For Better or Worse, In Sickness and In Health

I hope you are all enjoying summer with your friends and family, especially the furry ones! Because, as we so often say, they are our family and our best friends. They take us as we are and are utterly committed to us, no matter what. And we do the same with them for them, for better or worse, in sickness and health. So I want to talk a little about some of commitments we’ve made to some of the lovely pets here in our care.

Atlas

If you haven’t met Atlas, just imagine if your favorite, most comforting stuffed animal toy as a child came to life and grew to 80 pounds, and you get close to what it’s like to be around Atlas. He’s a big guy with a big heart, gentle and simple. Unfortunately with Atlas, as we often see in the human world, those least deserving of trials and tribulations seem to get an extra share sometimes. Atlas’s story, as far back as we can trace it, begins with him being found stray in Florida in late 2016. At that point, he had already been through some hard times, as evidenced by the scarred and hairless spots on his back and side. But his gentle manner came through and an effort was made to get him out of the high kill shelter he was in and into a rescue up north. He was taken in to a rescue in Connecticut, where they started to address some of his health concerns, which included an infection in his elbow. After several months, Our Companions was approached as another home that might be better suited to finding Atlas his forever family. We immediately got to work on his health issues and his persistent elbow infection. We started treatments that, after some time, seemed to clear things up, but before the course was complete, he came down with anaplasmosis, a tick borne illness that can be very serious. He was in rough shape for a while, but with daily attention, we were able to get him back on his feet. Which, of course, is when his elbow infection returned. We worked him through that again, only to then find a growth on his neck that turned out to be a thyroid cancer. He went through surgery for that a few weeks ago, after which, the oncologist said there was no need for any further treatment, just monitoring the site for any return. Which brings us up to right now, and yet another recurrence of his elbow infection. He’ll be having another surgery in a few days that will hopefully fix up his elbow for good. It’s been a long road for everyone’s favorite giant teddy bear.

 

Tabby

Similarly, with the cats, we have a challenge of a different stripe by the name of Tabby. You’ll be seeing a big promotional push behind in the next couple of months, since Tabby has now been a resident here for almost four years. So what could earn a cat such a long tenure in our care? She’s been on a long journey to where she is today. Her nervous disposition reared its head in full force after coming to the sanctuary. She was no longer able to live with the people she knew her whole life, and as you can imagine that will make anyone upset. Arriving at the sanctuary, it was clear that she was not a confident cat. When she arrived in 2014, she spent most of her time hissing, trying to scratch and bite us, and obsessively over grooming. Many very brave volunteers “took the plunge” and spent time with her when she was ready for visitors, knowing full well that she was just very scared and confused. Gradually, and with abundant patience, staff and volunteers were able to inch their way closer on to her good side. Once Tabby realized that these humans could be just as pleasant as her old ones, she started to relax. Her mood improved through behavioral intervention and modifications to her room to calm her worried mind. Today, her core group of volunteers know that she’s just as sweet, lovable, and deserving of a good home as the rest of ’em. Since she has improved, there have been only a few incidents of her fearful aggression – a marked reduction from when she first got here! She loves to sit (or rather, stand) on our laps, and sleep next to us while giving us kisses. Currently, Tabby lives a quiet life in Jane’s Place, but, on our scale of Green, Yellow, and Red cats, is our only Red Cat. This makes it more of a challenge to get her the social time she needs, though the staff and our most experienced volunteers are always up for some Tabby snuggle time. Tabby has made immense progress here, but now it’s her time to move on to a home that can love her not in spite of her ups and downs, but because of them. A home that understands that this type of cat needs a second chance in life, and that even the cats with a troubled past can have hearts of gold. Her sensitive nature is going to make someone very happy when the right person comes along. They’ll know this cowardly lion is ready for a new start and a lap to call her own.

This is what we do at Our Companions. We take in the dogs and cats, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, and we make a commitment to be there for them, in every way.

Rosie’s Recovery

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You would think that anyone who saw this face would fall instantly in love with Rosie, but there was a time when she was treated with very little love.

Rosie came to us from the Manchester Animal Control.  She had been brought to Bolton Vet neglected and malnourished.  She weighed only 17 pounds and was unresponsive.  They worked hard to keep her alive, though it was not always assured that they would succeed.  But she made it through and, once she was stable, needed a place to complete her recovery.  So, she came to the Our Companions Sanctuary, where we could slowly help her build back her weight and her strength, and assess any behavioral problems her ordeal may have caused.

 

 

It’s a testament to a dog’s resilience and capacity for love, however, that Rosie’s emotional scars were few.  She was a resource guarder, and couldn’t live with another dog or cat, but with people, she was nothing but affectionate.  She loved attention, love to hug and kiss, and made quick friends with everyone.  And she surprised us all by being one of the few dogs we’ve had here who was happy and well mannered with all ages of children.

As Rosie’s body recovered and grew up to an appropriate 45 pounds, we nurtured her mind and spirit as well.  She went to training classes and out on field trips to local state parks.  And she worked with at-risk youth as part of our Buddy Project.  She became a volunteer favorite, at least when she wasn’t untying your shoelaces or trying to sneak a treat from you.

And, as often happens here, it was just a matter of time before the perfect family for Rosie walked through our doors.  They had no other pets, which worked great for Rosie.  However, they did have two toddlers, which would have usually meant that we would not have a dog for them.  But Rosie’s love of little kids made her a perfect match for them.

Rosie now lives in a loving home with a family who will make sure she never knows the kind of hardship she previously experienced again.  And in return, she’ll give them no end of fun, laughter, and adorable, soft-eyed head tilts.

Congratulations, Rosie!

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Looking back and moving forward

Well,  the holiday decorations have come down and the new year is underway.

In the cat cottage we saw a lot of happy adoptions in 2016 and can look back and celebrate our many successes with a smile. . . .

from finding homes for some of our more reserved, “shy” cats :

  Chrissy, Heidi and Cheddar….

Cheddar, now Gracie, hardly took any time to come out of her shell.  Within two weeks, she was spending short spurts of time on Jane’s lap and now spends at least an hour at a time curled up on a lap multiple times per day.  She even wandered into the dining room on New Year’s to greet company and did some head-butting of stranger’s hands!  Jane and James had expected her to take longer to warm up, but are thrilled that she’s coming around to them so quickly.  She doesn’t have access to the entire house yet, but is comfortable in their bedroom, living room, and dining room for the time being.  They just love her!

-Boots and Ticker are now Scout (Chrissy) and Honey (Heidi).  At first the girls were so scared it was hard to give them names based on personality, so we went with “family” names.  But now, oh boy, their personalities have emerged. Scout has to explore everything with Honey right behind her.  Actually, Scout is my first cat to tightrope walk across the drapery rods.  And the top of the 55″ tv.  Honey is very sweet, likes her treats, and was the first to give me head butts and whisker kisses. And has gorgeous honey colored eyes.

to saying a fond farewell to some of our friends that decided they  wanted to hang around for just a while:

Elizabeth, Dillon,  & Veronica……

Here’s a photo update on Elizabeth, now Bells, who also happens to be FIV+ , from her new owners with an awesome caption- Can we clone these guys a million times over!!

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Dillon:    He warmed up to Tom and Brittany so fast, they didn’t even know what to do with it.  He greets them happily when they get home from work and is playful, snuggly, and extra lovable!  He has not swatted or hissed at them once.  He did go through a short period of attempting to eat the popcorn ceiling, so they had to take down a high shelf, but he has otherwise been the picture perfect kitty companion!  He is even starting to come out of the bedroom to stare at company from a distance when they do have friends over!  J I’d say that’s pretty impressive for our skeptical guy.  They absolutely adore Mr. Dillon and can’t believe how easy he’s been, given his history of being somewhat difficult.  I guess he just needed to find his people!

Hi Lady!!! 6 months wow!! Miss V is just fabulous! We are currently snuggled up watching The Grinch. Photo to follow.  She most definitely is beyond spoiled. She totally rules the house and knows it. She hasn’t had any health issues at all and we’re now comfortable enough to trim nails (as long as there are treats nearby to bribe). She really is the perfect cat! I’m so lucky! 

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Fondly remembering our kitties that were extra special:

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Mason:

….Wow, 6 months already.  We kinda feel like he has been here forever.  He loves the fireplace and when it is going…he uses his ramp a lot but is super clever on how he gets around.  I am often surprised when I come home, which room he is in and on what he is lounging on.   I think he loves just having places to go.  He eats but believe it or not he does leave food in the bowl.  Both cats share the eating zone and take their turns.  They snuggle when they want too, just like normal cats.  They also snuggle with humans when they feel the need too.    

Monty – who was blind

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Monty is doing very well!
It’s hard to believe he’s only been here 6 months; it feels like he’s been in the family forever.
He and Moira get on well, in fact their beds are together in the living room (they match their beds, naturally)!
He’s still as happy and affectionate as ever and grows more confident in his environment every day. He recently discovered he can jump onto the bathroom sink so that’s a new favorite hangout spot.
He goes for his first vet appointment in a few weeks for a check up as we haven’t had any health issues arise. He eats well and uses the box without problem.
Overall he’s one of the happiest cats I’ve met and he definitely brings us lots of joy.

And the several lucky kitties were able to leave here with siblings -or friends they made at the Sanctuary:

Siblings Clover & Dandelion- Friendship formed at the Sanctuary: Higgins, Tetris & Jupiter…..

Rosie and dad have really bonded. Omar is still doing things on his terms and that’s ok. Higgins loves everyone which includes our family and friends. At feeding time all 3 boys are right at our feet singing up a storm. Too funny.
Wishing you, your family and everyone at the sanctuary a Merry Christmas.

Pikachu and Luna- arrived together and were able to leave again together.

The very lucky kitties who were out the door as fast as they came in:

Molly, Nefertiti, Poppy and Emery…

And so many others that left us this year.

chickpea:

Chickpea is settling in nicely!  We did keep the name Chickpea, as Chris thought it suited him fine.  He and Homeo are very active together and sleep together too.  I do give Homeo a stern talking to once in a while as he teaches Chickpea some bad habits….like climbing on the railing above our living room. Crazy cats!

So far, Chickpea has only pulled two ornaments off the Christmas tree. One was a snowman that he ripped to shreds, thankfully, it wasn’t something I was worried about losing!  I’m really looking forward to Christmas morning and opening presents with the boys. J

Snickers, Snookey, Sprinkle, Barry, Dandelion, Clover, Buttercup, Barry…..

Finally,  one special tribute to our friend Harvey- He arrived at the Sanctuary rescued from the street in terrible condition-

once it was discovered he was in kidney failure we knew he had already arrived at his forever home – his “family” at the Sanctuary kept him loved, comforted and happy until he received his kitty angel wings on December 11th and left us with only his happy memories….

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Looking forward so many new faces have already joined us this year:

Apache, Gum Drop, Juniper, Luther, Charlotte…..

Luther, Lumi, Newton, Freyja……

Already some new friendships are forming:

Lumi – a kitten rescued by our own staff was found orphaned and injured so badly his hind leg needed to be amputated.

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He has now wound up with several step-siblings and one very special friend in Apache -a “mature” kitty that had such severe dental issues he had all of his remaining teeth removed -except for one.

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Of course – a special tribute to the rest of our current guests still waiting:

Albus, Cheetah, Dusty, Tabby, Hazel & Pippi- And looking forward to finding their homes this year!

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?”
Vincent Van Gogh

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Buttercups, Dandelions and Clovers

are growing big this spring!   Yes, maybe all over your lawn but, of course we are talking about kittens.

Early in May we took in mom, Blossom, and her three kittens (2 weeks old at the time)

Just a kitten herself (about 9 months old), she was found running the streets as a stray in Hartford- Apparently this girl is a little on the wild side, as she soon wound up  pregnant.  Her rescuer found herself in over her head and reached out for some help.

It was during Blossoms vet visit that they discovered she had a painful abscess on her mammary gland that was ruptured and draining.  However, despite the pain she continued to nurse and care for her kittens.

Now, at almost five weeks old – the kittens are thriving:

And mom is so ready

to return to being a kitten again!  Though she’ll have to stick it out a few more weeks.

A couple of weeks before Blossom arrived, we took in another litter of four boy kittens that were trapped as part of a feral TNR project in Hartford.

They came to us at just about 7-8 weeks and our volunteers have been working hard to turn these “airplane ears”Jupiter,colt,tetris,chickpea 042216a

into friendly kitten ears.   Jupiter, Colt, Tetris and Chickpea have come a long way.

And it’s been quite the ride with these boys but our volunteers have done a great job with them.   Still a little nervous and skittish, but ready for homes of their own.