My mom is out of ICU. Be back when I can.
My mom had a heart attack yesterday. I will be not be blogging or visiting until we get to the other side of this. Keep the word going about our Winnie's Wishers, including the newest little guy Mickey. I will check email and blog comments occasionally for any interest in adoptions.
Before I post about today’s “subject”, I want to share a couple of other things with you. The comments that came in about Jane and about Tulip made me feel SO connected to you. I know how much you guys care when I’ve got a sick or dying one. You always send your supportive comments and emails and it is such a blessing. In the last two days, as I’ve posted the wonderful news about Jane and about Tulip, your comments have reminded me yet again of what amazing, sincere, genuine CARING people you are. I started copying and pasting the comments I wanted to mention in this post, and I got tickled because I scrolled back up and I had copied nearly every comment that had come in. There were comments about tears of joy and relief and happy dances. You guys told me that I had made your day with the news. You have to REALLY care to write the things you did. And you couldn’t have done that unless it REALLY mattered to you. You never cease to amaze me. I’m SO glad you are on this journey with me.
Next, I want to mention some gifts that have arrived here for the dogs and cats of the daily dose. I will start with Mindy Slimmer. You all know her. She recently sent a package to our “shelter” dogs, a package to the Winnie’s Wish kitties, and had a prize she won in a contest sent to us.
First. Thank you so much for the comments yesterday about Jane. I'm still SO happy about the outcome of her surgery.
Check out my sidebar. Notice any changes?
Last week, Younger Daughter started her summer college classes. One of the classes is a technology class. Her first assignment in the class was to send an email to her professor with a link to a website embedded in the email. The website had to be active. So Younger Daughter completed her assignment using the address for my blog. She said - Might as well get it out there whenever we can. Her professor clicked on the link to make sure the student (Younger Daughter) had done it properly, and there was my blog.
The day after Younger Daughter sent the assignment, I received an email from her professor.
I am the instructor for the classes that your daughter is taking this summer. As part of one of her assignments, she posted a link to your blog. We had decided just this last week to look for a cat, preferably not a kitten. So I was excited to see your site. We are interested in Tulip. Is she still available? Thank you for the information.
I thought I might faint. ANY interest in a Winnie’s Wish kitty is amazing, but TULIP!!! One of my fears has been that she might NEVER get adopted because she doesn’t get along with other cats. Here is this wonderful, loving (to people), beautiful cat who might never get a home because pretty much anybody looking to adopt already has a kitty or two at home. I shot off an email to the professor (R) explaining about Tulip and how she really didn’t like other cats. Of course, I knew she had already read about her on the blog, but I wanted to be sure she understood about this particular characteristic. Yes, she understood. They have a coon dog and no other cats. They have had cats in the past. Now they were looking to add just one cat to their family. It couldn’t be more perfect.
We talked more over the next two days and it became apparent that this would be the perfect home for Tulip. R lives close enough to make the trip to our place. So we set our date - last Thursday afternoon. I posted on Thursday morning that I had something really good happening that day. Before our arranged time arrived, I went to the cathouse to say my goodbyes to Tulip. I took a cat carrier with me because R planned to use it to transport Tulip home. She would be back in the area within the next few days and would return the carrier. I set the carrier in the floor, and sat down for Tulip to climb into my lap. She hissed a couple of times at Glitter and popped Frosting on the head and then jumped onto the couch with me. We talked and I explained things to her. Then I heard a commotion in Winnie’s Room so I went to see what was up. Turns out Frosting had gotten really excited watching Mitts play with a spring toy and in her haste to join the fun, she fell off of the window ledge. When I went back into the blue room, this is what I saw.
Uh-huh. It would have been unbelievable except I got pictures of it. Tulip loaded herself into the carrier. Evidently she decided that what I had told her was exactly what she was looking for. When R got there, Tulip greeted her (as did Frosting, of course) and I went over Tulip’s medical record. Within minutes Tulip had loaded herself back into the carrier. We decided that must mean it was time to go.
I heard from R that evening and again yesterday. Tulip is VERY happy in her new home. She has had virtually NO adjustment period. She made herself at home almost immediately. R and her husband are very happy with Miss Tulip. And I am very happy about that!
Over a month ago, I noticed an enlarged area on the back of Jane’s right leg. I took her to the vet and asked if it might be a snake bite or bee sting. The vet I saw wasn’t sure. I was given a round of antibiotics. I asked if hot packing might help and was told it wouldn’t hurt. So I brought Jane home, moved her into a run at the kennel, and started antibiotics and hot packs. Two weeks later, when the antibiotics were gone, and the area was no better, I took her back to the vet. I got a different vet this time. No, he didn’t think it was a snake bite. It looks like a hematoma. No need to do anything really. These things usually open on their own and drain. If it opens, watch it. We might want to do another antibiotic at that time to assure it doesn’t become infected. But really no need to hot pack. It will either open or it won’t. Or it will begin to shrink on its own. Another dog of ours had a hematoma on his ear once. It did in fact open up and drain on its own. He was on antibiotic and all went well. So having had Jane to the vet twice for this, I left for vacation and hoped for the best. When we returned, I thought the “hematoma” on Jane’s leg looked bigger. I thought maybe I was imagining it since I hadn’t seen it for several days. I hoped it would start to get smaller or open up and begin to drain. Then last Thursday morning I was feeding and I noticed a small smear of blood on Jane’s foot. I got down close and looked at the “hematoma”. Yes, there was a small opening and it was draining. Well, I couldn’t actually see that it was draining but obviously it now finally would. I decided to go ahead and call the vet sometime on Friday to see about an antibiotic. Rather be safe than sorry.
But on Thursday evening when I was feeding again, I nearly went into shock at what I found. The opening was huge now. It looked like the flesh had peeled back on what could only be described as a “mass”. It scared me. I called the after-hours number and talked to the on-call vet. Didn’t sound like a hematoma anymore. I got an appointment for Friday.
By the time our appointment rolled around, I was a wreck. This thing looked ugly. I had never actually seen a tumor, but I just knew that’s what this was. The vet took one look and confirmed my fears. Yes. A tumor. He looked back through the file at the previous two diagnoses. Then he called my wonderful Dr. A in for a second opinion. They examined and agreed that this was a tumor. It appears that it started in the joint of the leg and grew out from there. Because it was not a surface kind of growth, it could not be easily removed. I was told that there was a very high likelihood that the leg would have to be amputated. There probably wouldn’t be any way to get at the deeper parts of the tumor if it extended from within the joint.
They went to look at the schedule book. Dr. A could do the surgery on Monday. The other vet asked me how I would feel about amputation. Dr. A looked over at me and smiled. She knew what I would say. That is fine with me if that’s what will save my Jane. Do whatever you have to do to give her the best shot at recovery. We discussed the fact that Jane is ten years old. That wasn’t so great for this kind of radical surgery. But we didn’t have a choice.
I spent most of the weekend worrying. This was the year of transition. The plan was to bring Jane and Tarzan (and Muffin and Mandy) into our own family pack. I was looking forward to having them a little closer - this would provide even more opportunity for hugs, conversation, and connection. I thought about what I went through with Waggles. I didn’t want this to be the beginning of the end for Jane. I wanted her to have the opportunity to live as a full-fledged family member for the next several years.
Yesterday morning early, Jane was delivered to the clinic. In the early afternoon I saw Dr. A’s cell phone number on my caller ID. Oh. What would I hear in that message? My mind had taken me everywhere during the morning - even to the place where I might be told that when they opened Jane up, the cancer had spread everywhere and nothing could be done. I listened to the message - I was to call for the report. I had a conversation with Dr. S who had been in surgery with Dr. A. Dr. S told me that the surgery went well, and that Dr. A was suturing now. And then she told me this. When Dr. A got in there, she decided to see how far we could get, like how much of the tumor we could reach. What happened was that the tumor sort of peeled out as she worked. She decided not to amputate because we were able to get so much of the tumor out. Of course, you can’t know about the microscopic pieces of the tumor that might have been left behind. But we felt like at Jane’s age and with the start of some arthritis, it would be better if she didn’t have to adjust to having just three legs. Chrystal, at this point, it looks really good. Tears stung my eyes and I could have fallen to the floor in relief. I asked when I could get my Jane girl. She said at close that very day. I thanked her and told her to thank Dr. A for me. I hung up the phone in a cloud of euphoria.
I picked up my Jane yesterday evening and brought her home - four legs intact.
This is the summer to bring the “shelter dogs” completely into our family. Jane will not go back to the shelter area. After she recovers in her run at the kennel, she will be moved into our home and we will start the adjustment period into the pack that is already here. I can’t wait.
See you tomorrow with another story of good news - the one I referred to last week.
I will start with an apology. I left the blog last Thursday with this - P.S. There’s something happening here a little later today that is really good. Really, REALLY good. And in fact, something really good DID happen Thursday afternoon. I do plan to tell you about it and invite you to celebrate with me. But on Thursday evening, something not so good happened. I am going to post these few lines today and then leave with my Jane to deliver her to the clinic for surgery. I will tell the whole story tomorrow, and I hope what I have to tell will be good news, or at least not bad news. Jane is having a tumor removed from her leg today. I was told on Friday that it is possible, in fact probable, that she will lose the leg. Please keep Jane in your thoughts today. For now, we will be on our way to the clinic. I will get a report this afternoon and will be told when I can bring her home. We have a long recovery period ahead, potentially with the task of teaching Jane how to get around on three legs. I don’t mind that. I just want them to get all of the tumor.
It’s been two and a half weeks since we got home from Florida. You have been reading stories from the recent past. As I have posted the chapters of our latest rescues, Life has been continuously moving forward here. You know about two feral Florida kittens and two feral Illinois kittens and a feral calico mom cat. Feral is the common denominator here. Initially, I had four scattering little boys in my downstairs bathroom, and a terrified calico in a cage in my kennel. Now I have four LESS-scattering little boys in my downstairs bathroom, and a much-less-terrified calico mom.
The four boys are all friends. They often sleep in a pile. They bring me so much joy. Watching them eat and play (and run away less often) and knowing they now have their chance at the good life makes me so happy. Mickey is the most tame. Truly, he is nearly completely tame now. The other three aren’t as far along yet, but we have made lots of progress. Juice is the most cautious and may take the longest to tame completely. We always run the risk of having a feral kitten become an adult who is virtually un-adoptable (like our Spritz). But more often than not, we can turn a feral kitten into a loving pet. Some of you out there are the moms of those very ones.
Our calico mom, Isis, was spayed at the end of last week. She is doing very well. She doesn’t run from me anymore (although she hides from anyone else who comes into the office) and I can pet her. But I am absolutely NOT to pick her up. She has made that abundantly clear. She is a real sweetheart who has been talking to me as we get to know each other. I think she is going to do fine.
We have a little foster kitty right now who has a sad story turned happy. He was named Samson by the person who plans to take him. The story is that the person who found him had gone to an acquaintance’s house. When she went inside, there was a kitten on the couch nearly dead. He wasn’t moving. He was covered in fleas, and his eyes were sealed shut. He was just lying there on the couch - dying. She asked about him but no one could give any information. He was clearly not long for this world. A part-time employee at the shelter told Older Daughter that she had a friend who would adopt this kitten. The person met him and named him. He was given some immediate care at the shelter, but Older Daughter brought him here to better recover. He is now eating like a champ, purring, playing, and begging to be held. I don’t know if you will be able to tell from the pictures that he is still really bony. But it looks like this one is going to make it. He is a little orange guy with no tail. OH, what a cutie!
Let me close with some information about my new friend and fellow rescuer Anita. She is the wonderful lady in Florida who lent me her special trap. We were trying to get a particular (injured?/damaged?) cat, a tuxedo we named Domino, from the feral colony we discovered in an abandoned hotel. Anita and I spoke several times while I was in Florida and I brought home information about her rescue organization. I could go on and on about the work Anita and her co-workers do, but what I really want to share with you is this. Anita really wanted me to get Domino. I was so crushed when we weren’t able to trap him that I actually asked Anita if she would pursue my mission after I had to leave Florida. I knew what kind of burden I was asking her to shoulder. She has WAY too much on her plate as it is. She feeds at countless colonies EVERY DAY. But this wonderful lady told me she would try.
I left her with detailed directions about how to find this particular colony. I also left a full description of Domino. I told Anita that if at any point, she or someone in her group could trap him, I would take FULL responsibility for him after that. I told her I would work to arrange transportation to get Domino to me. I would take on all bills associated with any immediate medical care he might need and would take over his medical care once I got him. Anita was relieved. She said she just couldn’t do it. She and the handful of other women in her group simply could not take on any more than what they were already doing. However, she told me that knowing I would take responsibility for Domino, she would try to trap him at some point. She also said that if they received either of two grants they had applied for she would add this feral colony to their list. The problem is the same everywhere - money and help. She needs more money, and she needs more volunteers.
Anita and I have texted and emailed since I left Florida. She assured me that if someone could get over to Domino’s colony, they would try to spot him. I got the following text on Tuesday of this week - I have been to the motel and think I saw domino. One of my volunteers is stopping by every couple days to put fresh water and food. I took a feeder out there and large bowl for water. Will do my best. I am so overwhelmed. In a second text, responding to my answer, she said this - I hope to get domino. I also hope to clean up that area at some point. Anita is an angel.
Her website is *Spay The Strays. If I’m ever a millionaire, I’ll be sending a chunk to Anita.
P.S. There’s something happening here a little later today that is really good. Really, REALLY good.
Have a good weekend. See you next week.
We did finally get home from our vacation in Florida. We brought some Florida Orange Juice and some Florida Sunshine home with us. Those two kittens went straight into our downstairs bathroom. No fosters these. I would need to start working on taming them so that they could become full-fledged Winnie’s Wish kitties ready to go into a home someday.
On the Thursday evening of our vacation, we spent hours trying to trap a crippled tuxedo we named Domino out of a feral colony living in an abandoned hotel. We failed. But just as we were packing up to leave, an orange kitten went in the trap and we got him. The problem was that during the hours of waiting to get our Domino, we had lots of time to watch this orange kitten playing with his sibling. There were two orange kittens, and now they were separated. Getting the second kitten would be like plucking a needle from a haystack. The next day would only offer daylight hours to try for trapping. The cats weren’t out of hiding until late evening. Anita needed her trap back on Friday afternoon, AND I had to start packing to get us ready to leave early Saturday morning. On Thursday night, we took a very late, very short stroll around our palm tree paradise. The cottages were all dark - everyone was tucked in for the night. We walked and quietly talked. We had one orange kitten - one little soul who wouldn’t grow up in that nightmare. Of course we were happy to be taking him home to our cathouse. But we didn’t have Domino and we didn’t have Sunshine’s sibling. We also knew we wouldn’t gain anything by taking the trap back the next morning. But we had to do it - just in case.
After breakfast Friday morning, my husband and daughters decided to make the trip to the hotel without me. After all, I was trying to keep a crying baby quiet in our cottage. It only takes one person to operate the trap, so my family assured me they could handle it between the three of them. I would stay at the cottage, do some straightening up and some packing. I told them to keep me posted via cell phone.
My husband texted me twice while they were there. First text said - No cats. No movement whatsoever. The second text said - Nothing. Sorry. We are packing up. I could feel it in my chest. A wave of sadness washed over me - for Domino, for ALL of the cats in that colony, for Sunshine and the sibling he loved. I wondered if it was a mistake to be taking Sunshine away. But I knew he would adjust over time, and he would be the lone starfish in this story that got a chance at the good life. I texted back - OK. See you soon, and then I stared out the window at the palm trees. I would have to be OK with saving one little orange kitten. I wished I wasn’t feeling so sad. My phone alerted me to one final text from my husband. We got the kitten.
I started trying to dial through and talk to my husband. When he didn’t pick up, I tried one of the girls’ phones. Call waiting beeped through and I grabbed it. You got the other kitten?!? How? My family said they were on their way and they would tell me the story when they got there. My heart was pounding. I had already decided that I was willing to burden my new friend Anita with the prospects of trying to get Domino at some point. But we all wanted to take that orange kitten home NOW so that he wouldn’t be without Sunshine and Sunshine wouldn’t be without him. When my family pulled up in front of the cottage they raced in with our soft cat carrier (ALWAYS in the vehicle) but no trap. Everybody started talking at once.
They were leaving and had walked over to pack up the trap. Older Daughter stepped into one of the abandoned rooms just behind where the kittens had played for so long the evening before. And there he was. Older Daughter motioned Younger Daughter into place and they cornered him. Older Daughter said in the split second that she scanned the room, she saw dozens of places for this kitten to escape into. She absolutely KNEW they were gonna lose him. She went for it, pinned him, Younger Daughter threw her a towel, and they literally ran back to the vehicle. They quickly put him into our soft carrier and it was done. (Older Daughter later said she knew I would never have allowed her to go into one of those rooms. She was right.)
Sitting there in the cottage on our last day of vacation, I felt a whiff of happiness. My heart was still broken for the huge colony we would leave behind. We felt as if we knew some of those cats after watching them for so long. And I wouldn’t rest until I talked to Anita about Domino. But I was ecstatic to have the two brothers re-united. This was a very stressful thing for them to go through. They needed each other. And now TWO little souls would escape the nightmare and head directly into the good life. Wow.
I called Anita and told her we would be on our way to return her trap. She said she would be feeding at some of the colonies they manage, but I could just leave the trap in her driveway. She asked if I got my tuxie. I told her no and what had happened and that we had gotten a couple of kittens. She, too, was sad that we hadn’t gotten Domino. She would leave a folder of information under a watering can in her driveway for me to pick up. We would stay in touch. She told me that her organization had applied for two grants. She said if they somehow got lucky enough to be awarded one, she would see about investigating the colony I had discovered. I was to leave detailed directions and a description of Domino under the watering can when I retrieved the folder.
I moved everything out of the cabinet under the bathroom sink and moved our two scared kittens into the cabinet. That’s all we had until we could shop. Then we happily spent that afternoon traveling to Anita’s and then stopping several times on the route back to get supplies. We needed something for these babies to ride in on the way back. We needed kitten food and a litter box and flea treatment and bedding. We laughed and talked all afternoon as we drove and shopped and collected our supplies. What a way to spend a vacation day. So many wonderful things we could have been doing; and yet, we had a really good time doing just what we had to do.
Thanks for coming back to read the rest of the story. I spent last week telling you about our vacation week - a week that ended in rescue work. We had discovered a feral cat colony in a run-down abandoned hotel. I got in contact with a local rescuer for help. She offered us a trap. So - back to the story.
We had planned to celebrate my birthday on the Thursday of the week at the cottage. I was in contact with a wonderful cat rescuer named Anita on Thursday morning. She runs her own cat rescue organization called Spay The Strays. After lunch that day, we waited to hear from her. She gave me directions and we drove out of our tropical paradise and away from everything we had come to Florida to experience. We drove for over half an hour, making turns and looking for landmarks. We found Anita’s home in a quaint subdivision that bordered a very small lake. We poured out of our vehicle and she came out and met us in her driveway. We hugged like old friends. Here was another soul drowning in this work but doing it anyway. We talked a bit and she showed us the sick kitten she had trapped that morning. We loaded her trap and drove the half hour back plus another ten minutes to the abandoned hotel. No cats. We surmised that the Florida heat keeps the cats hidden away until evening. We would go back to the cottage, have a quick birthday party for me, and then come back and set the trap.
Younger Daughter still wanted to do a little decorating for my “party”. So Husband and I ordered our Chicago-style pizza and left the cottage to go pick it up. When we got back, there was the “Happy Birthday” banner stretched across the kitchen window like we had done for Older Daughter’s birthday. On the table, Younger Daughter had put together a centerpiece which included a couple of pictures she had torn out of a magazine - one was of a sunset on a beach and the other was of a black & white kitten. Both girls piped up and said the picture of the kitten was for good luck - luck we would need to catch our damaged black & white cat later that evening. By this time we were calling him Domino (for obvious reasons - black & white and wobbly). When I blew out the candles on my little cake, the girls both said to make sure to make a wish. I knew what they wanted me to wish for - a Domino in a trap. I wished.
That evening we drove to our destination. At first we didn’t see even one cat. It had been a little later in the evening when we saw the cats the previous night. We would wait. I had come with dry food and canned food. I didn’t have a way to leave water for the cats. When we were at Anita’s, I noticed the back of her truck was packed with food and also with a dozen jugs of water. She explained that in Florida it was as important to supply water as it was to supply food. She manages many feral cat colonies in her county. She spends hours and hours every day of her life taking care of feral cats and strays. More about her organization soon.
That Thursday evening turned into almost four hours of watching, waiting, hoping, observing. We had the trap in two different places before it was over. Husband held the cord and was prepared to pull it if our Domino ever entered that trap. But hour after hour dragged by and he never showed. Several nursing moms went in the trap and looked frantically for the food they could smell from inside. But we couldn’t take any of those sweethearts home - they had kittens hidden somewhere in that nightmare. Some toms cautiously investigated the trap but not one went in. We couldn’t figure out why. It was the nursing moms, we guessed, who were hungry enough to throw caution to the wind. Time ticked by. I was continuously worrying about being on property we shouldn’t be on. And we were all worrying about why Domino wasn’t showing up.
There was one precious nursing mom who was solid gray, but get this - she had a beige face (never got a pic of her). All gray with that face! She was one of the females who went in the trap repeatedly. She was also one of two moms who ventured very close to our vehicle where we were silently waiting. Oh, how I would have loved to bring her home. But those gals had to stay. I wondered how many litters were in that abandoned hotel. We counted over twenty different cats while we waited - some male, some female. For every female, there was a litter someplace. The kittens must have all been very young because we saw only two the whole time we were there. Thirty or forty feet from where we were stationed, we saw two orange stripeys, probably eight weeks old, playing and bouncing. They played with each other off and on the entire time we were there. Amazing. No matter what the conditions, babies will play.
And then we saw Domino. The sun was setting fast. Our time was limited. In another thirty minutes we wouldn’t have any light to see who was going into the trap. We held our breath and hoped that Domino would move towards that trap. We watched as he moved out of hiding. I still couldn’t figure out what exactly was wrong. Had his back been broken when he was younger? Back legs? Was this a condition he was born with? Or possibly a head injury with sustained neurological damage? He walked around (too close to the ground), wobbled occasionally, and fell if he ran too fast. I had to have him. I felt like I couldn’t stand it. I had absolutely NO control - he was either going to walk into that trap or he wasn’t. Over the next thirty minutes, I don’t think any of the four of us even breathed. But Domino never even got close to our trap. As the darkness enveloped us, the feeling of failure was heavy. Anita had to have her trap back by late the next afternoon. We could come back in the morning, but the cats typically stayed tucked away during the day. I was going to have to leave our Domino behind. I watched him slink under one of the tarps and disappear into the night.
The girls got out of our vehicle and started towards the trap. One would get the trap while the other walked along with the cord, rolling it up on the way back. They only had to walk a few dozen feet, but it was so dark now. I was straining to see them, so I decided to step out and join them. Suddenly, Older Daughter threw up a hand and motioned for me to stop. I could see Younger Daughter creeping closer to the trap; it looked like she was in pounce mode. Oh no, I remember thinking. Those girls are gonna try to grab one. Just as I was about to protest, I saw Younger Daughter forcefully say something to Older, and then Older yelled to pull the cord. It all happened very fast.
In a flash the girls picked up the trap and started scooting back towards the vehicle. The cord was dragging behind. They ran around to the back and threw open the door. I was asking - What? What? And they were saying - We got one. As we pulled away and started for the main road, they started explaining. Just as they were going to retrieve the trap, one of the orange kittens was investigating the entrance. In a split-second decision, the girls decided to go for it. This was not a nursing mom. This was a baby - a weaned baby. It was the starfish story all over again. No this wouldn’t change anything in that colony. But this one baby would not grow up and live like that. We had all wanted to get Domino. He needed us. This kitten didn’t need us at that moment. But his life had just taken a turn towards dramatic improvement. We got him back to the cottage and I got a chance to look him over. He was beautiful. I looked into those precious eyes and I told him we would take care of him. Without thinking, I called him “Sunshine” and realized immediately that the reason I did was because he looked nearly identical to a kitten I had saved years before and named “Sunshine”. That kitten had been thrown from a vehicle into a ditch. When I found her, she was so badly broken that she had to be euthanized. Yep. I would name this little guy “Sunshine” - in honor of the previous one, and as a reminder of where this guy came from - The Sunshine State.
Once we got Sunshine comfy for the night, we took a later-than-usual walk. We were sad that we hadn’t gotten Domino. We would make one more attempt the next day, but we weren’t very hopeful. And now, we had a new problem. Sunshine had a brother or sister back at the colony. It started sinking in that the sibling left behind was now without his best buddy, and so was Sunshine. And we were out of time. We had some daylight-only hours tomorrow to try again, and then we had to get Anita’s trap back to her and start packing up for our two-day trip home. The pressure was on.