• Susan Byers

A Day of Laughter and Tears


Yesterday was a day of contrasts, of laughter and tears. The tears were bittersweet, as we said goodbye to two of the four kitties we've been fostering for Animal Allies, the Golden Girls:

Sophia (Mommy)

Rose (Roses or Rosie)

Dorothy (Dorie)

and the former Blanche (now Mitzvah--Hebrew for Blessing--aka Bitsy Mitzy , Mitzy Mouse)

Two of the girls were going to be adopted by , Linda and Jimmy, a really nice couple about our age. They had recently lost two kitties in their late teens and needed cats in their lives again. They weren't sure if they would take two kittens or Mommy Sophia and Dorie, her shadow, so we took all four kitties to the PetValu in Oakton, Va., where we were to meet. We included Mitzy, the kitten we're adopting, so she could be with her family as long as possible. Over the last few weeks, we had spent a lot of time holding the kittens so they'd be tame enough for adoption, and we'd become quite attached, so of course I cried all the way out to Oakton and all the way home ...

The only place to let the kitties out, so their prospective adopters could meet and interact with them, was the store bathroom. Charming, I know. Fortunately, it's fairly large and well-ventilated. It's where we met the Golden Girls for the first time, too. After about half an hour of watching and holding kitties in close quarters, Linda and Jimmy settled on Rose and Dorothy, both of whom were now perfectly fine being held by new people. Mommy, on the other hand, would squirm out of their arms and kept reaching up against my leg or Len's, begging to be picked up. "She's really bonded to you," Linda said, and that might have been a deciding factor. I guess we hadn't realized how attached Sophia had become to us ...

And so, after hugs and exchanges of cell numbers and promises of pictures and updates, Roses and Dorie went to their new home ...

and Mommy and Bitsy Mitzy came home with us.

We decided we had to try to make both kitties work in our household, so last night, we started feeding them on the stairs with our senior queen Daisy--who had been spending quite a bit of time observing from the bed in their room--and giving them the run of the house for the first time. It went remarkably well: Charlie (our old kitty who has cancer) let out a grumpy yowl when Sophie popped up on the chair where he was sleeping, but then ignored her; Daisy watched from the safety of the sofa (it's like she wants to interact but can't yet); and the dogs were delighted to have free access at last. Then we got an update from Linda (Rose and Dorie were hiding, but had come out earlier for food). So the day ended on an up note.

It started on a hilarious one. (Warning: the following is R-rated.) We had our Christmas pageant at church, with, as usual, live animals from a petting zoo farm in Pennsylvania. There was the donkey who walked up the aisle with "Mary" and "Joseph" ...

... some ducks, bunnies, adorable goats, an alpaca with attitude, and a sheep. The farmer was talking to us about the sheep, remarking how he was surprisingly docile for a ram. I had been stroking the ram's soft muzzle off and on as we chatted, and he did seem very gentle and content, despite the hubub of people milling about.

Suddenly, from beneath the big woolly boy a long (well over a foot), twig-like, pink "finger" appeared and swung slowly sideways--sideways!--toward me like the arm on a crane. About the time I realized what it was, it began to ... squirt. At me! "I've never seen that happen," said the farmer. Squirt. "I guess he really likes you." Squirt squirt! I finally edged back out of range (those pants needed to be washed anyway), but stood there dumbfounded. At some point, this overt demonstration of ovine ardor ceased, I don't know when; by then I was laughing too hard. The farmer (who clearly has a dry sense of humor) spoke again, totally deadpan. "Well ... you couldn't ask for a higher compliment from a sheep," he quipped.

Len, of course, is having great fun ribbing me about my randy admirer, and no doubt the farmer laughed all the way back to Pennsylvania. I had once contemplated adding some sheep to the menagerie, once we settle down--they keep the lawn mowed and are incredibly picturesque. I am now, however, having second thoughts ...


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