Published in the Hillsboro, Ohio newspaper, the Times Gazette, on 9/4/2011
It is easy to forget about certain things when the economic environment demands so much of our time. Food costs have risen while rent and mortgages still need to be paid. Energy costs continue to rise. Surviving, let alone thriving, becomes a daily challenge. It is not only a human problem, but an animal problem too. Any animal shelter will tell you the current economy has increased their workload.
Living in a rural area, I have seen many animals abandoned along the country road I live on. Most of the time it is a cat, sometimes it is a dog. My mother recalls the story about Crash, a stray kitten that jumped into her lap one morning. “He just came up to me while I was sitting on the front porch one morning, jumped into my lap, and started purring.” Crash was given his unlikely name because that is exactly what happened while his new owner was driving with Crash to his new home. They were fine, thankfully. Today, six years since, Crash is a lovely and spoiled cat that lives in a peaceful neighborhood cul-de-sac. The only disruption Crash is involved with now involves the local rodent population.
While my parents were on vacation recently, I was given the opportunity to take care of the flowers my mother grows around her front porch, the same porch that Crash appeared. Only this time my parent’s dog was involved. His name is Sammy. He is a noble mutt with Great Dane and Boxer blood. He is large. He eats like a hungry teenager. He drinks in gallons of water. But he is only a year old and still acts like he is a small puppy. Just imagine a slobbery, gooey, slimy-mouthed teddy bear that wants nothing in the world but to play, run, and be held. Sammy was helping me this morning while I was watering my mother’s flowers. No, Sammy’s name has nothing to do with wrecking a car. But I will never forget what happened near the porch.
Unraveling the garden hose, I took the end with the spray nozzle and proceeded to water the hanging baskets, ferns, and small plants on my mother’s porch. After this task I began walking to the other plants along the side of the house. Meanwhile, Sammy was venting his pent-up energy by running like a greyhound chasing an electric rabbit, only faster with slobbery goo flying in a jet-like vapor trail. As I left the fabled porch towards the other plants, I heard Sammy’s dog tags clinking rapidly as he approached me from behind.
The last thing I remember was experiencing a calm, nearly zen-like state in mid-air. During my weightlessness, I saw my two feet superimposed on a clear, beautiful, and cloudless sky so deeply blue that I momentarily thought “Wow, that sky is really blue and I feel great.” Then ugh. I landed pretty hard. Sammy knocked me down like an eighty pound bowling ball with perfect aim. I never thought I would experience a weightless Zen mind because of a dog.
Crash the Cat lives in peace after causing his initial disruption. Sammy the Dog has helped me become more forgiving and accepting of unlikely events. The economy is causing disruption not only in our lives, but in our animal friends lives’ as well. It is not just cats and dogs either. At a local no-kill shelter, “A Journey Home: Animal Refuge,” Wanda Ritt cares for cats, dogs, livestock, a miniature donkey, a pot belly pig, and other creatures with devotion. Her organization is a non-profit, no-frills outfit that helps displaced animals during this economic crisis. She has also cared for llamas, alpacas, and horses. She has even offered help in locating a five foot, six inch long iguana.
Gator, the girl iguana, was last seen in New Vienna, Ohio about a week ago. Iguanas prefer to live in trees and eat plants to survive. Her owner, Brenda Jett, wants everyone to know she is friendly. Brenda has raised her from the time she was only six inches long. Most iguanas die within a year because their owners do not know how to properly care for an iguana. Brenda’s pet iguana is eleven times her initial size and over three years old. If you know Gator’s whereabouts, please give a call to Brenda. If you return Gator to an animal shelter, give them Brenda’s phone number so she can reclaim Gator and give her the care she needs. Her number is listed below.
Economic times may be tough for humans, but our animal friends can help us forget about finances and busy work schedules. If you have doubts about caring for your pet, there is help available to give your pet a home. If you are ready to take responsibility for a pet, whether it is a cat, dog, or iguana, call your local animal shelter. A pet’s disruption can lead to unexpected calm. Just be careful if you see a cute animal near my mother’s porch.
“A Journey Home: Animal Refuge,” is a non-profit that accepts donations to help care for rescued animals. To help, call Wanda Ritt at 937-393-4727. Gator, the girl iguana, can be returned to Brenda Jett. Ms. Jett’s phone number is 937-218-3619. If you do find Gator, give her some fresh green beans after you call Ms. Jett.