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Hunter – The Most Unlikely Rescuer

Experience is everything. If you want someone to change give them an experience. Experiences shape our thinking and beliefs.

“I don’t swim. Water is dangerous,” says someone who fell in the water as a child; who almost drowned and never got back in the water again. While the suntanned surfer and the weather skinned yachtsman will say, “I love being on the water.”

When I was six years old my stepfather planned to move us away from Sacramento, to a small rural town below the Sierra Nevada. Its population was 3,000. My older teenage twin sisters were not happy. To them, we were moving to Nowhereville. Yet they both met and married their husbands there.

To my five-year-old senses, we were moving to Heaven. Fruit trees, wildlife, and flowers. The ranch-style house was perched on a hill at the top of a steep private drive. There were poplars, oak, patches of sprawling ivy, and a rose garden. Best of all, the house came with two cats and a Collie. The cats were absent the day we moved in. But ‘Teddy’ was there sitting patiently behind a fence for us to get out of the Buick. He was a black standard sized collie and had a fluffy stark white collar. I went to him and hugged and petted him. He would be my pal for many years. He waited for me and I looked for him every day at the top of the hill, to get home from school.

The cats… were another story…

They were a mother/daughter package, named, Harlequin and Taffy. All I ever heard about them was from our mother who complained that they woke her at 3 a.m. They clawed the screens to get in. Nobody was happy with the cats. Mom tried letting them in a few times, and they repeatedly soiled the carpet. Yes, I know, it was their way of saying, we belong here, but when you’re the one cleaning up the messes, it becomes intolerable. They were banished from being indoors but were cared for. They had a safe place in the garage if the weather became too cold or threatening.

I think the cats tried to make amends with mom. They brought their major ‘kills’ or… ‘finds’ and laid them at the front door. One time while my step dad’s mother was visiting, she was greeted by an enormous snake, when she opened the front door. “Euge!” she screamed. Eugene came and calmly inspected it. “It’s a harmless gopher snake,” he said and put his cigar down. He went to the garage and came back carrying a shovel. He very gently gathered up as much of the snake as he could and took it to the hillside where he set it free.

I tried to bond with the cats too. One day, while Taffy was in her cubby in the kitchen, I made the long telephone cord appear like a snake. She wasn’t fooled, and she wasn’t interested.  She didn’t like the laundry basket over her either, but she was very good at transmitting her feelings. When I lifted the basket, she lunged at me and attached herself to my skirt with all of her claws. I twirled and spun frantically trying to shake her loose. She finally dropped off and we duly noted each other:

While she looked at me as if I was the problem, I earmarked her for being in need of an exorcism.

Twelve years later, in a new home, I was sitting outside when the neighbor’s cat came over to see me. We knew each other. I babysat for his owner, once. She was a single mother who had two boys. The cat might have remembered me as the one the boys had locked out of the apartment. The cat nudged me. I stroked his back and he flipped his back into the air. He was like a feline seesaw. I thought he was enjoying the petting until he made it perfectly clear he wasn’t when he injected his fangs into my arm.

Now I knew: Cats were evil, homicidal, and easily triggered.

Years passed. I had a daughter busy with her studies at university. One day she announced she wanted a kitten. We’d had hamsters, a rabbit, a parakeet. At that time, we only had a large aquarium. I told her, “If you want a kitten, we’ll get one, but its litter box has to stay in the patio.”

A few months later, one night, there was a huge howling at our back door. We lived on the third floor. Rarely, did cats make their way up the stairwell. It was the kind of howl you couldn’t ignore. It sounded like a large cat. I opened the door and there was this tiny black and white kitten. It was dirty, half-starved, looked terrified, and had a bad eye. I felt strongly it was being chased and had lost its mother. Either way, it was distressed.

“Can we keep it?” my daughter asked.

Feral cats were a huge problem the city didn’t know how to handle. We’d heard a rumor there were mass poison raids going on in our neighborhood to keep the cat population down. There were no humane societies or pounds. Still, I couldn’t believe this was true.

This was the heart of the Muslim world. Our Prophet, Peace be Upon him, said, a man and woman were granted Heaven just for giving a thirsty animal a drink.

“I’ll give him something to eat and drink,” I said realizing we didn’t have litter or a box to put him in. “If he’s still here in the morning, we’ll take him in. You have to help me take care of him.”

                                              Hunter

In the morning all of the food and milk had been consumed. He was a survivor and had smartly stayed there, all night, huddled against the door in the blanket I’d given him. He slept a lot that first day after a bath and more food. He used the litter box like a pro. A friend whose mother was a vet prescribed an eye salve. He would sit with me and put his head under my chin, and then go to my daughter, and do the same with her. He was taking turns, we guessed so as to not hurt anyone’s feelings. Four days later and his eye was healed and they eventually turned a beautiful green.

Despite all of the negative encounters I have had with cats, it is miraculous to me, that a cat we rescued, ended up rescuing us. Hunter has kept us company and has been a buffer during our stressful transition from being a broken family to becoming a functional one. He has provided my daughter and I a sense of normalcy when there was so much uncertainty. I am in complete acknowledgment that God sent Hunter to us and am so thankful.

Experiences. Change. Our thinking.


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Laurie Hill
Laurie Hill
Laurie Hill holds a Liberal Arts degree from Pennsylvania State University and a Certificate for Writing Social Commentary, (2006). Having traveled to many countries she is a passionate promoter for world peace for all people and all religious thought, as long as its base is non-violent, and respects individual freedom. An aspiring novelist with three completed novels she is currently working to publish her third. She has resided in Jeddah for twenty-eight years.

20 COMMENTS

  1. I enjoyed reading this story of how you shifted your beliefs in the midst of a positive and loving experience with Hunter, Laurie. Staying open to what life has to teach us about animals and people continues to be a brave, yet wonderful path.

    I learned about unconditional love from my forever dog, Liesel, who died several years ago, but she still lives on in my memories and that exceptional shift that took place in the relationship we created with each other. I learned that I can be (and in many ways am) an unconditionally loving being. Pets come with rich gifts for our lives.

    Welcome to BizCatalyst360! I look forward to reading more of your stories and essays!

    • So sorry Laura, I’m just seeing your comment now.
      Yes! I’ve always been careful about ‘thinking’ something as if it’s fact, until I’m positive. Animals are delicate creatures all with brains and mostly sweet natures.
      Oh, Liesel, sounds like ‘Teddy’ my collie, how he was to me. That bond between pet and owner is so special and meaningful! They truly do become our friend.
      Laurie

  2. Welcome and congratulations for the article.
    Dogs and cats (but not only them) literally save the lives of their “humans” because they become part of their existence in times of need. We could tell a thousand stories about animals that saved people.
    Even with the simple closeness they offer a selfless affection capable of awakening their masters from sadness, fear, loneliness. A magical thing, there is no doubt.
    For this reason, we can say with absolute certainty that even if we adopt the animals, in reality they are the ones who save us.
    Currently, animal therapies are increasingly widespread and do not cease to guarantee important results. Guide dogs are a stimulus for children with autism. Elderly nursing homes are also regularly visited by trained dogs who offer unconditional affection and great interaction with people with dementia.
    We cannot forget that in an area closer to us and less clinical, pets continue to be an indispensable attachment figure. In fact, this kind of attachment is one of the healthiest and most positive bonds at all levels: physical, emotional and cognitive.
    Respecting animals is a duty, loving them is a privilege

    • Absolutely Aldo. I love your comment. You’re so right. I know about pet therapy and I believe in it. And, you are correct-animals heal and save us. So lovable.
      Thank you for the welcome too!
      I look forward to reading your work.

  3. Laurie—welcome! I love this story so much! As someone who has been owned by cats for years (three, currently), and who loves all animals, this really resonated with me. “And Hunter, you are one handsome boy!!” Thank you for sharing this.

  4. Welcome to Bizcatalyst360 Laurie!
    Good to see you here!
    I was not a cat person really but I can say that we did have one when my daughters were little. I was more worried for its life with my curious girls on the prowl… lol
    There were some precious moments we share with our pets that do bring us together! Thank you for sharing this and sparking a memory of my former cat moments… have a great night, paula

    • Thank you Paula for your ‘welcome’ and comment.
      I get that about kids and pets. My son said ‘we want to get a cat’. He has three young children. I said, ‘don’t do it now.’ hahaha I would fear what they would do to the poor kitten!
      I am so new hear I haven’t had a chance to read much. So I am looking forward to sinking my eyeballs into all the shares here.
      Take care and thanks again.

  5. Laurie, the picture of Hunter melted my heart as did your entire story. I have always loved and thought very highly of cats as they are amazing animals. My wife and I have an eleven year old female Tuxedo cat named Juice. Juice is family which means she has the run of the house. Yes, she sleeps in bed with us. As she is not Feral she is not allowed out of the house. Juice guards me when I have seizures. Since all the kids have long since moved away we refer to Juice as our daughter. Thank you for writing and sharing your delightful article

  6. Isn’t it perfect how our greatest fears can become the source of great love and comfort in our deepest time of need. So grateful you found each other. Let the healing begin. Sending you abundant love and joy, Laurie

  7. A lovely story Laurie, and I truly think pets have a much larger role in healing our spirits. They may only be furry little companions to us, but I believe they can sense our emotions. A good pet, whether a cat or dog, will help to comfort and guide us through difficult times. They always seem to prove themselves when least expected and for that reason we can never undermine their importance. Hunter was absolutely presented at that specific time for a reason, he should be regarded more as a blessing instead of simply a pet. 🙏

    • Hi Aaron!
      What a great comment. You got it. Mysterious workings that much later, sometimes years, we figure out. :)
      thank you so much. Have a wonderful day. I will eventually make my way to see your work here too.

  8. Welcome, Laurie, and thank you for this heart-warming story. As an animal lover, I cannot imagine life without our dogs. They put a smile on our faces when you have a day, which nothing else does. I agree with you. These four-legged pals are a gift from God and offer something which indescribable. I look forward to more of your articles.💖

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