January 1, 2014
There can be no vulnerability without risk. There can be no community without vulnerability. There can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community. M. Scott Peck
Because this first blog post of 2014 has a happy ending, we might as well begin it with “Once upon a time.” So, here goes.
Once upon a time, in a land not far south of Seattle, there was a handsome young cat named Gabriel. Actually, no one knew his given name at the time he was first seen feeding with a group of feral cats behind an office building. No one knew how he had suddenly come to be there, but the kind women who fed him did know that he was not feral, and that something was wrong with his back legs. Terribly wrong, in fact, because Gabriel could barely move without pulling himself with his front legs.
As it happened, the women who fed Gabriel knew an animal- loving man in the office building who agreed to take the injured tabby to his animal-loving daughter. Enter Gabriel’s fairy godmother, a woman who has spent much of her life rescuing and caring for cats. She took one look at this beautiful brown tabby and bestowed on him a name with dignity, hope, and wings. Gabriel would need all three for the adventure he was about to begin.
Initial x-rays revealed bad breaks and dislocation in Gabriel’s both legs. The veterinarian believed surgery could work, but the cost was well beyond the means of his rescuers. His godmother refused to resign herself to the worst. She had fallen in love with this fellow, seen the spark in his eyes, and knew there was a way to help him if she told his story. Word spread, and within a few days, Purrfect Pals agreed to take Gabriel and provide the care he needed.
By the time Gabriel arrived at the shelter in Arlington, he had many concerned followers. A fund was set up in his name, and donations from all over the world helped pay for his surgery. After a long and involved procedure, the orthopedic surgeon noted he had never seen anything quite like Gabriel’s injuries. Whatever happened had caused this young cat unthinkable pain. His will to survive was essential to his recovery.
Back at Purrfect Pals, Gabriel amazed his caregivers. He healed quickly, used his back legs eagerly, and was soon ready for a forever home. His adopters, a physical therapist and a nurse, had been following his story, knowing they had the unique skills to help him fully recover. Gabriel now has a loving family, and an opportunity to make up for a lost kittenhood. His humans believe he is actually younger than first estimated, and his cat and dog siblings often wish he were less rambunctious. Gabriel tears around the house with boundless energy, stopping for an occasional cuddle before he dashes up the stairs to oversee his kingdom.
With the help of many caring people, this story unfolded quickly. Gabriel was found at the end of June 2013, and was in his new home a month later. I got to assist with his transport to Purrfect Pals, and his godmother and I watched with wonder as he intrepidly explored the shelter office despite his impaired mobility. I knew he had to be part of the 13 Cats Project, and started to design a quilt of bright, energetic colors for him to rest on during his recovery. But before I could even start stitching, Gabriel was well on his way. His “healing” quilt is now a place for him to rest between his many adventures.
Gabriel got a second chance because so many people were willing to take risks on his behalf. A fairytale ending was never guaranteed, but then, it never is. It truly takes a village of fairy godmothers, skilled veterinarians, willing adopters, and a shelter where every cat matters.
As the New Year beckons with promise, we all have a chance to make a difference. Please welcome 2014 with a donation to an animal shelter in your area. I plan to share part of my first paycheck of the year with Purrfect Pals, in honor of Gabriel, and all of the cats who can look forward to their happily-ever-after beginnings in the months ahead.