As regular readers and friends, you know that I've been involved in animal rescue for a number of years, although not so much any longer. That is primarily because I generally don't do adoptions and those cats and dogs I've rescued have remained with me. At my age and state of physical and financial health, I just can't take on any more. I chose not to do adoptions because I have seen all too often the animals who have been tossed aside as if they were nothing more than trash. We humans can be a cruel and uncaring species and I can't trust that a stranger will provide a permanent, loving home for a rescued animal. Only once in the few times that I re-homed an animal did I allow a cat to go into the home of someone I did not know.
This is the story of one very special kitty that went to a couple that I know well and then she subsequently was re-homed. I could never have imagined just how much she would be loved.
Several years ago I was at my veterinarian's office with one of my animals - I don't remember which one or even the purpose of the visit. Craig, one of the vet techs asked if I could help to find a home for a cat that had been brought to them by the owner for euthanasia. Craig, for all the years that I had known him, had never shown an interest in cats but when he brought her into the exam room, it was obvious that he felt she was special.
First let me say that this photo does not do her justice. I have seen, and fallen in love, with many, many kittens and cats over the years, but when Craig brought her into the exam room she lit up the room. There was something really special about her. Even now, years later, when I think of her it seems as if there was a glow or aura surrounding her. Once seen, I knew I had to find her a home. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind. I left the office with her in a carrier.
Dharma's life didn't start out well. She was apparently born with a neurological problem. It wasn't as severe as I've seen in other cats, but she was wobbly when she walked and she couldn't stand up and eat from a bowl. Her original owner brought her to my vet to have her declawed. To this day I don't understand why he would do that to a cat with her problems. (For the record, declawing should rarely be done). Not only did she need her claws for some semblance of stabilization but anesthesia could worsen her condition. Soon after the surgery, her owner brought her back to the vet, saying she could no longer "handle" her and wanted her KILLED (my word, not hers, but euthanasia does not apply here). The fact that my vet didn't kill her still amazes me because it's the only case that I'm aware of that he tried to re-home an animal.
It's been my experience that cats with disabilities don't realize that they aren't "normal." Whatever disability they have, is normal for them and they continue to carry on. I kept Dharma (well, this actually was the new name she would be given by the couple who adopted her from me) overnight. She had a method she had developed to eat dry cat food. She would use her paw to get the food out of the bowl. Then she would stretch out one front paw while pushing the food with her other front paw into the outstretched one. Then she would eat the food trapped against her outstretched leg. Although it took her longer to get where she was going, she went wherever she wanted to go, including into the litter boxes.
I brought her into my office the next day in hopes someone would fall in love with er and take her home. Joe took one look at her and was smitten. His girl friend, Eli, would be coming in to work in the afternoon. He said, "I don't care what Eli says, she's going home with us." Well, Eli arrived, took one look at Dharma and melted too. I was thrilled because I knew both of them loved their cats dearly.
As the days passed, the two of them fell even more deeply in love with her. She got along great with their other two cats, Pudge and Root. They named her Dharma. Eli is an old soul in a young woman. She's a fan of the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan. Other than that she and I have very similar taste in music (the 60s). Joe's sister visited them and proclaimed she was going to take Dharma, because she, too, had fallen in love with her. Then Joe's parents - both his mother and father - fell head over heels for her. Within the year, Dharma had become the darling of Joe's parents and moved in with them.
Over the years, Eli would tell me how pampered Dharma was. Joe's parents got stairs for her so she could get onto the bed. And, no doubt because of the love lavished on her, her instability lessened over time. All of them moved to California just over a year ago and Dharma is esconced as the princess she really is. Although Dharma's original owner did a horrible thing by rejecting her, she also made it possible for this kitty to find the home she truly deserved, where she is honestly cherished. That's something I wish for each and every cat and dog on the planet. A chance - whether it's a first, second or even third chance, to live in a home where they are loved and given the care they deserve.
The above are some photos Eli sent me of Dharma with her "mom & dad" in California. Dharma likes to sunbathe on their patio by the pool. They've installed fencing around the pool to insure Dharma is safe. And she is supervised at all times -
I can't express how grateful I am to Eli, Joe and his parents for taking this wonderful cat into their lives and cherishing her. If I've served no other purpose here on earth, this one act makes my time here worthwhile. Sometimes there really is a happy ending.