Igloo, Walnut, Maxx

As I look out my office window, I see my wonderful husband of 21 years, John, playing in the dirt. Oh, he’s pretending to be working on a yard project but he’s definitely playing in the dirt. At his feet is a beautiful white dog we’ve nick-named Igloo because she’s about that size. She shows up from time to tim,e, gets some love and a pail of food, hangs around for a couple of days then leaves only to return a few weeks later. It’s my husband’s compassion and love for animals that led him to take on the challenge of domesticating Walnut. Sigh. Walnut’s a cat. A beautiful silvery tabby who showed up one rainy day as we unloaded a truck filled with our possessions at a new home. Walnut may have sauntered down our driveway, bellowing loudly, but he wanted no part of people. Somehow, my food storage containers ended up outside with food and water in them. Somehow, eventually, John managed to pet and then hold Walnut. Walnut still wouldn’t come in, though, until it snowed about six months into our growing love affair with him. Graceful and loving, we felt blessed by his presence. When two boys also needing homes moved in, we thought Walnut might be skittish. Nope. He settled down between them as they played as if to say “So, guys, what are we up to today?”. Walnut is the gentlest of souls. He always knows when someone is hurt, ill or upset—sometimes sensing it, walking into the room, sniffing and then hopping into the lap of or beside the individual in distress. Amazingly, our granddaughter who lives 2000 miles away visited last summer during a reunion. She was 8-months old at the time. She pulled the hair on Walnut’s head when introduced. He flopped over in front of her and looked us in the eyes as if to say sigh and say “Kids.” He never shied away from her the entire time she was here. Other cats and a couple of dogs have also found their way into the Hibler Hotel for Homeless Creatures and Walnut adopts them all as his children, actually grooming them until they push him away. Walnut himself became horribly ill last fall. A bladder infection we had thought cured came back on him full force. His kidneys started to shut down and it was only with the care of an extraordinary vet that he survived. He had shown so much love to us. Each night, I carried him upstairs to our bedroom. He couldn’t make the trip himself and I couldn’t bear for him to be alone. As ill as he was, as soon as I opened the door he would try to squirm out of my arms to sleep on the corner of the bed, his favorite spot when not playing nurse himself. We cried at the possibility of losing this precious soul. He has since regained the weight he lost and is teaching his protege, a spunky little kitten named “Maxx”, the art of providing comfort. The lesson is being learned. I cried my eyes out reading “Rescuing Sprite”. Who was beside me, rubbing against me, climbing into my lap and purring loudly? Maxx. Oh, I just noticed. Walnut is busy keeping Igloo and John company. I think maybe Igloo is in need of a furry companion with whom he can discuss all her cares and worries. Walnut is the perfect angel with whom Igloo–and the rest of us–can share our woes as well as our celebrations. Yes, I realize this corner is primarily for dogs, but sometimes it’s our cats from whom we learn the most about life and loving without conditions.

Trudy from MO