Riley Carson and the Quest for Justice Book Review

Riley Carson is back in an all new adventure in Riley Carson and the Quest for Justice by Megan Wargula.  Riley is so excited that her family has decided to adopt a new dog.  Not just any dog, but one of the dogs she rescued from an underground puppy mill.

Buster may be a small Yorkie, but he is mighty!  The petite pooch is afraid of men and has never even seen grass before.  Riley certainly has her work cut out for her as she takes charge in training her new furry friend.

Meanwhile, Finn is hot on the trail of a new mystery when he discovers a system of tunnels underneath the city that were used during the Civil War.  Hoping to discover artifacts for his class presentation, he soon finds more than he had bargained for.

Strange things begin to happen each time he enters the tunnels.  Riley senses a sinister presence that could put the pair in grave danger.  Will the dynamic duo be able to outsmart the spirited specter?

As if Riley doesn’t have enough on her plate, her new neighbor, Hawk, may end up losing his dog.  Lennox, Hawk’s service dog, is a Pit bull trained to help the military veteran with his symptoms of PTSD.  When the city passes new Breed Specific Legislation, Hawk faces relinquishing the best friend he’s ever known.  Can Riley convince the city that they are making a huge mistake before Lennox’s time runs out?

I greatly enjoyed reading the second installment in the Riley Carson series!  Full of mystery and suspense, I was hooked from the first chapter.  I love to see how much Riley’s character has grown since the first book.  She is truly blossoming into a passionate animal advocate who is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in.

This book packs a powerful punch dealing with such a timely and polarized topic as BSL.  There is such a stigma surrounding Pit bulls.  These beautiful creatures are no more harmful than any other breed of dog.  Due to misconceptions, many cities and states have passed BSL laws that have cost many “bully breeds” their lives.  Wargula faces the issue head on through the empowered character of Riley.

This story is a great read for animal lovers ages 8 and up.  I can’t wait to read about Riley’s next adventure!

 

Riley Carson Book 2

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Remember Me Thursday 2018

Barks, meows, and whimpers bounce off of the walls.  Furry paws frantically scratch at wire cage doors.  Tears stream from their eyes staining their fallen faces.  Hope begins to fade as time marches on bringing these orphaned pets ever closer to their grim demise.

Sadly, over 2.7 million shelter animals are euthanized every year before they are able to find their forever homes. (Source:  Animal 24-7 published by Merritt Clifton).  What’s even more heartbreaking is that just 30% of pets in the United States are adopted from rescue facilities. (Source: The Humane Society of the United States 2013).  This means that a staggering 70% of pets are still being purchased from breeders.  
As a pet parent of five rescue dogs and three cats, I’ve never understood why people looking to adopt often immediately seek out a breeder.  They pay thousands of dollars for a custom canine or cat when their perfect match could be just around the corner at their local animal shelter.  
Some of the reasons I’ve heard from such adopters are:
  • The shelter won’t have the specific breed I’m looking for.
  • Shelter animals have behavioral issues.
  • I want to know my pet’s linage.
  • If I buy from a breeder, my pet’s temperament will be perfect.








 
In reality:

  • There are hundreds of rescue groups and organizations across the country that are dedicated to specific dog and cat breeds.  I even know of several that only deal with differently-abled animals (blind, deaf, etc.).

  • Many shelter programs incorporate training into the animals’ daily routines.  If the prospective pet does have any issues, the shelter staff or foster parents will be able to inform potential adopters so that there won’t be any surprises post adoption.
  • Unless you plan on breeding or showing your new dog or cat, there is no real value in knowing your pet’s linage or having official papers.  Also, it has been proven that mixed breed animals have less inherited genetic health problems than purebreds.
  • Shelter animals have the added benefit of gaining socialization skills.  From group walks to day trips with their foster families, shelter animals get to experience the world around them.  However, animals coming from breeders are often kept in isolation to ensure that the bloodlines will remain pure.  
I would like to share the adoption stories of four of my dogs:  Theo, Penny, Adriel, and Hope.  Theo and Penny were almost euthanized while Adriel and Hope were rescued from backyard breeders.  Here are their stories.
Theo:  While not much is known about Theo’s past, one thing is for certain:  He was abused by children.  Whenever Theo saw a child, he would fly into a barking and snarling frenzy while hiding behind our legs.  This is probably why he was dumped at the local humane society and labeled as vicious.
None of the staff could get close to Theo.  He was tired of being abused.  He was shut down.  The date for his euthanasia was set.
Two hours before Theo was to be killed, a woman specializing in Pug rescues came into the shelter.  She was immediately drawn to Theo.  The staff warned her that his time was up and he couldn’t be rehabilitated.  The woman decided to try anyway.  
There she sat on the cold, hard concrete for two hours straight.  Theo had stopped snarling.  He sat next to the steel bars of the door and allowed the woman to pet him.  The staff was amazed when the woman left the building with Theo in tow, smiling.
Theo is now 15 years young.  If it wasn’t for the kindness and patience of this woman, his life would have been cut drastically short.
Theo is now 15 years old!
Penny:  Penny was found roaming the streets of California.  She was immediately taken to a high-kill shelter.  While Penny was a sweet and loving pooch, her unique looks made her undesirable in the eyes of would-be adopters.  She was born with a deformed front paw and a severe overbite.
One day, a woman entered the shelter and discovered Penny.  She immediately made a call to her veterinarian friend, Cynthia Lee, who just happened to own Second Chance Animal Rescue in Springfield, Illinois.  Lee wasted no time in getting Penny out of the shelter.  In fact, she paid an animal transporter to drive Penny from California to the rescue in Illinois.
Penny’s adoption profile was posted on Petfinder.com.  Still, no one wanted to adopt a seemingly “broken” dog.  Then I came across her biography and fell in love the moment I saw her picture.
While she may look different, nothing holds her back from living her best life.  Penny recently celebrated her seventh birthday.  She also has an award-winning children’s book that tells the tale of her adoption journey to inspire others to adopt differently-abled animals.  Penny is also a volunteer with the Animal Protection Association of Missouri where she helps co-teach the humane education class. (www.pricelesspennyp.com)
Penny and her children’s book.
Adriel:  Adriel was rescued from a backyard breeder.  She had been kept in a wire crate for most of her young life.  Her leg muscles did not develop properly because of this and she is unable to jump.  Adriel was also born with a very distinctive birth defect:  Her tongue is longer than her head so it always sticks out.  
From the moment I saw Adriel’s picture on the St. Louis Senior Dog Project website, I knew she should be a part of our furry family.  When the adoption application was approved, we were overjoyed.  I couldn’t wait to bring her home.
Several weeks later, I picked her up at the local Petsmart.  While I was excited, Adriel was terrified.  Her dark brown eyes darted back and forth.  She actually held her legs stiffly out in front of her so that she wouldn’t get close to my face or chest.  I feared that she didn’t like me.
Bringing her home was also difficult.  She ran and hid from me and my husband…but fell in love with our resident dog, Theo.  While they bonded quickly, it took several months before Adriel felt she could trust us.  
My husband and I worked diligently on training and studied up on dogs that had been rescued from breeders.  We soon learned that her terror was associated with the human interaction she received while at the breeder’s facility.
Thankfully, with love and patience, Adriel soon blossomed into the world’s best lap dog.  She now eagerly soaks up attention from everyone that she meets and will paw at the person if they stop petting her.  Adriel is also a certified therapy dog with Therapy Dogs International where she provides touch therapy to kids’ clubs, nursing home residents, Autism groups, etc.  
Adriel has been a therapy dog for 7 years!
Hope:  Hope is the product of a backyard breeder.  She is a mini double dapple Dachshund that was born without eyes and is completely deaf.  Her breeder bred two dapple Dachshunds together knowing that doing so can result in double dapples, which often have health issues such as being born blind, deaf, or both.
The exotic white coloring of the Dachshund pups in double dapple litters is highly sought after by adopters.  Often times, they have no idea what a cruel practice this is.  Upon finding out that Hope was both blind and deaf, he wanted to kill her.  She was useless to him because he couldn’t breed her.
Thankfully, the man’s wife stepped in and claimed Hope as her own.  Hope was protected for several years until the woman died.  The breeder than took Hope with a choke chain around her neck and surrendered her to Dachshund Rescue North America.
Hope was immediately placed into a loving foster home where she even had other doxies to play with.  I knew when I saw her on the rescue’s website that she would need lots of extra care and attention.  My heart kept saying, “If you don’t adopt her, no one will.”
The first week post adoption was daunting.  My husband and I watched helplessly as she excitedly raced around the house running head first into the walls.  But, she never made a sound.  Hope simply backed up and went in another direction.
By the end of the week, she had learned the entire layout of the house.  Two months later, she taught herself to bark at the back door when she wanted to go out and potty and knew to come back to the door and bark to be let in.
She might be differently-abled but never disabled!  Hope has been featured on The Dodo where her video went viral with over 5.5 million views.  She has also been featured on numerous Facebook and Instagram pages.  Hope has over 7,000 followers on Instagram and receives messages daily about what an inspiration she is.  One person in particular sent a private message to her Facebook page stating that seeing Hope living such a wonderful life helps the person cope with his/her depression.
Most recently, she was selected as an Honorary Inner Beauty Ambassador by Instagram sensation, @a_gecko_and_his_pjs.  She now has custom stickers and magnets that are being sold with 100% of the profits benefiting Wayside Waifs, a no-kill shelter in Kansas City, Missouri. (www.havinghopealways.com)
Hope is known as the Queen Ween on Instagram!
I hope that these stories inspire you to adopt from your local animal shelter or rescue group.  Together, we can end the needless killing of animals; be a voice for the voiceless; and ensure that all creatures find a loving forever home.
Please take a moment today to remember those animals whose time ran out before they could be united with their forever families.

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Remember Me Thursday 2018

Barks, meows, and whimpers bounce off of the walls.  Furry paws frantically scratch at wire cage doors.  Tears stream from their eyes staining their fallen faces.  Hope begins to fade as time marches on bringing these orphaned pets ever closer to their grim demise.

Sadly, over 2.7 million shelter animals are euthanized every year before they are able to find their forever homes. (Source:  Animal 24-7 published by Merritt Clifton).  What’s even more heartbreaking is that just 30% of pets in the United States are adopted from rescue facilities. (Source: The Humane Society of the United States 2013).  This means that a staggering 70% of pets are still being purchased from breeders.
As a pet parent of five rescue dogs and three cats, I’ve never understood why people looking to adopt often immediately seek out a breeder.  They pay thousands of dollars for a custom canine or cat when their perfect match could be just around the corner at their local animal shelter.
Some of the reasons I’ve heard from such adopters are:
  • The shelter won’t have the specific breed I’m looking for.
  • Shelter animals have behavioral issues.
  • I want to know my pet’s linage.
  • If I buy from a breeder, my pet’s temperament will be perfect.
 
 
 

 In reality:

  • There are hundreds of rescue groups and organizations across the country that are dedicated to specific dog and cat breeds.  I even know of several that only deal with differently-abled animals (blind, deaf, etc.).
  • Many shelter programs incorporate training into the animals’ daily routines.  If the prospective pet does have any issues, the shelter staff or foster parents will be able to inform potential adopters so that there won’t be any surprises post adoption.
  • Unless you plan on breeding or showing your new dog or cat, there is no real value in knowing your pet’s linage or having official papers.  Also, it has been proven that mixed breed animals have less inherited genetic health problems than purebreds.
  • Shelter animals have the added benefit of gaining socialization skills.  From group walks to day trips with their foster families, shelter animals get to experience the world around them.  However, animals coming from breeders are often kept in isolation to ensure that the bloodlines will remain pure.
I would like to share the adoption stories of four of my dogs:  Theo, Penny, Adriel, and Hope.  Theo and Penny were almost euthanized while Adriel and Hope were rescued from backyard breeders.  Here are their stories.
Theo:  While not much is known about Theo’s past, one thing is for certain:  He was abused by children.  Whenever Theo saw a child, he would fly into a barking and snarling frenzy while hiding behind our legs.  This is probably why he was dumped at the local humane society and labeled as vicious.
None of the staff could get close to Theo.  He was tired of being abused.  He was shut down.  The date for his euthanasia was set.
Two hours before Theo was to be killed, a woman specializing in Pug rescues came into the shelter.  She was immediately drawn to Theo.  The staff warned her that his time was up and he couldn’t be rehabilitated.  The woman decided to try anyway.
There she sat on the cold, hard concrete for two hours straight.  Theo had stopped snarling.  He sat next to the steel bars of the door and allowed the woman to pet him.  The staff was amazed when the woman left the building with Theo in tow, smiling.
Theo is now 15 years young.  If it wasn’t for the kindness and patience of this woman, his life would have been cut drastically short.

Theo is now 15 years old!
Penny:  Penny was found roaming the streets of California.  She was immediately taken to a high-kill shelter.  While Penny was a sweet and loving pooch, her unique looks made her undesirable in the eyes of would-be adopters.  She was born with a deformed front paw and a severe overbite.
One day, a woman entered the shelter and discovered Penny.  She immediately made a call to her veterinarian friend, Cynthia Lee, who just happened to own Second Chance Animal Rescue in Springfield, Illinois.  Lee wasted no time in getting Penny out of the shelter.  In fact, she paid an animal transporter to drive Penny from California to the rescue in Illinois.
Penny’s adoption profile was posted on Petfinder.com.  Still, no one wanted to adopt a seemingly “broken” dog.  Then I came across her biography and fell in love the moment I saw her picture.
While she may look different, nothing holds her back from living her best life.  Penny recently celebrated her seventh birthday.  She also has an award-winning children’s book that tells the tale of her adoption journey to inspire others to adopt differently-abled animals.  Penny is also a volunteer with the Animal Protection Association of Missouri where she helps co-teach the humane education class. (www.pricelesspennyp.com)
Penny and Her Book
Penny and her children’s book.
Adriel:  Adriel was rescued from a backyard breeder.  She had been kept in a wire crate for most of her young life.  Her leg muscles did not develop properly because of this and she is unable to jump.  Adriel was also born with a very distinctive birth defect:  Her tongue is longer than her head so it always sticks out.
From the moment I saw Adriel’s picture on the St. Louis Senior Dog Project website, I knew she should be a part of our furry family.  When the adoption application was approved, we were overjoyed.  I couldn’t wait to bring her home.
Several weeks later, I picked her up at the local Petsmart.  While I was excited, Adriel was terrified.  Her dark brown eyes darted back and forth.  She actually held her legs stiffly out in front of her so that she wouldn’t get close to my face or chest.  I feared that she didn’t like me.
Bringing her home was also difficult.  She ran and hid from me and my husband…but fell in love with our resident dog, Theo.  While they bonded quickly, it took several months before Adriel felt she could trust us.
My husband and I worked diligently on training and studied up on dogs that had been rescued from breeders.  We soon learned that her terror was associated with the human interaction she received while at the breeder’s facility.
Thankfully, with love and patience, Adriel soon blossomed into the world’s best lap dog.  She now eagerly soaks up attention from everyone that she meets and will paw at the person if they stop petting her.  Adriel is also a certified therapy dog with Therapy Dogs International where she provides touch therapy to kids’ clubs, nursing home residents, Autism groups, etc.

Adriel has been a therapy dog for 7 years!
Hope:  Hope is the product of a backyard breeder.  She is a mini double dapple Dachshund that was born without eyes and is completely deaf.  Her breeder bred two dapple Dachshunds together knowing that doing so can result in double dapples, which often have health issues such as being born blind, deaf, or both.
The exotic white coloring of the Dachshund pups in double dapple litters is highly sought after by adopters.  Often times, they have no idea what a cruel practice this is.  Upon finding out that Hope was both blind and deaf, he wanted to kill her.  She was useless to him because he couldn’t breed her.
Thankfully, the man’s wife stepped in and claimed Hope as her own.  Hope was protected for several years until the woman died.  The breeder than took Hope with a choke chain around her neck and surrendered her to Dachshund Rescue North America.
Hope was immediately placed into a loving foster home where she even had other doxies to play with.  I knew when I saw her on the rescue’s website that she would need lots of extra care and attention.  My heart kept saying, “If you don’t adopt her, no one will.”
The first week post adoption was daunting.  My husband and I watched helplessly as she excitedly raced around the house running head first into the walls.  But, she never made a sound.  Hope simply backed up and went in another direction.
By the end of the week, she had learned the entire layout of the house.  Two months later, she taught herself to bark at the back door when she wanted to go out and potty and knew to come back to the door and bark to be let in.
She might be differently-abled but never disabled!  Hope has been featured on The Dodo where her video went viral with over 5.5 million views.  She has also been featured on numerous Facebook and Instagram pages.  Hope has over 7,000 followers on Instagram and receives messages daily about what an inspiration she is.  One person in particular sent a private message to her Facebook page stating that seeing Hope living such a wonderful life helps the person cope with his/her depression.
Most recently, she was selected as an Honorary Inner Beauty Ambassador by Instagram sensation, @a_gecko_and_his_pjs.  She now has custom stickers and magnets that are being sold with 100% of the profits benefiting Wayside Waifs, a no-kill shelter in Kansas City, Missouri. (www.havinghopealways.com)

Hope is known as the Queen Ween on Instagram!
I hope that these stories inspire you to adopt from your local animal shelter or rescue group.  Together, we can end the needless killing of animals; be a voice for the voiceless; and ensure that all creatures find a loving forever home.
Please take a moment today to remember those animals whose time ran out before they could be united with their forever families.
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Wild Wiggles

In honor of International Cat Day, I would like to share the story of Wiggles.  It was a snowy day in March (hey, it’s the Midwest) when I received a frantic call from a former co-worker.

“Lauren, I found a pregnant cat.  She is the sweetest thing ever and I want to keep her, but my husband is terribly allergic.  Can you help?” she sobbed.

I could already hear my husband’s voice in my head:  “NO!”  I soon found myself driving in a blinding snow storm to meet my friend in the parking lot of the local Shop n’ Save.  She and her daughter had red faces and running noses, not from the cold, but because they were that concerned about the cat and her safety.

They graciously provided me with some supplies.  I secured the confused feline in the backseat and started rehearsing the speech I would give my husband as we headed home.  Thankfully, we have a room that is next to our house (a former barber shop) where the cat could stay until we found out more about her health.

I made an appointment at our vet early the next morning.  The kitty traveled very well in the car and I never heard a peep.  Unlike our cats that howl like crazy the moment you take them outside.

Our vet loved her, but had a difficult time handling her.

“She’s very wiggly,” the vet said.

And so she became Wiggles.  I waited patiently as our vet took Wiggles to the back to do a blood draw.  This reminded me of the very first kitten that we ever rescued.  Miracle was just two weeks old when we found her in the middle of Main Street.  I was very familiar with all of the tests and numerous appointments we had to make to ensure she would be a healthy cat.

My heart sank when the vet returned with grim news:  Wiggles was FIV positive.  This was definitely going to hinder the ways that I could care for her.  We already have three cats of our own.  I knew that she would have to be kept separated so that our cats didn’t contract FIV from her saliva or scratching.

I was treated to something very special.  I got to see Wiggles’ ultrasound being performed!  The vet proudly pointed to three tiny kittens on the screen.  She did tell me that one kitten looked very small and said it probably wouldn’t survive.  There is no way of telling if the kittens would also be FIV positive or if they were too far along for the disease to affect them.

She told me I had three options:  euthanize Wiggles, spay Wiggles and kill the kittens, or take Wiggles home and help deliver the babies.  This was obviously a no-brainer.  I then received a crash course in birthing kittens.

Wiggles settled in quickly.  She loved rolling over for belly rubs and was thrilled to have a steady source of food.  Weeks flew by and she continued to get larger and larger.

One day, Wiggles started pacing in her cage.  I looked down at the towel I had placed inside and noticed a spot of blood.  The kittens were coming!

My husband was at work and I was all alone.  Thankfully, I had my supply kit and The Complete Guide to Cats book by the ASPCA.  I said a prayer and moved Wiggles into her cardboard birthing box.

The sweet and loving cat that I had come to know suddenly turned into the Cujo of the cat world.  She was hissing and constantly trying to escape the box.  I did my best to keep her contained.

Wiggles finally settled down and I noticed a tiny pink tail and feet beneath her.  She began licking the kitten…but it didn’t move.  Sadly, this was the stillborn kitten that the vet had warned me about.  Its legs were malformed and its little eyes never opened.  My heart broke as I took the baby away from Wiggles.

That was to be the only kitten she would birth.  The next day, I took her to the vet where she had a C-section.  I received a call later that afternoon that they had successfully delivered one kitten.  My heart broke even further as I wondered what happened to the second kitten.  Truthfully, I didn’t want to ask.

As I walked into the vet’s office later that afternoon, I was greeted by one of the vet technicians.

“So, Wiggles is rejecting her kitten,” she said.

What?!  Rejecting her kitten?  How?  Why?

I asked if Wiggles was merely swiping with her paw or actually trying to bite the baby.

“She’s biting,” the vet tech breathed.

I told her that we were stocked up on KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) and had bought brand new nursing bottles in preparation for the kittens’ arrival.  They handed me the crate containing the unhappy new mom and a Styrofoam box that held the smallest kitten I had ever seen in my life.

Baby Addy loves to snuggle.

My husband fell in love the moment that he saw the tiny bundle of fur sleeping on the towel.  He immediately volunteered to take the first round of bottle feeding.  This had to be done every two hours to assure that the baby would get all of the nutrients she needed to grow properly.

I decided to be brave the following day and re-introduced Wiggles to the kitten I had named Adeline (Addy for short).  Thankfully, Wiggles began licking Addy’s fur and didn’t object to nursing.  Our best guess is that Wiggles had still been in pain from the C-section when the vet staff had tried to get Addy to nurse and that her tiny little claws were making Wiggles feel less than comfortable.

Addy grew like a weed.  Her favorite thing to do was eat and her belly soon became round and pudgy.  My heart swelled as I watched Wiggles playing with Addy.  There is just something about the sight of a mother bonding with her daughter no matter the species.

 

Wiggles nursing Addy.
Addy loves her Grumpy Cat toy!

Four months had passed.  It was time to take Wiggles and Addy back to the vet to be re-tested for FIV.  My stomach turned as my husband and I sat in the waiting room.  I didn’t want to give either of them up, but I also didn’t want to risk the health of my established cats either.

The vet soon delivered the news.  Wiggles was still FIV positive.  Addy tested negative.

While I was saddened by Wiggles’ results, I was thrilled with Addy’s.  After much pleading on my part, my husband agreed that we could keep Addy as long as her test results were good.

I thought that we were in the clear…until the vet said that she wants to re-test Addy again in September to make sure that she’s really negative.  In the meantime, Addy is to be kept away from our cats AND away from Wiggles.

This presented a great challenge.  Wiggles and Addy were already inhabiting the only space in our home that could be truly isolated.  My husband worked out a temporary solution until we could find a forever home for Wiggles.

Being known in my community as a resource for all things pet related, I began searching through my binder of shelters and rescue groups.  I was specifically looking for places designated as no-kill.  Wiggles is such a sweet cat and she doesn’t deserve to be killed for having a condition.

The first shelter I called thanked me for everything that we’ve done for Wiggles and Addy, but said that they were full.  I went through my entire binder and was either told that there were no vacancies or (more often) that the shelters didn’t accept FIV positive cats.

I’ll admit, I was outraged.  My husband and I just visited an animal shelter in Houston, Texas that specifically has an FIV cat room.  How could places that claim to be advocates for homeless animals shun those that are truly in need?

I will continue my quest to find an outstanding rescue where Wiggles will be well cared for and, hopefully, find a loving forever home.

Addy (left) relaxes with Wiggles (right).

 

Wiggles has taught me so much about life and love.  I am honored that my former co-worker chose me to help Wiggles in her time of need.  When I look at Addy, I will forever be reminded of Wiggles and the wonderful five months that we spent together.

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Wild Wiggles

In honor of International Cat Day, I would like to share the story of Wiggles.  It was a snowy day in March (hey, it’s the Midwest) when I received a frantic call from a former co-worker.

“Lauren, I found a pregnant cat.  She is the sweetest thing ever and I want to keep her, but my husband is terribly allergic.  Can you help?” she sobbed.

I could already hear my husband’s voice in my head:  “NO!”  I soon found myself driving in a blinding snow storm to meet my friend in the parking lot of the local Shop n’ Save.  She and her daughter had red faces and running noses, not from the cold, but because they were that concerned about the cat and her safety.

They graciously provided me with some supplies.  I secured the confused feline in the backseat and started rehearsing the speech I would give my husband as we headed home.  Thankfully, we have a room that is next to our house (a former barber shop) where the cat could stay until we found out more about her health.

I made an appointment at our vet early the next morning.  The kitty traveled very well in the car and I never heard a peep.  Unlike our cats that howl like crazy the moment you take them outside.

Our vet loved her, but had a difficult time handling her.

“She’s very wiggly,” the vet said.

And so she became Wiggles.  I waited patiently as our vet took Wiggles to the back to do a blood draw.  This reminded me of the very first kitten that we ever rescued.  Miracle was just two weeks old when we found her in the middle of Main Street.  I was very familiar with all of the tests and numerous appointments we had to make to ensure she would be a healthy cat.

My heart sank when the vet returned with grim news:  Wiggles was FIV positive.  This was definitely going to hinder the ways that I could care for her.  We already have three cats of our own.  I knew that she would have to be kept separated so that our cats didn’t contract FIV from her saliva or scratching.

I was treated to something very special.  I got to see Wiggles’ ultrasound being performed!  The vet proudly pointed to three tiny kittens on the screen.  She did tell me that one kitten looked very small and said it probably wouldn’t survive.  There is no way of telling if the kittens would also be FIV positive or if they were too far along for the disease to affect them.

She told me I had three options:  euthanize Wiggles, spay Wiggles and kill the kittens, or take Wiggles home and help deliver the babies.  This was obviously a no-brainer.  I then received a crash course in birthing kittens.

Wiggles settled in quickly.  She loved rolling over for belly rubs and was thrilled to have a steady source of food.  Weeks flew by and she continued to get larger and larger.

One day, Wiggles started pacing in her cage.  I looked down at the towel I had placed inside and noticed a spot of blood.  The kittens were coming!

My husband was at work and I was all alone.  Thankfully, I had my supply kit and The Complete Guide to Cats book by the ASPCA.  I said a prayer and moved Wiggles into her cardboard birthing box.

The sweet and loving cat that I had come to know suddenly turned into the Cujo of the cat world.  She was hissing and constantly trying to escape the box.  I did my best to keep her contained.

Wiggles finally settled down and I noticed a tiny pink tail and feet beneath her.  She began licking the kitten…but it didn’t move.  Sadly, this was the stillborn kitten that the vet had warned me about.  Its legs were malformed and its little eyes never opened.  My heart broke as I took the baby away from Wiggles.

That was to be the only kitten she would birth.  The next day, I took her to the vet where she had a C-section.  I received a call later that afternoon that they had successfully delivered one kitten.  My heart broke even further as I wondered what happened to the second kitten.  Truthfully, I didn’t want to ask.

As I walked into the vet’s office later that afternoon, I was greeted by one of the vet technicians.

“So, Wiggles is rejecting her kitten,” she said.

What?!  Rejecting her kitten?  How?  Why?

I asked if Wiggles was merely swiping with her paw or actually trying to bite the baby.

“She’s biting,” the vet tech breathed.

I told her that we were stocked up on KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) and had bought brand new nursing bottles in preparation for the kittens’ arrival.  They handed me the crate containing the unhappy new mom and a Styrofoam box that held the smallest kitten I had ever seen in my life.

Baby Addy loves to snuggle.

 

My husband fell in love the moment that he saw the tiny bundle of fur sleeping on the towel.  He immediately volunteered to take the first round of bottle feeding.  This had to be done every two hours to assure that the baby would get all of the nutrients she needed to grow properly.

I decided to be brave the following day and re-introduced Wiggles to the kitten I had named Adeline (Addy for short).  Thankfully, Wiggles began licking Addy’s fur and didn’t object to nursing.  Our best guess is that Wiggles had still been in pain from the C-section when the vet staff had tried to get Addy to nurse and that her tiny little claws were making Wiggles feel less than comfortable.

Addy grew like a weed.  Her favorite thing to do was eat and her belly soon became round and pudgy.  My heart swelled as I watched Wiggles playing with Addy.  There is just something about the sight of a mother bonding with her daughter no matter the species.

 

Wiggles nursing Addy.

 

 

Addy loves her Grumpy Cat toy!

 

Four months had passed.  It was time to take Wiggles and Addy back to the vet to be re-tested for FIV.  My stomach turned as my husband and I sat in the waiting room.  I didn’t want to give either of them up, but I also didn’t want to risk the health of my established cats either.

The vet soon delivered the news.  Wiggles was still FIV positive.  Addy tested negative.

While I was saddened by Wiggles’ results, I was thrilled with Addy’s.  After much pleading on my part, my husband agreed that we could keep Addy as long as her test results were good.

I thought that we were in the clear…until the vet said that she wants to re-test Addy again in September to make sure that she’s really negative.  In the meantime, Addy is to be kept away from our cats AND away from Wiggles.

This presented a great challenge.  Wiggles and Addy were already inhabiting the only space in our home that could be truly isolated.  My husband worked out a temporary solution until we could find a forever home for Wiggles.

Being known in my community as a resource for all things pet related, I began searching through my binder of shelters and rescue groups.  I was specifically looking for places designated as no-kill.  Wiggles is such a sweet cat and she doesn’t deserve to be killed for having a condition.

The first shelter I called thanked me for everything that we’ve done for Wiggles and Addy, but said that they were full.  I went through my entire binder and was either told that there were no vacancies or (more often) that the shelters didn’t accept FIV positive cats.

I’ll admit, I was outraged.  My husband and I just visited an animal shelter in Houston, Texas that specifically has an FIV cat room.  How could places that claim to be advocates for homeless animals shun those that are truly in need?

While volunteering at the Animal Protection Agency in Missouri on Sunday, an employee came to pet our tripawd dog, Penny.  She helps co-teach the humane education class to birthday party groups.  My husband began telling the employee about Wiggles and everything that she had gone through.  We almost fell out of our chairs when the employee said that the APA would absolutely take Wiggles.

It turns out that the APA has an area dedicated to FIV cats too!  I was beyond excited.  Wiggles will be able to go to a safe place where she will continue to be well cared for and, hopefully, find a loving forever home.

 

Addy (left) relaxes with Wiggles (right).

 

I know that I will shed tears when I hand Wiggles over to the capable APA staff.  She has taught me so much about life and love.  I am honored that my former co-worker chose me to help Wiggles in her time of need.  When I look at Addy, I will forever be reminded of Wiggles and the wonderful five months that we spent together.

Just Me, Wrigley Book Review

Just Me, Wrigley, the third installment in the Furever Home Friends series by Savy Leiser, follows one special pooch on her quest for a forever home.  Wrigley is starting to notice that she’s different from the other dogs. 

She’s not athletic like her friend Frank or delicate and dainty like her pal Fluffy.  Wrigley loves to dance!  Still, her moves have yet to impress potential adopters. 

One day, Wrigley’s dreams come true.  She becomes a surprise Christmas present for a young boy.  Instead of being delighted, the boy is disappointed.  He doesn’t care for Wrigley’s dancing and was hoping for a Dalmatian.

A sad and confused Wrigley is returned to the shelter.  She tries to be more like the other dogs, but nothing seems to work.  Her paws are too big to be dainty.  Her coordination is too poor to make her a star athlete.  Will Wrigley ever find a family that loves her just the way she is?

I love this book!  The story is filled with humor and heart.  I fell in love with Wrigley from page one and rooted for her throughout.

Being a pet parent to five rescue dogs, I can definitely relate to the breed prejudice that many shelter dogs are subjected to.  Instead of viewing each dog as an individual and seeing if his/her personality is a good match, many people are more concerned about designer breeds, coat colors, and whether or not the pup is already trained.

Several of my dogs were returned to the shelter for “behavioral issues” that my husband and I have yet to see.  It is truly heartbreaking knowing that so many wonderful animals are treated like disposable objects.

The illustrations are whimsical and fun.  Leiser uses a combination of hand drawn images with mixed media pieces to create truly stunning artwork.  Every turn of the page is a surprise that is sure to delight readers.

This book is perfect for animal lovers of all ages.  I can definitely see this book being used as part of the humane education curriculum in animal shelters and rescue groups across the country.

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