The Origin Stories of All my Animals

“Those who teach the most about humanity aren’t always human”

Pets are often looked at as gifts, spontaneous decisions or something to have “for fun.”  But in reality they are expensive, hard work and not something to be taken lightly. It often breaks my heart and fills me with rage when I see people leaving pets behind because they are moving, going through a break up or find pets are more work than they anticipated. (disclaimer: I understand some situations are necessary for people to surrender their animals, and I applaud people who are honest enough to realize this and find their pets a better suited home) Over the past 7 years I have accumulated 2 cat’s and a dog, from 2 states and over seas. I have spent thousands of dollars for their health, well-being and travel to and from the Hawaiian Islands, because pet’s are not just pets; they are family and they are forever.

Starting in High School I volunteered at cat shelters cleaning cages and scooping litter boxes. In this time I found a special love for the harder to adopt cats; FIV+, older cats and black cat’s. I would spend hours with them, giving them the love and comfort I knew they deserved, but probably wouldn’t get outside of the shelter. Then came Mogely.

It was 2012, I was a full time student in college studying nursing, living in a shitty apartment with  two roommates, working  as a waitress and patient assistant to pay my rent.  I still made time to volunteer because I needed the companionship from those cats just as much as they needed it from me.  I sat down in the middle of the “Main Cat Room” and a large, black cat came out of the wood work, curled up in my lap and fell asleep purring. I looked at him and thought ‘I can give him what he deserves.’ I paid $50 for him and took him home in a box. I remember calling my mother to tell her how excited I was and she cautioned me ” Pet’s are expensive Shelby, what if he get’s sick?” I rolled my eyes and thought she’s just being a mom.

6 Months later I called her sobbing, begging for a loan to pay for his emergency vet visit. I had awoken to the worst sound I had heard in my life, he was screeching in pain and peeing blood everywhere, except where he should, in his litter box. I waited for my friend (who is now my husband) to get out of work and drive with me to the emergency vet hospital an hour away because I was so hysterical. Mogely had such a large kidney stone it was blocking his bladder to the point it was over-distended and could burst. He needed an emergency procedure and to stay overnight. I spent the next year working extra shifts to pay my mother back, and Mogely is currently laying happily in my lap as I write this.

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I always joke that Mogely is the most well traveled cat. When I married my husband I had no clue where his military career would take us, and it ended up taking us to Hawaii. So I packed one suitcase and one crate and I moved my cat and I over the pacific ocean.

Once in Hawaii I started my career as a nurse, I was working long hours multiple days a week, as was my husband. We decided to add another animal to our family to keep Mogely company during the nights we worked. And in August 2014 came Rahj, our little spit fire of a cat.

Rahj was found with her litter mates abandoned on a beach with no sign of their mother.  A fellow military spouse was fostering them and adopting them out. The kitten’s were so young, and quite the mismatched bunch. Some were black, some were tabby’s. Some had full tails, half tails or bob tails. Rahj took to my husband immediately. She was the tiniest of the bunch with a little bobtail and pink nose.  As we syringe fed her and litter box trained her, she quickly grew into the aloof and spicy cat we know and (mostly) love today.

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Rahj is a perfect example of just how much effort kitten’s can be. Kitten food is expensive, syringe feeding takes time and litter box training takes patience. There were more than a few accident’s on the way, including when she peed on my husband while he slept. As Rahj grew, her personality became clear: I want what I want, when I want it.  She was not the snuggly type of cat I was so used to with Mogely. But, despite their personality differences, Rahj and Mogely took to eachother. Although, it took Mogely a few weeks longer to warm up to this tiny, but mighty bobtailed creature.

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Up until 2015 if you had asked me if I was a dog or cat person I would have interrupted you to state I am a cat lady.  In May 2015 that all changed when my husband and I walked through PETCO and saw the tiny, malnourished and terrified spotted puppy.  Her name given to her at the shelter was Cookies and Cream, she was underweight, shaking and had crust covering her ears. The shelter woman told us she had been left in a dumpster with her brother, to die. Two innocent lives literally thrown away. That day we drove home with her asleep in my lap and our lives were never the same.

I had never owned a dog, my parents got a dog the year I went to college for their “empty nest syndrome” but I wasn’t around to care for her as she grew. I didn’t know the first thing about raising a puppy, let alone one that needed as much as our new mutt, who we named Scout.  She was terrified of everything, including her own clumsy body. She played Hot Lava and would only walk on grass, too afraid to step on cement. The moment you put a leash on her she would cower and not move an inch. I don’t know what happened to her in her first 5 months of  her life, but it took years to undo the damage done to her. I took her every where with me, she became my shadow. She hiked the ridges of Hawaii with me and ran aside me on the beach. With patience and unconditional love she blossomed into this kind, loyal and gentle dog. Although she is gentle, she is my protector. While hiking she is always 4 steps ahead of me, but always looking over her shoulder to make sure I am still there. She once stood her ground to a group of drunk young men who approached me in a park , after dark. She growled, circling me and never leaving my side until they stopped hassling me. It is hard to believe she was one the helpless puppy I spent hours cleaning ear crust from.

Scout the day we got her:

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Scout now:

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All of my animals have a story and I believe they all came into my life a time I needed them, just as much as they needed me. Animals are such devoted and loving creatures and truly deserve equal loyalty and protection from us. With that being said, please if you are in a financial and emotionally stable place- please adopt. Our shelters are filled with animals, just like mine, that need homes. Puppies and kittens are cute, but require so much more care- please consider older animals too, they have just as much love to give and require much less training and initial frustrations.

With that I say Good afternoon and may you have a wonderful day filled with Coffee, Cats and Cusswords

Instagram: @BluntRedhead

 

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Happy Father’s Day to The Unconventional Father

This blog post is for all the Fathers, Step-Fathers, Uncles, Brothers, Grandfathers, Friends and all the mothers out there who had to step up and play both roles; Happy Father’s Day.

This post is especially for the man that I have called dad for 22 years of my existence.

Every year on Father’s Day I reflect on my life and how truly lucky I am to have had you step in where someone else ran out.

No, you didn’t have a part in my genetic creation but, you had EVERY other part in creating me into who I am. You stepped up and chose to be my dad, to raise a child that wasn’t yours. To raise the child another man had thrown away.  And that will always mean 1000x more to me.

In all honesty, I consider my self one of the lucky ones. My biological father leaving opened the door for someone stronger, kinder and a better fit to come into me and my mother’s lives. Not only have you raised me into the strong, independent and vocal (sometimes too much so) woman that I am but, I have watched you help my mother grow into the full warrior that she is today. You were the strength that helped us both come into our own and into the bad ass women we are today.

To me, a Father is some one who shows up, who makes you feel safe and makes you never doubt that you are loved. And you did just that, and so much more.

You were the one who came to every play, choir recital and sports event, no matter how small. You were even in attendance for my acting debut as Flower #4 in The Nut Cracker when I was in the 1st grade. You built a wooden ambulance with(for) me for a Pinewood derby, it sure as hell wasn’t the fastest but it was by far the best. You physically and mentally pulled me out of my depression when I failed the NCLEX the first time around, and made sure as hell I passed the second time.

To this day you are who I call when I need guidance or when my job breaks my heart.  I called you when I inserted my first IV successfully and when I was devastated after performing CPR for the first time. Ever since I was a little girl I have looked up to you as a hero. You saved lives on the streets as a paramedic, and you saved mine as a fragile little girl.

All of these memories may seem small individually but, looked at as a whole, being adopted by you has lead me to this wonderful life I have.

You loved me at my worst and to this day, still celebrate me at my best.

I could write this post for days but I will sum it up with this: As I get older I realize more and more that this “Blood is thicker than water” mentality is bullshit. It isn’t genetics that makes you family but it’s simpler than that; It’s those who don’t walk away when it gets hard. It’s those who love you and who choose you everyday.

I Can Count All of my Close Friends on One Hand, and That’s OKAY

I don’t have many friends, and for the first time in my life I feel perfectly content with that. It has taken me (almost) 25 years, moving 5,000 miles from home and many failed friendships to come to this realization. This was not an epiphany that occurred overnight, but definitely one that has been a long time coming.

I realize that sometimes people are just shitty friends, for the lack of a better term. Sometimes people are not worth your time. And I don’t need to keep them or their negativity in my life. And that has been the most freeing realization of all. I can walk away. 

And I did just that: I stopped calling back the women who couldn’t (wouldn’t) make time for me. I deleted numbers of those who have talked down to me, and I unfriended two dozen accounts of people who haven’t spoken to me since they bullied me in High School. And you know what was left when I cut all of these people out? My Tribe.

My tribe. My Ride or Dies. My people. My friends. My family.

These are the ones worth my time. Worth my effort and love, because they give it back to me ten fold.

And so, I may be able to count my number of close friends on one hand, but those friends are my fingers, and make me the strongest fist.

With that I say Goodnight and may you have a wonderful day filled with Coffee, Cats and Cusswords

Instagram: coffeecatsandcusswords