Pet Tips 'n' Tales

"A Life Time of Memories"

Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"
Some pets, like some people, intuitively know what they're life mission is. Charlie, a distinguished white, brown, and black-tabby stray is no exception. He walked into Magnolia Village Memory Care and dropped his furry job application right into the hearts of everyone! Charlie welcomes Julee as she visits her 90-year-old mother, Bernice.

TALES

Humans arriving at Magnolia Village Memory Care have to stand at the front door and ring a bell. Not so with Charlie! He waltzes in like he owns the place, and for all intents and purposes, he does! Since Charlie's unexpected arrival three months ago, he has taken over the facilities, developed his own routines, and chosen his favorite people. (Each person thinks they are his purr-sonal favorite)!

From homeless to super-home; Charlie boasts of 15 residents and 11 staff members for his new family.

"Charlie is a wonderful asset to our residents.  When he arrived he was skittish because he'd learned not to trust people.  Then, slowly he warmed up.  Now when he walks in the door, he does "his" rounds! He checks each resident to make sure they are happy.  Then he unceremoniously flops on the floor," laughs nursing assistant Autumn.  "Charlie's so joyful that when he purrs he drools!  The once-thin Charlie has put on so much weight that our residents comment, 'He's certainly not hungry now!'"
It is easy to see why Charlie has gained in girth! Each shift feeds him!  Plus, he has a bowl of water both inside and outside, although he prefers "fresh" puddle water.  Charlie no longer eats mice for survival but as a reminder of his former life, someone gifted him with a catnip mouse. 

Instead of a scratching post, Charlie scratches and marks the facility's fence lo let other felines know that this is now his official territory!  Charlie understands that despite memory problems, those who loved cats in their youth still love them and need them in their lives.

What is the mystical spell that pets hold over us, regardless of our ages and/or infirmities? When we are ill, and/or can barely move, or we've worked 16 hours straight, on our feet, what is it about our pets that motivates us to climb out of bed and take care of their needs?

For many people, pets are family, perhaps their only family, and the only ones who love them. Pets gift us with themselves to make our lives "full". It does not matter if we are 4 years old or 104, they appreciate us.

A child may be fed and clothed, yet feel "invisible" in his/her surroundings. A pet can be a playmate, make a child laugh, and give him/her someone to connect to at his/her level. The child has something warm to cuddle, giving the feeling that "everything is safe and good in the world."

Older adults may be immersed in loneliness. Their children live too far away for visits; their neighbors and friends may have moved on or passed on. They do not go to work for social interaction, so there is no reason to get up in the morning. There is nothing like a cat or dog insisting that you get up to put you in touch with reality! A wet tongue in your face, a paw continually nudging your cheek, a hungry bark, a meowing cat announcing that it is breakfast time  "forces" you to participate in another day.

Often, children and the elderly are ignored. People do not look into their eyes when speaking to them, but their pets do. Dogs and cats focus on us - totally - looking adoringly deep into our eyes. Pets may be the only warmth we experience when long gone are the hugs and hand-holdings of friends and family. Pets are there to curl up with us and respond to our gentle touches.

Pets offer laughter and open our hearts. Most dogs and cats get into mischief, or sit in odd positions, making us giggle. It is scientifically proven that playing, walking, and petting one's pet is beneficial to one's health and lowers blood pressure.

Thirty years ago, a car sped down the road, aimed for our cat, Chanel, and ran her over. After we returned from the vet clinic, we knew Chanel would drag herself up the stairs to the bedroom, so that night, my kind-hearted husband slept on the living-room floor beside her.

I walked in and found them both sound asleep. Chanel had reached her white paw over, in appreciation, and put it on my husband's arm. Pets need us as much as we need them. We take care of them and they take care of us.

Pets put warmth into our lives, creating a home. There is nothing mystical or magical about their love, except for how it makes us feel!


TIPS

Can't afford a pet? Don't let it starve like Charlie did. Instead, relinquish it to your local Humane shelter to be re-homed.

"Driving down a country road, I saw a driver put an adult cat out of her vehicle onto the side of the road!" writes in a hissed-off Peggy. "She was dumping the cat like yesterday's garbage! Maybe she thought she was letting it "go free"." But to what? To be hit by the car after mine? To become a wild animal's dinner or be maimed by farm dogs and eventually starve to death? I turned my car around and there sat that poor domesticated-house cat, with the most confused look on his face. He had no idea what he was doing there, or what to do next! I picked him up and did what she should have done, I drove him to a pet rescue shelter."
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