The alarm went off. It was 5AM. My stomach did a flipflop, a jolt of adrenaline made me feel sick. I knew it was from anxiety. I didn't want to get up. I wanted to sleep. I was exhausted and it was only Tuesday, three more days until I was off on Friday and then I'd have to do it all over again on Monday.
But I had to get to work. I was living alone, was divorced and had a huge nut to crack every month-utilities, mortgage, credit card bills. I loved my house and my life in the woods, but my home was meant for a family, not a single woman. I had to do whatever it took to make a living, even if I was getting sick from the stress.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson. Squeegee.
I ran to the bathroom and got sick, as I did pretty much every day I had to work. I tried to calm down, but I knew my little hamster-on-the-wheel schedule. Go to the bathroom, get dressed, put on makeup. I showered the night before so I wouldn't have to do it in the morning. I put down some dry food and fresh water for my cats, Stanley and Squeegee. I went to the bathroom two more times, then I frantically checked my backpack to make sure I had everything I needed: cell phone, check, charger, check, money, powerbook, adapter, job files, keys...yep...Train pass! Yes. I had it in a holder that I wore around my neck. It shared a space with the electronic key card that would get me into the building where I worked. Then I had an odd thought “bring your camera.” I didn't know why I thought that and with my anxiety building, I had to get going or I'd miss the Express train, I dis missed the thought and left my camera at home.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson. Lovely Stanley.
It was a gorgeous day; cool, crisp with a vivid blue sky. The sun was coming up as I got into my car. If I wanted to get parked and into the station, I'd have to get moving. My stomach protested but I didn't have anything left in me. I purposely didn't eat until I got to work. I didn't want to vomit on the train-again.
©2003 Robin A.F. Olson. My "lello car"...I had it for 14 years and sold it with 189,000 miles on it.
I hopped into my yellow Mustang GT. How I loved that car. It was a few moments of freedom as I sped my way through the rural towns on the way to Bridgeport, CT.
As the winding, tree lined roads gave way to highways, my gut tensed up even more. I REALLY did not want to GO. My heart was racing. I just had to press on. They were expecting me.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson. Bridgeport station-another early morning arrival.
I got parked, then walked a few blocks to the station. It's raised above the ground, a few stories high, so it can meet the level of the tracks. It's an ugly, flat gray concrete building. Sounds echo. Even with only a few people there it's noisy. The announcer hasn't made any track changes yet, so I know to wait on track 3, but first...gotta go to the bathroom one more time; going on the train is about as unpleasant a task as I can imagine.
I drag myself over to wait on the platform after I wash up. My heart is thudding. I'm a few minutes early. I can make the Express-which is good because it's at least 20 minutes faster than the Local. The problem-is it tends to be quite full by the time it reaches Bridgeport. I have a plan of where to stand on the platform to get a good seat towards the back of the train, once it arrives. I have a plan for which seat to choose-not near the bathroom, it usually smells terrible, not in the middle of a 3-seat row, not near anyone, if possible, on the end of the row, so I can get up if I need to.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson. Ugh. The train arrives. Last chance to turn around and go back home.
Once the train arrives and I get a seat, I start to relax a little bit. I want to cry, but I made it. I won't be late getting to work. I stow my bag. I don't want to be like the others, fussing with their laptops or reading the Wall St. Journal. Most of the people on the train are men, many in suits. Most of them irritate me because they can't sit still, look out the window, sit quietly. A few have to talk on their cell phones. Who do you need to talk to at barely 7AM? They're self important, self centered jerks. I wish they would shut up. Me, I'm going to try to rest. I know I won't sleep, even though my stop is the last one. There's one more stop before the train goes Express and that one will fill up the train to beyond capacity. I've had to stand all the way a few times. It sucks. The train service should be so much better. They raise the fares all the time, but the cars are gross, the seats tacky and there just isn't enough room. I put my hand on my badge holder, ready to flash my monthly pass at the Conductor when he walks past. I loath the “click, click, click” sound of his hole punch. It reminds me of where I'm going and that I'm stuck on this train for the next hour and twenty minutes-IF we're on time. The pass cost me more than $400 a month, I find it ironic that I have to work where I don't want to be, to pay for a train pass that takes me where I don't want to go.
I shut my eyes as I try to prop myself into a position where I can rest. I think about my boyfriend, Rich. I can only see him every other weekend or so. He lives in Boston. My heart starts to slow down to a normal pace. My stomach is empty and complaining, but at least I didn't get sick. The train is loud as it clacks along the tracks. At times it sways violently. I try not to notice, but it feels like we're going too fast and about to lose control. I feel that way about my life.
I have 90 more minutes to rest and try to prepare myself for the day. I work at a Marketing/Promotions firm as a freelance Art Director. It's a few blocks walk from the Terminal. I have some cereal packaging layouts to work on today. Hopefully, I won't have to work late. My commute is 2 hours and 40 minutes, each way.
©2001 Robin A.F. Olson. View out the window.
At least it's not raining, a really nice day. As I close my eyes, I think about my Brother, his birthday is in a few days, September 13th. I think about how most people think that number is unlucky, but my family always felt that the 13th was a lucky number because my brother and father were both born on the 13th of the month. I can't remember what we're doing to celebrate Dan's birthday, I'll have to call my Mother later and ask her.
©2005 Robin A.F. Olson. Empire State Building-2 blocks from where I worked.
It's only September 11, 2001. I have time. Once I arrive at Grand Central Terminal, I can get my brother a Birthday card. There are nice greeting card shops in New York City. It's a lovely day. I really shouldn't be so miserable.
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.
©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.
©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.
©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!
©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!”
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Tree removal trucks getting into position before Hurricane Irene hits.
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.
©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.
©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?
©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.
©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.
©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.
©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.
©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.
©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.
Maria was certain something was terribly wrong with Amberly. The cat is very small to begin with and was still healing from spay surgery that was done 10 days prior. What was making the cat's belly distend? Then Maria mentioned very smelly poop, which can be a sign of Giardia. I told her I thought maybe it was worms or just the effects from a long ride in the car. She felt it was something worse than that-perhaps life threatening! I promised I'd find a Vet. She said they would be arriving in about an hour. I had to act quickly.
Thankfully, Caroline Golon, one of the Founders of BlogPaws, was able to find a Vet. She didn't tell me she was going to find me a really cute Vet to boot..and one who does Acupuncture and Wellness! I wish I had had time to have a conversation with Dr. Patrick Mahaney, instead of pleading for his advice!
©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Margaret Gates, Dr. Patrick Mahaney, & Me just after the phone call..and the relief that all was well for Amberly.
Margaret Gates, from Feline Nutrition, was with me. We were both giving Dr Patrick big-eyed “Puss-in-boots” look, asking if he wouldn't mind talking to us about this cat problem we had. Of course Dr. Patrick did not see Amberly, nor could he advise us since he's from California and not licensed in Virginia, but it didn't hurt to ask for his opinion, which he was gracious enough to give us. I put Dr. Patrick on the phone with Maria while my heart raced. It was 4:45pm-in fifteen minutes, the Pettie Award winners were going to be announced via the web. Almost all of the nominees were at BlogPaws and we all sincerely wanted to watch the broadcast, but I had to make sure Amberly was all right over anything else.
Thankfully, Dr. Patrick agreed that Amberly needed to be de-wormed and I promised to get a stool sample over to my vet when we got to Connecticut. As a personal THANK YOU to Dr. Patrick, I'd love it if you ALL go visit his web site: http://www.patrickmahaney.com/blog/ and LIKE him (what's not to like?!) on FACEBOOK!
With that issue put to rest, Margaret and I started to look for the room where we could watch the Pettie Awards. I have to note that for some reason, Dogtime Media pulled out of attending BlogPaws 2011 about 2 weeks before the Conference. Many of us were very upset about this because there would be no formal ceremony, handing out of trophies and no chance to give that acceptance speech we'd all been planning. The Petties were going to be broadcast as a pre-tapped video.
Instead, we were sent off to a private room with a nice big screen projection setup. Everyone else was off to a screening of a new Disney movie called Spookie Buddies. About 20 of us were sitting around waiting for something to happen. I didn't see any computer hooked up to the screen so I ran off looking for help. Michael, our very nice A/V guy, got there with minutes to spare! My heart started racing. We were all getting nervous with anticipation.
Then I started getting texts from Maria. They were going to arrive in about 15 minutes! What was I to do? Make them sit out in the hot car? I had to go meet them, but I just HAD to see who was going to WIN!! Covered in Cat Hair was up for TWO awards!
Then the video began, featuring Leslie Smith, Editor at Dogtime.com. We all started buzzing...first up, our friends Kate Benjamin of ModernCat and JaneA Kelly of Paws & Effect! When Kate won, we all erupted in screams and clapping! I wish both ladies could have won, though.
The awards were being announced at lightning speed. Next up was one of my categories: Best Social Integration! Stephanie Harwin of Catsparella won! I was very happy for her, but then I worried..it was my best shot to win. There was no way I was going to win for Best Cat Blog. The competition was way too stiff.
My heart felt like it was going to bust out of my chest. Maria was texting me. They were about to arrive! My category finally came up. I thought to myself-it's about time I was a WINNER. After the pure HELL of the past few weeks, I was due..due for something good to happen and I'd worked very hard for 5 years writing Covered in Cat Hair. Surely, I had a shot, but it also meant that my good friend, Ingrid wouldn't win and I wanted her to win, too.
The intro screen came up...
They announced the four finalists....
Ingrid was right there, giving me a big hug. She was so gracious and I knew from our talks that we both would be happy if either of us won. I wanted to cry. I was so happy, but I had to leave the room! Bobby and Maria had arrived and were waiting in the Lobby. They'd just driven 10 hours. I was not going to make them wait.
©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Just after the WIN!
I floated out of the room and there were lots of folks from the show milling about. I wanted to scream “I WON I WON!!!” but I had to drop the urge and get back to business. I could celebrate later.
And then, across the lobby, I saw Bobby and Maria walking towards me. It was so odd. I knew what they looked like and we'd talked many time over the past year, but here they were in the flesh, like nothing particularly strange was going on. I'd been looking forward to this moment for a long time, but I could see how tired and hot they were so I got them to sit down and got them a drink. As I was walking back, I saw everyone leaving the room where I just watched part of the Petties. Ingrid, it seems, won for Best Pet Blog-the TOP honor of ALL the awards! I WAS SO HAPPY FOR HER and now things just felt complete! EVERY award-other than than the Best DOG Blog, was WON BY A CAT WRITER!!!!!
©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Bobby & I cuddle with Peri & Amberly.
And then, like moths to a furry-flame, the cat writing ladies managed to find that Amberly and her kittens were in the lobby and within seconds they were all cooing and smiling over their new friends. Maria and Bobby were good sports. I think the energy in the room revived them and all the fussing about the kittens was a treat to see. What was even better was that most of us had just won a Pettie Award and it felt so empowering for us to be together! It was a moment I really cherished.
©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Ingrid King (left), Foster Mama-Maria (seated), Tamar Arslanian of I Have Cat (rear), Margaret Gates of Feline Nutrition and Kate Benjamin of ModernCat (right)
I think I had about fifteen minutes of feeling good, happy, visiting with everyone...then, as things often do...the shit hit the fan. One of the ladies came up to me holding BlueBelle. She said something was wrong. I looked at the incision on Blue's belly. She'd been spayed 10 days earlier. I have to say the "person" who did the spay did a terrible job. I've never had to put kittens on antibiotics after being spayed because they got an infection. Their incisions were horrible. Here was Blue, very calm and serene and the glue had popped and her incision was opening up and was bleeding.
©2011 Robin A.F Olson. Sam & Bobby with Periwinkle & Amberly.
Find out what happens next...in tomorrow's post!
If you'd like to see the Pettie Awards presentation, just go HERE to see the show and a complete list of all the WINNERS!
I could end the post right there, but I have to write this down. I don't expect anyone to believe me, but believe me, this is the truth.
Have you ever felt like you were getting a “cosmic” signal NOT to do something? Not to go somewhere?
Here it is---Tuesday. Sam and I are supposed to leave here on THURSDAY to travel to Vienna, VA to attend BlogPaws 2011. Sam and I are Speakers this year and it's vital for us to do networking while we're there, as well. We need to find sponsors for our Kitten Associates web site program, so we can get the funding to build free web sites for animal rescue groups in need. So it's important to be at this event.
©2011 Maria. S. Amberly's kittens take a nappy.
Maria, my fantastic Foster mom and Bobby, my fantastic helper-driver-cat-taker-to-the Vet are driving Amberly and her five kittens (remember them? You can see pix of them HERE) 10 hours north to Vienna, Virginia so I can bring them home with me on Saturday.
1. Hurricane Irene. That beeyatch is going to slither up the coast of the USA and beeyatch-slap millions of people. Maria and Bobby are driving up from Georgia on Friday morning-just about the time the storm will hit. Then they have to drive back home on Saturday. The storm will be in the Carolinas by then, so how do they get home? Sam and I have to drive the I-95 corridor to get to VA. It will be severely impacted by the storm. It looks like we may even get HIT in Connecticut, while it's still a Cat 1 or 2 storm. That means, flooded roads, miserable driving, nightmarish traffic. We have to leave EARLY saturday and miss half of BlogPaws so we can get home in time to watch our house blow away. And my darling Nephew Ryan just started college in South Carolina..right on the coast and all I want to do is go get him and bring him home and all he wants to do is attend his first college weekend party.
2. Our Pet sitter and our backup pet sitter got sick. Hopefully they will be able to get here and help out in a few days. We won't know until we are supposed to LEAVE if everyone is ok to help provide care for Bob while we are gone.
˙2011 Robin A.F. Olson. As always, Bob is surrounded when he gets fed-just in case he doesn't eat it all the clean up crew lurks nearby.
3. Bob. Bob needs a lot of care. He needs to be syringe fed at least 4 times a day and given insulin shots twice a day. All our other cats need feeding and care. We can just scoot off and leave them with a big bowl of food. I can't play “what happens if Bob dies while we're gone,” but how can I not do that?
4.EARTHQUAKE? Holy crap. There was an earthquake about 80 miles south of Vienna, VA a few hours ago. Hopefully, no one was hurt and no infrastructure was damaged. Do we have to worry about an earthquake happening in a few more days? A worse one? I don't think so, but...with my luck, I wouldn't be surprised.
˙2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Bye bye car. I hope you didn't just die.
5. My car just died. I was driving home. Got on the on ramp on I-84 and all the engine warning lights came on and the car made a funny sound and I could not accelerate any more. I pulled over as far as I could. I smelled something burning, then saw some smoke slip out from under the hood. I started shaking...grabbed the phone and got out of the car. I called 9-1-1 because I was concerned something might ignite and I was scared to death. I was in the blazing sun and 100's of cars were flying past me. I called AAA-thank God for them. They promised less than an hour. I tried to reach Sam. I called once...voice mail..I called again..voice mail..I started to cry.
Sam couldn't get to me. There was construction problems. The cops never showed up. I just sat there thinking that my car repair is probably going to cost me every dime I have left...hopefully not more...hopefully it CAN be repaired.
©2011 Maria S. Truffles has to wear the “cone of shame” for a few days until her infection clears up. I've NEVER had cats get spayed, come back with infections, ever!
6. Amberly's kittens have INFECTIONS from their spay surgery!!!! Are YOU KIDDING ME?!!! REALLY?? They have to be on clavamox for a few days. Not a big deal, unless their fevers don't go down and they get SICKER!!!!!
...and that isn't everything...just add being sick with a stomach virus, being sleep deprived and still suffering from a headache that started last year after I was in a car accident...and on and on...
I'm honestly terrified of what is going to happen next. Should I NOT go on this trip? I was all ready to write about how I was going to go full speed ahead and bravely drive right into the oncoming Hurricane Irene just to get to BlogPaws. Right after I thought that, my car DIED.
Is it a meatloaf with ears or a cat? It's almost impossible to believe the answer.
©2011 Betsy Merchant. WHAT????
©2011 Betsy Merchant. They ARE kitties after all!
They're both terrified and miserable.
These cats were probably “free fed” a big bowl of dry food by some UNCONSCIOUS person who could NOT HAVE NOTICED their cats were SO FAT that both probably are diabetic and have joint problems, to say the least.
©2011 Betsy Merchant. This poor girl. How long was she sitting in her own urine??? What was done to her??
These poor creatures have little chance of getting out alive. They're full up at HCCAC and they're euthanizing cats daily. I want to get them OUT of there, put them on GOOD food, NOT a DIET. Get them to start the road to wellness and feeling better. I'm looking for a local foster home in the southeast of Atlanta to foster them until the end of September when I hope to be able to bring them up here to find their forever home.
©2011 Betsy Merchant.
This is information (below) from Betsy at Henry County about the location for these cats and contact information. If you want my help with anything or have questions just contact me and I'll do what I can!
**Please Note; When forwarding, cross posting, or re-posting I ask that you leave this message intact exactly as it was written by me. I do not give permission to post my message, part of my message, or my photographs on Craig's List or Facebook. Thank you for your help and support, and for respecting my wishes.**
We are very rescue friendly and are more than happy to work with any rescue group as long as the group has a valid Georgia Department of Agriculture license! Any rescue group, whether in or out of state, that takes pets from Georgia shelters, is required, by Georgia law, to have a rescue license issued by the Georgia Department of Agriculture's Animal Protection Division. Having tax exempt status is not the same as a license. For more information on obtaining a license, please call (404) 656-4914.
Henry County Animal Care and Control
527 Hampton Street
McDonough, Georgia 30253
Monday-Friday: 9 am-4:30 pm
Saturday: 9 am-1 pm
County Observed Holidays: Closed
The shelter is located at 527 Hampton Street in McDonough. We are located south of Atlanta off I-75. Take exit 218 and head east on 20/81 toward McDonough. Our address is 527 Hwy 20/81 East.
For all other information regarding ordinances, county codes, and other functions of Henry County Animal Care and Control please visit www.hcacc.org
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.
©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?”
©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.
©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.
©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.
©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.
©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.
©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.
©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.
©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.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. The words every rescuer hopes to hear!
I think it's almost a given, that when something bad happens, we try to make sense of it. Give it a reason for being, so we can learn to accept it. Then there are times when it's just so bad, there is no sense to be made.
Yesterday afternoon, I called my Vet to see if Doodlebug was ready to be picked up. I had dropped him off that morning and he just needed some tests, a shot and a wellness exam. If you're going to do cat rescue, you must NEVER bring a cat into your home without it going to the Vet, FIRST. Considering all the creeping crud out there, you can't be too careful.
Doodle looked great, perky, nice weight. I didn't worry that anything was wrong with him, but when it took 6 minutes of being on hold to just find out a pickup time, I knew something was up. Instead of one of the Vet techs picking up the phone, it was Dr. Larry. His voice had a serious tone. Normally we would joke around, but not this time.
He didn't mince words.
Doodlebug tested POSITIVE for Feline Leukemia.
WHAT??!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!
I felt lightheaded, like I was going to faint. I tried to muster up the courage to ask him what this means. When I was a kid, two of our family's cats died from it. Dr. Larry said what I had heard from other folks who do rescue, that although it is a “strong positive,” that there is a CHANCE that in time, Doodle's immune system may kick in and he will re-test, negative. This result means he was EXPOSED to the virus, not necessarily that he HAS it. It's called, Primary Viremia. You can read more about it on Cornell's excellent resource guide for Feline Leukemia If so, there are no more concerns for this cat's future. If he re-tests positive, you have to wait and re-test again. All in all, I may have to wait for up to SIX MONTHS to really be sure one way or the other.
But Feline Leukemia is very contagious and fatal and I have an FIV+ cat with cancer and eight other cats in my house. What am I supposed to do now?
Do I have to EUTHANIZE Doodlebug? I could barely ask the question. I had to sit down. My legs went wobbly. I was in shock. I didn't want to know the answer.
I can barely even type that word: euthanize. The thought of me KILLING a KITTEN, when my life is devoted to SAVING their lives,? It's absurd! I would NEVER do that! How could I do such a thing? But what about my own cats? Does bringing Doodle into my home, mean a DEATH SENTENCE FOR MY OWN CATS?
We talked about isolation. Re-testing. Doodle does NOT have to be euthanized today, but it may have to happen at some point. IF he was at a shelter, guess what, he would be dead. I get it. This is not something you want around a lot of other cats.
But I was VERY WORRIED about bringing him into my home. I wished I had a separate building to bring my fosters now, more than ever, but I was stuck. At least I HAD a room to put him in that was isolated from the rest of the house.
I had figured Doodle would be in the blue bathroom (as we call it), for a few weeks, then I'd let him meet my cats and he could run around and have a good time until he got adopted. Now I may have lost that space for fosters until 2012!
I could make SURE Doodle was locked up, change clothes after I handle him and wash my hands well after each visit, too. If I could keep my own cats away, the Feline Leukemia virus does not live for more than a few hours in the environment, so as long as there are no shared dishes, litterpans or contact, it increases the odds my cats will be all right.
He will be ALONE in that bathroom for a very long time.
I hung up the phone and called out to Sam. I told him the news and I could see his shoulders slump as he processed the information. He had a crush on this little kitten, too. I could see it broke his heart. We spoke about our options, about what this might mean for our own cats and for Doodlebug. I started to cry, but I was late for a meeting and I had to figure out how to not be sad, be businesslike and deal with this later. I asked Sam what we should do. We had few options. Sam said; "We don't give up on him. That's what we do. I will go get him and bring him home.”
So now what I thought was going to be an easy rescue, has become much more complex. What I thought I could afford has become a challenge. The bathroom where Doodle will live is small and has a small window. I would like to buy Doodle a cat tree so he can sit up high and look out the window, as well as have a place to climb and a way to de-stress because it will have nice, tall sisal legs to scratch.
I contacted Doodle's former owner and told him he must contact the person he got the kitten from and let them know the news and to get that cat tested for Feline Leukemia. I also told him that if he had Doodle around other cats, that those cats needed to be tested, too. I would have LIKED to tell him that I also would have appreciated it if he warned me that Doodle was trained to use a human's hand as a TOY and that he will haul off and bite and grab your arm or leg-a behavior I will be working to correct.
I didn't hear back from him. I'm not surprised. Doodle was on the road to becoming a very unpleasant cat to live with. You wouldn't be able to pet him without him getting excited and biting. When he weighs four pounds, it's one thing, but when he grows up, it won't be a lot of fun to have him around. I would bet money that this was the real reason they got rid of him-not that their kid was allergic, but that the kitten was growing too aggressive from how they mis-handled him.
All in all, I'd have to say that my first CT cat rescue under the Kitten Associates moniker was about as bad as it could be. I have to think that in trying to make sense of this, I had to save Doodle, so I can help him be a good kitty-citizen, learn to be gentle and give him all the tools to have every chance at being healthy and living a good life.
For the record, if there is one someone's keeping out there, I will never put Doodle down.
I know a lot of people who rescue cats and they often say to me that they think they're cat magnets because cats who need help, always seem to find them. My friend, Izzy, is one such person and recently she had to take quick action to save the lives of helpless neonatal kittens.
Izzy and her husband, Mark were helping bring in hay at the boarding farm where they keep their horses. While they were there she found out something that was was both heartbreaking and a true emergency.
At the boarding farm there was a tractor shed on the property. The owner found 5 newborn kittens without their mother. The owner figured the mama would come back, so she didn't worry about it. She checked on the kittens the next day, but no mama. For two days the kittens were left alone, not fed or kept warm. At less then a week old, without urgent care these kittens would perish.
She mentioned her find to her next door neighbor who said he'd shot and killed a white cat in his yard, worried she'd kill his ducklings. Without pity or concern, he ended her life, not realizing he may have also just ended the lives of five little kittens, as well.
The owner moved the kittens to her stable, hoping another feral mama would find them and care for the three boys and two little girls, but no help arrived...until Izzy got there.
Now Izzy has a few, ah cats, dogs, horses...well more than you can count on your fingers and maybe toes, so Izzy knows how to care for animals, but she's got her hands full already. She didn't bat an eye, or try to get out of helping these babies. One look at them and she was smitten. Each delicate creature was snow white, but by some comedic genetic twist, all but one has at least one black dot on their head. It's as if a cosmic force anointed them, marking them as ones to be saved. Izzy knew she had to move quickly, so she took the kittens and got them home where she began the difficult task of trying to warm them up get them FED. Time was of the essence!
Izzy and her husband, Mark, also a dedicated animal rescuer, helped tend to the kittens. The phone rang. It was the owner of the farm. They found a sixth kitten. He, too, looked like the others, but was strangely about a week older. He was alone and crying. Mark drove back to get him. They weren't going to turn their backs on kittens in such dire circumstances. The kitten was sick and probably starved. They put him in with the others, hoping for the best.
It was touch and go for a few long days. Izzy and Mark took turns feeding and helping the kittens void their bladder and bowels. At that age, the kittens can't even do that without help. It's a very difficult thing to do TIMES SIX. Every few hours the kittens were fed, cleaned, loved. Now was the time to pray and hope that they weren't too late, at least for some of them.
It's been two weeks and the kittens have survived so far. Each day they live is a big success for Izzy and Mark. They decided it was ok to go ahead and name the kittens.
Their names are:Justin - older kitten - two gray spots on his head
They're squirming and crying and eating and doing all the things little kittens should do. Two of Izzy & Mark's own cats, have become surrogate mothers to the little ones, offering their own warmth and companionship, (though since they're spayed-no milk) that the kittens so desperately need. It's as if they knew, too, that these little angels needed them.
But what happens next? Izzy and Mark don't live in a big metropolitan area full of potential adoptesr and don't have resources to home so many kittens. Well, that's where I stepped in. I told Izzy I had her back. I didn't want her to fear having six extra cats. Even though I'll have Amberly and her five kittens by then, I'll find a room for these angel babies. I'm just part of the team that's going to get them to their forever homes. We're trying to right a heartbreaking wrong and perhaps in getting these kittens strong and adopted into great homes, we're honoring the spirit of their Mother, who truly is an angel now.
Can you help provide a small donation so we can pay for the Angel babies vet care? Your donation is Tax Deductible as the money goes to my 501(c)3 Non-Profit cat rescue, Kitten Associates, Inc.
You can use the ChipIn widget, above or mail a check to:Kitten Associates, Inc., P.O. Box 354, Newtown, CT 06470. (make check out to: Kitten Associates and note "Angel Babies" on your check)
The kittens will need shots, to be spayed or neutered and microchipped. It's about $85/cat to do it here in CT, so we're just asking for the basics. If you can help, great! If not, you can help by sharing this with your friends. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
It's been a VERY LONG JOURNEY for Cara Melle-one I wonder will ever come to a happy conclusion. Cara's been sick for SEVEN MONTHS. When we cure one issue, another problem pops up. We've squeezed everyone's pockets to shake loose every last penny. This little kitten has cost my rescue group thousands of dollars in Vet care. This is not about the money, but it is an illustration of how far we've travelled to find a way to get Cara HEALTHY.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara knows she's at the Vet. Been there, done that, one too many times now.
There've been a few times when we thought we had Cara's problems licked. At first, it was a terrible URI that permanently effected her brother and sister. They both have scar tissue in their tear ducts which slows draining of their tears and causes them to have one or both eyes weep. They won't suffer much as a result of this, but it's a reminder to us of what they went through, too.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Those big eyes just cut right through my heart.
Cara, however, was hit the hardest. She had two esophageal strictures from being burned by Doxycycline when she was just a little kitten. It was avoidable had we known the antibiotic was so acidic. It could have been caused by her genetics, too. We'll never really know for sure. Either way, it caused her tremendous suffering, for a very long time. Her growth was stunted and she remains underweight.
We treated her strictures twice and medicated her every six hours for weeks. We gave her “novel protein” diet to make sure she didn't also have a food allergy (turns out she did not). We gave her the best food, the most love and tender care, but it was not enough.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara's resemblance to her mother, Mazie is very clear. Mazie still waits for her forever home, but was very glad to see Cara again.
Cara continued to vomit-PROJECTILE vomit. If you've never seen that before, imagine a hose being turned on inside little Cara. The spigot flies open and a torrent of fluid comes out. It's shocking. Disturbing. Horrifying. It leaves Cara limp. She rarely ever plays. She sits hunched over, uncomfortable, licking at her mouth, her tummy grumbling.
On Friday Cara returned to see Dr. K. Our last three weeks of feeding her a special diet showed us she had no food allergies, but she was still vomiting. A repeat of her blood work revealed her White Blood Count was still shockingly high at 29,500. Dr. K needed to do a third endoscopy to find out what was going on. The results surprised all of us.
While Cara's strictures were healed, her stomach lining, which was once fine and normal, was now “grossly” full of Helicobacter. To understand how common this is, here's a portion of an article by Bob Sherding in 2001
“Various surveys have found a high prevalence of Helicobacter approaching 100% in most shelter and colony cats and 30 to 100% in pet cats. The spiral organisms identified most often in these surveys are the large Helicobacter-like organisms, e.g., H. felis and H. heilmannii. Because of the high prevalence of infection in animals without clinical signs, the clinical significance of gastric Helicobacter-like organisms (GHLO) in cats is uncertain. Helicobacter organisms may be an incidental finding in clinically normal animals, but when they are associated with clinical signs (chronic intermittent vomiting) and gastric mucosal inflammation (lymphocytic gastritis), it is possible that they should be considered potential pathogens and treated.”
The treatment remains the same-even today: Amoxicillin and Biaxin™
But that's not all Cara is dealing with. She also has Leukocytosis-which is a high White Blood Cell Count. Because her Neutrophils are also high, it means she probably has a nasty bacterial infection. Last month, Cara had a high Eosinophil count, which could have meant she was having an allergic reaction to her food or medication. That indicator is back to normal, so it leads us to believe that Cara has a “Mother” of an infection.
What causes this? Another mystery. Helicobacter is common. It making us or our cats sick, is not so common. What caused Cara to have such an overwhelming infection leaves us all scratching our heads. All we can do is treat her and hope it resolves. She may get better or she may get this on and off for years to come.
The saddest thing to consider is that this infection can be a precursor to Adenocarcinoma or Lymphoma. Adenocarcinoma is always malignant. My cat, Bob, has lymphoma. It can be treated, but there is no cure. To think that Cara, at such a fragile age, could face this one day is unbelievable and completely cruel. I hope it is not so. Today it's too soon to tell.
Cara's endoscopy. Tough to see here, but her stomach lining is a mess.
And then there was Cara's pancreas to consider. Either it was inflamed and getting worse, or it had been and was resolving. They ran a PLI test to determine how badly her pancreas has been effected. This is in a EIGHT month old KITTEN. To have such problems is disturbing, gut-wrenching and heartbreaking.
Cara's pancreas shows white highlights. This means it's inflamed and irritated. Is it getting worse or is it getting better?
Who will adopt a kitten with such health history? Who would I even TRUST to give this kitten a home? We have a long way to go before we can even worry about that. Right now there's much to be done, but the fear sits in the back of my head. I don't know that Cara will ever be on Petfinder looking for a forever home.
Sam was able to drive with me down to Norwalk to pick Cara up after her procedure so I could hold her on my lap the entire drive home. She was very weak and withdrawn. Although she had a nice reunion with her Mother, Mazie and sister, Polly, Cara wanted to be alone, to rest. She ate well for me the first night, then the next day, back at her foster home with Aunt Connie, she stopped eating. Her coat was rough. Her left eye was now weeping from the URI. She hid under the sofa where no one could get at her.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. After endoscopy, Cara is wiped out and sick with a URI.
We had to give her antibiotics, so after some coaching, were able to get her to come out so we could treat her. It took two long days, but Cara started to turn the corner just a bit. She began to eat some food and came out from under the sofa. Her eye stopped running, but she was still very worn out.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Cara looks out the window into the darkness. She didn't want to visit with us. She just wanted to be alone to rest and try to recover from the procedure.
This morning Cara projectile vomited again, so I called Dr. K. to let her know. She said the infection was so bad that she wasn't surprised there was more vomiting. She said to stay the course, keep giving her the meds and give it a week. By Saturday, maybe she'll show signs of feeling better. We can only hope.
I have no idea what is to become of Cara. Once her meds are done in two weeks, we'll re-evaluate the situation. If Cara is responding well, then what? I don't know. Will Cara get something else? We she relapse? Will she even live to be an adult?
Cara looks right into my soul with those big owly eyes. She's so much like her Mother that way. I only wish she was just as healthy and ready to be adopted. For now, all we can do is keep our commitment to her, in sickness and in health, for better or worse.
What a nightmare. I had Cara's blood work repeated on Tuesday after three weeks of diet change and a short course of antibiotics. I'd hoped to see her White Blood Count come down to normal levels. It was not. It was 29,500-high normal is 19,000. Cara also showed elevated Nuetrophils (26,500 and high normal is 12,500) and 295 bands (300 is high normal). From the Cat Spay of Sante Fe this article describes in better detail what these values mean: “Band neutrophils are the youngest form of the neutrophil, and indicate that the bone marrow is trying to produce and release cells as quickly as possible. A few bands can be present in a normal patient, but an overload of bands always means that there is an active infection. ” This all adds up to something is wrong and Cara has a festering, lingering, S.O.B. infection of some sort.
Dr Larry and Dr Diane (Cara's Specialist) agreed that this is indicative of an abscess-probably in her esophagus. The only way to be certain is to look. The only way to look is to knock Cara out and use a scope on her. The cost is going to kick us in the shins, but I'm not going to do another fundrasier. I've already bugged you guys too many times and many of you have helped out. Cara doesn't look sick or pitiful, but she's harboring quite a serious problem. She gained 8 ounces over the past month, which is remarkable, but puts her at 2-3 pounds under what she should weigh for her age. She's grown a bit, but I have to wonder how she will be stunted from months of being debilitated. She continues to projectile vomit once a week. I may have to make a deal with the devil to get her the treatment she needs, but I'm not complaining.
We need ANSERS and we need them NOW and we need to “FIX” this girl for once and for all! Cara needs a warm and loving home, not to have to spend her life being run back and forth to Vets.
P.S. and will someone please tell me why cats always have to have expensive Vet care done on Holiday weekends?