Sunday, August 24, 2014

18 and Counting

No, there aren't 18 kittens in La Casa Sutton/Swanson, nor are we breeding or self-promoting Dugger-style. But Steve did find his second kitten of the season, on campus early this morning while walking Thea. Panther (2) is a healthy little black kitten, about 4-5 weeks old. After some initial fear hisses, she's warmed right up to us and is exploring. She's napping in my lap as I write this.

Panther (2) August 24, 2014
Of course, we still have Jessie and her brood of 9 kittens. They will be 6 weeks on Wednesday, and are busy learning to play and climb mountains and beds and legs. Soon though, they will be up for adoption at Cedar Bend Humane Society.

All this care for little lives has taught us a lot, and one of those lessons has been our own limits and needs. We know we can't keep them all, and really, that our set up will need modifying for any larger number of fosters. We learned our limits of integrated animals (ie those in the house) with Benson this past winter. Three's a crowd, four's two many, five's not allowed! 

This posed a dilemma when we found a kitty while visiting family in Fairfield August 8-9. Near our b&b, we heard mews in the lilies, and a sweet young thing came out for us. We called her Lily, fed her for 24 hours, and worried about her, because we knew we couldn't bring any more cats into the house! Serendipitously, the evening before we were to depart, we met neighbors who were gracious,willing, and kind-hearted enough to agree to care for her until she is old enough to be spayed, and perhaps even find a home for her. They've stayed in touch, and Lily seems to be doing well. My biggest concern was her getting spayed, so as not to continue the problem. Alley Cat Allies is great on TNR education, and just recently a "planned parenthood" for animals clinic, Iowa Humane Alliance, opened in Cedar Rapids. They have very inexpensive spay/neuter services, and will do them on a pay-what-you-can scale, even if you can't pay at all.

Lily, Fairfield August 9, 2014
With this most recent black stray kitten, I reflect on the number of animals' lives saved by fostering and finding homes, just in the last four years. 18, by my count...and only one of those is a true foster-failure for us (ie: we kept her): Gracie. Since 2010, we've fostered a nine-year old papillon dog, Cody, Gracie and Willa (aka Skidmark) in 2011, the original Panther (RIP), found on campus, and Kaylee (aka Kima) in 2013, Benson, and Jessie and the crew this year (2014). I have been humbled and inspired by a volunteer foster mom from Waverly Pet Rescue, who, when we adopted Omar from her, said that her goal was one day to have people wanting a cat and having to be on a wait-list for one because supply was less than demand. The very idea that there might one day not be a pet overpopulation problem blew my mind. That is indeed, a goal that every one of us can work toward.

Indeed, the selflessness of others and the belief that every little bit counts when we work together toward eradicating a problem is why I am collecting donations for Waverly Pet Rescue and Cedar Bend. The marathon is about one month away, and I've raised $552! Donate today to help spay/neuter and save animals' lives!

Many of the lessons I have learned by fostering are translatable to running--really to life generally, but I'll make the link for the purpose of solicitation. Lessons relevant to every being's life can be gleaned from these on-going experiences. Trust is built from shelter, food, and care; adaptability and intelligence is manifest and encouraged by learning, exploring and growing in new environments; grieving, healing, and forgiving take time; and patience is necessary with ourselves, and them. We are each others' guardians and teachers. Throughout, I have been amazed by how adaptive animals--and all of us-- are.

Thea, Jessie, and Babies, August 2014
Thea helps get the kitties socialized and dog-friendly. Max, our 13-year old senior, has always been an ambassador, calm and curious.

Omar, Max, Benson, January 2014

Max, Jessie, and Crew, August 2014

Thanks again for reading, and for your support!!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Running to Rescue...the Cycle of Life

Look at Jessie, the young foster mama! She has been with us for a week now, with her nine babies. The kittens were born July 16 and will be available for adoption in September, through Cedar Bend Humane Society.

Remember, I am currently training for the Twin Cities Marathon, and raising money for Cedar Bend and Waverly Pet Rescue. Please go to my fundraising site, Running to Rescue to donate and help these fabulous organizations in the Cedar Valley. I ran 14 miles this morning, 9:15 pace with friends, so we're on a roll! I've raised just over $550 so far, and committed to kitty ears, whiskers, and a (short) tail....let's see what else I'll have to wear/do for 26.2! Every day I run I am grateful that I am able to do so without pain, and grateful knowing so many people in the community support running for this cause.

Three events this past week have brought the cycle of life to the fore:
At the same time we have these 2-week old kittens, we also are caring for our 13 year old cat, Max, who is recuperating from a stroke.
Kitty strokes are apparently very rare. He must have had it sometime last Thursday or Friday. It's incredible that he came through it. He didn't move, eat or drink for almost 24 hours. We got him to the vet, got advice and prednisone, and force fed him--not unlike a new baby without its mother. We really thought we would have to put him down if he didn't eat on his own. Thankfully, he was eating on his own and managed stairs within 48 hours! He certainly has a will to live. We think he is blind, and his left side and back legs especially are weak, so he is very wobbly. Still, he is inspiring, and clearly enjoys being with us and being petted. He listens for us, and meows to us, even as he gingerly makes his way from room to room. He needs help getting on and off the bed, but so long as he is eating and making it to the litterbox, he's still handicapable!!

We joke we have 10 blind cats, a nursing home and a nursery all at once!

Finally, last night some friends had a Sweet 16 birthday party for their dog. 16 is ancient for a coonhound (or really, any dog)! They collected donations to Cedar Bend in his honor. What a fabulous idea! We'll have to wait 6 more years until we can throw a quinceaƱera for Thea...but we will. Maybe we'll even auction off her first dance.

Summer is a wonderful time for me to renew my service and my running. So often during the year it is hard to feel appreciated in the busy-ness of daily life. Animals--especially babies, and stroke kitties and dogs at the shelter--these animals in desperate need of attention and care clearly appreciate whatever time and resources we have to give. It's very rewarding and enhances the other aspects of my life that seem mundane and routine. In their appreciation of the moment, I have learned to try to let go and appreciate each moment, and the small gifts (of ability, motion, food, love, shelter) that we tend to take for granted.

More baby pics!
 The babies don't yet have if there are ideas, we are open to them!
And please...DONATE or visit your local shelter today! Go to: Running to Rescue