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Brian's Story

Brian is a young man, maybe in his early 30's.  Today he shared some of his story with me during phase 1 of a cat adoption.  

    "Growing up we always had pets, like a lot of pets.  Mom wasn't savvy about spaying and neutering and all that.  If there were strays in the neighborhood, she'd feed them and the next thing you know, they'd be ours," said Brian.  

    Working with people during pet adoptions, training, pet surrenders, and (especially) pet retention cases, sometimes I act as a counselor of sorts.  It's my job to help people open up to explore what's going on under the surface.  Some people have no desire to open up; these are the few and far between that seem incapable of bonding in a meaningful way with pets, or people. However, most open up with the right questions and a listening ear to follow. And others, like Brian, are so wise they need no prompting... they 'go there' all on their own.  

    "You see, my mom wasn't my biological mom.  She took me in as a 1 yr old baby.  My biological mom was troubled with substance abuse and what not and she was drawn to Ms. Delilah, my adoptive mom.  She saw something in Ms. Delilah and knew she'd take good care of me and my sister.  'Mom' (Ms. Delilah) may not have had much, but what she had, she was always willing to share- whether it be with neighborhood strays, or with kids that needed a new home."

Ms. Delilah and her sweet chihuahua, Dallas

    Brian went on to share that having so many pets in the home growing up wasn't always easy.  The pets often weren't vetted and the cats, in particular, weren't fixed. He recalls kids at elementary school asking why his clothes had a funny smell.  That smell was from unaltered male cats spraying his belongings (and likely everything in the house). 

    So you may ask, 'What on earth possessed Brian to want to adopt a cat now?'

    The cat Brian was considering adopting today, there in our man/cat cave, was his mom's cat.  
    His mom had a sudden stroke from which she wasn't able to recover.  
    Just a few short weeks ago Brian was making excruciatingly difficult end-of-life decisions for his beloved mother.  

    Brian found out about The Paw and Feather Plan through a caring Seven Counties worker; Seven Counties is a community-based mental health organization that had worked with his mother on some level.  Brian reached out to me on behalf of his mom's pets right after his mom had the stroke, while she was still in the hospital.   

    I was able to find the perfect home for Ms. Delilah's dog quickly.  Then I took on the cat.  I explained to Brian that I don't foster or adopt out pets without them first being vetted and altered (unless they're too young to be altered). 

    During one of our 'text conversations' early on I explained, "I cannot foster an unaltered cat because I won't have a cat here spraying everything," completely unaware of how that would resonate with him due to his childhood experience.  
    "I completely understand," he replied. 

    A few days ago I took the cat for shots, and to be neutered.  Then I brought him home as a foster cat.  I began picking up on signs Brian may be willing to adopt the cat himself... but I certainly didn't push.  He had said early on that he couldn't keep the pets himself and I never asked why.  After all he was dealing with losing his mother suddenly and making end-of-life decisions for her.  

    "I see this like coming full circle.  I mean growing up I saw the way my mom did things rescuing pets.  -She had a heart of gold. And now I see the way you do it, like more structured.  So I'm like 'this can be different.' The cat is fixed so he won't spray.  And he's just one, friendly, really cool cat," said Brian.  

Blitz never seemed to like me much but
he LOVES Brian! 
Brian and Blitz at Brian's home during the adoption

And I couldn't have said it better myself.  Brian's association with pets growing up wasn't necessarily always a positive one.  But now he's willing and eager to take in his first pet of his own. And do things differently, better than what his mom did in some ways.

    And that's what we all want for our kids right?  -For them to grow up and do things even better than the way we've done them... each generation should keep getting better and better at everything... at being good, productive, compassionate, practical human beings.

The last bitter sweet part of this story: not only is Brian taking in his mother's cat, he's also taking in his 12 year old nephew that had been living with his mother.  I met Christian only briefly but can tell he's a really special, kind kid. 

Rest in Peace Ms. Delilah.  
You are leaving behind a beautiful legacy with these wonderful humans and pets. 


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