Thursday, March 3, 2011

Rescuers at Heart

Dear Mom and Dad,

There is a cat in the utility room.  I found him begging
for food in the McDonald's parking lot, and decided to bring
him home.  I hope that you don't mind!  He's really nice and
has a loud purr, so I'm calling him Harley.
I'll be back at midnight!

Love,  Mel

This was the note taped to the front door when my parents got home one Saturday evening.  I was sixteen years old, and already showing the signs of being a rescuer at heart.  Granted, it was not MY largesse that I was being generous with.  Though my parents owned 30 acres of land in Missouri farm country:  if anyone could take on an extra cat, we could.  

Only...  about six months earlier,  I had rescued a kitten.  A classmate told us sadly that her father, a farmer, was going to kill a litter of kittens if they didn't find homes; they had far too many cats already.  Well, I of course agreed to rid them of one of those kittens, so drove to her farm after school with my brother, and picked out a little black fluffball that we named Suki.  Only to find out the week after that they had managed to find homes for all but one, who was going to die that night.  Back I went to her farm, and took away Wendy, a little tabby.  

Two years before that, I spent some time working at my aunt's Colorado ranch for a summer, with the idea that for my help, I would get to keep one of her surplus horses.  I did come back with that horse...  a lovely quarter horse mare, PLUS a pregnant Appaloosa for my brother, twenty ducks, a bird dog, and two survivor kittens.  (The kittens were the only survivors of an entire feral litter that was attacked by an enraged tomcat.  They were inexplicably white long-hairs with blue eyes.) 

I'm not telling these stories to illustrate that I am a great and wonderful rescuer (because I'm not) -  but to make a little bit of fun of myself - I have the willpower of a noodle when it comes to little (and big) furry faces.   This is why it would be a bad idea for me to work at a shelter.  I KNOW what would happen.  All someone has to do to reduce me to tears is to mention that an animal's time in the shelter is "running out," or that poor Fido or Leo has been in a cage for months and months.  Yeah, I would have a houseful of animals in no time flat.  You know,   a houseful being more than my current houseful.  

I was fortunate;  as a young teenager, that my parents had the space to keep these animals, and really, the desire to let them stay on even if I did have to endure some teasing about my err... tendencies to bring them home.   We had the means to take care of them, and we did.  (Though life in the country was and is a whole lot rougher on the animals than what my current pampered pets are used to.)  Now I live in the city, and while I can do a lot for the animals that I take in,  I am limited to 5.  I try to focus my rescue efforts into finding animals OTHER homes besides my own now.  

Many, many of you are true animal rescuers, some of us are more "concerned amateurs," but it is a labor of love for all of us, and we all have our stories about how we got started.  And I love hearing the stories!  Let me know how you got interested in rescue! 


  1. Well, when I was four or five years old, I was outside with our dog and she was playing with some poor little animal that was so scared it had gone limp. I carefully scooped it up to save it from the dog and stole into the farmhouse to share my latest find with my mom, who happened to be upstairs making my bed after doing the laundry. I held it behind my back and told her I'd found a surprise and that she needed to guess what it was.

    "A ladybug?" "Nooooo!"

    "A caterpillar?" "Nooooo!"

    "A butterfly?" "Noooo!"

    "A baby bird?" "Nooooo!"

    "I give up! What is it?"

    I proudly pulled my hands in front of me and held up my now revived and slightly squirming bundle. "It's a mouse!"

    My mom screamed like she was dying and threw it out the window. I was horrified. I snuck back outside, found the mouse and relocated him to a safe place where the dog couldn't torment him. I can't believe she wouldn't let me keep a mouse! :P I guess I started early!

  2. Aww, poor little mousie! I'm glad that you were able to relocate him. :) And nothing wrong with starting early!

  3. You guys are MY KIND OF PEOPLE.

    Dear Carnivores: Now when somebody accosts you to criticize that you are a crazy person for sharing your home, life, n heart with a few -- not many, a few -- I was reading about a woman who had 39 guinea pigs taken away from her, now that's many -- you can just cite them to this post and then stalk off with your tail held hi.

  4. Oh, you are truly a woman after my own heart!! If ever you find one of those "other" homes - someone needing a dog or cat, please send them by our place where there is ALWAYS a someone needing a forever home.

  5. Ah, you are too a true rescuer!

    One of my earliest memories is begging my Mum to be allowed to have a pony. We lived in a tiny eighth floor flat (apartment) and the only means of access was a tiny lift capable of carrying five people but I really thought I could fit a pony in there.

    When we moved out to the country (ish) I was forever turning up at home with stray cats and dogs, homeless puppies, injured birds, mice and hedgehogs etc and I was never allowed to keep any of them. I had to do the best I could outside in the garden and then relocate them. I remember bandaging loose dogs who'd cut their feet, having my Mum throw a blue fit over a pup who peed on her rug and later, having her throw away a favourite hat because I'd carried a hedgehog home in it.

    Now I help with greyhound adoption and any stray wildlife is relocated to a (fortunately nearby) exotic pets refuge. They really are very good. I always give them a donation, but if I kept the little creatures, they might end up as lunch!

  6. Your post reminds me of when I was growing up, we never went looking for cats; they always came to us and we always had a couple of cats.

  7. Nadbugs - Wow, 39 guinea pigs... that IS a lot of them! That definitely helps put my kids in perspective!

    And Khrystal - you and the ones you take in are always on my mind. I will send people your way should I come across those homes. :)

    And Jay - I dreamed about having a horse for YEARS. I know that I was very lucky to move to some acreage and that I was allowed to have them.

    Sherry - People say that a lot - that cats came to them, but I guess I've never just had them wander up and adopt us. Most of the time it was PEOPLE approaching me and telling me that horrible things were going to happen to a cat if I didn't take it in. And well, sheesh, what was I supposed to say to that?

  8. What a generous heart you have. Lucky animals that you were/have been able to take them in and then to find forever homes for them.

    Thank your for stopping by Kittens 'n Things this afternoon. "The Boys" and I are pleased to meet you.

  9. I can't remember my early efforts at rescuing but I'm sure I did as a child. I know I had many and varied pets. My most prodigious rescue was the first year my ex husband and I were on our 40 acre farmlet and I 'rescued' 7 lambs because they didn't have a mother standing over them!!

    The novelty of bottle feeding 7 lambs for 2 months soon wore off and I made sure in future years that the lamb's mothers were dead before bringing them home! But one of those 7 lambs lived til she was 17 years old before passing on in her sleep. Her name was Heather and she was such a character:)

    Much as would love to foster Greyhounds I won't because I know I would fail and probably sooner rather than later:) So I help in other ways:)

    I congratulate those of you who do rescue despite having a house full!

  10. Our Mama would have been just like you if she had lived in a house where it was permitted! As it is, she lives with Gramma and Grampa, who originally said ABSOLUTELY NO MORE PETS after our big sister Chopper died. And here we are, two more dogs and a cat... so, we think thats pretty good, considering!