Let’s Hope This is the Last Pet Post for Some Time

This is a weird post to write after I’ve been telling you about the pets that have been part of my life.

By the way, I’m going to interrupt myself. In my twenties and into my thirties, we had two dogs. The first one my mother-in-law found downtown Kalamazoo. That first night, the pup had to sleep in her car in the garage because of the old dog my in-laws owned. It was early December, but my MIL made the car quite comfortable and warm enough for the pup out there. By day two, my MIL had given her to us. The gardener named her Muffin. Actually that was sort of a compromise. He wanted to name her Muffy or Scruffy or something undistinguished like that. I wanted a more complex and respectable name, but had to settle on the over-used name Muffin.

A couple of years later, I was waiting on a customer in our luggage store downtown when I saw another scruffy mutt run down the sidewalk. I grabbed a dog biscuit that I happened to keep in the drawer under the cash register and followed the dog down the street. When he hid under a car in a parking lot, I had to crawl under there in my newish khaki skirt (grrrr). I pulled him out and took him back to the store. The rest is history. I named him Oliver because he gulped down the only thing we had in the fridge, which I think was milk (not good for a dog’s tummy, I know).  “Please, sir, I want some MORE!” (Oliver Twist from the musical Oliver)

These dogs were groomed together, so they began to look a little bit alike.  They were both very well-loved. I found over 25 stray dogs over that period of my life, but located other homes for the rest of them.

When our kids were babies, these dogs were the most efficient vacuum cleaners, especially under the high chair and the kitchen table.

OK, I’m going back to what I wanted to tell you to begin with. I quit my volunteer job at the animal shelter! I’ve been there five or six years and love what I do there. There was a political situation, and I left to show solidarity with the most amazing HUMAN HERO FOR CATS. So that is that. It’s too Covidy out and about for me now, so I will have to wait to find a new shelter. That doesn’t mean I can’t help out as I see little ways to do so. It’s pretty devastating for me personally, but even more so for the cats at the shelter. I worry about them although they will certainly be better off than on the street or in abusive situations. I’m sad.



Filed under Cats and Other Animals, Memoir, Nonfiction

46 responses to “Let’s Hope This is the Last Pet Post for Some Time

  1. Amy

    I am so sorry about the shelter. Not only for you, but for the cats you cared for there. I certainly hope the political situation there won’t affect the quality of care.

    Those two dogs do look like twins! How long did they live? You are such a good soul. We have adopted many pets from shelters over the years, but I could never work in one—I’d end up with a zillion pets. And I’d go home every day heartbroken and angry.

    • This shelter is a no kill so though there are a lot of things that occur that make you sad or angry, the end goal is to give these animals the best lives possible. As opposed to “county” where they are “trigger happy” to get rid of the problems. It really makes you feel good to help the kitties. It wasn’t just me who left, so yes, I think the quality of care will be affected, though they will still be better off than on the street or picked up by county or with a bad or negligent person. It was really devastating to me to leave, but it was necessary.
      When we moved to California, we had to board the dogs for a week while we traveled from Michigan. They contracted an awful disease from boarding, and I don’t think Muffin’s health was very good after that. She developed a serious seizure condition and a few months later had to be “put to sleep” as her quality of life was atrocious. She was 12. Oliver lived to be older. After muffin died he lay in the chair in the living room facing the window every day for a few hours for exactly one year. Then he stopped. He was mourning her and waiting for her. When she was alive she kept him from snapping at the kids, but when she died, HE became their protector.

      • Amy

        Animals are amazing, aren’t they? Our cat Smokey (now 12) was six when he lost his littermate Luna and just a few months later our dog Cassie. He was bereft and started chewing on his leg. I like to say we adopted Chloe and Zoe for him. He was so much happier once he had new playmates.

  2. We have several rescues and there are politics involved. One newer rescue was started by a volunteer who broke off from another rescue. I don’t know what the issues are but I find it sad that they can’t work it out. I recently adopted from a rescue that is more persnickety about their adoptions. I do understand perfect matches but it wasn’t easy and there were some lectures involved in how I “raise” my cats. Also the contract included a clause that they would take me to court for $10K if I broke any part of the contract. I checked my last “cat contract” and the charge was $300. As I was looking the contract over, the shelter person said they never do that. So why put it in? I expect that particular rescue adopts out a lot less animals than the others.

    • Wow, that’s crazy. The shelter I was at demands certain things, but how can it really be enforced? For instance, because the shelter is in a big busy city with busy streets and lots of coyotes and other predators, the requirement is that cats must be kept indoors. It’s a way of getting people to think more closely about the issue, for one thing.

      • Indoors only for sure. You can get barn cats from another rescue but you really need a barn and the cats are more feral.

        • Yes, there are certain cats who need to be in a barn cat environment, but people tend to have a lot of misunderstanding about who those cats are. Mainly, they should be true ferals or half-ferals. And don’t get me started on the word feral. This whole country has started calling stray cats ferals when they absolutely are not and usually had a home at one time!

          • I’ve had two cats that were offspring of community cats. Neither would be considered feral as they were socialized although one is a love bug and the other was more stand-offish. Different personalities and perhaps a reflection of some memories of going without food for the second one.

  3. I LOVE your dogs – they looked just like all the dogs I’ve ever had – well, almost all – except for the larger rescues. I can see you with them so easily!!
    Thanks for the pictures of your creatures – they are wonderful!

    • They were the best cutie pies! That grooming did make them look a lot alike. Oliver was heavier-boned than Muffin though. His head and all his bones, thicker, more substantial. He was so smart that when we first had him, before he forgot how, he would hold a twig in his paws and rip off the bark and eat it. He taught Muffin and the dog next door. Then they all forgot haha. Made me wonder how long he had been on his own!

  4. I’m sorry that the political situation made you decide to give up what you were doing at the shelter. Sometimes things happen for a reason and maybe it’s time to put your energy elsewhere. I always think things happen for a reason though. Change is always necessary in life and we go with the flow. It doesn’t make you an uncaring human to stop doing your service in that way. It will pop up in other opportunities. Your dogs were beautiful and they did get to look like each other. You went above and beyond crawling under that car to rescue that sweet dog. Enjoy your different direction, Luanne. Hugs and hang in there.

    • Aw thanks, Marlene. I hope it’s a good direction. I did so like the status quo that had evolved at the shelter. But it was ripped apart, unfortunately. I belong to Facebook pages of local “ma and pa” shelters (mainly ma hahaha)and stay in touch and help where I can. That will be it for now.
      Thank you about my dogs. They were such great dogs!

  5. The dogs are really sweet! As for your leaving the shelter, I know you won’t stop being an advocate for animals in need. You can’t help yourself. It’s who you are. There should be more people like you in the world. Pat yourself on the back, Luanne.

    • You are right; I sure won’t stop, Anneli. Thank you. Yes, my dogs were real sweethearts. Sometimes they did pain in the you know where stuff like eating a bagful of king crab shells and throwing up everywhere. LOL

      • I thought of you today when I heard what I think is a new neighbour yelling at her dog. He howls all week (lonely) and she yells all day when she’s home (like today on a holiday weekend) – I mean REALLY yells. I’m so sorry for the dog. He needs you.

        • Oh no. That’s so sad. Maybe when you meet the neighbor you can collect more info to figure out the root of the problem. I sure hope she’s not planning on leaving the dog out in the winter . . . .

  6. I was afraid when I saw how you began this, that one of your cats was sick. I never knew you had dogs as an adult. It’s funny how alike they seem in that photo! I’m sorry about the situation at the shelter. I saw your FB post, so I knew there was something going on there and that you had left.

    • Oh, I hoped you (or anybody else either) wouldn’t think that! People used to ask me if they were litter mates and it was so funny because of how they were both strays found years apart.
      Yeah, it was a devastating blow that happened at the shelter, so a few of us left. 🙁

  7. I remember your having a very sweet dog, Luanne. The photo is adorable, and maybe Muffin and Oliver were related, the same way I’m related to a thousand people on 23 and Me. It’s quite possible.

    I’m sorry the situation at Home Fur Good was so bad. Wherever you help out, you will be a great asset and the critters will be better off due to your attentions.

    P.S. I solved the blocked “Like” button situation by signing out and signing back in.

    • I wonder which dog it was that you connected with. Maybe Muffin. I suppose they could have been related. It’s weird, but we found Mac in our neighborhood in 1998 and then in 2006 Felix. They had the same exact heart issue. The cardiologist conjectured that because they were in the same neighborhood, even that far apart, they could have been somewhat related as it is a congenital issue. I’m glad you fixed the like problem!!!

  8. Muffin and Oliver look like they would have been very sweet companions, to each other and to your family. I’m sorry to hear that you had to leave your shelter work. It’s such a shame when politics has to spoil things for good people.

    • Thanks, Liz. Muffin and Oliver were both sweetie pies. Very good, but independent dogs.
      Re the “politics”–that is FOR SURE.

  9. I am sorry it didn’t work out for you at the shelter but sadly there are more that could use your help. God bless you.

  10. I’m relieved that you found other homes for most of the dogs, otherwise your home would have been somewhat crowded.

  11. Over 25 stray dogs! That’s amazing. You are the homeless dog whisperer and thank you for being so. I’m curious, with stricter laws in most places do you still see stray animals around? I don’t here; that’s why I’m wondering. Also, I’m sorry about the loss of your shelter work. it’s hard to leave a place, I know. But I also know you will be back at it soon. You are a guardian angel to those kitties. <3

    • That is a great question, Cheryl! There are lots of stray animals around. I am a member of several Straydar Facebok groups that post about lost and found pets, as well as animals groups are trying to catch so they can look for the owner or get the animal to a rescue. Dogs are much more visible than cats. People sometimes see them hit by cars and post so the owners might find out what happened. Too often if they are chipped, the owner never bothered to give their name and contact OR didn’t update when they moved. The dogs are very obviously all over the city. A lot of owners don’t even care and don’t want their found animal back. They want to get a new puppy. Obviously I could go on and on here. If you aren’t looking, you don’t see the strays, but once you start looking they are all around. Now the cats! Even worse. Because people tend not to report cats they see or even try to help them. And the cats are not usually marching down the hot street like the dogs. Right now we’ve also got a big problem with finding hoarding cases of cats. One of our local heroes has been working on (just one of her projects) an apartment with 129 cats (including some pregnant)! She is a hero and a guardian angel. I am just a handmaid. Our country is full of strays and animals in need. We are definitely not the Netherlands :(.

  12. I’m sorry to hear you’ve had to leave the shelter, I could tell when you wrote about it how committed you are. Lovely to hear about your dogs.

    • It broke my heart. I loved what I was doing, and I love all the cats. I fantasized about adopting all the ones in there when I left :).

  13. Great photo of the dogs, Luanne! I can only imagine the issues regarding the shelter if it was enough to make you leave, but I’m certain you made the best decision!

  14. Great post, such cute doggies!!! Sad you had to leave the shelter, I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision…

    About feral (?) cats: our local angel kitty-rescuer, Karen Hillsdon, rescued young Annie from a freezing (record cold!) winter, Dec. 2013. She’d lost most of her fur and was gaunt, starving! After a few days of keeping her in her heated garage (Annie kept going after the other cats!), Karen took her to the vet to be spayed. Guess what, the vet told Karen, after they’d shaved the soft downy hairs off her tummy. Yup, she’d *already* been spayed. Which meant that at some point, she’d been ‘owned.’ No chip though. A month or so later, Annie came to live with me. YAY! https://crossedeyesanddottedtees.wordpress.com/2017/03/02/the-latest-meow-from-my-annie/

  15. I am a cat lover and appreciate your stand.

  16. Hi Luanne, I’m sad to hear you had to lose this wonderful way to connect with your passion, I think I remember reading you met Perry through the shelter, or perhaps it was in another way. Kudos for speaking your truth and taking the course that had integrity. Hope all are well in your family! 🙂 T

    • I found Perry in my backyard and got him neutered and bought him to the shelter, thinking he would find a lovely home through the shelter. But he acted like a butthead, pretending to be feral! So I had to bring him home and “foster” him hahaha.
      Thank you. It was really difficult to quit, but if I had stayed with what had occurred I couldn’t have lived with myself.

      • Yes, I really admire that you had integrity and did not compromise in staying. And I remember that story about Perry! He really wanted you-guys to be his “forever home” as all the literature calls it. ! And we are having our own cat drama, with our remaining 14-y-o cat on thyroid meds (new). It is taking all three of us (husband, son, and me) to do the food-with-powered-med approach (via food syringe) twice a day. The other day my husband and son thought they had it handled on their own, and she completely foiled them. wriggled away! She was proud of herself. If she settles down by the time my son goes back to his campus apt. at the end of the month, then we’ll continue, but if things get worse, we’ll consider another method, like embedding the pill in some food or worst case, that transdermal method, although the vet said that her dose is pretty high and the transdermal would be a bit awkward bc of that. But we’ll keep trying! So far we have gotten all her doses in her. hah!

        • Oh, that poor baby–and poor you! What a nightmare. They really know how to keep us working really hard on their behalf!!! The medicine in food thing is also too difficult for me because the cats won’t eat it all. They are such pains about stuff like that. The best way I’ve found to give meds (that I have had to give mine–never thyroid) has been any liquid in a concentrated enough dose that it’s not too much in the syringe. I get Pear’s blood pressure med from a compounding pharmacy so it’s only .3 in a syringe Or up to the 3 out of 10, whatever that is LOL. Then I hold her mouth shut and stroke her chin. Same for meds for the other when they take them. But I don’t know that that would work for thyroid meds. Hang tough!!! xoxoxo