Tuesday, October 27, 2009

From a Writers Heart

“Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much a heart can hold.” – Zelda Fitzgerald

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I’m a writer.

But it’s not all I am.

I’m also someone who rescues animals; strays to be specific.

Tonight I just want to be the writer. Because I don’t really know how much more my heart can take - how much more compassion, endurance or fortitude, I have left to watch another life slip out of my hands. Only to realize too little, too late and wonder was it enough?

I didn’t ask for this. Never in my wildest dreams did I foresee this for myself. Yet here I am, sitting with a heavy heart and trying my damndest to make some sense out of it all.

Counting slowly back through my memories, names and personalities remind me of the ones that survived, the strays I did manage to make a difference for.

I’m only one person.

They all had homes before me, a place where they lived and learned to be domesticated. The question remains, what happened to those homes?

They come to me broken and unsure if I’m trustworthy. Will I chase them away, kick them or scream at them? “Don’t come any closer,” their stance says, betraying the fear they have of humans.

Patience slowly wins them over.

I can’t describe the joy as unique personalities emerge and most importantly trust is gained. Eyes lit up in expectation and excitement to see you, until finally the one moment that gives way to all your patience, the rub. The classic don’t hurt me; I’m going to try to let you close enough to pet me move. And I melt.

Why?

Because the evidence of the road they traveled to get to me is there for all the world to see in each scar, the missing hair, the bug bites and the skinny frame from lack of food.

Yet for one moment they dared to trust and I was worthy.

I’ve seen this same scenario play out over and over. I don’t get it. I don’t understand how someone could cruelly pull up in a car and toss them out, or one day suddenly decide they weren’t worth the time and lock them out of the only home they ever knew. I don’t understand how someone can simply stop caring.

As a writer, I take my writing seriously. As a pet owner, I take their lives into account from beginning to end. There is no, I changed my mind they’re too much work. There is no, I don’t have time or patience for this.

Kittens and Puppies don’t stay that way forever, they grow up, they get old and they need to be taken care of every single day of their lives.

So the writer in me is using the biggest tool I have available to me – my words, to ask, please be responsible pet owners. Know what you’re getting into before taking that leap and falling for a pet that will be the recipient of whatever decisions you make.

If you think you have what it takes to go the distance, please consider a shelter or abandoned animal. All they want is to be loved. They never asked to be thrown away.

Maybe someday everyone who owns an animal will take that responsibility seriously and I won’t feel the need to make a heartfelt plea like this. I don’t know if my heart can take losing another stray, wondering if they had enough time to know someone cared. I’m only one person, one writer, one human being. Stop and think before you give a pet for a gift this holiday or any day and make sure you understand what that new puppy or kitten entails. Please…

(This is dedicated to “the old man - Orange”, as I so fondly called him. I had to have him put to sleep today. He had FIV – Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. He came to us too late to save.)

*Update: And the dance begins again. There was a gray long haired cat studying me from the woods. Will it stick around? Time will tell. Where one life ended, another just might have a chance.


Watercolor painting can be found here

30 comments:

  1. I watch shows like 'Animal Police' and I cannot believe what some of those animals endure and then to watch them finally recieve care and turn around and trust yet again ...

    ... I wanted to let you know that I read your entry and that it touched me.

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  2. Oh Indigo I feel the same way. I am so sorry for loss. It is heartbreaking. People are so cruel to just toss these animals like they are trash.

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  3. I am so saddened by your loss. As you know I rescue as well and we have had a bad week, losing two of our dogs, one to cancer the other to a freak accident, but both so tragic.

    (hugs)

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  4. (((Hugs)))

    I completely agree. You are a saint for being able to do your line of work. I would lose it in a sea of tears every day. I too am a huge animal lover and activist. I don't understand how people can decide to get a pet and then not carry through on their promise to that pet to love them and care for them. Our pets are our children. We would never cast one off. I just don't get it.

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  5. Indigo,
    You are my dear friend, and sadly, this is a very necessary post.

    I am so sorry to hear about Orange. He was lucky to be in your care, if only for a short time.

    Sending you lots of love,

    SB

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  6. It is a shame how disposable our society has come to think of pets. For those of us that get it, we know that they are part of our family.

    Sorry for Orange, may he rest in peace :o(

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  7. I agree with you totally! I don't understand why people do that. Pugsley our oldest Boston Terrier was abandoned at a shelter. We went in & had to adopt him. He's such a treasure to us. I just don't know how anyone could have abandoned him....well yes I do! He was sick.....

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  8. Indigo, you are such a wonderful, caring person. I hate it when I see pets mistreated. I don't see how those people can sleep at night.

    (((hugs)))

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  9. You are an old, beautiful soul.

    I've had pets my whole life, and most of them have been either rescue or shelter animals. We found our German Short Hair Pointer, Foxy, at the Humane Society last year. Of all the dogs in those pens barking their silly faces off, Foxy was the only quiet dog. She was scared and horribly malnourished. I took one look at her and knew she was The One.

    My cat, Mary Jane, came from the shelter as well. I knew immediately she was a cat with spunk despite the terrible condition of her coat and her half-dead eyes. She's now sporting a GORGEOUS coat, there's life in her eyes and she is probably the best cat I've ever had. We are soul sisters, Mary Jane and I.

    I am a huge rescue/shelter animal advocate, just like you. Love this post.

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  10. A good friend of mine lost her kitty of 12 years today. She's heartbroken. I can relate... as apparently so can you- so sorry to read it...

    People are so cruel- to animals, to each other- I tend to avoid most humans. I'd rather have animals.

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  11. My heart goes out to you & Orange. my prayers are with you. Thank you for all that you rescue even if for a short time. I rescue from the shelters too when I can. everyone should rescue from the animal shelters or animal humane..so many pets. sending Love & Hugz!

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  12. that breaks my heart. here's hoping the grey feline sticks around to get some loving from you.

    xo

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  13. I'm so sorry about Orange.

    I hate when people are cruel towards animals. I don't understand it.

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  14. Indi- I agree. If I eat-everybody eats. Just can't look the other way. Hope all is going well with you. Nice post. ~rick

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  15. I so love you for being this way. A rescued animal is a good way make a day worth living. My heart has always belonged to the animals. Now THEY are true unconditional love. Anne

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  16. Hi Indigo,
    I don't understand how people can abuse pets like that, either. Some people can be so cruel.
    Best,
    Marty

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  17. Dear Indigo,
    Thank you for stopping by:)
    I am so sorry for your loss. I can only imagine how hard that must be.
    Their is something missing in the people that abuse and abandon animals. We live in a throw away society and someone forgot to inform these people that that does not include animals.
    Hugs to you Dear Friend,
    Sheri

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  18. hugs and more so sorry for your loss I hate to think of losing my baby orange

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  19. Dear one I am really sorry and touched for your loss!!!! My heart goes out to you..... Remember the happy times with Orange!

    You are a strong woman and very courageous!!

    I too watch animal shows. I have two birds myself.

    Hugs to you sweet friend....

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  20. you have to listens to the tugs in your heart, be it writing your thoughts or rescuing a stray... love and hugs!

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  21. Beautiful and heart wrenching thoughts Indigo. I too love animals and pick up dogs on the road. All the cats over the past 20 years have been strays that just showed up. I know that people do the same to children--maybe not throw them out of a car--but abuse them in unspeakable ways. So it follows that animals would fair no better. I think that these are people who don't love themselves so they find it impossible to love something or someone else. So sad.

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  22. Indigo, it has been far too long and I've been terribly remiss in visiting... As always, you touch my heart and soul with your words and my thoughts go out to you at the loss of your furry friend.

    Two of my cats were shelter animals (they're gone now, sadly) and my orange Fluffy was a stray I had to almost file for divorce for, in order to take him in after watching him live out of our dumpsters for two months... All three animals were the BEST and most LOVING and loyal creatures I have ever lived with.

    Take care, my friend. I think of you often.

    ::hug::

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  23. I had a cat 5 years ago that died of the same virus...and the watercolor looked familiar, I've conversed with the artist on deviantart a few times about tips for watercolor paintings ... loved your post, people thank me for adopting an unwanted greyhound frequently, when it was him that gave me help most when I needed it...

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  24. Beautifully proscribed, a true writer's outlook on the confusion of cruelty in the mind and heart of those who can't feel it. You might want to see the videos I put up under "This Might Be Too Much" it's about what we do, every day, to other lives no one wants.

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  25. TO "Old Man-Orange" speed-on to your next journey, safe and loved.

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  26. I'm so sorry for your loss, I know too well the pain you are feeling. You and I are of the same cloth with our strays and the lengths we will go to for them. I often ask the same questions you write of today. I have questioned how much my heart can hold and how many times it can break and mend again. I lost my 21 year old cat two weeks ago, it was time but saying goodbye ripped my heart out. I love you for what you do ~ you are my kindred spirit when it comes to our babies.
    XXX
    Lisa

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  27. Such an amazingly beautiful post. My heart aches for your loss. You should be content in the knowing that your brought contentment to the Orange cat. (Ginger kitties have something especially tender in their souls. Look at my blogroll for We Three, Ginger Cat Tales. It's a blog I think you will love.

    Dear friend, this is another thing you and I share. We have three indoors kitties. And three who were strays who have warm beds in the garage at night, vet care, that 'til death do us part commitment you spoke of. It used to be four strays until Bootsie died last year. He is buried in the backyard and I think of him all the time. He was the classic you described: thrown away, lost all trust, roamed the neighborhood for five winters until finally coming to the food bowl I set out each night for anyone who needs food (cats, raccoons, skunks and opossums - with the stray cats getting extra wet cat food before the night begins and the wildlife emerges). Bootsie and I worked together for months until that precious moment of trust. He became one of the best friends I ever have had, the one cat that I told my husband I firmly believed would fight to protect me if he sensed I was in danger.
    And now at the outside food bowl there are three regulars and two others who come some evenings. I call one "Hissy" because she has been so broken and demoralized that she charges me...hissing all the while...as I prepare her bowl. I am giving her all the time she needs. If she ever rewards me with a rub I will melt.

    Your appeal is so important. I hope you keep this post up for a few more days.

    hugs to you.

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  28. I don't know why, but I thought you had stopped blogging. Nice to see your comment...somewhere...I cannot remember where.

    I totally understand the heart connection to animals. Some of us chose to be caretakers, some of us can only manage one pet at a time. My landlord is a rescuer. We have Lucy the golden Lab and Belle the blue healer on the property.

    You have made a difference. A huge difference. It is not for us to understand, but to let our hearts expand to include these precious forgotten and abandoned souls. I bet when you reach the other side and are reunited with those you have helped it will all make sense.

    Until then, keep searching and helping.

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  29. oh, indigo. i can't even go to the shelter here anymore. i leave crying.
    for now, i deal with my 11 year old cat and her slow walk into age. that is hard enough.

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  30. I'm so sorry about Orange. I hope the new Grey will eventually approach you.

    I also can't comprehend how anyone can harm an animal. Sheeba is all curled up on my lap at this very moment, and I'll give him and extra hug for Orange. Hugs, Beth

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Thank you for giving my silence a voice, my muse your words, and taking the time to discover my prose.