Pet Stories: In Your Own Words
In a Shelter
I've been the manager of a cat shelter for three months and it has gotten to me. I know I can work my way through this. It began yesterday when I held this beautiful orange cat called Groucho, who was abandoned by his owners. People just move away and leave their animals behind. They often think cats will be okay, that they can hunt and fend for themselves. Domestic cats can't always hunt. They get hungry and cold and frightened and ill.
Groucho came in, trembling. Abandoned. He has one funny ear - a birth defect. His ears were full of mites and wax. When I went to visit him, he quivered and trembled and purred and turned away and came to me all at once.
I brought him to the hospital to keep an eye on him and so the mites wouldn't spread to other cats. Yesterday I held him and he just emitted this sadness. I talked to him and cuddled him. He lapped it up. Loved it. Purred and snuggled in. He is so lovable. Loving. His sadness opened my own. I've been crying ever since.
He is healing me. I'm sure all this sadness was there and I had just kept it at bay, until he touched me. It's good to be in touch with it now and move through all the anger and sadness to a place of compassion.
I know people who do these things don't know any better. If they knew better they wouldn't do it. It is always the same. We are doing the best we can with the knowledge and awareness we have at the time. When we learn a better way. We live a better way.
My anger is useless. My sadness is useless. My compassion will move me through the trauma for the cats, the unthinking irresponsible behavior of people, into a place of love for all creatures, including myself.
I read a quote today that seemed to speak to this situation. It read, "God is protector. His work is extraordinary, invaluable and instructable."
Tears started with Groucho and continued with this cat named Pharaoh, who is so sick. Cats are prone to upper respiratory tract infections and he's had one for months. I've owned cats. They've had the sniffles but nothing like this. He can't wipe his own nose. It dries there blocking his nose even further. His lungs are full and they rattle with fluid. He has some kind of skin problem so he's missing hair. Yesterday when we took him to the vet he looked near death. Not moving. He depends on us to value him and take care of him. His name is Pharaoh. It seems a cruel name with no home, no love, no health and no freedom because his illness requires him to live in a hospital cage. Pharaoh, indeed. Pauper.
I prayed for him. I know God is the protector and it's not up to me to ask for life or death. That is God's business. I did ask God to bless this little cat and free him one way or the other. Later when I got a distinct message that Pharaoh was okay, I realized that being okay might not be my idea of okay. Being okay might be something entirely different than my limited mind can think of.
I need detachment. Without it I can't really have compassion, I am angry or sad and compassion is neither of these. Turning something over to God and letting go with the recognition that God is the protector and his ways are extraordinary and may not be my ways is the ultimate challenge we face about our lives. Self will. God's will. Free will. Good Will. Ill Will. What does it mean when we say, "I will"? Do we have what we need the most - the will to will God's will?
Are we in alignment with it? We often equate God's will with things going smoothly. It was meant to be we say! That too can be a trap. Sometimes - like taking care of abandoned and sick cats, smooth just isn't part of it. And I know it's God's will that we take care of them, love them, show them what their owners couldn't. Sometimes God's will means going the distance. Moving through anger, frustration, pain and above all our own will. Surrender requires faith, hope and charity - but above all charity.
Pharaoh makes me feel so humble. Yesterday as I drove home thinking about him it seemed to me his will to fight disease is gone. I felt his weakness and I knew it for my own. I felt his confusion in a big cruel world and I knew it for my own. I felt his innocence and knew it for my own. I felt the spark of God in him and knew my own spark is of no greater value in God's eyes.
Compassion is my goal in the midst of all this pain. Pharaoh is a great teacher of God's will. Groucho is a great healer - opening the doors to move through the emotion into loving compassion for all of our ignorance and pain. If I can develop compassion for those who do this will the whole world not change?
Yes and No. People will still be cruel and irresponsible regarding their pets sometimes but think how much better I'll feel when I can look without blame, judgment, anger and sorrow. When I can truly look at my brothers and sisters and love them in spite of their ignorance and cruelty. That is where I'm going. Thank you my friends for helping me get there. You and the cats are my teachers. I'm so grateful for you all.
In loving memory of Pharaoh, Tommy, Sam and all the other cats who have and are helping me learn about love and forgiveness.