Rescue work can be unrelentingly hard. There are simply not enough homes and too many people who breed their animals. A very simple equation which results in the most horrible situations I have seen in my life.
And there is no doubt that some animals touch your heart in a way that others don’t. I have helped rescue/ foster/ rehomed around 70 animals (mostly cats, some dogs and a tortoise) but only a few stand out in my memory and this is mainly because they were with me for more than a night or two, or the circumstances around them were so horrible that it was a source of utmost joy that I was able to help them.One of the rescues I did and the cats I subsequently fostered were these two: https://titflasher.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/action-vs-observance/ and https://titflasher.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/update/
A huge amount of effort went into saving them, not just capturing them but vets’ fees, time, attention and care too. They fitted into my house as if they had always been here and because they had been so neglected, I broke a cardinal rule of mine and let them run free in the house with the others, as I did not want to confine them to one room for long.
They were the most loving, kind cats despite being severely neglected and even Felix (who is as grumpy as only a 17 year old lady cat can be) was bowled over by them.
Although the entries on this blog were posted in 2010, the articles themselves were older than that and previously published elsewhere. So, Rosie and Idgie were homed about three and a half years ago with the most amazing couple.
They lived in a small, quiet area with allotments to the back of them, had had cats before and were able to give them the time, patience, love and effort both needed to recover and live happy lives.
Rosie had an awful flea allergy and his owners continued to ensure he was given proper treatment. I did not, despite being invited, go down to see them because losing them hurt too much.
Their owners kept me updated with their progress. Within a month or two it was clear that they were happy, settled and loved. I then moved jobs and forgot to send my personal email to them so we slipped out of touch.
Towards the back end of last year, I got an overwhelming urge to dig out their details and contact their owners. Luckily, the mobile number I had for them was still current. They kindly sent me photos – both cats were plump, shiny-furred and clearly happy as happy cats can be.
I breathed a sigh of relief because generally when I get a nudge, it means something is up. We continued to correspond about the cats. When I say the owners are lovely, I mean they are truly lovely. I started to think it was time I went down there to pay a visit.
Then I got an email which made my heart sink into my boots. Rosie (not his new name) had gone missing. Despite intensive searching and plastering the area with posters and flyers, there had been no sign of him. They were three days in and had no intention of giving up.
A week later, they were still searching. Everyone in the area knew that he was missing. Rosie’s owners were becoming increasingly worried. On my advice, they extended their search, flyers and posters to a larger area. There were a few leads, one of them in the local park and they followed each one up. Over the weeks, they searched again, put out new flyers, posters and continued talking to people.
Despite this, there was no luck at all.
Five weeks later, Rosie’s body was found on the allotments.
No-one is sure what happened or how long he had been out there for. His owners sadly brought him home to be buried in their garden. My guess is that either he got trapped in a shed or he was an all too common victim of anti-freeze poisoning.
They were devastated and I did not want to ask what state he was in because it would have been exceptionally insensitive and hurtful and their need for comfort far outweighed my need for answers.
But this has left us all heartbroken. I am so careful about rehoming animals and in this case, was super-super careful.
You see, occasionally, I have got the feeling when rescuing animals that I have somehow cheated death. I then have to be exceptionally conscientious because I have a sense that altering fate that might not be in the animal’s best interests. My brain clocks it as a very superstitious thing to think but the thought exists.
And, along with the horror stories I hear about animals given away to people without home checks being done, it makes me very, very careful about rehoming, checking and double-checking.
I should feel that I should not have put the cats there but that is not my feeling at all. I am still glad they went to live there. They had a quality of life and love which it would have been difficult to match elsewhere.
I just get the sense that for Rosie, time ran out and the fate that he was going to meet up my road instead met him later.
This raises all sorts of ethical questions for me. I have known people to have terrible lives, one tragedy after the other. Families have lost children to murder and accident, one after the other. Normally the nicest, kindest people too.
So maybe it is the same for animals. The nicest, kindest, most resilient animals, who can still turn around and give love and comfort even when their lives have been devoid of it, sometimes are the victims of horrible fates.
It is times like this that my faith wobbles, that I wonder why exactly we are here, if we are just the playthings of a terrible creator.
And it leads me onto … what is the point of rescuing and rehoming animals when they are just going to die anyway? Why go to all that effort, with all the adjustment that an animal makes if they are going to succumb to a fate similar to which they have been rescued?
It is not the first time an animal has died after being rehomed and in both cases, I have mysteries I cannot solve without being incredibly insensitive to people I respect, or love and care for. They keep me up at night and in doing so, those sweet faces go into the gallery of animals I have failed, to haunt me endlessly.