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Rescues #8-12: Our Virginia Animals (part 1 of 2)

Following is a compilation of posts from the Greg Fund Facebook page, October 18-24, 2017.

 

#8 – Francesca (c.1990-January 2008).

francescaGreg and I found Francesca in the spring of 2002, shortly after we moved to the Washington DC area. She was sitting calmly on the front steps of a large house near the Bethesda, MD home of a friend – and nobody in the neighborhood seemed to know where she had come from.

We scooped this small cat up and drove her home – and noticing suspicious growths on the skin around her neck, we immediately took her to our vet, who estimated her to be about 12 years of age. The growths turned out to benign, the vet removed them – and she was otherwise healthy and strong. Noting this new kitty’s commonalities with Moppet from our San Francisco days, and the miraculous second lease on life she had been afforded, we named her Francesca in honor of St. Francis.

“I like this kind of cat,” I remember Greg commenting about Francesca, describing his special fondness for sweet senior female felines. He had the habit of stating the obvious in this manner, by way of emphasis.

Francesca lived with us for almost six years in McLean VA, New York City, and then back in Arlington VA . She finally succumbed to kidney disease at approximately age 18.

 

#9 – Perseus (born c.2001).

Perseus-ColleenIn December 2002, Greg and I were living in McLean VA with two dogs and five cats, and weren’t looking to add to our animal family. But one day when we popped into a local pet supply store, there was a handsome young orange tabby in a cage by the front door! He was being displayed there by one of the local rescue groups, with a tag indicating that his name was Perseus, he was about one year old, and he had started life in a Washington DC feral cat colony.

Though I didn’t particularly like this rescue group’s approach, I immediately fell in love with the cat, and persuaded Greg to let me adopt him. We learned that the rescue group didn’t normally authorize on-the-spot adoptions, but somehow we convinced them to make an exception for us.

Upon arriving home, Perseus quickly fit in with the other feline members of our family – and became one of a trio Greg dubbed my “three boyfriends”, because in addition to always cuddling with each other, they also insisted on sleeping next to me every night.

After my two other “boyfriends” died – Growltiger in 2009 and Ferdinand in 2010 – Perseus decided to bond with our then-newest adoptee, a one-year-old girl I had named Meiling.

We almost lost Perseus in November 2012, when he developed a rare gastrointestinal fungus. It was initially misdiagnosed by a specialist vet as cancer, and that vet at the time encouraged Greg and me to consider euthanasia. Greg, however, believed in miracles and he believed in the value of each and every animal life – and he insisted that the vet proceed with a surgical procedure that was Perseus’ only hope of survival.

Greg was right to go forward with Perseus’ surgery. It’s been almost five years now, and although Perseus has required more medical attention than any of my other cats, he continues to enjoy an excellent quality of life. He remains fast friends with Meiling, he still sleeps on my pillow almost every night that I’m home – and, at this point, he has been my companion for a longer period of time than any other human or non-human animal.

 

#10 – Margaret (c.2006-June 2, 2017).

Margaret-ColleenAfter adopting Perseus in 2002, Greg and I decided we had maxed out with our two dogs and six cats – particularly when we moved for a time from our spacious Northern Virginia home to a Manhattan apartment. But by September 2008 we had lost our cats Sticky and Francesca, were preparing to move back to a single family home in Northern Virginia – and we were ready to adopt another cat.

We applied with the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation (LDCRF), and immediately received calls from several foster families seeking permanent homes for LDCRF cats in their care. One of them shared a description of her foster cat, “Siren” – dilute calico female, about two years old, had originally come from a farm and was comfortable with all animals.

Siren was the one for us! We took her home and promptly renamed her Margaret, in honor of 17th century English writer and anti-vivisectionist Margaret Cavendish.

Margaret had a big personality, and quickly took charge of our household. 🙂 She tolerated life with our other cats – but always preferred the company of dogs and people. In Margaret’s later years we adopted Itchy, whose many endearing qualities included a fondness for cats – and those two became fast friends.

In April of this year, Margaret was diagnosed with a mammary tumor, the spread of which neither surgery nor chemotherapy could arrest. Margaret was gorgeous and gutsy to the end – but when she got to the point of needing daily fluid drains from her chest, I decided it was time to let her go see Greg again. I said farewell to her at Yellow Springs Veterinary Clinic on June 2, 2017, one day after saying goodbye to her pal Itchy.

 

#11 – Kongzi (born April 2009).

100_0752I was heartbroken when my beloved Growltiger, a Siamese cat, died in October 2009. Although I have always tended to eschew typing animals by breed, Greg felt that another Siamese cat would best fill the void for me – and immediately reached out to the Siamese Cat Rescue Center. They recommended a 6-month-old boy in their care who was then spending most of every day hiding under a bed in his foster home. Our Growltiger had been timid like that when in unfamiliar surroundings with unfamiliar people – and Greg decided this new kitty, then named Kachang, was the one for me.

After completing a lengthy evaluation form complete with multiple references, Greg was authorized to adopt this young Siamese – and he drove all the way from our Arlington VA home to Richmond after work to pick him up from his foster home.

We renamed this kitty Kongzi, the original Chinese name for Confucius. Clearly he had to live up to high expectations! 🙂

Although Kongzi’s personality is indeed very different from that of our first Siamese Growltiger, he did show some similar traits. Most notably, although he remains fearful of strangers, he is super affectionate with me and gets along well with other cats. He is also very clever about identifying hiding places, and very fond of climbing!

Kongzi is now more than eight years old, and Siamese Cat Rescue Center continues to send me annual reminders to schedule his yearly physical exam. And for my part, I have provided for him in my estate planning documents – indicating that Kongzi will be returned to Siamese Cat Rescue Center if anything should happen to me, and that in such case a sum of money is to be given to that organization to provide for his lifelong care.

 

#12 – Marina (born January 2010).

Marina in her new roomWhen our dog Dana died in September 2010, we quickly realized that her surviving partner Fox needed a new friend.

We reached out to Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, Inc., which identifies the most adoptable dogs at high-kill public shelters. I perused their website listings, narrowed our choices down to three or four dogs, and then shared my short list with Greg.

“That one,” he said, pointing to the profile of Marina, a South Carolina girl then nine months old. Lucky Dog sent a representative to ensure that our setup was appropriate for Marina – and on October 16, 2010, she was transported to a volunteer’s home for Greg, Fox, and me to come pick her up.

Fox could be a tough dog at times, but he and Marina bonded instantly, and were fast friends until the end of his life in January 2014. When we added Itchy to our family in August 2013, Marina welcomed him as well – though she was quick to let him know that she was the boss. 🙂

Marina was with me when I found Greg on October 16, 2015 – five years to the day after we had adopted her. She and Itchy were also with me at Greg’s memorial, and she has been my constant companion ever since.

As for my other animals, I have made arrangements in my estate planning process that if anything should happen to me while Marina is still alive, she will go back to Lucky Dog with a sum of money to provide for her lifetime care.

~ Alysoun

 


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