Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Hyperactive/Noisy/Annoying. I suppose you are thinking that must be the characteristics of my new foster dog or kitten. Even though it may fit the bill for some dogs and kitties too, it is an apt description of MOST teenage boys. And even though I probably realized there was more to male adolescents, a recent rescue brought it home with a bang. This story is about a new high schooler with compassion and a heart of gold.  People in the rescue business need not fear for the future because these kids are stepping up in a big way already.

It was the last few days of freedom before his freshman year of high school began. It was one of those jungle-like 95 degree days and Chase Henderman was hanging out with his buddies in the neighborhood. Then he spotted something white at the base of a telephone pole near  one of the busiest intersections in the city. When he investigated further, he discovered it was a kitten and it appeared to be dead. But Chase noticed the poor creature was still breathing but it was very shallow. He called his mom, Lynn, a cat foster for Planned Pethood, AS HE WAS RIDING HIS BIKE TRANSPORTING THE KITTEN IN HIS ARMS TO THE VET!!!
In the meantime, Lynn called the vet alerting them to the incoming kitten. Her best friend in rescue, Nancy, happened to be there when they took the call. She heard, “kitten” “hit by a car” and thought "I have to get the heck out of here", not knowing it was Chase and Lynn rushing to save a life. Fate and the gods were on the side of little Ringer that day. Chase named him from the dire circumstances under which the little guy was discovered. Maybe somebody who works for a phone company should adopt him as a mascot?
Well, you would think that was the end of Ringer’s near death experiences and he lived happily ever after. Not yet, he had only used up one of his nine lives. Ringer went into the Henderman home as a foster and seemed happy and healthy and playful. But after a couple of weeks, he became lethargic and refused to eat or drink. Lynn rushed him to the emergency vet (on a holiday weekend of course). He was diagnosed with hemobartonellosis, a virus  spread by infected fleas affecting the red blood cells. A normal count is 30 but Ringer’s was at 8. Once again the little dude was on the brink of death and once again his grit and zest for life pulled him through. Ringer is recuperating before he goes back up for adoption and finds his forever family once and for all.
And Chase is not the only kid involved in rescue. I am proud to say my own family includes an almost teenage kitty savior. We figure it must be in the DNA (my sister in law volunteered at the ASPCA in San Francisco and brought home the most unadoptable dog, Crystal, who became their new baby’s nanny). My niece Samantha found a 4 week old kitten abandoned in her neighborhood. When she took him home, my brother Jimmy, not being a cat person, explained they would have to find a rescue organization to take the tiny black ball of fur. Samantha was having none of it. The kid is a miracle worker. Not only did they keep the kitty, she converted my brother into a cat fan. They now have four cats, all rescued, and all spayed and neutered. But what a cat Chance turned out to be! He was remarkable in many ways but my favorite was that he used the toilet instead of a litter box. My sister in law Pam awoke one night and heard someone using the bathroom. Jimmy and Sam were sleeping so she got up to investigate and the tinkling in the toilet she heard came from Chance!  Samantha paid me the highest of compliments when asked by her dad what she wanted to do when she grew up. She said I want to rescue animals like Aunt Judy.
In a perfect world, there will be no need for animal rescues like Planned Pethood  in future generations. But being realistic and perhaps a bit cynical, it appears the need will persist for quite a long time to come. The good news is we have reinforcements who are, even now, stepping up to do the right thing. Having taught high school kids for 30 years, I recognize the importance animals play in their lives. There have been students over the years who shut out any adult, period. But they would magically open up if you began to engage them in a conversation about their pets. Before you know it, I would have a half dozen of the shyest kids in the class, gathered around my desk, all talking at once, all sharing stories of their family pets. Every kid should have the opportunity to enjoy the love and companionship of a dog or a cat. And, thumbs up to all of our junior partners in rescue out there especially Chase and Samantha. 

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