Gillian Alsop, from Coventry, Warwickshire, in the United Kingdom, is one of my readers.
For many years Gillian had worked with dogs, until she realized that there were many feral cats in dire straits, so for the last 8 years Gillian’s life has been dedicated to them – feeding, coaxing, and taming them to be rehomed.
This is Gillian’s story in relation to one of those cats, a border collie puppy, and a wexie cross staffie puppy that Gilian adopted as well, and the effect those animals had on each other and on Gillian’s family:
“My last feral Tomcat was a challenge indeed. He was the Alpha male of a small colony…un-neutured…excessively big…and by far the most aggressive Tom it has ever been my pleasure to meet.
Having taken in two myself previously,I knew he would be the third. The fiery eyes held many a threat, and after 7 weeks of trying to reverse his misfortune, I was no nearer to bringing him in, but I could see something beyond the hatred, and so I carried on. I took a week’s leave…thinking the Tom would be fine, but upon my return, I found the Tom in distress. His coat was matted…his ear torn, and he’d shed many a pound, although the fire still burned brightly in his eyes. His last defiance was to snarl quietly, as I scooped him into my arms and took him home. But for many months he remained aloof…making no commitment, frightening everyone with those “evil eyes”. I named him Storm.
On February 14th, our daughter presented us with a 7 week old border collie pup, much to our dismay. The pup was weak, very frightened, and ran from the slightest sound. Our concern was for her safety…having brought in the Tom only a few months previously. We knew not whether he had any encounter with dogs, but we agreed to keep the pup for a few days. Getting her to eat was nightmare, and we eventually ended up spoon-feeding her with Sherley’s Lactol…just to keep her alive. She would not touch anything that we produced…from tin, packet or dried, and we had resigned ourselves to her inevitable passing.
For three nights she cried for her mum, and on the fourth night, at 2:15am….the crying stopped.
With a heavy heart, I crept downstairs, and approached her basket. It was a sight I knew I would never see again. The Tom’s body enveloped the sleeping pup, and both were in the land of dreams. Storm had made his first real commitment….to a dying pup! The following morning, as I opened the back door, Storm proudly entered with a token he was to bestow on Skye (so-named because of her china blue eys).
She scrambled out of the basket and pawed the large offering (a newly dispatched rat) but found it not to her liking. The unlucky animal was banished to the garden, but several minutes later, Storm returned. He proceeded to relinquish most of his breakfast onto the kitchen floor. Seconds later, the pup having picked up the scent, proceeded to demolish it, and was ready for more!! Felix catfood was to become her favorite food.
The bond that developed between them, was wonderful to watch, and from that day Skye never looked back. The Tom taught her many things, and protected her from harm, being by her side from dawn till dusk, but another bond was developing, which was even more amazing.
When Skye was 5 months old, my husband was diagnosed with acute Emphysema, and life was now a burden to him. Skye seemed to sense this and would sit beside him for hours, with her head in his lap. One evening, feeling rather unwell with migraine, my husband declared that he would supervise Skye’s last walk of the night. They were away for several hours and I began to worry. I was waiting with growing concern until they arrived home and declared what a wonderful walk it had been.
As Skye grew, they enjoyed many more wonderful walks and she gave my husband back his life.
But at 10mths, Skye’s life was to change dramatically. Storm collapsed on the bedroom floor and we rushed him to the veterinary surgery. Sadly, Storm died in my arms 20 minutes later….he had suffered a massive heart-attack. The vet informed me that Storm was at least 14 years old.
Our household mourned that night for a cat who had given us so much joy, but none more than Skye. For hours she paced the floor…waiting…hoping that he would appear in the doorway. Although we tried to console her, her grief was immense, and she remained depressed, alone,and refused to eat. This went on for 10 days, and Skye’s depression was getting worse.
One morning, my husband threw Skye’s favorite ball across the living room floor. She took a dive at it, and within minutes she was gasping for breath. The ball had lodged itself in her windpipe. Luckily, the ball contained a bell, placed there with a direct tiny hole that went through each side. As we tried desperatly to remove the ball, it moved direction, but still remained firmly lodged. I knew there was a chance that she would not make it to the vet, as it was the school run traffic and the vet’s surgery was 4 miles away.
Grabbing my mobile phone in one hand, and with the help of our granddaughter rushing Skye to the car, I phoned the surgery. Immediately they were on standby, and my husband drove like a madman…through traffic lights and over kerbs, all the time knowing that every minute counted. By the time Skye arrived, both her tongue and gums were a bright blue, and her eyes glazed. I knew Skye was only seconds from death.
We waited what seemed like an eternity, until we were ushered into the surgery. It seemed that three things had saved Skye’s life. The ball had turned to allow a little air through the hole, my husband,s driving skills, and the fact that she was a very healthy dog, but of course we know that the veterinarian’s skill of removing the ball within a 45 second time gap, before her heart stopped for good, had made all the difference.
Skye has recovered, although it has left her with epilepsy, and went on to save the life of a 4 week old pup, who lost his mum. With her tender loving care, he is now a year old and a happy healthy dog (a Westie cross Staffie) who dotes on her. They are a team, and it is like having one dog.
So you see, we owe Skye a lot. She gives us her complete trust, her unconditional love, and above all knowing that she would defend us with her life. Although they are both terribly spoiled, it is little in return for the love they bestow on us.
Just for the record…we named the new pup Storm!”
Gillian has written a novel based on her experiences with looking after these and other animals, called “The Ninth Life”.
This was a touching story and I know that animals do give unconditional love.
I am concerned that owners of cats do not have a bell on their collar and that they let them roam and kill wildlife- owners should be responsible for their animals.
This is a very touching story. i have seen the bonds animals make with each other first hand i grew up with many animals on a farm in Illinois. I have also bonded with many of them myself. I am a big animal lover and i beleive i have been given a gift to be able to connect with dogs and cats alike.
In general, I certainly agree with you. I hate when cats catch birds. But a rat? I’m not so fond of rats (pretty scared of them, actually, and hate the thought of rats anywhere near my house).
And Gillian doesn’t describe what type of environment she lives in. On farms, for example, they tend to keep cats specifically (or primarily) to keep certain wildlife pests to a minimum.
Just my thoughts.
Great story Brigitte and it did bring a tear to my eye but I love reading great rescue stories.