Crazy Cat and Dog Lady

“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” ~St. Francis of Assisi

Never marry a man who hates animals. This may be one of the biggest lessons I learned in 24 years of marriage. No, seriously, it’s a BIG lesson, y’all. It should have been a red flag! 🚩

I grew up with both dogs and cats as pets and I love animals. When I was dating my ex, I owned a black cat named Sirach. He didn’t like his family pets nor did he like my cat. THAT should have been my cue to exit stage left, but alas, I did not exit, I married the fool. I should have run off stage and never looked back!

I may now be a crazy cat and dog lady, but there’s a story behind how I got here. As all children tend to do at some point growing up, my boys begged me to let them have a puppy or a kitten. SOME sort of pet. My youngest had Henry, his “unauthorized rabbit”, as my ex called him, for many years. Henry had a lot of medical issues, God bless him. I had to give him injections and even built a bunny nebulizer for his breathing treatments.

One day, my youngest found a stray cat in the neighborhood. He and my other two boys walked door to door with the cat to see if they could locate the owners, but no owners were ever found. We brought her to the vet on Valentine’s Day and that’s how her name became Valentine.

Later, my youngest adopted Cupid from the animal shelter. These cats became a point of contention between my husband and myself. He always referred to them as the “unauthorized cats”. He would scare them, stomp them away and often threaten to kill them. Once during an argument, he told me that he was going to harm them and I lost it. Thankfully, he never actually harmed the cats. My oldest son and his wife adopted a cat they named Rose. When they moved away, I adopted Rose. So, as you can see, long before my husband left, my kids were preparing to turn me into a crazy cat lady.

When my ex announced one day that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to be married, I actually offered to find homes for our family pets, if it would make him happy. I look back on that day and I am mortified that I even offered to give up our fur babies! After he left, I had to apologize to the cats for having offered to give them up for a man who clearly wasn’t willing to make sacrifices for me, our family or our marriage. I’m so glad he didn’t take me up on the offer!

About a year after he left, a friend called late one night. A woman had found a 4 week old kitten in the street and hadn’t known how to care for it. The kitten was now 5 weeks old and not doing well. I drove to meet my friend to pick up this cat we named Candy. The orange cat, my middle son reminded me later, that we’d asked God to give us. No, I’m not kidding. My kids and I had always wanted an orange cat.

Just a month later, my middle son called me from college. “Mom, we have to help this dog. His owners are getting rid of him. He’s an Alaskan Malamute, mom. I’ve always dreamed of having a Husky or….mom he’s perfect! Please!?” He really had always dreamed of having an Alaskan something or other since birth. His build-a-bear choice after a hospital trip one year was a Husky. He would watch videos and sometimes peruse websites that gave detailed information about these dogs.

After finding out Shadow was five years old, I asked, “What’s wrong with the dog!?” My son replied, “Nothing mom! Why?” I retorted, “People don’t just get rid of their dogs after five years, something HAS to be wrong with the dog.” “No, mom, he’s perfect!” And, he was right. Shadow is the most perfect dog to ever grace the planet. We did a trial run over Thanksgiving break. Shadow came to live with us in his furever home at Thanksgiving.

As if four cats and one really big 115lb dog weren’t enough, I adopted an almost toothless cat about 6 weeks ago. She needed a home, y’all! Her mama is battling dementia and her daughter re-homed her mom’s three cats. I do get points for not adopting all three, right!?

Back to Shadow. He’s big and beautiful. When considering adoption, I didn’t yet have sole ownership of the house. I told my son, “We have the perfect house for a big dog, but if I am unable to refinance the house in my name, we will never find a place to rent that will take such a big dog.” Do you know what this son of mine told me!? He said, “Mom, it’s going to be okay. We’ve been praying and God will let us keep our house!” And that, folks, is why I went ahead with the trial run adoption.

God came through and pulled off a miracle 5 months later. I refinanced my home in my name! (I’ll tell the whole refi miracle story in another blog post later) I’m thankful that my house is big enough for 5 cats, a really big dog and their humans. With three levels at their disposal, the cats are spoiled rotten. Shadow is fine with two levels and a long walk every day. God has blessed us abundantly with these fur babies! My sons and I have found love, comfort and companionship with these animals. In the days after their father left, I watched as the youngest two loved on the cats and made sure their favorite always made it into their room before they went to sleep at night.

In the early weeks and months, the cats would sit on me as I sobbed. Rose is the most loving of them, she loves to give kitty hugs and comfort her humans. She literally wraps her paws around your neck, which brings immediate comfort. Then this dog came into our lives and the cats spent the first few months being offended, but have since gotten over it. Shadow came into my our lives while we were still hurting from his abandoning our family.

In the last few years, Shadow and I have gone hiking, walking and even to the beach together. He’s such a great companion! The company I work for even allows me to bring him to work! In a time where I don’t always want to get out and do something on my own, Shadow’s talking, tail wagging and excitement about hitting the hiking trails get me out the door (Malamutes don’t bark very often, they make these noises—they “talk”). I understand that not everyone can adopt as many fur babies as I have, some may not be able to adopt even one, but if you do choose to adopt, it will make a huge difference in your life! Our pets have brought healing to our lives.

I rescued my cats and dogs and in return, they rescued me! ❤️

Me with Shadow at Sunset Beach, NC
Juliet —the cat with only a few teeth
Shadow in the snow
Shadow wearing his safety glasses at work one day

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