We have had our share of animals that strayed onto the family farm over the years. Some stayed; some didn’t, but they were never ignored. Maybe, because we always had food around for our pets, the strays sensed a promise of hope. In addition to the domestics, we harbored birds, ground hogs, raccoons, skunks, and other critters who succumbed to our assistance. Those who survived were turned loose within a short time to fend for themselves.
My brother, Jim, usually had a hand in caring for these animals. A pigeon stayed around long enough to learn to hop up the stairs to Jim’s second-story bedroom. We were always worried when birds were brought inside to mend and became tame, that they would be killed by our cats. Imagine our dismay when we found one drowned in a toilet. Of the many things Jim has gained from all the experiences, the size of his heart that has grown the most. He says that it’s easier for him to feel compassion for an animal than a person (I can understand this if I think about some of the things we humans do).
After my other brother and I moved out, our parents had to share the place with Jim’s refugees. First, it was a stray German shepherd that they named Sam. Then came Digger, the golden retriever that Jim’s vet couldn’t find a home for. The dog population has steadily grown to now total 11. Each one has its story.
Betsy, a “Benji type” terrier, was so wary when she first came on the scene that Mom worked for days to win her trust. She coaxed her close enough to catch her, then shed traitor’s tears as they sent her to the pound. Jim was so worked up at the possibility of her being gassed that he paid the fee to get her out and brought her back to the farm.
Any number of cats have come and gone during this time, thanks to the milk hauling routes that Jim drove. Many of the farms had cats that were allowed to breed freely and had to fend for themselves. Always concerned for their welfare, Jim started to take pet food in the trucks with him. When one of his wards had sore eyes or other chronic looking problems, he took them home for special care. He must have over 20 cats now. Our Lloyd was one of these.
All of these animals, cats and dogs, get medical care and are neutered as money allows. I wish there were funding available to help my brother with his efforts. Jim must spend as much for pet food and veterinary bills each month as some people do in rent. He says he believes this is one of the reasons he was put here on earth – to help unfortunate animals. When I see him taking care of them, I can’t help feeling what a noble cause it is.
MAY 4-10 is
BE KIND TO ANIMALS WEEK
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