Saturday, February 16, 2013

Good Morning Good News !!!! February 16, 2013

Morning!!  Yesterday Mom told us about her radio show, Animal Update, that was the beginning of her branching out in the world of helping animals.  Of making a business of it, albeit one with no income, but of involving more people and on a bigger scale and reaching out to others to join the fight for animal’s rights.

We all have turning points in our lives.  Mine was after I’d been attacked by that car, just for trying to get across the street to meet a cute young kitty who’d been batting her eyes at me. 

While I was laying there on that table at the doc’s office and my people had left the room after saying, “just kill him off ..... even though we didn’t neuter him ... and we let him play outside unsupervised ... and he went girl chasing ... and he got smushed by a car ... that’s kind of a lot of money to pay to put him back together ... and if he’s going to lose a leg too ... I mean really ... a three legged cat ... well, just off him ... we can get a new kitten for free”, I was hurt, I was crushed, literally; I prayed, “God if you help me to survive, if you send an angel to help me, I’ll spend the rest of my life making it up to you, and teaching the world about love and kindness and hope.” 

And just then Helen came in to see me.  One look in her eyes and I knew she was my angel.  She said, “don’t you worry Vincent, the doc’s gonna fix you up, then you’ll come home to my rescue and we’ll get you all better.”  

And as they say, the rest is history.  My history, the history of Rikki’s Refuge, and you all know about that ... about what I taught the hoomans there and how we all went on working to change the world a little bit each and every day.

But back to my interview with Mom.  By the way if you missed yesterday, you can always look back in the blog to catch up.

Today we’ll hear about that eureka moment when Mom first knew she had to help animals ... knew she had a mission .....

Chapter 2 Vincent's interview with mom.

Vincent: Yesterday you told me about forming Life Unlimited of Virginia, and about your radio show called Animal Update.  Tell me now what had led you up to a point of wanting to do that?  Why were you interested in a business to help animals?

Mom: I spent many hours a week volunteering for a local cat adoption organization.  I had worked with them for many years, since I was very young and naïve about the animal world. The first day I went to an adoption event there was a pair of young cats, maybe six or seven months old, Justin and Amelia. They were little brown tabbies, and they were extremely bonded to each other. One was very shy and would always height behind the more outgoing sibling. 

Most animal rescue organizations do not have the funding to actually own a shelter or a facility where they can house animals, so they rely on foster homes, private individuals willing to house one or more animals until they are adopted. Justin and Amelia had been living in a foster home for months and months, while their foster mother worked on making them friendly enough for adoption.  Amelia had responded very well, but was just still too shy to be considered ”truly adoptable”.

A gentleman came along who decided he liked Amelia, he took her out of the cage and played with her and she climbed on his shoulders. He reached in towards Justin, who backed away, turned his face into a corner, and shook in fear.  He then shut the cage door and announced he would adopt Amelia.  I asked him, “Aren't you going to take Justin too? They’re bonded.  There’re siblings.  Look at them, you can't separate them?”  And he said, “Why would he want an unfriendly cat?  Look at him, he doesn't want anything to do with me.” 

I watched Justin's heart break as he sat in the corner trembling in terror seeing his sister, his only friend in the world, the only one he trusted, his only security blanket on the whole planet, taken from him. 

My heart broke too.  How could we humans stand by and not only watch this happening, but allow it to happen, even help it to happen?  And this is an animal who is in “rescue”?  What happens to all those others that no one is even trying to rescue?

I spoke to the person in charge of the rescue and asked if they were going to insist that the two be adopted together because they were so bonded.  She explained to me that no, she would not do that, because at least by allowing Amelia to be adopted, one life would be saved, at the time, being very young and naïve and having no idea what happened to “excess pets” I didn't know what she meant.  

And that was when I got my second very harsh lesson in reality that day, animals who are not adopted, are killed.  Just killed, there's no place for them to go, no one who wants them, and so they are killed.

As the realization of what the animal rescue world really meant sunk in, waves of horror, terror, repulsion, swept over me.  How on earth could these kind and wonderful people work so incredibly hard, trying to save so many lives, while watching so many suffer and die?  It's not that they weren’t working hard enough or they were doing anything wrong, it was how could they take the emotional strain of this? 

I got the hardest lesson of my life that day. Somewhere between 26,000,000 and 32,000,000 cats and dogs -- yes, can you see how many zeros, look at that number, it's unbelievable, -- were killed every year, right here in the United States, and this was the advanced 1970s.  I'd grown up in undeveloped Third World Countries, and here I was in the wonderful advanced United States of American, the country where everybody wanted to go, where the roads are paved in gold, where people have cars, houses, TVs, ....  and now you're telling me they kill animals by the millions .........   The millions?  Is this even remotely possible?

Killed simply because nobody wanted them. Nobody would give him a home. Nobody would reach out and love them.  And so they were killed.   This meant the frightened little guys like Justin who couldn’t reach out for love, would be permanently denied love from any source, and just killed.  No one was there to reach out to Justin and give him the love that he needed. It was all up to him, reach out to a stranger, pretend like you love them, or die.

And I learned about all the others who die.  The elderly. In the world of cats and dogs, “elderly” at a shelter typically means five years old or more.  If you're seven, ten years old, twelve, fifteen, eighteen, twenty years old ....  well you don't have a chance at all ....  it was almost a certainty you would be killed, never given a chance to be loved .... just killed.

The ones who may not be “beautiful”, the ones who sit terrified cages because they've been ripped from their homes and their families and put into a cage and now people are walking by saying “I'll take this one or that one”, the ones who lash out in fear, the ones who may be injured or sick and need help, the ones who have chronic problems like asthma or diabetes, the handicapped, the elderly, the ones somebody just didn't look at ..... they are all sent away to be killed.

Learning this, I also learned how naïve I was, that I could live in a world with this going on all around me, and not even know about and I was physically sick. 

While locked in the bathroom, sobbing and heaving my guts out, my mind was saying, “you've got to get out of here, you can't sit by and watch this happen, get out, go back to your happy world”, “you've got to stop this, you've got a help those that nobody else wants, this is up to you”, “you have a perfectly fine life out there without knowing, pack it up, go home, stay in your happy little world”, “how could I turn my back on these guys, who else will stand up for them, I'll never sleep again,” “get out, get out now, this is your chance, run, and never look back.”

When I returned from the bathroom, it was to find Justin still in his cage, with his face turned to a corner shaking and whimpering.  If any part of my heart had been left unbroken at this point, that's when the rest of broke. 

Well my first day of adoptions was wrapping up, and the foster parents were gathering up their kitties who didn't get adopted and taking them home until next weekend's adoption day. And there sat Justin, still in his cage.  Where was his foster mom?  She'd gone home, she said she put enough time and energy into the months and months of trying to socialize Amelia and Justin, and Justin would just never come around, and she just couldn't do it anymore. 

I was wondering who else would take him home, and how much more trauma this would be, once again losing everything in the world he's known, loved, trusted, going to a new home, new people, new kitty friends.  As I looked around at some of the sad faces, this horribly sick feeling, begin to creep back up from my stomach.  I looked at the lady who ran the organization as she asked, “is anyone here going to take him home?” 

Eventually, I was the only one who spoke up, and I asked “so what happens to him?”  The answer was, “someone will have to drop him off at the vet, if no one else is going that way, I'll have to do it.”  Oh, what a relief, I was so thankful they knew somebody wonderful who would adopt this little guy!  I smiled and said something to that effect.  The look I got back was somewhere between, “oh you silly naïve little fool”, “get a grip on reality you ridiculous girl”, “go on, keep living happily with your rose colored glasses”  ........  when my smile turned to a frown and my mouth opened up and “can I take him home?” came out.

Now, it was her turn to smile, as she said, “I was hoping you would ask that!”.   In that instant, she became my mentor without either of us realizing it.

And Justin became my first official foster kitty. 

Vincent: well, that was certainly heart wrenching, I could really feel Justin’s heart break as you told that story.  I can certainly relate to his terror when he was sitting there, in that carrier, just waiting for the hoomans to determine his fate ... would he be killed for not being the purrfect kitty ... or would someone act to save him. 

During my years at Rikki's Refuge, I certainly met a lot of kitty friends, and doggies and other animals to, that had a very difficult life, I guess maybe I just didn't realize quite how bad it really was out there, thanks mom, for taking me in and letting me live at Rikki's Refuge where I knew I was loved every minute of my life.

Tomorrow we'll hear about what became of Justin.

Have YOU voting today ???
Will YOU help me win the contest at the Animal Rescue Site ???
It's real easy .... go here and enter Rikkis Refuge in VA in the USA and follow the directions ...
it's easy, no information collection, no spam .... just your vote ---

Help YOUR TEAM round up votes ... vote daily and YOU can help me win $1,000 to feed my furry friends at Rikki's Refuge.  There are 1295 of us ....  well a couple hundred of them have feathers ... but we feed them too.  Vote every day from every computer you have, home, office, phone and so on !!!! 

What’s That?
THAT is the framing lumber for the deck, handicap ramp and steps for the Office Trailers .....   and guess what!  It’s all up now !!!  Next step .... county inspection on Tuesday and if it’s good to go ....  the actual decking goes on top !!!!   And that - along with the ramp and steps - is the final step in construction.  Well THAT kind of construction ....  Thank you Dennis and Reach !!!  You guys are awesome !!!!

So what’s left?  Electricity and a little fix up on the roof and windows.  Bob, need roof work ????  You can help??  Our electrician is working on it in between other jobs so it’s going kind of slow in that department ....  but it’s happening !!!!  

Is it time to start taking bets on when the Occupancy Permit will be issued?  I can tell you we’ll be moving the day after that !!

Snowball !  What’s that look for?
Snowball is an older all white gal.  As many white animals do, Snowball got skin cancer.  On her ears.  This is the most common place for skin cancer on kitties cus the edges of the ears don’t have as thick of a fur coating to protect the skin.  And try as you might, kitties just hate wearing sun screen.  And kitties are sun worshipers.   So skin cancer on the tips of white ears is pretty common.

And that’s what brought Snowball to Rikki’s in 2009.  Skin cancer causes the ends of the ears to thicken, grow little lumps and bumps, and then bleed, and eventually turn black.  The treatment is very successful, and the outer edges of the ears are surgically removed.  Healing time is usually pretty swift with little pain after the first couple days.  Pain medication and keeping the surgical site clean is the follow up care and in a couple weeks, and staying out of the sun till it’s healed, and kitty is good as new, even if her ears are a bit funny looking.  

Snowball’s case was pretty advanced and she’s now had three surgeries on her ears and is doing great. 

But she gets mad and gives us “the look” when she’s not allowed to sun bathe in the mid day direct sun.  She loves the sun, and she hates being indoors when it’s shining.  It’s always a compromise working with our residents.  On the one hand, we don’t want to deny her the joy and pleasure of laying in the sun.  You know how good that feels !   On the other hand, we don’t want recurring cancers. 

We all make choices about what’s “worth it” and what’s not.  Most of you take that chance of being injured or killed in an automobile accident every day when you could choose to live atop a remote mountain with no road access an no cars around for 100 miles ..... but you weight the options and you decide that driving is worth it and so you choose to drive as carefully and as defensive as possible AND maybe avoid going 100 mph on your way to Rikki’s even if you need an animal fix real bad!

Just like with hooman kids, we have to help out patients compromise and make wise choices.  Snowball wants to be in the sun every second it shines.  We’d like her to wear a hat ... I’m not allowed to repeat what she says about that or mom will wash my mouth out with soap.  We’d like her to spend most of her time in the shade.  And in the hot part of the summer she’s happy with some early morning sun bathing and then shade resting. 

Yet on winter days when it’s cool and the sun is bright and warm, she’s unwilling to compromise and so the hoomans take use ther so called superior powers to “help” Snowball make the right decisions and come inside during the most direct sun part of the day.  And this is the scowl she gives them, when it’s time to come in!  Even tough she gets rewarded with a snack!

Snowball is a resident of the 9th Life Center and one of the many that your support makes us able to care for. YOU have made it possible for her to have medical care and a happy home for four years .... and we hope she’ll be with us many more years. 

To continue to help Snowball and others like her in the 9th Life Center we must count on kind donations every day.  Think about becoming a monthly subscriber ... that gives us the peace of mind knowing we can count on you every month ... and gives you the peace of mind knowing you won’t forget Snowball and her friends one month. 

You can give on line, or by mail Rikki’s Refuge, PO Box 1357, Orange VA 22960 or
The first option is for a one time donation, the second paragraph tells you how a monthly subscription works.  A monthly donation of only $7.50 would give Snowball her gotta come in out of the sun now treat every day, all year round  !!!!

My food’s a couple hundred miles away !
Judith is in Pulaski, Virginia, USA - this is in the general vicinity of Wytheville, Blacksburg, Roanoke -- and the Tractor Supply there gave her about 200 pounds of rabbit and guinea pig food and a case or so of timothy hay.

She wants to get it to Rikki’s ASAP so the animals can benefit from it over the winter. 

Is there anyone who could help? Maybe someone meet Judith near Lexington, then they take it to Charlottesville where we have a volunteer who’d bring it here. The hay in particular we’d like to have for the winter.

Best days for Judith to transport are: Feb 18 meeting YOU near Lexington around 2 pm or so; or Feb 19 meeting YOU no later than noon; or Feb 20 any time of day.

Will you help?  Contact Judith -

Former 9th Life Resident
Angel was sad and bedraggled when she came to Rikki’s Refuge.  Left behind, rejected, heartbroken ... she’d been dumped cuz she was old, no longer playful, not seeing or hearing as well as she used to ... and with age, the cost to keep her was going up ... and so it was time to trade her in for a younger model.

Can you imagine the pain these animals go thru when they are rejected by the very ones they’ve been loyal and loving to .... especially when it’s thru no fault of their own.  We all age, it’s simply a fact of life on planet earth.  Should it make the ones we love, love us less?  Want to be rid of us?  How on earth did this attitude ever become prevalent on this planet? 

Do those who miss seeing the beauty and grace of aging, the wisdom, the slowing down of physical activity to share the knowledge of life, think somehow this is “unnatural”, that it’s not a phase they too will enter and pass thru? 

How did we become a society that sees birth and growing up as cute and adorable and perfect .... and that of slowing down, aging and dying as horrible?  Isn’t all of life beautiful?  Aren’t the graying tips of the ears and the muzzle just as adorable as the floppy ears of a puppy? 

At Rikki’s Refuge we think life in any phase is beautiful and sacred.  And thanks to your kind support we’re able to take over when others fail their elderly friends.  YOU make it possible to offer them the 9th Life Retirement Center where they can be loved and respected and their needs provided for.  You give them food, love, medical care and comfort.  And sometimes another chance at a real furever second chance home.  Like Angel, who after adjusting to life at Rikki’s, after getting attention and medical care, after learning that she could love again and that she is a valuable soul ....  got a brand hew home with a new mom who will love her every day for the rest of her life !!!!    Thank you Melissa for adopting Angel !!

I hate “before” photos
And I rarely show them.  So many critters who come to Rikki’s Refuge have been denied basic needs.  They look so pathetic, so sad, so hurt.  And it seems disrespectful to show off pictures of them at their worst.  I mean really, how’d you like them to come in and take pictures of you laying there, just out of surgery or with a horrible case of the flu hanging over your litterbox or when you’re sobbing with a red streaked face right after a heart break ... no, you want your picture taken when you’re feeling good, when you’re smiling, when you’re happy.

And so I apologize Buddy ....  I want to share your case because it’s so amazingly remarkable. 

This was the picture of Buddy I was sent.  It’s not very clear, but you can see how horrible his lip looks.  And it wasn’t just his lip.  It was even up into his nose, his tongue, the roof of his mouth.  I was expecting something horrible when I said he could come, and that we’d see what our wonderful doctors could do .... but I really wasn’t sure we could “fix” him.  We’d do our damnedest, but this might be one of those cases where there was no help, where he’d never be able to eat again, where he’d be in constant pain and where we had no good options.

And so I was expecting bad ... but the day he arrived I was sick ... it was so much worse than the picture showed, the nose, the inside of the mouth.  Yes, Buddy was so sweet and so loving and I so hoped ....  but as we got right in the car and headed to see our doc .... I really thought ....  I loved Buddy on that trip, I talked to him, I cried .....   I honestly thought from the horrible extent of it, it was a serious, has already gone too far, cancer.

As Dr Kellum at Culpeper Animal Hospital examined him, I could see her wince.  When she said it looked like a terribly serious eosinophilic granuloma, a type of ulcer you often see on the lip (but much much smaller, much less area involved) and might be treatable, though it had gone on so long and so much tissue was damaged ..... and it could now be cancerous too and maybe ....  

..... but did we want to try?  Treatment might be long.  He may need preventative treatment the rest of his life.  Yes, there was a chance he’d heal up and be able to eat comfortably and be happy.  Shall we try?

And because of YOUR generous and kind support we are able to say YES, Buddy has friends who will help him pay for his treatment.  And so his journey to recovery began.

Just days after his first treatment he was so much improved.  The rawness was gone.  He was eating.  He was happier than ever.  We had no idea where this would lead.  If we got it under control and he healed, would he need reconstructive surgery for the roof of his mouth, his lips?  Even for the first couple weeks as his condition improved visibly every day, visitors would look at him and shriek, “What happened to him?”  

By the time he was ready for his second treatment, his tongue had healed, the roof of his mouth was no longer sore, the swelling in the lips was gone ... though he still looked quite hare lipped.

But with your support ... both financial and with the love and prayers you send to our residents every day .... Buddy continued to heal.

He had a slight set back and needed a third treatment.  He was acting like a normal cat, having no problems eating, no pain.  Though still had enough tissue damage we wondered if surgery might be necessary just to make his mouth close better and eating a bit easier and less sloppy (not that we care but for his comfort).

And then ....
You can still see scars on his upper lip.  His tongue, the roof of his mouth, all look wonderfully healed.  It’s now been many months since his last treatment .... and paws crossed ... he’s still going good.  He won’t need surgery.  He’s eating fine, feeling good.  And he’s one happy boy!! 

He’s truly been a Rikki’s Miracle !!!!   And all thanks to you and the work you allow us to do!  Thank you .... we use every penny of your donations wisely to help as many animals as we possible can.  Your donation today will allow us to continue to care for Buddy and others in the 9th Life Center.

Just the cost of a cup of coffee at Starbucks can make some one happy and cared for for the better part of a week !!!!    Would you give up one cup of coffee each week and instead help to support someone with a recurring monthly donation?  

Thank you.

This is Peaches
If you walked past her in a shelter looking at row after row of cats seeing which one you wanted to take home.  Which one you’d select and save their life.  Chances are Peaches wouldn’t stand out.  She’s about 8 years old, her broken heart means she won’t stand out, she won’t be calling for attention, she won’t be reaching her arms out the cage trying to grab your attention, she’ll be sitting there, probably with her face in the corner, silently weeping over the loss of her home.

Peaches is the kind of kitty passed over, day after day, in millions of shelters in this country.  She’s one of the “statistics” who probably wouldn’t make it out the front door. 

And this could have happened to her.  But thank goodness, because you help support our mission, she and so many others are saved.

YOU have allowed us to save Peaches twice.  First time around, it was 2005, Peaches was a young single mom running the streets with a litter of kittens.  She’d taken up in somebody’s yard and they wanted her gone.  And so she became a Rikki-ite. 

She was given a place to raise her kittens and after the family was speutered they went to adoption fairs.  Everyone got a home.  Even Peaches, though she was the last to go, being a year old or so and not a little kitten.

And life was good.  And time went by.  And a month ago, after being in her “forever” home, her family was moving.  She was excited.  Everything was packed up.  They were all moving to a new home. 

But something went terribly wrong on the journey.  The family stopped at the pound.  Where they left Peaches behind .... and went on to the new home without her.  When they’d said WE are moving, she sure thought she was one of the WE ....  what had she done?  Why was she being left in a high kill pound?  We’ll never know why, but we are thankful the people said she’d come from Rikki’s Refuge. 

And so a nice lady at the pound called and said do you want her back?  And mom said YES and dad got in the car asap and drove to pick her up.

Back at Rikki’s after 7 years, she was safe.  But her heart was broken.  She spent her first two weeks depressed and not wanting to eat.  Now she’s learned to love again and this time she wants a family who will really stick to the promise of a real forever home FOREVER.

Is that you?  She’s a lovely quiet gal. to meet and adopt Peaches

or to support Peaches and others with stories just like hers, while they wait for their next chance.  And those who never get that next chance ....  what happens?  They live happily with Rikki’s forever in a family like environment with friends and love.

Peaches knows it’s never too late for a second chance home.  She’s heard the story of Yankee.  One of the first kitties ever to come to Rikki’s Refuge.  Adopted in 1998 and returned later when she was 8 months old.  Despite being a wonderful kitty, no one ever chose her again.  And so she lived here happily.  Then she fell in love with Jessica a couple years ago.  And Jessica fell in love with Yankee.  All day long while Jessica worked, Yankee rode on her shoulders. 

Jessica had a move in her future ... and when the time came she hated to have to leave Rikki’s ... but she just couldn’t leave Yankee ... and so for the second time, after 13 years, Yankee was adopted !!!  We continue to get notes, and hear they are doing well in their new location.

Thank you for making what we do, possible !!!!

Love you bunches,
           Vincent, Opie, Timmy

2013 is the Year of the Purr ....

Join the movement ... we’re adding purr to planet earth !
 Look! It's a great car magnet with the world's most loved cat -- Vincent Cat!!!!
"What Would Vincent Do?"
He'd "Purr More, Hiss Less".

Magnet is $5 each, plus shipping (65-cents for 1 magnet, $1.05 for 2 for U.S. addresses). For other shipping costs (international, or for more than 2 magnets) contact Melissa Felts  with your zip code and how many you want.     Purchase your magnet TODAY right here