Category Archives: Blog

The Journey of a Shelter Cat

 

We have been asked many times, by many people, why someone would adopt a cat from out of state when there are very likely cats in their area that need homes. There are several reasons, but to me the most profound of those reasons is Love.

Social media has impacted so many aspects of our lives, and as cat lovers it only makes sense that we look at pictures of cats in whatever way we are connected. Social media has allowed thousands more people to see the plight of shelter animals across our country. It has moved many people, in many different ways, to help those cats. For some, it is crossposting. For others, it’s sponsorship.

Rescue groups have sprung from the ground like new grass in the spring, creating other ways for us to reach out and help homeless cats. There are fosters, transporters, networkers. The call goes out, wi-fi kicks in, and more and more cats are saved every day. But there is a methodology that must be applied in order for all of this to come together, in order to save that cat sitting in a shelter looking at nothing but death in the morning if someone doesn’t speak up. It takes teams of people to make a save work. Where once we would say, “It takes a village.” We now are able to say, “It takes a nation.”

Let’s hear it straight from one such cat. This is Jaguar, aka Jag’s, story. Keep in mind what I said in the beginning, the most profound reason is Love.

“I don’t know how I got here but I know I don’t like it. It’s loud, and cold, and nothing soft to lay on. No one will listen to me meow. It must be because there are so many others meowing. I can hear barking too. And there is a smell here, a smell that scares me for some reason, but I don’t know why. All I want to do is get away. The meow that was next to me yesterday was a different meow than I hear today. I hope that meow found someone to listen. I’m sick now. I can hardly breath, and my eyes are all funny, I don’t want to eat anymore. I really wish someone would hear my meow. A nice lady came by a few sleeps ago and took my picture. She heard my meow and stroked my fur. I thought she was going to take me with her. But then she closed the door to my metal box and moved on. I wonder why she didn’t like my meow. I heard her say, “kill listed” but I don’t know if that means she will be back for me or not. I know I have a person out there somewhere, I don’t think it was the lady that heard me meow. I wonder where my person is. How long will it take them to find me? Do they know I’m here?”

 

Jag shelter pic

 

“Maybe this is my person, she has heard my meow and is taking me out of the cold box with nothing soft to lay on. Why are they putting me in another box? It’s all closed up and I can’t see much, but I feel me moving. It must be a good thing, that awful smell is going away.”
 

 Jag’s person lives in Tennessee. In December, she was tagged by a friend on Facebook with a picture of this sick little stray in a kill shelter in Florida. They tagged her because she knows people, has connections, has a network, and a weakness for black cats. What that friend didn’t know at that time was, she had found Jag’s person. Jag’s person sees lots of homeless shelter cats on Facebook every day. But Jag was different, and his person has never been able to say why that picture made her do what she did. All she knows is that as soon as she saw that picture there was a connection. It was like he was looking into her heart and asking her why she wasn’t there to get him.

Things snowballed from there. Jag’s person sent a message to a friend in Florida, who in turn contacted one of her friends. That friend runs a rescue, and placed the call to let the shelter know that Jag’s person had been found. Someone would be there within 24 hours to spring him. The very next day, Jag was on his way to the vet. He was a very sick kitten, but the vet felt he would be okay, and with proper care would one day grow to be a rather large cat. The foster kept him overnight, but became worried when he wouldn’t eat. So she took him to the rescuer. The rescuer had to force feed him, but he was on the mend and able to eat on his own in a couple of days time. She became his surrogate for two months. By February he was ready to go home. Imagine Home happened to be doing a transport the following weekend, from Florida to Michigan, for two cats out of Miami, so it seemed to be the perfect time to get him home.

jagpic
 
Jag left his foster/rescuer on Friday, and spent the night in Orlando with a very special friend. He joined the transport midway through Florida, on Saturday. He only made it as far as Atlanta, GA that first day before they all stopped to spend the night. The next day would be the last day Jag would ever wonder if the right person heard his meow.
 
“I thought I was home. But then someone put me in a little box and took me away. At least I could see out the door of this one. It was a very confusing time. I remember faces looking at me, and saying ‘how darling!’. I’ve since learned that’s a good thing. But even though I meowed at all of them, none of them ‘really’ heard me, but I could tell they tried. And then there she was. I could see in her eyes that she had been waiting for me to come and meow for her.”
First time ever seeing him
“I knew she was mine. It’s funny how I knew I was finally home. Really, properly, finally home with my person. I knew it as soon as I stepped out of that little box.”
you can be my new forever mama
 
“I have grown into a cat now. I’m more than twice the size I was when I got here. There are no other meows here, but there is a barker that I like to play with. That cold metal box with nothing soft to lay on, the fear and smell, the not knowing what would happen to me is a very distant memory. I’m so glad my person found me. I meow it to her all the time, and let her know by laying on her and rubbing her face with mine. She says I have a big purr. I don’t know what it took to get me here, I’m just glad my person made it happen.”
brubbies cropped 8-26-15  Snapshot_20151105_2
 
So you see, it takes teams of people coordinating efforts to save a cat. And remember what I said in the beginning about Love? I know this because I am Jag’s person. I wasn’t really looking for a cat. I knew my cat would eventually find me. I knew he would be from a kill shelter. I didn’t go to my local shelter because that shelter has a no kill policy, their cats are safe.
 
So when you see a picture of a cat that touches you in some way, please remember: There are many ways of helping shelter cats.
 
                              Share ~ Foster ~ Donate ~ Drive ~ Adopt

A Tail of One Kitty and Two Cities

Sometimes, transports don’t even make their way to our Imagine Home page.  This is a tale of one of those occasions.  Last Friday, a few of your Imagine Home Admins were on a seemingly impossible mission.  Early Friday morning, (and none of your admins are early risers by choice,) we received a frantic plea for help. Atlanta rescuer Chance Genovese had been contacted by a vet tech named Samantha.  A wee kitten of only 7 weeks had wound up, maybe abandoned, in Samantha’s yard.  Wee little kitten (now named Leo the Lion) was taken to the vet, and deemed pretty darn healthy for a 7 week old, except for one thing.  Leo tested positive for FIV. Now before you say anything, we know that it’s not necessarily a death sentence.  We’re also aware that in young kittens, it could actually be a false positive.

Let’s be honest, though, Atlanta is in the south.  It’s a great climate for what seems to be a culture of cat dumping; as a result, when kitten season starts up, kitten fosters are hard to come by.  Chance knew finding a rescue, sanctuary or shelter to take in Leo, a single kitten with a possible immune system compromising disease, would be nearly impossible, in the Atlanta area.  However, late on Thursday night, Chance encountered a miracle – what we at Imagine Home call “ the Paw of Jack.”

Chance located the Golden Paw Society in Huntington, NY. They had an opening and were willing to help. It was just a minor matter of her getting Leo from Atlanta to New York. It just so happened, Chance’s amazingly tolerant fiance, Daniel, has family in New York City. So the plan was for Daniel the rock star (not really, we just tend to hyperbole when it comes to cat loving men,) to fly to an airport near New York City with Leo the tiny lion. Here’s where Imagine Home’s part of the story starts.

 

atl to huntington ny

Wee Leo was in Atlanta, GA. Could we get him all the way to Huntington, NY? Stay tuned.

We were asked to find somebody to meet Daniel and drive Leo to Golden Paw.  Kelly, our Transport Director, and Noelle, our Jill-of-All-Trades, were determined to make this happen.  We have a soft spot for Ginger kittens. (Who are we kidding? We have a soft spot for cats!)  At the beginning of the request, it was thought that Daniel was going to fly into the Newark Airport.  So naturally, we started our search for drivers in that area of Jersey.

Driver number 1 has some health problems that would have made her journey difficult.   But she had a couple of great suggestions.  Suggestion number 1 was Jackie P.  As always, Jackie was thrilled about helping (she’s an FoJ!).  Not so thrilled about meeting at the Newark airport, but in the goal of helping kitties, Jackie was ready to help and we never needed to consult driver number 2!   Over the next few hours, the meeting place changed, and eventually, we learned Daniel was going to be driving into Staten Island.  Much easier than an airport, right?

The surprisingly large Staten Island. Home of few gas stations conveniently near the interstate!

The surprisingly large Staten Island. Home of few gas stations conveniently near the interstate!

Wrong.  Jackie had never been to Staten Island, and Daniel had only a passing familiarity with the Island.  So how to find a meeting place?   Ask a native. Daniel asked his brother for a suggestion, and was told about a park very near the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.  There’s a big difference between men and women.  That difference becomes a bit more pronounced when arranging a meeting place.  Women go for the most public place possible.  Throw in bathroom access, and we’re in heaven.  So for Jackie (and Noelle, acting as the go-between/transport coordinator), the thought of meeting at a strange park near a bridge wasn’t the best idea of how to spend a Saturday night.  Enter Google, exitexplorer.com, and throw in a little roadnow.com for good measure.  Two hours later, we finally found a nice public place. Who knew that Staten Island has so few gas stations near the highway?  Noelle and BekBek now do!

staten island to huntington

Oh boy with the bridges and all the possible routes! What’s Jackie to do?

Saturday night rolled around, and the amazingly tolerant Jackie P. was armed with an address, a time, and a cell phone number.   Jackie met Daniel and Leo the teensy little Lion and headed East.

"Well that was fun! Now what?"

“Well that was fun! Now what?”

Finally, happily, and without a hitch, Leo arrived at Golden Paw Society.  He was now a New Yorker!  This tiny little kitten had a rough start in life.  Abandoned in the heat of Atlanta, roaming the world without a family to call his own, Leo relied upon the kindness of many strangers.  It took a village to save this tiny boy.  And now at the Golden Paw Society, he’ll be able to find the best Home possible, without the pressure of being in a high kill shelter, or living on the streets of Atlanta.  Your Imagine Home Admins send a thank you to all who made a difference in this small Ginger boy’s life.  This is just one tail of a time that it took many hands to make a difference.  We love those people who are able to adapt and persevere in order to help a kitty in need.  Stay tuned, there may be more tails to come!

"Land! This could be interesting."

“Land! This could be interesting.”

"say! what's down there? I go look."

“say! what’s down there? I go look.”

"Is this my glamour shot?"

“Is this my glamour shot?”

Cats on Keyboards

In the hustle and bustle of today’s fast-paced world, we have learned to multi-task to accomplish our daily goals. While the kids are at soccer practice, we run errands. Pick up the dry-cleaning on the way home from work. Clean house while doing laundry, and catch up with friends and family on the blue-tooth, while doing weekly chores. At the end of the day, after everything is checked off the ‘To-Do List’ we can allow ourselves some down time. But even then we are still dividing our attention.

While the kids are in the bath there’s just enough time to make a nice cup of tea, and fire up the computer. Yet, this is only in preparation of the short amount of time we’ve set aside for ourselves. Before we can sit down and truly relax, we must get the kids tucked in, and clean up the inevitable mess they’ve made in the bathroom. So, with a sigh of relief and a general feeling of contentment, it’s time for that tea while having a chat with our friends.

Ah… but how could we have overlooked the necessity of spoiling the cat? Leave it to the cat to remind us! We do a quick flash-back, “Yes, I fed you. Yes, you have fresh water. Yes, your litterbox has been scooped.” The cat’s reaction to this is, “It has been two very long hours since you fed me. I require treats now or I may just fade away!” The computer is now being held hostage until we comply with the cat’s demands.

“No treats? No facebook!”
cat-on-keyboard 2
Courtesy: jacarandaanimalhospital.net

Now, back to that ‘just for me’ time we’ve carved out of our day. And the multi-tasking continues. Facebook is open, we have a couple of chat windows open, then the kitten shows up for some much needed attention. “Okay, I can do this while I chat.” Well, the kitten has a different idea. Suddenly the fingers are toys to be batted at. Hence begins the first of the messages from our fellow cat lovers, “Is the cat on your keyboard again or have you done a faceplant?” This is in response to the message they just received that goes something like this, “kdljfldjaldsjkldjfdoi”.

“Fingers! Gimme!”
cat on keyboard 7
Courtesy: www.pinterest.com

Well, by now our tea is cold, so once again we have to step away from the computer. An idea strikes whilst in the kitchen, “I’ll take the treats and distract the kitten!” So off we go, feeling very confident that we will now have our keyboard all to ourselves. But we find the kitten gone in search of something else to play with. Well, why not? We took our fingers with us when we went to the kitchen. But there is still a use for the treats we carry, and a need to let our friends know that the cat has usurped the keyboard in our absence. Crafty kitty! She’s messaged a friend, “nmjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj mjAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA” We have to follow that with, “Yes, it was the cat, no I don’t need medical attention.”

“On your puter, chattin wif your friends.”
cat on keyboard 6
Courtesy: www.sodahead.com

Treats now lovingly hand fed to the lap warmer we are affectionately entertaining we actually do get some “for me” time. But it’s not to last. There’s a crash in the bathroom followed by a streak of something flying by that looks suspiciously like the kitten. “Oh joy! What now?” So we empty our lap of a sleeping cat, fleetingly wondering why we ever got that kitten, and go investigate the source of the crash. “Will I need the broom and dustpan?” Wonder of wonders! No broom needed this time. So, with a sigh of relief we head back to the computer. What we find is another use for the treats we have stashed in the desk drawer. The computer has completely been taken over!

“Go way! Dis private chat!”
cat on keyboard 5
Courtesy: www.yummypets.com

Even when we’re not multi-tasking with the cats and computer we still must be vigilant. I still haven’t figured out how my cat hacked my hard drive. A two minute trip to the mailbox resulted in my laptop spending a week in the shop.

“Oh look! Here she comes! She’ll be impressed with my mad skills!”
cat on keyboard
Courtesy: boingboing.net

And mad skills they are indeed. Hide your credit cards.

“amazon… *click* …cat toys…*click* …nippy mice, pack of 12… *click* …treats… *click* …kitty condos…*click*…Oh wow! Fibe levels! Yesh!…*click*”
cat on keyboard 4
Courtesy: www.yummypets.com

Kittens vs Cats: Adopting a Senior

With the power of social media at our fingertips we are seeing a plethora of senior cats in shelters. Most people think they are there because of behavioral or health issues, though that is rarely the case. More often than not, it’s due to familial upheaval and sadly, simple abandonment.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners categorizes seniors as being 11-14 years old. With veterinary medical knowledge and practices being what they are today many cats can live to be 18-20 years old. Thyroid imbalances, kidney issues, and some kitty cancers are now easily treatable. Cat owners have also become more savvy in the care of their furry family members. Specialized dietary needs, controlled environments, and safety precautions are now the norm instead of the exception.

So why would you adopt a senior kitty instead a kitten?

When you adopt a senior kitty you know what you’re getting. Their personalities are already developed. With a kitten you really don’t know if it will grow into a lap cat, or a more independently spirited feline. Their size and the type of coat they have will not change. And typically they have already been spayed or neutered, and will not require the complete set of vaccinations and dewormings that a kitten needs.

Now I can hear you saying, “But kittens are so very cute and can be a lot of fun,” and I will not disagree with you.
But they are also a lot to handle in the first months of their life. When you adopt a kitten you have to realize how much time and work will go into getting that precious little ball of fluff to adulthood with your home and your sanity intact. Look around your home, go ahead, I’ll wait. The nice set of drapes you paid so much for are kitten magnets. That new chair that took you so long to find, picture a rambunctious kitten hanging off the side. And your favorite leather couch? Well, let’s not go there. Until they are trained they may prefer your furniture to the fancy new scratching post you purchased.
senior blog kitten climbing curtain 2

Training – therein lies one key element, and a strong point for adopting a senior kitty.

Senior cats come pre-trained.
They already know what a litterbox is for and have no trouble using it. They’ve almost always been introduced to a scratching post, and those drapes? Well, climbing everything they come across is a thing long in their past.

The activity level in your home will be something else to keep in mind when adopting your new feline friend.

Senior kitties do very well in homes where the humans work (or play) outside the home for long periods of time. They also do well in homes with human seniors. They are more laid back, and napping can be a household activity.

senior blog old-cat-sleeping ginger

Senior kitties are also great with babies and toddlers. They can be very soothing to a cranky baby and are more likely to endure the occasional ear bending or a tug on the tail from your three year old.

Do you already have a kitten running amok in your home? Are you thinking another kitten for it to play with would be a good idea? Consider instead adopting a senior cat.

They can be a steady and calming influence to your kitten.

They are great trainers! They can show your kitten how to use the litter box, how to take advantage of the scratching post, and will take a firm stand on the kitten’s biting and clawing. They can teach your kitten what is and what is not acceptable.
senior blog kitten and cat

The best reason to adopt a senior cat is the fact that they are much more difficult for shelters to adopt out.

So many senior kitties will live out their remaining years in a cage, in a no kill facility. And a cage is no place for a cat to spend the last years of it’s life. When senior cats are adopted, they seem to understand that they’ve been rescued, and are all the more thankful for it.

A cat deserves a lap to lay in, a warm spot next to you on the couch when you read or watch tv, a human of their very own to let them know they are loved, and that they do matter.
senior blog Boots

References:
nextavenue.org
animalleague.org
petmd.com
theanimalrescuesite.com
petfinder.com
felinexpress.com

Pics courtesy of:
www.thesharonicles.com
consciouscat.net
MSPCA via Boston.com

The Epic Tail of A Kitty and a Dog!

ih banner
Flashback: Sunday, February 23, 2014:

    Imagine Home’s website receives a transport request to move a cat and a dog on Monday, February 24, 2014. Wait a minute, that’s the next day! And from Leitchfield, KY to Grundy Center, IA!?

    As your Imagine Home Admins scratched our collective heads and looked in bewilderment at our Volunteer Drivers’ Map, we saw the wide open spaces and knew there was no way we could do it in a month, let alone one day. Kelly, our Transport Director, picked up the phone to get to the heart of the tail of the kitty and the dog. Sometimes, Imagine Home gets urgent requests that turn out to be more “I really want kitty in my life as soon as possible.”

    That was not the case for Boots the cat and Jojo the dog. Ryan, their owner, had lost track of them when his ex disappeared from his life. Then one day, the ex turned up in Leitchfield, KY (one of those “blink and you miss it when you drive by it” towns), spinning a tale of woe about Ryan being dead and a few other tales not worth repeating. Shortly afterward, the ex disappeared, abandoning Boots and Jojo in the care of a friend. It soon became clear that the ex had no intention of returning for Boots or Jojo any time soon and the friend was in no position to keep them forever, in fact, she had very little food or money left for the animals.

    When Ryan discovered that Boots and Jojo were about to be taken to the small town animal shelter, he became frantic. By the time we all got the story straight in our minds, ALL of your Imagine Home Admins dropped what they were doing to try to plan a map and find drivers. Somehow, some way, in a matter of just a few days, we found a driver to pick up Boots and Jojo from the person who had them, created pictures and a map, set up the event, found drivers for the remaining legs and filled the transport! You can believe that behind the scenes, all of us were celebrating.

    We had one admin looking at the weather at all times, and then the night before, our worst fears started to come true. A severe snowstorm was predicted for Iowa. Lots of frantic typing, phone calls and private messages ensued. There was no way to call off the transport without putting Boots and Jojo at risk. All of the drivers signed up agreed that they would take the risk.

    Saturday, March 1st dawned and the snow was coming as predicted. The forecast for the destination was as follows: “Davenport, IA: Today Snow, mainly after 4pm. High near 19. Wind chill values as low as -5. North wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. Total daytime snow accumulation of less than one inch possible. Tonight Snow. Low around 3. Wind chill values as low as -15. North wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of around 3 inches.”

    By the time our kitty and first dog got into Iowa, the snow was blowing something fierce. One of our drivers actually was afraid to leave her house and Crystal, the driver coming north towards her, offered to continue on to Coralville, Iowa. Ryan, shortly after getting Boots and Jojo took the time to call every driver who volunteered that day, and has been attempting to “Pay it Forward” ever since.

    Today was going to be that day for Ryan. He was to drive for two kitties also getting a second chance at life; Glaze and Hiccup are due to go to Rustic Hollow in Iowa. Today’s transport, quite poetically, was postponed due to snow. Still, to honor Ryan’s determination, Crystal’s dedication, and the many hearts and hands who helped out, we remember that epic day, March 1st, 2014. It takes a village to move cats, and in this instance also a dog. And that day was a perfect example of that small village moving mountains to reunite love. ~noelle

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Honoring the Heroes

CREDIT: John Mottern/AFP/Getty Images

CREDIT: John Mottern/AFP/Getty Images

On September 11, 2001, our nation was brought to its knees and the whole world stunned by the act of terrorism perpetrated against the United States.  The numbers are mindboggling.  In New York City 2,753 lives were lost. Firefighters and police officers responding to the World Trade Center attack numbered close to 400.  In our nation’s capital almost 200 lives were lost when the Pentagon was hit.  And in a field in Pennsylvania 40 passengers and crew members died bravely as their plane went down in a heroic effort to stop it from hitting a then unknown but most certainly populated and strategic location.

Unlike most normal citizens, the New York City firefighters were making their way back towards the smoldering ruins

Unlike most normal citizens, the New York City firefighters were making their way back towards the smoldering ruins

For 99 days the fires burned in New York City and firefighters from all over our country responded and went to New York.  The Red Cross, Salvation Army, Volunteer Policemen and EMTs flooded the city to help in any way they could.  * “Nearly 100 loyal search and rescue dogs and their brave owners scoured Ground Zero for survivors.”  Though they were there primarily to search for survivors they also gave comfort and hope to those that were working tirelessly to clear debris with a desperate desire to find anyone alive.

As it was with most of the world, I spent the days following that dark day glued to my television, hoping for some light in the darkness. A statement from one of the newscasters struck me. They mentioned that the search dogs who were brought in were showing signs of depression, since they were unable to complete their mission. You see, search dogs are trained to find living people in the piles of rubble. We remember all too well that very few people were found.

Everyone worked nonstop in the hopes of finding survivors

Everyone worked nonstop in the hopes of finding survivors

Instead, the incredible dogs found another mission. They decided to comfort the searchers. Coaxed or not, these amazing and resilient dogs thought nothing of their own sadness, and started to sit patiently with the sobbing emergency workers. We can’t help but think about how much darker New York City would have been during the aftermath without these magnificent animals.

Not many of the dogs are left. Some of them sadly succumbed to illness much earlier than expected. There are precious few left. By 2011, there were only 12 search dogs.

barcroft media

We honor the fallen of 9/11/01.

We extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of these victims.

Our gratitude for the volunteers that responded, human and canine alike, was then and shall always be boundless.

Some books have highlighted these forgotten heroes. And here’s one that seems to be worth mentioning.

http://www.amazon.com/Dog-Heroes-September-11th-Americas/dp/159378998X/ref=pd_sim_b_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=04DWNQMNYJTV0NRP4R59

To learn more about search dogs in general, check out this site: http://www.searchdogfoundation.org/

On today’s anniversary, we honor the forgotten heroes; the search dogs and their handlers who searched with them.  Maybe after reading this, you’ll give your furry companion a little extra love in honor of these amazing creatures.

Source: *http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2033628/Surviving-9-11-rescue-dogs-scoured-Ground-Zero-bodies-commemorated-decade-difficult-mission.html

The not so nice, very scary, but somehow with a happy ending “Adventures of Bailey”

 

We promised details of this weekend’s adventure with Bailey.  It’s a bit of a long and sad tale, so pull up your chairs and settle in.  We promise you a roller coaster ride of emotions.

Chelsea contacted us on Monday, frantic to find a foster for her cat Bailey. Bailey was in Phoenix, and Chelsea had moved to Castle Rock, Co. Having encountered a string of unfortunate circumstances, Chelsea was unable to take Bailey with her, but it was NOT for lack of trying.  So she had managed to get two former friends to watch her, and keep a roof over Bailey’s head.
We set up a transport right away and somehow managed to quickly get it filled.  We even managed to get a foster for Bailey in Castle Rock, since Chelsea’s landlord had said that the cat could not be in the house unsupervised.  Now here’s the “you see” part.  You see, Chelsea is 9 months pregnant.  And baby Olive is breech, which means lots of hospital visits and possible hospitalization when they turn her.  But I digress.
Bailey's event was set up by Tuesday.

Bailey’s event was set up by Tuesday.

We set up a very successful fundraiser that in the span of just a few hours got the money needed for Bailey’s health certificate, a carrier, some supplies, and gas money for our admin Lisa (“the great” shall now be forever entwined with her name).
Bailey's Rabies Vaccine

Bailey’s Rabies Vaccine

Bailey's Vet Bill

Bailey’s Vet Bill

Much needed supplies for Bailey's long journey north.

Much needed supplies for Bailey’s long journey north.

Chelsea had been trying to contact her ex-friends for days to let them know that Bailey would soon be out of their hair.  They wouldn’t return her many calls and texts.  And finally at 2pm EDT Friday Aug 22, we learned the reason why they wouldn’t communicate.
It seems that Ben (the apartment lease holder) claimed that he had come home from work one day earlier in the week and learned that Shane Troyer (the ***) had dumped Bailey.  Shane refused to say where she was or what he had done with her.  As Ben texted Chelsea, his story kept changing.  Finally, he broke our collective hearts by saying “I’ll get you another cat.”  Cowardly Ben even said that he was sure Shane had let Chelsea know that Bailey was gone.  Chelsea has raised Bailey since she was one week old. Bailey was bottle fed, and has crossed the country with Chelsea.  At this point in our story, we didn’t even know if Bailey was alive.
10580433_10153062748754018_2098090027_n
By 4pm EDT, our main focus was creating a flyer that could be passed around, finding searchers, and contacting the police. Chelsea did call the Tempe, AZ police and they refused to take her statement.  They said they would do so if Bailey was found and there was evidence that she had been abused.  It was our hope that the police would scare Shane into admitting where he had dumped Bailey.  So for now, we didn’t even know where to start our search.
Behind the scenes, our tiny little team of admins was working together to find places to post our flyer, Lisa was giving Chelsea places to call, Noelle was frantically working up a flyer in the middle of a storm that kept knocking out her power and internet, and there was still no word about Bailey.
Missing poster final
At some point, we decided to contact our resident Animal Communicator, Emerald Nightflower.  She had helped us in the past and was able to give us valuable information.  We were pinning our hopes on her being able to give us a place to start. Emerald did not disappoint.  She informed us that Bailey was scared and very hungry, and still in the apartment complex, best of all, Bailey was alive.
What had started off as a group message on Facebook with 3 ladies, suddenly blew up into a message with ELEVEN people trying to gather a search party.  For a few frantic minutes, it felt like time was standing still as we were all typing over each other and not making much sense.  Then, as if the universe was smacking us all in the head with a good V-8 slap, we got our acts together.  Suezy and her husband jumped in their car with towels and some cans of Tuna and started the 25 mile drive.  Lisa rushed home to get a carrier and called a lady who had seen her posts on Straydar and another site.  That friend turned out to be Jessica.  Jane (of Plain Jane fame) and her sister Jett were too far away to be of assistance, so Jane was reaching out to anyone she knew in the greater Phoenix area.
Our team of searchers entered the gated area with caution.  They hadn’t been invited there by a resident, but Bailey’s life was in jeopardy.  They spread out and started searching in all the areas Emerald had suggested.  Texts were still being sent, and the group message was bristling with tension. By now, it was 1:00am EDT, which meant it was 10pm Arizona time!  A resident of the apartment complex approached Lisa and offered to help talk to Ben (apartment lease holder) and Shane (the ***). We debated for a few minutes, and Chelsea decided it was worth a try.  When asked, the two cowards denied any knowledge of Bailey.  We sat stunned, so I’ll repeat that statement.  Ben (apartment lease holder) and Shane (the ***) DENIED any knowledge of Bailey.
Bailey was found in the "backwards E" building of this huge complex

Bailey was found in the “backwards E” building of this huge complex

Our hearts were collectively beating so hard they could probably be heard all over the United States. We sat helplessly in Chattanooga, TN; Paris, KY, Colorado, and parts of Phoenix wondering what would happen next.  Within an hour, a picture was texted to Noelle by Lisa, Noelle then texted it to Chelsea. Before Noelle could type anything in the group message, there was a post “THAT’S HER!!!!”
Jessica said this: “I had so much adrenaline when I looked up and saw the cat on the stairs above my head.  I dont have chelseas info or know her but tell her I love her cat and she wasn’t injured at all. she was rather happy, rolling around on her back wanting me to pet her belly.”

Bailey was found on the 4th floor of the apartment building where the two boys live.  The boys live on the 3rd floor.  

Jessica, seconds after finding Bailey!

Jessica, seconds after finding Bailey!

So now you all know everything that we know.  Two boys, because they can’t be called men, by any sense of the word, entrusted with the care of a cat by it’s owner, decided that Chelsea’s precious 5 year old cat was disposable.

Baby Bailey!

Baby Bailey!

Another pic of Bailey as a kitten!

Another pic of Bailey as a kitten!

They had several opportunities to be men and take responsibility for what they did, but instead chose to lie.  We know that Bailey was shaved very recently, despite the fact that she has a low maintenance coat that has only matted once in 5 years.

Bailey, shaved.  Picture sent by Ben.

Bailey, shaved. Picture sent by Ben.

We also know that Shane thought it was funny to blow pot smoke at Bailey.  And lastly, we know that Bailey now has a chipped tooth and her whiskers had been shaved off.

Chelsea says Bailey's tooth was not like that when she left AZ.

Chelsea says Bailey’s tooth was not like that when she left                AZ. Also, look at the whiskers. Deliberately cut.

We say all this not to embarrass Chelsea in any way.  We admire this young lady for her dedication and poise and class in the face of overwhelming fear and stress. Chelsea thought that despite the flaws of these boys they wouldn’t put Bailey’s life in jeopardy.  Chelsea was afraid that putting Bailey in one of the area shelters would be worse than staying with these two boys.  It’s our hope that after today, Chelsea, baby Olive (soon to arrive) and Bailey will share only love for the rest of their lives together.  We believe they deserve that, and so much more.  Please join us in praising Chelsea as she starts her new life as a single mother in Castle Rock, CO.  We feel this remarkable young woman is off to a great new start.  As I write this, Bailey is very close to Castle Rock, CO.  We’ve moved many cats in our short existence.  I think it’s safe to say that Bailey’s transport will be one we always remember.

Note:  Since she left in such a hurry, Chelsea has nothing for the baby. Check out our event for ways to help: https://www.facebook.com/events/689668624443326/

 

A few more pictures regarding Bailey’s adventures. ~noelle

bailey at vet

Bailey getting checked out at the vet.

Bailey at Lisa's house, Finally relaxed.

Bailey at Lisa’s house, Finally relaxed.

Less than happy about being in a carrier.

Less than happy about being in a carrier.

Bailey's second driver on day one.  Jenniferr drove from Flagstaff, AZ to Gallup, NM.

Bailey’s second driver on day one. Jennifer drove                      from Flagstaff, AZ to Gallup, NM.

Bailey, before her big adventures

Bailey, before her big adventures

 

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And finally together again. Bailey will be fostered for a few weeks until Chelsea has baby Olive. But they live 5 miles apart and will see each other often.

 

 

 

The Stigma of FIV

In every aspect of our lives we see stigmas.  They have been created by fear, misconception and misinformation.

stig·ma noun \ˈstig-mə\  a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something

Now just think about that for a moment.  Think about the stigmas that people have that can be deadly to some of the animals that find themselves in a shelter.

One such stigma, in this very modern world of ours, is that black cats are considered bad luck. They are the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized when they find themselves in a shelter [1]. It’s suprising where this myth began, and interesting how it’s been perpetuated through the centuries of time [2]. Even more suprising, our difficulty in overcoming the myth.

 Melanistic Feline

Picture: BekBek Estes Text: Teresa Harrison Best

Our focus here is to dispel the stigma that FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) is a deadly and highly contagious disease.  Like black cats, FIV cats are often left behind.  In some cases, a diagnosis of FIV is an automatic death sentence to a shelter cat.  In this very modern world of ours we have the ability to call to us so much information. Indeed, it’s right at our fingertips. So why are FIV+ cats still ostracized and killed?  Because the ‘stigma’ of disease holds sway.  How do we stop it?  We educate ourselves and others.  We can begin with three simple truths. These truths need to be made known. [3]

TRUTH: FIV is not a serious threat to other cats, pets, or even humans.

TRUTH: FIV+ cats can live long, happy, fulfilling and healthy lives.

TRUTH: FIV+ cats can live safely with NON FIV cats.

In a post on the Imagine Home page [4] we had several comments from people that are owned by FIV+ cats that live happily alongside their NON FIV housemates. Two such posts:

::Rita S Benlolo “I have 4 of them and they live among my other non fiv kitties. They are all fixed and get along peacefully.”

::Patty Shabrou “I only have one FIV+ kitty, but just try telling all four of mine that they shouldn’t be living together. They play together, wrestle, romp, chase moths, eat and sleep together. Where one goes, they all go.”

Let us together help spread the word and save the lives of FIV+ cats.  Please click on the links below. You will find them very informative.

[1] http://blog.petsforpatriots.org/stigma-plagues-black-pets/

[2] http://www.reviewjournal.com/life/pets/black-cats-dark-myths-bad-luck-and-truth-behind-it-all

[3] http://www.fivcatrescue.org/fiv-myths.html

[4] https://www.facebook.com/imaginehomeorg/posts/799645170080022

http://bestfriends.org/Resources/FAQs-About-Feline-Immunodeficiency-Virus-FIV/

http://www.animalleague.org/expert-advice/health/articles/everyday-health/truth-about-fiv-cats.html

http://www.care2.com/causes/as-it-turns-out-fiv-positive-and-negative-cats-can-happily-live-together.html

The Adventures of Brownie

One kitty in need, and more people than I can count on his side.  But it wasn’t always so.

It was never learned how he got there, just that he was, and he was in dire need of help.  Apparently downtown Los Angeles is a repository for homeless kitties, too many to count. Brownie was one such kitty. But he was seen by the right people, angels of mercy and love, they came to his aid.  Let’s start at the beginning of what we do know.

Shannon had just started a job in an office in downtown LA and  some of her co-workers came to her desk talking about a cat outside the building.  In the late afternoon she went to check on the cat and cried when she saw him.  Being a kitty person herself, she had food in her car.  She took him 2 cans of food and said that he was so hungry that eating was painful.  He whimpered while he ate.

Brownie as first seen by Shannon. (photo courtesy Shannon)

Brownie as first seen by Shannon. (photo courtesy Shannon)Brownie, shannons first siting 2

In steps our second angel, Melissa.  She had seen Brownie and had started taking food to him.  She took canned food but also took some dry food and would shake the bag to get him familiar with the sound so he would associate it with being fed.  Being concerned about the predators that would and could and did harass Brownie, she lured him to a bush and taught him to stay there out of sight to keep him safe.  Between the dogs, the hawks, and a certain very mean homeless man Brownie was constantly in danger.

 

Brownie's home in LA (photo courtesy of Melissa)

Brownie’s bush in LA (photo courtesy of Melissa)

Shannon only worked downtown 2 days a week.  So she enlisted some of her co-workers to feed and watch over Brownie when she was not able to be there.  She also enlisted a homeless man to feed and watch over Brownie when she could not be there and went on the weekends to make sure he was fed. Melissa was there 5 days a week.  Well, it just stands to reason that these 2 strangers should meet.  One day Shannon saw Melissa in the bush, feeding Brownie.  She approached Melissa and so began their joint efforts to save this beautiful homeless kitty, as did their friendship.  In the 6 months that they cared for Brownie, they also spent time contacting rescues and fosters to try to get him in a safer place.  They tried to find Brownie a home.  On this front they were woefully unlucky, at least at that time.  Then, in desperation, Shannon posted about Brownie on the Crazy Cat Ladies Unite Forum.  Now watch carefully, for here enters our third angel. All the way in distant Montana, Michele sees Shannon’s desperate post.  She begins to talk with Shannon while searching for a place for Brownie to go.   Things began to tumble in a veritable wave that was building in an exhaustive effort to save Brownie.  Moving quickly now, our fourth angel appears on the scene.  Michele knows a lady in Illinois that is a respected rescuer and well known cat lover.  Michele reached out to Chris to see if she could take Brownie in.   Well, I don’t think I have to tell you what Chris said.  But Brownie now must be captured, vetted and made healthy enough to travel. That was not as easy as it sounds.  Brownie, though trusting Melissa and the homeless man that fed him enough to let them pet him, he still did not trust them enough to be picked up or held.  On the day they went to capture Brownie, another lady showed up with a trap.  She is an independent TNR person, and had hoped to capture Brownie, neuter him, and release him into a colony where he could be kept safe and was assured of being fed.  She loaned her trap to Melissa and Shannon and it took them 3 days, hours of laying in the dirt, never leaving the trap, to entice him into it.  Once they had him though it was straight to the vet.  Brownie was taken to an amazing vet, Dr. Odama of Veterinary Health Center. They donated all the boarding and spent lots of time rehabbing him to be social.  Shannon’s co-workers even donated money for the vet bill.  It was then that we learned that Brownie is FIV+.

Brownie had a spa day to get ready for his big adventure! (photo courtesy of Melissa)

Brownie had a spa day to get ready for his big adventure! (photo courtesy of Melissa)

 

Relaxing at Melissa's, just waiting on that trip to the airport.

Relaxing at Melissa’s, just waiting on that trip to the airport.

 

Patiently waiting, and of course, getting love and attention.

Patiently waiting, and of course, getting love and attention.

In the mean time, plans were being made to get Brownie to Illinois.  How was that to happen?  Well, Chris reached out to the only person she knew that could possibly be able to pull off such a feat.  Yes, I’m the next one in line. Chris was still willing to take Brownie in spite of his FIV status but I contacted Jessica of Keeper Kitties Rescue in Michigan and she stepped up to the plate.  So now we had a place for Brownie to go.  He was spending his time getting fat and sassy at the vet’s office but we had to be able to get him to Michigan.  My next plea went out to Davica, our angel in the skies.  She quickly agreed to accompany Brownie from LAX to O’Hare. As part of a 27 hour transport, saving the lives of 2 kitties, Davica arrived in Chicago at 10:50 pm on Friday, December 6, 2013.  It was a close call though due to delays coming out of New York but Davica had help making her connection.  Brownie got a police escort so he could make his flight! This is what Davica posted to us, ” Someone who works at airport remembers me from a blind dog I transported out of LA..he saw me running and told a lot of people to run with me to get attention so they hold flight..POLICE SAW AND AIRPORT WORKER SAID ITS CATLADY CATCHING FLIGHT FOR KITTY AND POLICE WENT IN FRONT WITH SEGWAY TO TELL THEM CATLADY IS COMING LOL..we made flight”

At LAX waiting for Davica. (photo courtesy of Melissa)

At LAX waiting for Davica. (photo courtesy of Melissa)

 

Snuggling with Davica as they wait to take off from LAX (photo courtesy of Davica)

Snuggling with Davica as they wait to take off from LAX (photo courtesy of Davica)

 

Late night landing. A bird's eye view of O'Hare. (photo courtesy of Davica)

Late night landing. A bird’s eye view of O’Hare. (photo courtesy of Davica)

Our next angel, Karen, is there with her husband to meet Davica. Once in her safe keeping they headed home to Gilbert, Illinois for the night to spend time snuggling our brave boy Brownie.

Safely at O'Hare in the arms of Karen. (photo courtesy of Davica)

Safely at O’Hare in the arms of Karen. (photo courtesy of Davica)

 

"Hey! I like this place! They have food!" (photo courtesy of Karen)

“Hey! I like this place! They have food!” (photo courtesy of Karen)

 

"Food AND a big nippy mouse! All for me!" (photo courtesy of Karen)

“Food AND a big nippy mouse! All for me!” (photo courtesy of Karen)

The very next morning found Brownie on the road to his next angel, Teri.  Teri had the distinct honor of taking Brownie to PawPaw, Michigan to meet Jessica! Perfect place to make a transport transfer!

Onward to Michigan! (photo courtesy of Karen)

Onward to Michigan! (photo courtesy of Karen)

 

Almost there! This is Teri. (photo courtesy of Jessica)

Almost there! This is Teri. (photo courtesy of Jessica)

 

And our Keeper Kitty Angel, Jessica. (photo courtesy of Jessica)

And our Keeper Kitty Angel, Jessica. (photo courtesy of Jessica)

Brownie has now made it to Michigan. He is enjoying the comforts of Jessica’s home and resting up while she is out shopping for a special bed. Shannon had bought him a bed that he loved but it would not fit in his airline carrier so had to be left behind.  He will make his way to an extended foster tomorrow.

It really does take a village.  One very scared, emaciated, sick and lonely kitty is now safe and he did a wonderful thing.  He brought together all these people.  It started with 2 strangers, scared and anxious and in tears for him much of the time. It snowballed as the efforts grew more intense and desperate.  Friendships and lasting bonds have been made in the saving of Brownie’s life.  He will  never know what he brought together.  But I can tell you that he is grateful all the same.

Resting comfortably at Jess's in a borrowed bed from the Princess of the house.

Resting comfortably at Jess’s in a borrowed bed from the Princess of the house.

 

Imagine Home’s Month of Gratitude, Day 30

Today, we are thankful for all of our drivers and overnight hosts.

While hours and hours are spent behind the scenes researching, planning, and networking, the truth is, there are very few admins and there are 47,182 miles of roads in the U.S. We would never be able to do all this without YOU.

We have drivers and overnight hosts who step up, over and over again. Though we fear wearing out our welcome, being able to count on you is more helpful in getting kitties home than you could possibly know. We are grateful for you.

We have drivers who have never heard of us before but see a post that someone shared and step up to help. We are grateful for you.

We have people who want to drive, but whose cars or circumstances won’t allow them to drive, so they rope friends/family into driving while they are the passenger. We are grateful for [both of] you.

We have drivers who drive sometimes hours out of their way to help out on a route when needed. We are grateful for you.

We have drivers who step up, sometimes at the very last minute, to cover a route that doesn’t have a driver, or for which the original driver had to drop out due to unforeseen circumstances.  Sometimes this means driving 2 legs: the one they originally signed up for plus the vacant leg. We are grateful for you.

We have drivers who go on long vacations and volunteer to give up some of their precious room in the car in order to drive a cat an extended distance because they are headed in the same directions. We are grateful for you.

For each one of you that does what you can to help kitties, who goes out of your way, spends your precious time, hard-earned dollars, or is otherwise generous of spirit to help cats get to their forever homes, we are grateful for YOU.  Without your caring, your love,  and your dedication towards cats who imagine a better life, we would merely be a group of crazy cat people.

Thanks to each of you, we have changed the lives of many cats who were in dire circumstances.  Thanks to each of you, we dare say that we have changed the lives of people. Thanks to each of you, we dare to dream that we will continue in our humble endeavors. And thanks to each of you, we dare to dream that we will grow into a group that can do even more for cats everywhere.  We are grateful for all of you.

~Becca Marshall Steinberg and Noelle Sparks

acts of simple kindness_edited-1

Imagine Home’s Month of Gratitude, Day 25

Today I am thankful for no-kill shelters and sanctuaries.

Sampson enjoying life

These facilities are the true shelter in all the meanings of the word.  Today I am using the example of Cat Angels Pet Adoptions in Cary, NC.  I volunteer there as much as I can. Animals lucky enough to find their way to a no-kill shelter will never want for anything, and will live their natural lives in the shelter.  Some of these kitties are elderly, but still receive the love and respect they deserve, even if they will never find a home of their own.

Do you ever wonder how they can stay in business and help more cats in the process?    Just a few short weeks ago Cat Angels had their annual silent auction, which raises the most money for them throughout the year.  I was proud to be there helping in any way I could.  It’s all for the kitties.

2013-11-02_17-05-00_688

All year round, volunteers collect items to auction, solicit donations from local businesses, and put together gift baskets to sell at the auction. Donations range from all things kitty to spa treatments and special offers from local businesses.  Many of our benefactors purchase the sponsor of kitties for a whole year.

Willie Hodge and I all dressed up.

This year we even had a local celebrity (Willie Hodge) taking pictures with attendees to raise more for the kitties.  Here I am posing with him, doesn’t he look fabulous?

 

 

 

 

Cuddle Pile in the Purple Room

Cuddle Pile in the Purple Room.  These lovely kitties are waiting for their forever home.

But back to the shelter.  This is one place where you can see kitties in person, not behind bars.  You can interact with them and have your new kitty pick you.  It really does happen that way.  You can see how they get along with other kitties and get first-hand details of any kitty from our volunteers who spend our time with them.

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Kirk and Spock – bonded brothers from another mother

This is Captain James T. Kirk and Spock.  They came in without any other siblings or mama, and have come to love each other like brothers.  The cage was only temporary while they were in quarantine for 2 weeks (per usual), then while they healed from their neuter surgeries.  Now they are living large in the Yellow Room with the rest of the kittens waiting to find the right human to adopt.

 

 

 

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Hank and Skyla are never far from each other.

Two of my kitties came from this shelter.  Both had been deemed never adoptable because they were so scared of people. They both languished in the shelter for years, until they pulled my heartstrings just the right amount. Today, they are living the life of ease together in my home.  

 

Adopting from a no-kill shelter also saves more than just the one kitty.   It allows the shelter to bring more kitties into their program.  That means less kitties at the kill-shelters just waiting to be ‘put to sleep’.  Check out your local no-kill shelter today and see how you can help!  If they are anything like Cat Angels and their founder Deborah Fox, you know you will be certain this kitty is right for you.  Cat Angels will also take back any of their kitties, no questions asked.  Most no-kill shelters are like this.  It is about the life and well-being of the animals. Most local no-kill shelters will not adopt out of the area, for good reasons of their own that we have no right to question.  If Cat Angels cannot help you find you right family member, they will be happy to send you to other facilities where kitties are more in danger.  Imagine Home is primarily (for now) a transport group, although our bigger purpose is to help in achieving the no-kill nation we all desire.  While we will never be able to transport one of Deborah’s cats (and she does consider each one hers) I am eternally grateful for her and others like her who live for these precious animals.

Imagine Home’s Month of Gratitude, Day 24

Safe Haven
We are grateful for safe havens.

There are so many kitties needing a place to go. The healthy, young adoptables have trouble making it out of most shelter systems. Rescuers, adopters, fosters, advocates – of these there is never enough. So if the healthy and vibrant lives have little hope, what then of the special needs kitties, the seniors, the sick and diseased? There is a network devoted to them as well. Again, it is never enough. But for those that do find a way, there are safe havens.

For the special needs kitties, there is a place in Utah. The Best Friends Animal Society.
http://bestfriends.org/

“Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary. Nestled in Utah’s Angel Canyon, the Sanctuary is a healing home-between-homes for 1,700 animals, the majority of which need training, medical care, and/or emotional healing. Once they are ready for adoption, the animals move into good homes across the country.”

From all across the country, they take animals in and the very special ones will be there always. We have had the good fortune to work with them on 2 occasions. Flopsy and Ginger are now in their care thanks to the efforts of their fosters.

Ginger, a Manx Syndrome kitty, and her transporter, Karen at O'Hare Airport, getting ready to fly to Vegas.

Ginger, a Manx Syndrome kitty, and her transporter, Karen at O’Hare Airport, getting ready to fly to Vegas.

Flopsy, a tripod with severe CH and his foster at O'Hare.

Flopsy, a tripod with severe CH and his foster at O’Hare.

********

We have helped a couple of senior barn kitties recently to a small place in Farmington, New Hampshire. Pampered Paws Sanctuary is a “retirement” facility in a secluded and wooded area. Johanna, the director, worked in the shelter system for 25 years. Realizing that a large sector of the shelter population was the first to “go” when space was needed, she developed a plan and opened her sanctuary to the elderly. She also takes disabled and medically challenged kitties. Her story is a touching one and her website is informative.
http://www.pamperedpawssanctuary.com/

 

Prudence, 23 year old resident. Photo courtesy of Pampered Paws website.

Prudence, 23 year old resident. Photo courtesy of Pampered Paws website.

momm seior kitty pmpered pws

Senior barn kitty “Momma” made it to Pampered Paws just a few weeks ago!

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There seems to be a large population of FeLV kitties in our country with few places for them to find refuge. The World’s Greatest Cat House is home to the Puffy Paws Kitty Haven in Englewood, Florida.. A dual facility that takes in and cares for the “unwanted”, the FeLV, FIV, abused, neurologically and behaviorally challenged, they also have an adoption program for the kitties that can be placed into forever homes.

“Only Through The Power of Your Love Can These Very Special Need Kitties See The Light of Tomorrow.”
http://www.puffypawskittyhaven.com/
Their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheWorldsGreatestCathousePuffyPawsKittyHaven

Puffy Paws Cuddle Puddle! Photo Courtesy Puffy Paws website

Puffy Paws Cuddle Puddle! Photo Courtesy Puffy Paws website

whiskers intake

Whiskers! 2 years old and FeLV positive will be going to Puffy Paws in just a few weeks.

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Another safe haven for the FeLV kitties is in South Carolina. Suzy’s Zoo is situated in a very rural area on 25+ acres. This is a somewhat new location for her and she is still building. But her heart has never been bigger. From all over the mid-eastern to eastern United States, Suzy takes in the ones that have no hope of life anywhere else.

https://www.facebook.com/SuzysZooSanctuary

Smokey and Snowball, new residents at the Zoo

Smokey and Snowball, new residents at the Zoo

Affectionately termed the Zoo Crew, Roxie

Affectionately termed the Zoo Crew, Roxie

Cassie, of the Zoo Crew

Cassie, of the Zoo Crew

 

Gray Boy in Atlanta on a layover on his way to Suzy's Zoo.

Gray Boy, the last of the Zoo Crew in Atlanta on a layover on his way to Suzy’s Zoo.

These are but a few of the sanctuaries that can help the kitties with no other place to turn. It must be said that these are all are non-profit entities, they operate on donations and can do more and more with your help.  We believe that much like humans, all cats deserve an equal chance at life. So we work to save them all, as hard, and as heartbreaking as it may be. ~Kelly Pusskitty~

Imagine Home’s Month of Gratitude, Day 23

I am grateful for the loving advocates.

This past Tuesday I received a phone call from a friend.  She and her neighbor had been caring for a kitty that had been abandoned in a house.  No food, no water, no heat, no people.  They came to the realization that something must be done, this could not go on, but the solution was elusive.  So she called me.  I went to visit this kitty on Wednesday.  A darling, a sweetheart, so affectionate but reacted in a way that told us someone had not been nice to him.

 As soon as I got home I posted his pic, well many actually, but I chose a good one to post on the Imagine Home page with his story.  I made a plea for a foster.  It seemed to have taken no time and Michelle had offered to take him in.  And right on the heels of that, Tonia stepped up and offered to transport him.

Tonia and I met this morning and went to get Rover.  I thought it may be difficult to get him in the carrier considering he was not willing to be picked up.  I prepared myself  with a can of wet food, and a bag of treats, put a soft bed in the carrier and we were off.  But Tonia had the real stuff! She brought chicken.  And so between the chicken, the treats, me on the back side and Tonia on the front, we got Rover into the carrier.  He was upset! Tried very hard to get out.  He never cried though.  Once we left the house he began to calm a bit.  It was as if he knew that love and hope were on the other end of this new experience.  Tonia told me she talked to him all the way to meet Michelle.  He relaxed, and did well.  Once home, he’s already began to get used to his foster human twin brothers and his foster fur siblings. I think that he may be well and truly home though.  I don’t think Michelle will be able to let him go.

Rover, safely out of his cold and empty house

Rover, safely out of his cold and empty house

Rover in his new forever home!

Here’s Rover enjoying the comforts of a warm and occupied home again!

While Rover is taking his freedom ride across the state of Tennessee, we have another journey beginning just to the north.  In Kentucky Sam is making her way from Frankfort to Paris with our very own Noelle.  Sam’s story is a sad one, a dumped kitty, but things are looking up.  She didn’t do well in the shelter environment and was running out of time.  The very angel that saved her when she got there found her a wonderful place to go.  And as things began to get desperately close to falling through for Sam, Noelle stepped in.

 

Sammie made a new friend in nippie mouse!

Sammie made a new friend in nippie mouse!

Remember Max?  Well, the voice of love that he heard is heard in many places and in many ways.  Today, in New York City, Nicole spent her day cleaning a porch.  The porch is occupied by two kitties in the direst of need.  They are living in trash, their own filth, and yes, they are suffering for it.  So, armed with a mask and gloves and her worst work clothes on, Nicole has taken it upon herself to alleviate that in the only way she can now.

 

Max!  His savior and foster is still working to save lives.

Max! His savior and foster is still working to save lives.

These are but a few of the many things that the advocates did today.  There was sharing of posts, networking of needs, contacts made and friendships born.

 

And a kitty named Kelly (also a Ginger kitty) in Tampa, Florida got her life saved with just 10 minutes left.  (A personal best of mine.)

Kelly, on death row in Tampa, FL.  Saved in the nick of time.

Kelly, on death row in Tampa, FL. Saved in the nick of time.

Thank you and I am ever so grateful for all the things that you all do for the kitties. ~Kelly Pusskitty, Transport Director`

Imagine Home’s Month of Gratitude, Day 22

I am grateful for the advocates.

There are many voices and many people that help the kitties that so desperately need help.  From the busiest and most foul shelters to the stray that the neighbor finds on their back porch, homeless kitties will always need advocates.

I am grateful for the rescuers.

If not for the people that have the strength and courage to face the shelter system, I dare not think of the lives lost.  There are many rescuers that I have come to admire and respect.  I have had the good fortune to be able to call on them and never have I been let down.  I am honored to be able to call them my  heroes and friends. 

But I think little Max can probably better tell you this story.

~ I was just a wee little thing.  I found myself in a cold and stinky and scary place.  I was really sick and my eye hurt so bad.  I started to think this was all I would ever know.  But then someone came and got me.  They put me in a box.  And before I knew what was happening I heard a voice that was so full of love.  She took me to the vet, (ugh!) but I needed to go.  And then she took me home and loved me.  I had to have my eye removed.  I felt so much better after that.  I stayed with the lady that loved me for a little while til I got better.  And then I found myself in the arms of the person I was meant to be with.  I’m still a little kitty but my happies couldn’t be bigger. ~

 

Max in the shelter.  A sadder sight is rarely ever seen.

Max in the shelter. A sadder sight is rarely ever seen.

If not for the initiation of a rescuer in Georgia, a rescuer in New York City would not have seen Max.  Max was out of time.  He had less than an hour to live when the call was made to hold him.  But the call was made.  He needed a lot of medical care and some very focused attention to his needs.  Attention he received in abundance.  And his surgery was not inexpensive.  But the funds came easily from those who care so very much for the lives of helpless and sick kittens.  (Within 16 hours of asking!)

 

Many came together to save Max’s life.  Two rescuers, an advocate to put everyone together, a foster, and all of you that gave to help cover his medical expenses.

It means the world to Max, now known as Zeke.  It means everything in the eyes of his little girl.  ~Kelly

Finally home

Finally home

This is love.

This is love.

 

 

Imagine Home’s Month of Gratitude, Day 21

I am thankful for the blue sky above me and the grass beneath my feet.  I have been fortunate to have known that all my 50 years on this earth.  I am fortunate to be able to stretch my arms and not touch the walls of my home, and I am fortunate that I am not forced to do things for the entertainment of others.

performing animals

Photo courtesy Dionne Canter

But there are some that are not so lucky.

Flavio was a circus tiger.  He lived all his life, 24 years, either in a 6′ by 4′ cage or in the circus ring being made to do things that tigers aren’t ever meant to do.   Upon his retirement he was allowed to go to Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, FL.  After intake and vetting and days of all the things they do to care for their cats, he was then lead through a “tunnel” and for the very first time in his life he got to touch the grass. In the 2 1/2 acre vacation enclosure Flavio spent the next weeks just breathing the air.  He got to see the sky without looking through bars.  He got to see what it felt like to be a free cat.  His story is touching;  the video of his first encounter with all those things that many of us take for granted, the open sky, the grass, a tree to climb and a water fountain to enjoy, is nothing less than a soul shaking experience.

Flavio’s freedom walk can be seen here:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ai6y3C6czk 

Have you ever seen a 24 year old tiger play in a water fountain?  (I smiled for days after watching this.)   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZCC2-XlWm0

I later learned that the ‘vacation enclosure’ is occupied on a rotational basis.  But when it was Flavio’s time to go back to his regular enclosure he was having no part of it!  They knew he was okay, he was eating what they were feeding them, and he could be spotted at times on the high rocks in the sun.  Now it must be said that the enclosures, indeed everything, at Big Cat Rescue (BCR) are as realistic to outdoor life as a big cat in it’s natural habitat would be accustomed to.  There are many trees creating a natural canopy to keep the cats cool. There is no concrete.  And the enclosures are not small.  There is no caged feeling about it.

IMG_4924

BCR rescues and cares for many different kinds of cats.  A lion that came to them emaciated and very ill came from a drug bust where he was used to “guard the stash”.  Cats with many beautiful coats that were rescued from breeders that raised them only to sell their fur when they got large enough.  A declawed tiger that once belonged to a private owner.  All of them have a story, and it’s a sad one.  Particularly so since none can be released back into the wild and be expected to survive.

Zabu, the white tiger. ~Photo courtesy Noelle B. Sparks

Zabu, the white tiger. ~Photo courtesy Noelle B. Sparks

Cameron the Lion.  ~Photo courtesy Noelle B. Sparks

Cameron the Lion. ~Photo courtesy Noelle B. Sparks

hiding in the shade

~ Photo courtesy Noelle B. Sparks

closeup of spotty

~ Photo courtesy Noelle B. Sparks

IMG_4953

TJ the Tiger~ Photo courtesy Noelle B. Sparks

Tonga, one of only two white Servals in the world.  He had  was treated for squamous cell carcinoma at age 15. ~ Photo courtesy Noelle B.  Sparks

Tonga, one of only two white Servals in the world. He had was treated for squamous cell carcinoma at age 15.
~ Photo courtesy Noelle B. Sparks 

Read more about Tonga here: http://bigcatrescue.org/tonga/

This cage, according to the USDA is legal for transporting big cats.  It would be about the same as a 20 pound Maine Coon trying to take a cross-country trip in a small kitty carrier.

This cage, according to the USDA, is legal for transporting big cats. It would be about the same as a 20 pound Maine Coon trying to take a cross-country trip in a small kitty carrier.
Kelly Pusskitty, her face says it all.

Kelly Pusskitty, her face says it all. ~Photo courtesy Dionne Canter

Not all of the BCR rescues are cats that must stay in their care.  They do rescue cats in trouble, treat them then release them.  Khaleesi is a favorite of mine. A bobcat kitten that was rehabbed and then released.  You can expect to see her story in a future blog post.

“Big Cat Rescue’s dual mission is to provide the best home we can for the cats in our care and educate the public about the plight of these majestic animals, both in captivity and in the wild, to end abuse and avoid extinction.”   http://bigcatrescue.org

I am thankful for getting to see a dream of mine come true. A dream of getting to visit a place that helps to right some of the wrongs done to these fabulous cats. ~Kelly Pusskitty~

Imagine Home’s Month of Gratitude, Day 20

I am thankful for how social media has allowed me to connect with like-minded individuals far and wide……. and then, ironically, how it brought me to my local network of cat rescuers.

I have met some amazing, wonderful, intelligent, compassionate people who live all over the US.  We all have one common goal: helping animals, and I never have to question that.  I first connected with some of these women two years ago, as an FOJ. A lot has happened in the last two years, and now many of those ladies are now admins here at IH.  And that in itself begs its own Gratitude post.  But I wanted to talk about how, through IH, I have been connected to a fantastic network of local cat rescuers, though ironically none of the other IH admins live in my area.

There are two women in particular I am thrilled to have met.

The first is someone that I was connected with through IH awhile back, we’ll call her K.  She needed help transporting a cat somewhere; it was last minute (not enough time for IH to coordinate), but it was in my area and the admins reached out to me to ask if I could help K.  In the end, she found another rescue transport that could take the cat all the way to the destination, so I never met her or the cutie that needed a ride.  But we kept in touch, nonetheless.

Ernie, my first foster after taking a 3-year break from fostering.

Ernie, my first foster after taking a 3-year break from fostering.

Then a few months ago, K rescued a cat from a local AC at the last minute.  Ernie had been very sick and was thankfully on the mend thanks to her (there is a very nasty strain of URI going around one of the shelters: one that can take down an otherwise healthy adult cat in a matter of days), but she needed somewhere safe and climate-controlled for him to recover after summer came on hard and fast.  I offered my home, and just like that, I was fostering again after a 3-year hiatus.

Ernie is sweet, loving, gentle with my daughter and I believe he has helped me solve an ongoing mystery with my own cats’ health.  He is a blessing to our family and I’m so glad that he has come to stay with us until his forever home is found.

Polly, one of my current fosters, a sweet little polydactyl/Hemmingway kitten.

Polly, one of my current fosters, a sweet little polydactyl/Hemmingway kitten.

Then, on one of my IH transports early this year I met another woman, L, who just so happens to also be ensconced in our local rescue scene.  (And do you have any idea which transport I happened to meet this woman on?  Patience’s, the very same transport that Birdy had been so excited to drive the day she passed away.  I didn’t know Birdy personally, but that would have been the second transport that connected me to her; I do believe Birdy had a hand in me meeting L.)

L and I kept in touch and reached out to each other occasionally to network cats.   And then one day she tagged me one day on a post for a local “Friends of” group for a local animal control page about some cats needing transport to the safety of a rescue.  And since May, I have been doing transports, meeting more people in the local rescue scene, and feeling more connected to my local animal community than I have ever been.

This beautiful Maine Coon kitten is my most recent local transport passenger. Sweet, and as fluffy as a bunny.

This beautiful, sweet, and fluffy as a bunny Maine Coon kitten is my most recent local transport passenger, headed to a local rescue.

I have now fostered or transported 88 animals since May of this year alone.  The point of posting this number is not to pat myself on the back; it’s to show the power of making connections and how small gestures can add up.  85 animals is hardly a blip on the radar nationally.  It’s not even a blip locally.  But nearly every single one of those animals were hours, or minutes, from being committed to the euthanasia list.  So to look in each of those 85 animals’ eyes, and know that his or her life was no longer hanging in the balance, because some very dedicated people were committed to networking, rescuing, transporting, fostering, vetting, socializing and ultimately adoption, is still a staggering realization.  It makes a difference to each one of those 88.

And all because of some amazing, serendipitous connections among animal lovers on earth and in heaven. For that, I am forever grateful.

Imagine Home’s Month of Gratitude, Day 19

*Note

Your Imagine Home Admins used to belong to another transport group.  That group’s name isn’t important.  What is important is the many gifts of friendship we received while there.  What follows is the tale of two friends who touched our hearts in the other group, and here at Imagine Home.  

With Birdy, we always knew that she would keep us on our toes, find our mistakes, and remind us that the cats needed us to hurry up!  The morning that we got the notice that Birdy died, our hearts shattered.  Not so much because of the pair of cats needing a ride, but because we knew that we had lost a true friend, both to us, and to cats everywhere.  

What follows, is a tribute written from the heart by her dear friend Diana Kennady Geary.

~noelle~

Back when I first found the joy of Facebook, I had made a habit to check out the pages that had all the cute picture of dogs and cats. I, to this day love the funny meme’s they post and stories of rescue animals that found their new fur-ever homes. You see, I was working at that time with a transport group, to get these rescued animals to either safety or to their new fur-ever homes. So it was my way of winding down from a transport.

This one day, I had just gotten home from a leg of transporting 7 happy little puppies and one 6 month old German Shepherd. I was feeling great that I could help these fur babies out in their transport to a better life. After cleaning my Jeep up and changing my clothes, I sat down to an evening of playing on Facebook. That’s when it happened. I immediately went to one of my favorite pages to check out their cute pictures of the day and saw where a woman and man were having a rather high spirited conversation. This day, this page, this conversation was the beginning of a wonderful friendship with an Angel that walked on this Earth. She was really giving this sad sack of a guy, a hard time about his comments about one of the cute meme’s with playful kittens. The guy, who’s name has left my mind long ago, was not very nice in his comments and was actually down right cruel about what he’d like to do to the kittens in the meme. The woman…well, she let him know how she felt about his comments. Of course, she and I had the same reaction to his mean words and I joined in on this conversation. Or should I call it “shaming”? Anyway, this was the beginning…the beginning of knowing someone truly beautiful inside and out. Her name…was Birdy…Birdy Sims. We fast became Facebook friends, as in minutes after we ran the guy off that page. First with a private message just chatting it up as if we had known each other since birth! Our love of animals, and the fact she was a rescuer/foster mama and I was a transporter, drew us even closer. We shared pictures of our own fur babies and as Birdy put it, her “foster failures”. For those that don’t understand, a foster failure is when you just can’t let that fur baby go…you end up adopting the fur baby for your own. Birdy had many of these “foster failures”! <grin>

Our friendship grew every day for years…talking about home life, our fur babies, our childhood, you name it, we discussed it at one time or another. Birdy helped me through losing the last 3 of my Fabulous Five Felines…Zoe, Marley and Ziggy. She spoke of her heartbreak of losing her fur babies and we bonded even more. Next thing you know, we’re exchanging phone numbers. Friday nights became the night of teen like giggling, fussing like old hens and tears. We were there for each other no matter what.

Just as I thought I’d found a friend for life, it seems the world came crashing down on us. Being I had been in mourning over the loss of my last indoor feline fur baby, for months, I was going through that period of time where another addition would have felt like I was trying to replace a beautiful member of my family. But the day came that I had decided it was time…time to open my heart once again for someone to rescue me. That morning, I couldn’t wait to tell Birdy about the time was right and I went straight to her page. On her page, I saw the most horrible words I ever saw…”I need help in re-homing my cats…I’ve been told, I’m terminal and I don’t have long to live”. My heart sunk and tears began to flow, uncontrollably as they are right now writing this. Birdy was getting offers from people she knew, here and there but her main concern were her “foster failures” from (at that time) 6 yrs ago, her litter sister cats, Molly and Tobi. She didn’t want to separate them. They had been together since birth and she just couldn’t stand the thought of separating them. Being I was still in shock over the news I just sat there staring at her page in tears. Then I noticed her pleas were so strong and no one was even saying anything about these 6 yr old sisters…they were only showing interest in the smaller kittens. All I could do was cry as I typed in bold letters, “BIRDY, DON’T WORRY ABOUT MOLLY AND TOBI, I’LL TAKE THEM BOTH”. Now I was wanting to adopt a little panther, as I had never had a black kitty…neither Molly or Tobi fit that description but at this point, I didn’t care. They needed someone who was as like minded as their mama Birdy and Birdy needed the peace of knowing someone with experience with multiple cats/dogs, who would love them with all their heart, would adopt Molly and Tobi. I was that person. Not only for Birdy and the sisters needs but for my own…to have a part of Birdy to keep and love. So within minutes we were on the phone balling our eyes out, me promising I’d give them the best of the best, her blubbering out thank yous left and right (you have to understand, Birdy rarely cried a tear). We both gained a little bit of peace during that phone call…In steps a new beginning friendship…BekBek. She got the ball moving and set up the transport for us and next thing you know, I have Molly and Tobi! Birdy and I both were so indebted to BekBek and always will be. BekBek, our love for your determination of getting Molly and Tobi to me was and will be cherished forever! A friend for life, as Birdy and I both said many times.

Tobi and Molly, the duo that allowed Diana to meet her friend Birdy.

Tobi and Molly, the duo that allowed Diana to meet her friend Birdy.

Moving forward…Birdy decided to get second opinions and found out she didn’t have the terminal disease they told her she had. Happiness once again hit both of us! I told her in the beginning that I would be “Aunt Diana” to the sisters and when she got better, they could go home. She and her husband, Loren, decided to visit me after one of her trips to the Cleveland Clinic for more tests. I was so nervous, not over meeting Birdy face to face but over would she want her girls back. I had spent many a day/night loving these sister kitties thinking I would lose my friend and trying to make them feel loved. When Birdy and Loren got here, it was just like talking on Facebook…like we’d known each other forever! I told her, that my promise, that she could have Molly and Tobi back home with her was still a promise. That I would not stand in the way of her’s and their happiness. After a day, of talking and laughing at my boy, Ozzy trying to woo her girl Aila (Birdy’s service dog and companion), Birdy said, she felt that Molly and Tobi finally found their fur-ever home. Needless to say, I had happy tears welling up in my eyes! The day she and Loren were to leave to go back home was so bittersweet. I wanted them to stay, even begged them to move here with me. But they were worried about this small town and the medical provisions not being what she needed. She was right, I live in a rural area and we don’t have the necessary medical provisions she would have needed. So we said our goodbyes and I awaited her msg on Facebook that they made it home safe and sound. I got that msg and for all we knew, life was once again beautiful!

Sweet Tobi the Torti

Sweet Tobi the Torti

 

 

Molly

Molly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Months had passed, Birdy again was the Angel Rescue, taking in kitties to help find them homes, vet them and love them when they had no one and no chance of survival. Then she started telling me about an upcoming transport she and her husband were going to be involved in…something she missed dearly! She talked about getting to transport some kitties to their new fur-ever home and she was so excited! That’s all she talked about…two Fridays before the transport our phone conversation was so happy and she was so full of life, you could hear it in her voice she was nothing but a giant smile! Then the Friday night before she and Loren were to leave on their leg of the transport, she called me. She was about to burst with glee! All she kept saying was how excited she was and how she couldn’t wait to do what she had been missing for the last few years. I told her to be careful and enjoy every minute, and pictures! I wanted tons of pictures of her adventure in this transport! We said our goodbye’s our love you’s and both of us hit Facebook. She posted a cute little meme, she had made up with a precious little kitty yawing on it, saying “Goodnight! Tomorrow’s Caturday” with ~Birdy~ in the bottom right corner of the meme. That was my last phone call and the meme was my last goodnight from Birdy…

Birdy's last post.

Birdy’s last post.

The next morning I awoke in a race to the computer so I could wish her safe travels on her transport and I saw something that took the breath away from me for what seemed like an eternity. Loren, had posted what had happened, less than an hour after our last phone call. She had started with a sugar drop…not good, later she ended up cancelling out her early morning dialysis treatment she had scheduled for before her transport and in the next hour or so, she was gone. In the blink of an eye, just hours away from hearing my friend the happiest I’d EVER heard her, she was gone. She was walking the walk, across Rainbow Bridge to meet with all her fur babies that had made the walk before her. That Giant Beautiful Heart of hers, gave out. The Kitty Angel that once walked this earth was now gone. No longer would she be there for kitties in despair here on earth. She was their own personal Angel and she was gone…She changed jobs from Angel on Earth to Angel at Rainbow Bridge.

I have since, had many a dream with Birdy in them. She’s sitting under this giant shade tree, her hat, I loved on, giant loving smile and surrounded by animals. The first time I thought it was a sign that she was ok, she was where she was needed now. But with each new dream I’ve seen new animals surrounding her, including my Jackie…my little golden retriever boy. I’ve seen so many happy animals playing on her, around her and nothing but love in each dream. I don’t know if it’s a sign she’s sending about what her new job is now or if she’s showing me her new fur babies she’s in charge of loving and taking care of…all I do know, is I awake from these dreams with teary smiles and I know the day is going to be a good day.

I miss you Birdy, the kitties on this earth miss you, your friends miss you, Aila and your own fur babies still here miss you and Loren misses you. You’d be so proud of Loren…just hours after you left him and us, he did the impossible…he made sure that transport you were so excited over getting to do, happened. How he did that I don’t know other than you were sitting right next to him the whole way. I don’t think anything, even your own passing would have stopped you from that transport that day. I have a feeling the people driving behind Loren, on that trip, were wondering why there were Angel wings in the front seat of the van. We all know why…you were there, just like I feel that you are there in all the Imagine Home transports keeping an eye out and helping Jack kitty in keeping everyone of those precious little kitties and their transporters safe.

Birdy Sims, with her beautiful smile

Birdy Sims, with her beautiful smile

Birdy continues to help in transports to this day. Whether she is watching over each transport with Jack or it’s her huge carrier that is now being used by another Angel, Charmaine, who rescues and finds homes for kitties, to their new fur-ever homes. The legend of Birdy the Kitty’s Angel will live on…as long as their are kittens and cats to be rescued, she will be there in spirit. You never know…you may see Angel wings in the front seat of a transport vehicle one day! If you do, just give Birdy a wink and a smile. And as you pass those Angel wings, tell her Thank You and We Love and Miss You!”

~Diana Kennady Geary

*In honor of Birdy’s spirit, generosity, love and guidance, Imagine Home has decided to name their “Pay it Forward”  movement after Birdy.  So from this day forth, they’ll be known as “Birdy’s Big Heart”.  ~noelle~

birdy's big heart

 

 

 

Imagine Home’s Month of Gratitude, Day 18

“ Whoever you are, I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers,”  Blanche Dubois in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire

Today, your Imagine Home Admins are grateful for the lessons taught us by a pair of cats and their forever mother. The lessons are many, and their combined journey is very long, but all the more to teach us the very lessons we need. Shoes and Socks have a forever mom, Sadaf. She had always dreamed of travelling the continent of Africa. This year, she got that exciting opportunity. Sadaf did everything possible to prepare her boys for her absence. A wonderful friend was found to foster them in New York City, and Sadaf flew off for her journey, knowing that her two boys were in safe and loving hands. Meet the boys

                                                               Meet the boys!

In March, a few months into her epic journey, Sadaf’s friend and former roommate got some devastating news. She had, like many of us in today’s tough economy, lost her job, and would soon be losing her housing. Shoes and Socks would need to find a new foster parent. It wasn’t a matter of not loving the boys, it was a matter of downsizing, because she would be living with her parents for an indefinite amount of time. Sadaf was torn. Yes, she was worried sick about her boys, and was ready to come back home. But she also knew that the chances of returning to her trip were slim, if she got sucked back into her everyday life.

Then she heard about transport groups on Facebook. The first group turned her down, because the boys were not going to a forever home. Then she heard about us. We were still a tiny group, and only 6 months old. It was an audacious request. What’s that? I didn’t tell you where Shoes and Socks were going? Listen to this: New York City to St. Paul, Minnesota! When Kelly Pusskitty, our Transport Director saw the request, her fingers started to hover over the letters: “N” and “O!” But she hesitated. The only thing holding us back from approving the request was distance. And we’ve seen crazier things happen in less time. And then there were the cats. Kelly can very seldom say no to cats in need. So of course Kelly said yes, or I would obviously not be writing about the journey.

shoes and socks event pic

Look at the size of that map!

Before Shoes and Socks could wend their way across the United States, Sadaf posted this on our event: “I was worried watching my boys go away from across the world. I kept away from this page so I wouldn’t obsess. Having read the love that is pouring off this page, while I will still worry, I realize I’ve put them in the best possible hands. Words can’t express my gratitude to everyone who is making this possible. Shoes and Socks, I love you guys and wish you a safe journey with all your new friends. You will be at your new home soon.

The boys journeyed to Minnesota, in April, a little less than one month after we received the request. It was no big deal, really. Eleven transporters, with the fosters from each end taking 2 legs, one overnight hostess, and lots of excitement in between! Check out their event here, with many more pictures: https://www.facebook.com/events/426736260751208/

On their way!

Once they were safely settled in their foster’s home in Minnesota, Shoes and Socks took some time to adjust to their new surroundings. They had traveled with quite a bit of loot from their old home, including a beloved kitty condo.

Socks says "Ohai!"

Socks says “Ohai!”

This still isn’t quite the end of our tale. Sadaf stayed in touch with Kelly Pusskitty, and had asked her several times about a way to express gratitude for getting Shoes and Socks to their new foster home. And then it struck her. Sadaf paid it forward, and it touched our hearts more than anything she could have offered. Sadaf had toured the David Sheldrick Wildlife Orphanage, and was especially touched by the plight of the orphaned baby elephants.

Here’s what came of that visit: (June 2013)

What a wonderful gift, the gift of life. Safety, sanctuary, security and hope. These are but a few of the things that we provide through our volunteer work here. And before you get the idea that I speak only of the admins of Imagine Home, let me assure you that we well know that we could do nothing without the support, efforts and dedication of all of you. And yes, it does sometimes seem that we fight losing battles, spit in the wind, and put out infernos with thimbles of water. But you know what? It works. What we ALL do is so very important. Did any of us ever think that volunteering our time and resources would make a difference on the other side of the world? Did any of us ever dream that our love and respect for the lives of the voiceless would echo all the way to Kenya?  Well, it has. It has been almost 2 months to the day that Shoes and Socks made their way across 6 states to be with the very special foster they now reside with. And in that 2 months, their forever Mom, Sadaf, has been fulfilling a life long dream and trying to find a way to say “Thank you”. We received this email from her and I share it in it’s entirety. This, Imagine Home, is what it’s about. This belongs to us all. ~Kelly

[From Sadaf, currently in Kenya] Hello Imagine Home, It’s been nearly two months now that my boys Shoes and Socks went from their temporary home while I looked for a foster to their foster home. They are doing so well – playing, snoozing, snuggling and basically being the happy, healthy kitties I left behind. I am so grateful to Imagine Home, to all the transporters and admins who said “Yes” to my request to get Shoes and Socks to a better home while I was out doing something I loved. I had been ready to make the decision to come home and resettle them myself until a friend pointed me to the wonderful community that exists. It wasn’t an easy decision for me to make, but for my boys, it seems to have been the right one. When I see the photos that Kayla posts, and see Shoes and Socks looking so well, I can’t help but be so grateful to everyone who made it happen. Their new foster mom has a large part to play in their happiness, but they wouldn’t be there now without Imagine Home volunteers making it happen for them. I thought long about how I wanted to say thank you. I truly believe that deeds are better than words, and the love that Imagine Home volunteers have for the creatures in this world who can’t speak for themselves is so obvious that I decided a thank you needed to be done in kind. In my travels I had a chance to visit the David Sheldrick Trust, an organization that takes care of elephants that are orphaned in the wild with a view to returning them to the wild when they are old enough. They have had lots of success in their efforts so far. I was lucky enough to see the baby elephants play around, and was touched enough to want to foster a couple of the babies. Then the thought got lost in everything else. Kayla sent some photos of Shoes and Socks to me recently, and put some more on Facebook. As I’ve said already, every time I see recent photos of my boys I can’t help but be grateful for how well they are doing, and that they are looking healthy and happy. And this morning I finally finished signing up to foster two little baby elephants, representing my two boys, in the name of the Imagine Home volunteers who helped with the Shoes and Socks transport. Since I only had Sanober and Kayla’s addresses, they will get the actual information. But everyone can read about Bomani and Barsilinga, the two babies who will benefit from the donation. Their stories and their photographs can be found at https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/asp/orphan_profile.asp?N=270 for Barsilinga and https://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org/asp/orphan_profile.asp?N=273 for Bomani.

Thank you Imagine Home!  

                                      Bomani!
Barsalinga!

                                Barsalinga!

~  And today:

We're ready for our dinner!

We’re ready for our dinner!

Time to make some serious biscuits.

Time to make some serious biscuits.

Brotherly love.  Nothing better.

Brotherly love. Nothing better.

So, that happened. That, and the knowledge that we made two boys comfortable until their mom gets home, all of that fills our hearts with joy. And gratitude. And the lessons that I spoke of earlier? They were the lessons that even cats not going to a forever home are still worthy of love, the lesson that life can still be lived fully if one makes proper plans for care of their animals, and the lesson that animals worldwide need our love, protection and help. ~noelle~

The greatest gift.

The greatest gift.

 

Imagine Home’s Month of Gratitude, Day 17

Today, I’m grateful for creativity. We see it so often in every day life and don’t even recognize it, most times.

I’ve seen creativity in my fellow Imagine Home Admins when we decided that we wanted to develop a different kind of transport group. We all brainstormed for weeks about the best way to do things. While we’ve had some missteps along the way, we’ve managed to learn from each experience.

Over the past year, I’ve watched my co-workers/friends come up with incredibly creative solutions for almost every obstacle that we’ve faced. First was Phyllis (who has moved on) who developed our way of recruiting; she asked for certain pictures to be made, and used them in a variety of groups and events. We watched our drivers grow because of those tactics. Teresa has continued to expand on this creative method of recruitment, and has oftentimes used her personal contacts to get “just one more driver.” I’ve witnessed many Wednesday and Thursday late night miracles perpetrated by Teresa and Lori when we despaired of finding anything at all.

Kelly is her very own miracle of creativity. In the year and a half that Kelly Pusskitty has been planning transports, she has garnered respect for her caring, compassion and professionalism from the rescue community. I’ve watched Kelly pull off some creative rescues of cats, including for little one-eyed Max, who is now in his forever home. Kelly has managed to find friends of friends of friends to work last-minute and life-saving miracles.

BekBek Estes and Linda Rattenni are the geniuses behind most of our beautiful transport pictures that everyone shares. Every time I think they can’t top themselves, they come up with another way to take a horrible shelter picture, and turn it into a work of art. Then there’s Dionne, who drew the sketch that started us off, found the colors and fonts that suited our style, and has been the driving force behind the many sharable pictures that you see and share. Dionne had the vision of how our brand should look, and has found ways to keep it from getting stale, even after one year.

Our little motley crew, our band of sisters, used a variety of creative skills to help us grow over this past year. Together, our creativity feeds off of each other, and allows us to build new ways of doing things that seemed unimaginable a year ago. I can’t wait to see what the future brings.

Linda Rattenni's Poncho also Imagined a forever home.  He found it with Linda.

Linda Rattenni’s Poncho also Imagined a forever home. He found it with Linda.

Imagine Home’s Month of Gratitude, Day 16

I’m eternally grateful for sleep. They say that time heals all wounds, but I beg to differ; I feel that it’s actually sleep that heals all wounds. I’ve mastered the art of sleep, for the most part, except for the occasional bouts of insomnia that have plagued me since childhood.

There are so many kinds of sleep: there’s sleeping in a car during a long trip; that uneasy nap that you take because you’re exhausted and entrusting your driver where you hope that you don’t have to wake up unti you reach your destination. There’s the sleep of illness where you’re heavily medicated and hope to wake up completely healed. There’s sleep after a life-altering event, where you hope to wake up from your dreams and learn that your world wasn’t really tilted in its axis. And then there’s my favorite kind, the kind I experienced today: total exhaustion that allowed me to sleep on a sofa covered in a warm blanket, with a purring cat on my chest. That has to be the best sleep of all. Cat purrs heal all wounds. Cat purrs and sleep. And I’m grateful for both. ~noelle~

minnie having a ball

Not actually my cats or even my blanket. But they are sleeping, and happy.