They find us. Surely, there must be a sign on our backs, stating: Follow them; throw yourself on the street in front of them; pop up out of their bushes. Seriously, there I was minding my own business on my front porch, not looking to be a hero (a chump), when two kittens appeared, popping up and down in the flowerbed. No recently sighted pregnant cats in the neighborhood, no new neighbors with kits. So, what do ya do? You grab ‘em and proceed to find them a home. Fine. We have nothing better to do within or outside our 60-hour work week.
The “popping kittens” were by no means an isolated anomaly; this happens all the time to us. A wounded parrot, pelican, seagull, four lost/abandoned dogs, cats (not sure how many), a turtle, and recently, another kitten (dumped by some idiot) are just some of the menagerie. Add to this the cats and dogs that found their way into our orbit and then into our lives as our pets. Oh, and there is the opossum that sits with me on the porch, fortunately without needs—he’s just being neighborly.
I would love to say that we are saints for attracting the needy critters and tending to them. But really, it’s more like someone imbedded a tracking device in both of us that allows animals-in-need to know that, “Yes, every second a sucker is born,” thus making us an easy mark. Like the time a dog was running along with a marathon down Esplanade Avenue. I’d veered off my usual morning walk route, and there, darting alongside hundreds of runners and spectators, was a dog. Why was I the only one who saw him? Didn’t anyone wonder why he was off-leash and alone? Why me? I damn sure didn’t want to be bothered. But guilt is a powerful thing, and I guess they can smell it on me.
Same for Boyfriend: guilt, concern, compassion, or simply an instinct to protect something helpless or in need. He is also a magnet for down-and-out people—something compels him not to look away. Disadvantaged bipeds are a whole story unto themselves—they too find us. But today, I mull over just how crazy our lives are with the critter radar upon us.
Perhaps animals have some sort of social media that links them to posts and sites that are havens for homeless, feral, abandoned, or injured. Could there be a Facebook group page called Find a Sucker? Or have we been tagged, like when a cat marks its territory? During the Depression, the homeless hobos would carve upon a tree or fence a marking to indicate which households were a “soft touch” for a free meal. Also, do animals have a magnet of their own that draws us hapless suckers in? I just wonder, of all the properties we looked at two years ago to open our shop, how come this one and only this one (unbeknownst to us at the time) had a feral feline colony outside? Just askin’.
The SPCA’s feral Trap Neuter Release program gave these feral cats a leg-up with free spay/neuters, and in exchange, we happily agreed to the feeding of the colony. Seemed an easy enough solution for the humane management of this gathering of felines; however, they manage us now. Yeah, you guessed right, we adopted two of them—swore we’d never ever get attached. And we worry over their welfare and future should we move. We’ll just have to locate someone to feed them through the Find a Sucker website.
Don’t think us less than pleased with being able to assist the ferals, the lost, and the found. We have no regrets—but this is just part of it! We seem to be on an Indian burial ground or some sacred ancient urinal. There’s no other explanation for all our cats and dogs acquiring UTIs, all the friggin’ time. Perhaps the Find a Sucker website/Facebook has a category just for Pets with a Proclivity for Urinary Tract Issues and Infections. My life revolves around urine. As a result, I am becoming qualified for vet tech status by way of on-the-job (home) training. I can talk urine all day—how to catch ya some, how to trap and secure cat/dog pee in a sterile manner suitable for presentation to your veterinarian. While there is no apparent contagion or common denominator for their UTIs, our pets certainly have found a way to keep us running various bottles and jars of urine to the vet.
My best way to catch pee from a dog nearly had me disgraced from my neighborhood. There I was with a properly sterilized coffee mug (best device to avoid spills and splash-overs) strategically placed, as my dog positioned herself to pee. And so, of course, every car in New Orleans had to drive past my front yard that morning.
Having multiple housecats and a dog makes for the Mystery Urine game. There you are waking up to that puddle, and they all play dumb, some falsely accusing the other. You worry as to whether or not it is a cry for help. “Inappropriate urination” often means they are sick, this being their only way to tell you: “Get me some drugs and make it go away—now!” Or, are they just punkin’ ya? No, and you are about to spend a ton of money. So, as a responsible biped, you must begin the task of ruling out which one peed. And now the Urine Wars begin again. Oh, this is fun!
Loving animals and caring for them is not for the faint of heart. But they find us, and we count ourselves lucky to be picked. For sometimes, we are the rescued ones.