Friday, August 11, 2006

Sometimes there is an animal that is just so good you cannot begin to fathom why its owners dumped it.

At Rikki's Refuge, we do not believe any animal should ever be dumped, or separated from its family, for any reason whatsoever. But sometimes you can understand how someone reached that frustration level and made that decision, as wrong as it may be. I have no doubt, if our pounds took human children, very few beyond the age of two would continue to reside in their homes.

But sometimes that rare animal comes to Rikki's Refuge, who has no bad habits, has never done anything wrong, is nothing but kind and loving and sweet and wonderful. And you can't help but wonder why, how could anyone get rid of something so fabulous.

Scruffy was one of those animals. He came to us on September 3, 2004. A big fat orange tabby, Morris type cat, 18 pounds and 16 years old and not a bad habit in the world. Though he was one of the most playful cats, we had ever seen at the age of 16, his owners had thought he was too old and not playful enough, and they wanted a kitten. So Scruffy was dumped at the pound, and a kitten was taken home to replace him.

Thankfully, Scruffy was somewhere where they cared. Very few people will adopt a 16 year old, no matter how wonderful they are. They tried and they tried, but no one would give Scruffy a home. In our unfortunate society, animals who do not get a home, are murdered, just killed and disposed of. But thankfully for Scruffy, and for all of us who came to know him and to love him, he was sent all the way from Shenandoah to Rikki's Refuge.

Scruffy had cataracts, a few tumors in his ears, and the biggest purr you have ever met. All it took to start that they rumble, was for someone to walk into the room and look in his direction. He loved to be held, he'd love to be petted, he'd love to be fed. He was always happy. He was always there to greet the newcomers, welcome them to Rikki's Refuge, and show them the food bowl. No matter how much he ate, he was always willing to share. Never once did he smack anybody else. Even little orphan kittens, who would run across him while he was sleeping.

Scruffy was just the best natured guy you could possibly imagine. Everybody fell in love with Scruffy. And he continued to be healthy, as he got close to 18 years old. About a month ago he had some gastric disturbances, the first health problems he'd ever had. Soon they seem to be clear to. Though he continued to act just like himself, he began to lose some weight. A suspicious lump was felt in his abdomen. I was sure I knew the answer, but I just had to check it out, just in case there was anything in the world we could do for our Scruffy.

Without exploratory surgery, which would be strictly diagnostic, and not for the purpose of curing anything, we would not know for absolute certain. But the blood work, the x-rays, and palpating the abdomen all pointed toward the same dire conclusion. Almost certainly, liver cancer. Comfort care was all we had left offer. The best most exotic food money could buy, and more love and pets and kisses than anybody could ask for.

When Scruffy finally began to show symptoms, his health went downhill very quickly, and he was gone within two days. He crossed over the Rainbow Bridge at about one o'clock today, August 11, 2006.

Scruffy is survived by Jason, who was one of his biggest fans (Jason would look forward to his weekends at Rikki's Refuge, so Scruffy, who he called Meat, could sit on his lap and purr and spend the nights out in his RV with him.) By Easter, his shy little wife, who would cuddle up in his arms for protection every night, and run, lickity split at the first sign of human life. By Lena, Mary, Amanda, Kevin, Basil, and me, whose days were brightened every day, by Scruffy in the office. By Joe, who’d come into the office every morning, and say, “hey, where's fat ass?”, and Scruffy would come running for a morning pet or treat. By Wayne and Jonathan, volunteers who visit almost every day, and always stopped to pat Scruffy. And by every other cat in the 9th Life Retirement, Assisted Living and Psychiatric Center, who will miss sharing their dinner with. Except Timothy, who is hoping to get Scruffie’s share.

Job Well Done - Well Job Done

After warming up, Kevin dons the harness again, and puts his life in the hands of Kenny, Basil, and Jonathan. His voice echoes off the stone walls of the well and we finally hear him say, “I'm touching bottom”. He hollers for a bucket to be lowered down. When he gives a tug the bucket is pulled up. In it, is a large piece of lumber. The second and third bucketfuls are lumber too. The next several buckets contained bricks. Then half a dozen bucketfuls of silt.

The lumber, I can explain. We recently had to build a new well house roof, because the old one was falling apart. Since every maintenance job is way behind schedule, because these evil animals keep coming up with various plans to delay our jobs and make us take care of them instead, some of the boards had broken and fallen in. The bricks? I haven't a clue! And the silt, I can explain that too. Recently, the electrical line to the pump had been cut. This meant digging a big trench and replacing the line. We could have just repaired it, but this is not the first time it has been cut, and it would occasionally short out in the rain. So we dug a trench from the house (thank God for the backhoe) to the well house, and ran a new line.

If you're a project person, you know every simple project opens up a new can of worms. And with the trench, we had worms climbing all over the place. So what should have been a one-day project, even a few hours project, extended to days. Of course this took place the week we were having so many rains and thunderstorms. And so the ditch would fill with water, and run directly into the well! Hence, gallons of silt.

And all that gunk had finally built up around the jet pump head, and just clogged things up. With everything down there looking clean, Kevin exhausted and freezing, he tugged on the line and hollered to be pulled up. I know with the way things usually go at Rikki's Refuge, I bet you're expecting me to tell you the line broke. And it was the only line we had. And it was after five o'clock, so all the stores in Orange were closed. And Kevin had to sit, in the freezing water, at the bottom of the well, while we raced to Fredericksburg for more rope.

But Kevin was lucky, the line held, and he was hauled out of the well, and laid out in the sun to dry. Lucky, lucky Kevin.

As Joe watched Kevin laid out on the ground, slowly changing from blue to pink, as we tried to bring his body temperature back to normal, he complained about his Supervisory Position. He never got to have any fun. He had to sit in the blistering heat, supervising Kevin, who got to have all the fun, cool fun too. No fair! And now he had to perform his weekly well disinfectant program. Another chore you end up responsible for when you can't call 1-800-Water-Authority. Sometimes I miss the city.