitty, named PJ (Panther Junior) wasn't at all sure about Skeeter at first. He hissed at the new interloper. When the time came for us to leave for vacation, we were nervous about them getting along. My husband and I were cruising the Caribbean, and checking for updates from our catsitter every day we had WiFi, which wasn't every day. When we got to Barbados, we saw the picture that proved everything was going to be alright. Both young boys were playing, and clearly with one another. By the time we were home, the two were a bonded pair - bros - and continue to delight us with how much they love one another.
In April 2011, I was visiting my daughter. As I was leaving, a cat dashed up and started rubbing around my legs. He was skinny and had large red sores behind his ears. I was about to scoop him up and take him home, but my daughter said, "You can't just take someone's cat." So I knocked on a few doors, and one woman said, "Oh, he's just some old tom. We throw food out for him." I said I would take him to the vet. At the vet, he just loved everyone, he was so anxious to be loved. It turned out the sores behind his ears were because he scratched at them, as he had a bad case of ear mites. Most of his back teeth were bad and had to be removed. I just had to take him home after he was treated and neutered. You could see he was so grateful to have a home. He never wants to go outside again. Once I'd left the door ajar. He saw a squirrel and dashed out, took a quick look around and dashed back outside. A year later, a neighbor phoned and said, "You'd better rescue your cat." Buddy was by my side, as usual, but I went outside. There was a little kitten fighting off a Jack Russell terrier. I brought the little kitten inside, and Buddy immediately took over and became his big brother. I put up notices and asked around, but no one seemed to own this little kitten. The vet said he was about 2 months old. Buddy is very protective of him. I hadn't planned to have more cats as I was afraid they would out live me, but 8 years later, we are all happy and healthy.
We lost our first kitty together, "Itsa" in April of 1998, 18 days after we lost my Dad. The grief was unbearable. That December, we decided it was time to adopt another kitty to love. We met "Holly" 9 days before Christmas of that same year, and although I was still grieving my double loss, it was time. When we met Holly, it was love at first sight and I just knew she was "the one for me". I cried before we brought her home but my husband confirmed that we were giving another kitty a home to be loved in. We took to me like glue and she became my baby, my soul kitty, my best friend. She would stare at me like I was the only thing in the world that mattered to her and she shared so many kisses and constantly purred with contentment. She would call out to me when I wasn't in the same room with her and I swear when she did, it sounded like she was saying "Hello". We lost her in November of 2018 after 20 full loving years, and my life will never be the same without her. I still cry without her companionship, but we were so fortunate to have her in our lives. She would have been 21 on September 20, 2019. Miss you, "Mom's Love".
My husband and I had just bought our house in 2015 and were determined to fill it with adopted kitties. We had Salem and then came Giorgio Armani. On a whim my husband visited our local animal control and saw Jack the Ripper; an enormous, adult black cat with luminous green-gold eyes that kept bunting the glass whenever my husband got close enough. He called me at work and told me to go straight over and ask for "Jack the Ripper" but not to be fooled by his name. If I liked him we could adopt and take him home that night. Sure enough, I fell in love with Jack and we bonded instantly. When we got him home we noticed that something wasn't right. He didn't jump onto the furniture but literally clawed his way up. We took him back to the shelter as any medical issues noticed during the first 14 days were to be cared for by the shelter. We were told that they didn't have the equipment or staff to figure out what the problem was and if we wanted, we could bring him back and be refunded our adoption fees. Well, that settled it and we took Jack to our vet. After blood tests and xrays, the vet said that he had a spinal fusion of the lumbar vertebrae but was in otherwise good health. He became my cuddle-buddy with his loud, deep purr and huge biscuit-making paws. I called him My Bubba and carried him like a baby everywhere I went. Of course, we adopted others after Jack, but that’s another story. In early 2018 we began to notice that Jack wasn't eating as much as he used to, was losing weight at a dramatic pace and walking, let alone using the litter pans, was becoming difficult. He was also going blind. Back to the vet. After some blood work and more xrays, the vet diagnosed immune-related myositis; she said there was a possibility of myasthenia gravis but the testing was too invasive and in the condition Jack was in, it would have been too stressful and painful. So we put him on steroids, added more protein to his diet and started physical therapy. Through it all, Jack was a trooper, never losing his sunny disposition or craving for snuggles. Our vet was hopeful but guarded and reminded us, "You can give him quality of life, not quantity of time". The meds helped for a while but in June he seemed to backslide. So back to the vet again for more tests and we ramped up the meds; he improved again. Around Thanksgiving, Jack took a turn for the worse. The meds no longer seemed to be helping and his appetite had fallen off. Our vet continued to monitor him but was not optimistic. By Christmas Eve we were hand-feeding him wet food mixed with kitten formula and literally carrying him to the litter pans 4-5 times a day. On the Friday before New Year’s Eve, we made the decision to help Jack to Rainbow Bridge before he became uncomfortable and life had no quality. All that week we had "Jack parties" and "Jack meals" and "Jack trips". We lay in the sun and took naps and went outside (he was always an inside cat), we shared tuna salad and Greek yogurt; all of the things he loved to do, we did. And on January 4, 2019, Jack went into the light with his head on my hand and "I love you" in his ears. Because of Jack, the cats we’ve welcomed into our home since 2015 have been the ones with qualities that made them “less desirable” adoption candidates: older, health issues, behavioral issues, and of course, black coloring. Jack taught us that love isn’t always pretty or neat or painless but it is always worth it and always forever.
The foster care coordinator at No-Kill Pima County, called me saying that there were six kittens that needed to be fostered immediately. The kittens had been found in a Rubbermaid container in the Sonoran Desert. It was established that they were around three weeks old. When I arrived, I looked in the container and was immediately enamored with the ALL of the kittens, but especially a long haired ginger tiger with an attitude. That was Samson. He had a gleam in his eye the other 5 kittens didn’t. When you took a picture, he was looking straight at you, not away or down. I had just lost my short-haired ginger tom cat, and wanted another ginger to come into my family. About a week after I had said I was ready, Samson appeared. I knew I was going to keep him, and I found homes with people I knew for his siblings. As an animal communicator, I wanted to show that cats can do most everything dogs do, they just have to be exposed to that type of lifestyle. I decided to take Samson with me when I traveled, and to treat him like he was a sentient being. Samson did silly things, like playing with his feet, while his brother totally took care of Sam’s grooming routine. I was concerned that I would have to keep “Ziggy” to be Samson’s man servant. Luckily Ziggy was adopted the next week, and Samson trudged thru learning his own personal hygiene. He got good at it by default. Samson knew that he enjoyed being around people more than most cats. He loved travel, riding in cars, luxuriating in hotel rooms. When he spoke of this to other cats, they thought Samson was crazy because they preferred staying home. Samson realized that to travel in cars, pose for photos, go to strange hotels in strange cities, was an avenue for him to share the plight of kittens in animal shelters. Seventy percent of the cats killed in shelters are kittens, innocent creatures with a lot of love to share. Samson knows that animals come into our lives for a purpose, a purpose that is loving & profound. Of course, it is the human’s choice on whether or not to embark on the journey of that purpose with the kitten, or walk away. Every kitten in a shelter is a love affair waiting to start. He knew he was to be a spokes cat for fostering kittens from shelters of all kinds. Samson wants to share with the world the love a rescue cat has to give. Samson has been very busy proving his core belief, that cats heal. He went to a conference called “BlogPaws” in Phoenix when he was 2 months old, was held and loved by all the conference participants. He got to be a “Taster” for new cat foods & treats, along with whipped cream that he thoroughly enjoyed. Samson LOVES being admired as a beautiful cat, feeling the love the people give him Samson has sunglasses he wears at appearances, and working his sunglasses brings a smile to the biggest curmudgeon! Samson has a tight bond with his mom, any place they are together is home. Samson has modeled at Global Pet Expo for WellPet, again attended BlogPaws, in Myrtle Beach, and worked SuperZoo17 for @CatsRule. Then attended the last two years to keep up on products as an influencer. He has modeled for numerous companies since his first year. He had a wonderful time meeting cat lovers, giving them great tips about how to make your cats happy. After sitting in his stroller all day, Sam loved a great game of “running thru the hotel rooms” and letting loose. Samson’s biggest accomplishment in 2017 was becoming a certified therapy pet with The Southern AZ Humane Society PetVIP program. Samson was the only cat among over 500 dogs in the program. Sam just re-certified as a therapy pet in 2019, and met another cat graduating as a therapy pet. He welcomes the company! Samson uses the pet therapy opportunity to bring attention to the fact that cats can travel, walk on a leash, stay in a hotel, just like their dog counterparts. Being a therapy cat that shows people the love a shelter cat has to give is right on target for Sam. With sunglasses, a “Catitude” and several hats, Samson never fails in delighting the patients he visits in a behavioral health facility. He also appears at events for the Humane Society, and other specific pet therapy events. Samson just turned three. He also modeled for the series of paintings I am doing for my foster kittens. Every kitten I have had I am making a “AllSoulsDayKittenz” portrait of them to bring awareness that cats are sentient beings, and also that we need more people to pick up the slack and foster kittens that aren’t old enough to eat on their own. Samson’s painting is a take on the “American Beauty” with him laying on a bed of red roses. Samson is on Instagram; he loves grooming, playing and being a big Uncle to all the foster kittens!