For the Pleasure of His Company
I Asked my Husband to Come Along.
I’ve been questioning my sanity a couple times a day for the past few weeks.
Twelve weeks ago I started looking in earnest to get myself a sweet little Pomeranian from a rescue group here in the Phoenix area. I went to meet a couple sweet little Poms at one of the rescue organizations which doubles as a doggie daycare during the daytime. I let my husband come along. He would say I dragged him along. Bob is not an animal lover. I knew it was risky bringing him along because he doesn’t give out good vibes when he is around an animal for the first time. If the owner of the business or the workers were to think he would be unkind to a Pomeranian, they would not let me adopt one. Bob would not ever hurt an animal but he just doesn’t understand why anyone would want an animal sharing space in their household.
If there are any impressionable young women reading this; take heed. If you love animals and are unmarried and thinking of one day getting married, be sure you check out your fiancé’s reaction to animals – left, front and center. Do not simply ask him if he likes animals and then believe him when he says he does. Don’t even believe your intended’s demonstrative affection toward some niece’s dog or cat while visiting your relatives briefly. Find a longer, better test and run the test a few times before you check off this prerequisite on your list of Necessary Traits when choosing your life’s partner.
Emerald and Niah loved each other.
Niah has gone Over the Rainbow.
I really thought I was ready to get another dog. I knew I missed having a dog. I'm going to have two dogs eventually, maybe more, but I planned on starting with one.
I had had a dog. Her name was Niah which means dolphin in one of the Polynesian languages. She was a nervous little white Chihuahua. Our daughter, Priscilla, named the dog Niah because the dog ran and bounced along the grass like a dolphin skimming the water when she was allowed a short run outside the Maui Humane Society’s building. Priscilla brought her home from the Maui Humane Society in 2007 and gave her to me.
Niah was a sweet little companion for me and a good buddy for my cat, Emerald. They really loved playing with one another and ambushing each other. I had had Niah two years when one morning I put on her leash and harness to go for our usual walk around the neighborhood. I never took her to the beach or the dog park unless we were with Priscilla and her dogs. Niah was slightly behind me and on-leash when an unsocialized Pit Bull came out of nowhere and locked on. We went in circles. No one came to help for at least four minutes even though the whole neighborhood could hear me screaming. Finally a very brave young man came running out of his house and grabbed the attacking dog by the collar. I had to have Niah euthanized an hour later. It was a few months after losing Niah that I came upon Hubpages. I'm pretty sure the first Hub I wrote here at Hubpages was about this. I needed to write, to share and to heal. I described the incident. I don’t have the hub up anymore. I think I had it up for at least a year and I thank any of you people who responded with kindness and understanding.
I do know there are many good Pit Bulls out there. I have met a few.
Our cat Emerald, quite sure everything is really hers.
Five years later, I have now decided I am ready for another dog.
Twelve weeks ago, after meeting the dogs here at the nearby Pomeranian rescue, I decided I had better start out by just fostering a dog rather than adopting one. I had thought I was ready to walk a dog again, but my heart said otherwise. We live in a gated community so one would think there wouldn't be any lost dogs wandering around. Still, my heart rate goes up just picturing me walking a dog – a dog who depends on me for his or her safety. I drove back to the Pom rescue office on another day and asked if I could fill out their foster application. I knew they would require a visit to our home and an interview with Bob and I before approving our application. The young girl at the counter reiterated this information. The next day I received an email from the owner of the business stating they no longer have a foster program. Their daily postings coming through to my Facebook account seemed to indicate otherwise, but apparently they had just recently stopped operating the foster program.
I decided I would look at the nearest Animal Control Center for a Pomeranian even though it is so heartbreaking to go in there and see those hundreds of dogs without homes, some with only days or a week left to live. The nearest Animal Control Center happens to be the one where I had met my beautiful little Pom, Shadow, in 2004. That’s another story and I don’t want to take up too much of your time.
So I started checking the Animal Control Center’s website every day for any new intakes of Pomeranians or Pom mixes. They do have a foster program in addition to an adoption program. I went there in person once a week. Six and one-half weeks ago I ventured into the Kitties and Puppies wing of the building where I really had no business going because I didn't want a puppy. There was kennel after kennel of cute little kittens and cute puppies. There were also full-grown cats there.
Brought him Home
And then I saw him.
And then I saw him. There before me was a male, long-haired tan domestic cat. I didn’t know these particulars at that moment. All I knew was he had the saddest eyes I’d ever seen in an animal. He didn’t look scared. He looked like he was giving up on life. He was lying parallel to the front of his cage looking directly at the side of his cage. He wouldn’t look at me. I stood there and spoke to him quietly until he finally turned his head. He looked at me briefly and then looked away. But something made him look back quickly and he gazed into my eyes as though – just for a moment – he felt some hope. But, no. He knew he had been mistaken. He looked away again.
I went to the front office and stood in a line-up until I could speak with one of the animal control center’s clerks. I gave the kennel number to the young lady at the counter. She looked it up on her computer. This number pulled up the cat’s name, information and his photo. Someone had given him a really dumb name. The young woman remembered meeting this cat. She had been the one who processed his information and took his photo when a man brought him in. The man said he was a friend of the cat’s owner. The owner had died. The man had tried for a week to find someone to take the cat, but none of the deceased’s friends or family wanted a cat. The man also told the clerk that this cat is very gentle and is really good around children, cats and dogs. Also, he said, the cat had been declawed. I really hate that. I think that is so cruel.
Princely -- So Matted until we shaved him.
I went back to the Animal Control Center again and again.
I went home and told myself I would only ‘think’ about getting this cat – no hurry, no pressure. I tossed and turned that night, arguing with myself that probably every cat that is taken into the Animal Control Center looks that sad and lonely. Can I save them all? No. So why save one? The next morning I had a beautiful poem arrive in front of my eyes – serendipity perhaps – titled 'I Saved a Human Today'. It is by Janine Allen of the National Dog Mill Rescue. It is about the fact that even just saving 'one' animal is important. I could feel the truth in it, but I fought it. Well, I had felt this twang of responsibility and love when he looked into my eyes. Forget that, I told myself. I have a cat and she is used to being the queen in her little kingdom. I don’t need any complications. My life is pretty simple right now. Besides, Emerald doesn’t mind dogs, but she will not tolerate a cat in her territory.
I went back to the Animal Control Center the next day. Why? I don't know. I need to take responsibility for my actions? Yes, I know. Looks like I will be doing just that for the next ten years in this instance.
I asked my husband to come along to the Animal Control Center. He came willingly. He had an interesting look in his eyes when he saw this cat. Their eyes met and I felt intrigued for that moment as their eyes met. Bob felt something. I didn't ask him about it, but I knew he felt something. Still, I didn’t jump into anything. I decided I would think about it one more day because I knew a new cat would mean more work for me to do.
I reviewed in my mind that I already clean one cat box a day – sometimes twice a day – and then I vacuum. Usually I feel real and imaginary dust under my feet by then so I wet-mop the floor once or twice a day. Therefore, I reasoned, what would be the harm in another cat and another cat box? I have to do the whole parade anyway. I would just do two cat boxes at the same time and I would hardly notice the extra work.
Princely -- Very Tired and Scared.
I brought our new cat home. Named him.
I brought our new cat home. I named him Princely.
Princely wouldn’t eat or drink. He probably had not been eating or drinking during the three days he had been in the Animal Control Center either nor had he been using his cat box. He had been lying in it. He couldn’t stand up in it because the powers-that-be had placed a footstool eight inches above the cat box so that a cat could, if he really wanted to, lie on the top of the footstool. I saw this crazy problem in each of the cat kennels. I will write a letter to the management there.
By the third day at home with Princely, I had learned from a person in a cat rescue organization that I should be giving fluid to him via syringe or he could begin to have liver failure. He was already vomiting bile a couple times a day. The cat rescue person said this can be a sign of liver failure.
I cried. I felt like I was going to fail Princely big time. On top of this, he was so matted and dirty. Another dilemma: My cat didn’t like him. I sort of had expected that, but hoped they would be curling up together within a month. Everything seemed overwhelming and I wasn't getting enough sleep with this new cat in the house.
Princely wouldn't eat. He got sick from being nervous. Carpets came clean, no problem.
Princely didn't seem to drink for days -- but must have.
Took Princely to the Veterinarian.
I decided I would take Princely to a vet. I called my daughter and told her the situation. I sobbed her the situation. She assured me everything would be fine and she offered to come over the next day to give Princely a bath and a hair cut.
I put Princely back into the cloth cat carrier and struggled to the vet's office, tears streaming for this cat whom I was sure would be dying soon. If only I hadn't taken him home, maybe he would have been eating and drinking at the Animal Control Center by now, I thought. The vet had good news. Princely had no sign of liver failure. The vet suggested Princely might do well with an anti-vomiting shot of medication. The carpets were a mess at home, but I knew this could be easily fixed with some Folex – the best carpet spot-remover around.
The vet also said some cats take longer than others to start eating and drinking, but she figured he must have been getting a little water when I was sleeping because he was not dehydrated.
The next day, Princely ate a little. He also jumped up onto the bathroom counter when I ran the water from the faucet. It turns out, he is a tap-drinker like my daughter’s cat. He will now drink from a bowl, but he prefers the tap water when he is offered it.
Our Daughter Came Over to Groom Him
On the afternoon of that next day, my daughter did come over. She brought four very noisy little cat-scaring angels. Once we got the four of them busy with their Grandpa, Priscilla shaved 25 dirty mats of fur from Princely’s belly, back and underarms while I held him. He IS a gentle cat. Then I held him firmly in the kitchen sink while Priscilla gave him a real scrub down with a mild shampoo and then a long rinse. We were all exhausted afterwards – especially Princely.
Princely is nine years old. I think he gave up trying to clean himself years ago. He was such a mess. Cats need to be brushed every day. I guess his former owner didn't know that, but his former owner made up for it in being a very gentle person. He must have been gentle and loving. How else could Princely have turned out so sweet and calm?
Princely is now clean and does clean himself every day. Priscilla didn’t shave the fur around his neck and head because there were no mats there. Now with his big mane and bare body, he looks like a lion.
The fur on his body is growing in nicely.
His fur mats were thick and could not be brushed out.
Princely is Tall
I hadn't realized how big Princely is until I got him home that first day. The County Pound person had placed him in my cloth cat carrier for me and brought him to the outside area where I had been told to wait. It was a good thing I didn't see how tall, skinny and mangy he looked until I had already signed the papers. I might have changed my mind -- but probably not. I had this wild ridiculous feeling there had been an unspoken trust he had laid before me and I had accepted it – at that first meeting between us.
True to his new name, he really is very princely and serene. And he loves to be petted. He purrs loudly. He is very polite. He always asks before jumping up on my lap. He stands on two legs and places his paws on me while I'm sitting there. He looks up at me to ask silently. If I say okay, he jumps onto my lap, but only stays a few minutes.
He likes to chase Emerald’s catnip mouse. He chases it, pounces on it and carries it by the tail. He is a giant kitten. Emerald, this past week, lays herself down five feet away from Princely during her few wakeful hours and watches him quietly.
Princely and Emerald are separated at night.
We had to keep Princely and my cat, Emerald, separated at night – especially at first – because I was way behind in my sleep and I do not react calmly enough to the sound of two hissing cats. It's a scary sound, one which really gets the adrenaline pumping as images in the brain quickly show what a cat without an eye would look like.
Will All be Well?
Now everything is going very nicely – except for the responsibility of the cat boxes. There are two covered cat boxes, each in a separate room.
Thoughts -- more or less the same ones, day after day -- enter my brain each time I clean out the cat boxes.
“What are you doing with two cats, Pamela? Why did you even get one cat all those years ago? Why does anyone have a cat? My great-grandmothers had more sense. The cats lived in the barns. Have I gone mad? Why would I get another cat, knowing I'll now be cleaning two cat boxes for at least the next ten years?”
After I take off my catbox-cleaning robe and shower cap – and after I open the front door and shake the robe briskly – and after I wash my face, hands and arms – and grab a towel and make a trip outside to the garbage can, I can again remember the reason I brought this cat home. “Ah, yes. It is for the pleasure of his company.”
Little Emerald, having watched my noisy actions as she lies curled up among my art supplies, begins to purr. "Yes. Give me time and I'll concur."
An Update: Turns out, Princely Loves to Play
Take a quick poll.
How many animals do you feel you can look after comfortably and safely in your home?
Princely Loves to Play with his stuffed Mice.
© 2014 Pamela Dapples