Working at an animal shelter it's good to frequently ask yourself what inspires you? Of course I love working with the animals, but it is also working with our great team of volunteers and staff that can push you to continue on.
Every now and then we get in an animal that for some reason just melts me. A few months ago two cats did just that. Mickey and Minnie were surrendered to us when their owner sadly had to go into a nursing home and they could not go with.
Upon entering the shelter both cats completely shut down. They were scared, our busy shelter just seemed like to much for them. Mickey and Minnie were literally frozen in fear on the back shelf of their cage for days. However there was something about them that really pushed us try to get them to come around. Another staffer, Christine and I decided we wanted to put in some extra time with them. On our lunch breaks, and in between the hustle and bustle of the daily shelter work we could be spotted standing by their cage just rubbing their cheeks, or carrying them around the shelter.
At first Minnie was so scared that when I carried her around any loud noise or sudden movement would cause her to quickly close her eyes. However, one day I got an ever so slight purr, soon she kept her eyes open just a little more. She started to enjoy sitting on my lap and watching the degus in the room out of the corner of her eye. She was making progress.
Christine was working more with Mickey. He was also coming out of shell just a little more each day with her, and his personality was beginning to show. Both Mickey and Minnie were mellow, sweet natured cats.
Then Minnie got sick. Sadly we see quite a bit of upper respiratory illness in cats at the shelter and Minnie started to show symptoms. At first it was just an occasional sneeze then she soon stopped eating and started dropping weight. Minnie went down hill quickly and sometimes no matter how hard we try we cannot get them to come back to us. That was a hard day for me and I can tell you during my ride home I had tears in my eyes the whole way. It's tough when they don't get their happy ending.
But Mickey was still there, so our focus turned to him. With Christine's work he opened up enough to make the move to the adoption floor. There his shy but sweet attitude won over the volunteers quickly. However, he wasn't on the adoption floor very long. Mickey too got sick. He was moved to Isolation and being a social eater, he started again to shut down. After a few days of force feeding it was apparent that we might be losing him also. However our Director Mike saw that he wasn't done yet and he got yet another chance. When our volunteers Pat and Carol learned that he wasn't eating they started sitting with him in isolation and just that little extra company, that extra step made such a huge difference with him. He started eating again, and slowly the purring returned.
So to answer my question on what inspires me, it's the people I work with daily at Nevins Farm, the volunteers like Pat and Carol and the staff like Christine and Mike who take that time to see past the black and white and truly make a difference everyday. It's people like them that make Nevins Farm stand out.
While Mickey may still be recovering from upper respiratory illness I am happy to report that he is looking better every day. I think Mickey is going to be a great cat for someone looking for a sweet and mellow companion. He's won over many of our hearts so come and meet him and see why this cat is so special to us!
To find more about Mickey check out his petfinder page, Here's a link below.