Saturday, May 16, 2015

Jake's Comfort Zone

Jake brings his calm way of being, green eyes and friendly accepting nature to many sad, hurting and lonely people, children as well as adults. Some have escaped abuse, some are facing illness that has changed their lives forever, some have forgotten what it was like to feel a soft touch from pets they said good-by to long ago.
Earlier this year he brought comfort to Linda, a woman who in her vibrant years suffered a stroke. One result was she became almost totally blind. She couldn’t find her way around places that had been familiar to her much of her life. So Linda came to The Samaritan House Fort Collins Village for rehabilitation. From being an active member of her community she struggled everyday to interact, make her needs known, communicate, and learn what she needed so she could go home.
One of the things she missed was the comfort of her cats, Felix and Tango. Their antics amused her and brought warm furry love to her every day. Linda’s days at Good Samaritan were long. Things moved slowly. Her therapists had an idea. They knew about a cat named Jake who came to visit at Good Samaritan regularly and suggested he come and visit Linda.
She knew the day Jake came to see her it would be a good day. It was as if he knew of all the heartbroken places she had inside. He moved slowly to rub against her legs then snuggled next to her. He touched her cheek with his nose. Her words were muffled as she buried her face in his fur. Jake then sat next to her on her bed and listened as she thanked him for coming to see her and talked about her cats she missed so much at home. Jake helped her through her many days of rehabilitation and made her time away from her home and family a little easier.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Small Life

pale dry leaves cushion a spot
under the butterfly bush
in my back yard
a leafy cave
hides a dark place…

from my kitchen window
I see a slight gray shadow
tall ears above a pink nose
I’m startled as two eyes
stare at me from under the bush
not blinking

a rabbit…  frozen as a statue
safe in its stillness
in perfect camouflage hawks won’t
see   as they fly overhead
looking for dinner
I say hello and in an instant
it hops away
into the grass and weeds beyond
as if it heard me speak

evening flows in, moves the day
out of the way
I sense something watching
prepare supper and glance out the window
there it is again
stares through the window
curious I suppose
I smile and move
to see if it will turn its head to follow
 this time just a flicker of its eye

the rabbit has claimed this spot
I see its small gray form every morning
and evening
sometimes it spends the day there
happily nibbling on seeds and grass
crabapples spread over the ground
never moving far from its hiding place

in the middle\of the night
I hear an animal scream
it isn’t a dream
nor the first time I hear this sound
filter through my sleep

when you live near farms and fields
out beyond the lights and noises of the city
the sharp sadness of loss
the beat of life and death is always present
in small ways

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Why I Write About Animals

I spent the summer between 6th grade and Junior High in the library. I also spent it on buses taking me to and from the library. On those bus rides I suffered the stares of other passengers. Sometimes they moved away from me. I don’t blame them too much because I looked like I had a bad case of the measles. I didn’t. It was a mysterious blood condition that eventually went away by itself.

I read every horse book and dog book I could find in the small neighborhood library that summer. (I would have read cat books, but at that time, there weren’t very many.)Then I got started at the main library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where I grew up.

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, changed attitudes about the treatment of horses and began a movement that created the first Society to Prevent Cruelty of Animals. This book changed my life. It was one of the first animal books written in first ‘person’. Another book, Beautiful Joe by Marshall Saunders stayed with me also and told a sad story about an abused dog that as a young girl, I couldn’t believe.

I didn’t know it then, but I am convinced these books led me to my vocation and the belief that kindness and mercy toward animals would guide me all my life. My calling now is to write about animals, to be a spokesperson and a voice for the voiceless.

I keep lots of quotes and stories about animals. I came across a piece the other day by Dr. Michel Klein who wrote a book, Animals, My Teachers: An Autobiography of a Veterinary Surgeon. The book was part of The Companion Book Club and published by Harvill Press, London in 1975. He was ahead of his time and says, in part:
“It is animals as much as human beings, from the tiniest Yorkshire terrier to living colossi such as Siberian tigers or Indian elephants that have made me what I am. It is to satisfy a passion which gradually overcame me and has never ceased to grow: to restore the animals place in a world dominated by man, a place we encroach on by steadily destroying and looting its habitat. Man without animals condemns himself to inhumanity. My task is to protect them, draw them closer to us and promote our knowledge and love of them.”

I don’t know how much of a dent I can make but I keep trying. I not only hear the words from Black Beauty and Beautiful Joe but the cries of cats and dogs that lose their lives in shelters, suffering farm animals, show horses and race horses, puppy and kitten mills, and so many more.

This is why I write about animals.


book, Jake’s Gift: The Story of a Cat Who Wouldn’t Quit, has just been released and is available on Amazon or at