Losing my heart to save my soul

This picture was taken while breaking down a HUGE vendor event at a little park in a very metro, downtown city. There are busy roads and a major highway surrounding us. I down-stayed Avery and she didn’t move once the entire time we were packing up. It’s nice having a well behaved dog. But I am so thankful that we had her trained specifically FOR me. At the time, we couldn’t really come up with any pressing reasons to NEED a hearing dog, training together is fun, it’s a strong and positive way to bond with a new pet, and it seemed like the kind of thing that wouldn’t hurt to have in the back pocket. All of the time, effort and small fortune we put into the project 2.5 years ago, made it possible for Avery to live with me anywhere. Our new home has a 20lb weight limit and bully ban, from which she is exempt. It is also illegal to be charged pet fees/deposits for her. It’s true, caring for both of us by myself feels huge and overwhelming, but having her with me will allow me to me safe and independent. I need her… We need each other.

I am having to leave behind the rest of my furry family

Sam, Chip, and Abby Grace will be staying behind with my roommates, who have sworn to get rid if them as soon as I am gone.

Sam was my first rescue, my first bottle baby, my first clicker trainee, he opened his eyes in my hand and taught me pretty much everything NOT to do with a bottle baby. I have literally hand raised thousands of kittens since him and in retrospect, it’s amazing I didn’t kill him. Sam is also a certified therapy cat, he rides in a stroller, wearing clothes and sunglasses to visit schools and nursing homes- the picture of him was actually taken during a therapy visit. He knows commands like a dog. He can sit, wait (stay), target, high 5, spin, give kisses, step up, step down and come.

Chippy is my whole heart. He caught a virus as a young kitten that left his nasal passages deformed. He has endless projectile blood boogers, needs his nose picked multiple times daily, and gets nebulized in a special box designed for him when needed. 3 years ago, at 14 months old he was already immune to EVERY antibiotic option and struggling so hard to breathe, we decided the kindest thing to do was end his suffering. I had to take him alone and by the time I walked into the vet’s office I was hysterical we were both drenched in tears and snot. Is was the sweetest cat on the planet and only a year old, he couldn’t possibly be through sharing his gifts with the universe. Fortunately, our vet is a treasure. She admitted that medically, we had run out of options, but drugs and western medicine are only half of the picture. She asked how creative I was willing to get, if we held off euthanizing him that day. In that moment, losing him seemed inevitable, but I agreed, just to squeeze out a few more days together. We were referred to a human chiropractor who works on animals after hours for $10 a visit. An appointment was set for two days later. The morning we left for his adjustment he couldn’t even stand up and was breathing heavily through his mouth. His tiny body was hot and limp in my lap as I drove. I figured we would be stopping at the vet’s to say good by for real this time after the chiropractor. Chippy crawled right into the doctor’s lap and purred the whole time she was working in him. After a few minutes, she handed him back to me so she could work from a different angle. I could feel every excruciating breath from his raspy little lungs against my hands, and still, he purred. As the doctor manipulated his neck a strong POP reverberated through his body, and then everything went completely still and silent against my skin. I immediately burst into tears. “Hey,” she said quietly and tapped my shoulder, “it’s ok, look, he’s breathing, you however, are not.” I wiped my eyes and checked, sure enough, my little cat was laying in my lap, eyes blissfully closed, breathing quietly through his nose. Tentatively, afraid to disturb him or ruin that magical moment, I drew my fingers along his side. In silence we sat and watched my fingers ride the waves of each glorious breath. Chippy ran and played for hours with the other kittens that night. He’s still got boogers, but he’s got a long full life ahead of him too.

Abby Grace was just a few hours old when a friend called to say her husband had found some kittens in a hole while he was mowing. Abby and her brother came within INCHES of being mulched. He noticed them just in time. Abbs has a brain problem. Her head shakes, she flops over on her side while standing, and struggled to learn to walk. I got fired from a stupid job right about the time her brother was learning to climb the back of the couch. I felt totally defeated and miserable, sitting home alone all day. I spent lots of time watching the cats play (we didn’t have dogs back then). Everyday, little Abby Grace would flop her way over to the couch and try to climb like the other kittens. At first, I’d try to help and lift her to the top, but she’d get angry, shake her head and make Donald Duck sounds at me. So I left her a line. Slowly, painstakingly, she progressed up the cough, gaining mere millimeters each day. She never ever stopped trying though. Her determination was so motivating and inspiring for me during that extremely dark phase of my life. By the time Abby was getting near the top, I was starting a new job. We were both pretty proud of ourselves.

These cats own so much of my heart.

As rescuers, we can be a pretty hateful and condescending crowd. We are quick to put ourselves on a pedestal and damn anyone giving up a pet. We declare our dogs children and swear to live under a toadstool with our cat before living in an apartment without it. The very community I’ve devoted the greater part of my adult life to will be waiting with pitchforks to skewer than burn me at the stakes when they find out what I’ve done.

I could probably come up with the monthly fees, and ask my mom to help with the deposits. I could probably even hide them illegally. I could put on a face-saving show for the rescue world and promote myself like a one-person-critter-lovin-just-call-me-Wonder-Woman special feature. And many many rescuers choose that route. Gabriel is the product of one of those people, his demons have not been small, or easily vanquished. I’d rather be true to myself, and these cats that I so deeply love.

I honestly don’t feel that I could adequately care for them at this time. So I am making the most responsible choice possible, and giving up a part of my heart, to save my soul. The stairs to the new apartment are flooded with my tears, fore I know, every item moved towards my new life is taking me away from these precious kitties.

I am heartbroken, crushed, devastated.

I have to do this for myself, and for the lives I will be able to save when I am better and stronger and safe, myself.

Please, try not to hate me.



3 thoughts on “Losing my heart to save my soul

  1. Teenie, I’ve been lurking on your blog a while and am a friend of Leigh’s. You are an amazing human being and are inspiring many people with your honesty.
    (Not to mention humor – you don’t fit in your oven?! I’ve laughed over that continually since I read it.) Sometimes we have to do hard things and you are doing a lot of hard things at once. Be kind to yourself and know that you are a truly courageous person and you are trying to make yourself and the world around you better. You inspire me every day to keep trying. Thank you.

  2. This did not show up in my feed… I disapprove.
    You’re awesome for looking after them, but even more amazing for realising what you have to do and what’s best for everyone. Things don’t always go the way we want, but we learn to adapt. And besides, I’m sure they will find someone almost as amazing as you to look after them. You aren’t leaving them beside a road to die or anything. Don’t feel so bad about yourself!!!

  3. are you doing everything you can to get them adopted before you move? i’m so worried your evil roomate might just take them to a shelter…

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