Archive for December, 2008

posted by Michel on Dec 25

This is the first Christmas EVER that I will be spending without my Dad, who sadly passed away last August after having been ill for around 8 months. It is such a strange feeling to lose someone so familiar and well loved, that I can hardly understand (let alone, believe) it …

Luca was Dads biggest fan

Luca was Dad's biggest fan

This year, sadly we also lost our sweet Jessica, only very recently. Her untimely death was the subject of a previous post and especially during the festive season, we miss her very much. In the Philippines, our 9 month old puppy Tosca fell victim to heartworm and sadly died. She too will be sadly missed but fondly remembered.

However, Christmas being Christmas, we decided that it should still be a happy time, no matter what was endured during the year. And what better thing to do than rescue a soul in need and provide it with a warm and welcoming home? So off to our local shelter we went. Helping out there every Sunday morning, I already knew that there was (sadly enough) a plentiful supply of needy souls. Well, to cut a long story short, we took home Nora! She is a very colourful cat, in every sense of the word. She’s very small (like Jessica in fact) but very calm and collected. Very sweet thing too, so we’re quite confident she will fit in nicely with our 3-strong team back home.

Nora, our colourful beauty

Nora, our colourful beauty

But, Christmas being Christmas, there would be a bit more rescuing to be done … Last Monday, 22 December, I went to my usual horse riding session at the local stables. The club houses two cats, Tine and Gizmo, who were both sound asleep in the cafetaria as I passed them on my way in. As club members, we’re supposed to do our chores around the stables, so I started shifting hay with a wheelbarrow. It was already dark and quite chilly outside, when I noticed a cat nearby. This is highly unusual since the stables are quite far from any houses. The stranger turned out to be a friendly, sturdy but hungry tomcat, without any obvious identification. So I decided to temporarily abandon my horse riding plans and take him to the vet to see if he was chipped. Two helpful girls, who named the stranger “Puck”, came along after helping me catch him (easy job!). Nope, no chip, so back to the stables we went. After having secured Puck in a more comfortable travel cage in the back of my van, I caught up with the riding lesson.

While riding I considered the options. Puck was obviously well fed and in good health as far as we could see. He was also sterilised and used to being handled by people. So he MUST have been cared for by people until recently. But the nearest houses were quite far away. I decided to conduct a little search myself and register him with Amivedi, a wll known Dutch organisation that registers lost and found pets. If his owners would look for him, they would certainly start there. Of course, the search turned out to be in vain: none of the neighbours had ever come across Puck before, so the poor fellow had to come home with me.

Puck, found wandering outside

Puck, found wandering outside

Puck has settled in quite nicely too now and lives up to his promise of being a good natured and friendly chap. His appetite is undiminished even after a few days … Yesterday, I extended the search area and approached even more people in the area of the stables, still without success. One of the neighbours, living on a farm, offered to take him in because their cat had died recently. So whatever happens, it looks like this wanderer is sure to end up in a nice warm stable this Christmas.

Which is, after all, what Christmas is all about, right?

posted by Michel on Dec 12

When I originally wrote the text for Do animals go to Heaven? and the sad story about Zorro, little did I know that soon this would become so topical for ourselves. Our dear little friend Jessica died last night, only about 8 years old!!!

Our always affectionate friend Jessica

Our always affectionate friend Jessica

Jessica was always very affectionate. Although she didn’t enjoy being picked up or held closely, there wasn’t a single moment in all her live that she was grumpy or didn’t enjoy a little kiss and a quick hug. At bedtime, she would always jump on our bed and come to us for a kiss and a cuddle. Often she would then retreat to te far end of the bed and fall asleep. In short, she was a great friend, always! In addition, she was also a very brave cat. Surprisingly enough, despite her small stature, she was the only one of our cats who would defend our garden against trespassing felines. Our other cat Luca was her best friend. They would frequently visit one another’s resting spot and engage in a bit of mutual cleaning, which was always a very amusing sight, two of these happy cats indulging in a cat bath.

She didn’t have a very easy childhood probably. An acquaintance found her in a shelter in Belgium because she looked so much like her first cat. Although thin, she appeared in good health at that time apart from the fact that her breathing always sounded as if she was snorring. After she came to us, we had her examined extensively at the University of Utrecht’s clinic and the conclusion was that as a kitten, she had suffered cat flu which her then owners had failed to treat properly, so that it became chronic. The conclusion was that there wasn’t a lot that could be done about it. And although it appeared to us, mere humans, as if she had trouble breathing, it never stopped her from playing or venturing outside.

Jessica with her friend Luca

Jessica with her friend Luca

Wat happened to our precious little lady, we don’t really know. Monday and the weekend before, nothing seemed wrong with her. As usual, she tried to steal kisses as I was tapping away at the keyboard in my study. Monday night she had still been outside for a while. However, Tuesday morning she failed to turn up for breakfast, an event she would only rarely miss. I still went to work but when I returned home in the afternoon, I asked Neressa whether she had seen Jessica at all. When she said she hadn’t I knew something was amiss, so I searched the house. Eventually she followed me up the stairs, having been hiding under the bed in the guest room. She immediately lay on her side gasping. NOT a good sign. So we took her to the vet straight away. After quick examination and a few blood tests, it appeared that she was undercooled and suffered severe anaemia. The vet thinks that this rapid degradation of her health could well be caused by rat poison, as e.g. described here. He gave her a shot to fight the adverse effects of any poison as well as some prednisolon-like agent and we went home being VERY worried.

Brave guardcat on duty

Brave guardcat on duty

And not without reasonas it turned out! The next day the situation only got worse as her strenghts clearly diminished. We went back to the vet and he confirmed what we feared, but he also believed that the prednisolon might still “kick in”, so he advised us to wait till the next day. That night, our faithful darling passed away in our arms, as she was laying in bed with us. We will NEVER forget you my dear, never!

Jessica happily patrolling her territory

Jessica happily patrolling her territory

posted by Michel on Dec 11

This is a tribute to a beloved neighbourhood cat, named Zorro. Traffic through our residential area got him in the end …

Zorro, friendliest neighbourhood cat

Zorro, friendliest neighbourhood cat

Zorro belonged to Tommy, the kid next door. He was an incredibly friendly cat with a very adventurous nature. It was this character trait that led to his untimely demise. Our neighbours got Zorro as a kitten from an animal shelter. As he was Tommy’s cat, he got to name him and after due consideration (with a little help from the colour of his fur) it was to be Zorro. Zorro used to play with the neighbourhood kids as well as with other cats, including our own Luca. His friendly nature made sure that he was loved by everyone. But even as a youngster his adventurous streak would get him into trouble. Once he went missing for a few months. Of course, Tommy was inconsolable and his father spent weeks posting notices in nearby supermarkets and inquiring with shelters and vets. We helped looking for Zorro too, by going for walks every night circling in ever wider circles through our area. Then one day our neighbours received a phone call from the family that had adopted Zorro during his time away and who, finally, saw one of the notices. Apparently, the little fellow lost his way and wandered off into the wrong direction until these friendly people found him, some 5km away. Because he didn’t carry any obvious identification (Zorro WAS chipped however!), these people assumed he was a stray and took him into their own home, totallu unaware of the search that had started closeby.

Zorro liked a room with a view

Zorro liked a room with a view

Needless to say, after his return, the neighbours kept Zorro indoors for a long time before they felt confident enough to let him roam outside once again. A year and a half passed by with our furry friend enjoying the company of his neighbourhood’s friends and his own family. Until 28 November 2008 … At around 16:15 he was hit by a car in his own street, just 50 meters away from his own home and died on the spot. My neighbour was one of the first to find him and was, once again, heartbroken. He would also have to be one to tell his son that his faithful friend had died.

Zorro will be sorely missed by the entire neighbourhood. We can only hope that the Lord intends to send more beautiful souls like that our way to enlighten our days …

Zorro helping with household chores

posted by Michel on Dec 8

Ever since I was a child, I’ve wondered about why we humans think of ourselves as special and above other animals. Do we really deserve such status? Not if you look at the mismanagement of our surroundings and the disastrous way man treats animals, domestic and wild alike. I was also intrigued by the notion that living beings, including plants, and perhaps even inanimate natural objects such as rocks, have something you might refer to as a “soul”. Of course, for our pets and closer natural relatives the mammals, this is easier to imagine. Having come of age, I realise that to many of us, these questions are answered by religion. Although I’m certainly religious myself and was brought up as a Catholic, I do not support one single traditional religion, but rather borrow useful ideas from the ones I’m more familiar with and mix them with my own convictions. Even so, I suppose that my own theories on the subject still stand.

Animals have varying degrees of intelligence and cuddliness, which applies to individuals from our own species too, but all creatures on this planet of ours have one thing in common: we all have the right to be here and lead the life that was intended for us. Whatever you call that force of nature that put us here, it’s given us all a chance for life and there is no obvious reason why man should spoil it for the rest. What I mean is, just because we think we’re so smart, does that give us the right to disregard everybody else’s rights and needs?

Since “heaven” is a religious concept, just out of interest I’ve collected a few links about what the Bible has to say about animals, whether they go to heaven and whether we truly can be held responsible for their well-being. The results may be surprising, here goes:

  • In this article, Animals in the Bible, you will find various statements as to how we are responsible for the animals around us.
  • The following link, Animals of the Bible, lists the species that are mentioned specifically in the Bible. Clearly, the Bible is not a scientific work, so the list is very small compared to what we know now, but it’s very interesting nonetheless.
  • There is a book, aptly named The Animals’ Bible which deals with our “stewardship of the Earth” as they call it, from a relgious and biblical point of view.
  • On the site Eternal Animals they mention a very interesting book: “Who says animals go to heaven?”, a collection of statements by various church leaders and ministers of all denominations.
  • This is a web page which asks the same question: biblical donkey

In fact, you will find many references to pets and animals and heaven on Internet and above are only a few of those that I encountered. So we can easily say that there is a lot of interest in the subject.

Which brings me back to my own convictons. Yes, I do believe that animals and ourselves will be reunited in another spiritual place, where the essence of our existence, the soul if you like, dwells. And if a sense of responsibility or guardianship doesn’t convince you to treat animals right, perhaps the fear of when you will next run in to that elephant you shot during your meagre existence on this planet, will …