Saturday, August 21, 2010

Homeless Animals.....

I am generally not a big fan of "days".  There (to me) tends to be way too much of this "day" stuff.  Today, however, is a "day" designated as International Homeless Animals Day and while I would much prefer that everyday be devoted to this is a positive thing to pay attention to this sad phenomenon.  (Today is also: Poets day, Senior Citizens day and World Daffodil day....see what I mean).

Living in our household is a former homeless animal person (cat) named Bobby Ray.  His history is a little uncertain but I do know that early in 2005 I met Bobby Ray for the first time and that meeting...and especially the cool move he put on my wife...resulted in him becoming a former homeless animal.  Bobby Ray was one of the lucky homeless animals in that he ended up in a shelter where executions are not carried out simply because an animal person is homeless and somebody decides more space is needed (Second Chance of Norman). 

Bobby Ray...formerly homeless...2005
As you can see, he is a very attractive fellow with some striking eyes.  When we went to the shelter, my wife's emphatic position going in was that she did not any old "boy" cat.  She had never had the opportunity to get to know a "boy" cat person and had some stereotypical ideas about the gender (likely driven somewhat by her experience of me).

After spending some time with the many cat people there that needed a "forever home" we had sort of decided on a lovely little female cat person and told the shelter folks we thought this would be our choice.  One of the shelter founders agreed and then asked us to wait a moment and meet one of the cat people that was not out in the general play area for the cats.....he would have to go to the back to get him.  When my wife heard "him" she voiced that she did not want a "tom" cat.

The shelter directer wisely agreed but said that it wouldn't hurt to meet him anyway, would it?    He returned from the back with what appeared (because he was so large) to be 2 cats.  A big (18 lbs) relaxed tabby who was just sort of hanging there while being carried.  He promptly placed this bohemoth in my wife's arms and Bobby Ray (no fool he) reached up with his right paw and for all the world looked like he was wrapping it around my wife's neck and lay his head on her shoulder.  Bang, that was it....instant connection, new forever home for the cat person and new experience for a woman who had never known a "nasty old boy cat".

The shelter fellow told us that Bobby Ray had been in the shelter longer than any other cat, several years, (he was around 5 years old when he came home with us).  How he ended up in the shelter in the first place is unclear. Bobby Ray (his shelter name was Buckley) had been adopted out 2 times and was brought back both times.

The first failed adoption was with a young couple and when he was brought back the adopting couple said that the cat was "crazy" and had at one point attacked them if they tried to enter their home....effectively barricading himself in the house and keeping the human owners of the house outside.  He then was adopted by a single older woman who brought him back after a brief period saying that it was too expensive to feed him because he ate so much.

The shelter founder also told us that whenever a kitten came in that had no family they would always put the kitten with Bobby Ray because he was so nurturing and gentle with the lonely babies.  All this time as we were being told about his history, he is hugging my wife and looking like he belonged exactly where he was.  We were told that this special cat person was the favorite of all the folks at the shelter and the shelter founder said if we took him his children were going to be upset because when they visited the shelter they always made a bee line for Bobby Ray to spent time with him.

I admit that the story about him taking over the house and terrifying his first adoptive parents provoked a little concern on my part.  I tried to visualize it and kept coming up with a picture of Bobby Ray looking out a window (wearing a helmet and holding an AK 47 and grinning dementedly) and two distraught young people wringing their hands on the sidewalk in front of their home.  As far as his being "too expensive" to feed, that one is beyond me.

Here is a recent picture of him, engaging in one of his favorite activities....sleeping. 
Bobby Ray....2010

He has slimmed down to around 15 pounds, and has had some serious health problems because of food allergies.  He once had to be hospitalized for several days and has required surgery on his right eyelid.

Through it all, he has retained and expanded a personality that is amazing.  He is the most companionable being I have ever known.

Animal people in shelters, much like their human animal counterparts who find themselves in an institutional type situation adopt some defense mechanisms that help them endure their situation.  Orphans, prisoners, and refugees all ofttimes subdue many aspects of their self in order to survive.  Then, once they are in a supportive and safe environment, facets of their genuine self surface and are exhibited.  Over time Bobby Ray stopped being so "mellow" in that he became more startle prone and fearful behaving......a broom or yardstick was a source of fear for him.....where he once never met a stranger he now hides immediately if anyone comes to the house.  He initially showed a strong preference for me over my wife but this subsided over time and now he is quite egalitarian in hanging out with the two of us.  His startle threshold has dropped now, but he still does not like the sight of a broom or stick.

We speculate that he was abused by brooms and/or sticks and most likely by some female human person....but we will never know.  What I do know is that one of the best days of my life was the day I met him and every day since, he has never failed to bring moments of pleasure and yes, even joy.  I am somewhat in awe of him.  I had to spend several days in a hospital about 6 months ago and I missed his company severely.

When he had to be hospitalized he apparently reverted to the charm he manifested in the shelter and by the time he was ready to return home the veterinarian and the veterinarian's staff were all in love with him and took the time to mail him a get well card with personal messages to him from all of the folks that were at the vets office.  We posted his card on the refrigerator.

Unless he is sleeping (and oblivious) he wants to be with one of us, preferably in our lap but he will settle for being beside you or even laying at your feet.  He is profoundly appreciative of being caressed or stroked and would prefer that you touch, pet or rub him in some way or another 24/7.

He is superlative.......and I can only wish for you that you have some similar experience with an animal person.  There are innumerable animal people out there in the shelters needing and deserving of a safe nurturing environment in which to spend their lives.  Each one of those beings is a hidden gem, just waiting for that special place that allows them to blossom into their real selves.

Please adopt from a shelter, if you can't adopt...then foster, if you are unable to do either...then volunteer.....if none of those are options for you.....donate to your local shelters and rescue organizations.  If possible, do all of these things.

Heartland Rabbit Rescue, Hands Helping Paws, Second Chance, Norman Animal Shelter, Blue Hawk and Wildcare are all local organizations doing what they can for non-human them out, you may find it changes your life in ways you never imagined.  If you are able to foster (provide a temporary home) you free up a space in the shelter for some other homeless animal.  Fostering is a great way to help out without having to committ to a permanent relationship.  Take a look:

Try to make this Homeless Animal Day one that is a good one for you and for a homeless animal person.


So I'm Thinking Of Going Vegan said...

What a sweetie Bobby Ray is! He seems like a really special soul.

I'm guardian of a kitty named Kazumi Joy, and she literally did bring joy to my life. Someone had abandoned her and she'd been out on the streets in my neighbourhood for at least three months before I was finally able to coax her to come over to me. She was the most emaciated and petrified cat I'd ever seen, but I scooped her up and she's come a long way in the last eight years and is now plump and content. Although still timid in some ways. She also helped me to gradually see that if I couldn't eat a cat, why eat a cow? So, she helped veganize me! :)

I'll have to post a pic of her on my blog sometime...

Christina said...

Bobby Ray is one handsome kitty. The excuses people give are just something else. I would love to hear the truth one day: " I am lazy, stupid, selfish, stingy and taking up air others could be breathing and I need to get rid of my animal because they are just too much trouble for a loser like me."

Ahem, sorry but it just drives me insane.Cant afford to feed him? Seriously.

veganelder said...

Thanks for commenting editor admonished me for going on so long about Bobby Ray...but....

Yah, lame excuses but in this instance I am glad that circumstances resulted in him living with us.

veganelder said...

Thanks for your comment So I'm Thinking of Going Vegan. Kazumi Joy is quite a name, a picture of her would be great. The natural animal people have much to teach us, don't they? Bobby Ray is currently sitting in my lap supervising this response. :-)

Anonymous said...

I found your blog through my friend So I'm Thinking of Going Vegan. I just had to comment. I've only read this post so far, but I look forward to reading more. Bobby Ray is such a gorgeous boy! His story is very similar to my Spikey (cat boy from the shelter I volunteered at). Spike was abused by his first so-called human family. He was a 'terror' in the shelter (because of his abusive past he could not be touched and if someone force touched him, they lost blood), but he adopted me and has been the most loving, gentle, sweet boy since the first day he got home. Our other cat was also from an abusive background and is from the same shelter. Thanks for speaking out for the shelter guys and gals, especially the older ones. I'll save the story of Basil (she's an angel now, but she was from a shelter in Brooklyn and pretty much the love of my life) for another time. Sorry for being so long-wided! I look forward to reading through your blog. It looks wonderful! ... Hmm, I am in Germany and not able to sign up for a google account and I don't have blogger either so I'm going with "Anonymous", but my name is Krissa.

veganelder said...

Hey Krissa, thanks for reading and commenting. What I hear over and over is that shelter animal persons know their situation and are grateful when they are adopted. I look forward to hearing re google accounts in Deutschland, interesting. Write all you want, use the veganelder email if you wish. What city are you near in Deutschland?

Murph's mom said...

Bob was at exactly at the right place at the right time. He is clearly a charmer and mom and dad had no defence against his gorgeous eyes. Thank you for being the animal advocates you are Mr. & Mrs. VeganElder!

veganelder said...

Thanks for commenting and for the thanks....Murph's Mom, Bob is sleeping or he would thank you for the compliment re his eyes.

Bea Elliott said...

2 years later I'm grateful for this post as it made everything fall into it's proper place when we saw little (homeless) Tucker.

Often we think that what we say doesn't make much of an impact... But that's just not so. This post released a a catalyst of positive events that has enriched our lives!

The whole Elliott gang is grateful that this post was written! xox

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Bea. I remember is Sir Tucker doing? I'm glad all that came about and worked for everyone. :-)