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Warm Welcome For A Geriatric Bernie

November 2003

By: Mike DiMauro -

(Reprinted with permission.)


Shantell, thirteen year old moggy.

Adopt an elderly cat today.
The cell phone was off, meaning I didn't hear the two hysterical messages my wife left earlier that afternoon. OK, maybe hysterical isn't the right word.

But there were enough tears and sniffles to suggest she had either attended a funeral or an airing of Steel Magnolias.

And so it wasn't until I arrived home on Saturday night, Oct. 18, that I got the full story:

The plan was to sit down and watch the last few innings of the first game of the World Series. I knew the Yankees were losing. Hence, my attention was focused on the television, rather than my wife's discourse, until I realized the tears were flowing.

First thought: Geez, they're only down a run. It's not like they've never come back before.

Second thought: You better listen to this one.

My wife and sister-in-law had spent part of that afternoon at the Connecticut Humane Society on Old Colchester Road in Waterford. My mother-in-law's dog had died a few months earlier and the mission was to find her another one.

Instead, they found the root of the tears and sniffles.

It wasn't until November that we learned October was Adopt-a-Pet month, which makes our new arrival all the more appropriate.

My wife walked in the door to the Humane Society, turned left, and saw this burnt orange-and-white cat in a cage with sad eyes and a hopeless expression. Unlike the kittens in the cages surrounding him, this cat was 9 years old. Who'd be loony enough to adopt a 9-year-old cat? Nine-year-old cats, I was told, are 52 in real life.

I mean, would you honestly open your house to a 52-year-old person?

"And this is where you'll be staying, Marge..."

Anyway, my wife wasn't into the story 30 seconds before I felt part of a scene to a Lassie movie.

"Can we get him? Please? Please? Please?"

(I wanted to enjoy the moment, unable to recall when she'd ever asked permission for anything... and why, exactly, she needed it here).

Of course, my first answer: "no." We already have a cat who requires more maintenance than a Yugo. Stella is diabetic, needing two shots of insulin per day, trips to the vet... and any more aggravation in her life could mean more to mine.

I agreed, though, to at least go see the cat at the Humane Society the next morning.

He had me at meow.

Clearly, I only play a curmudgeon in the newspaper. I am a sucker, mostly.

He really was pathetic with those eyes, which made it depressing. And so my wife arranged to adopt him the next day. The people at the Humane Society, who do not make enough money, waived the normal $50 fee to adopt cats, seeing as how this one would be collecting a pension soon.

In the days since the adoption of Bernie (named after Yankees' center fielder Bernie Williams) I've stewed about his predicament. We were told Bernie had been at the Humane Society for a month, after the family with which he'd lived for eight years couldn't take him to their new house, per the landlord.

I really don't like people very much, sometimes.

What kind of an ogre doesn't allow a family to bring along its pet of eight years?

What kind of an owner gives up a part of the family?

My wife was unable to remove the cat's melancholy expression from her mind - and she knew him for all of a day. How could the people who had him for eight years live with themselves?

Happily, though, Bernie is doing well. He follows us in and out of every room, eats far less than his sister (who ignores him, save a hiss here and there) and will live the rest of his life with two people who give a damn about him.

The death of dog led to the saving of a cat. If you're bored one of these days, take a trip to the Humane Society. God knows how many more unfeeling landlords must be out there.

This is the opinion of Mike DiMauro.

Connecticut Humane Society
701 Russell Road
CT 06111

Adoptions tel: 860-594-4500


Copyright 2003: Mike DiMauro  

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