So, here I sit trying to write something that you will all find worthy. Yet, my cat has decided that petting him is much more important than what you think of me. His name is “Panda” and even he would tell you he is extremely spoiled. He is how I began my transformation into the rescue world approximately eight years ago.
My story, although not as interesting as some, must have something to do with how I got to this point. You cannot tell by looking at me or meeting me, but I was born with a birth defect that had a great chance of killing me or at least limiting my abilities at a young age. Then again, I was obviously also born with a strong heart and a mind of my own because here I am to pass my thoughts on to you lucky people. You learn a lot about life when you feel crappy most of the time. You learn a lot about what life is supposed to mean. Unfortunately, you also come to understand that life is more that who you are. More than what people see of you, and that can be hard when so few others feel the same. I wanted to be so many things as a child. An archeologist, a zookeeper, a National Geographic photographer, a famous artist, a forensic pathologist, a racecar driver (yep) and so much more. I wanted to be someone who traveled the world, had amazing adventures and met amazing people. I wanted to be fulfilled and to be remembered for being “someone." Somewhere along the way my dreams swept pass me and eventually reality set in. Soon, I was just doing what was expected and trying to figure out what went wrong. How I had disappointed myself so and I was only in my early twenties. One day as I was wasting time until my next tedious day at work something happened that helped me to understand more of myself. The chance to work with animals at a veterinary hospital. I remember being so happy that I smiled for days. It was a starting position and the pay was low. But, it felt like it was a beginning to something unknown and hopefully amazing. I enjoyed learning the medical aspects of my job and was happy that I was opening myself up to new dimensions of the world. Yet, after a few months I knew something was still missing. The animals that I worked with had people to take care of them and love them at the end of the day. They had security, a warm place to sleep and plenty of food. They had homes. My heart knew there was more to this animal adventure. And then came “Panda,“ his mother and his siblings and I finally understood what it was. They were only five days old and his mother was a cute Tortie with an attitude. The entire gang went to my house and proceeded to spend two months making my days hectic and my nights sleepless. I cleaned them, cared for them, played with them, named them and then found homes for them all when they were ready. Except “Panda,” I kept him because he had literally crawled into my hands before he could even see and snuggled there for an hour. I also thought he was a girl. Who knew.
That was the beginning of my understanding of who I am and what my life means. It was the opening of my heart to those whom no one notices or cares about, the sick, the lonely and the needy. It was the beginning of finding myself. I began to look down every street as I drove. I looked for movement in the grass on the side of highways as I walked down the street. I soon became the person who carried food and blankets in her car and fed the colonies of ferals in the community. I quickly rescued as many as I could afford and began to learn some of the many nuances of the rescue communities. I took in shelter cats that were going to be euthanized and found them homes. I worked with clients at my job to help them place their rescues or own pets in other good homes. I even stalked an extremely feral cat that we named “Jethro” until he finally became so cold and hungry that he gave in. Of course, only after he left me with several wounds. He became a very sweet boy, even after everyone said he could not be “tamed.” Amazing what a little love and lots and lots and lots of patience can do.
So, here I sit eight years later and along the way I have found that my “true calling” came to me through this little black and white kitten. I have found that there are many others who understand my feelings, and for their own reasons, have devoted their time and lives to helping in their own way. I also know that each and every one of these individuals is someone important in their own way. I have come to understand that every one of us is searching for something in ourselves through this cause. Perhaps a purpose in life, perhaps a way to feel needed, or perhaps just a chance to give back to those around us. There are many, many of you out there who go unrecognized for your efforts and are driven only by your hearts.
Many of us dream of making a real difference in this world for our own reasons and even though we have to pay our bills and go to work everyday wonder what it would be like to be “someone.” Well, you are all someone and each animal that you have saved now has a warm place to sleep, food to eat and a place to call home, or have ended their lives knowing you were there. I have not accomplished what I felt I could in my life and still long to do more. I have not helped nearly as many animals as I could have and have wanted to. But, along the way I have found that there are people in this world, who like me, have this need to try to “save lives” so that we can feel like we have made a difference in this world for those who cannot speak for themselves. “Panda,” on the other hand has now decided that his food bowl is the meaning of life at this moment. How quickly love fades.