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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Two Gifts From A Friend

I'm going to stray off course a bit today, which is occasionally necessary.  Tomorrow will be a post about Mexico which is certain to cause some heartburn, but today, I want to talk about my friend Stacy.  I've known Stacy for a year or so; she is a hard-working divorced lady who sacrificed everything in raising her children.  Well, Stacy did it right, because her son just graduated from Notre Dame and is beginning graduate work at the University of Wisconsin, and her daughter just graduated with honors from Georgetown University in Washington DC.  I haven't met Stacy's daughter, but her son is brilliant and interesting.  I don't know many single mothers who managed this kind of success, but I know how it happened; lots and lots of sacrifice.  Recently Stacy gave me two gifts.  The first gift required a bit of education.  You see, until I met Stacy, I was like most Americans.  If I pulled up to the gas station or he grocery store, and I noticed a bunch of cats hanging around the dumpsters, it would have no effect on me.  Cats are scavengers and are natural to that kind of environment, right?  The truth is, cats are domesticated animals and are not native to digging around dumpsters looking for food.  They exist in this condition because someone at sometime dumped a female cat, who was impregnated by a dumped male cat, and Voila! we have kittens, living behind the Stop-n-Go, trying to find a way to survive.

If I've said it once I 've said it a thousand times: "things weren't like this when I was a kid!"  Its true...stray animals were rare when I was growing up, and usually attracted the attention of some well-meaning family.  In 2014, we have a Tsunami of unwanted and dumped dogs all over the country.  But dogs are fortunate; someone will eventually stop to help a dog, because they are man's best friend and because they are usually friendly to people.  Cats are more suspicious, and unlike dogs, cats never forget an abuse from a human.  I was introduced to Stacy last year by the good ladies at the Blanco County Cat Coalition, after I had started feeding a bunch of cats and kittens that had been dumped behind the local Dollar General Store.  I am not naturally a cat person, but I'll be damned if I'm gonna let an animal go hungry when I can do something to fix it.  Stacy volunteered to trap all of the cats in the colony, if I would be willing to pay for the neuter, spay, and vaccinations.  No problem.  At the time we didn't realize that the colony stretched across the road and included some thirty-eight cats and kittens.  Not only did Stacy trap each cat, she arranged for each animal to have shots and be fixed, and then she took the time to find them homes as barn cats around the County.  Normally after trapping, the only option is to fix the animal so it can't breed, and then drop it off in the same original location.  Its important to point out that trapping a cat is not an easy job.  The cats must have no food for a few days so they will enter the traps to eat the bait.  Its a tough thing to starve a kitten, but its the end result that matters.  Stacy is stronger than many of the men I served with in Iraq. 

Stacy wasn't doing me a personal favor.  Trapping cats and helping to diminish the unwanted population is what she does, because she cares.  If the rest of us only showed a tenth of her dedication, we wouldn't have a problem.  I still help when I can.  When I see some of the absurd shows on television, for example "Honey Boo Boo", I imagine how much good could be
accomplished if someone like Stacy had a show on the Animal Channel (or somewhere), highlighting her daily experiences.  Believe me, it would never be boring, and it would go a long way to raising the kind of money necessary to fight this plague effectively.  And I haven't even mentioned the Pit Bulls.  I was recently visiting with someone from the City of San Antonio Animal Welfare.  I wanted to know why taxpayers of San Antonio could no longer depend on the City to pick up stray cats.  "There are just too many of them, and we don't have anything near the capacity or staff to handle the problem.  So we focus on the dogs."  Wow.  And the dog situation has gotten more complicated in the last few years.  You see, dog fighting has become very popular (its a big deal in some Hispanic communities...not racist, just fact) in South Texas (actually, its popular everywhere, as gangsta types, hip hop artists and professional athletes stage weekly tournaments and bet on which Pit Bull will kill its opponent).  And this is the human waste that the younger generation worships today.

Last weekend Stacy gave me another gift.  She took me on a tour of the Greek Orthodox Monastery being built outside of Blanco, Texas.  Stacy is just as devout in her religion as she is with her devotion to helping animals.  The entire compound which houses the Monastery was breathtakingly beautiful; such a gem hidden away in the Texas Hill Country.  I'm a practicing Roman Catholic, but I was treated as family by both the Fathers and the parishioners.  The actual Church was full of striking gold icons and beautifully polished brass work.  The wood engravings around the icons were done by hand, as was the entire side and backdrop to the altar.  I have always been fascinated with the history of the Greek Orthodox Church and the schism that took place with the Western Catholic Church in 1053.  The Fathers were all very well versed in the history which led to some enlightening conversation.  So I'm taking the time today on my blog to post a sincere "Thank You" to Stacy, for her two gifts, and her determination to be a example to the rest of us in how we conduct our animal relationships.

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