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Friday, June 23, 2006

Sara, Smudge, Smidge, & Stretch

My intention after I got to work was to check my email, drink a couple cups of coffee, and at some point, post what happened at the shelter yesterday. I noticed last night that nobody had read about it, so what was the rush?

But then Abi came along this morning and she did read what I wrote. She left such a great comment that it gave me chills up my arm. Why? Because she understood what I was feeling about this whole cat thing and I couldn’t wait to post about it.

I am happy to report that I feel so good, so much relief, so content, and so full of hope now for Sara and family. What relieved me from my anxiety of uncertain fate?

The shelter did.

It is a wonderful place.

First though, let me back up to when I got home last night. I had already called the shelter and they asked me to be there by 7pm. I said I would, provided Sara was still in the basement. I walked down the stairs and looked around with anticipation. Out popped a little tri-colored head from the TV stand. What a relief. She had finished the whole bowl of food from the night before, so I placed some more at her feet while I got the carrier out. I explained to her that this was for the best and how, if things were different, I would keep her. She chewed a couple crunchies, rubbed in and out of my legs, chewed some more crunchies, rubbed again...

Just look at the little poutty mouth. How could you not help such a face?

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I moved the cabinet door back and found the kittens all huddled up in a big ball. Sara came running over to see them too and was not at all upset I was touching them.

She went back to eat and I picked up the blanket full of kittens and placed it in the carrier.
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As I had hoped, Sara just walked right on in to the carrier and lied down to let her kittens nurse. What a good mom.
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I couldn’t have asked for her to be anymore cooperative. She trusted me, and that was the best thing I could ask for. I only hoped she wouldn’t change her mind once I moved the carrier outside.

I picked it up and left the basement through the crawlspace, set it down by the pond (possibly where the kids were conceived??) and stopped to see her reaction to all this. She just kind of looked at me, gave a little meow, and turned to check on the kids.
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“I think we’re going to be alright, aren’t we.”

We got in the car and started out. I had forgotten how much in the country the shelter was. Sara started to get a little nervous after a few windy turns, and started to pant and claw the carrier. But Earl talked her down with a calm voice, telling how she was lucky to get out of the city, and that was enough for her. Watching how well she responded to us made me so confident that she would find a good home soon enough.

As we pulled into the shelter, the first thing I noticed was how much nicer it looked than the last time I was there. My initial reaction of the facility before was that it was kind of plain, sort of bland, and it was what it was - a concrete structure full of cages and unwanted animals. A good place that was very sad.

But today, it seemed so beautiful. Nice landscaping, nice attractive stone building with a big screened-in cattery right in the front. We got out of the car with the carrier, and I pointed out to Sara the many cats lounging out on the jungle gyms inside the cattery. I’d like to have one of those in my house, actually…

As requested for health purposes, I set the carrier down outside with Earl and went in alone to fill the paper work out. I was so excited to see the inside had also been beautified with bright, cheery colors, photographs of successful adoptions and drawings from children of their new pets. There were at least 10 people inside adopting animals - it was like heaven. Camcorders everywhere. What more could anyone ask for?

The shelter gals came out and had a looksy at what I brought them. As I guessed, Sara was not yet a year and the babies were one week old. I learned a little something too when they were writing down what they were exactly. Tabbies have swirls. Tigers have strips... So they became an orange tabby, a buff tiger, and a gray tiger.

I was expecting that they would want a name for mom, that’s why I called her Sara. But they also needed names for the babies - unisex names since they’re too young to tell what they are yet. There are too many Smokeys and Sunnys in the shelter already, so the gray one became Smudge, the orange was Stretch, and the buff was Smidge.

I also made sure they put down on Sara’s card that she was extremely affectionate and a good mother. I thought that was important for everyone to know.

I met the vet who said that the babies were too young to get the distemper shot yet, so she was going to take the whole family home with her, which is the house next door, so she could give them the overnight care they needed. By this time, I was feeling really good about this whole decision.

And being that the shelter was completely computerized, it was easy for them to give me the information on what happened with little Koi. I was nervous asking for fear that I was going to hear something I didn’t want to… But what she told me next made my entire year. I brought Koi to the shelter in December of 2003 – and she was adopted just three months later in March.
I almost cried. In fact, my eyes just welled now typing this. I've wondered for almost three years now if she was okay, and now I know.

Although just a month or two old, Koi was feral. If she could adopt out, I was more confident than ever that Sara, Smudge, Smidge, and Stretch had all the hope in the world.

I was also given all four ID numbers of the cats so if I wanted to, I could call to and see if they had a clean bill of health or to see if they had been adopted.

I left with a great big smile on my face.

Later that night, after I had sprayed bleach all over the basement just in case, the clouds rolled in, the thunder started up, and the rain came down in sheets – and all I could think of was that Sara and the kids were dry, safe, cozy, and in good hands.
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Here's to Sara. God bless her. She will always have a place in my heart.