Sunday, August 17, 2014

Genesis 45: 1-15, Matthew 15:21-28: Dogs and Cynics, or: a Christlike Response the the Events in Ferguson, Missouri

This morning's passages are Genesis 45: 1-15 and Matthew 15:21-28. This is one of those Sundays in which I found myself pressed to address in my sermon some sad events from the news this week. Having spent quite a few years working with youth and having attended the funerals of young lives ended far too soon, events like this week's events in Ferguson, Missouri always press hard on my heart. This was nothing I could ignore.



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pardon my soapbox

I'd apologize for the soapbox I'm inevitably going to be on for a while now except that I don't think I need to. Those of you who are offended by it should take a good hard look at why you are offended. Feel free to accuse me of sounding like Bob Barker.

Here's the soapbox:

Spay and neuter your pets. No excuses. Do it. Now. If you live in the City of Pittsburgh, you can apply for a free spay/neuter for your pet, so cost is a lousy excuse.

Also. . . adopt, don't breed or buy. Unless you have a need for a specifically bred working dog, why aren't you at the shelter? And as there is no such thing as a working cat. . . well. . . just get a shelter kitty.

This sweet boy, Coca Cola, and his brother, Dr. Pepper (may he rest in peace). . .

were found in a box on the side of the road with their mother and two siblings. Friendly, loving, and quirky, these two seemed to come already knowing how to deal well with kids and other cats. When Pepper died of kidney failure at the age of 9, the entire family felt the terrible loss. He was an amazing cat. And he was dumped as a kitten. Coke is 12 years old and healthy as an ox. He's still as silly and loving as he was 12 years ago. He's a wonderful older brother to our other cat, tolerates the dog and kids, and is a generally sweet, wonderful friend. Somebody just left him out in the cold. Not even on the door of a shelter.

This silly dog. . .

loves her human puppies and her kitty cats. There is no doubt that she'd lay down her life for any of us. She's a big soft sweetheart who just loves all the people. She has proven to be an incredibly wonderful, loyal family dog over her 9 years. She was dumped at the shelter with 3 siblings. Her parents hadn't been fixed, even though their owners clearly didn't want puppies.

This poor guy. . .
 (the cat, not the kid)
wound up in the shelter not once. . . but twice. The first time, he was found as a kitten, just wandering the streets. He was adopted and then returned when the owner claimed he was "moving." We suspect he started to notice that the cat had health issues (probably related to being born stray) and didn't want the responsibility. Either way, he was left, unwanted, not once, but twice. We don't know if his mother was a stray/dump when she had the kittens or if he was dumped later (most likely the latter as he was found alone), but twice rejected, Clark is now in his forever home. He is best buddies with the other cat and the dog. He cuddles the kids and adults alike, and runs to the door with the dog to greet his returning family. For added amusement, he "barks" at the mailman.

And then the new baby. . .

Found on the side of the trail by the river. . . hurt and alone. Completely abandoned and in urgent need of food and veterinary care. He was nearly eaten by another larger animal because someone dumped him. After just a few days with us, he's already coming out of his shell, playing, cuddling, even purring.

This is the motley crew that makes up my house full of wonderful, loving pets. All abandoned. All unwanted. There are hundreds of great animals in shelters around the city just waiting for a good home. If you're looking for a pet, please check the shelters and breed rescues. Please get your pets "fixed." Keep your cats indoors and your dogs on leashes and in yards. They are domestic animals. They were bred specifically to live with humans, not in the woods or on the streets. That litter of kittens is not better off on their own in the country. They are better off in a house being taken care of. The "purebred" puppies from a breeder are no better than the loving mutts at the shelter waiting for a home.

This PSA brought to you today by someone who has spent the past few days tending a wounded kitten nobody wanted.

PS: Moses is healing well and is starting to play and pounce when I'm in the room. He's still a little skittish when big animals (AKA humans) make fast movements, but he's making social progress really quickly considering his recent trauma. We still haven't decided for certain if we're a foster home or a forever home for him, but he's sure easy to fall in love with. . .

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Meet Moses

This is Moses.

As you can see, Moses is a cat. He's a kitten, to be precise. We think he's around 3 months old.

"Wait!" You say, "You just adopted a cat about a year and a half ago and he's sick and everything! What are you doing with a three month old kitten? Are you out of your mind?"

Well, you see, Moses was a surprise kitten.

Lately along the North Shore trail, I've had some run-ins with wildlife. Rabbits appearing out of nowhere and skittering across my path. Angry ducks chasing me away from nests. Birds swooping out of the trees with no warning. So I've been keeping a close eye on the sides of the trail lest I be assaulted again by Mother Nature.

Saturday, at mile 5 out of 18, I spied a face in the weeds on the edge of the trail.
I think it will come as no surprise to anyone that I immediately stopped running and flagged my running buddy to come over. My running buddy is a good person and a rescuer of cats and she also could not resist the little face. I mean. . . look at that face!
We tried to coax him out to pick him up, but the poor baby was terrified and just ran back into the brush. Fortunately, there was a drop off to the river and he couldn't go far. We called in the cavalry. My friend's mom is an experienced stray cat rescuer and she came to set out a have a heart trap. 2 hours later, after our run (which came up at 13 miles rather than 18 because we spent about 5 miles of time chasing a kitten), we returned to the trap and sure enough. . . it contained our little feline friend.
While he was skinny, he didn't seem to be unhealthy other than a few wounds where it appears something tried to eat him. He clearly needed medical care and some serious TLC, but appeared to be a dump rather than a feral kitten. Both of us keep tabs on what's happening at all the local shelters so we knew that the local rescues are all overwhelmed with homeless pets right now. We decided to start calling around to get the little guy some vet care and talked my husband into letting the kitty stay in my newly set up attic office at home where the other pets can't come bug him. We wanted to keep him out of the shelters if at all possible. 

By later in the afternoon, my vet was able to come and see the little guy (Vet to Pet - they saved Clark's life) and treat his wounds. They cleaned up the wounds and gave us antibiotics for him, as well as dewormer. He was checked for FIV, feline leukemia, and heart worms and came up clean on all counts. His ears, eyes, and nose were all super clean. While he's a little light for his age, they guessed his wounds were about a week old and he probably hadn't been out on his own for too long. He was scared, but mild mannered. 

We've spent the past few days taking care of him and socializing him. He's under quarantine from the other pets for 10 days because of his bite wounds, but he can smell and hear the other cats and has been looking for them. We have a feeling he'll socialize to our mellow boys quickly. He hissed at Sparkle when she gently sniffed his crate the other day and I don't know if that was because she's giant compared to him or because he was bitten by a dog. We'll probably never know, but we'll take it slow with her and I know she'll be great with him as long as we make sure she doesn't sit on him. We've been extremely careful with the kids around him, only letting them pet him if one of us are holding him, but he doesn't seem to mind them too much. I suspect when he's feeling up to playing, he'll downright enjoy their company. For now, we're teaching him to be a lap kitty.
He's a quick study. As of yesterday morning, he would still hiss at me when I tried to pick him up, but once he was in my arms, he was fine. This morning, he hissed at Tim (who has been able to spend less time with him), but not at me. He's making fast progress and is slowing gaining confidence. 

While we're still not certain if he's going to live here long term, we're going to keep him long enough to let his wounds heal and to socialize him to the kids, cats, and dog and will have him vaccinated, neutered, and microchipped before finding him a home. In case you're wondering, there is already a waiting list of wonderful kitty homes in our family willing to take him in if we don't keep him. But if you're interested in saving a life, please check out the Animal Rescue League's free adoption event coming up soon. And in the meantime, I'll be sure to keep you updated on Moses and his acclimation to being spoiled.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Seedy Business: MATTHEW 13:31-33, 44-49a

This morning's Gospel lesson is MATTHEW13:31-33, 44-49a. We've been spending some time in the parables in this Gospel and this is a particularly exciting selection of parables. I hope you find them as wonderful as I do! As usual, the manuscript can be found after the break.