It was nearly a year ago that I brought Ricky home from the shelter with me. When I looked into his eyes, I saw a beautiful soul hiding within that matted and scratched up little body. Ricky would need rehabilitating; an opportunity to socialize, and once again learn to trust people. This would be his foster home.
We worked diligently with him for several months, and it worked. We felt Ricky would do best in a home without children as he is still a bit of a ‘tough guy’ and doesn’t always know the difference between a ‘love bite’ and the real deal. We received a couple of queries about Ricky; one person thought he may be their missing cat – sadly, he was not. The second person requested additional photos. After sending the photos, I didn’t hear back from them again.
After a certain period of time, shelters will work with rescue organizations to try increasing exposure for the cats that have been waiting……….and waiting, for someone to come and take them home.
Ricky had become one of those cats. My husband – allergies and all, decided it was not in Ricky’s best interest to go to another shelter. He would regress; retreat back into the shell it took us so long to coax him out of. My husband decided Ricky would stay with us; this is his home.
Ricky seems quite happy here; at least if his purring is anything to go by. I laugh every time he gallop through the halls as if to announce his presence. He seems to adore Reese (she is indifferent), brushing up against her, trying to rub noses. Ricky and Henry act just like you would expect brothers to act; one day soon I will have the camera ready to capture a wrestling match – the pair of them standing on their back legs, arms wrapped around each other, stepping around the ring.
He has come such a long way………..the long way home.
The full story; https://herandherdogs.com/2013/09/02/rehabilitating-ricky/
I love to read – especially books about animals. Admittedly, I don’t make enough time to do so. That is why I was quite surprised to receive this charming book from a dear friend. This dear friend is patiently waiting for several books lent to me from her library, and yet, she said ‘I saw it and thought of you’.
Before the arrival of the books main character Huck, we are introduced to his family. They are relatable – we all know families like this one, and have experienced similar upsets within our own.
I knew what was coming, and almost didn’t want to read on. At the same time, I couldn’t stop reading. I’m so glad I continued.
‘Huck’ was the perfect story to read as the year came to an end; it inspired me, and gave me hope for the new year ahead.
Thank you Elaine xx
Thanksgiving is one of my favourite celebrations. During this holiday, I take time to reflect, upon all the things, and people, I am grateful for. I am blessed, to have many friends, and a wonderful family. I enjoy the work I do for the animals, and I look forward to the many opportunities this journey has provided, and possible ventures yet to come.
I am also, extremely grateful, to the incredible people I have come to know personally, or have been introduced to by others. Noah Conn, is one such individual.
Noah recently celebrated his 6th birthday. Instead of presents for himself, Noah requested items for the rescue organization, which brought his best friend, ‘Biscuit’, into his life.
I am inspired by this young boy’s selfless act. It gives me hope.
Thank you Noah.
Most rescue organizations have a ‘wish list’. If, like me, you were inspired by this story, please consider making a donation, to your local shelter; either online, or in person. Happy birthday Noah!
My Favorite Things – Rodgers & Hammerstein, RCA Records 1965
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens,
brown paper packages tied up with strings,
these are a few of my favorite things.
Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels,
door bells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles.
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings;
these are a few of my favorite things.
Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes,
snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes,
silver white winters that melt into springs,
these are a few of my favorite things.
When the dog bites, when the bee stings,
when I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
and then I don’t feel so bad.
This was one of my favourite songs, from one of my favourite movies, when I was growing up. I admit, I still set the PVR (Tivo) to ‘record’, if I see The Sound of Music, scheduled for broadcast. I doubt there is anyone reading this, that does not recognize the lyrics from ‘The Sound of Music.’ Most of you are reading along to the tune, playing in your mind.
Have you ever made a list of your favourite things, do you take stock of the little things in life, that make you happy? If not, take a few moments and jot them down somewhere. Now, imagine this list, transformed into a work of art.
This summer, I attended the Purple Turtle Art Festival; an amazing display of original paintings, photographs, jewelry, sculptures, pottery, woodcraft, native art, and more.
Set in a lush meadow, and catered by chefs from The Briars – Ontario Destination Resort, Spa and Conference Centre; The festival, includes works by more than 30 artisans from Toronto to Tory Hill, Ontario, as well as local artists. This, is where I first learned of Nadya.
It was a very hot and humid Ontario day, as we entered the festival. My husband was growing impatient, at being dragged from one booth, to the next. Eventually, I made my way, to the far corner of the exhibition, from which, the colours from Nadya’s display beckoned me to visit. The use of vibrant colours, still managed to evoke calm. The serene imagery, and philosophical quotes were thought-provoking; each piece, an affirming meditation on canvas.
Nadya had stepped away from her booth during the time I perused her work. Helping myself to one of her business cards, I knew I would be contacting her very soon; I wanted one of her creations, displayed in my home, so that each time I walked past it, I would be reminded of the lil’ things. Reminded, that it’s important to take time to appreciate these things.
Describing herself as a girl from the North Country, Nadya says; “I live in the forest with my very tolerant family and a plethora of animals. Mr. CFO is my husband of eons, my children Miss Know-It-All (self-proclaimed) and my son ‘The Juicer’, are ever-present to guide me through this wild, strange thing we call life. I am a person who could easily withstand being under house arrest, I love to be in my home studio creating. I find beauty in my everyday life and transform what inspires me into jewellery & art. I love taking pictures, loud music, red wine and cute babies. I enjoy hats and wear many of them. I am a work in-progress and passionate about what I like & love. I enjoy letting my freak flag fly and observing how true honesty makes people uncomfortable. I try to be fearless.”
I corresponded with Nadya, initially via email. I described myself as an advocate for animals, and mom to pups Henry, and Reese. I wondered if she would do a piece, reflective of this, and was invited to visit Nadya at her home. When I arrived, it was like visiting an old friend; we visited for ages. I met Nadyas family, their protector, Lacey the cat, and hens; Thelma and Louise. My husband accompanied me on today’s visit. We toured ‘the farm’, met additional hens, quails, and new arrival, Sofie – the baby hedgehog. On this day, I was also very excited, to collect my charming, whimsical, ‘li’l things by Nadya’ artwork.
I am very pleased to introduce you to Nadya; a wonderful person, a lover of animals, with a positive outlook on life; this, I believe, is translated through her beautiful works of art.
The girls at the front desk told me ‘he’s not friendly, be careful.’
I worked my way down the list of names before finally reaching him. In the cage was a ‘hide-a-box’ and in the ‘hide-a-box’ was Ricky. Quietly passing another day, perhaps resigned to the idea that this was to be his fate.
I opened the cage door and he leaned further back into the box: his shelter within the shelter. I assured him that I wasn’t going to hurt him; I only wanted to take some photos of him for his adoption profile, so we could find him a loving, forever home. He would not be coaxed out of the box.
When I had my photos, I thanked him and attempted to give him a little fuss. Slowly, I reached toward him, treat in hand. As my arm reached the box, Ricky hissed, and growled. Standing on guard in his tiny cardboard box; he reached out and wildly tore at the flesh of my arm. I looked into his beautiful green, almost yellow eyes and saw fear, anger, and most obvious – pain. Ricky was suffering emotionally. I could not, in good conscience walk away from this cat.
After discussions with the shelter supervisor, and my husband, I took Ricky home and began the process of rehabilitation: working to socialize him and build his trust.
I made Ricky comfortable in our laundry room: a large room with ample space for bed, food and water, and his litter box. The space was hardly an issue, as Ricky chose to spend his time wedged behind the washing machine. Even when it was on, he would not come out from his hiding place. As I folded laundry, I would carry on ‘one-sided’ conversations. At breakfast and dinner times, I would sit by the laundry tub next to the food and talk to him.
After a couple of weeks, I decided it was time to initiate the second phase of rehabilitation: tough love. I put his food down, picked up the broom, and gently manipulated Ricky out from behind the washing machine. I gave him space, sitting more than a few feet from him and I spoke to him over his moaning and groaning, for as long as I could before he ‘high-tailed’ it back to safety. He would not eat his food in front of me.
Another week passed. As soon as he saw the broom, and without needing persuasion, Ricky would give me a look of repugnance and make his way to the side of the washing machine. He would sit, under the laundry tub, biding time until I left him in peace. He had only just stopped moaning at me during this process. That would start again soon enough! This week, I decided to attempt contact. As I spoke with Ricky, I told him of my intention to reach out to him. The forewarning didn’t help. Again, the hissing, moaning, scratching, and even the occasional bite ensued. I powered through, moving away only after successfully imposing the positive version of a ‘scratch’ on top of his head, behind his ear, or under his chin. I ensured that he knew where my hand was, at all times, by keeping it in full view, in front of him. No sudden approach from behind that would frighten him. I believed, establishing this physical connection was vital to gaining Ricky’s trust. This week seemed the most difficult of the process, and although the next couple was not without a few war wounds, I felt I was winning the battle.
Over the following weekend, we were away for five days, and my dad stayed with the furries. My dad accepted the challenge whole-heartedly: he too, a lover of animals had developed a soft spot for Ricky. Success was his! Upon our return, we learned that Ricky was not only eating in front of my dad, he would take the occasional treat from his hand! This was great progress.
I decided to take away his refuge, and moved Ricky into the guest bathroom. I left the door open, and secured a baby-gate across it (to keep Henry and Reese out). He spent most of this week behind the toilet; however, he would come out when we arrived with food and would greet us verbally. Ricky no longer hissed, and rarely did he swat us when contact was made. In fact, he would occasionally purr!
As I wandered downstairs to serve dinner one day, the following week, I caught the ‘tail end’ of Ricky sailing over the gate. I tried to contain my excitement and remain calm. One morning, as I made my way to the coffee-maker, in a zombie-like state, I caught a glimpse of the little lion as he flew back down the stairs. I removed the gate.
The process of integration was not seamless. Although Charlie; our senior feline, had dealt with many additions to the family, and guests, her patience was running thin. Henry and Reese; our small puppy-mill rescues, displayed herding tendencies (thankfully not predatory): they chased Ricky, would scruff him gently, and when he slid from their grasp, the chase would begin again. So, now we needed to work with the dogs as well as continue our work with Ricky.
The next few weeks were a mix of emotions and a continuous test of will and faith. During this time, Ricky found his confidence and learned how much fun can be had with dog toys.
The sound of his purr now fills the room and if the dogs get too frisky, he stands his ground and will give them a little smack. Reese chooses to ignore him and Henry will engage in what is now more ‘play’, than rough-housing between the boys. Often, it is Ricky that initiates the game.
Like so many beautiful beings sitting in their cages, Ricky had a rough start in life. Finding themselves’ homeless and without companionship, some will lose hope, and give up. I have seen that empty look in the eyes of far too many and it breaks my heart.
Let’s not give up on them. We can make a profound difference in their lives: with the dedication of time, patience and a whole lot of love. Please consider fostering or adopting. In my opinion, there is nothing in the world more rewarding than witnessing such transformation.
My fiancé, and I, had just purchased our first house together, in Addlestone, Surrey, U.K. It wasn’t a home, until we adopted Oscar and Charlie. Yes, my fiancé and I enjoyed each other’s company, however, there’s just something extra special about coming home to the greeting of an animal companion. Even the worst day, can be turned around with a cuddle from a furry friend.
Together, we went to Katz Castle and watched, as the cats played together in their pens. Oscar and Charlie were two of the older kittens in the shelter, and it seemed everyone else was interested in the babies. Also, it seemed sad to think of brother and sister being separated. We decided they would both come home with us.
For the next few months, we enjoyed watching them play together. Oscar was full of energy, and would tear around the house; often pouncing on his unsuspecting sister. Charlie remained gracious and rarely objected.
My husband, and I flew to Canada to be married, and after much consideration, we asked neighbours to visit, and care for the cats. We decided they would be happier together in their own home, as opposed to a cat hotel. Anyone with pets, knows how hard it is to leave them. The guilt generated as they stretch out in the suitcase, as if to say “no, please don’t go.” Oscar got out the front door, while we were away, and was hit by a car. We learned of this sad news soon after arriving home. I had walked into the house, excited to see Charlie and Oscar. I saw only Charlie, and realized immediately, something was wrong. I felt remorse for having left them, and tried to put on a brave face for our neighbours; they were, of course, also devastated.
Charlie seemed relieved that we were home, and stayed close by us as much as possible. She soon adapted to being an only child; playing solo with her toys, or staring us down until we picked up the end of a fuzzy mouse to participate in the game. She seemed content and happy to receive all the attention. Attention, not only from us, but also from Edith, the elderly neighbour next door.
A vast number of villages in England, are made up of ‘semi-detached’ houses, with non, soundproof ‘lean-to’s’ between properties on one side, and another residence on the other side. We lived in such a property. Edith, lived in the house next to us; our ‘lean-to’s’ adjoined. We used ours as a laundry room, and through-way from the front of the house to the back garden. The back door had been fitted with a cat-flap for Charlie. She never ventured far, and enjoyed lazing about in sunny spots. One day, I was folding clothes, and I heard Edith speaking in a sing-song voice to Charlie. “There you are Charlie Bear (our ‘pet’ name for Charlie), you’re a beautiful, spoiled girl; yes, you are. This cream makes your coat lovely and shiny, and you certainly do enjoy it.” And then, she laughed and continued her one-sided conversation, while, I imagined Charlie to be lapping up her cream, quite contentedly. Edith was from the south of England, the land of cream and scones. Only the most fatty of creams would do. Hardly surprising that Charlie was filling out! We noticed she had started to gain some weight and decided to cut down her meal portions. Now we knew, why it wasn’t making a difference.
Although Charlie had become heavier, it did not slow her down. I had just had a shower, and thankfully dressed before heading downstairs. As I approached the top of the stairs, Charlie appeared in the open window, across from me; in her mouth, was the biggest blackbird I had ever seen.
The sound a cat makes, when they are holding a prize, is hideous. Not, however, to be outdone by the noise emitted by said cat’s horrified guardian. My shrieking, did not achieve a desirable resolution. Instead of disappearing back out of the window, Charlie herself flew into the house, landing on the stairs. She continued to the bottom, and with one backwards glance; as if to sarcastically say “you’re welcome,” she disappeared out of the living room window.
My shrieking had turned into tears, as I watched this poor bird succumb to its’ wounds. Cats have a natural prey drive, and it doesn’t matter if you serve them all the cream in Devon, they won’t lose that natural instinct to hunt. Later, when the shock of it all subsided, I made a mental note to purchase more realistic toys. Perhaps that would work.
I had nearly made it to the bottom of the stairs, and was trying to figure out how I could avoid the scene of the murder, and make it to the living room. Our front door, and the stairway, were separated by a mere 3ft, by 3ft square; barely the wing-span of a Blackbird. As I stood there, in tears, the blurred vision of Edith, suddenly appeared, through the frosted glass in the door. She bent down and pushed open the mail slot in the door. “What’s happened”? She asked. As her gaze moved to the floor she realized what had, in fact, occurred. “Oh dear”, she fretted. Then, she disappeared around the corner, leaving me stranded. Just as quickly Edith reappeared. “Charlie, you naughty girl”, she scolded. I leaped from the third step up, into the bay window of the living room. Edith tried, unsuccessfully, to open the door. Latch-bolts seem like a great idea until you become stuck inside your house. “It’s no use”. “You’re going to have to get down and come open the door” she commanded. By now, a few of the neighbours had stopped tending their hedges, and were watching with curious anticipation. I placed my feet on the floor below the window, and thankfully they provided support to the ‘jelly-like’ legs attached. I leaned across the threshold and unlatched the door. Edith squeezed her way through the door – as if not to disturb any evidence, scooped the poor, expired bird, into a plastic carrier bag, and again, disappeared.
Thankfully, there was only one bird and this murder scene did not resemble the Brenner home, laden with blackbirds, from the Alfred Hitchcock movie. I suppose, however, not unlike the shock of being encircled by a flock of birds, this later experience might very well compare: A friend was visiting on this particular evening, and it had been raining for a little more than an hour, when we heard the first squeak. You see, Charlie loved playing with frogs, and when it rained, there were plenty of squeaky toys for her to choose from. I opened the door from the kitchen to the lean-to, picked up two toads and returned them to the garden. I didn’t think to lock the cat-flap.
Engrossed in conversation, an hour or so had passed before I heard the next squeak. Amused by this game, my friend Tina accompanied me to the back room. I opened the door and was horrified to find, what must have been every toad in town, in my laundry room. They started hopping into the kitchen. As we became surrounded, by a ‘knot’ of toads (that is the term for a large group), my friend suddenly remembered, she had to be somewhere, and quickly disappeared.
I could not remove the toads faster than Charlie would bring them in. After the shock turned into frustration, I came up with a solution; put Charlie on the other side of the closed door while I undid the knot, lock the cat-flap, wash my hands, and pour another, very large, glass of wine. To this day, when I hear a toad I remember that night.
Speaking of entertaining guests, Charlie, turned out to be quite the hostess also. I had invited a close friend, to stay with us, while she did some travelling around Europe. One morning, after my husband and I had left for work, Melissa wandered downstairs, for breakfast. Thinking she was still half asleep, she rubbed her eyes and purveyed the lounge a second time. I guess Charlie had also decided to have guests over. There, on each bum space of furniture, was a cat. Shaking her head, Melissa carried on to the kitchen. “I felt as if I was crashing the party”, she later commented.
Many adventures later, my husband and I moved to Canada; where I’m from. It was something we had been discussing for a few years, and one of the factors of course, was Charlie. We talked about leaving her with my mother-in-law; Bernie adored Charlie, and the feeling was mutual. I knew that Charlie would be loved, and very well cared for however, I could not bring myself to leave her. This girl was an adventurer, and no scaredy cat. As quarantine was not required, we decided to bring Charlie with us.
The plane ticket for our thirteen pound feline cost more than one of our tickets. She was our baby girl and so, after researching the best transport options for her, we picked up her special travel crate and prepared for the big move.
I had been offered a job, and left the week before my husband, to attend training. The following week, Charlie was delivered to the airport prior to my husband’s departure; however, she would not leave until the next day. This was to guarantee, her guardian would be at the airport waiting to meet, and collect her. We were very pleased with the service and consideration given to animal companions. Charlie’s travel companion was a beautiful black Labrador Retriever; they arrived at the airport at the same time, and came through arrivals in Toronto together.
When they arrived at our fully furnished, rented accommodation, Charlie wandered around, and explored this new environment before settling comfortably beside her dad, on the sofa. Charlie took everything in stride; this was just one of those things.
Over the years, we moved five more times, and adopted more family members; Ollie and Maggie, both feline, and dogs; Henry and Reese. Charlie was ‘mama bear’ to all, and each of them showed her the respect she deserved.
In later years, Charlie slowed down, and her cream-filled tummy slimmed down. We modified her diet, from kibble to soft food, accommodating her loss of teeth and, now delicate jaw. A diagnosis, of ‘hyper-thyroidism,’ required medication to be administered at each meal. Charlie continued to take everything in stride. Even though, she wasn’t as active these days, Charlie still enjoyed basking in the sunshine, and the occasional swipe at her toys, or whichever of the dogs walked across her path.
Sadly, on the Victoria Day weekend, Charlie’s health declined rapidly. She stopped eating, her eyes became dull, and she was lethargic. We encouraged her to eat, to no avail and the water we syringed into her mouth, found its way back out. We did not want to see her suffer, and after consulting the veterinarian, we made the very difficult decision to help her on to her next journey.
Charlie had an adventurous life, and enjoyed every new experience during her eighteen years. Now, she rests peacefully among the English Lavender in the garden.
In England, her home country, it is believed that black cats are lucky. “Charlie, our beautiful, tuxedo kitty – we certainly feel lucky to have had you in our lives. In time, the grief turns into reflection; the ability to enjoy the wonderful memories you helped us create. Thank you”.
this weekend, I not only celebrate the country I grew up in and all that means; I am also celebrating the life of a wonderful man I had the honour of calling my ‘Godfather’. Uncle Reg was an Englishman, a veteran and a true gentleman. Although born in England and proud of his heritage, Uncle Reg loved Canada and spending time with his family. That is Canada Day! Make the most of the time you have as every moment is precious and are like the now obsolete penny, too often taken for granted. Invest in these memories.
Uncle Reg had been a part of my life, since the day I was born. Even though I was too young to remember, I love hearing that he treated me to my first chocolate ice-cream cone. He and my Auntie Betty ‘vetted’ John during their annual visit to England, approved my choice and reported back to my parents. They attended our wedding the following year. Uncle Reg was not afraid to display his pride in a few tears that escaped him during the ceremony. That was a magical day for me and I am so glad he and Auntie Betty were part of it. I am lucky to have known such a wonderful person and even luckier to have had Uncle Reg as my Godfather.
I wish I knew the wise person who wrote this;
- Enjoy the simple pleasures of a walk.
- Follow your instincts.
- Never underestimate the value of a belly rub.
- Be loyal and faithful.
- Always drink plenty of water.
- Sometimes it is best to just sit close and listen.
- Be quick to forgive.
- Avoid biting when a growl will do.
- Keep digging until you find what you want.
- Run and play daily.
- Accept all of life’s treats with gratitude.
- Life is short, pet often.
- Love unconditionally.