When I came to C.A.R.E. on October 18th 2008, Pauline suggested that I meet a cat named Snow, and we fell in love at first sight.  She immediately came and gave my stomach a full-faced nuzzle, and won me over completely.  I had absolutely no idea how much this soft ball of love and personality was going to change my life. 

Honey has been my constant companion through the ups and downs of the past 9 years.  Loving, attentive, and endearingly willful, her presence in my life has truly enriched me. Together, we spent 6 years in Chicago, holidays in Boston, 2 years in England, and this past year in Tallahassee.  It’s hard to imagine my next steps without her.

My beloved Honey passed away on August 21st, 2017, just one week after we learned that she had several advanced cancers.  She was 17.  While her loss leaves a gaping hole in my home, she continues to fill my heart and my thoughts with joyful memories.  I am so grateful to you at C.A.R.E., and especially to Pauline, who helped me learn how to take care of my new friend back in 2008. She truly made the perfect match for us.    




I adopted Chachi when C.A.R.E. was at the Evanston Animal Shelter, it was 09/01/2005. Chachi was named by the staff at C.A.R.E. and I kept his name. He was the best most well behaved dog I have ever been around. Everybody loved him. Chachi loved life, walks, swimming, destroying stuffed animals, being hosed down. Unfortunately he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in March and was laid to sleep forever on 05/3/17.

To the C.A.R.E. staff I would like to Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you so much for giving me 12 happy years with the best dog ever!




C.A.R.E. Name: Minx

My partner and I adopted Minx from C.A.R.E. in February 2009, back when you were still in the shelter building on Oakton Street in Evanston. Minx had recently been returned to the shelter by her first adopter and it was apparent that she had some kidney issues. C.A.R.E. volunteers were reluctant to let us adopt her since she obviously had some health problems, but we did take her home. We had 6-1/2 great years with her, but things finally caught up with her and we had to put her to sleep over the weekend. She was probably my favorite cat, and I will miss her.

Thanks again for the work you do, and thanks for letting us adopt Minx.



C.A.R.E. Name: Cleopatra


On Thursday, August 20th, our beloved Standard Poodle, Cleopatra, peacefully crossed the Rainbow Bridge. We adopted her at C.A.R.E. nearly 14 years ago and was the love of our life.

About 1 year, eight months ago she was diagnosed with lymphoma and given 6 weeks. Well, she didn't accept that diagnosis and gave us her best for another 1 1/2 years+. She will always be in our hearts and her memory with us forever. Thank you Cleo for your unconditional love, your sweetness, your everything!

Love you and miss you, Daddy and Mommy


Felix & Oscar

C.A.R.E. Names: Silk & Cashmere

Felix and Oscar

Felix and Oscar

March 2014
I just wanted to let you know that we had to put Felix down last night (y'all knew him as Silk). We (and the vet) believed it to be something neurological (brain tumor, seizures, stroke, etc). We know it was the best thing for him.  Oscar (Cashmere) seems to be doing okay without his best friend but we will keep an eye on him for any signs of loneliness or anxiety.

Thank you again for giving us our fur-babies.  We have absolutely loved the past 7 years with Felix!

Allison & Jeremy

April 2015
Jeremy and I are sad to share the news that this past Friday, we had to put down the second half of The Odd Couple, Oscar.  He was diagnosed with aggressive gingival cancer only a few weeks ago.  We were lucky to still see his funny, lovable personality shine through the pain even through his remaining moments.

We wanted to again, thank you so very much for giving us our children.  Felix and Oscar (originally known as Silk and Cashmere at CARE) were just that - our children.  They both meant everything to us and we are so grateful for all the happiness they brought us over the past 8 years.

Thank you again!

Allison & Jeremy


C.A.R.E. Name: Robbie


Taz was known to C.A.R.E. as Robbie.  He was adopted when he was approximately five months old.  Taz was full of energy and occasional bad intentions. While he was a challenge (drinking our coffee, pulling the toilet paper off the roll and through the house, opening closets and taking everything out), he was a communicator and entertainer. We soon found that agility was an excellent outlet for his energy and created focus.  He quickly excelled at the sport and we had a lot of fun going to classes and fun runs. 

Taz soon became an extremely responsive dog.  He always wanted to be involved with some work activity and waited for directions to perform tricks (he had many), catch a Frisbee, chase a ball or complete jumps, weaves, etc.  We waited for Taz to slow down, 2 years, 4 years, 8 years and on.  He didn’t.  As he passed 10 years of age Dr. Hagedorn (Bramer Animal Hospital) noted that he wasn't slowing down and said he was "a puppy between the ears".

On April 13, 2014, Taz was demonstrating his normal high energy, running figure 8’s and jumping sky high when I got home from errands.  This was the typical celebration we received every time we came home.  However, about an hour later, Taz went into his crate and stayed there for hours.  It became obvious that something was wrong.  The next day, he went to the vet and we found out he had cancer and he had very little time left.  On the 15th, we let him go.  Our home is empty without him.

Taz had so much personality that he made us laugh every day. We were very fortunate to share 12 years with him.  We thank to volunteers at C.A.R.E. for giving us the opportunity to enjoy each and every day.  Taz would not have survived a shelter without volunteers.  He would have quickly become crate crazy without your support and he required work just to prepare him for adoption.  We thank you for giving us the best years of our lives. 



(C.A.R.E. Name: Ashley)

We adopted Ashley from CARE on February 6th, 2000. We had never had a pet.  I was nervous around animals, but I wanted my children to have a cat, so I put on a brave face and took the plunge.  I had not idea what I was getting into.  I thought we were doing a kindness to a homeless cat, and maybe it would teach my kids something.  Was I ever wrong!!!!  She shyly crept into our home and hearts- it was Ashley who gave us a lesson on love, patience, kindness, compassion. This little grey being, taught her human family so much, that we can only be forever grateful to our precious little Ashley. She made us more human, she enhanced our lives in many ways... 

She was my children's anchor during their turbulent teen years. She was so patient when she suffered with Diabetes for six years (a common illness for Russian-Blue cats). Every day, Ashley needed two shots of insulin each day, which she patiently took. She was always thirsty, so we kept glasses and bowls of water all over the house for her.

Words cannot fully express the love and joy that a small furry grey cat brought into our lives for twelve years, but she touched and moved and changed each and every member of our family, in ways we could not have imagined...

On April 10th, 2012, our precious little Ashley left this world for eternity...

My sister painted a picture of Ashley for my son's birthday, with a poem:

In Memoriam: Ashley Shamsi February 6th 2000- April 10th 2012

Navigating the passage of Childhood,
Bumps and bruises, fog and haze,
Carefree summers, magical winters,
You helped me through the difficult days.

I was a boy, and you were my solace,
My sweet haven, my refuge, my balm.
When all around threatened to engulf me,
You were my serenity, my calm.

I grew up, and you grew old;
I took my place in the wider sphere,
New horizons, friends and college,
But at home- I'd always find you there.

I was a boy, but now I'm a man,
I acknowledge a fact so true:
My childhood days were somehow sweeter,
Because of the gentle presence of you...



(C.A.R.E. Name: Candy)


We lost our dear Candy girl on December 19, 2013. She had a huge tumor in her spleen and on her side. The vets all said it was time. I was with my sweet girl as she crossed. She looked at me with those expressive eyes one last time and I knew she understood it had to be.

I never planned on keeping her when I took her to cool off that hot summer. It was before the kennel was air conditioned.  I was just taking her for a few nights. Honest. She moved into our hearts and house and we never had a regret.  

She came to us from CARE in 2001. Poor thing had a rough start but she grew from a leggy baby to one pretty big baby girl. She barked at the cat every day but mourned for her when she passed. She respected it when we put up a gate but we later found out she knew how to open them. We often wondered what other talents she was hiding.

Mornings were not complete without a cold wet nose to the middle of my back while I was still in bed.  She knew what she wanted and how to get it. Her size alone would unnerve people but that dog was a marshmallow. Her goofy smile and prancing welcome are missed every time I walk in the door.

She was the best taste tester for Barkers Dozen Biscuits. If I tried a new recipe, it was her approval that I sought. Four paws up and those biscuits were on the menu.

She was a once in a lifetime friend.


Magnolia AKA Maggie Mae

(C.A.R.E. Name: Coquette)


I wanted to let you know that we put our beautiful Magnolia (“Maggie”) down today.  It has been a difficult few months watching her deteriorate as a result of a vestibular disorder.  She was just shy of 14 years old.  Maggie had a rough start at life, but she lived with courage and grace.  From a dog dominated by fear aggression emerged the gentlest of souls.  We are so grateful to you all for your compassion and understanding.  We will miss her terribly.

This was "Coquette:"  found in February 2000, fostered by Darlene and adopted in April of 2000.  We are so grateful for all that C.A.R.E. did to give Maggie a better start.  Our hearts are broken without her.

Brian, Ali, Allen, Lee, Jasmine and Violet


(C.A.R.E. Name: Lyla)


With deep sadness we want you to know that our beloved dog Lyla passed peacefully at sunset, on Saturday, January 19, 2013. We are full of grief over the loss of Lyla, and grateful we had as much time as we did to enjoy her beauty, wonderful spirit and personality.

Lyla was diagnosed with cancer in her abdomen a week before, which progressed very rapidly and was not treatable. However, the cancer did not stop Lyla from doing things she loved to do: be very affectionate and loving, going for short walks, trying to hunt every creature that moved around her, greeting whomever came to the door with her protective "attack mode", and getting outraged at other dogs who dared to walk the streets of our neighborhood.

Here is how Lyla entered our life: on Friday, October 18, 2002, Lyla, a 6 months old beautiful mutt, was brought in to the animal shelter by a family from Skokie, and taken in by James Cha.  The next day Zahava arrived to the shelter for her voluneer shift, saw Lyla who was very meek and timid, and immediately fell in love with her. Marc went to meet Lyla that same week, was also smitten with her, and after the spaying surgery and other necessary medical treatment, we brought her home to live with us.


She took us on a journey for 11 years that we cherished. Anyone that has experienced the first 30 seconds of greeting her at our house knows why we referred to her lovingly as Jaclyn and Heidi; after her boisterous greeting she would promptly be in or near your lap, expect you to pet her and you had become one of her inner circle of friends forever. Happily we have many fond memories and poignant stories to remember her by.

For all of you who knew Lyla, thank you for your love and affection during her life, and thank you all for your help, support, advice, kind words, thoughts and prayers in her final week.

Marc and Zahava


(C.A.R.E. Name: Cleo's Kitten)


Way back in the summer of 1993 I adopted a tabby kitten from CARE. I went back a few weeks later, looking for a playmate and companion for the newly renamed Granny. I was introduced to a playful and loud little Siamese kitten known simply as "Cleo's Kitten." He was a tiny guy who had the softest fur and beautiful milky blue eyes. He wasted no time rubbing his body against my legs, jumping into my lap, and looking at me as though saying "what are you waiting for?" He chose me, and that was the day he was named Furball and became part of our family.

Furball and Granny became best of friends and shared sixteen wonderful years together until Granny passed on. Furball missed her, but he continued to provide plenty of love and companionship to me. We had our daily routines, but the one that always made me smile was how he always walked in and sat at my feet when I got out of the shower to dry off. I think he felt it was his duty to watch over and protect me while I was at my most vulnerable! He'd also lay on my chest when I went to sleep every night and greet me with a headbutt when I woke up in the morning.

Yesterday I had to say goodbye to Furball. Old age had taken its toll and he was declining quickly. Saying farewell my constant companion of almost twenty years was difficult but the thought of him joyfully playing again with his old pal Granny does bring a smile to my face. I want to thank CARE for bringing both of these wonderful cats into my life. Furball, you were my little buddy and I'll never forget you. Thanks for the years of love and joy that you gave to me. That's a priceless gift that I can never repay.



(C.A.R.E. Name: Tybalt)


I wanted to drop a line to let you know that Tybalt (Tiger at C.A.R.E) passed away on April 30, 2011 after a long fight with a variety of ailments.  When I adopted him in 1998, the counselors put him at about 2 years old, so he was likely between 14 and 15.  What a great, great, great dog and a tremendous ambassador for his breed.  He was known as "The Mayor of Andersonville", since he loved being petted so much by everyone who crossed his path on our walks into town.  He's had a variety of feline roommates, and acquired a second owner when I married my wife in 2004.  We always loved coming back to C.A.R.E. for the dog washes to say hello.  He had a great old soul, and will be missed.  Thank you again for introducing me to a great dog.

Fred and Sarah

Louie L’Amour

(C.A.R.E. Name: Louie)


Date of birth unknown- 22 April 2011 (Earth Day)

Louie transformed me in so many beautiful ways.  I adopted Louie in August 2000 (his age was estimated to be between 2 and 4) – I was not that keen on getting a dog, it was my ex-husband’s idea for my birthday. I still recall that many puppies were brought in for me to meet during the adoption hours, and they were adorable, but the chemistry just wasn’t there.  Then Louie came bounding in and rolled onto his back in front of me – love at first sight.  He was so strong and so filled with energy, yet there was a gentle spirit in his beautiful, intelligent eyes.  The staff was worried that it would be difficult to place him – his breed (American Staffordshire Terrier mix) made some nervous, his abusive past made others nervous, but strangely (given that I had spent most of my childhood afraid of dogs, because of an early bite from a beagle), Louie did not make me nervous at all.  Louie never, ever made me afraid: quite the contrary, for over a decade he offered me protection and made me feel safe in the world.  We roamed in the forest, and walked in the park, he even overcame his fear of the water and loved to plop (he could not really swim) into the dirty Chicago River – much to the delight of the children who gathered there to fish.  Children loved Louie and he loved them – when I lived in Skokie, I had to be careful when I took him for walks – I could not take him out if I was in a hurry, because, like a swarm of paparazzi, the children would come running , shouting his name, “Louie, Louie” –  I don’t think there is a dog that was brushed as much as Louie was (his biggest fans were two girls, Meg and J, who loved to brush him).  Louie introduced me to most of the people in the neighborhood – and everyone who knew Louie, loved him.  Louie connected me to so much beauty in the world – to the virtues of patience, trust, loyalty, compassion, forgiveness, and unconditional love.

When I first brought Louie home, he still had some traces of the traumas he had suffered.  When I went to plug in anything, he would run to the corner and quiver.  Within weeks, the traces of trauma were gone, sometimes I even found him asleep on my computer cords.  He was able to trust again, even after his awful treatment at the hands of some nasty thugs, who wanted him to fight.  Louie would not fight, so he had been used as a bait dog, and he had the scars to prove that much harm had come his way.  His peaceful nature explains his shelter name – everyone at C.A.R.E. soon discovered that Louie was a lover, not a fighter.  Louie was so smart, with an impressive vocabulary (he understood many words, and I, in turn, understood his different barks – the stranger at the door bark, the water bark, the let’s go for a walk bark, etc.).  He kept me company while I wrote, and when we walked I often tried out ideas with him.  He always agreed with me on philosophical matters.  We disagreed sometimes on how long the walk should be esp. in the cold winter.  Whenever I tried to shorten a walk, I was given a stern, stubborn look, a look that always made me give in to Louie’s will.  The only thing Louie liked more than long walks (unless it was raining: he would not walk in the rain, yet another sign of his intelligence) was riding in the car.  And inevitably, I found people smiling at him, blowing him kisses, just filled with joy upon seeing his sweet face hanging out the window.  Up until the end, whenever I walked with Louie, I received compliments on his beauty.  Louie was a beautiful, noble being – the best friend I could have hoped for.  In his youth he sprinted like Carl Lewis, and in the autumn of his life, his slow gait remained graceful and dignified.  As I watched his slow decline, I reminded him that he could go whenever he needed to go: he had already given me more than anyone had a right to expect.  Louie was a blessing, a gift – one of those wonderful surprises that life offers every now and again.  I treasured the time I had with him, and for his presence in my life I shall be ever grateful.


The depth of my sorrow upon his passing is testimony to the great love he brought to my life.  I married again in October, and Louie, one walk at a time, helped me decide that Jamie was the man for me.  Louie trusted Jamie, an important point in Jamie’s favor.  As he had with me, Louie converted Jamie into a canine lover.  Jamie’s caring ways with Louie revealed a side of him that was another wonderful surprise.  Some of my sweetest memories are of the scenes between Jamie and Louie: I often found Jamie curled on Louie’s bed, whispering into his ear.  Louie had Jamie wrapped around his finger/paw (I could tell from Louie’s special barks to Jamie).  If any dog in the universe deserved to be spoiled, it was Louie, sweet, noble Louie.   

We miss you our sweet pea, and we thank you for being the wonderful being you were.  The house feels empty without you.  We also thank everyone at C.A.R.E. (esp. Noe) for rescuing you and for helping us find you, our faithful, generous companion.  You were deeply loved and you will be in our hearts forever.


Shiloh Ray

(C.A.R.E. Name: Buster)


I just wanted to update you guys that Shiloh Ray passed away on December 11, 2010.  He was almost 18 years old with a heart anybody wishes they could have.  I don't believe that I mentioned in the original update that in 2006 he was diagnosed with a severe pneumonia and heart failure.  Shiloh over came the pneumonia but we were told he would probably not make it more then six months due to his heart.  It was very hard news considering his brother had just passed away that same year from prostate cancer. Now when I say that anyone wishes they could have his heart is because he did not let "heart failure" cut his life short because he knew he had to look out for me and his baby sister.  Shiloh knew his work was not done in 2006 so he trotted on like the leader he has always been. 

On December 10, 2010 we all went to bed as usual but in the morning it appears Shiloh had a severe stroke that left him paralyzed.  He could not move anything more then his eyes and was not aware of his surroundings.  My mom & I quickly rushed him to the ER where I stayed with him for 10 hours in intensive care hoping for a miracle.  The miracle did not happen this time but I believe it is what Shiloh Ray wanted, a weekend where i could grieve, a night & morning where I was around, a day that his vet was open.  I try to laugh when I think that Shiloh was around for every boyfriend approval I have needed from him, my point is that I am currently dating a great guy that I only really knew for one week prior to Shiloh passing. This guy came and sat with me at the hospital and Shiloh was able to give his approval with the little strength he had left, he would not have been content otherwise.  I will continue to wonder if Shiloh Ray was more then a dog but my live angel that guided me until he knew I would be okay.

Who ever knew that a severely beaten, frightened dog that lost his eye could be the most loyal and trustworthy companion. He lived an amazing life and I once again want to thank you guys for rescuing Shiloh and providing him the extensive medical treatment he needed. He is deeply missed especially when it comes to meals that involve chicken. Attached is a picture of him and his sister one week before he passed away.

Carla P


(C.A.R.E. Name: Aurora)


In June of 1995, my husband and I adopted our shepherd mix, Sappho, from CARE (her name there was Aurora). She had the hugest ears we'd ever seen and a big, goofy smile that made us laugh every day. For almost 16 years she brought joy to our lives and happiness to our hearts. Sadly we said goodbye on Nov. 9, 2010, but her playful spirit will live in our hearts forever. Thank you, CARE, for helping us find our sweet girl, and thank you, Sappho, for being our friend.



(C.A.R.E. Name: Cinnamon)


I was looking for a female cat as a companion of my male cat, Jimmy a 8 y/old calico. I looked for days through the internet without success. One day, I entered C.A.R.E’s website and I saw Cinnamon, a Maine Coon mix female and immediately fall in love with her cute little face. I forwarded her picture to my husband and told him I found her. That same day we went to C.A.R.E to see if Cinnamon was still available and indeed she was.

The first thing we were told was that she only could see through one eye which we didn't care. During the entire application/ interview she was between my legs just looking for my attention. That was how I knew she will be my princess. We adopted her in January of 2003, she was around 4-5 y/old and we kept her name since it was perfect due to the color of her coat.

Last Monday, after 7 wonderful years, we had to put her to sleep (heart failure). Sad day for our family. Especially for me since she was my little girl. She was the best cat and loved her peculiar meow-kind of sound (we are not sure if she knew how to meow or she was mute).  Here some pictures of when we will go to the pet salon for a 'lion cut'. She was so happy afterwards, it kept her cooler in the summer. We definitely miss her (and Jimmy too)!


(C.A.R.E. Name: Caesar)


We adopted Jake on June 25, 2000.  Originally named Caesar, he was rescued as a puppy by C.A.R.E. along with his twin brother, Julius.  We couldn't adopt both and Jake immediately went for the sure bet to get a seat in our car - my husband, Mark.  Mark, who outwardly professed no desire to have a dog, had been reluctantly dragged into the adoption by three determined daughters and wife.  When Jake was brought to us, he immediately went to Mark, knelt at his feet, wagged his tail, and licked his hand.  His and our fate were sealed at that moment and he became the much needed male balance to a dominant female household.

Every pet is extraordinary to his or her owners.  Jake was no exception.  He was somewhat timid and never strayed far from home despite his doberman/shepherd heritage.  He posed a threat to no one - unless being licked to death is a defined method of homicide.  He did, however, passionately drive the mailman away every day and wasn't a big fan of FedEx or UPS either.  It was Larry, our mailman, that explained to us that Jake was just doing his job - keeping the house secure from that ominous guy in blue - and every day he succeeded.  Too bad Jake wasn't as good at chasing away the countless teenagers who entered his life through our daughters - and early on learned how to keep Jake silent when entering or departing the house "after hours."  My sister made the observation that he probably bore witness to a lot of unauthorized parties.

His never-ending tail wagging, begging and unconditional love affected all he encountered.  Jake was with us for nine years - enough time to make countless friends and turn professed dog-haters into fans.  As we journeyed through life - the crazy pre and teen years and empty nesting - Jake remained a constant in our lives.  I can't imagine the number of times his fur wiped away tears as we all confessed our concerns (or misdeeds) in the middle of the night as he kept us from being alone with our fears.  He took it all in a stride and provided unrelenting, unconditional love to his immediate family and an extended network of friends and strangers.  For me, he provided a welcome safety net as I suddenly had a rather privileged life buffeted by my job loss, family illness and empty nesting.  At my side always, we took countless walks in all kinds of weather as he healed me from sadness that was threatening to consume optimism.

We were stunned to suddenly learn that Jake was suffering from cancer as he had taken such good care of us - we never imagined him needing us.  Jake left us on October 23, 2009 after telling us it was time.  The emptiness that we feel is tempered somewhat by the knowledge that he left without suffering and from our arms at home.  His three mistresses were at college and we continue to comfort each other as best we can from a distance.  Even the mailman misses him - having not heard his familiar growling for a couple of days, he rang the doorbell to pass along his condolences.

I originally adopted Jake because I wanted to rescue a dog.  I now realize he rescued me by teaching me just how true-blue, wonderful and good an animal can be.   Such kindness is infectious - perhaps dog ownership should be mandatory for elected officials and heads of state.

He was a good boy.  And he is missed.



(C.A.R.E. Name: Half Blaze)


I described Jarl has blazing through my life like a bolt of lightning...fast, furious, bright.  Jarl had quite the life packed into a small amount of time.  He started out a refugee from an animal hoarder, spent several months in the shelter before a short stint on a trial adoption before coming to my home.  I was looking for a companion to another young cat of mine, Fafnir.  On paper, Jarl seemed to fit the bill.  And he and Fafnir did become great buddies; sumo wrestling, belly bumping, chasing and grooming.  My other guys would have preferred Jarl and Fafnir resided in someone else's home, but it did all work out.

I have never seen a cat that exuded more joy than Jarl.  In retrospect, it seemed that he knew on some level that he was not going to be on this earth long and he had a living to pack in quickly.  He missed nothing.  He ran (sometimes for hours at a time), gleefully from one end of our home to the other, up and down the cat tree.  He'd fling himself onto me, dramatically rolling around until I cuddled him like a baby.  Mornings with Jarl were crazy.  If I thought he was energetic the rest of the day, it was nothing compared to that morning mania.  Nothing was safe.  There were things to be knocked onto the floor, furniture to jump on, a mommy to groom, 3 sleepy cats to chase, toys to play with, food to eat and it was best to do it all RIGHT NOW!!!!  And during the 6 months I was honored to share with him, there was hardly a day that didn't include some really funny thing this little spirit had done. 

Sadly, a couple months before what would have been his second birthday, Jarl was diagnosed with renal lymphoma.  There was really nothing much to be done, his type of lymphoma is generally not responsive to chemo, so it was all about making his last days as comfortable as possible.  He still maintained his love of life right up until the end.  The interest in play and loving never went away, though the energy to partake was no longer there.

I am grateful to have known and loved this little guy.  I'd do it all again, even knowing the outcome.  I miss you Jarl!

The picture is of Jarl and Fafnir, the tuxedo terrors!




(C.A.R.E. Name: Nina)

In May of 1997 I adopted a dog there (you were calling her "Nina" but she became Zelda). She and I had 12 wonderful years together and she passed away this week. This is the memorial I wrote to friends and family. I wanted to share it with y'all because you made such a good match so many years ago.


Dear friends and family -

Today we took Zelda to be put to sleep. She'd been on a slow decline for the past few months, and then a quick decline in the past few weeks (ever since her 13th birthday, actually). She was basically paralyzed in her back half, unable to even stand to eat, drink, or pee and probably in a lot of pain in her spine despite medications. Eric and I were with her at the end and the kids got to say goodbye this morning before we left. Yesterday, knowing this was coming, I wrote a little memorial thing.

Zelda and I have lived in 4 states and together traveled through dozens. We've camped at the beach and in the mountains, swum in 2 oceans, many lakes (1 Great, 1 Canyon) and the Gulf of Mexico together countless times. We've hiked miles of trail  (hours of railroad track on Bloomington's west side) and walked together in 3 AIDSWalks (Chicago and Atlanta). She's been my most faithful companion through all good times (watching her run with a big stick is the purest expression of joy ever) and bad (when I cry, she climbs into my lap to comfort me). She's been my bodyguard. I could go anywhere in the world with her and feel safe. All the years I lived alone, nights here with the kids when Eric is out of town - she's our protector. Those single years alone together in Bloomington, living in that little house on North Adams were truly our heyday. Like her namesake, she was a real party girl - we played hard and lived it up! She was then there when Eric and I fell in love, accepted him when we moved in together and acquiesced when we finally kicked her out of the bed when we got married. There have been times when I think she even loved him more than me; she waits by the door for the 2 hours before he gets home from work. The smell of her fur was the only smell I liked throughout both my pregnancies. I wanted her with me through labor (although that, alas, was not to be). She's put up with being somewhat displaced by babies and taken it (mostly) in stride (she did give us this look when we brought home #2 like "Again? You're putting us through this again?!") She's never nipped either child even once, although they both have deserved it. She's watched both our kids learn to walk, accidentally knocked them down a hundred times, and, in these frail past few weeks, been knocked down by them. Despite all the tail pulling and eye poking, she loves these children, and Lord knows they love her. "Ze-daaa" was one of Jo's first words, and although I'm sure Jack won't  remember her much at all, we have lots of pictures of them together. These last 4 years in California have been good for her. She's lain in the sun, had year-round, all day open-door access to the back yard, relatively few health problems, and I've been at home with her the whole time. They've been good Golden Years. I've poured all the love I have into this dog, and she's returned it tenfold. I really can't imagine life (or my home) without her.



(C.A.R.E. Name: Winnie)


Back in June of 1993 I stopped by C.A.R.E. to adopt a cat. My girlfriend had one that was very friendly, and since I just moved into a new apartment I felt that I could use the company of a four-legged companion. Polly met me and spoke about the various cats available for adoption. She introduced me to a tiny tabby kitten named Winnie. Polly explained that she was a stray that was very shy and mostly stayed away from humans. When I went into the meeting room Winnie wandered over to me, sniffed my pant leg, then jumped into my lap and promptly fell asleep. Well, how could I resist? The search was over and I adopted Winnie that afternoon.

Granny (her new name) adjusted to life with me in no time at all. She was very affectionate to me and wandered around the apartment like she owned the place However, whenever another person came over she always turned timid and usually hid behind my bed. But when we were alone she would always find me and rub against my leg or climb into my lap for a nap. Her purring was very comforting to listen to while watching television or reading a book. She always greeted me when I came home from work. In fact, the greetings were so joyous that I suspected she was getting bored while all alone during the day So a couple of months later I returned to C.A.R.E. to get a companion for her. Furball, a friendly little Siamese kitten, came home and joined the family.

Granny endured one painful episode when she broke a rear leg. I came home one day to find my bookcase overturned and Granny sitting awkwardly nearby. I suspect that she jumped off at an awkward angle and toppled the bookcase on top of her, but I'll never know for sure. Anyway, I took her to the veterinarian and x-rays revealed a broken right hind leg. The vet thought it might heal if held in a certain position for a month, so she taped Granny's leg against her body and wrapped the whole thing up. Granny limped around on three legs for weeks, but unfortunately the break didn't heal properly. The vet ended up performing a femoral head ostectomy, a surgical procedure where the head of the femur is removed. Cats have such strong muscles that they can compensate for the missing joint. Granny recovered and walked and ran normally - people couldn't tell that she was missing a hip joint.

Granny and Furball followed me from Illinois to Massachusetts and back, and for the past fifteen years they've been the best of friends. They always curled up to nap together during the day, and at night they always slept on either side of my legs. And like cats all over the world, they would both go nuts and have their midnight run around the house.

Sadly, I had to put Granny asleep last week. She had lost weight, was no longer able to get around without frequent rest breaks, and although her eyes still showed affection for Furball and me, she was clearly struggling to keep up. When she started struggling to breathe I knew the time had come. I took her to the vet and found out that the combination of her old age and a severe respiratory problem were probably not treatable. Granny took a turn for the worse during the exam, gasping and stumbling on the exam table. Asking the vet to put her to sleep was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I said goodbye to Granny and the vet quickly put an end to her suffering.

Like parents and their children, I can't choose a favorite between Granny and Furball. However, Granny was my first pet and for that reason will always have a special place in my heart. She brought me close to 16 years of undying love and affection, and for that I will be forever grateful to C.A.R.E. for putting us together. I made a donation of cleaning supplies in her memory, and I'm sure I'll make more in the future.

Thank you, C.A.R.E., for putting a wonderful cat into my life. And thank you, Granny, for making me a better person. Furball and I miss you.

- Frank