Meet the Board of Directors of The Arts and Crafts of Life….
TedE – CFO (Chief Feline Officer)
BoBo aka “GazeBo” – President of the Board
Grayson and Billy
And, the newest Board Member…Charlie
For as long as I can remember I’ve been blessed with having pets in my life. Those who have never owned a pet, don’t understand how these furry souls become part of your life and enhance it with their unconditional love. My husband and I do not have children, but our animals have become our children and we are furever blessed to have them in our lives.
All of them have come into our lives quite by accident and not necessarily by a conscious effort of ours.
For Bater’s 30th birthday his mom surprised us with an 8-week old chocolate lab/husky mix, we affectionately named Bear. Bear was so small, the length of his body fitting in the arm span of Bater’s elbow to the tip of his fingers. But, boy could that little guy get into some BIG trouble. It’s true what they say about puppy’s not settling down until they’re 2. Even at 2 Bear had trouble “settling” down. We thought getting another dog, his sibling in fact, would help calm him down and give him someone to play with, but after a couple of days, we quickly learned that was not going to solve anything, only make things worse plus I did want to have a house left when I got home from work. So, a co-worker of mine took Bear’s sister in and Bear remained the King of the Kingdom, until that fateful day at the groomers.
Bear was groomed bi-weekly, I can not stand the smell of dog in my house. In fact, with 9 cats, I obsess over my house not smelling like cats and litter boxes, so I’m constantly changing out the litter and spraying down everything when I remotely even smell the odor of cat. But, I digress.
So, Bear and I walk into the groomers one morning and there sitting by the door was a small wired cage with two small kittens in it. Bear was curious and began to sniff the cage as our groomer greeted us upon arrival. I asked where the kittens were from and I learned they had been brought in from a barn by a friend of the owners. As we talked Bear became even more curious, so my groomer reached into the cage and brought out the first kitten. A black kitten with soft, long fur. Bear sniffed around it, but showed little interest as he poked his snout into the cage to see the little tiger kitten sitting inside.
Cheryl put the little black kitten back into the cage and pulled out the little tiger cat. Bear was in love. He sniffed her and gave her a complete once over, not afraid of her smallness, nor was she afraid of this big brown dog. (Bear went over 100 pounds at this time). I’ve always loved cats, but my husband has never been fond of them, so the rest of the story is creative in how I brought this little kitten home.
See in my mind, Bear needed a friend. Both my husband and I were away from home for a minimum of eight hours a day at work, and those were long days for Bear to be on his own, so after seeing him pay so close attention to the kitten, I inquired how much was she? Cheryl told me the kitten was free, just the cost of the grooming they would do to clean her up. Well, that’s easy enough…so I said, go ahead and get her ready with Bear, I will pick them both up this afternoon.
During the day, I proceeded to run to the pet store to pick up a crate, litter box, food and small toys for the kitten. Kitten is free, huh? And then, when Bear was done, I went back and picked him up along with his new friend. After I got them all settled back at the house, I shut the door where I would keep the kitten until I got home later that evening. Hours later, I get home and my husband says, “that cat can’t stay here, you need to take it back.”
Yeah…ok, that’s not going to happen, I think to myself. But, Bear picked her out, I explained. He’s been wanting a friend and I had nothing to do with it, he walked up to her and showed her all kinds of love, how could I resist getting him what he wanted? A few days went by, and slowly Bater opened up his heart and mind, and welcomed the little kitten into our home. So much so, that by January (just three months after bringing TedE home), Bater was leaving the neighborhood tavern where I was bartending that evening, picked up what he thought was a stray yellow male cat and brought him home. Being creative, he used my philosophy for how the cat got home. My husband explained, that Tigger jumped up into the cab of his truck to get out of the cold. Well played my dear, well played! But, I was hesitant, because you can’t just bring a strange cat into your home without knowing if it may have feline leukemia, was he spayed, how old was this cat, and better yet…who’s cat was he? Someone was probably missing their boy!
The next day, I called the humane society, checked the papers for lost kitten ads, checked back at the bar to see if anyone had mentioned the lost cat…and nothing. So, I called my vet and took Tigger out for a check-up before offering him the run of the house.
TedE, Bear and Tigger – they were the perfect trio. TedE could do no wrong around Bear. She could flop down in front of him, rub all around his snout and Bear wouldn’t move. On the other hand, Tigger would come walking in the room and Bear would give him that look and Tigger would either hiss or run off. But TedE n’ Tigger were the perfect housemates. Constantly laying in the window seat sleeping, grooming one another, and playing together.
Unfortunately, our time was cut short with Bear as what we had thought was just a normal fatty tumor under his chest turned out to be a cancerous tumor, one which would eventually grow to be the size of a basketball and be the reason, we decided to lay him to rest. That had to be one of the worst experiences of our lives. And, now nearly eight years later, the thoughts of that day still resonate so clearly in my mind. For me, Bear wasn’t just a dog, he was truly my best friend.
It took awhile for TedE and Tigger to adjust to not having Bear around. They truly knew his presence was no longer in the house, and in a way it was Tigger’s shining moment to walk around free of a dog chasing him off. But, four years later, Tigger would join Bear at the Rainbow Bridge. Putting a beloved pet down is not an easy decision to make or one you make hastily, but for both Bear and Tigger, that decision was for the best in both instances, to spare them from further pain or becoming sicker than they needed to be, but I miss those guys so much. And, I know for a non-pet owner that sounds so corny, but again, it’s the unconditional love they provide, and the camaraderie they give to you when no one else is around.
So, how did we come to have nine cats, you may wonder? Well, about two years prior to Tigger’s passing, we had rescued a litter of feral kittens just four weeks old. I had thought the mother had abandoned them in a wood pile next to our garage, but when I realized she hadn’t, it was too late to put them back for fear she may endanger them since I had touched them. And, thus the beginning of our rescue each summer thereafter, and how we came to adopt, BoBo (aka “Gazebo” because she had been found under our gazebo), Cowboy, Emmitt, Meatball, Pepper, Grayson, Billy and now just two weeks ago due to the below zero temperatures, Charlie Girl. Five of them are all from the same mother, but separate litters. And, all have been rescued from our back yard where the feral cats seem to put the message out that there’s a bunch of suckers living at this house who will feed, water, shelter them to the best of our ability and then find homes for them, whether our own or someone elses.
I could go on and on about each of their personalities and how they all came to live with us, but this post is already much longer than I had intended, so I’ll leave the introductions of each them to another time, when I share my anecdotal stories about the overtaking of 2216 Hudson by the “Cat Board”.