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Not Without My Babies

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  • golden3000997@cs.com
    Many people are descrying the fact that there is are ongoing problems with the current Gulf Coast evacuations due to the fact that people won t leave without
    Message 1 of 7 , Sep 8, 2005
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      Many people are descrying the fact that there is are ongoing problems with the current Gulf Coast evacuations due to the fact that people won't leave without their pets. Most people without pets probably can't understand this. Most people with pets certainly can. I will use my personal example to illustrate different levels of understanding.

      I have 16 cats and no human children. My sister has 2 dogs and 4 human children. She loves her dogs and takes good care of them, but they mostly live outside and she has limitations on their access to the house and furniture. I, on the other hand, keep my cats exclusively indoors and don't give a hoot about the furniture. I told her that I knew that if she were in an emergency situation and had to make a choice, I know she could walk out the door and leave her dogs behind. She said that yes, she could. I told her that I understood and respected her choice. But then I asked her, "Now what if you were told you had to leave your 4 children sitting on the couch and walk out and close the door behind you. Could you do it?" Of course, her answer was "Absolutely not." Right.

      Well, I (and others like me) feel THAT WAY about our furbabies (and featherbabies and finbabies). These creatures live in total dependence on us, curl up in our arms or at our feet and share our lives in thousands of ways. Many or most of us would truly prefer to die with our non-human children than to live without them. I do understand that those who have never shared their life with an animal cannot comprehend our reality, but fortunately, great numbers of people do.

      I just moved to Houston, Texas two months ago from Miami, Florida. I worked myself to almost to death last summer preparing for four hurricanes, which (fortunately for us) did not pass through Miami. My 84 year old aunt and I were living in side by side apartments on the top (3rd) floor of an older apartment building near downtown Miami. There were no window shutters and the management of the building did absolutely nothing to secure the building or assist the residents in any preparations. If it were just the two of us, of course we would have called for transportation and we would have headed to the neared shelter. My aunt is in very good shape physically, so I didn't have to worry about serious medical care for her, although she has some memory problems. But we had furbabies - lots of furbabies. My aunt had six (we lost one recently) and I had eleven cats. There were no emergency facilities that would have taken us in with our furbabies, even if we had had a car to get them there. We didn't have a car at that time, and even if we had one, there would have been no where to go with the cats. And there was absolutely NO question of leaving them behind! The only thing to do was prepare to stay.

      I stocked up on water, froze gallons of water, stored enough food and cat food for (hopefully) a month. I put together a huge first aid kit and box of flashlights, batteries, etc.. I bought a handtruck that converts from upright to sideways and enough cat carriers for all the cats. (My aunt had six, I had 11.) I put the carriers on the handtruck in rows and tied them all together with rope. I called it my "Cat Condo". Of course, if the power was out, I wouldn't have been able to get it downstairs without the elevator, but I thought that I could at least move them all quickly if parts of the roof caved in. I built a bunker in the living room, as far from the windows as I could get and lashed three heavy duty tarps together and tied them to a bookcase in such a way as to be able to make a tent over us if we had water coming in the roof (I really wasn't too keen on that roof!).

      This year, we were able to buy a house north of Houston and a Dodge Caravan. I drove from Miami to Houston with my aunt and the seventeen cats in their carriers on top of boxes in the back. We had put the rear seats on the moving van. It was a very hard trip. I was hoping to stop only one night because of the cats. We stopped at a motel and I snuck all of the cats into the room. We got up a 4:00 to sneak out. (I left a VERY big tip for the housekeeper). I was hoping to get to Houston by the evening, but we started to have serious car trouble. At 10:00 that night, our transmission gave out in Lake Charles and we had to have my sister and brother-in-law come to rescue us. Miraculously, my brother-in-law drives a tow truck for a living. They brought my sister's SUV for me to drive and put the Caravan on the tow truck with the U-Haul trailer I had been pulling behind. It had taken two hours for them to get to Lake Charles from Houston and trying to drive back to Houston, I got so exhausted, that I was terrified. I pulled into a motel and begged for help. I had to be honest about the cats. The night manager absolutely refused under any circumstances to let me have a room with the cats. I asked her to call the sheriff, who came and miraculously again, got ahold of a vet who let us bring the cats. They had been almost 24 hours with no food, water or litter. I was afraid that they would develop urinary tract infections. We got them into cages with the necessities and she gave some of them antibiotics. I got back to the motel and tried to sleep, but my aunt was highly agitated and I ended up leaving in a few hours, picking up the cats and somehow making it to our new home. It cost over $300.00 for the vet to board the cats for those few hours.

      Granted, we had extra problems with the car breaking down, but this just shows you how terrifying the prospect of evacuating with pets can be. Of course, with only one or two animals, one would have a better chance of finding a hotel or motel that would allow you in. But there would be no guarantee unless you were able to call ahead for a reservation. And of course, animal lovers often succumb to animals in need and have more than the "logical" amount.

      Having lived in Miami for about 17 years, I have known quite a few Cuban families. One of my friends told me that he had had an aunt of his come from Cuba only recently. In Cuba, they do not have the kind of supermarkets or access to the varieties and quantities of affordable food that we enjoy here in the US. He said that they were a little concerned about her reaction the first time they took her to the supermarket. But she was fine. They walked up and down the aisles and she was a little awestruck, but not overwhelmed. Then she broke down when they came to the pet food aisle. It was too much for her seeing the amount of food that we make available for our pets here, in contrast to what is still lacking for people in Cuba. This really increased my awareness of how fortunate we are, not only in what we have for ourselves, but in how much love and care we are able to maintain for our pets. Perhaps there is an imbalance when seen from a global perspective between what is needed for so many people (especially children) around the world and what we lavish on our pets. But I believe that the ability to love an animal so much does go with being able to love other people as well. We may be a society that is somewhat ridiculous in the love we share with our animals, but we are also a society that by and large has done the greatest good in the areas of social welfare and progress throughout the last century. I believe that all aspects of love are interelated.

      What I think we need is a "Pink Cross" organization that can garner the resources to be able to set up emergency shelters that CAN handle pets as well as people, with veterinary volunteers and staff as well as human medical personnel. We need to be able to evacuate our elders WITH their pets who are, in so very many cases, the only living being with whom they share their life. We need to be able to care for our WHOLE families without having to make choices between our human and animal children. And we need to have this organization working in non-emergency shelters to help those people with pets who may be unemployed, disabled or elderly who may need help with supplies or veterninary services. We need to find ways to reduce the cost of veterinary services for lower income people. After we arrived in Houston, my aunt's oldest cat (about 16 years old) succumbed to the stress and started to die. We took her to the nearest vet open on a Saturday. It cost $175.00 for that visit, just to have the vet manually examine her and tell us that the only way to know what was wrong would be to conduct thousands of dollars worth of tests on her. We took her back home with some vitamin drops and special food, but brought her back on Monday to be put to sleep. It cost $180.00 for the euthanizing and another $110.00 for the cremation. The people at the vet's were extremely nice and couldn't have been more wonderful in their care of both the cat and my aunt, but we were lucky to have had the money from the emergency fund left over from the move. I still don't have a job and if another of our cats were to become ill, we really wouldn't be able to afford another trip to the vet. And there is no such thing as billing any more for either animal or human medical services. Pet insurance is reasonable at $10.00 per month, but multiply that by 16 and it is prohibitive. I know, I know - you are saying "Don't have so many cats!" But they come, you know. As soon as you have one or two, people bring you more. I started with one kitten when I moved in next door to my aunt and I insisted that I ONLY wanted one. Look at me now. And I adore them all. And I know that all of you with multiple pets DO understand. And those of you with no pets never will.

      So, please just accept this as my contribution to the overall considerations of the current evacuee crisis. For those who are or who have been involved in the present emergency and who face these problems, perhaps I will be a voice of understanding and an appeal to others to understand. For those who stand outside and may be tempted to judge, I hope that you can get a glimpse of what is involved. For those who already know and care and are doing everything that you can to help - God Bless You!

      Christine
    • Lee A.
      Christine, Having had dogs and cats for my most of my life, I understand your sentiments and concerns here. I also think that there should be provisions made
      Message 2 of 7 , Sep 8, 2005
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        Christine,
         
        Having had dogs and cats for my most of my life, I understand your sentiments and concerns here. I also think that there should be provisions made for those who want to move forward with their pets in times of emgerency. But I detect a certain blending of values in your post. Through ultimate compassion and concern is due the animal kingdom, a spiritual view of evolution points to a different value between humans and animals. The consciousness, experience and contribution to the earth and spirit is far different for humans than animals, including domesticated pets. Domesticated pets are advancing at far faster rate in the evolutionary scale when compared to wolves or lions or other animals lacking frequent human contact. And there is a symbiotic relationship and spiritual influence shared between domesticated animals (dogs, cats, horses, and some birds) and humans that is real. Yet their lives are not equal to humans by any means, nor are they "children" (though we can make them so).  Comparing animals to "human children" seems a bit titled as with your sister's situation. Animals are our "younger brethen" in spirit but not our children in the same sense. Often those without children redirect their need for human nuturance to animals and tend to treat them like younger children.  Some may say this is misplaced human need, and it may be with some, but it also may the case that some humans are destined to work with animals more intimately than others; and this is vital to the animal species and their future evolution and ours. As above, so below, the saying goes. Just as some humans over eons have outpaced the majority of humans (Jesus, Buddha, Ghandi, St. Francis, etc.) and assumed a leadership "role" now, so will the domesticated animals perhaps assume the same function for those who remain bound to instinct and group spirits.
         
         What comes to mind most striking is the work of  Seigfred and Roy and their devotion to the Bengali white tigers. Iif one has seen these performers work and live with these animals, a deep reverence will be felt. Nevertheless, it seems even Roy subcombed to over humanizing "his children" two or so years ago and was attacked and permanantly maimed. Another example of projection is found in the new film by Werner Herzog, Grizzly Man. It tells the story of a young man who tried to befriend and live with grizzly bears and ultimately he and his lady friend were mauled and eaten to death by a rogue bear. Countless examples of dogs injuring their owners and children can be found as well. This will probably change over time as we help free animals of some of their instinctual hertiage - but the "animal" still lives within our pets and we should respect and understand this as well. 
         
        Lee


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      • golden3000997@cs.com
        Hello Lee, I am not completely sure of the point or points you are trying to make here, but I would like to clarify a couple of things. First, in regards to
        Message 3 of 7 , Sep 8, 2005
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          Hello Lee,

          I am not completely sure of the point or points you are trying to make here, but I would like to clarify a couple of things.

          First, in regards to Siegfried and Roy. Roy was NOT maimed as a result of having been taming tigers. There are a couple of different takes on what may have happened, including the fact that it was the first time they had taken that particular tiger onstage and it may have been startled or upset. But I also saw an article that made the supposition that Roy may have started to have a heart attack and the tiger sensed it. The tiger may have started toward him out of the kind of "concern" that even wild animals can show when they sense something is wrong with a human. Then, panic set in around them and the tiger attacked out of fear.

          I saw a documentary on the "Grizzly Man" just before the movie was released. The guy who lived with the bears was very mentally and emotionally imbalanced to begin with and had a very unrealistic role of himself as their "savior". He constantly took risks and got away with them, but ended up eaten by a bear that was already known to be aggressive and especially dangerous.

          I am not saying that one "should" put one's pets before their children. I even said that I had some respect for my sister's relationship with her animals. And I would be the first to say that I certainly substitute having huge affection for my cats for the fact that I never had human children. But I cringe a little at "Often those without children redirect their need for human nuturance to animals and tend to treat them like younger children." because it comes very close to sounding like the "frustrated spinster" sort of crap that has throughout history been used to label women who did not fit the norm.

          The domesticated pets such as cats and dogs have been with Mankind in very close relationship for a very long time. They are almost completely dependent on humans for any kind of a reasonable existence. They cannot effectively fend for themselves. I know of many people who regularly feed feral cats, because, even born feral, they do not revert back to the kinds of hunting skills that jungle felines have. Most feral cats who do not live in close proximity to a farmyard or urban garbage can do not survive long. And those who do live in urban areas live very miserable existences without regular human care. It is even worse for dogs, because they can't jump as high or climb into big dumpsters as easily and  rarely have the skill to catch a rodent and eat it. There is truly a world of difference between the wolf and the dog, the lion and the cat, and it is a human world. Even with horses - yes, the wild horses can live and thrive in their natural environment, but those who have been caught and tamed, and especially their offspring, quickly lose their full instinctual capacities and rapidly become dependent on humans. This is the tragedy, too, of people who acquire wild and exotic species as pets, then decide that they can't maintain them and release them "to the wild." It is usually not to their natural habitat. (I am sure very few people fly to the Amazon to release their reptiles back into the wild.) It is usually into neighborhood backyards, where the creatures suffer until they are caught by authorities or die miserably.

          Here in the US, many people live their lives incredibly entwined with their cats and dogs. As I understand it, these animals do not go back to the group soul. An anthroposophist explained it to me about 35 years ago, that they become a special kind of "salamander" or Spirit of Fire who remains around the aura of the human who loved it and who it loved and works in the spiritual realm to build bridges of love between human and animal. I realize that as I "evolve" spiritually into finer Earth and New Earth incarnations (if I ever make it that far), my critters will become human-like, the 11th Hierarchy and will begin to evolve their personal, individual souls more like we are now. I have made one of my most special babies PROMISE to stay with me forever, no matter what form we both take. Because she never was a cat. She has always been an Angel in a fur body. And she is and always will be My Little Angel.

          Like I said, I am not sure what point you were trying to make, but if it was that I was a crazy cat lady who is misplacing her love and affection and ignorant of the correct relationship of human and animal, I will say that I am a crazy cat lady who is NOT misplacing my love and affection and I am far from ignorant of what our relationship truly is.

          Christine
        • golden3000997@cs.com
          PS - someone once told me that Mark Twain learned to write with his left hand, because his cat always loved to sleep draped over his right arm. Even I am not
          Message 4 of 7 , Sep 8, 2005
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            PS - someone once told me that Mark Twain learned to write with his left hand, because his cat always loved to sleep draped over his right arm.

            Even I am not THAT crazy!!

            :  ) Christine
          • Harvey Bornfield
            Once subject to brutal ironclad censure and like Luke and Princess Leia, the arcane and graphic truth to swell, truth to tell, hidden at birth from the probe
            Message 5 of 7 , Sep 10, 2005
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              Once subject to brutal ironclad censure and like Luke and Princess
              Leia, the arcane and graphic truth to swell, truth to tell, hidden at
              birth from the probe of the wicked and from all derision, it can, owing
              to the expiration of an esoteric statute of limitations,
              yes..............................now it can be safely disclosed and
              shouted from the rooftops of Solomon's Temple and atop the crowsnest of
              the Golden's Arches alike, that there are indeed extant bona-fide early
              19th century (crystal-ball accessible) akashic archives of extensive,
              "frank and meaningful" Goethean conversations between Mark Twain's
              guardian angel and anonymous Second Hierarchy supersensible feline
              deva-lodge members in which a heretofore esoteric and subtle agreement
              was come to regarding the value of training Mark Twain in the left-hand
              virtues of going undercover to camuoflage acts of the right hand path.
              All, but of course, for the small inconvenient price to pay of
              manifesting Literary irony and rebellious ambience as a spice to
              LackLuster Spirits. Whereupon the cat became an agent for sourcing
              right-hand-distraction.

              ( ( Whisper in my ear, holy words, of course: I love you too, Golden!
              ) )


              Warm regards,
              The Gypsy : )

              On Thursday, September 8, 2005, at 05:39 PM, golden3000997@... wrote:

              > PS - someone once told me that Mark Twain learned to write with his
              > left hand, because his cat always loved to sleep draped over his right
              > arm.
              >
              > Even I am not THAT crazy!!
              >
              > :  ) Christine
              >
              >
              >
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            • golden3000997@cs.com
              Hi Harvey Darling!!! I KNEW there had to be a deeper reason!! There are books out on Literary Cats showing the very intimate connection between cats and
              Message 6 of 7 , Sep 10, 2005
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                Hi Harvey Darling!!!

                I KNEW there had to be a deeper reason!! There are books out on "Literary Cats" showing the very intimate connection between cats and writers. Of course, cats are intimately connected with lots of other creative people, but writing is a nice, quiet, sedentary activity (outwardly) and cats like peace and quiet.

                Since I am using a keypad rather more often than a quill pen, I need both hands when the verbiage is flyin'. Maxi, my Angel Cat is almost always curled up between my forearms, snuggled against my very big, soft and snuggly left breast, under which (somewhere in there) my heart is beating. Since we moved, there is not as much room on the table in front of the keypad, so I am often holding her in the crook of my left arm while "hunt and peck" typing with my right hand. But she does have to get down sometimes when I'm on a roll.

                I love dogs, too, by the way, but they take more physically oriented outdoor care and I just don't have the strength to take it on without someone else around to help out if I am not feeling well. Now that I have a fenced yard, though, I hope to be able to have at least one or two (older) dogs in the not so distant future.

                Cats actually don't care what hierarchy we are, as long as we feed them on time!!! :  )

                LOVE,
                Christine

                PS - Don't forget to let me know if you are ever headin' to Houston!!
              • Lee A.
                My point is best summed up somewhere between the lines of the your last paragragh below. golden3000997@cs.com wrote:Hello Lee, I am not completely sure of
                Message 7 of 7 , Sep 12, 2005
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                  My "point" is best summed up somewhere between the lines of the your last paragragh below.

                  golden3000997@... wrote:
                  Hello Lee,

                  I am not completely sure of the point or points you are trying to make here, but I would like to clarify a couple of things.

                  ...........
                  Like I said, I am not sure what point you were trying to make, but if it was that I was a crazy cat lady who is misplacing her love and affection and ignorant of the correct relationship of human and animal, I will say that I am a crazy cat lady who is NOT misplacing my love and affection and I am far from ignorant of what our relationship truly is.

                  Christine


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