Editor’s note: This the first in a four-part series.
Faith was important not just because we loved her but because she taught important lessons. She has long since passed but the memory of what she did for us has never faded.
Martha had been in the office only 10 minutes when she heard banging on the front door. Holding a cardboard box and shifting her weight from one foot to the other, a nervous young woman waited as Martha unlocked the door. Then things happened fast. Only halfway through her well-practiced “Can I help you?” the box was pushed into Martha’s arms. Inside was a shorthaired brown tabby cat with a mangled and bleeding lower jaw. Somehow this sad kitty managed a weak cry. When Martha looked up, the woman was gone.
I’ve always believed that those who anonymously deliver unwanted and sometimes badly injured creatures to us are doing the best they can. It would be easy to default to a bad attitude but our job is to work with whatever we are given.
My staff was the best anywhere. When I arrived 10 minutes later, our first patient was already getting generous doses of IV fluids, warmth from a hot water blanket and some much needed TLC.
This homeless cat had severe injuries to her head, her lower lip and her jaw. When she struggled to her feet she staggered. But with generous doses of pain control and medications to counter her brain trauma she began to calm down and rest. I don’t remember which of us heaved that first sigh of relief.
By noon the kitty with no name was stable. She still looked rough, but her injuries appeared manageable. Success would be about more than skill and experience; our work is part of something much bigger. Anyway, you can’t do much good with trauma cases if you’re not an optimist.
This little waif was a beauty. Once you accepted her as she was at that moment, you could see her lovely feline form, her fine coat and, best of all, her own optimism. I was on board with her and so was everybody else.
Next week: Serious challenges
pet behavior advice: For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.
Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post pet questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.