Tuesday, April 24, 2007
At the animal shelter
This is Martin
I've attempted a couple of options for volunteering since we moved to Portland, none of which really felt right to me -- until I was accepted as a volunteer at Animal Aid, a no-kill shelter that's less than a half mile from our home. Our wonderful neighbor Deb suggested that I check out volunteer opportunities there (since she knows what a sucker I am for cats), so I downloaded the volunteer application and mailed it in about a month ago. I got a call from the Volunteer Coordinator who signed me up for an assignment socializing (read 'petting') cats one morning a week. I started two weeks ago, and had to force myself to leave without committing to adopt at least one cat (my mantra is "remember the litter box!", a gentle reminder that we already have two cats). I skipped last week after hearing there was an outbreak of ringworm at the shelter (we of the Suppressed Immune System can't risk exposure to something like that), but I was back again this morning, visiting every room except the ringworm-ward, and falling in love with several cats while I was there.
I spent a lot of time with Martin, a somewhat shy guy who lives in one of the four smaller rooms (for cats who are skittish or too shy to live out in the biggest room). He is an absolute love, and it was hard to leave him after I'd spent a full hour at the shelter.
Before I met Martin, however, I spent a good deal of time with Caruso, a 12-year old gray cat whose owner passed away, leaving three cats behind. Apparently, it's taken him quite a while to recover from the trauma of losing his beloved person, but today he was about as sweet and friendly as a cat could be. At one point, while I was petting him and talking with one of the women who works in the office, I stopped scratching his ear momentarily; he put out a paw and gently grabbed my hand as if to say "Hey! You're here to pet me, not talk to some other human!" He's another love of a cat, and I sure hope he finds a home soon.
The truth is that I feel as if the cats are doing as much, if not more, for me as I am for them. There's nothing quite as wonderful as an hour spent scratching kitties behind their ears and listening to their purrs...