I thought it would be nice to share a little bit about our furry family, and what it was like when Steve joined the “pack.”
Five years ago, as part of my decision to make my career path about animal care, I signed up to volunteer at our local humane society to help with dog and cat care – including to be a dog and cat foster mom. I took the kitten foster class, and before kitten season even began, I was asked to foster an adult cat for behavior issues. They singled me out for this foster because I had expressed an interest in animal behavior. This particular cat had been rescued from a hoarder’s home with approximately 30 other cats, and was not showing any signs of interest in human interaction. His name was Spyder (a name we kept because it was the same name as one of my fiance’s favorite comic book characters), and he never left!
A few months later, our roommate moved out and I had waited long enough to get a dog. I hadn’t had one since my family’s dog died when I was 17, and I was going nuts! An agreement with our landlord allowed us to get one dog under 40 pounds. My fiance…I suppose he deserves a name by now, huh? His name is Jay and we’re getting married in June of 2016. Jay wanted a Dachshund which I flat out put the brakes on. He wanted a short, long dog that burrowed, so I did my research. I could compromise with a Basset Hound, except that they are impossible to train. What dogs are easy to train? Labs! I searched PetFinder for Basset/Lab mixes (by the way, Google Basset mixes and you are guaranteed to find cute dogs!) and found one at a rescue two hours from us. Yorrick (named for another favorite comic book character) came home a week later! He’s the perfect mix of a Basset and a Lab. Brains for miles, energy when you need it, laziness when you don’t! Oh, and he burrows!
In September of that same year, I started putting the idea in Jay’s head that a kitten would be good for Spyder since we still hadn’t seen him come out from behind Jay’s desk in the back room of our apartment. I thought a playful kitten would help to start bring Spyder out of his shell. Jay said no. I asked about fostering kittens. Jay said no. In November, we went to PetSmart to buy hamster supplies (we had a couple of hammies for a short time). It was one of the PetSmart that has the cat adoptions set up in windows instead of cages. Jay, for whatever reason, went over to the windows and saw two fluffy orange kittens. One of them put his paw on the window and Jay put his hand up to the kitten’s paw. Jay turned to me and said, “Honey, I’m in love!” Jay (and Spyder) got a kitten for early Christmas that year! Saxon (named for one of my favorite comic book characters – notice a trend?) definitely did his job. He found Spyder in all of his hiding places and encouraged him to play!
Three pets in one year, then none for four years! Foster kittens came and went. Tears were shed as new homes were found. We almost gave up fostering for good at the end of 2012 when we lost two kittens in one litter. One died of a disease that had spread to several cats in the shelter and caused a massive quarantine. The other died from medication that causes toxicity in 1 in about 1 million kittens. She was the one. That was a hard September. We considered adopting the one who had the disease in hopes of giving him a life he couldn’t have otherwise, knowing that special needs animals don’t intimidate us. It turned out that he would have been in severe pain for about a year before dying anyways.
Thankfully, last Summer, after getting engaged, we gave fostering another go. Then “Mya” came into our lives.
The foster email blast that asked us to take “Mya” also asked us to take a mom and two boys with URI. “Mya” hated the mom, but loved the two boys. She has maternal instincts like you wouldn’t believe.
As soon as her URI quarantine was up – and she was answering to Steve – we let her out into “gen pop.” Spyder, Saxon, and Yorrick weren’t sure what to make of her. They always wait on the other side of the door for the kittens to get released, but Steve was no kitten. She hissed like a kitten, but she was bigger! Unfortunately, before they could really get used to each other, Steve had to go in for surgery. Thankfully, everyone was very polite when Steve was allowed to start exploring again. Yorrick, felt no reason to chase her because she didn’t run from him, she sort of meandered towards him. After a week of hissing through baby gates, the three cats were fairly ok with each other. After another couple of weeks, they were grooming each other!!
In December, Steve helped us foster another hoarder cat and taught him how to play. Tobasco, who we renamed Neville, came to us completely shut down but not as far gone as Spyder was five years ago. Steve taught him all of her best moves, shared her toys with him, groomed him, showed him the best places to sleep at the different times of day, and made him into a highly adoptable cat! Thank goodness, too, because Neville was orange and orange cats tend to stay in this house forever!!
Kitten season is coming, I can’t wait for Steve to help with the new batch!