Monthly Archives: August 2010
On Sunday, August 29, we attended the Blessing of the Animals ceremony in Goodale Park presented by King Avenue United Methodist Church. A friend of Chuck and Carol Gaul, Charlene Bohn, attends King Avenue and wanted to remember the Gaul kitties that were killed in the recent house fire at the beginning of August. Charlene asked parishioners to donate cat food to B and O to honor the Gaul kitties and she also presented eleven flowers at the altar in remembrance of the beloved felines.
Carol and Chuck came for the service. Carol carried the box that contained the cremated remains of her eleven cats. I brought Rascal, Carol’s other foster, who has been staying with me since the fire. Rascal was the only survivor because he was at PetSmart waiting to be adopted the day of the fire. For this brief moment, the twelve cats were once again reunited.
Several other friends of Carol and B and O showed up for the ceremony. Bobbie, Debbie, Brian, Allen, Dr. Kim West, Susan, and Carol’s daughter and son-in-law all came to lend their support and show their love. While we were there, Kristin sent a text from Canada, where she was attending a wedding, to tell Carol that she was thinking of her. We were surrounded by animal lovers and many, many beloved animals. The dogs’ barks and howls added to the joy of the event. It was so nice to look around and find happy furry faces everywhere.
Charlene made a brief announcement about Carol and Chuck and why the church had decided to collect the cat food for B and O. Then when it was time for the Blessing, everyone took their animals down to the gazebo and received prayers filled with love and emotion. A pink vase sitting on the gazebo steps was used to collect flowers to remember beloved pets that were no longer with us. Carol walked forward and put her flower in the vase, all the while clutching the wooden box with the remains of her feline family. It was very emotional and there were tears, of course.
I want to thank Charlene and King Avenue United Methodist Church for a lovely service and for remembering the Gaul cats during this time when animal lovers were gathered in gratitude for the pets in their lives. I also want to thank Debbie, Brian, Allen, Dr. Kim West, Susan, and everyone else who came out to show their support for Carol and Chuck.
To see all of our photos from this lovely day, visit our Facebook page: B and O on Facebook
While waiting in my chiropractor’s office this morning, I came across an article in the July 2010 issue of Ohio Magazine called, “Canines of Comfort,” by Ohio author Jane Miller. The article related how Miller, a psychotherapist and licensed social worker, had been working with psychiatric service dogs to help abuse victims, veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and others with panic attacks, depression, or severe emotional disabilities lead better lives. The dogs allowed these people to have lives that were not ruled by their emotions, anxieties, or fears.
Service dogs have been used to help people with many physical disabilities, but this is a new field exploring how dogs can help people with emotional and psychiatric disabilities. The dogs provide comfort and acceptance and are trained to specifically help their owner with their specific disorder.
Most of us who have animals in our lives know firsthand how much pets can help when we are feeling unhappy or anxious. I often say that my cat, Oswald, absorbs all my stress from the day when I pick him up upon arriving home. Once his furry body is against me, all my negative energy dissipates. I have joked that his poor little body should be covered in warts and tumors from sucking up my bad emotions. But, Oswald, being the cat he is, takes it all in and makes it all good.
That is the power of our companion animals.
I had an email from a lady, Olivia Smith, who needs to temporarily place her mother’s two cats in foster care until she and her husband can move from her grandmother’s house where they are currently staying. As Olivia related, her grandmother is extremely allergic to the cats and the doctor has advised that the cats can no longer stay in the house. Additionally, Olivia will need help transporting the cats to foster care. They are currently in Conneaut, Ohio near the Pennsylvania border.
Here is what Olivia wrote: “I need to find a temporary foster home for my mom’s cats. My husband and I will be taking them with us when we move (currently living with her and my grandmother), but they need to be out of the house for now because my grandmother has severe allergies and her coughing is getting worse. Her doctor said they have to go. The closer to where we are now, the better, so we don’t have to travel so far to get them back. We also don’t have transportation to take them to the foster home, which has been a huge problem for us. We’ve had 2 possible places to take them and we couldn’t get them there so the foster care fell through. My husband is a truck driver, so when we move, it won’t be a problem to come and get them. We are currently in Conneaut, OH, which is on I-90 near the PA state line.
“I have attached pictures of each of them. Phebe is about 4, and Sassy just turned 3. They have been tested for FIV and leukemia, and both are fixed. Sassy is front declawed; Phebe uses a post.”
If you can help foster Phebe, who is the orange and white cat pictured, and Sassy, the Siamese mix (the family would like for them to stay together if possible), please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will put you in contact with Olivia. As a side note, I would be glad to help set up a transport to get the cats from Conneaut to wherever their new foster home may be located. We have done this type of thing several times to take cats to new homes in New York and Virginia, so just getting them across the state should not be a problem.
Shortly after the fire that took the lives of the Gaul kitties, I had an email from a friend of Chuck and Carol’s who wanted to honor the eleven cats lost in the smoke. Charlene Bohn was heartbroken to learn that Carol had been through such a devastating loss and she felt she needed to do something to remember the Gauls and their beloved felines. Charlene wrote to tell me that her church has an annual Blessing of the Animals and she planned to bring eleven flowers to the service to honor Carol’s babies. Charlene wanted to know if I felt it would be appropriate to ask her pastor if some type of donation could also be made to Black and Orange Cat Foundation in remembrance of the Gaul cats.
My response was a resounding yes. When I mentioned this kind gesture to Carol, her eyes filled up with tears and she was pleased beyond all words that someone was remembering her cats in this way.
Just this week I had another email from Charlene about the Blessing of the Animals and I wanted to let everyone know about it so they could also participate in this lovely service to honor Carol and her cats. Charlene spoke to her pastors at King Avenue United Methodist Church (299 King Avenue in Columbus) and they agreed to collect cat food for Black and Orange as a way of helping other cats like Carol’s (all eleven of Carol’s cats who were lost in the fire were rescue cats–one was her latest foster, Charlotte, who we were hoping to place in a wonderful home).
The Blessing of the Animals service will take place at Goodale Park in the gazebo on Sunday, August 29 at 11 am. As the web site states, “all creatures, big and small, are welcome!” So bring your own beloved companion animals out to celebrate and receive a special blessing as a way of honoring the Gaul feline family. Following the service, there will also be a picnic at the Gardener’s cottage.
As Charlene wrote, she is very “excited about this opportunity to help and to bless the memory of the Gaul kitties.”
If you would like to participate in this lovely remembrance of eleven very beloved cats, I can think of no better way than by attending this service and asking that your own special animals be blessed.
The Blessing of the Animals custom comes as a way to celebrate Saint Francis of Assisi, who loved all creatures. To read more about this custom, visit the Dearborn Animal Shelter web site and scroll down until you see the picture of Saint Francis and the word “Custom.” This explains nicely why our animals deserve the love and blessings we give them and why this custom honors Saint Francis.
While we may bless our animals in this lovely celebration, most of us know that we are the ones who are truly blessed to have them in our lives each day.
The image shown at the top is “Sister Frances Blessing 5 Cats” (you can’t see all five cats in this version), which was designed by Jean Batzell Fitzgerald. You can purchase the image on t-shirts and see other artwork she has created to honor cats at her web sites: Cat Art Gifts and Kitty Cat Designs. She took an image of Saint Francis and modified it to be a woman blessing cats, which I felt was very, very appropriate to honor Carol’s kitties.
Last week, Lisa, one of our adopters (she adopted a kitten, Maddie, a few years ago and then last year helped her mom adopt two kittens from us), wrote to ask if Black and Orange could help with a kitten that her mom found dumped near the family’s barn. Lisa said that it looked as if someone “literally threw him from the car.” Lisa went on to say that “his face is scraped and his bottom lip looks like it was torn off and he has tar in his fur. Mom has him eating and drinking and he’s super friendly, but he definitely needs to see a vet and get some medical attention.”
From Lisa’s email, I didn’t realize what terrible shape this poor baby was in. It sounded like a few scrapes and bruises that could be healed with antibiotics. And even though she said, “his bottom lip looks like it was torn off,” I was not prepared for what was going on with this little guy.
I told Lisa to take “Oliver” to Noah’s Ark Vet Hospital in Dublin, so last Friday, she did. I stopped in later Friday evening and Dr. Achtel pulled out the digital camera to show me Oliver’s lower jaw. As you can see in the photos I posted, it looks as if his lower jaw is missing. In the photos Dr. Achtel had me look at, he had to explain to me what I was looking at–when the jaw was open and closed, because I could not tell. It just looked like a mass of raw flesh. I was cringing, thinking of this poor kitten trying to survive–and he is only a kitten. Dr. Achtel said he weighed less than two pounds and was probably only eight weeks old. Just a baby and someone did this to him either from the trauma of being tossed out of a car or something else too horrible to imagine.
Dr. Achtel was sending the photos around to his veterinary colleagues, because he was not sure how to proceed. He said the lower jaw may need to be completely rebuilt and there was not enough skin the way it was to cover up the exposed bones (yes, there are exposed bones). They had sent Oliver home with Lisa and her mom on antibiotics to treat him for the infection that had set in. Dr. Achtel told me he had never seen anything like Oliver’s condition before. Now, you know you are dealing with excellent veterinarians when, instead of acting worried, they can’t wait to work on the challenge to help an animal in need–that was exactly Dr. Achtel’s attitude.
Dr. Achtel also said that Oliver was eating and playing and did not act as if he was in pain. He just could not believe the resiliency of kittens. We discovered the same thing, however, back in April with our little Bean Bag, who also had a broken jaw from being hit in the face with a blunt object. Bean Bag tried to carry a ball around in his mouth and ate like a champ. Dr. West’s test for euthanasia is always if they will eat, she will not put them to sleep. Both Bean Bag and Oliver passed the test.
Lisa sent me photos of Oliver, not knowing that I had already seen the clinical pictures Dr. Achtel took. She told me that she was taking him back to Noah’s Ark this Friday and that he had been on the antibiotics, which were helping to heal his other scrapes and cuts.
She told me, “Oliver is absolutely the sweetest thing and has the biggest heart. You’d never know he was even in pain. He just wants to snuggle and love and play. I attached some pictures of him for you. As you can see in the pictures, he doesn’t have his mouth open, that’s just his exposed jaw where his skin was ripped away. His other cuts and scraps are healing nicely. He got a little bath this weekend so he’s looking less shabby!”
Bless Lisa and her mom for caring for this guy. I am continually ashamed at what we humans do to animals, but equally restored in my faith in our goodness by people like Lisa and her mom and the wonderful veterinarians we work with. I am also always amazed that cats so easily forgive and love us.
I’ll keep everyone posted on Oliver, but please send lots of good thoughts his way.
Being presented by Dogtime, The Petties 2010 are awards given for the best pet blogs in four categories: Best Pet Blog, Best Dog Blog, Best Cat Blog, and Best Cause Related Blog.
I would encourage you to take a look at some of these blogs and also vote for your favorite. There are some really interesting views on dogs, cats, and the world of rescue.
BlogPaws is a group of pet bloggers who have banded together to help each other and the animals they love. So check them out. And also vote for your favorite blog to win a Pettie: Vote for The Petties
I have to warn you, next year, I want all of you to make this blog so popular that B and O will have a nomination (and a win) in the Petties!
Hamilton, sadly, had to have part of his tail removed this past week due to being thrown from a car as a baby. The trauma of that experience damaged his tail so that it was not receiving blood flow and did not work–it just basically dangled and he could not move it or lift the end.
After a surgery this past week that left him with a small stub, Hamilton is recovering nicely. He also has gained super cat powers with the loss of his non-working tail–powers that seem to have come to him via his e-collar cape.
Hamilton’s surgery has not slowed him down. He has been fighting kitten crime and rounding up animal abusers due in part to his newly acquired super powers. You can call him “SS”–Super Stubby. Super Stubby will use his keen cat powers to aid him in finding his forever home.
Because of what happened with Carol’s cats, I went online to look for information on what to do to save pets in case of a house fire.
The one thing I discovered, that I am going to check on for our fire department here in Plain City, is pet resuscitation masks. I am not certain if they are currently available for use by our local emergency staff.
I found a very interesting site, started by a 10-year-old girl, which raises money to purchase pet rescue and resuscitation oxygen mask kits. The kits are then donated to firefighters and other emergency personnel. The site, PetMask.com, allows you to purchase mask kits for your fire station by becoming a sponsor donor.
As the site explains, human oxygen masks do not fit properly on animals. Pet oxygen mask kits include masks in three sizes (small, medium, and large) and can be used for dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, and birds.
While these masks could not have been used to save Carol’s cats, because the firefighters were unable to get any of the cats out of the burning house, I still plan to purchase and donate a kit to the Pleasant Valley Fire Department in honor of the Gaul kitties. Perhaps, in this way, their deaths in a fire will help to save another pet from the same fate.
I would encourage you to check to see if your local fire department has pet resuscitation masks and if they do not, please sponsor a kit. If you do sponsor one, think about doing so in honor of Carol’s eleven lost babies.
As many of you may have read on our Facebook page, B and O Board member and dear friend, Carol Gaul, recently lost her home and her beloved cats in a house fire. Several of her permanent feline family members had been one time B and O kitties that Carol kept when they were not adopted. Her little “black boys,” as she always called them, were rescued from a tree stump when they were only 3-4 weeks old. There were four all black kittens (all male) and Carol took care of them until they could go through our PetSmart routine to be adopted. Two of the boys found a wonderful home, but after the other two did not, Carol and her husband, Chuck, decided to keep them. The “black boys” were an endless source of joy to them and I was always being regaled with stories of their antics.
D. D. showed up at the shop that Carol and Chuck own in 2009. D. D. stood for “detroit diesel,” a type of engine that Chuck often worked on. D. D. was the office cat for a while until Carol decided she wanted to try to find him a permanent home. Since he was a little bit shy, she took him home with her to work with him more. He loved romping with the other cats, but never completely overcame his shyness. Rather than take him back to the shop after it became clear that he was too shy to go to PetSmart, Carol decided just to keep D. D. with her since he loved the other cats.
Miss Charlotte was Carol’s most recent foster. Charlotte showed up at Carol’s house one day this summer wearing an old flea collar that had worn the fur off of her neck. She did not mind the neighbor’s dog or the other cats outside and followed Carol around the yard while she was gardening. Charlotte purred and wanted attention and was so loving that Carol knew she needed a forever home. With her funny little “mustache,” she was also adorable. Carol took Charlotte to clinic and got her fixed and then we placed her at PetSmart for several weeks. Charlotte was a bit afraid at PetSmart, but was doing much better by the end of her stay. Jumping out of her cage, she would weave around your legs, preening and prancing. Because she had not been adopted after three weeks, Carol took her home to give her a break. We never like to stress the cats out by keeping them in the cages very long.
Just two weeks ago, at the end of July, Carol took Charlotte out of the PetSmart cage and put Little Rascal in her place. Little Rascal had been dumped at the park behind Carol’s house and showed up looking for food. He was such a sweet kitty that Carol took him in and worked with him to help him overcome his shyness. Rascal is currently at PetSmart and that is the only reason he is still alive. He is the only survivor of Carol’s cats. Because he replaced Charlotte in the cage, however, Charlotte did not survive.
I just keep thinking if only these guys had been adopted, if only Charlotte had stayed at PetSmart, if only… It is very hard to look at the photos and remember what sweet cats they were. None of them was more than three years old. They had very short lives, but also very good lives because of Carol.
Someone called Carol’s house “the Hyatt for cats”–a place where they were spoiled and loved and treated like royalty. Without Carol, they would have been starving, unloved strays their whole lives. Because of Carol, they were beloved members of the Gaul family, no matter how short their stay.
Carol said that the night before the fire, all of the cats gathered with her and Chuck to watch t.v. The girls sat with Chuck in his chair, one perched on the back of the chair around his neck. The boys all climbed into the chair with Carol. Even Bubba, who was not a lap cat, hung out in Carol’s lap. Carol said it was as if they knew. Then most of the cats followed them to bed.
In the smoke and the darkness, Carol could hear the cats as she tried to find a way out. But she could not save them. She and Chuck barely made it out, climbing to safety via a ladder that was rushed to the house by their neighbor, Greg Pinney, Plain City’s fire chief.
The sheriff’s department kindly collected the bodies of all eleven cats and took them to Dr. Allen’s office here in Plain City. Alice Hostetler made arrangements to have them cremated and they will remain together in death as in life. One of the cats was found under Carol’s chair, a place of safety, where just hours before they had all gathered for a final evening of companionship.
I would ask you to please keep Carol and Chuck in your thoughts and prayers over the coming weeks. Carol’s cats were her family and she lost all of them in one day. It is never easy to lose a beloved cat, but even harder to have them all taken in such a tragic and incomprehensible way.