I'm tired tonight. So this post is on the fly and inspired by what's in my heart.
Today I received an email from a student who asked to be excused from class because her puppy died last night after being hit by a car.
My heart cried out to her. Of course she was excused.
I love animals so much. It breaks my heart to see the remains of a dog or cat in, or along the side of, the road.
I'm the person who feels sadness when I see the carcass of a dead squirrel, rabbit, raccoon or other animal hit by a car. Last weekend, I saw a dead coyote in the emergency lane of I-65N, a few miles south of the Cullman exit. I teared up. No need for a beautiful animal to die a senseless death.
About 10 days ago, my next door neighbors rescued a 2-week old kitten separated from her litter or abandoned. So far, Boston is doing very well.
Last summer, my friend Jen and her husband took responsibility for another 2-3 week old kitten that was separated from her litter during heavy rains. Tiny Cat eventually needed eye surgery, but otherwise she's doing well.
A Facebook update tonight from one of my high school teachers featured the photo of yet another kitten abandoned by her mother and rescued by humans who couldn't bear to see such a tiny creature suffer.
These stories reminded me of a sad story from my own life.
In July 2003 I was getting ready to move to Oklahoma to start a new job, but I had no money. Barely enough to move –and some of that was borrowed until I could get the moving expense reimbursement which was part of my employment package.
My parents had a semi-feral cat living at the farm. She was one of a pair of sibling cats that came to “us” from a family member. Harmony and Melody, my niece had named them. They were tame at first, but no one was really around to socialize them and so, eventually, they were less comfortable around people.
But Harmony would come to me. I think I was the only human she would let pet her.
For whatever reason, Harmony had not been spayed. In late June, we found that Harmony had given birth to a litter of kittens behind the pool house.My dad discovered them.
The discovery of Harmony's kittens prompted a move. Mama Cat Harmony moved her babies to a “safer” location, underneath the patio deck just behind my parents' house. But we didn't know this at the time. We just knew she'd moved the kittens.
A few days after the kittens disappeared from the spot where Dad had found them, we noticed that Harmony's food wasn't being eaten. On the second day, we became concerned. It didn't take long to find the kittens when their hungry meows grew loud enough for human ears. They were under the deck.
About the same time, I spotted Harmony trying to drag herself to the kittens. She was also under the deck. She'd placed the kittens at the farthest spot accessible to outside intruders. Also the farthest spot from where she could reach them.
My Dad didn't hesitate. He just started tearing out the deck to help these kittens and their mama.
Eventually, we had 4 kittens and a dying mother cat. Harmony's back legs seemed to be paralyzed. We don't know if she was bitten by something or had an infection after giving birth.
All of this happened on Saturday afternoon, July 2, 2003. The Saturday before Independence Day. In other words, vets were gone for a long holiday weekend by the time we found the kittens. And there was no emergency vet service available in that rural area.
One of the four kittens was a runt. At first we though it just hadn't opened its eyes. But I later figured out that the runt kitten didn't have eyes. The rest appeared to be healthy.
In those days, we had a farm dog, Sparky. He hadn't been around cats very much before Harmony and Melody arrived.
It was clear when the cats had arrived at the farm, Sparky's first instinct was to chase Harmony and Melody. But when I showed him they were “family” he had never bothered them.
As my Dad pulled the boards up from the deck, Sparky was on hand and lay next to the kittens, guarding them. Sparky dog stayed by their side until they were taken to the county animal shelter.
So here we were, Saturday evening on a holiday weekend with four kittens and a dying mother and no vet to help. And I had no money to contribute to a solution.
I stayed through the holiday and did what I could. We fed the kittens. Harmony died. My mother and her sister took the kittens to the county animal shelter on Tuesday. They were assured the kittens could/would be adopted, including little blind cat.
I've always been haunted by the likely reality that these kittens were euthanized.
I can still see the precious face of the little black kitten who had no eyes and the fear in the eyes of the dying mother who was so desperately trying to get to her kittens.
To those who provide care for homeless and abandoned kittens and cats and pups and other creatures: I salute you.