I used to love Christmas. As a child that is. But when I was just 17 my father died of a heart attack right before Christmas. In fact, today (December 21st) is the 33rd anniversary of Dad’s death. My father was buried on Christmas Eve and because of this the “Happy Holidays” are typically a tough time of year for me. That’s why helping to find Hobbs-the-missing-cat meant so much to me last week. Actually, I can’t take credit forfinding Hobbs, but here’s what happened.
On Sunday December 5th, the beautiful long haired orange kitty vanished from his apartment in Seattle, Washington. A gregarious cat, his owner Katherine looked frantically but could not find Hobbs. Three days later, construction workers building an apartment next door to Katherine’s complex said they had found the cat.
The workers found Hobbs trapped inside of a closed room on the third story of the apartment building under construction. They removed Hobbs but he was freaked out and bolted in fear. Katherine spent a week searching for Hobbs but could not find him. That’s when she called Missing Pet Partnership.
When I spoke to Katherine and profiled Hobbs, I found out that he lived in a populated area with apartments and a big park. Katherine had rescued Hobbs from a situation where she felt he was at risk. But Katherine was out of work. Paying to have a cat mircochipped was something that Katherine simply could not afford. She couldn’t even afford to pay the $25.00 to rent one of Missing Pet Partnership’s wildlife cameras (which we decided to use at a possible sighting of an orange long haired cat a few blocks away).
So I responded on December 15th to help Katherine. I gave her a stack of neon REWARD LOST CAT posters and showed her how to use the wildlife camera. I provided her with lost cat recovery tips and told her to call me if she had questions. Three days later, Katherine called. Hobbs was in kitty jail. Someone had found him at the park by her apartment and took him to an animal shelter. Now the shelter wanted $140.00 from Katherine before they’d release him to her. Katherine didn’t have that kind of money. She asked if Missing Pet Partnership could loan her the money to bail Hobbs out.
We couldn’t, of course, because Missing Pet Partnership (MPP) is struggling to make ends meet. But I had an idea. I called on a friend who volunteered at the shelter where Hobbs was held. That friend is a cat lover and had helped many other people in need. She was able to work a miracle and got the bail reduced to a very low amount. Hobbs was released from the shelter and went home with a very relieved Katherine.
Katherine does not have transportation, so I drove north to her apartment to meet Hobbs and collect our camera and neon signs. Katherine was so grateful that MPP was able to help her. She promised to pay MPP the $25.00 she owes us. But as we were talking, I noticed two problems: Hobbs was not wearing a collar and he was sneezing.
Katherine said she noticed that Hobbs was sneezing a lot since she brought him home from the shelter. I told her that it was likely that Hobbs had contracted an upper respiratory infection (“URI”) from the shelter, a very common and contagious condition that needed to be treated by antibiotics at a vet. I told Katherine to use the money that she was going to pay MPP and instead get Hobbs to a vet, ASAP. I also asked her whether she had a collar for Hobbs. She did not. Although Hobbs was now microchipped (the animal shelter chipped him while he was there), I knew the importance of a collar and ID tag for a friendly, beautiful cat like Hobbs.
I know what it is like to live check to check and to make difficult choices of what you can and can’t afford. It was healing for me to do something to help another person in need this Christmas. I found out that Katherine is a writer. She’s been working on a children’s book about the war in Afghanistan. I gave Katherine a copy of my memoirs (The Lost Pet Chronicles) and encouraged her by telling her that while publication is difficult, it is possible and that she needs to believe in her writing. Then I went out and bought Hobbs one of my most favorite cat collars–a Beastie Band, plus a shiny heart ID tag from PetSmart.
My work at Missing Pet Partnership is not just about helping animals–its about helping people. And in helping Katherine, I was able to bring just a little bit of “joy” back into my tiny world this Christmas. It is absolutely true what they say–it is much better to give than to receive!