Monday, June 28, 2010

Cat Whisperer Update

It's been awhile since there was an update. Not for lack of interest, just lack of  ... well, I don't even know what. I have no excuses. So here's a minor update at least.

There are so many things of importance that I could write about today, including the surprising depth of my emotional response to USA's elimination from the World Cup (who knew a professional soccer game could feel so personal?), the fact that Mr. Pug and I have finally formalized our 24+ year history, the fact that my first granddaughter Haley has graduated from high school and is on her way to the next stage of her young life ....  you get the message. There's a lot to talk about.

But what do people really want to know? What's the burning question that my friends ask me? It's "well, Woofgang, you really left us hanging. What's up with the kittens?"

And the answer is, they're all fine. The three tiny ones that I honestly wasn't sure would live through the night? One of our employees took them home with a kitten baby bottle and formula, and she and her parents have been having a wonderful time fostering them until they're old enough to go to permanent homes.

And Monroe? The little dark gray/blackish guy that we took over from the two teenagers? Well, he's as happy as can be. He's the newest addition to my boss's two-black-cat household and, while he hasn't won over the two original homesteaders Noir and Lucy, he's got the boss and her husband firmly in his pocket, metaphorically speaking.

Let's put it this way--he just returned from a lovely weeklong vacation in the western North Carolina mountains AND he's got a hat to play with. Right now, I'd like to have his life.

Monday, June 07, 2010

The Cat Whispers

Uh, do I look like the Cat Whisperer to you?

Right. I didn’t think so.

So how did I end up rescuing three … no, wait, make that four … kittens today?

When I am not, and let me re-emphasize this, NOT a cat person?

I was wandering around the campus at work today, minding what passes for my own business, enjoying the lovely weather and the nice flowers and the beautiful green lawns being manicured by the landscaping company when one of the aforesaid landscapers approached me.

Cute Hispanic Guy: “Meees! Hey, Meees!”

Me:  “Uh, me?”

CHG: (Doffing hat in a respectful way—God, I really have to get some better wrinkle cream! I must look ancient!)   “Jes, Mees.  Can you come?

(Hmmmm…maybe the wrinkle cream IS working. Maybe I’ve set this handsome young Latino man wild with desire.)

CHG: “Cuts, Meees.”  (pointing)

Me: “Cut? Someone’s cut? Who’s cut?” 

GHG: (Holding up three fingers) “Cuts, Meees.” (More pointing, toward one of our cottages.)

Me:  “Uh, okay. Cut? How badly?”

CHG (as if speaking to the village idiot, and not the young pretty one, the old crone one): “Cuts, Meees. Three cuts.”

Me: “Oh, hell. Cats? Damn! Morte?”

CHG: “Morte? What?” (Apparently my Spanish is no better than his English.)

We reach the bushes outside one of the cottages and he’s digging in among the foliage, finally pointing out three tiny, bedraggled, scraggly kittens, wedged in under some roots.  Oh, crap.

This is a cottage peopled by adolescent boys who tend, on a good day, to jump around playing with make-believe swords slaying each other and make-believe dragons. On a bad day, all bets are off.  Not a good place for three itty-bitty starving kittens. 

But, in fact, what is the right place for three itty-bitty etc., etc ., etc.? I remember from a series of emails that there were originally five kittens and that at least one small kitten body has already been found on the grounds. No mama anywhere to be found.

Now there are three. And they’re not looking that good. And I am SO not a cat person.

Luckily at that point one of the staff joined me and began to coo and giggle and talk baby talk … or kitten talk. I went to fetch a box and she yanked out a root that had one of the kittens effectively stapled into the ground by the neck.

The next thing I knew, I was back in my office with a box of cats. Tiny, mewling, weak little cats. Three of them. Luckily the staff member agreed that she’d take them home with her some ten hours later, and to a vet in the morning. If any could be saved, she’d adopt at least one and maybe two of them.

Could I let it go there? No. I’d already tried giving them milk off my fingers but they couldn’t figure out the whole “lick the finger” thing. Two of my coworkers and I went to a nearby vet to ask for help.

We stood there with our pitiful cardboard box and were told “take them to the pound; that’s the right thing to do.”

We finally prevailed and purchased a tiny nursing bottle and a can of formula.

I felt a tug on my sleeve. I saw two young teenage boys, skateboard in one hand and a kitten in the other. Another kitten. Oh, crap!

They’d been sent by their mother to drop off the kitten which they’d found a day earlier. He was dressed in a tiny sweater and nestled in a woolen cap.  Oh, crap.

The vet’s staff sent them away. They don’t take kittens. They told them to take them to the pound. The boys left.

Then they returned. With the kitten. What were they supposed to do with the kitten?

Oh, crap. They were trying to do the right thing, and no one would help them do it. And I have a thing for kids who really want to do the right thing. They’re not all that common.

So that’s how I ended back at work with four kittens, not the three I left with.

I have no idea where Monroe, as we named the older black kitten, will end up. Maybe with my boss but maybe not because she has two older cats who will not take kindly to an interloper. But probably someone here at work will take them.  They have to, now that he has a name. (Yes the spots of our volunteer's dress are milk from feeding Monroe with a baby bottle!)

Oh, crap. I AM not the Cat Whisperer.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

An Old Friend and a New One

I'll be the first to admit it--I'm not right when it comes to dogs. So, when I heard someone calling my name from the hallway outside my office today to come see a dog, I ran ... er, walked sedately ... to see what was going on.

Standing in the hall was an old friend, a woman I'd worked with at The Big Corporation. She and I had served for several years developing and managing the company's disaster recovery/business continuity plan*.  The person who had called me had no idea Melissa and I knew each other--she was amazed when we broke into a big hug. That was worth the price of admission right there.

*Yes, that's the plan that was ditched as soon as the new Powers-That-Be realized they really didn't give a rat's patootie if the company recovered or continued or anything else. So they let my friend go and, shortly thereafter, me too.

Anyway, it's always nice to see an old friend, especially in a context you weren't expecting. Those are her feet at the top of the picture (the ones in the sandals). But look who she's holding on to. Could Gina be any more beautiful? (I deliberately took a picture that wouldn't flash in her face or you'd really get a faceful of beauty to look at.)

Gina is a 7-year-old rescue black lab who works as a Reading Education Assistance Dog. Turns out Melissa is the president of the Georgia chapter of READingPaws. READingPaws brings assistance animals into therapeutic situations to help kids with their reading skills. The Reading Assistance volunteer and the animal are matched with a child and come on a regular basis to work with that specific kid. The kids form a bond with the dogs (and there's even a Reading Assistance parrot!) and their reading skills improve in the process.

It won't be Gina who will come to my workplace but I was thrilled to meet her anyway. Who wouldn't want to learn to read if you could have a friend like Gina to help you out?