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One I Hold in High Regard

A Dose of Cuteness on a Sad Day-Rest in Peace, Steve Jobs

I've been an avid fan of Apple products since my first computer in 1991. As a Graphic Designer, it just made sense to use their products, but along the way, I fell in love. I attended many MacWorld Expos in the mid to late 1990's. Attending Steve Jobs Keynote session was always one of the hot tickets to get and luckily, since some of my clients were software developers, I always got in to see the presentation.

I remember going to MacWorld Boston in 1997. Apple was in the dumps. Many of us feared that we would lose our beloved computers. It was the year they changed the Apple logo from the rainbow colored stripes to the all white version we see today. We were seated in an old Church. There were big screens lit up with the new image. When I saw it, I thought all the joy left the company-this new white logo was a signal to the end. Then, to make it worse, Steve graciously introduced BILL GATES via satellite, to talk to us about how Microsoft was going to BAIL OUT APPLE. We all BOOED. Steve handled it well and told us it was a good thing. We didn't want to believe it, but at that point we'd let even the Devil himself save Apple.

I don't have to tell you what happened next, but it was a rocky road for many years. Some left and gave up on Apple, but those of us in the design community were never going to go to PC's.

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©2000 Robin A.F. Olson. Steve Jobs keynote at MacWorld NYC, 2000.

In 2000, I attended MacWorld NYC. It was a smaller show, nothing compared to the Moscone Center in San Francsico. That MacWorld was enormous-spanning two convention centers, it took a day just to get through one side of the show. It was the mid-1990's and I was lucky enough to attend many after-show parties, hobknob with celebrities and dance the night away. It was an AMAZING time filled with computer-nerdy-geeky friends, many of which I'm still close to today.

A fun fact about my past-I was a Chat Hostess on America Online. My group was called “the Secret SIG” (SIG=Special Interest Group). We met online in a chat room on AOL every Sunday night at midnight for five years. I never missed a chat. I stopped being known as Robin and was called by my screen name; Kitty. We talked about technology, art and design. I had special guests from WIRED Magazine, Apple, Adobe, NBC, Macromedia...and we were feverish about what was going to happen next and it was a great venue to talk about it. We were riding the wave of the latest and greatest technical innovations and some of us were even the brains behind creating that wave. Steve Jobs was a part of most of our discussions and dreams of the future.

Seeing Steve Jobs on stage was like seeing a rock star perform. Steve had a perfect sense of timing. We may have had an idea of what he might be sharing with us, but he always had a few surprises up his sleeve. We'd all sit there fussing in our seats, ready to jump to our feet, as we often did when he'd demo something really cool. He was the perfect pitch-man, but he loved what he did and his passion was contagious. I always felt high as a kite after one of his sessions. I'm very grateful to have had those experiences and been able to share that with my friends.

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©1993 Robin A.F. Olson. Me with Sam at MacWorld Boston 1993. I proudly have my AOL t-shirt on and Exhibitor Badge!

They say we lost a visionary and that's true, but Steve Jobs knew the power of building a team of top notch talent and knew how to get them to get the job done-whatever it takes. That devotion to a leader doesn't come easily or to just anyone. While I'm brokenhearted Mr Jobs is gone, I'm grateful he has an amazing team left to carry on.

Things will never be the same without Steve Jobs. Our lives are better for him being out there, making magic come to life. He will be greatly missed. Now Steve can smile down on us from iHeaven.

So what do little orange kittens have to do with Steve Jobs? Well, I couldn't write this blog without my studly quad-core Mac or edit the video of the kittens without iMovie. Even the mouse I use, was because of Steve's genius. I take photos with my iPhone and sort out details of a cat rescue via text messages. It's so much more than that. I couldn't connect to all of you without his achievements being part of the tools I use.

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©2011 Maria Sandoval.

To soften the great sadness I feel, here are the latest updates on Bob's Pumpkin Patch. Bobette and the kittens are doing great. We've had many worries that they were going to get sick. It could still happen, but so far, so good. No sign of URI, knock wood!

Kittens are fat, wobbly and wonderful.


©2011 Maria Sandoval.

I admit I'm jealous of Maria. She gets to enjoy watching them grow, learn and explore their world. Looking at their endearing faces-knowing that opening her home to foster them, saved their lives.

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©2011 Maria Sandoval. Mikey! (I think)

As the world mourns, somewhere out there is the next Steve Jobs. We may not know of him or her for many years to come, but that person is out there. In the meantime, life goes on. Let's make the most of it.


©2011 Maria Sandoval.

Life in the Pumpkin Patch

Two weeks ago we lost Sunny, Rocky & Red. They were not thriving. Their mother wasn't eating. There was too much competition for what little milk she had to offer. She was too young of a Mother-not experienced and perhaps, didn't even care about her offspring after being dumped in a tiny cage at a kill shelter. One by one on September 17th, the three littlest passed away. They were cremated and their ashes are with their foster Mom, Maria.

One day their ashes will be mixed with all of Maria's other cats who passed away, then will be mixed with Maria's when her day comes. That's what I want for when I die, too, for my ashes to be mixed with my cat's ashes. We can be together one last time, unless there is some sort of afterlife and, if there is one, I hope I don't have litter pan duty in heaven for all the cats I've had during my life.

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©2011 Maria S. Da boyz are back in town.

Our remaining boys, Jake O'Lantern, Mikey D. Cider and Teddy B. started to gain weight. Slowly, at first, their mama, Bobette, started to eat. Now that she was gaining weight-a pound in a few days, she could provide for her boys. She kept moving them out of their soft bed, to the tile floor by the toilet. Maria, concerned about them being too cold kept moving them back. She wondered if Bobette was acting more protective of her babies and wanted them close by. She seemed to understand three were gone and she seemed more interested in keeping the remaining kittens alive.

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©2011 Maria S. Bobette feeding Jakey.

Every day Maria and I worried. Would we still lose more kittens? Would they get that dreaded “bug” that comes out of the shelter? I recalled Cara and Polly, sick for more than six months. They were a few weeks old when they first got sick. These kittens were barely a week old.

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©2011 Maria S. Observing the belly.

I got emails from Maria, worried. She'd see Bobette or the kittens start to get runny eyes. I took a deep breath and prayed we didn't just make a big mistake thinking I could rescue this family-that the kittens would die, not from malnutrition, but from an upper respiratory that they were too little to combat.

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©2011 Maria S. Squee!

Mama was on clavamox. The babies were getting trace amounts of it in her milk, but we were also giving them homeopathic treatments and in a day we'd see them recover completely. Now that Bobette is off clavamox, we still treat with remedies. The kittens have gotten runny eyes again-and again after treatment, it went away. We do NOT know if we're out of the woods-and if the kittens will not get sick. It seems like too much to ask that they not get a URI, but so far, they are doing all right.

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©2011 Maria S. Oh Jakey, you had me at meow!

They're starting to look like cats, instead of hamsters. Their ears are beginning to appear and their eyes are open. They all wobble-walk. Bobette makes sure they are clean. Maria bought a stuffed cube for the kittens to live in and Bobette likes it enough so she no longer moves the kittens onto the cold floor (which has a soft towel on it now, just in case).

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©2011 Maria S. Little Mikey will steal your heart! Beware!

Slowly, but surely, the kittens are gaining weight. Every time Maria weighs them they've all gained about the same amount. They're up to 10 ounces now-from their dreary start at only 4 ounces, this is great progress.

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©2011 Maria S. Teddy! What a face!

Our little pumpkin patch is growing. We hope the trend continues and they blossom into nice, big orange kittens as the days pass. For now, they're well fed, warm and comfortable. The pain of losing their siblings is still there, but the joy we feel in seeing the others survive softens the pain a little bit.

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©2011 Maria S. Bobette is in good hands, literally and figuratively.

Perhaps it's ok to just marvel in their tiny paws and round bellies, to smile simply because they are alive and everything in this moment is just fine. We can't know what the future will bring, but today, the little pumpkins are, knock wood, doing well.

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©2011 Maria S. Jake=Belly Boy.

Maria could really use a good baby scale so she can continue to monitor the kitten's weight. If anyone would like to donate one, please contact me directly at info(at)coveredincathair.com Your donation is tax deductible.

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©2011 Maria S. Life outside "the CUBE."

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©2011 Maria S. A kiss for my brudder.

Thank you to everyone who donated towards their care. Our ChipIn widget didn't make its' goal yet, so if you can help them, the ChipIn is called, Bob's Angels and it's to the right sidebar, on the top of this page. The kittens will need more vet care as they age and a lot of food when they're ready, so it's important that we have the funds ready to go when they are, so do what you can. Thank you very much.

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©2011 Maria S. Awww...little “pumpkin” Jake.

FCJ: Day Three. Beyond Heartbreak.

I was preparing to write about the conference I attended yesterday regarding the law changes for transporting animals into Connecticut. I was going to talk about what it may mean for my ability to rescue cats from the south, but all that is a blur now.

Last night I was sitting on my bed, playing with Doodlebug. It was 10:20pm. My phone rang. It was Maria. Oh no. She normally would not call me so late at night.

Maria's voice was low, emotionless, she was having trouble saying the words. I knew something was wrong. I wanted her to tell me what happened, but it was taking her too much time to get the words out and my anxiety was building with every second. I'm sure she was just trying to talk and not cry.

“One of the kittens just passed.”

It took a second for the news to sink in. My heart sank and I tried not to cry, too. What happened?! Maria felt he was just too little and underdeveloped-the runt of the litter.

Maria weighed the kittens earlier that night. Three were about 4.5-5 oz and three were around 3 oz. Maria had been feeling that something wasn't quite right about the smaller kittens, but she saw them being fed and she also gave them some milk replacer. Mama had gained almost ONE POUND in a few DAYS. Her diarrhea is resolving and she is clearly getting stronger, but it was too late for the little runt. We weren't even sure if it was a boy or girl who passed. I asked Maria to name the baby so she chose the name, Sammy.

I asked her if she thought the others would be all right and she said she was worried about the other two small ones. I asked her to make sure they were nice and warm-yes, heating pads were going...were they dehydrated? Did they need more milk? I didn't know what to tell her. I'm 1000 miles away and I could only try to think of who lived close by that could help. Should she take the kittens to the vet? If they had fading kitten syndrome there was nothing we could do. Putting them in the car would be further stress on them.

I started to regret referring to the kittens as Bob's Angels. Now it was coming true. Less than an hour later a second kitten died. Maria named him, Red.

I don't know what I'm supposed to say. I know that this happens. You can say it's nature. This is how it goes. The mother is barely a kitten herself. She was grossly malnourished. It's doubtful she was producing enough milk from each mammary gland. She is sick, herself, with diarrhea and is exhausted. There are many reasons why these two babies died, but I had been dreaming of having six orange babies running around my house one day. It was a comfort to having lost my own cat, Bob just two weeks ago. Now that dream was lost and utter grief was taking its place.

There was one kitten left that Maria was worried about. She named him Rocky because he was a fighter. She kept feeding him. Kept him close to her all night. Our friend, Izzy called her and gave her suggestions as to what to do, since she had just bottle fed the little white Angel babies (who are big enough to come here in a few days). Maria and I talked about taking the rest of the family to the emergency vet, but again-the fear of the stress on them just didn't make sense.

Brokenhearted, Maria fought hard for Rocky and urged him to stay strong, but early this morning, Rocky died, too. In his last moments, she held him in her hands and kissed him goodbye. She told him, as she did with his siblings who passed earlier in the night, that she love him.

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©2011 Maria S. The last photo of the kittens before three died. The top one is Red, then Sammy, second from top and the bottom right was little Rocky.

Three of our kittens have died. The world can stop spinning now. Time has to stand still and take notice of these poor beautiful creatures who never even were old enough to open their eyes and see the world-who will never know the joy of playtime with their siblings-who will never grow into lovely orange adult cats. To say Maria is in pain right now is an understatement. To say I am not right there with her, is one, too. My heart is broken. I am terrified we will lose them all.

I feel like I jinxed the babies. I'm not going to call them Bob's Angels any more. They are “Bob's Pumpkin Patch.” They are going to make it. We are going to fight hard for them. They must survive. They are bigger and their eyes are opening. Let them not see the loss of their brothers and sister, let them see a beautiful world full of love. That's all we wanted for all our kittens, but like any rescue group, we will lose some along the way. These are the first kittens lost to us and we hope will be the last.

We need to fill our fundraiser for the kittens. They are going to have to have more vet care and monitoring and we want to make sure we have funds to cover all their needs. If you can help out with a donation, we would appreciate it a lot. If you already helped them, then thank you so much!

We have to find a way to be strong, for the ones are left, but I just want to crawl into my closet, curl up in the darkness and die. How do we go on?

This family deserves names and I was remiss in waiting so long to give them ones. An animal communicator told me that she never met an orange cat who didn't have a human name, so I'm keeping that in mind now.

Mama is Bobette. Means “bright fame.”

Three remaining kittens are: Teddy Boo, Jake O'Lantern & Mikey D. Cider.

LATE BREAKING UPDATE: IT IS VERY POSSIBLE THE KITTENS WERE BORN ON 9|11, not much earlier. Shelter thinks they were born the day after their mama arrived at Henry Co., not days prior. Waiting on confirmation, but this puts them at SIX DAYS OLD as of last night.

Foster Cat Journal: Day One. The Tiny Miracles

Mama weighs just over five pounds. She's skin and bones on her young frame. The Vet determined she is between 9 months and 1 year old-the same age as Cara. I can't imagine a cat that young having SIX kittens, but it happens all the time. I feel sick about it. That poor creature, trying to survive in what was, up until recently, a truly heartless world.

She has an haunted quality to her expression that speaks volumes of what she has suffered. Though she is malnourished herself, she provides for her newborns as they struggle for access to the warm milk that sustains them.

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©2011 Bobby Stanford. Just rescued and on the way to the Vet. I wonder what this mama thinks will happen to her now?

Yesterday we prepared ourselves that this Mother would have to die based on what we heard from the shelter. She wasn't eating-for days. She was depressed, lethargic. What was wrong with her could have been the end of her.

Once she and her babies were in foster care, Mama began to EAT and eat well. It will take time for her to regain her strength as her hind end is red and swollen from many days of diarrhea. She has a small abscess on her tail that the Vet thinks is a self inflicted bite wound from giving birth. She may have been tugging at one of the kittens as they were being born and she bit her tail by accident. The wound is not bad and she really shouldn't have antibiotics just yet, so Maria will keep an eye on it and make sure it doesn't get infected.

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©2011 Bobby Stanford.

Overall we were VERY LUCKY-SO FAR. Mama is in rather good shape, considering. They did a stool sample on her and it was negative for parasites. She had no fleas. Maybe she knew life in a home for a time, but they got rid of her a few days after she gave birth.

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©2011 Bobby Stanford. Lunchtime rush is on.

Her kittens were in good shape, again, for now! Maria and I are both terrified of them coming down with the you-know-what-plague that seems to hit every cat that comes out of a shelter. It's wait and see. I find I am a bit reluctant to give them names-that said, should the worst happen, maybe they should have the dignity of having a name before they pass away? I hope it's not something we will meed to worry about. Right now, they're OK, getting fed and mostly sleeping in a big pile with each other-little orange puff balls.

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©2011 Maria S. Little orange puff balls.

I can't get over their orangey-goodness. I wish I could give them all kisses and welcome them to the world. Happy Belated Birthday to you my sweet babies!

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©2011 Maria S. Squee!

Taking on seven new foster cats will require some funding. I'd like to start raising donations for them so we'll have it set aside when they need it-or in case of an emergency! I'm using a low cost S/N clinic, but even with that, everything that has to be done will be times seven cats.

If you can help this little pumpkin patch, your donation is tax deductible as all the money goes to my non-profit, 501(c)3 corporation, Kitten Associates. Any overages that we don't use for this family, will be used to provide food and vet care for the other cats in our program.

If you want to send a donation DIRECTLY through to PayPal, then we will get 100% of your donation IF you take the following steps:

1. Log in to YOUR PayPal Account

2. Select the tab: SEND MONEY (on the top of the page)

3. To: info@kittenassociates.org, Fill in Amount, then choose the PERSONAL tab below where you fill in the amount and select: THIS MONEY IS BEING SENT AS A: GIFT

4. Press "continue" to finish the payment transfer

Checks can be made out to: Kitten Associates. Please note: Bob's Angels on your check and mail to: P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470-0354

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©2011 Maria S. Just a bag of bones today...but one day she will be plump and happy again...one day soon.

And now for some FUN. We need names! I'm open to suggestions-I may not use the names you offer, but let's give it a shot. We need a name for Mama and we have FIVE BOYS AND ONE GIRL (we think) who need names, too. They should all have names in honor of Bob. Here are his names and nicknames: Robert J. Dole, Bob Dole, Baba-D, Bobbie Tinkleberry (hee hee). Post a comment here with your suggestions or visit our Facebook page and leave a comment there.

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©2011 Maria S. Sweet dreams little ones. Grow big and strong!

Cara Finds her Way Home.

In October of LAST YEAR a pregnant mixed breed cat gave birth to three tiny kittens inside a stainless steel cage at a Kill Shelter in Georgia. As with all cats, pregnant or not, upon arriving at the shelter a clock began to tick down to a heartbreaking deadline-if someone didn't adopt or rescue this family before they got sick or had been there too long, they ALL would be euthanized.

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©2010 Betsy Merchant. Mama-cat.

Every day I find out about families like this who need help. Most often, the most I can do is put the word out they need rescue and hope that someone can save them. This time, though, I knew I had room to take them on. My foster mamam, Maria, was willing to provide a foster home for them until the kittens were eight weeks old-old enough to be transported to Connecticut and my home.

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©2010 Betsy Merchant. Her little babies.

It was just four cats. My rescue group could afford to provide care for them. It was a happy moment when I got the call from Bobby, my friend and our driver, saying everyone was safe and at the vet getting a checkup before going to Maria's house.

There was nothing unusual about this rescue. The mama tested negative for FIV+ and Feline Leukemia. Now the fun part for Maria, watching the kittens grow and making sure the mama was well fed.

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©2010 Maria S. Baby CaraMelle.

That simple joy lasted for less than a week. The cats barely had time to hear their new names being called before one of them, Polly, began to get an upper respiratory infection. Of course, it quickly passed to her sister, CaraMelle, her brother, Chester and her mama, Mazie.

And so began a tortuous time for all of us. For five months the kittens struggled with their health issues. They would wax and wane between “almost” kicking the virus, then falling ill again. Whatever they caught was a NIGHTMARE-most likely it was a herpes virus gone mad. It cost THOUSANDS of dollars in Vet care and MANY sleepless nights for both Maria and myself.

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©2010 Maria S. When I saw this photo, I was terribly worried that Cara would never live to see her first birthday.

Somehow the kittens and their mama survived. It couldn't have happened without a great number of caring people donating the funds we needed, over and over again so we could provide for this family.

In time, when Chester was healthy, we found him an amazing home with a family in Massachusetts who have two other cats and two Italian Greyhounds. Chster is very well cared for and loved. His sister, Polly was well enough to find her own forever home, too. She was adopted by another amazing family who also adopted our foster boy, MacGruber, so the two would always have a feline friend. Sadly, CaraMelle stayed behind. She was simply too chronically ill to be adopted.

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©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Chester, Polly and Cara (front).

Cara had strictures in her esophagus. She needed endoscopy-THREE TIMES over the course of a few months at over $1000.00 or MORE per visit. Cara continued to vomit and was diagnosed with helicobactor pylori-gone wild. You can read more about her illness HERE and HERE.

But Cara was the luckiest of all. Cara had Guardian Angels on her side. There was Maria and Bobby, myself and then Connie, who is the President of Animals in Distress and a good friend to both myself and my rescue group. Connie supported Cara's needs in every way she could, even though Cara was not her cat.

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©2011 Robin A.F Olson. My favorite photo of Cara.

In June, Mazie got sick and I asked Connie if she could take Cara and her siblings for a week. Connie, already smitten with little Cara, fell even more in love with her during that visit. It was a bond that would grow deeper as Cara spent more and more time at “Aunt Connie's” house after Chester and Polly got adopted.

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©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Little Owl-Eyes.

Cara's specialist, Dr. K, had a mad crush on Cara, but it wasn't meant to be. I'd hoped it would work out-who better to give Cara a home? Dr. K. told us that Cara would suffer from bouts of the helicobeacter pylori for the rest of her life. She'd need to be on antibiotics from time to time and need a lot of Vet care. I knew that I might need to keep Cara here. Who would adopt a sickly kitten knowing the costs would be huge over her lifetime?

Cara thrived at Connie's. She got along great with all the other cats-and there sure were more than a handful to get along with. Cara finally was feeling better and began to grow. She's almost seven pounds now and loves life. She's no longer the sad shell of a kitten, but a lovely young lady.

Connie and I discussed her adopting Cara, but I didn't want to push the subject. We both knew what was involved and what Connie would have to take on, but Connie never hesitated. She was ready to move forward and make it official.

The day after Bob passed away, I met Connie and Jennifer and Katherine for a breakfast meeting to discuss our upcoming adoption event. It was good to be with friends after such a sad day. I brought the KA Adoption Form with me and slid it across the table towards Connie. She had no idea I had it with me, but grabbed the paperes and started to initial every line, then signed the bottom of each copy. She asked what the adoption fee was and I laughed. Connie covered some of Cara's bills already, there was no way I was going to ask for an adoption fee. We had a little chuckle, then I said; Congratulations on your new kitty!

In a way it was a very anticlimactic conclusion to the most expensive and challenging rescue we've done so far, yet here was the day I had been hoping we'd get to-the day when I could put away my fears about Cara's future and feel confident that whatever comes to pass, Connie will be there for Cara-100%.
I couldn't have hoped for a happier ending to this part of Cara's story.

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©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Mama-Mazie. Safe & sound. Not a care in the world.

The only one who's left of this family is Mazie. I've never gotten even one adoption application for her. She's sleeping in the cat bed next to me as I write. She fits in perfectly with my cats, but I still hope to find her a great home. She deserves to be spoiled and have a family to love, but until we find them, she will be loved just as much by us and never again have to fear giving birth in a stainless steel cage at a Kill shelter and facing premature death.

Mazie is dreaming now. I'm pretty sure they're sweet.

BlogPaws 2011: The Final Hours & Hurricane Irene.

It's a good thing I was at a conference full of pet lovers because sure enough Dorian Wagner, of Your Daily Cute, who had been playing with one of the kittens, jumped up when I said I needed a Vet and said she knew where to find one. She made a quick call and the Vet popped her head up from across the room, waving over the top of a low room divider. We hustled BlueBelle over to her. She was very calm and relaxed, which was the polar opposite to how I was feeling. She was perfectly willing to asses BlueBelle's incision.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Kate Benjamin and BlueBelle.

She gently turned BlueBelle over and looked at her little belly. There was a bright red, open area. We told her about the crappy spay surgery. She said she thought that the glue (the GLUE?) had failed and popped the incision open, but that there should have been stitches inside the kitten that would hold her abdomen closed. She was concerned about infection and the wound opening further. I asked what I could do and she said to find some Crazy Glue!

The clock is ticking. We have to leave for dinner soon. Bobby and Maria are really tired and hungry. I just won a big award, but now I must find Crazy Glue in a hotel that has a tiny gift shop and NO OTHER SHOPS anywhere close by.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Ingrid with Truffles.

The front desk offered me a dried up tube that we couldn't even get the top off of, so I tried the gift shop. They DID have some glue! Okay! Great! I ran over to the Vet and the small gathering of ladies around the kitten. Now the Vet says she really needs some sterile saline solution, some betadine and a syringe with no needle. Yeah. I can get that...WHERE CAN I GET THAT? My mind is spinning! I have to HURRY. Someone figures out there is a drug store a few miles away. It's rush hour in the D.C. area. We have no idea where we are going, but I grab Sam and he says he will drive me over to get the things we need. Meanwhile there are about 20 people wondering what is going on and some of them have grumbling bellies. Thankfully, Ingrid King, said she would call the restaurant and change the reservation! WHEW...okay...time to RUN!

But wait...can I get the first aid kit from the front desk? Sure! I was running back and forth between the front desk, the vet, the gift shop, Bobby & Maria and Ingrid. My head was getting ready to spin off my neck. There was nothing much in the kit. The woman at the front desk said that the night before had been a busy night for injuries in the hotel and that the kit was mostly empty!! Still, I brought it over for the Vet to take a look though..but it was sorely lacking so I returned it.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Snack time in the hotel room!

We got an address for a local pharmacy and just hoped for the best. Sam started driving and the GPS wanted us to go in a different direction than the point by point directions we had from GoogleMaps. Crap! What to do? We just followed the GPS hoping it wouldn't route us into a lake.

The traffic was TERRIBLE. No one was moving. Tick, tick, tick...HURRY! I wanted to JUMP OUT OF MY SKIN! It seemed like the drivers in front of us had cotton shoved in their brain hole because they were driving really slowly and they wouldn't try to cross traffic to turn into the parking lot!

Once we got into the lot, it was packed full of cars. Sam told me to go into the store and he would circle around.

It took me a few minutes to find most everything, but I had to wait for someone to help me with the syringe, so I stood there on line, tapping my leg, wishing they would HURRY already!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Time to head to Connecticut.

I got what I needed...$34 for this? Geez! Not complaining, but really? I jumped into the car and Sam sped off. Traffic back to the hotel wasn't as bad. My cell phone rang “where are you? we have another kitten that needs help!”

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Tree removal trucks getting into position before Hurricane Irene hits.

SHIT!

We got back to the hotel and the Vet said she wanted the First Aid Kit after all...so I ran back to get it...and she needed a place to work on the kittens. Truffles incision looked infected and needed to be cleaned out, too. We agreed to go to my hotel room so she could work on the bathroom counter.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Moments after arriving in their new home.

We loaded up all the cats, which saddened all the cat lady bloggers. They were not deterred. Many of them came upstairs with us! Before anything was done we had to promise not to say who the Vet was because like everyone at the conference, she was licensed in another state-even though she was just going to clean out a wound and put a drop of glue on the skin. I left her to do her thing while a few of the ladies watched the procedure. I needed to SIT DOWN and try to spend some time with Bobby and Maria, who were clearly energized by all that was going on, but I knew they needed to eat and have a chance to relax.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Blaze, Peri and Jack, ready to play.

The kittens did great. Their bellies patched up and looking better, the Vet excused herself and I thanked her profusely as she left our room! Where could I get a housecall in a hotel for kittens that needed help-RIGHT HERE! How lucky we were! We had antibiotics with us that the kittens were already getting so we kept them on their meds. We let them out of the cat carrier to run around in the hotel room while we all went out for dinner-at last! Everything was going to be ok now, right?

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. BlueBelle is doing fine now.

And it was...we had dinner with lots of PETTIE-WINNING cat lady bloggers, along with Maria, Bobby & Sam. We had a great time, great food, but sadly some of us had Hurricane Irene on our minds. Sam and I reluctantly decided we needed to leave early in the morning. Time was running out. We'd had our one day at BlogPaws and asking for another would potentially put us in peril...and the kittens, too, so we decided to call it a night.

Instead of going to bed, everyone came back up to our room to play with the kittens some more! Kate was on her belly, shooting videos of the kittens playing. Amberly took a huge stinky poop (we had a litter pan on hand) and we couldn't open the windows! No one cared. They were all cooing and laughing. I'd forgotten that I'm used to being around kittens most of the time and for them, it was more of a rare treat. It was really lovely to sit on the floor and watch the kittens and watch the joy and the delight on everyone's faces.

We bid everyone good night. We had to pack. Bobby & Maria still had 10 more miles to drive before they could get some sleep. For awhile I forgot about all my problems and what was waiting for me back home. It was nice, but far too short of a break. We got packed and set the alarm. Bobby & Maria would return in the morning with the kittens and we'd load up the car and head for home.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Amberly, always lovely and ready to chat wtih me.

Sam and I were very tired. The morning came too early, but we got ourselves out of bed. I went down to the car to start loading it up. I set up the dog crates where the cats would be traveling. I realized we didn't have enough room in the car for everything we had, so I made some changes so we could make it all fit.

Bobby & Maria were right on time. We let the kittens out so they could run around while we had breakfast. It was just the four of us eating, while BlogPaws continued on. The sky was slate gray and the winds were starting to pick up. I knew we had to leave soon. Irene was nearby.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. One of the many reasons the power was out. This is across Route 34, a main road in our town.

I was very sad to leave. I gave Bobby & Maria a big hug goodbye. We'd only just met a less than 12 hours before. We loaded the kittens into the car and began our trip home, deciding to take a longer route, away from the coast. It added an hour to the drive, but in the end, it was the right thing to do. We missed some flooding and a few tornadoes. The entire drive home we hit bands of violent rain, but they only lasted a minute or two. I looked the weather radar and we were literally skirting the edge of the storm the entire drive home.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. A common sight around Newtown, CT.

Seven hours later, we pulled into the driveway. I unlocked the door. I just wanted to see if Bob was still with us. I hadn't had an update on him and I was worried. Sure enough, Bob was sitting on his favorite red chair, looking a little more frail, but still with us. Once I knew he was ok, we worked on getting the kittens settled and getting ourselves unpacked.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The Housatonic River flooded quickly. If you look carefully, in the center of the image, you can see a home. It's built on stilts because the river often floods, but not as bad as this time around.

Irene swept into town and took with it, many of our lovely trees. 80 percent of the town went dark. Almost a week later, the power is still out in 26 percent of the homes. We were VERY LUCKY our power didn't go out. Many of the roads were impassable, not marked that trees were down, so getting around has been tough. My car is STILL in the SHOP because they lost power and phones. We drove past there and you can see my car on a lift in one of the bays. We haven't gone out much and we offered shelter to all our power-less friends, but they are doing fine without and hopefully things will be getting back to normal again soon.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The Pootatuck River was raging in downtown Sandy Hook, CT.

Now that I can look back, I know going to BlogPaws was the right thing for me to do. I'm glad I didn't miss out on the entire conference and I left yearning for more...for more connection to these good folks...for just a break from the troubles in my life. It was exhausting, but worth it. I'm glad I took the risk.

Not on My Watch: Update on the Chubby Siamese Cats

Thanks to Diabetic Cats in Need (DCIN), they've got someone who can work with diabetic cats who lives in McDonough, GA-not far from where the cats are located! She can test the blood sugar of the 29 pound siblings we're trying to help who are stuck at Henry County Care & Control. We're all concerned that in addition to being obese, these babies may be diabetic. Should they be diabetic, DCIN can possibly help us find a foster home or placement for the cats. First-this person has to be allowed to test the cats, which may not be possible. I don't know if there are rules about allowing a non-adopter to help the cats! That sounds sick, but I just don't know if we'll be able to test them.

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©2011 Betsy Merchant. Poor Babies!

I've been looking up Siamese cat rescues and contacting them to find out if any of them can help us. So far, no luck, but I'll keep looking.

If anyone out there knows any Siamese cat rescues or ANY cat rescue that would take this pair, please contact me RIGHT AWAY at info@coveredincathair.com And yes, transport can be arranged.

We gotta keep trying to help these babies! By the way, they ARE already spayed/neutered and sadly, are declawed, too!

THIS JUST IN: THE CATS ARE NOT DIABETIC. IT'S TWO BOYS, NOT A GIRL AND BOY! AND THEY ARE GOING TO BE EUTHANIZED ON MONDAY AFTERNOON!!! THIS IS AN URGENT SITUATION! CODE RED!

The Travellin' Wobbleberry's

John Edwards saw three little kittens, stumbling on the streets of Babylon, New York (Long Island). He had no idea what was wrong with them, but he knew he had to do something to help. He brought the kittens home. Something was wrong with the little ones and to make matters worse, his dog wanted to eat them as a snack, so John knew he couldn't do more than give them a temporary home. He worked frantically to get them the help they needed.

John contacted the local shelter in Huntington. Sadly, they couldn't help. They were more than full up and had no fosters. The Director recognized the telltale shake and the difficulty one of the kittens had in walking. The kittens had CH or Cerebellar Hypoplasia. Luckily for the kittens, the Director was also a member of the CH Kitty Club! and had other resources, outside of the shelter, to help.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Josephine wonders what's going on.

Word spread quickly about these little darlings on Facebook. They needed a foster family, quick! They needed vet care! They needed a rescue to take them and folks to get them to the rescue!

Normally, each phase of doing this sort of rescue takes a lot of time and coordination. Lots of folks offered to do their part and within a few days a rough plan was hatched and donations started to come in from all over the country!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Thumper is so cute, but don't get too close to her just yet!

Someone stepped forward to foster the cats and deliver them to Connecticut. Jennifer and I offered to drive them from the Bridgeport Ferry (which travels to and from Long Island most days) and drive the kittens close to the Massachusetts border where a rescue group was going to take them into their program!

While I'll admit there was a lot of back and forth, date changes, time changes, then poor Jennifer got sick a few hours before she was to pick up the kittens-somehow we pulled it off!

Okay, so the foster mom decided to KEEP one of the three kittens at the very last second, which is normally not done once a transport is set up, but a good home is a good home. So we took the remaining two kittens, Josephine and Thumper, to meet their new foster parents, Anne and Joe.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

While I was driving, I told Jennifer to put the cat carrier on her lap so she could take a better look at the kittens. Jennifer unzipped the top of the case and started to talk this cute baby talk voice to the kittens. Now Jennifer loves EVERY cat, but within seconds I heard one of the cats SPIT and hiss. Oops! Jennifer pulled her hand back quickly, then blurted out; “I hate this cat!” She zipped up the case and returned the kittens to the backseat.

One of the kittens was clearly feral. Guess this rescue was going to get a surprise! I started to worry they wouldn't show up at the pickup location. The last thing I need is to have to socialize a kitten right now! Jennifer said out loud what I was thinking about being stuck with the kittens and we both giggled about it. I know she didn't hate that kitten and someday the little girl will like people, just not today and not after a ride on the Ferry and a long drive! Josephine said quietly, unlike her sister, but we knew that was because she can't really walk on her own and maybe it was tough for her to express herself, too?

Anne and Joe arrived to pick up the kittens. What super-awesome folks they are! They actually specialize on rehabilitating CH kittens! Anne told me she had a kitten who could only do backflips. That was the only movement he could make. Her Vet said to put him down, but she said, No. His name is BOB!

She built a carpeted ramp for him, used a sling under his belly and helped him learn to walk. The ramp allowed him to build strength in his back legs and the carpet lets him dig his claws in to get traction. Today he can walk on his own! He does not have the gait of a CH-free cat, but he does well. Anne felt she could help Josie walk and she didn't bat an eye when we told her about Thumper! Both kittens will get what they need for as long as they need it. Then one day, they too will find their forever home with a new family.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Jennifer (left) hands off the kittens to Anne.

They say, “it takes a village,” and boy is that true. If John hadn't taken a risk to help those kittens, we know this story would have had a sad ending. He just did what was right and found a solution. It's tough to stick your neck out for stray cats because you don't know how it will go, but we have to try.

There are many more kitties out there who need help. Next time you see one, I hope you'll consider taking a chance to create your own rescue story with a happy ending.

Elke! Butt-Kicker and Cat Lover Extraordinaire!

Elke is awesome. She really kicks butt.

Last year she jumped at the chance to ADOPT, not foster, an adult cat who was dumped at the door to a Vet in the blistering heat of southern Atlanta. The cat, stuck in a cat carrier, suffered there until the local Vet's office opened a day later. He didn't care for the cat, he turned it over to Animal Control, who brought it to a KILL SHELTER. This kitty had NO CHANCE of surviving. She wasn't a kitten, she wasn't fancy-pants, she was just a tabby with an pleading look in her eyes.

The cat's name was Koko and the notes attached to her cat carrier sent shock waves throughout the cat rescue community. Of all the stories I've written, Koko's got the most passionate and heated reactions-my own, included.

Koko's backstory is HERE.

In nine days, it will be the one year anniversary of KoKo, who is now named, Sophie's freedom and the start of her life 2.0. Elke, opened her home, took a big risk and fell in love with this chubby tabby who only sort-of-kind-of gets along with Elke's other cats. It doesn't matter. There's plenty of room for everyone. The cats co-exist peacefully and Sophie will never have to worry about being dumped again.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. WOO! LOVE IT!

Since I arranged for Sophie's release from the Kill shelter, her vetting and transport, Elke and I have become friends. Elke is a diehard supporter of Kitten Associates and for all cats in need. This woman LOVES animals and it's clear her heart is huge.

The latest proof arrived in the mail today! A surprise! A stunning, fantastic, zebra-striped cat carrier! I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!

I'm a Graphic Designer and I LOVE black and white with a hit of hot pink or red and this cat carrier has all the right touches of red! It is a knockout!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Don't even bother trying!

The second I put it on the floor Blitzen, Mazie and Nicky rushed over to check it out. Blitzen, somehow managed to cram himself into the opening, while Mazie smacked at his face out of jealousy!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.Well I'll be! Look at Blitzen!

This cat carrier isn't really made for a big cat, it's really for the foster kittens. I know “the DOOD” being black & white, will coordinate perfectly with his carrier or, vice versa!

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Uh oh. Mazie is not havin' it!

I didn't realize how tired I was of the boring, flesh-tone colored hard plastic boxes I lug back and forth to the Vet. Now I can't wait to bring Doodles for his FVRCP vaccine! We'll be the hit of the waiting room, for sure! If it wasn't so hot, I'd just pack him in it and take him for drives with me.

For now I'll have to contain myself...hee hee...

THANK YOU, ELKE!

and thank you for loving Sophie so much, too!

Foster Cat Journal: A Farewell to Phil

I rescued Phil from Henry County in early June when it didn't work out that he could live there as a shelter cat. [his rescue story is here] He didn't like the dogs, so he had to go. Over the past few months, Phil's been enjoying life with Bobbie, his foster mama and cat-blogger of Cats-Goats-Quotes.

While Phil was in foster care, I got lots of updates. Every one said what a sweet, pretty cat he was. He was laid back and got on with Bobbie and her other cats. He didn't make a fuss, wouldn't jump on furniture, but would rather just sleep inside his cat carrier.

She noticed scars on his nose and started to wonder if Phil had been abused and maybe shoved off the furniture, never being allowed the sense of comfort most cats enjoy.

Bobbie graciously held Phil longer than I expected because Cara, Polly, Mac and Mazie were still here. After Cara went to another foster home and Mac and Polly were about to be adopted, I let Bobbie know it was time to say her farewell to Phil and to get him on the next PETS transport north. I have never felt worse about asking to take a foster cat from someone, but it was time.

Of course Bobbie was completely gracious about letting go, but I know how much it hurts. Bobbie wrote a lovely post entitled: “Friday without Phillip” about how much she loves Phil and misses him, but she made sure he got onto the transport headed for Connecticut.

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©2011 Bobby Stanford.

What made matters worse was the heat. It was far too hot in the suburbs of Atlanta in late July. The inside of the transport was too hot. Phil, and his traveling companions, Muddles & Cuddles, who were going to my partner-shelter, Animals in Distress, were not too happy. In fact they were panting. They were supposed to be in a part of the trailer that was away from the dogs-they were not. I got frantic calls from Maria, then I called PETS, but could not get through to anyone. Maria wished she had kept the cats off the truck. Bobby, who had delivered Phil to the transport looked at Phil. He had the saddest look on his face. Bobby said it was as if he was saying “what did I do for you to do this to me?”

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©2011 Bobby Stanford.

This was Thursday afternoon. The transport would not arrive until Saturday morning. How were these cats going to survive?

I made calls and sent e-mails. I paced. I fretted. I know Kyle Peterson who owns PETS transport. He's a good guy. He runs a good service. I've never had a problem but I've never done a run in such blazing hot weather.

Friday morning I got an email, assuring me everything was all right and asking me to call them on their private number. When I called, I was told that Phil and the other kitties had overnighted in the office at PETS which had A/C and was away from the dogs. They ate well and were relaxed. I was assured that the A/C on the truck worked and that they were doing everything they could to monitor the transport, the animals and their well being. That they even had a cat lover on the truck to keep extra attention on our three cats-the only cats on the truck (as usual).

The next day passed uncomfortably. I kept envisioning Phil dying or being so messed up from the trip that I could never adopt him out. At 6:30AM PETS called and said the truck was running late, a first. That they would be in about 90 minutes late. 90 more minutes to fret.

It was going to be 90°F in Connecticut the day the transport arrived. All I could think of was to get Phil, get him into the car with the A/C blasting and get him home! I ended up following the trailer into the parking lot! What timing! I didn't have to wait long to get Phil off the truck. When they brought him to me, he started to cry-a big loud siamese-ish ME-OW! I knew what he meant. GET HIM OUT OF HERE!

Connie came to get Muddles & Cuddles. I saw them for about 10 seconds, but made my excuses to get going. As soon as we were in the car, Phil settled down. It was so quiet, I think he finally felt like he could relax. By the time we were home, he was asleep.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor Phil. He was completely wiped out after the trip.

I got him into his room. He meowed loudly to be fed. I felt bad taking him off what he was used to and starting him on grain free canned. Better get it over with! I gave him a can of food. He ate the whole 5 ounces. He had a good drink of water. He laid down on the wood floor. I encouraged him to climb on the bed, but he seemed reluctant, so I put him on the bed. I petted him a bit and looked at his blue eyes. I didn't want to do much to him right then and there. He needed rest. I left him on the bed and he passed out cold.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. After sleeping for the better part of a day, Phil starts to perk up.

Phil slept a lot over the first two days. I just kept him fed and spent those days sitting near him on the bed. We, okay I, watched dumb movies on TV. I petted him and talked to him. He was not overly friendly, but not mean. He was just tired. Poor guy.

I'd been getting applications on Phil from before he arrived, so after just three days of being with me, I went on a home inspection of a couple that lives in the neighboring town. Their home was spotless. They're retired and very active. They have no kids, but love cats and all animals. Their home overlooks a waterfall and the woods. There are windows everywhere you look. They are really nice people and they have one kitty named Tiger who misses his friend, Cisco, who passed away just about the same day I rescued Phil from the shelter.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Finally sitting up and looking well rested at last!

Two days later, they came to meet Phil. They talked about possibly re-naming him, Big Poppy after one of the players on the Red Sox. They liked how big he was, but didn't think he was “that” big! Are you kiding me? He IS a big guy! They were a bit nervous about how Tiger would react to Phil. At least I knew Phil loved other cats, but if Tiger doesn't like him, then Phil has to come back to my house.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.

They wanted to give it a try and they filled out the Adoption Contract and I helped them pack up Phil, along with his favorite toy balls, his catnip banana and some feather toys. I gave them some food, too and they gave me their promise that they'd do their best for Phil.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Phil with the infamous Catnip Banana!

Phil leaving was like ripping off a bandage. He wasn't here long enough for me to fall head over heels. He was here long enough for me to see what a special guy he is and how lovely he is. He really perked up and got playful before he left. He would “lumber” instead of run. It was really cute. His legs go for miles. I think he can't get out of his own way some times.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. One last road trip to make it home.

The next part of Phil's story is up to fate and the faith of his new family. Will Phil end up coming back? Maybe. I can't say for sure. I know that he did well after his first day and that his new dad, Joe, enjoys sitting on the bed, with Phil curled up next to him. Joe reads a book and pets Phil. They were buddies after a few hours.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Farewell, Phil! I hope you have the most wonderful rest-of-your-life, ever!

This feels good and right, but time will tell. For now, Phil is safe and in a loving home. With all my heart, I hope that this is “the one” for this gentle giant and if not, I've always got his back.

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©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The words every rescuer hopes to hear!

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