I adopted a domestic shorthair cat from the New Hanover (NC) Humane Society in September 2003, my first semester of graduate school. Tino and I lived for three years in a 500 square foot apartment while I finished two MAs. I have a motor neuron disease that causes me to fall semi-regularly, and Tino soon learned to sense when I was about to fall and warn me. If I did fall, he would come over and curl up next to me until I was able to get up, letting me know things were ok.

We moved in with my parents in NJ after I graduated in 2006. With nearly quadruple the room, Tino stopped attaching himself to my hip and became much more independent. I was sad, but knew he was my pal, especially after the following incident.

In March 2007, I had a typical errand-filled day. I had an acupuncture appointment, then went to Borders for the new Type O Negative CD. I got home and the Mark Levin Show had just started. It was warm, and I really wanted to listen to Levin, so I decided to clean out my car. Tino was sitting in front of our glass storm door watching me as I went about my business. I cleaned the driver’s area out, then the driver’s side rear passenger area out, then started on the passenger’s side rear area. I noticed a newspaper under the seat in front of it and an empty water bottle and knelt down to get it. I was cleaning out junk when my mom appeared out of nowhere (I had been home about 45 minutes at this point) making sure I was ok.

Apparently Tino, who had been watching me from the storm door, saw me go down, thought I fell, and ran into the family room where mom was and kept loudly meowing until she got up. He then led her to the front door, where she saw my running car but not me.

Who says a cat can’t be a service animal?

Four months later, my world was destroyed. Tino died of a massive heart attack on July 13, 2007. I was in the hospital, recovering from surgery I had undergone two days prior. I never got to say goodbye to my four-legged guardian angel.

Jenifer from MD


One Response

  1. Nell Says:

    What a wonderful, wonderful angel you adopted.