///Surrounded by Love

Surrounded by Love

What makes a family a family

Lucky me!
A sweet memory with my brothers, Dave and Doug, and my sister, Suzi-Dog.

I am a very lucky person in more ways than I can count. And among the luckiest things in my life is my wonderful family, which always included animals. In fact, my parents firstborn was a Collie mix named Suzie-Dog, and we treated her as a member of our family — because that’s what she was. She lived until she was 14. We also had two cats, Kitty and Lizzie, three guinea pigs, and three baby chickens who we rehomed at my Dad’s nurse’s farm when they grew out of their baby stage.

We always rescued our animals, and sometimes they found us. One day, for example, a raccoon made his way through an open window and slept on the foot of my bed with me! Luckily, we had a great relationship with the wildlife rescue guy in our town and called him whenever we saw an injured animal.

Animals have been around me since the day I was born, and in a way, it goes back even further: My favorite picture of my great-grandmother shows her surrounded by dogs. I’m convinced that loving animals is in my blood. My passion for shelter adoption and helping animals in need has always been a huge and deeply satisfying part of my life. It’s my purpose. So everything I’m lucky enough to be able to do today is really nothing new.

That’s me age 5 rescuing peeps from the farmers’ market, and more recently, me with magical Yoda.

My family is not unique in its love and respect for animals. A study done last year found that 77 percent of cat and dog households view their pets as family members. Further study by those researchers shows that people who see their pets as family members have greater self-esteem, less depression, and fewer illnesses related to stress. Besides improving individual well-being, pet family members also contribute to what researchers call “social connectedness,” helping people see their links to other people and to nature. I think that our relationship with animals is even more important at the moment, when so much of the world is unsettled, unresolved, and disconnected.

Pets are clearly precious members of our families, which only makes stories about pets dumped by cruelly irresponsible “families” that much more infuriating and harder to take. I’ve seen way too many of these situations lately, like darling ginger Huxley, who was brutally attacked by a wild animal and came home with skin hanging off his bones. His “family” waited a week before bringing him in for help. Then they decided they didn’t want him anymore. And on top of that, he wasn’t even neutered. After weeks of recovery with Dr. Jackie Holdsworth and her colleagues at Long Island Veterinary Specialists, Huxley healed completely, and guess what? He’s an indoor cat from now on in a home where he’s absolutely adored!!

Huxley’s miracle.

And take a look at Billy Dee Williams, above, whose face says it all. This senior was dumped by his “family” and landed at Bianca’s Furry Friends Feline Adoption Center at NSALA. He’s FIV+ so he needed an experienced new family. Just days after I posted his story, an awesome young couple with an FIV+ kitty at home (Jax) drove all the way to Long Island from my hometown of Pittsburgh and took Billy Dee home with them. My heart is full just thinking about this amazing turnaround for Billy Dee.

Beautiful Benjiro, just 4 years old, was dumped outside a grocery store. From the moment he joined my fosters I knew he was an exceptionally intelligent and gentle fellow. One of his favorite things was teaching kittens how to negotiate the stairs. He has a strong nurturing streak, like Yoda. I’m so happy to have helped him find such a loving home.

I also welcomed 10-year old Seymour. A few years ago, his “family“ had a human child, which understandably put Seymour under a lot of stress. So what did his “family” do? Why, they put him in the basement, of course! When they recently had another human child they decided there was no more room for Seymour, so this time they discarded him like an old rug. (He also lived with another cat who apparently is okay with two young kids, so that kitty got to stay.) There were times at my house when this beautiful boy acted so lost that he didn’t even react to his name. I often wondered if he’d had any toys to play with in that basement. His new family, however, is making up for all that he lacked. He has a sweet new name, Charlie Boy Bleu, (I love that name!) and a wonderful new beginning.

In recent weeks, many kittens and cats have left me to go home with loving families — kittens like Pauline Peaches and Princess Clementine (below left) and Albert (below right), who left directly from Animal League America with one of my pre-approved adopters shortly after I posted him. I firmly believe that every one of these wonderful felines is helping create a happier, more complete family.

And I’m happy to tell you that my boomerang boyfriend, Jerome, (below) is settling in beautifully with his new brothers, Theo (feline), and James and Marco (human). I knew he’d leave me someday. Still, no matter when a relationship ends, there are always bittersweet emotions. I hope he’ll be happy forever and will always miss me just a little.

This, too, is a family.
Proud and patient Mama Dutchess and babies sit for a family portrait:
(left to right): Sunrise, Sage, Libby, Bob, and Lolly in front.

And then there are families that come into being when people who love animals join forces to help them, which makes me think of my friend Dawn, pictured at left. She passed away in July at 54 years old from breast cancer. I knew Dawn when she worked at Animal League America and connected with her by sharing our passion for animal rescue. Dawn had five resident cats at the time of her death, so I joined with my rescue partners at Animal League America, Karla and Cindy, and promised that together, we’d find amazing homes for all five. The week of Dawn’s passing, I received an email from a person looking for a senior lap cat. That day, Dawn’s senior lap kitty went to that loving home.

Then there was her diabetic senior and her bonded sibling who needed to go together.  Again, awesome followers of mine who were looking for a bonded pair opened their hearts to Pipi and Ipsy. And finally, there were Dolly (above) and Dewey, two bonded young adults. They went home in early August to another incredible couple who emailed me. They were so happy to adopt Dawn’s kitties that they created an IG for us and for Dawn’s family to watch them be cared for and loved forever, @dawns.darlings. Now, that’s what I call family! I hope Dawn can rest in peace knowing that all the love she gave to this world shines even now.


P.S. I’ve loved sharing some of my family photos in this blog. In fact, I think we all enjoy having a chance to talk about our beloved pets and post a photo. If you haven’t already discovered it, I suggest you visit North Shore Animal League America’s Mutt-i-grees® Rescue Pets Family Album. (“Mutt-i-gree” is a term we came up with for all rescued pets, regardless of how they came into our lives.) You can post a photo of your Mutt-i-gree (past and present) on this site, along with a brief story about what this pet means to you and your family. No matter where you live or how you acquired your Mutt-i-gree, your story is welcome on this site. Warning: Reading these entries can become addictive.

SENDING BELATED CONGRATULATIONS to our friends Rachael Ray and John Cusimano, who welcomed their new family member, Bella Boo Blue, earlier this summer. They adopted this cutie at North Shore Animal League America following the death of their beloved Isaboo.

Baby Einstein

We couldn’t save you.
We’ll never forget you.

By |2020-09-14T09:43:25-04:00August 10th, 2020|