When I was 8 years old, I “adopted” a stray cat in the neighborhood. I decided the poor thing must be hungry, so I gathered money from my piggy bank and trekked down the road to a local K-Mart to purchase cat food. I was so focused on carrying out my mission, I neglected to tell anyone. My sister told my parents who were frantically looking for me, and my father, quite displeased, met me at the check-out to walk me home. I made sure to feed the cat as soon as we got home before I spent the rest of the day grounded in my room.
Six years later I traveled to Ireland with a friend. She and I were visiting her grandmother, but for the most part we were two young teenagers left to our own devices. One day we spotted a group of teenage boys on the double-decker bus we shared. They had a very young puppy with them. My friend told the boys that I wanted the dog. Surprisingly, they gave her to me.
I was lucky that my friend’s grandmother had connections at Aer Lingus and was able to arrange transportation for the dog to return home with us. She called my parents to let them know what I was bringing, and everyone assumed the unpapered dog would never pass through Customs. They underestimated my stubbornness, and after much arguing with the officers, I was able to bring my dog as long as I promised to bring her to the vet immediately for the proper vaccines. I then convinced my parents that we had to keep her and they acquiesced. We named her Erin and she was part of the family for the next fourteen years.
As a young adult, I acquired several cats from various places. One was gifted to me from a student on the last day of school. Another came from a friend of a friend, and the other I picked up at the vet. The oldest of these cats just passed away a few years ago, almost 20 years later.
When I was first divorced, I wanted a dog. A friend told me of a Labradoodle puppy her sister had but could not keep. When we first got Rosie, she was a skinny, skittish dog. Now, seven years later, she is a content, chubby Senior dog with the sweetest personality.
When we got married in 2011, my husband brought his dog, Nate, to join us. Last year we took in a kitten that someone found abandoned under a porch, and two weeks after that, Mark came home from work with a six week old Chocolate Lab that someone was bringing to a shelter. Mark is as much of an animal lover as I am.
According to The Humane Society of the United States, “The shocking number of cruelty cases reported daily in the media is only the tip of the iceberg. Most cases are never reported, and most animal suffering goes unrecognized and unabated.” Having been an animal-lover my entire life, I can’t imagine anyone deliberately harming an animal. I follow many rescue sites and do my best to support them. It is vital to provide a voice for those who cannot speak, and to help in any way possible. While there are a plethora of worthwhile charities, those that help animals are close to my heart.