There's one in every neighborhood.
They have no defining characteristics, nothing to label them, nothing to set them apart from anyone else. They are tall, short, blonde, brunette, fat, thin...non-descript, plain, unassuming, and ordinary.
Yet it is in front of their home that you hear the unmistakable thump of a car door, sometimes the plaintive mew or whimper of the discarded animal. It is around their ankles the scrawny flea bitten cats wind and into their eyes the dirty, mangy dog's soulful eyes stare. No matter where they go, the strays, the orphans, the unwanted find them as if magnetized.
I am both cursed and blessed to be one of 'them', a sucker.
From un-nested birds to dogs, I've adopted and nursed enough critters to fill a zoo. Ugly critters. Have you ever noticed how no one dumps the bright eyed, bushy tailed, housebroken pets? No, it's the ones who turn the bath water red from the blood of flea bites, the ones whose digestive systems are home to ring/round/tape worms of epidemic proportions. It's the ones with the broken limbs, the ones who grew out of the cute stage into gangly ill-proportioned beasts. It's the ones with infected ears, mismatched markings, furballs, and that gawdawful smell that even ClairolŪ Herbal Essences won't help.
This week 'Joey' came into my life. He was one of those kittens who had yet to learn to bathe himself. Skinny with a long skinny tail seemingly lacking of fur, he wound around my legs as I walked. My sensible self cautioned me to stay upright, do not bend, do not touch, do not look, and do not pass go. Sensible won out for about two steps, what harm could it do to hold the little fella while I looked at the pumpkin patch? It was as if lifting air as I scooped him up and laid him on my shoulder. He reached out a paw gargantuan in comparison to his body and laid it on my cheek. A dirty paw, the pad warm against the coolness of my face. The first of five claws dug in as he began to knead my tender flesh.
I pulled him aside and looked at him, dangling legs limp, totally unconcerned by the chastising words I shared. He purred. I began to put him down. He purred louder.
He'd been dumped some three days prior...I'm sure numbers of people had seem him, had petted him, had possibly held him. But, he'd waited patiently those three days for a sucker to come along.
Home we went.
Josie, canine lord of the house, met us at the door. A benji-like mop of eternal puppy with a desire to love and be loved thought I'd brought her a new stuffed toy. Kitty was immediately covered with wet doggie licks, his sparse fur coat soon matted with slobber. He purred. They romped through the house both slip sliding on shiny hardwood floors, banging into chairs, twenty-five pounds versus one. 'One' won every time. Josie's bad habit of removing the stuffing from her plush toys worries me not, he can protect his innards.
It's always interesting to blend and meld a newcomer into an established feline beast grouping; he was met with bored looks, condescending stares and the proverbial marking of territories. Hisses and growls were exchanged and tails switching in mock and real disgust signaled the welcome veiled with impending threats. The show was over and all retired to their respective corners.
Somehow he acquired the truly fitting name, 'Joey', as he strongly resembles a baby kangaroo. Should he ever grow into those feet, and those ears, and that tail, he will be huge. All of the markings on his face and body are skewed off center, the fur on his back is long, and nearly absent everywhere else. One ear is gray, the other pink, and I can't get the dirt off his nose, so maybe it's gray?
In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can theoretically produce 420,000 cats. Seven years sees over 35 million cats taken to shelters.
There's a sucker born only every minute, do your math, that's not enough to handle the ratio overload. I'm doing my part.
Do yours. Spay your pets so you don't have to live with the guilt of dumping them. They don't all find the suckers you know.
Or don't you care?