Friday, January 31, 2014

In the beginning there were two kitties...

In the beginning there were two cats, George and Loulou, rescued at the age of two years old from an owner who no longer wanted them and apparently hadn't cared much for them. For the next seven years, that was it, just the two cats. Any other cats we rescued along the way (we lived in Dubai where there were a lot of strays in need of assistance) were rehabilitated and quickly rehomed. Until we found Mini Me, the tiniest kitten, running around in a parking lot. We brought her home, covered in ticks and bald spots, half-heartedly tried to find her a home and ended up keeping her. Ditto Jeffrey whom we found in the same circumstances (but a lot sicker) as Mini Me a year later.

And there we were, suddenly with four cats and absolutely no plans to 'expand'. But then Loulou developed oxalate crystals in her bladder and started spraying around the house (complicated behaviour problem - read about it here) which led me to develop an interest in animal behaviour, something I had been blissfully unaware of up to that point. Starting with a course in feline behaviour, I was then encouraged to continue on with the advanced diploma course, which involved learning about dogs too. I knew absolutely nothing about dogs at the time so had a very steep learning curve to climb. To help me out, I volunteered at the local dog shelter, which of course led to me bringing home Bertie (longest stayer at three and a half years, no one wanted him because he didn't have a tail), Roxy (grew up in the shelter and had no experience of life so was very barky and untrusting as well as being a black dog - not a good combination), and Louis (picked up off the street in Sharjah and an absolute nervous wreck). Not too long after some local Arab boys came to our house to take us to a dog they'd found on the street. She was emaciated and covered in burns so we took her home. Miraculously she (now named Daisy) got on with everyone so we nursed her back to health and ended up keeping her as well.

Along the way other cats came and went. Hillary the street cat was with us for a few years and was the friendliest soul, but sadly succumbed to lymphoma at a young age. Curtis, Spencer and Finlay were more street cats who somehow knew just whose garden to turn up in and whose house to move into.

And then we moved from Dubai to Los Angeles and brought them all with us. It was one of my most stressful moments ever but they all made it in one piece, if a little bewildered and irritated with the whole palaver. Sadly, two years later we lost our beloved Jeffrey to kidney failure and, a year after that, our wonderful Loulou to old age. Of course two others were sent our way in due course. Both were "out of time" and due to be euthanised at one of Los Angeles' notorious high-kill shelters, so now we have Magnus who is FIV positive and Millie who was, apparently "too old" at the age of 12 years, to be rehomed.

In the meantime, my volunteer work with the dogs at the amazing Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation brought me to Maggie, a dog who I could see carried so much sadness with her, who could not cope with the shelter environment, and who absolutely begged me to get her out of there. So I did, and that's where the fun really started. She and Daisy did not get on at all. There were fights galore and my husband and I nearly had nervous breakdowns. And yet here we are, over a year later, still with Maggie and Daisy not getting along, and yet managing it all incredibly easily where we once thought it was impossible. It's definitely not for everyone, but is a message for those of us who stick with it and work through it that it is entirely possible to come out the other side still smiling.

No comments:

Post a Comment