Being rescued.

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Anyone who knows me, knows that I am an animal lover. We always had pets growing up and as an adult, as soon as I lived someplace where they were allowed, I got a cat.  That brief period of time when I had just one animal has been followed with years of more than one, sometimes many more than one.  Currently, Paul and I have 2 dogs and 2 cats, and I have to be honest, I am aching to add another dog to the mix.  But, I can’t…not yet. We just lost one, and…well, the time just isn’t right.
All of my animals, with the exception of Trixie, our kitten, have been rescues. Doublestuff, my first kitty, was on her way to the SPCA, because her owners were moving and wanted only to keep her mother and brother. I don’t know why, but, their decision allowed me to bring home a lovely cat, who, though not always the friendliest or most affectionate had her own ways of showing love. Like…bringing you her dead mice…or, making sure you knew that a snake had gotten into the living room BEFORE you walked in. She would sleep on my (or my roommates) bed and purr, but, did not like being touched all that much. Which was fine, she was happy to see us when we got home and spent 13 years happy to be part of any household I set up. Taz (a German Shepherd/ Golden Retriever/Chow mix)entered my life while I was living with that same roommate, Stacy: she and I have been friends since we were 12, and lived together for about 6 years in our 20’s. Taz was a puppy who was put up for sale at a run-down house via a sad looking homemade sign. I would drive past there daily and wonder, but, never stopped. One very hot July day, Stacy called me from work, while I was at my parent’s house and told me the puppies that were for sale were now “free to a good home”. So, on my way home…I drove past and turned around. When I tell you it was hot, hot is an understatement. It was brutal. I had been in the sun all day and had a few Sam Adams and so my judgement of the situation was thus spot-on. Get those dogs the hell out of there. They were in a pretty big pen, but, it was muddy and so were the dogs. I was told that they had been spraying them down to keep them cool and if the last 2 pups were not spoken for by tomorrow, they would be “taken out back and shot”. Sooooo, Taz, was the only one sitting calmly, and really was looking at me as if to say “get me the hell out of here…now”. The young girl living there said he was her favorite, had named him Taz and taught him to sit and give paw. Sure enough, he knew his name and could perform those commands. He was also filthy, had a huge sore on his ear and was going home with someone who was semi-drunk, probably having heat-stroke and clueless. But, come home he did, and his sister, Foxy, the last unspoken for pup, went home with a friend of a friend the next day. Taz proved himself right away to be the perfect dog. Sat calmly while we bathed him, got a clean bill of health from the vet and proceeded to live a happy, healthy life for the next 10 years. 10 wonderful, but short years, as he developed pancreatic cancer while I was living in Baltimore. Rather than put him through  a very difficult surgery with no promise of success, I said good-bye to Taz on May 16, 2005. I stayed by his side the whole time, making sure he knew how much I loved him and that his loyalty and devotion were so much more than I was worthy of.
During the Taz and Doublestuff era, we were joined by another dog: Rocco. I had gone to Greece with Stacy (who was no longer my roommate) and 2 other friends and pretty much knew I was coming home with a dog. You see, my friends had traveled to Greece on 2 other occasions and come home with dogs due to the country’s horrendous treatment of them. I was prepared for this, not quite sure how I was going to pull it off, but prepared. While we were there, we saw lots of stray dogs and cats. By lots, I mean lots. Like, everywhere. The cats were better tolerated, but, not by much. It was tremendously sad, and we fed them and donated money to the German vet and her organization located on Santorini who captured, spayed/neutered them, and then released them as well as handed out food to kind village members who would feed them during the winter after tourist season ended. Rocco was outside the Santorini airport, wandering around, being pet by strangers. In fact, a young European woman was holding him at one point and we all thought, Thank God, looks like someone is going to take him home, but, she brought him back outside and put him down. In what is perhaps one of my more courageous moments, I went and grabbed him and decided I was taking him home. Brothers and sisters nowhere to be found- his mother far away and not at all concerned about where her babies were. For dogs in these conditions, it is all about survival. The mothering instinct likely abandoned as soon as the pups can eat or drink on their own. So, home Rocco came…about 4 weeks old and less than 4 lbs. He gallivanted around Athens with us for a few days and saw a vet. The only vet open on a Holy Holiday. The vet deemed him healthy enough to travel, though, we might have some difficulty due to his being to young for a rabies shot. Well, I was willing to give it a chance. We made it through Germany and US customs (I feared for years they were going to come after me, as I did not claim him, just acted like I always travel with a puppy in a cat carrier) and almost 11 years later, he is still as enthusiastic as he was when I found him.
In the past 10 years, I added Sugar, a street-running beagle in Baltimore. Zooby, a kitten, who I was told by a prostitute was being hit by rocks thrown by boys living above a local liquor store (Zooby= BEST.CAT.EVER). Savannah, who is (I think) a pit- cocker spaniel mix, confused and lonely about being without her dog friend after a boss’s divorce and Trixie the kitten. Perhaps one of my greatest pleasures in all this time was fostering Angus, a border collie mix,who came to me after a friend suddenly died. He was scheduled to go to Italy to live with my friend’s sister until her daughter finished college. As fate would have it, Angus’ body rejected the required micro-chip and I literally saw this as a sign that he was not supposed to go, and so, he stayed with me until the lovely Clare graduated and returned home. The 2 other dogs went to friends or family members, but, I had the pleasure and honor of returning Angus to his home after 9 months. I feel truly blessed to have been a part of this, as it has allowed me and Clare to become good friends and I consider her one of the best people I know.
Why all this blathering about my animals? It’s not just because I love them. It’s because I really believe that they can make one’s life a better place. All of mine were given a second chance, and, personally, that is my favorite kind of animal. The kind who beat the odds and got out of a less than ideal situation into a better one. I have what I think of as reverse snobbism. I think that buying a cat or dog because you want a specific breed is over-rated. In fact, I don’t like the idea of “buying” a pet at all. My motto is “Don’t shop… adopt”.If you really only want a specific breed, look around. There are LOTS of rescue organizations, and no breed is unaccounted for. In future posts, I will include links. But, for now, know that if you are looking for a specific breed, your local SPCA or Humane Society is a good place to start.

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