I have never chosen a pet in my life; they always seem to choose me. My current crew of three dogs and three cats is no different.
Gracie, my nine year old terrier mix, came to me on a brutally cold Christmas Eve nine years ago (hence her name). My neighbor, friend and fellow animal lover/rescuer, Linda, was exiting the Midtown tunnel in Portsmouth and saw a small puppy on the side of the road. She thought it was dead, but when she stopped on the side of the road, found it was alive but very cold and weak with an adult dog flea collar wrapped double around its throat. Since Linda was getting ready to go out of town for the holidays, she asked my husband and me to look after the puppy for a few days. We thawed her out, pulled a burr out of her paw, fed her, and after a little TLC, she was raring to go. Nine years later and twenty pounds heavier, she is still feisty and protects us from dangerous squirrels and the postman, whom she proudly drives away each day.
For many years, we had Dash, a beautiful Siberian husky/white shepherd mix, and he and Gracie were best buds. When he died a few years ago, Gracie and we were all heartbroken. I knew Gracie would benefit from another friend, but the time just didn't seem right. Then I got involved in Suffolk Humane and decided to foster a dog to take to one of our events in December in the hope that another homeless dog would find a forever home. Angela Bailey, shelter manager of Suffolk Animal Control, suggested I foster Tonka, who had been one of our pets of the week but, sadly, had not been adopted. Tonka was a real cutie - and a real Heinz 57. She is part beagle, shepherd, chow, maybe some boxer and who knows what else. I wrote the equivalent of a singles ad for her, and we took her to the event. Everyone thought she was a doll, but nobody decided to take her home. Of course, it didn't take long for us to see what a real doll she was, too. We decided to officially adopt her and renamed her Peanut, not just because we are in Suffolk, but because her body is kind of shaped and colored like a Peanut. She is a happy girl who adores my husband. She and Gracie became friends thougth she was a bit more active than Gracie might have wanted at this stage in her life.
Enter Millie. My friend/neighbor/fellow animal lover/rescuer Linda (see Gracie, above) was fostering Millie, a small beagle/bassett mix who had been returned from two homes because she was terrified of men (to the point of pooping when men got close to her). She cowered in a corner of Linda's kitchen. I would go over to let her out and walk her, and she seemed to like and trust me. Linda's lab, Helen, did not like MIllie, and they could not be put together. I started taking Millie over to visit my dogs, and they all hit it right off. Millie, Peanut and Gracie enjoyed major play dates (and Millie helped wear Peanut out), and everyone seemed sad for Millie to go home. One day, we decided to let Millie spend the night. Everything went well, and she has been here every night and day since. We have now officially adopted her. She is slowly warming up to my husband, who is a very tolerant man (that is another story!). We have constant entertainment watching Millie, Peanut and Gracie play together.
I also have three cats, all with their own stories. First is Big Head, an orange tabby (my husband named him). Several years ago, Dash, our husky, chased Big (he was a stray who wandered into our backyard) up a very tall pine tree. Big would not come down. Finally, we arranged for a tree climber to rescue him. He was a very gentle cat, and at the time, his head was the biggest part of him, so that prompted us to name him Big Head. We had him neutered, and with no luck in finding his owner, added him to our mix. I should note that his body has now more than caught up with his head, so we often just call him "Big."
Our next cat came to us in an unusual way. A friend talked me into helping her feed two wild cats who were hanging out at a dumpster near what was then Ryan's Steak House (now Fire on the Mountain Grill). I managed to trap them both in the same trap (sardines work great!) and immediately took them to the vet and had them checked out and altered. My friend Linda worked on helping me find homes for them both (one male, one female). A woman wanted both and took them home. The next day, Linda went to retrieve the female, because the kitty scared the woman. The cat, whom the woman had named Kayla, would climb the walls of her bathroom and hiss and try to attack her. We took her to my house where she spent several months in a spare bathroom. Kayla had a weakness for treats and toys, and she eventually came around. She is a beautiful calico/tortoiseshell blend who is now our pillow cat. She is still shy around other people, but she is sweet, loving and laid back now. No one would believe how she used to be.
Finally, we have Racing Stripe (my husband named her too) whom we took in when neighbors moved and left her behind. A gray tabby with a dark stripe of fur down her back, she is very intelligent, loving and personable. She has quite a vocabulary too and is a social butterfly when others come to visit.
We love and enjoy our furry crew and wish more wonderful dogs and cats could be part of a loving crew. I hope you will help me raise funds so that Suffolk Humane can help more animals find loving homes and that we can make a real difference for pets and their people in our community. Please forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate too! Thank you for caring.