Memorials and Tributes
CATS/DOGS and Spay/Neuter Clinic: - 124 Marina Drive, Montour Falls, NY 14865
HSSC Phone: (607) 594-2255 - Fax: 845-501-3211 Email: email@example.com
US Mail: PO Box 427 Montour Falls, New York 14865
Wags to Riches Store: 607.210.4263
We invite you to send us your memorials and tributes, along with a photo.
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge
Beautiful Sophie passed over Rainbow Bridge to join other loving pet companions we humans have been privileged to know. St. Bernard’s are often called gentle giants and have a history of helping people. The name and legend come from the travelers' Great St. Bernard Hospice on the Great St. Bernard Pass in the Western Alps where records of these special dogs were documented as early as 1707. Countless lives have been saved by these brave search and rescue dogs. Sophie was a member of an honored breed but her reputation is based on the time she spent walking among us – friendly, gentle and truly loved by her owners, the VanHorn's. She was equally loved by friends and neighbors who also benefited from her gentle and loving ways. A loyal companion, a trusted friend – some walks in life are too short … August 2012
Spike, in Holiday gear, getting toasty by the fire.
Suzie Q, Tuffy, Joey, Tiffany, Nuisance, Sophie, Romeo and Juliet, Skitterbug, Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, The Bobbsey Twins, Moxie, Radar, Mist, Mrs. Murphy. These are but a few of the shy, frightened feral or stray kittens that Spike took under his wing and provided babysitting services for. Spike, a robust (to put it mildly) black and white “tuxedo” cat was a feral cat himself. When I first moved into my home in Mecklenburg, it was obvious to me (and my cats) that we had moved into Spike’s territory. Rangy and wary, he would run at the first hint of the latch on my door, and took every opportunity to prove his dominance over my resident cats. The day he didn’t run I knew something was wrong. A bad abscess on his ear required medical attention, and he was installed in my bathroom to ensure close proximity for abscess flushing and daily medication. The rest, as they say, is history. Spike became, over time, a large, mellow couch potato. As if to make up for years out in the cold, he lived next to the woodstove all winter. In fact, he would take up his position at the sound of papers being crumpled and kindling being split, waiting for “the glow”.
Much as some humans have a penchant for nurturing the aged or sick, Spike had a penchant for nurturing timid or frightened kittens or cats. I was not aware of this until I started “cleaning up” a barn down the road from me, spaying and neutering the resident 20+ cats, some feral, some drop-offs. Many of these cats would find their way to my house and were subsequently adopted by me. It is very likely that Spike was born at this barn. It was obvious that with the barn cat population unchecked, not only was the barn going to be continually overrun with cats, but I would be too. When I realized the barn owner could only offer stale bread to a new litter of kittens, I trapped the kittens and the mama and took them home with me. They were installed in the bathroom much as Spike was years ago. There were six kittens, all malnourished, plus a very young mother cat, a rack of bones using every ounce of energy trying to nurse her kittens. After two or three weeks of good nutrition and a medical check-up for all, I began letting the kittens out of the bathroom. This is when Spike kicked into high gear. He would meet them at the door and chaperone them into the living room. He would groom them and allow them to play king-of-the-hill on his back. He would wrestle with them and when he had had enough, he would push them between his back legs and gently squash them until they simmered down. When everyone decided it was nap-time, there would be a heap of kittens on and around Spike. At feeding time, back in the bathroom with mama cat, he would sit and watch. Mama cat, feral and wary, rarely came out from under an antique commode, but she warmed up to Spike months before she warmed up to me. They became pals and when she started making forays away from the safety of the bathroom, she was rarely far from Spike.
A couple of litters later, after successfully placing a number of well-socialized youngsters in good homes, I caught the last intact female at the barn. I had been trying to trap her for months because I wanted to have her spayed at the free spay/neuter clinics sponsored by the HSSC at Cornell. She was approximately 8 months old and had lost her first litter. While under anesthesia, it was discovered that her breastbone had been broken and had healed in such a crooked way that there was a hole in it. It was amazing to realize that at such a young age she had survived this trauma. Without hesitation I brought her home.
Instead of sequestering her in the bathroom, I placed her in a crate where she could see me and the other cats, but be safe and secure in her crate. For the most part, my cats ignored her. It was Spike that took up residence outside her crate. Rarely at first, but eventually with more regularity, the new kitty, dubbed “Skitterbug”, would come to the front of the crate and rub against the bars. Spike would rub back. Over time, noses were sniffed, and Skitters moved to the front of the crate more often. One day while I was putting Skitterbug’s food in the crate, Spike ambled in and sat just inside the door. I left him there and closed the door. It took a long time, but eventually Spike practically lived in the crate with Skitterbug. They groomed each other and ate together and slept together. When Skitters was finally liberated into the house, she was usually close to Spike. When something scared her (and everything did) she would run over to Spike and butt him under the chin. Skitterbug is still uneasy at times, but she has come a long way since being trapped over a year ago. Undoubtedly, without Spike in the picture, her progress would have been much slower.
These are just two examples of litters and feral cats that Spike has taken under his wing in the past years. There were many more. Some are still with me (mama cat, now named Juliet, is still here) but most have been placed in loving, forever homes. Fostering kittens as well as adult cats is an important part in the development of these animals that would otherwise become feral if left in a “wild” setting such as a barn. Kittens are much easier to socialize; adult feral cats can take months or years to gain our trust. Spike spent his first year with me behind my couch! Juliet took over a year to sit on the couch with me, and almost two years to become a bona-fide lap cat, which is now undisputed! Skitterbug is improving daily, but is still not totally trusting. Foster homes are always needed to help socialize these animals, especially kittens, to give them the opportunity to become the special pet they all are capable of being. The younger a feral kitten is, the easier they are to socialize.
Spike passed away this past August from complications due to a heart condition. His absence is felt every day, and his fostering talents are dearly missed, but you don’t need a cat like Spike to be a good foster parent. You need patience and understanding, and a desire to raise the healthiest best-adjusted kitties you can. Please help carry on the Spike legacy and consider fostering. It does make a difference.
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