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Norwich Bulletin - 11/22/2009

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is a very emotional time for me. On the one hand, I lost my mother and my father on separate Thanksgivings, so it is always a little sad. On the other hand, some of our family’s best memories happened during this time of year. And, of course, I have so very much to be thankful for.

I have my wonderful husband who has always been by side during every rescue, every hello, and every goodbye we have had to say to our pets, and he loves the animals as much as I do. I could not ask for more. My oldest daughter Heather, who lives in California with her Partner Lori, did her first rescue at the age of 14, with a feral cat under her bed giving birth. She continues to do rescue today out in the desert, and is experiencing all the pain and joy that is involved with this type of work.

My youngest daughter Ally, who works for our President in Washington DC, never complained when I missed dinners or movies, or a promised shopping spree due to a rescue. She never complained when I was on the phone with someone who needed my help while everyone else ate dinner – I ate mine cold many a time. But my family has always been there for me and in fact, they are all proud of me – and I am so thankful I have them.

The Thanksgiving I remember best was the one when many years ago we invited all of our volunteers to dinner to celebrate with us as a family. Just as the turkey came out of the oven, I received a call from an animal control officer in another city. 45 cats and kittens had been left in a cage in the woods. They had no place to put them and they were going to have to euthanize if the rescues could not take them.

Would Helping Paws be willing to take some? Without hesitation every one of my volunteers got up from the table and we went on our way. My two girls put away the food and waited. It was a long wait. We were the only rescue that responded and we were in the position of having to choose which cats and kittens we would take and which would be left to die. None of us could do that, so we took them all. Dirty, hungry and some sick – they all came home with us and we made a basement infirmary. We washed them all, put frontline on them, medicated them and fed them. And then we ate dinner around 11 p.m. It was one of the best Thanksgivings I can remember. And with the help of the media, every one of those cats got a new forever home.

Even though I don’t do those types of rescues anymore (we all get old and burnt out eventually), we still help other people to do them – and I am thankful that there are new people willing to take on this never ending task. And it will never end until people, towns and cities start taking responsibility for the cats.

I have the best cats in the world – some are shy and only come out when Clint and I are home alone – some are feral and live in the courtyard where they are safe and free; but most are in your face, on your lap, on your shoulders or on your head if you happen to be trying to sleep. I have also been lucky enough to have Milo, the cat of my heart – and Merlot – the cat of my soul. Very few people have both. I am so thankful these two cats came into my life as they changed my family. Milo was the inspiration for Helping Paws, and Merlot was the reason we began to raise Abyssinians. They were the reason we started to show cats and led both Clint and I to become cat show judges. It’s amazing what these two little cats did – they completely changed our lives.

And I have always had great dogs. Jennifer, my German Shepherd, will always remain that special dog. Kenya was so good with my girls and was with us the whole time they were growing up – and our goofy Dogo Argentino Daisy, loves us without conditions.

When I go to sleep this Thanksgiving night I will say thank you for the wonderful people I have and have had in my life – my incredible family – and the dogs and cats who have made me who I am today. I hope all of you will do the same. Happy Thanksgiving.

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