|Some of the gang, past and present|
I thought I might explain why I have not discounted items as deeply as I did in my sale last year. It's not about recouping bits of what I had spent but about giving my local no-kill animal shelter every cent I earn from the proceeds of this sale, because my shelter has already given so much to me and to those I love.
When I was much younger, abandoned or stray pets lived in one of two places--outdoors in misery or at the SPCA. While it is true the SPCA tried to do the right thing (my best friend's mother was executive director of the shelter in my town, so Bitsy and I were able to practice horse whispering and we romped with goats and roosters), these shelters quickly became overrun with intakes. Sadly, when new pets came in, the current residents were usually euthanized, with the assumption that since they hadn't been adopted, they were no longer a worthy investment. Around the same time, most vets would euthanize an animal simply because its owner had tired of it, was moving, or whose child developed an allergy. Again, I am sure the intent was to prevent the needless suffering of an abandoned animal or a pet suffering from neglect (or worse), but it still breaks my heart to think of a perfectly healthy animal being destroyed for no real good reason. Thus, I am so incredibly grateful for the no-kill shelters that have sprung up seemingly everywhere in the last 15 years, as well as for web sites like petfinder.com, who are hopefully putting an end to mass-market pet stores and puppy mills.
I have had many a pleasant (and also sad) dealings with my local shelter the last 10 years. In late 2003, when the cat I'd had since 1987 was getting old, my new husband and I decided to adopt. I wanted a Maine Coon cat and it was through a colleague that I first heard about petfinder.com, which led me to my local shelter, a place that provides services I had never imagined possible.
We adopted our first shelter cat, Elias, from them in 2003 (all my other pets had previously come from friends), and that was the first time I learned that cats could get AIDS—because the beautiful Maine Coon cat we adopted was FIV positive. And so we began adopting these unwanted boys, and even though most of them have died by now (usually from something else, due to their compromised immune system, like cancer or diabetes or kidney disease), I do not regret for one second the short times they blessed our lives. Also, FIV+ cats can perfectly coexist with non-infected cats; none of our other cats has ever developed the autoimmune disease.
Through our repeated adoption process, I quickly learned that over 90% of the "employees" associated with those shelters are volunteers! And that the adoption fees and donations don't line the pocket of corrupt executives. The money does pay for the 5% of employees who actually do make shelter work their jobs, but the rest of the money goes toward food, bedding, medicine, and even surgery, because (at least at my local shelter) no animal is too wounded or sick to not try to save.
My current blog sale honors Wink, who died peacefully at home this past Christmas. Before we adopted him, he'd been a tomboy living on the city streets, subsisting on the grease from discarded pizza boxes, and probably lots of mice and rats. He never did lose his taste for pizza and he'd go bonkers of potato chips if we let him anywhere near them!
The cat we'd adopted before Wink, whom we named Pig (RIP), also came from the shelter and also had been living in the city. He had obviously been badly injured, likely hit by a car, as when the volunteers discovered him, he was hiding in an abandoned building, dragging his badly broken leg behind him up on the rafters (!) to get away from the kind people who tried to capture him (which they eventually did with a butterfly net, since he became too smart for the food traps).
My shelter adopts hopeless cases, such as my Pig, and sends them to surgery, where altruistic veterinarians give the shelter discounts. With Pig, they put a pin in his leg, kept him warm and happy while he mended, assessed his temperament, and then put him up for adoption, where the fee is a ridiculously low $125.
A few years back, I asked what happened to the cats that were too feral to live in homes. Volunteers capture them, and the vets neuter them, and snip the corner off one ear. The shelters then release these cats back into their colonies, many of which are in wooded areas. The ear snip is done so if volunteers encounter those cats again, they are much more easily identified as already neutered, and they can leave that cat in peace. Cats that aren't quite so wild but which still won't make ideal pets, go to live on farms where they enjoy a life of sleeping on bales of hay in the sunshine and catching mice that would nibble at the grain. The luckiest cats might even get fresh cow's milk.
I apologize for the gushy estrogen spill, but I am so in awe of my shelter, and I adore my cats. Strays really do make the best pets because they are so grateful, and all they want to do is eat, sleep, and cuddle.
Some of our cats developed unusual, highly-amusing personalities, once they'd settled in. Among those oddities:
- Pig had a blocked tear duct, so he was always dripping over everything. He grunted (thus his name) and we gave him Hollywood, royal, and porn nicknames: Porker Posey, Duke of Pork and Pork Piggler.
- Winston took exquisite care of his fluffy tail, and his happiest moments were those he spent making bread on it with almost-imperceptible movements, staring out into the distance with extreme concentration. This ritual was A Very Big Deal. I'd pet him, and the moment I stopped, he'd run off and lick his fur back in place.
- Grendel had terrible balance and would tumble over every time he groomed himself, which was constant because he was quite fluffy. We probably should not have laughed, but you would have too. Had we known his personality earlier, we might have called him Tweedledee or Weeble.
- Mr. Wenskins is a beautiful-but-vapid supermodel, who is so gentle with us, but when other cats bicker, he races in to bayonet the wounded.
- Flopsy has his own special fleece pillow that he kneads vigorously while sucking a corner. I guess one day he hopes mama's milk will come out. Click here for an example!
- We are certain Hannibal had previously been captured by aliens. He always has that spacecraft-butt-probe look, he's psycho around the other cats, and he pees in the tub (which is fine by me; a squirt with cleanser and a quick rinse, and we're good to go—wish he'd teach the other cats).
Though there have been many other cats and dogs in my life, here are the cats I adopted from the shelter, past and present:
|Chloe at left, not adopted (RIP Dec 2005) and Elias at right (RIP March 2004) our first shelter adoption|
|Grendel the Tumbler (RIP March 2005)|
|Pig (RIP April 2007)|
The following collage deserves a bit of explanation, as the below cat may or may not be dead. Big Gray Al adopted us from the woods behind our house. The shelter loaned us the trap and then we went through them for the adoption process. In the following photos, I had opened the windows from the top because the day after BGA came home after being neutered, he tried to escape, and I was afraid he'd rip the screen. Unfortunately, a mere two weeks after we adopted him, he did manage to break through a screen, and that was that. :(
|BGA was determined to get back outside. Unfortunately he did. Missing since Aug 2006|
|Wink (RIP Dec 2011)|
Happily we still have some healthy cats, alive and well, as we adopted yet more. Because you can never have too many lipsticks or too many cats, you know?
|Mopsy (aka Muffin, adopted June 06)|
|Mr. Wenskins (aka Hey, Supermodel, , adopted June 06)|
|Hannibal (aka Pee Pud or Psycho Kitty Hosebeast, adopted Jan 06)|
While we were working with the shelter on Hannibal's adoption, I noticed the most squee-worthy kitten in the world. I (wrongly!) assumed she'd been adopted--I mean who WOULDN'T race to adopt this cutie? She had been captured from a feral colony, thus the little snip in her ear. While she was recuperating, her foster mom noticed that she wasn't as wild as the other cats from the colony, and that's how India came to live with us. You could call her an impulse buy. ;)
|India (aka Puss Kitten Meow Face)|
And then there was the night my husband woke me from a dead sleep to tell me Big Gray Al had come back! It was almost exactly a year after his disappearance, and sure enough, there on our porch was BGA! We worked with the shelter to capture him, and then we took him to the vet for a checkup, since he'd been living wild for more than a year. Imagine our surprise when the vet laughed and told us his testicles had grown back. Not BGA, but almost surely a cat from the same litter.
Oh! And we mediated between the shelter and my parents, who live out of state and wanted to adopt a Bengal stray, rescued after found living in a wild cherry tomato patch.
That's what this blog sale is all about. So a HUGE, heartfelt thank you to those of you who helped make this gift happen.