"Rescuers Need Rescue, Too"
By Chandra Moira Beal
Animal rescue is deeply rewarding yet extremely difficult work. To survive in this realm, one must find healthy ways to cope with the emotional challenges. Here are 10 points to ponder.
You can't save them all. Even if you spent every hour of every day working to save animals, you still wouldn't be able to save them all. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone in your efforts.
Work smarter, not harder. Manage your rescue efforts like a business. Organize tasks to make the best use of time. For example, time spent recruiting more volunteers may make more sense in the long run than trying to do more yourself. If you find yourself pulled in many directions, you might be more effective if you focus on one rescue facility, one geographic locale, or one species or breed.
Just say no. Many people feel guilty when they can't take care of everything that comes up. Be realistic about how much you can handle! If you're feeling overwhelmed, it's okay to say, "I can't right now." Delegate to others when possible, and ask for help when you need it.
You are making a difference. Whenever you question whether you're helping very much, remember the old parable about the man walking on the beach, picking up starfish who have washed ashore and tossing them gently, one by one, back into the ocean. Another man approaches, notices that there are starfish on the beach for as far as the eye can see, and asks, "What difference can you possibly make when there are so many?" Looking at the creature in his hand, the first man replies, "I can make all the difference in the world to THIS starfish."
Celebrate victories. There are happy endings to many rescue stories. Rejoice in what is working. Of course, seeing an animal go home with a loving family is the greatest reward of all.
Small kindnesses do count. It's common to think that small efforts don't mean as much as large victories, but stopping to pet an animal, even for just one minute is worth doing. Your touch may be the only friendly attention he or she receives that day. Grooming, holding and comforting, or intoning softly that you care, are activities that many shelters don't have time for.
Find outlets for emotional release. Rescue work can be physically exhausting, emotionally draining and spiritually challenging. Don't dismiss your feelings or think you're a wimp for being affected by it all. Talk to someone you trust about what you're experiencing. Cry when you need to. Write your feelings in a journal. Channel your emotions into action by
writing to the editor of your newspaper or your local representatives about the need for animal protection legislation.
Take care of yourself. Make time to do whatever makes you feel good. Take a relaxing bath, or go out to dinner and let someone else do the cooking. You need to recharge your batteries in order to maintain mental and physical health.
Don't downplay your compassion. When people ask me why I rescue animals, often I'm tempted to say, "Oh, it's not big deal" or "Somebody's got to do it," when in reality I rescue animals because I care so deeply about them. Compassion is healthy, normal and necessary for this work. Let people know how important this cause is to you. You just might inspire others to become involved.
Never give up. When you get discouraged, it is tempting to throw in the towel. Despite all your hard work, you may not see real change in your lifetime. Still, giving up won't make it any better. Take a break, and come back fighting. And remember the man and the starfish.
Coping With Emotions (From Best Friends) How can you cope with the emotions we all experience as animal rescuers? Clinical psychologist Dr. Linda Harper talks about understanding and managing emotions and explores how to transform passion into action to help the animals.
(An abused cat who lived with the writer for 2 months)
(S L Smith)
Too many years of badly bruised bones,
From the toe of a boot,
On an uncaring foot.
Two short sweet months in a warm caring home,
Full of salmon and cream,
That was once just a dream.
Enough time to know as your body grows cold,
That after ten years of hell,
Heaven exists on Earth, as well.
A Rescuer's Prayer
Now I lay me down to rest,
pray my soul can stand this test
Of watching critters lose a home,
While owners gripe and cry and moan.
I long for strength of spirit and
I pray they'll find a home again,
Where they will know a loving heart.
I can't do much, but its a start...
And spare me from the owner's pleas
About the baby's allergies,
Or how they're moving out of state,
Or spitefulness between cat and mate.
Please keep me sane while dealing with
The woman who bought as a gift,
A wriggling tiny ball of fluff
That now is playing way too rough.
Remind me I should bite my lip
When confronted with, "he grew too quick,"
"I didn't know he'd get so large,"
"He seems to think that he's in charge."
Protect my heart when I hear them say,
"I think we'll breed our dog one day."
Sometimes I think it'll break in two;
Each day brings trials harsh and new
And if I die before I wake,
I pray one hopeless soul you'll take.
My tears are gone, my faith is bare.
So please hear my rescue prayer.
The Four Phases
Written by: Douglas Fakkema
Those of us who work on behalf of, and who dedicate our lives to, animals go through four phases in our career evolution. As we are unique, so are our individual stories, but we all go through a similar process, and, if we survive that process, go on to understand that we have achieved what we wanted in the first place.
Red hot and raring to go, we are out to change the world. We are high on life. We know we can make a difference, that our efforts on behalf of animals will ease their plight. We work what seems like 25-hour days yet are energized. Our enthusiasm overflows, our capacity for challenges is limitless. We eat, sleep and live in the cause for animals. Our friends don't understand our obsession and turn away or just fade away, and we let them for we meet new ones. Some of us though don't make new friends, we're too busy working for animals. Some of us become loners with only our canine or feline companions to keep us from total isolation but we're content because we have a cause. In our zeal, we tend to affix simple solutions to complex problems - every animal should be sterilized or no animal should be euthanized. We're often late because we try to rescue animals from highways and streets. We think we understand the problem and we know we can fix it if only people would get out of our way.
Our phase one enthusiasm has turned sour, the bubble bursts and we crash and burn. We see the same people coming into the shelter with yet another litter - they haven't heard our message. We continue to euthanize, there seems no end to it. Even our friends - those we still have left - don't understand us. We can't seem to reach anyone. Animals are still abused and neglected, their plight seems unchanged despite all our efforts. We've lost the boundless energy that characterizes Phase One. We no longer wish to talk about work, don't even want to admit where we work. We're tired all the time. We go home from work, lock the doors, turn out the lights, turn off the answering machine and close the window blinds. We're too exhausted to cook so we scarf fast food, pizza, potato chips or chocolate. Some of us buy useless objects we can't afford. Some of us turn to alcohol for it takes away our feelings of hopelessness. We ignore our families and even our pets get less attention than we know is right. We seem powerless to affect any of the changes that drove us to such ecstacies of dedication in Phase One. We have become horrified by the work we have to do. Even our dreams are filled with the horror. Every animal we take in, every animal we euthanize is yet another nail in our coffin of defeat. Somehow we're to blame for all our failure and it's destroying us. Raise the shields Scotty, the Klingons are on our tail! Our shield gets thicker and thicker. It blocks the pain and the sadness and makes our life somehow tolerable. We continue on because every now and then we get a spark of Phase One energy.
Our phase two depression has turned outward and we're mad as hell. Hopelessness turns to rage. We begin to hate people, any people and all people unless, like our co-workers, they dedicate their lives to animals the way we do. We even hate our co-workers if they dare question us - especially about euthanasia. It occurs to us, let's euthanize the owners, not the pets. Let's take everyone who abuses an animal or even surrenders an animal and euthanize them instead. Our rage expands to our out-of-work life. That guy in front of us on the highway, the one who's in our way, euthanize him too. We rage at politicians, television, newspapers, our family. Everyone is a target for our anger, scorn and derision. We have lost our perspective and effectiveness. We're unable to connect with life. Even the animals we come in contact with seem somehow distant and unreal. Anger is the only bridge to our humanness. It's the only thing that penetrates our shield.
Gradually, and over time, the depression of Phase Two and the anger of Phase Three become replaced with a new determination and understanding of what our mission really is. It is big picture time. We realize that we have been effective - locally and in some cases regionally and even nationally. So we haven't solved the problem - who could - but we have made a difference with dozens, even hundreds and sometimes thousands of animals. We have changed the way others around us view animals. We begin to see our proper place in our own community and we begin to see that we are most effective when we balance our work and out-of-work lives. We realize that work is not our whole world and that if we pay attention to our personal lives, we can be more effective at work. We understand that some days we work 14 hours and some days we knock it off after only 8. We take vacations and we enjoy our weekends. We come back refreshed and ready to take on daily challenges. We see that all people are not bad. We understand that ignorance is natural and in most cases curable. Yes, there are truly awful people who abuse and neglect animals but they are a minority. We don't hate them. When we find them we do all we can to stop them from hurting animals. We recognize that the solutions are just as complex as the problems and bring a multitude of tools to the problem at hand and use them any way we can and we begin to see results - one small step at a time. We reconnect with the animals. Our shields come down. We understand that sadness and pain are a part of our job. We stop stuffing our feelings with drugs, food or isolation. We begin to understand that our feelings of anger, depression and sadness are best dealt with if we recognize them and allow them to wash over and past us. We recognize our incredible potential to help animals. We are changing the world. I've noticed that some people get frozen in Phase One (the zealots), or Two (the zombies), or Three (the misanthropes). Some shift back and forth between Two and Three and even between Four and Three or Four and Two. Many leave animal work during Phase Two or Three, never to return. Some seem to move rapidly to Phase Four, while for others it takes years and years. Some never get a sense of peace to go along with our purpose, they work their entire lives on the frantic pink cloud of phase one or depressed or angry. I know I've been in all four phases in 25 years in animal protection. Can the journey from Phase One to Four be speeded up? Can we avoid the pain, discomfort and agony that goes with the journey? I wish I knew.
A TAKER-IN OF STRAY CATS
God sends some of us a special mission
To take in stray kitty-cats in any condition,
To feed them and give them a permanent home,
To love them and make them our very own.
They chase through the house; their potty box smells;
They seem to have secrets they're unwilling to tell.
They play till exhausted, then curl in your lap,
And settle themselves for a long comfy nap.
Some people are called to great wealth and power,
To run corporations, make big bucks per hour,
But others of us are only asked,
To take in little stray kitty-cats.
I asked God for things of importance to do,
Other than loving a good man and a bunch of kitties too.
He said,"Don't be self-righteous;learn from your mistakes,
And be glad I send kitty-cats and not my stray snakes."
I dreamed when I died I heard St. Peter say,
"What important things did you do each day?"
I felt Heaven for me was an impossibility
And that I should have lived my life much differently.
Then God said, "Come in. Have food and some drink,
And sit here in Heaven by your little cat Tink;
For I gave you one of My most important tasks
When I asked you to be a taker-in of stray cats."
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO DO RESCUE?
Your rescue "kit" should include:
A heart of gold to accept those creatures that don't measure up as "perfect" in the eyes of the rest of the world.
The people skills of a salesperson. . . to convince those that are looking for perfection that they will find it in a rescue dog if they are willing to look a little deeper.
A heart of steel to be able to say no when there just isn't any more room for just one more dog.
The knowledge that you can't save them all.
The ability to smile and speak rationally when the 10th person for the day says "I don't want this stupid dog anymore. . . take him or I am gonna shoot him."
Some medical knowledge. . . or your rescue vet bill will be bigger than the national debt.
The fine art of fund raising. . . so your vet bill can be reduced to just under the size of the national debt.
Patience for: breeders who don't care, won't help, turn their backs and say it's not their problem.
Patience for: dogs that were incorrectly placed and come to rescue with so much excess baggage that you think they will never be adoptable.
Patience for: owners who want a quick fix.
Patience for: a world that no longer looks at life as a gift and the lives that we create as breeders as nothing short of miracles.
A sense of humor. . . because sometimes a smile on your face is the only way to hide the agony and turmoil in your heart.
A husband with housekeeping skills that are so outstanding that they could be highlighted in Good Housekeeping Magazine. . . so you can devote your time to all the rescues and be secure in the knowledge that the local Board of Health will not condemn your house.
Personal dogs that will tolerate the never ending stream of four legged orphans, waifs and street urchins that will start arriving the moment you say. . . "I have room."
Children that like being the "token" child to socialize every dog that comes thru the door. . . being able to say "good with kids" is a real selling point.
Magician skills so you can change anything that comes thru the door, from black tri male to long tail and brown eyes, into blue merle female, good with kids, housebroke, crate trained and obedience trained.
The ability to face the paperwork head-on and deal with it. . . or someone you can send it to and say. . . "Here, do something with this mess!"
Grooming skills for those ugly ducklings waiting for their chance to be a swan. . . with a little help from you.
I could go on but you probably get the picture. . . . None of us have all of these things but we all know that the business of rescue is a team effort. Each of us contribute what we can as a team member. Some of us cannot handle the dogs [or cats or birds or horses or rabbits or . . . ], but . . . there are other things that must be done.
Some only want to work with the dogs [themselves, or the cats or . . . ] . . . so. . . leave the paperwork to those that like it. No matter what your situation is. . . it is your willingness to help that is important. ~
A RESCUER’S CREED
[Susan M. Pearson]
I shall be a believer of all that is good in man and of all that is deserving in animals. I shall plead for their lives, campaign for their safety and uphold their right to a natural death. I shall seek out the injured and the maimed, the unloved, and the abandoned and tend to them in their last days. I shall not forget their place in the hierarchy of life, nor that we walk in each other's paths. I shall bear witness to the wonder they bring into our lives and to the beauty they bestow upon our souls. I shall renew their spirits when they are waning, bind their wounds when they bleed, cradle them when they whimper, and comfort them when they mourn. I shall be near them in their hour of greatest need - a companion and friend when the time has come. I shall watch over them and console them and ask that the angels gather them in their arms. From the creatures of the earth I shall learn the fruits of compassion and undying love, and I shall be called the beloved of God. In their company I shall indeed be blessed
[by Jim Willis, Author]
Our paths will cross for only a short time, but while you are in my care I will be devoted to you. If memories of your former life are painful, I will help erase them. No longer will you hunger and I will help to heal your wounds. If your former life was good, I will promise you an even better future.
One day our time together will come to an end and you will go off to your new home, healthy, happy and healed. As a parting gift, I will give you a piece of my heart to remember me by. I may shed a tear . . . not for my loss, but for your gain.
Perhaps our paths may cross again for a fleeting instant and I will be comforted by the aura of love that surrounds you. There will always be a bond between us, though we walk separate paths through this life.
After we reach our heavenly reward our paths may cross again. You may try to return the piece of my heart with thanks for all that I did for you. I will tell you to keep it and thank you for showing me that I could be better than I thought I could be, and that I learned in giving came the greatest gifts.
The pieces of our hearts are like grains of sand. They are pulled along a current beyond our control until they come together and form a safe haven.
I, like you, came to understand what it meant to be saved.
DEAR SANTA PAWS
Dear Santa Paws,
We’ve been told you have a list
And that you check it twice.
But we’ve been forgotten about before
And wanted you to know
We haven’t been naughty
Not even to the mice.
We are the garbage cats of the world
Thrown away, discarded like trash.
A heavy hand hurt some of us
While others simply got sick
And weren’t worthy of a vet invoice.
Taken to a place that looks like jail or
Pushed out of cars left alone to die
Somehow we ended up in Hell.
Terrified beyond belief
Till a human called a Rescuer
Looked into our lonely eyes
And saw the love beneath the pain
Gentle hands, kisses and eye hugs
Warm beds, full bowls, clean boxes.
We’ve been given a second chance!
But, oh Santa Paws, there something amiss
Our human, the Rescuer, has been crying in the night
We try to lick away the tears and paw away the fears
But there is someone called Bills
Causing all this misery and grief.
Surely in that big red bag
There is some sort of relief.
Help us Santa Paws, this is what we need,
Scoopable litter for our boxes
Wet and dry food for our tummies
Bleach to keep our beds clean
Money for our medicine and vet care
And heat to keep our house warm.
Won’t you please help us Santa Paws?
Take the toys to someone else.
We just want to live...
Warm beds, full bowls and happy health
Is all we ask for on this Christmas Eve.
Peaceful Paws On Earth!
The Senior Kittizens At Purrever Ranch
Written for with love and hope for all the homeless animals in the world.
By Francis Withim
Oh, what unhappy twist of fate
Has brought you, homeless, to my gate?
The gate where once another stood
To beg for shelter, warmth, and food.
For from that day I ceased to be
The master of my destiny.
While he, with purr and velvet paw
Became within my house, The Law.
He scratched the furniture and shed,
And claimed the middle of my bed.
He ruled in arrogance and pride,
And broke my heart the day he died.
So if you really think, oh cat,
I'd willingly relive all that
Because you come, forlorn and thin
Well, don't just stand there...come on in.
To you, from all your rescue cats...
I would've died that day if not for you.
I would've given up on life if not for your kind eyes.
I would've used my claws in fear if not for your gentle hands.
I would have left this life believing that all humans don't care
Believing there is no such thing as fur that isn't matted,
skin that isn't flea bitten, good food and enough of it, beds to sleep on,
someone to love me, to show me I deserve love just because I exist.
Your kind eyes, your loving smile, your gentle hands
Your big heart saved me...
You saved me from the terror of the pound,
Soothing away the memories of my old life.
You have taught me what it means to be loved.
I have seen you do the same for other cats like me.
I have heard you ask yourself in times of despair
Why you do it
When there is no more money, no more room, no more homes
You open your heart a little bigger, stretch the money a little tighter
Make just a little more room...to save one more like me.
I tell you with the gratitude and love that shines in my eyes
In the best way I know how
Reminding you why you go on trying.
I am the reason
The cats before me are the reason
As are the ones who come after.
Our lives would've been wasted, our love never given
We would die if not for you.
Do not weep for me when I am gone
Do not weep for me when I am gone
For I have friends in the great beyond.
All the little ones I used to feed
Will come to me in my time of need.
They will purr and bark in great delight,
And I will hold and hug them tight.
Oh what a great day that will be
When my furry friends all welcome me.
By: Richard Severo
by Jim Willis, Arthur & Rescuer
I looked at all the caged animals in the shelter...the cast-offs of human society.
I saw in their eyes love and hope, fear and dread, sadness, and betrayal.
And I was angry.
"God," I said, "this is terrible! Why don't you do something?"
God was silent for a moment, and then spoke softly,
"I have done something," was the reply. "I created you."
Rescue me not only with your hands but with your heart as well.
I will respond to you.
Rescue me not out of pity but out of love.
I will love you back.
Rescue me not with self-righteousness but with compassion.
I will learn what you teach.
Rescue me not because of my past but because of my future.
I will relax and enjoy.
Rescue me not simply to save me but to give me a new life.
I will appreciate your gift.
Rescue me not only with a firm hand but with tolerance and patience.
I will please you.
Rescue me not only because of who I am but who I'm to become.
I will grow and mature.
Rescue me not to revere yourself to others but because you want me.
I will never let you down.
Rescue me not with a hidden agenda but with a desire to teach me to trust.
I will be loyal and true.
Rescue me not to be chained or to fight but to be your companion.
I will stand by your side.
Rescue me not to replace one you've lost but to soothe your spirit.
I will cherish you.
Rescue me not to be your pet but to be your friend.
I will give you unconditional love.
by rita c wood
Most pass her by
Without a second thought.
Others say out loud
“What a pretty cat.”
She darts, she stares.
She swishes her tail.
Some say as if to care
“Oh, that poor cat”
To most she is just
A moment of concern
Then forgotten in the next.
To me, she is beautiful
Wild and free
Sharing her cat smile
To me, she is “Darling.”
Dedicated to People in Rescue
I wasn't a kitten when I came to your home,
I'd been dumped on the road, left to roam.
Don't remember the people except the pain.
They left me to die in the cold and the rain.
You were driving down the highway, it was late at night
When you saw the faintest glimmer of light.
You took a chance and turned around
Got out of the van and knelt to the ground.
My quivering body felt the gentlest of hands.
I knew I need not make any demands.
In your heart, and your home, there was always room
For those who would face certain doom.
You healed my body and you healed my heart.
You gave me what I needed, a fresh start.
When I cried at night, you were always there
With soft words, a kiss, a hug to share.
When I misbehaved and would cower with guilt
You only showed love.....up to the hilt.
You loved and cared for me in sickness and health
Our love for each other was more precious than wealth.
Even when you were tired and had a bad day
You'd always come home to me and say,
"I missed you my baby. I'm glad to be back."
Then you'd give me kiss, a hug and a pat.
We'd have a nice dinner then go and play
There was so much love I wanted to stay.
But my eyes, they faded and my heart grew weak
As my time grew closer you could not speak.
You held me tight, tears flowed from your eyes
We both had to say our sad goodbyes.
The release from pain we knew must end
No more time on this Earth would we spend
Running in the house,or playing with a ball
Sitting quietly together at the end of it all.
But our time together is not through
Because I'll be there, waiting for you
At the edge of the Rainbow Bridge I'll stand
Until I once again see those gentle hands.
I'll run to you with tail held high
We will never again have to say goodbye.
My love at death, it does not end
Because you are, indeed, a cat's best friend.
THOUGHTS FROM A STRAY
Will she be waiting when I call?
Sometimes I come in vain,
And sit for hours with folded paws
In sunshine and in rain.
It's not that I have other things
To do but wait and yet
I sometimes feel unhappy
In case she should forget.
For many years I've called each day
With hunger, thirst and hope,
She is the only friend I have
Who gives me strength to cope.
Although I've always lived alone,
And sleep beneath the sky,
I need to know that someone cares
If I should live or die.
THOUGHTS OF A FERAL
* Dedicated by the author to all the kind and caring people who give the lonely ferals a little care, a little love, and a little hope.
I sit beneath the bushes as she fills my dish each day,
I only venture out to eat when she has gone away,
I know it will upset her when I turn away and hide,
As every day she tries her best to get me by her side.
I wish that I could let her know that I don't want to run,
And hope that she will understand it's nothing that SHE's done.
I'd like to have her stroke me and pat my weary head,
But fear will overcome and I'll run and hide instead.
For all the kindly people who feed the strays each day,
I pray the Lord will care for them as they have cared for me.
Pussy cat, pussy cat where have you strayed?
I've been to the Shelter to get myself spayed.
Pussy cat, pussy cat please tell me why?
The cat sat down sadly and said with a sigh:
You may not have noticed, but all through the land,
The cat population is quite out of hand,
There are far too many, and so that is why,
People leave kittens by roadsides to die -
There is a solution to this situation,
We must limit the number of cats in the nation,
So I make this suggestion to all female pets,
Make spaying appointments with your local vets.
Cats refulgent, cats sublime,
Cats who live a life of crime,
Cats a'wauling, cats galore,
Cats a'plenty by the score,
Little leos leap on chairs,
Mighty moggies race upstairs,
Furry felines feel no fear -
Every cat is welcomed here
A GIFT OF GRACE
By S L Smith
"Fluffy's having kittens!" the children cry with glee,
Disturbing Fluffy's private hour, they crowd around to see.
Four fuzzy, living bundles, helpless, blind at birth,
Under Fluffy's tender gaze begin their life on earth.
A gift of life, a gift of grace,
Four tiny souls of Fluffy's race.
One day at dawn the owner wakes
And from the basket roughly takes,
Four squirming kittens, bellies round
With Fluffy's milk, four kittens drowned.
"Fluffy's having kittens!" the cry is heard elsewhere,
Unplanned, unwanted kittens are born into despair,
Six weeks they have with Fluffy, with mother's milk replete,
And then one howling stormy night - abandoned in the street.
Each year a million kittens, unplanned are given life,
Some to perish screaming, from the vivisector's knife,
Some to linger starving, turned out into the night,
To live their lives as ferals on the fringes of our sight.
In the humane shelters death comes with gentler hands,
To the million surplus kittens that arrive on earth, unplanned.
A gift of life, a gift of grace,
Unwanted souls of feline race.
THE MIRACLE OF LIFE
By Dr Barry Taylor, DVM
"Come quick, come quick," their mother said, "The time is getting near."
She feels that when the kittens come the children should be here,
She told them that a big orange tom took "Kitty" as his wife,
"It's wonderful, a gift from God, the miracle of life."
At half a year, young "Kitty" feels too painful and too scared,
To appreciate six miracles, blind-eyed and yellow-haired.
But she knows these lives depend on her and nature tells her how,
And as she cleans them, children ask, "Mom, can we go now?"
But now and then for six more weeks, the children visit her,
To play with six new magic toys made of life and fur.
The six weeks pass, the newness gone and new homes yet unfound,
Mom bundles up six miracles and takes them to the pound,
Where lovingly, with gentle hands and no tears left to cry,
The shelter workers kiss them once and take them off to die.
And "Momma Kitty" now she's called mourns her loss and then,
She's put outside, and of course, she's pregnant once again.
Dad tells "Kitty" "STOP THIS NOW or you won't live here long!"
But deep inside of Momma Cat, this time there's something wrong.
Too young, too small, too often bred, now nature's gone awry,
"Momma Kitty" feels it too and she crawls off to die.
She too is freed from this cruel world, and from her time of strife,
How harsh the truth, how high the price, this "Miracle of Life"?
Rescue Group Answering Machine Author unknown---
Hello: You have reached 123-4567, Tender Hearts Rescue. Due to the high volume of calls we have been receiving, please listen closely to the following options and choose the one that best describes you or your situation:
Press 1 if you think we are veterinarians and want free medical advice.
Press 2 if you know we are a rescue organization but want to save money and have us give you free, untrained medical advice anyway.
Press 3 if you make $200,000 a year but still want us to pay to spay the "stray" in your yard (house).
Press 4 if you have a 10-year-old dog or cat and your 15-year-old son has suddenly become allergic and you need to find the dog a new home right away.
Press 5 if you have dogs or cats, had a baby and want to get rid of your dogs.cats because you are the only person in the world to have a baby and dogs or cat at the same time.
Press 6 if your dog or cat is sick and needs a vet but you need the money for your vacation.
Press 7 if you just got a brand new puppy or kitten and your old dog or cat is having problems adjusting so you want to get rid of the old one right away.
Press 8 if your little puppy or kitten has grown up and is no longer small and cute and you want to trade it in for a new model.
Press 9 if you are elderly and want to adopt a cute puppy or kitten who is not active and is going to outlive you.
Press 10 if your relative has died and you don't want to care for their elderly dog or cat because it doesn't fit your lifestyle.
Press 11 if you are moving today and need to immediately place your 150- pound, 8-year-old dog or 10-year-old declawed, never-seen-a- vet cat with dental problems.
Press 12 if you want an unpaid volunteer to come to your home today and pick up the dog or cat you no longer want.
Press 13 if you have been feeding and caring for a "stray" for the last three years, are moving and suddenly determine it's not your dog or cat.
Press 14 if you are calling at 6 a.m. to make sure you wake me up before I have to go to work so you can drop a dog or cat off on your way to work.
Press 15 to leave us an anonymous garbled message, letting us know you have left a dog/cat in our yard in the middle of January, which is in fact, better than just leaving the dog/cat with no message.
Press 16 if you are going to get angry because we are not going to take your dog or cat that you have had for fifteen years, because it is not our responsibility.
Press 17 if you are going to threaten to take your ten year old dog or cat to be euthanized because we won't take it.
Press 18 if you're going to get angry because the staff had the audacity to go on vacation and leave the rescue in care of a trusted volunteer who is not authorized to take your personal pet.
Press 19 if you want one of our perfectly trained, housebroken, kid- and cat-friendly purebred tiny dogs that we have an abundance of.
Press 20 if you want us to take your dog that has a slight aggression problem, i.e. has only bitten a few people and killed your neighbor's cats.
Press 21 if you have already called once and been told we don't take personal surrenders but thought you would get a different person this time with a different answer.
Press 22 if you want us to use space that would go to a stray to board your personal dog while you are on vacation, free of charge, of course.
Press 23 if it is Christmas Eve or Easter morning and you want me to deliver an eight week old puppy or kitten to your house by 6:30 am before your kids wake up.
Press 24 if you have bought your children a duckling, chick or baby bunny for Easter and it is now Christmas and no longer cute.
Press 25 if you want us to take your female dog or cat who has already had ten litters, but you can't spay her because she is pregnant again and it is against your religion.
Press 26 if you're trying to make one of our younger volunteers feel bad and take your personal pet off your hands.
Press 27 if your cat is biting and not using the litter box because it is declawed, but are not willing to accept the responsibility that the cat's behavior is altered because of your nice furniture.
Press 28 if your two-year-old male dog is marking all over your house but you just haven't gotten around to having him neutered.
Press 29 if you previously had an outdoor-only dog or cat and are calling because she is suddenly pregnant.
Press 30 if you have done "everything" to housebreak your dog and have had no success but you don't want to crate the dog because it is cruel.
Press 31 if you didn't listen to the message asking for an evening phone number and you left your work number when all volunteers are also working and you are angry because no one called you back.
Press 32 if you need a puppy or kitten immediately and cannot wait because today is your daughter's birthday and you forgot when she was born.
Press 33 if your dog's or cat's coat doesn't match your new furniture and you need a different color or breed.
Press 34 if your new love doesn't like your dog or cat and you are too stupid to get rid of the new friend (who will dump you in the next month anyway).
Press 35 if you went through all these 'presses' and didn't hear enough.
This will connect you to the sounds of tears being shed by one of our volunteers who is holding a discarded old dog or cat while the vet mercifully frees him from of the grief of missing his family.
Your Old Cat
You bought a new house; you had a baby. You cat has been with you for years and is now old, perhaps incontinent, maybe a little grumpy, possibly having a bit of a problem getting around. Sometimes he doesn’t quite make it to the litterbox when he has to go and has an accident. All these things come with age and not necessarily just with your cat. It may happen to you someday as well.
In his youth, he gave you everything he had to offer. In his twilight years, you have no time. Now that he’s older he has many new things to offer that come with age. He is now wise. He is now grateful for all the things you help him with that he used to be able to do for himself. He tries so hard to be the youngster you remember but he can’t quite do it. And you – well you are getting tired of cleaning up his accidents, the more frequent trips to the vet so you delude yourself into thinking we can find him a better place than the place where he has spent most of his life – a new family who will have more time for him.
The grim reality is that if your cat is 7 or under, we can probably find him a new home. If he is 8 or 9 we can possibly find him a new home. If he is 10 or older, he will likely not be re-adopted. Don’t worry; we will not euthanize your cat. We will find somebody who will care for him until he dies. We will take care of his medical needs; we will take care of his emotional needs. If he is incontinent, we will work around it and if he needs medication we will see that he has it. He will live out his remaining few years in surroundings that he is not accustomed to and with people who for all of his many years, he never knew.
When the time comes to say good-bye, the foster home will gently take him and give him his final gift of freedom. And it will hurt, and they will cry because you see, they have come to love your old cat. They love him because they were privileged to share his wisdom, his zest for life and yes, his final moments. An old cat, despite his failing health, is a treasure and not one to be given away but kept and cherished.
This Old Cat
by Rita Wood, Founder
Imagine this old cat as a kitten
Bright eyes, alert & playful
Scampering thru the house
Without a care in the world
This old cat was loved
Snuggling up to her mistress
Whiskers safe in a warm palm
Motor purring, arm and tail as one
Without a care in the world
This old cat was loved.
Headbutts, kisses and eye hugs
Warm dishes of milk and plates of tuna
Little ways on special days
Without a care in the world
This old cat was loved.
Back of a hand strokes the face
Looking like no other lover
Cloudy eyes knowing without seeing
Without a care in the world
This old cat was loved.
Cold. Alone. Empty plates
Howling in the night she searches
Strange, rough hands tossed in a box
Without a care in the world
That this old cat was loved.
Imagine a heart breaking in heaven
Promises broken from a life she had given
Too busy in a brand new house
Without a care in the world
That this old cat was loved.
Cowered in a cold corner
Stainless steel in a bed of hell
Eager humans rush to pretty kittens
Without a care in the world
That this old cat was loved.
No tears are shed, they tried their best
No one wants an old, used cat
She purrs and pleads to ears unheard
Without a care in the world
That this old cat was loved
OK, so I'm not the perfect cat.
I might be too big, or too small; too vocal, or too quiet. I may also have some medical issues, and I don't have my complete medical history with me to explain what the problem may be or why. I may have been exposed to parasites: worms, fleas, ticks, or ear mites. I may have some kind of intestinal upsets, and I may not have perfect stools every time.
Behaviorally, I have a little baggage. I may not be able to walk right into your home perfectly well adjusted. I may take issue if there is another cat, dog or child, no matter what age or sex and may show my fear in a variety of ways. I may not love everyone immediately and I may not do exactly what you want in the beginning.
I may not be able to adapt to every situation. I may get confused about the litter box, and might even make a mistake, no matter what litter you use, where the pan is, or how often you clean it.
Emotionally? I may have some idiosyncrasies. I may nip, swat, hiss, put my ears back, hide, cower or tremble. I may look at you with fear, and distrust, and concern. It might take several months, or even a year before I can begin to trust again. I am one of society's throwaways.
Am I the cat you're looking for? If not, maybe you should look elsewhere. Please don't ask to take me to see if I "work out". I would rather stay at the shelter than be given one more reason to mistrust people again. I am one of a group of cats - a group that has been dumped in the shelters, booted out the doors, kicked, hit, beaten, yelled at, shot, cursed, thrown from moving cars... and left to fend on our own.
A group of cats that has learned that humans are NOT kind and society is NOT fair and life is NOT comfortable. A group of cats that didn't have good prenatal care, that don't know where our next meal is coming from, that have lived outside through hot and cold and dug through garbage to find enough to eat.
We are the cats that have been flea bitten and worm ridden and burned with hot oil. We are the cats who have been hit by cars and left for dead; who have swallowed stones and ribbons and had nothing but intestinal upsets; who have loose stools or who have stools that are so hard they can barely pass.
We have been told we were too loud, too messy, or we didn't match the new furniture. We have been chased by dogs, had our tails pulled by kids, and been bullied by other cats. Some of us have never known a litter box, let alone a clean one. We have watched our loving family drive off one day without a backward glance after 15 years. We have been replaced after ten years with a new puppy.
We look at you with big round eyes full of fear and terror, and occasionally hatred, and yes, deep down, with a little hope. We are the cats in Rescue. Why, then, would anyone possibly want one of us?
The reasons are endless. We need you. We deserve to be loved, to have a second chance, to learn how to trust again. We have been at the mercy of our surroundings; it is up to you to care for us. You, as part of the race that has caused our hardships. Perhaps you owe it to us to care.
You should be setting examples for the next generation. That this should not be a throwaway society that we can and should be doing something about it. We can be your FAMILY members, members who share in your joys, your sorrows, your misfortunes and your luck. We are here when you need someone to talk to, to comfort, and to be comforted. We lick your tears and pat your face and snuggle under your chin.
We like you for you, and we ask so little from you. A pat, a scratch, the toss of a ball, a kind word. We repay you with loyalty and adoration and faithful friendship. You may have to earn it, this is true, and we may be so damaged by our previous experiences that we'll never be "The Perfect" cat, but the appreciation that emanates from our eyes; the love that we share when we realize we are safe, secure, and home forever, is a gift that cannot be bought. We have seen rough times, yes, but if we are willing to give you a second chance, why won't you give us one?
Do You Remember Me?
I remember when you loved me, when you held me in your arms and snuggled me.
I remember when you stroked me and kissed me and told me how handsome I was.
I remember how you used to brush my coat and wipe me down with a soft cloth.
I remember sleeping next to you in a big bed, lying on your pillow beside your sweet smelling hair.
I remember the toys you bought me, how you played with me; oh! What joyful fun!
I remember how every morning I would purr and gently touch your cheek with my soft paw to awaken you.
I remember your sweet smile, and how you would sing out "good morning, my precious", when your eyes opened.
I remember the delicious food you used to give me, how there was always plenty to eat.
I remember how very much I loved you, adored you, worshiped you!
Do you remember me?
I remember when you brought the man home and introduced him to me.
I remember that you said he was your husband; that you loved him and that he would love me, too.
I remember that the man did not smell like a cat lover, but that if you loved him, then I would try to love him, too.
I remember that the man was loud and he would frighten me with his hard footsteps.
I remember that the man was not cruel to me, but indifferent to me as I begged him to stroke me.
I remember when the man said cats do not belong in the bedroom and then I no longer was allowed
to sleep on your pillow.
I remember how I missed awakening you every morning.
Do you remember me?
I remember when you came home one day with a sweet smelling bundle in your arms.
I remember you held it gently, snuggled it closely and told me that it was your baby and that you loved it.
I remember thinking that if you loved it, I would love it, too.
I remember being curious about it and sniffing if often, for it smelled like you, but it was small like me.
I remember the man being fearful as I sniffed the baby. The man said that I would hurt the baby.
I remember being put outside, where I had never been before, and it scared me so badly!
I remember sitting on the porch, crying and begging you to let me back inside.
I remember that you never came to the door to let me in.
I remember that night when the other cats came, they watched me from the darkness and hissed at me.
I remember that I was so afraid they would hurt me; I had no claws and could not defend myself!
I remember huddling miserably against the door at night; afraid, and lonely.
I remember the man saying that I kept him awake at nights with my cries, so I had to go away.
I remember you putting me into a box, and that you would not even meet my eyes.
Do you remember me?
I remember being tossed from the moving car, box and all; and how much it hurt hitting the hard ground.
I remember escaping from the box and having no idea at all as to where I was; where you were.
I remember waiting there, for days, hoping you would come and save me.
I remember being hungry, thirsty, lost, alone, and afraid.
I remember looking for food, being so hungry, rummaging in garbage cans for something to eat.
I remember other cats chasing me, scratching me, and biting me because I was in their territory.
I remember trying to find you; scent you on the breeze!
And I could not sense you anywhere.
I remember running and looking for you; running until my paws bled.
I remember how my once glossy coat became matted and dull;
my once robust body, gaunt from hunger.
I remember the monster with the very bright eyes as it swooped down upon me in the road.
I remember the pain, the horrible pain and the feel of my blood as it ran from my mouth.
I remember not being able to move; my legs did not work anymore.
I remember needing you more than I had ever needed you before in my life.
And yet you did not come.
I remember how very much I loved you as I lay there dying alone, afraid, and in terrible pain.
Do you remember me?
Written by Tiger
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Average Idiot
We receive an extremely high volume of inquiries and requests to accept surrendered animals. To help us expedite your problem as quickly as possible, please observe the following guidelines:
1. Do not say that you are, "considering finding a good home," or, "feel you might be forced to," or, "really think it would be better if," you unloaded the poor beast. Ninety-five percent of you already have your minds stone-cold made up that the animal will be out of your life by the weekend or holiday at the latest. Say so. If you don't, I'm going to waste a lot of time giving you common-sense, easy solutions for very fixable problems, and you're going to waste
a lot of time coming up with fanciful reasons why the solution couldn't possibly work for you. For instance, you say the cat claws the furniture, and I tell you about nail-clipping and scratching posts and aversion training, and then you go into a long harangue about how your husband won't let you put a scratching post in the family room, and your ADHD daughter cries if you use a squirt bottle on the cat, and your congenital thumb abnormalities prevent you from using nail scissors and etc., etc. Just say you're getting rid of the cat.
2. Do not waste time trying to convince me how nice and humane you are. Your co-worker recommended that you contact me because I am nice to animals, not because I am nice to people, and I don't like people who "get rid of" their animals. "Get rid of," is my least favorite phrase in any language. I hope someone, "gets rid of" you someday. I am an animal advocate, not a people therapist. After all, you can get counsellors, special teachers, doctors, social workers, etc., for your ADHD daughter. Your pet has only me, and people like me, to turn to in his or her need, and we are overworked, stressed-out, and demoralized. So don't tell me this big long story about how, "We love this dog so much, and we even bought him a special bed that cost $50, and it is just killing us to part with him, but honestly, our maid is just awash in dog hair every time she cleans, and his breath sometimes just reeks of liver, so you can see how hard we've tried, and how dear he is to us, but we really just can't ... ."
You are not nice, and it is not killing you. It is, in all probability, literally killing your dog, but you're going to be just fine once the beast is out of your sight. Don't waste my time trying to make me like you or feel sorry for you in your plight.
3. Do not try to convince me that your pet is exceptional and deserves special treatment. I don't care if you taught him to sit. I don't care if she's a beautiful Persian. I have a waiting list of battered and/or whacked-out animals who really need help, and I have no room to shelter your pet because you decided you no longer have time for your 14-year-old Lab. Do not send me long messages detailing how Fido just l-o-v-e-s blankies and carries his favorite blankie everywhere, and oh, when he gets all excited and happy, he spins around in circles, isn't that cute? He really is darling, so it wouldn't be any trouble at all for us to find him a good home. Listen, we can go down to the pound and count the darling, spinning, blankie-loving beasts on death row by the dozens, any day of the week. And, honey, Fido is a six-year-old shepherd-mix weighing 75 pounds. I am not lying when I tell you big, older, mixed-breed, garden-variety dogs are almost always completely unadoptable, and I don't care if they can whistle Dixie or send smoke signals with their blankies. What you don't realize, though you're trying to lie to me, you're actually telling the truth: Your pet is a special, wonderful, amazing creature. But this mean old world does not care. More importantly, you do not care, and I can't fix that problem.
All I can do is grieve for all the exceptional animals who live short, brutal, loveless lives and die without anyone ever recognizing they were indeed very, very special.
4. Finally, just, for God' s sake, for the animal's sake, tell the truth, and the whole truth. Do you think if you just mumble your cat is, "high-strung," I will say, "Okey-doke! No problem!" and take it into foster care? No, I will start asking questions and uncover the truth, which is your cat has not used a litter box in the last six months. Do not tell me you "can't" crate your dog. I will ask what happens when you try to crate him, and you will either be forced to tell me the symptoms of full-blown, severe separation anxiety, or else you will resort to lying some more, wasting more time.
And, if you succeed in placing your pet in a shelter or foster care, do not tell yourself the biggest lie of all: "Those nice people will take him and find him a good home, and everything will be fine." those nice people will indeed give the animal every possible chance, but if we discover serious health or behavior problems, if we find that your misguided attempts to train or discipline him have driven him over the edge, we will do what you are too immoral and cowardly to do: We will hold the animal in our arms, telling him truthfully he is a good dog or cat, telling him truthfully we are sorry and we love him, while the vet ends his life. How can we be so heartless as to kill your pet, you ask?
Do not ever dare to judge us.
At least we tried. At least we stuck with him to the end. At least we never abandoned him to strangers, as you certainly did, didn't you? In short, this little old rescuer/foster momma has reached the point where she would prefer you tell it like it is:
"We picked up a free pet in a parking lot a couple of years ago. Now we don't want it anymore. We're lazier than we thought. We've got no patience either. We're starting to suspect the animal is really smarter than we are, which is giving us self-esteem issues. Clearly, we can't possibly keep it. Plus, it might be getting sick; it's acting kind of funny.
"We would like you to take it in eagerly, enthusiastically, and immediately. We hope you'll realize what a deal you're getting and not ask us for a donation to help defray your costs. After all, this is an (almost) pure-bred animal, and we'll send the leftover food along with it. We get it at the discount store, and boy, it's a really good deal.
"We are very irritated you haven't shown pity on us in our great need and picked the animal up already. We thought you people were supposed to be humane! Come and get it today. No, we couldn't possibly bring it to you; the final episode of 'Survivor' is on tonight."
VOICE OF THE VOICELESS
So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind
Is all the sad world needs.
I am the voice of the voiceless;
Through me the dumb shall speak,
Till the deaf world's ear be made to hear
The wrongs of the wordless weak.
From street, from cage and from kennel,
From stable and zoo, the wail
Of my tortured kin proclaim the sin
Of the mighty against the frail.
Oh shame on the mothers of mortals,
Who have not stooped to teach
Of the sorrow that lies in dear, dumb eyes,
The sorrow that has no speech.
The same force formed the sparrow
That fashioned man the king;
The God of the whole gave a spark of soul
To furred and feathered thing.
And I am my brother's keeper
And I will fight his fight,
And speak the word for beast and bird,
Till the world shall set things right.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919)
A RESCUER'S PRAYER
by Jim Willis
I am the tie that binds,
the hands which heal,
the soul of compassion,
the heart which feels.
I am the wind of change,
the waters of truth,
and the Saved Innocents,
shall remain my proofs.
In the face of doubt,
mine are the eyes which wept,
over that which I saw,
over the promises kept.
Oh, the tears I've shed,
over the cries, the yelps,
bless generosity shown,
by those who helped.
In a world gone blind,
in a time of woe,
we live and die,
by the love we show.
True, they lack a voice,
and are spared our mind,
but all the more reason
to be more kind.
I had the best intentions,
though I sometimes failed,
in the presence of cruelty,
it was I who paled.
Yes, I grew disheartened,
I was sometimes perplexed,
I announced often, "I quit!"
and then asked, "Who's next?"
Yet I always believed
in precious truths from above,
and I never discounted
the Power of Love.
And the years they passed,
with each more I learned,
and I gave them shelter,
who'd been callously spurned.
I restored their hope,
and I calmed their fears,
I granted them a future,
amidst my own tears.
I ask for nothing
that'd be considered "reward,"
I shared their joy,
thankful to have kept my word.
But if I should be granted
one gift for my care,
when I finally cross over,
Lord, may some greet me there!
I JUST WANTED YOU TO KNOW
By Renée Humphries
To every animal that has never known a belly rub, a kiss on the nose or a tender caress
To every animal that has died alone, cold, hungry and forgotten
To every animal that has been tossed aside as nothing more than a soulless, unfeeling object
To every animal that has suffered indignity, rejection, abuse and neglect
To every animal that has been robbed of a life free of pain and full of love
To every animal that has never felt a hug
To every animal that has experienced pain, fear and anguish in the name of advancement and humanity
To every animal whose life seemed without purpose
To every animal whose world has never extended beyond a 6-foot chain
To every animal that has never known a soft, warm bed
To every animal that has never known safety and security
To every animal that has had to scavenge to feed her babies
To every animal that has been bred, exploited or killed for profit
To every animal that has been condemned to live in squalor
To every animal that has never known a food dish or a fresh, clean bowl of water
To every animal that has been made to feel worthless and unwanted
To every animal that has been slaughtered
To every animal that has never felt the contentment to purr or wag their tail
To every animal that has died in pain
To every animal that never even had a name
>To every animal that has ever known anything less than pure, unconditional love
To every animal that has lived his last days alone, in a cold, steel cage
To every animal that has had nowhere to go, nowhere to turn
To every animal that has had to fight to survive
To every animal that has been beaten, shamed, tormented or abandoned
I just wanted you to know
I love you
I have always loved you
I will always love you
I know you are more than your body
I know you have a soul
I know you feel pain
I know you feel love
I know you suffer and I know you feel joy
I love you for who you are, as you are, without exception
My heart and soul know you
I feel you every waking moment of every day
I hear your cries and I feel your desperation
My love for you knows no boundaries
It doesn’t matter that you peed on the floor or chewed up the couch
It doesn’t matter that you are tattered, scruffy and worn
I feel the love in your heart
I see the depth in your eyes
You are as much a part of God as a sunrise
I love you little ones
Every last one
THE POPE & THE HOMELESS CATS: John Paul II had a dream
By: J.R. Hyland
The first time I read the account of Pope John Paul II's dream, the thing that surprised me most was the fact that it was included in the book GOD'S BROKER. Published in 1984, the book was the result of two hundred hours of conversation with the Pope. These interviews began soon after the author, Anton Gronowicz, was introduced to the Pope in 1979, and continued for two years, in the Pontiff's apartment at the Vatican
An American citizen of Polish descent, Gronowicz was the longtime friend of many highly-place churchmen. And in the prologue to his book, he explains how he was able to circumvent Vatican bureaucracy. "Stefan Cardinal Wyszynski, Primate of Poland, introduced me to the Pope, acquainted me with Vatican circles and convinced the Holy Father that he should bypass the Vatican department of State and grant me private interviews."
Subtitled "The Life of John Paul II as told in His Own Words" the subject matter of the book ranges from reminiscences of the time when the Pope was known as Karol Wojtyla, a young man living under the Nazi occupation of Poland, to his reflections on social justice issues, theology and church doctrine. And in the midst of these human-centered concerns, the author devotes four pages to a dream the Pope related to him, about a homeless cat.
This surprising interpolation might lead to the conclusion that the author understood the significance of the dream: that he was sensitive to the plight of God's other creatures and the way they are abused. But the comments he makes as the Pontiff relates his dream, indicate he had little understanding of the implications of what he was being told. But from the way in which this dream preserved its vigor and immediacy, so many years later, it is obvious that it was very important to John Paul; and he fully understood its implications.
In his dream, John Paul follows a homeless mother cat who was trying to find food and shelter for herself and her kittens. She is turned away by those who lack nothing, themselves, and by men who represent the various faces of established Christianity.
The dream took place in 1969 the night before the Pope, known then as Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, was to visit New York City for the first time. It was late summer and he had been touring Canada. He spoke of the beauty of its fields and forests and how he had wished for more time to walk in woods vibrant with color and with his "ears filled with the songs and voices of animals."
In the midst of this discussion of Canada, the Pope abruptly changed the subject and said: "The night before my departure from Canada to New York, which I had never seen, I had a strange dream." But his dream was not of beautiful forests, warm with the summer sun. It was of a crowded city, frigid with the cold of a northern winter. And although he had never been there, his dream captured the way Manhattan looks and feels, after a major snow storm.
"It was a terribly severe winter in New York, the city was completely covered with snow. Inhabitants were well-off and warmly dressed, and walking slowly along roads because cars, due to mountains of snow, could not be operated. I was happy that I could walk on top of the snow on avenues of white.
"All my physical effort was spent on walking. To this day, pictures of huge apartment houses on both sides of the avenue are instilled in my mind, and the doormen quickly closing and opening entrance doors as though trying to prevent humanity and warmth from escaping.
"On top of the snow, I noticed a brown cat emerge from a side street and walk on the snow. I looked closer, and to my surprise, saw that this big cat was being followed by six small brown-and- white kittens, all of them following the big brown cat in a perfect line. The mother cat looked back from time to time to see if her babies were there, but her main concern was to reach the entrance door. I presumed she was trying to find warmth for herself and her children, but as soon as she reached the door, a man in a well-pressed uniform, jumped at her with a broom and chased them away. I followed this procession and prepared to deliver a speech to the doorman. I opened my mouth and tried to complain, 'Where is your proverbial American generosity? Where is your American good heart and fair play? Let them in. Let them in!!
"I tried to speak, but the words would not come out. Maybe I was afraid of the doorman with the broom. I started searching my cassock pockets for a piece of bread, found some crumbs and put them on my palms, calling: 'Kitty, kitty, kitty.' But the words would not come from my supposedly intelligent mouth. Instead, the wind blew the crumbs from my palm and I said, 'what can I do? I can't speak to the cats. I can't speak to the doorman. But there are many hungry birds. They might pick up the crumbs.'
"Again, I walked after the cats, now with a pain in my chest, feeling tremendous cold. On the left I saw a church building and thought,'There we will find help.' I heard singing and again, the idea occurred to me that it must be a Catholic church. The music grew louder, as though trying to convince God that they were praying to Him.
The mother cat jumped in front of me and climbed the stairs, followed by her kittens. I raised my head and saw a tall Jesuit priest chasing the cats off the steps. But as I was about to shout at the Jesuit 'I am a cardinal!' and give an order to accept the cats, the mother cat and her offspring ran behind the church, because from there came the appetizing aroma of food. Probably there was a kitchen there. But a second Jesuit appeared at the kitchen door and scared the cats away. They returned to the avenue and started walking north.
"They walked on the same side of the avenue as the Jesuit church and I followed. Then they reached an imposing red brick church. An Anglican bishop appeared and said to the cats, 'My dear animal children, please go immediately to the animal shelter. There is food for you there. We Anglican clergy donate lots of money to the animal shelter, every year, at Christmas time.'
"The mother cat and her kittens didn't even meow. They knew the authoritative voice of the Anglican bishop. They walked uptown and gradually the luxurious buildings disappeared, together with the doormen, and we saw drab dilapidated apartments.
"As they walked and the buildings grew shabbier and dirty, a door was opened, not by a doorman but by an old wrinkled woman in a cotton dress. [She saw the cats] and shouted 'Oh, little mother,' and when she opened her mouth I saw she had few teeth. She gently ushered the mother cat and kittens inside, who jumped happily about because the warmth of the house embraced them."
The narrative ended as the cats found a safe haven with the woman who had little enough, herself. When the Pope concluded his dream the author to whom he related it did not make any comment on what had been said. But he did write that "I had never seen such a sad expression on the face of this man." Considering that this was the same man who had related the horrors of his young manhood, under Nazi occupation, the author's remark shows the deep impact this dream had on the Pope.
If the Pontiff offered a commentary on his dream, Anton Gronowicz does not share it with the reader. But we are told that John Paul began to recite the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. "Lord make me an instrument of thy peace, where there is hatred let me sow love...where there is darkness, light and where there is sadness, joy.
Many years after Cardinal Wojtyla had his dream, and had become Pope John Paul II, he made a pilgrimage to Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis. In the Message of Reconciliation he delivered there, the Pontiff spoke of the Saint's love for animal, as well as human, beings. And he likened that inclusive love to an anticipation of the Peaceable Kingdom, envisioned by the Prophet Isaiah; a world in which all God's creatures will live in peace with each other.
The Pope also said that the "solicitous care, not only towards men, but also towards animals and nature in general" which St. Francis demonstrated, is "a faithful echo of the love with which God in the beginning pronounced his 'fiat' which brought them into existence." And, the Pope added, "we, too, are called to a similar attitude."
Some who read these remarks are surprised to find in them such strong support of God's other creatures. They are surprised to hear the Pope refer to the lives of animals as a manifestation of God's love: lives that deserve our "solicitous care." But I was not surprised. By the time I came across a copy of the message he gave at Assisi, I had read "God's Broker" and the lengthy account of the Pope's dream. And I knew that if John Paul II had not wanted this very revealing dream to be published, it would never have appeared in print.
So in spite of the policies and pronouncements of churchmen of the same, or other persuasions, who try to denigrate the value and the importance of the lives of God's other creatures, we know that John Paul II had a dream. And although men of lesser vision and lesser spiritual development have closed their hearts and their minds to the needs of other creatures, John Paul has given witness to a need for the "solicitous care, not only of men, but of animals."
In this witness, the Pope is being true to the Gospel message in which Jesus also gave witness to the need for the solicitous care of all beings: "I tell you, whenever you refused to help one of these least important ones, you refused to help me."(Matthew 25:45 TEV