My loverman

Three years ago, I found myself on the psych floor of a local hospital - for the second time.  I’d been depressed for over a year, with wild changes in mood that I didn’t understand and that would later be diagnosed as bipolar disorder.  I was angry and scared and miserable, and I had no idea what to do with myself.  I spent most of my hospitalization silent and alone, except when the therapy dogs visited.  One of the dogs was a big black lab, the sort of happy smiling animal that wiggles from nose to butt every time it meets a new person.  That dog sat his whole sixty pounds in my lap, and I laughed until I cried.

The first place I went when I left the hospital with my mother was to the local animal shelter.  My parents had always got their cats from rescues or shelters, and now - I was getting a dog.  After a few visits, I settled on a young beagle mix who had been picked up running stray in North Carolina before being shipped to our New England shelter.  I named him Romeo, and he’s my loverman.

The first nine months were chaotic.  I had never owned a dog; my parents hadn’t had dogs since they’d been little kids.  We were all clueless.  I walked him everywhere I could, I did my best to teach him his manners out of a myriad of bought or borrowed training books, I obsessed about his diet.  He, meanwhile, peed on everything, pulled on the leash, ate every coffee table in the house, devoured my younger brother’s homework, and even electrocuted himself on an electric cord while I was in the shower. 

It took a long time, and in some ways the pet I have now is unrecognizable.  After a couple of good walks a day, he’s content to curl up on the couch and snooze, or maybe play with our cat.  He doesn’t chew anything except his toys and his bones.  He never pees anywhere but on the grass.  But he is still the wiggly, cuddly, enthusiastic, loving dog I met three years ago, the dog who taught me how to love somebody when I felt unloveable, the dog who reminded me that I was needed on the face of this earth - because he needed me.

Who rescued whom?


Silky and Chester <3

We adopted Silky from our local SPCA in Pretoria, South Africa, when she was about eight months old. She is a beautiful creature - made of pure love and limitless bouncy energy.

And this is Chester, adopted from Animal Welfare Society in Helderberg, in the Western Cape in South Africa when he was about two. He was thrown from a car and rescued by AWS, but he didn’t do well in the kennels and was overlooked for adoption because he was frantic and stressed. He’s a sweet heart though and is thriving in his new home.


Bear :)

This is Bear, so named because her markings and face remind me very much of (duh) a bear.

I rescued her after she was abandoned on a busy city street, and she was in sad shape: a terrible shave, like someone downed a bottle or three of Jack and attempted an Edward Scissorhands; fleas and ticks; scraped paw pads; matted fur; malnourishment.

After a bath and some de-ticking, I took her to the vet and found out that she is about 2 years old, not fixed, but otherwise in decent health. Got some meds, and helped the vet tech remove MORE ticks, over TWENTY. I still feel itchy. 

Even just a day later, she’s already happier and spunkier and an absolute doll. Once the meds are done and she has all her shots, I’m going to have her groomed and trimmed and cleaned. I can’t wait to see how much prettier she gets with some TLC :)


Earlier this year I was adopted by Harper, Prior and Belize, three tiny orphans who arrived at the Auckland, New Zealand SPCA. Their mother had died, leaving their tiny little hairless bodies to face the world alone. Luckily (for them and for me) the SPCA are amazing, and dedicated, and they reared these little guys by hand until they were ready to move in with me. They were four weeks old and the size of tiny mice - hard to believe knowing the fat rats they have become.

Every day I am rewarded by the presense of my three rambunctious girls. They show me their love by grooming my eyelashes, trimming my nails and sleeping curled up in which ever nook of my body they deem the warmest. Every day I come home to these three faces so excited that their buddy is back to hang out with them:

I could not ask for more!


"Marvelous Meagan"

My son, Victor  was just almost 2 years old and wanted a “maggie”. Not knowing what that was, I put him off for several weeks. Eventually, we were near the City Animal Shelter and he heard the dogs barking. “Maggie!! Maggie!!” he giggled. I was shocked and amazed. I had no idea he actually knew what he was talking about. Haha!! We stopped to look at the pups. Victor must have known everything I didn’t know, because he walked in like he owned the place, went straight to a particular cage and shouted “Maggie, I luv you!” She was a mixed breed, with some Cattle dog and Collie, we think. We took her home that day (Don’t ya just love small towns!) and she remained with our family until her death in 2009. Maggie’s passing was very sad for our entire family. We had Meagan “Maggie” for 14 years. The world was a better place with her in it. All our animals have been rescued from one situation or another, as well as 3 of our “kids”. I can’t imagine a better way to show your love!


Thursday Kitten Break: Collective Soul Cat.


Meet Winnie

Winnie! the mutt

We saw this lovely girl on Petfinder & wound up travelling to the Montclair Animal Shelter in New Jersey to pick her up two days ago. She was an owner surrender. They think she is a wire fox terrier dalmation mix — she has a fuzzy muzzle, a fur mohawk on her back & spots under the hair!  

She still has crazy puppy energy, but we are keeping her busy. She is also deaf, sometimes responds to very loud noises like motorcylces, sirens, but that is about it.  We have found a deaf dog trainer who works with a local Dalmatian rescue who will be helping us train her in sign.

She already walks well and has the beginnings of fetch. She is a total lover who will press herself into you for attention!  We are doing our best to give her a new, happy life.


Meet Lolita-Marie and Pumpkin Pi(e)

I’m Lolita-Marie (the pretty grey and white one on the left) and I’m 20 years awesome. I had a real special friend named Rod-Man Aloysius who was about the same age, but he passed away. We had lived together with our people for over a decade after being adopted from 2 separate divorces. It was a good fit, because I told everyone what to do and they did it. They might not have been perfect, but I had a system, and the Lolita-Marie system is infallible. 

So, after Rod-Man passed away my people did a real good job of paying special attention to me and giving me extra playtime, since I like to smack things (just you wait WoolyMouse!!!). But I admit, I was still a little lonely. My people get a little busy running around and hunting cans of fish and turkeys for me during the day, so there are times when I’m left to sleep all day without anyone there to admire my soft grey coat. We decided that perhaps it was time to look into another companion to do my bidding. I sent my people out to find a fellow that wasn’t too young (Kids these days! Don’t get me started…) and who would be amenable to my wishes. They ended up coming back from a really nice lady at Brooklyn Animal Action with this 7 year old fellow who’s got a big marshmallowy belly and pretty eyes. His name is Pumpkin Pi(e). (The humans spell it that way because he likes math stuff and also the lady likes to bake pies – they think it’s funny).

Lolo and Pi(e)


He spent the first month hiding under the couch, and when he snuck out and I hissed at him when he passed, he seemed to ignore my authority. I was not certain if this was going to work, but he was real skittish so I knew he wasn’t a threat to my business. My people explained to me that he’s deaf, and couldn’t hear my hissing, so I’m working on some sign language (1 smack means: NO! 2 smacks means: I SAID NO!). I haven’t really had the need to use it yet though. 

He’s been in the house for about 4 months now, and has been warming up to how I want things done pretty well so far. He still gets spooked when you walk up behind him since he doesn’t hear you coming, but he doesn’t run away to hide under the couch so much. He is pretty fastidious with his grooming, which is good, because that’s a lot of real estate to cover even for a hair stylist with my skills and experience. I do get in there for some more localized touch up to his overall style though. After all, I can’t have him walking around with last year’s hairdo. I may take him on as an apprentice hairstylist – he’s starting off pretty okay, don’t you think?

Pi(e) apprenticing as hairstylist

Hypatia was literally an alley cat, found in a dumpster behind my friend&#8217;s house. She was about 6 weeks old, completely malnourished, and anemic from all the fleas she had accumulated. We took her in and nursed her back to health. It didn&#8217;t take much, since she was a fighter even when we first found her - she crawled out of the bowl that we were washing her in to remove fleas and tried to escape!
Unfortunately, her brother who was equally as adorable and in just as bad condition didn&#8217;t survive his hardship.

Hypatia was literally an alley cat, found in a dumpster behind my friend’s house. She was about 6 weeks old, completely malnourished, and anemic from all the fleas she had accumulated. We took her in and nursed her back to health. It didn’t take much, since she was a fighter even when we first found her - she crawled out of the bowl that we were washing her in to remove fleas and tried to escape!

Unfortunately, her brother who was equally as adorable and in just as bad condition didn’t survive his hardship.


Meet Tycho!

2008 was a big year: I graduated from college, moved in with my then-fiance (now spouse), and got my first big-kid job. As if that weren’t enough, we decided to adopt a cat!

My college required honors students to do 40 hours of community service; we could choose any local non-profit organization and, assuming the instructor approved, do our work there. A lifelong lover of cats, I chose the Humane Society of Seneca County (Ohio). Since I did my volunteering during my last semester of school, I was determined to walk out of there with at least one cat. I fell in love more times than I can count, but ultimately my heart was set on “Manny.” I had never seen a cat that looked like him before—he was a Blue Tabby—and I was drawn to him right away. For the first couple of weeks, he was so scared that he wouldn’t come out of his cage for me; I had to clean around him! But he warmed up to me, and that was when I fell in love with him. His personality was so sweet and gentle, despite everything he had been through in his approx. 3-4 years of life:  he was abandoned by his humans, had lived outdoors on his own for at least a short time, and was then brought to the shelter where he lived in a cage. He demanded tummy rubs by flopping over at my feet and followed me around while I worked in the room where he lived. 4 days after graduation, Manny—by then re-named Tycho by my fiancé—and I piled into my Taurus and started our new lives together.

Today, Tycho is still our most special cat. He had a tapeworm when he came home with us, and just over a year later we learned he had feline asthma and FLUTD. Now that we have all of that under control he is a perfectly healthy, happy member of the family. He has proven to be good at adapting, whether to a move to a new place (and the ensuing 2 1/2 hour car ride) or new “siblings.” We changed Tycho’s life, but the truth is that he changed ours, too.

The shelter where I volunteered was not a no-kill shelter; animals were euthanized for lack of space or if they had been there too long without being adopted. One cat was spayed only days before her kittens were due to be born because the shelter did not have the space for them. (For some reason, that story affected me very deeply.) I cannot forget their faces or my memories of them. Working there was my first exposure to the reality of animal shelters, and I was changed. I vowed to do what I could to make a difference, whether that meant being an ethical pet owner or volunteering my time, my home, and/or my money. Tycho crystallized those feelings for me; if we had not adopted him, he likely would not have made it out of that place alive. When I look into his sweet face, I see all the cats who didn’t get to come with us, but I also see the good that can come from educating people about shelter animals and adopting rather than buying from a pet store, puppy mill, or backyard breeder. Tycho reminds me every day that there is hope.

4 years after Tycho’s adoption, we are now a family of five—two humans, three cats—and we cannot conceive of our lives without our beloved “first.”

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