Thursday, September 19, 2013

Rescue pets Part 3: Henrietta

Henrietta was the first pet who was just mine. I had grown up with dogs--Eurydice, a mutt from the pound who was just a wonderful pet; Sheba, an Afghan Hound we bought when I was in second grade, after Eurydice passed on; and Nigel, a Standard Poodle who we got when I was in eighth grade after Sheba died an untimely death from epilepsy--and a cat named Solomon. Sol died a week after I graduated from college, and my parents said they weren't planning to get another cat (they've since had two) but that I could get a cat of my own provided it was a female and I agreed to take her with me when I found my own place to live. And provided that I wait until after the summer.

At the end of the summer, I resolved to do things the right way. I had agreed to humor Brother's girlfriend by adopting my cat from the shelter near their apartment in Brooklyn. Their dog had come from their and it was a great shelter. Also, at that time they kept their cats for adoption in the pet supply store they operate, so it was a great place to visit. Cats were everywhere--on top of shelves, in bins of dog biscuits, on the windowsill. It was hard to even focus on all the cats, and the more time one spent in the store, the more cats would become noticeable. I decided I would take two trips to adopt my cat. The first just to look and identify some candidates with a clear head, and the second to adopt.

We took our first trip and everything went according to plan. We enjoyed hanging out in the shop, and I spent time with several eligible cats, settling on two possible candidates.

The next opportunity we had to get to Brooklyn was the afternoon of Rosh Hashana. When "Rosh Hashana/Cat Day" arrived, I was excited. One of the two candidates was going to come home with me and be my very own pet! I had been dreaming about them. I had names picked out. We put Nigel in the car so he could meet the cat we'd be bringing home, we met Brother and his girlfriend and their dog, and we all headed over to the store.

On the way into the store I noticed a small orange cat looking out the front window. Each cat had a collar on with a name. This one's name was Cisco. Male--no good. Then Tony, one of the Directors of the rescue, said that the cats I had picked out were not good candidates for me. Neither would make a good only pet, neither got along well with dogs. I'd have to start over.

For three hours I toured the rescue with Tony, meeting cats, talking about my priorities, visiting the resident goat, and getting more and more confused. Finally, I asked Tony for help. He offered three choices: a tabby kitten, an older cat who was sweet, but unmemorable, and a quirky little cat who lived in the store and loved to follow Tony around. Her name was Cisco.

Henrietta sure was quirky. She loved to run, especially at around 10PM. She loved to look out windows, and learned in every one of the seven homes we shared the best window to get a view of me coming home from work. Her tongue stuck out all the time, at least until almost all her teeth fell out (she ended her life with four teeth. Nobody knows why those four remained.) She loved dogs. I've never met another cat with such intuition about dogs. It was like she was bilingual. She made friends with every dog she ever met, and then outsmarted them all.

Henrietta was with me from just after college until Boo was two years old. Through seven moves, through boyfriends and jobs and grad school and marriage, Henrietta was my family. I still miss her.
Henrietta in her later years.

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