Thursday, September 25, 2008

Goober Feathers

I pulled out of my driveway this afternoon in hope of scoring some wooden hangers at the local Home Sense. (Joan Crawford and I have that in common). A block from my house I saw this cute Morning Dove in the middle of the road. I thought it was odd that he didn't move as I drove slowly by. I did a U-Turn in the middle of the street and stopped to the side of him. I hung out the window to look at him, and he looked up at me and coo'd. He was a baby...he still had the light "Goober feathers" on his chest. Such a cute little fella and in a dangerous spot. Lots of cars whizzing past him. Fortunately, he was in the middle of the street.
I pulled into a side street and put on my flashers. I figured I'd go get him to a safe spot.

Twenty (20) seconds later, I walked to the middle of the street and found the little guy smashed. He had been hit by a car. The only thing left of him was a pile of his downy "goober feathers". was only 20 seconds after I saw him.

It was bound to happen. I knew that I would eventually crack in one way or another. After all the dead and dying cats due to Distemper, it had to happen that I would fall apart. I just stood in the middle of the road and sobbed.

I cried for the little dove, I cried for the kittens that we lost, and I cried for every damn cruel thing that ever happened to any animal anywhere. I stood there and cursed the people that didn't give a shit about a sweet little baby dove in the road. The grief came pouring out of me as I got back into my car and cried.

It felt good to let go and release what I had been feeling for the past 4 days or so. With the tears, something in me grew stronger. I can't quite describe it.

I got out of my car with an old hand towel I keep in my trunk. The least I could do is get the little guy off the road. When I approached the area where he had been hit, the body was gone. In fact, there was nothing in that spot. No feathers. No blood. It was like it hadn't happened. I know what I had seen - a mangled little Dove - blood and feathers.

I don't know what happened. I scratched my head and got back in my car and drove away. I felt oddly at peace. I felt more at peace than I had felt in a long time.

Peace and a Dove......I don't believe in coincidences. :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Treading Water

We're still in a "State of Emergency"as I write this. More kittens have died and we've lost a few foster homes over it. Certainly fostering is not for the faint at heart. But damn....I've always had an unwritten policy that your first fostering experience should be a great one. Not, "Welcome to The Rescue....sorry about the dead kitten!"

We lost one foster home that just couldn't take the pain of losing her first foster kitten. I understand. Lordie...Lordie...I do...I do. Fortunately, we've had two that said they were still on board despite the personal anguish. Bless 'em.

I was surprised to hear that one of the other local rescues have decided to forever stop rescuing from this particular shelter due to the disease. There's no doubt that the high vet bills and our enormous debt is due to the sad state some of these cats are in when they arrive into our care.

I'm getting fed up with hitting "Delete" on the bio of the dead kitten. Can't there be a better word for it? Something to soften the blow for us? "Delete" sounds so final, ugly and uncaring.

D-- spoke with a homeopath that is shipping a special "Brew" for her to help build the immune systems on these kittens. The lady told her that there is no reason for these kittens to die of Distemper. We're all so desperate. I pray that it works. I can't imagine how our veterinarian must feel. I had a foster home drop off a Mom and 4 kittens last night at 10 pm at his office.

I'm looking forward to the end of this. We should know more by the weekend. In the meantime, we're all looking for joy in the little things. A foster Mom sent me the following picture of "Biff" today. She bought him this tent at Ikea and she says he hardly ever leaves it! He goes on periodic "recon missions to see what the other cats are doing" and runs back. The picture made me smile (although my face cracked)

Hope it makes you smile too:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A State of Emergency

I knew this morning that this would be the title of my blog when I wrote tonight.

The fact of the matter is, we have a dozen or so dead and dying kittens in a matter of 24 hours. Distemper was in the shelter when we rescued kittens last week. We didn't know it. I thought we had passed the "Hot Weather Distemper" time. Usually, we see it hit the shelter in the summer. Silly moi....I thought we were free and clear.

I had been so excited about our 8 new foster homes from last weekend. It's always a renewal of my excitement in rescue when we get new volunteers. Much to my absolute horror, the phone started ringing this weekend with our wonderful foster homes whose hearts were breaking over the death of their kittens. Some of them woke up to dead or dying kittens, others took them to the vets and let them die peacefully there.

Distemper is such a nasty disease and it takes no prisoners with these babies. One minute kittens are playing happily...the next they literally drop over and are dying with in an hour or so. There's really nothing that can be done for them medically. It's a helpless feeling.
I've spent the weekend jumping every time the phone rings and dreading looking at my e-mails.

I'm very discouraged tonight and I know it's not over. We had one foster home lose a kitten this weekend and she knows that 3 more have been exposed in her home. She referred to her Sunday evening as "Death Watch".

I know how she feels. My ability to be encouraging and hopeful is on a "Death Watch" too.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

An Update on "The Waiting Game"

After a great deal of anguish and ridiculous negotiation, "Princess" had her surgery and is resting comfortably at home with her owner tonight. I ended up "donating" $100.00 out of my own pocket towards her VERY discounted $550.00 surgery. The vet kindly reduced his fee to make it work.

I saw "Princess" while I was at the vet the other day. It was right before her surgery. I remembered her immediately. She looked scared and sweet.

I can't help everybody like this, but I couldn't let this little girl die because a senior citizen and her son didn't plan appropriately for the cat's medical expenses. We ALL had too much vested in her - financially and emotionally to let her die without a fight. Maybe I felt responsible that I didn't ask enough questions of the lady. We always worry that a senior will pass away before the cat, so I always ask about a Plan B. But I didn't ask about her ability to pay for the cat's future medical expenses.

The senior lady's neighbours had contacted me too...I was really under a lot of pressure to help. E-mails with all capital letters, "EMERGENCY..." Once again, people were rallying around "Princess". The rescue couldn't afford to help financially, so what else was I supposed to do? I educated the son, the neighbours and anybody else that would listen that "Princess" needs special fibre food for the rest of her life. NO MORE WHISKAS. They all agreed to pay the extra few $$'s to insure Princess would be eating the proper kibble.

I admit, I was really happy to receive a very kind "thank you" voicemail from the son tonight. At least he appreciated my effort and I know a little senior lady that is VERY happy to have her Princess back tonight.

I'm glad too. :)

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Waiting Game

I needed to vent this morning. I received a call a few moments ago from a man whose mother adopted a cat from us. While it's still fresh, I wanted to post it here with hope it'll help me figure out what to do:

Adopter: My Mother adopted a cat from you guys in February this year and now it's constipated and not eating. The vet said it's going to cost $1000.00 to fix her up.

Me: (knowing where this is going) I'm sorry to hear that. Why are you calling me?

Adopter: She doesn't have the money.

Me: She needs to get the money. The cat is obviously very ill and needs help.

Adopter: Will you take her back?

Me: Huh? We don't have the money either. Why on earth would your mother adopt a cat if she had no intention of taking care of his medical needs? We're in the business of RESCUING - not taking cats back because an adopter doesn't want to pay for medical care.

Adopter: My mother thought she was adopting a healthy cat.

Me: You've had her six months. She was very healthy. She's probably STILL healthy but ingested something and is in pain. Why don't you take her to a less expensive vet and get another opinion on cost?

Adopter: I don't have time to take her around to another vet.

I don't want to say how this conversation ended. The saddest part is that this is a cat we spent over $3000.00 on when she arrived in our care. We were so happy when she was adopted by a lovely senior lady. I did give him a name of two veterinarian's that are known for not being super expensive.

What makes people call me over things like this? It ruins my day and I agonize over it. I agonize over the decision to adopt her to these people. I feel totally responsible and I shouldn't. It's THEIR responsibility and they're blowing it. I could take this little cat back. She HATES other cats and I have no place for her.

I'm hoping and praying these people rise to the occasion. In the past, I used to react very quickly: "You're an idiot, but I'll take the cat back!" That's one of the ways we ended up 5 figures in debt.

Now I wait. My stomach hurts and I still don't know if I'm doing the right thing.