Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hope Holding

You see into our souls,
Your gaze steady but unsure…
Friend or foe, you wonder,
As you prepare to flee.

You have no reason to trust,
Few two-leggeds are ever kind.
Being shouted at, dodging flying rocks -
That’s what you’ve come to expect.

Your body remains tense,
Your stare is oh-so wary,
Yet we see it in your eyes,
The smallest glimmer of hope.

Speaking softly, we retreat,
“It’s okay, just wait, it’s okay…”
We implore you stay,
While we run back inside.

We whip out what we have,
We hope it’s enough,
Cross our fingers,
Dash back out…

And there you are!
Our hearts lift a little
To see that you stayed –
That you still had hope.

Ribs sticking out,
Spine all bumpy,
You had no choice
But to wait.

To hope this time
It would be different –
This time,
Someone would care.

You ate as fast as you could,
Afraid someone would take it,
Afraid it still might be a trick.
You glance up again…

Our eyes meet, our souls touch,
In that instant
We connect
And then you are gone…

Above are some of the faces my mom and I have fed (please click on photos for larger versions). There is a huge stray problem in this part of central California, and the shelters are all seriously overcrowded. The Shepherd and Heeler mixes above came through with the Heeler’s mom January through maybe March of this year, and then disappeared (more info here: Stray Story). They just reappeared, minus the mom. We were shocked! We are on the other side of an almost six foot wall, so have only ever been able to throw food to them (thank goodness we have a step to see over the wall). They’re very leery, though the missing mom had been trained. The pup is old enough to have come into season, and so picked up these pits. The three males have all obviously been fighting. The red male’s face was so swollen, he couldn’t eat hard food. Both pits have mange, which I know is common in the breed, and they’re very thin. Think they’re living off hormones…

The cats are just a few of the strays we’ve seen in our park here. A neighbor told us that someone here only likes kittens, and tosses them out when they get too old. The little furry one is a total sweetheart, and has had the most socialization. We used to see her running around hunting lizards, and she was soooo skinny (too many lizards are bad for cats)! She finally caught sight of us, and started getting regular food. She disappeared for a while, so we thought maybe she’d been reclaimed. However, she’s been back for a couple of weeks now…

The black and white cat is a male, and needs to be trapped and neutered – which we’ll have to figure out. Supposedly, the SPCA helps, but they’re a ways away, and we can’t live trap here. We have nowhere to put an animal recovering from surgery, either. So, for now, he’s become comfortable enough to eat here, and looks so much better than he did! This photo was taken through my bedroom window. I’ve been able to briefly touch him, but he will hiss at me. He’s not a true feral, but is not comfortable around humans anymore, and runs away quickly.

“Ears” is the third cat to overcome her fear of humans in order to eat. The male actually showed up with her one night. She appears to be heavily pregnant. She also has ear issues. Whether her ears are genetically folded, or are like that from infection, we don’t know. She has sores behind them from scratching so hard, though, so they’re not normal. I’ve been able to very lightly pet her, and she sort of welcomes it and sort of doesn’t. Meaning I don’t quite trust her not to turn around and get me – she’s got a little of that vibe;-) Treating a cat with an ear problem is hard enough when they are tame… However, I hope we can get to where we can put some ointment on them. As for pregnancy, we’ll cross that hurdle when we get to it…

If we were able to round these animals up and take them to the shelter, they would not be adopted. They would simply be euthanized because in this over-populated world, there isn’t much room for unsocial animals. I believe with time, the cats could all be handled and would crave affection. Most shelters don’t have that time, though. As mentioned, the one kitty is sweet, but she still needs to be tested for FeLV and FIV…

So is this life better than death? I don’t know. All I know is that we’re here, and they’re here, so we’ll do the best we can. My mom said this today, when we were trying to decide about feeding all four dogs (because we could get in trouble here for encouraging them to be around): “I don’t want the reason that they died to be that we didn’t feed them when we were able to do so.” And so we will…


Access Horses said...

How kind of you to care for them. Even if their end doesn't change, they will have known the love of someone and will know that along the way someone cared about them, if only for a moment. They are all such beautiful's a shame.


Your post brought tears to my eyes...there is so much inhumane treatment of God's four legged creatures. Bless you for caring!