On Becoming Real
Friends For Life
"You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”
― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
Peggy Sue knows the wait to be Real.
It took a while. From the time that she was a bouncy kitten with her family to the time she ended up at the city shelter on wobbly 14 year old legs with no toes on her feet. Of course, it didn't go smoothly. When her family took her to the hospital and the doctors took the ends of her toes off one by one, it was a pretty awful day. But at least her family came to take her home when it was over. And she was glad of that part. Her feet didn't heal that well, as often happens in those kinds of surgeries, and she ended up having this very distinctive walk in which she gingerly touches her feet to the ground and seems to try with each step, to put down no weight. In the last few years, that became easier because, as also often happens, as she grew to be an older cat, she shrunk. Old cats shrink kind of like little old humans shrink.
By the time they put her in her carrier and slid her across the counter to the intake clerk at the City, she weighed about 4 pounds. Of course, Peggy Sue didn't know it was the end of the road. She didn't know they were going to get in their car and leave. And she certainly didn't know that her cage card read "pre-euthanasia."
She would not have understood that her family leaving her there had set in motion a chain of events in which she had almost no chance of survival.
Peggy Sue's Hope
When the BARC staffer sent out her picture and her story, he knew the odds. He knew that there are great rescues in town that pull animals of all ages and conditions and they might be able to take her. But he also knew that the largest three private shelters do not have a no kill policy. Because of her age, Peggy Sue would not make the "adoptable" cut in a traditional program.
But one of his emails went to Friends For Life. We were founded in 2002 as an alternative to those private shelters and that old model. We have a more expansive view of "adoptable," so when we got the request, Peggy Sue came to Friends For Life. Because of her fuzzy little "britches" that fluff out on her back legs she immediately got nicknamed "Pants."
We learned that, while she was indeed very old, age was not the reason she was losing weight. It was hyperthyroidism causing her to continuously lose weight and treatment would require administration of medicine twice a day for the rest of her life. So we began to grind up her tiny pink pill in a wet food treat each day and she gobbled it up. It worked. She began to put on a little weight. Her coat improved and she stopped being ravenously hungry all the time.
She had a "glamour shots" photo taken, got brushed and groomed regularly and had a great time sleeping in the sun and getting petted in the senior room. Things were looking up. In fact, Pants might have just been willing to call it game, set, match right there – and chalk this up a happy ending. But it was about to get even better.
One Fine Day
Here's the thing: There is enough love to go around.
There are solutions for animals who traditionally have no chance in shelters. Our job as shelters is to be faithful in our task as a safe harbor until we connect the animal and their person. A senior herself, Peggy Sue's adopter said she'd landed at Friends For Life because no one had any cats old enough for her. She does, of course, want to outlive her cat and give Darling the happiest home possible for the rest of Darling's life!
This warm lady fell in love with Peggy Sue and adopted her
The updates from her new family are brimming with the joyful spirit of her new mom and her wide-eyed rediscovery of Peggy Sue as the precious soul she is. When we sent her new mom Peggy Sue's "glamour shots" we got this:
"Still cannot believe how easily Peggy Sue has slipped into our lives ... Can't recall if I relayed the spot-on comment via one of the techs yesterday re: her poor little front paws ... "She looks like a ballerina!" ... SO TRUE!!!
And, btw ... with hopes for no hurt feelings, we are calling her "Darling" ... as she is ... in every way! Do hope FFL approves! ;)
Appreciation reigns, Pam ... for Darling's magnificent photos and, more than I can express, for the exquisite care and concern for her by all her admirers at FFL!
WHAT AN ABSOLUTE PRESENT SHE IS! She has officially been renamed "Darling" because that's what she is!"
The way this story ends is that it doesn't end.
"Once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
How can you be a part of this new way of doing things for animals? Join us at Friends For Life as a foster, adopter, volunteer or donor. This model grows as we grow it together.