Friday, April 11, 2014

A remembrance of Rose: An extraordinary cat advocate

Eamon the cat on his couch

Thirteen years ago, I met an amazing, passionate cat rescuer. She was funny, fierce and more than a little intimidating, and she hadn't even hit puberty yet. Her name was Rose, and I just found out that she lost her life last year. I'm beyond sad, as I always thought Rose would do wonderful things with cats in her lifetime, and I think the way in which she handled her pets could be instrumental for almost everyone (including parents raising pet-crazed kids).

I met Rose through her father. We worked together, and we were sent out of town on business-related retreat and got to chatting on the long car ride. I started telling him about my cats, including one that had just died, and he asked if I'd be willing to take in another pet. Apparently, Rose had brought home a stray cat, and just a few weeks later, they discovered that said stray was pregnant.

I agreed to come and look at the kittens in a few weeks, and I remember wondering why my coworker was so excited about my interest in adoption. I think he said something about Rose being "nervous," but I wasn't really paying too much attention to that.

So I went and saw the kittens, and during my visit, I had close supervision from Rose. She wanted to know why I liked specific cats over others, how much experience I had with kittens and what had happened to all of my other pets. In time, I noticed that she was taking notes about everything I said. Turns out, Rose had done a lot of volunteering at the local animal shelter, and she was aware that many people adopt small kittens when they're fluffy and cute, and they abandon said kittens when they're older and deemed difficult. Rose was determined to do a forever placement, and even though she was just a kid, she wasn't afraid to fight for these little cats.

I've done quite a bit of foster work since that time, and each time I hold a little cat in my hands and conduct an interview with a prospective owner, I think about Rose. I'm always afraid to ask the tough questions, as I don't want to be impolite or pry too deeply, but I think about her bravery in questioning me, and how much courage it must have taken to stand up to a strange adult on behalf of a helpless kitten, and I try to do the same. It's hard, but she's always been an inspiration to me.

And she did a good placement with Eamon. He's living well into his senior years, and while he's definitely had some health challenges, he remains healthy, happy and pampered. He's never had to spend a night in a shelter, and he's never lived with anyone but me. She found him his forever home. She did it right.

I don't have children of my own, but if I did, I hope I could encourage them to be courageous like Rose. I hope I could push them to fight for what's right with the kittens, even if it seems inconvenient. I hope I could help them to make a difference.

Meanwhile, I'm just so sad that she's gone. We need more people like her.

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