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Remembrance of Things Past (With apologies to Mssr. Proust)

Those of you who read this blog may have noticed that there has been a bit of a dry spell, word wise. It’s unusual for me, but true nonetheless. To quote one of my favorite films, Shakespeare in Love “My muse has deserted me”. So today I offer up an uninspired, but fairly accurate, recap of some of the highlights of my year at the Center, in my own home, and in our sweet village in general. We began with a flush of adoptions: three kitties and a dog found their forever homes in the first few weeks of the New Year. We felt extraordinarily energized and hopeful that 2017 would see us find loving homes for some of our more (shall we just say) challenging residents. More about that later… I must say that the outstanding efforts of our garden volunteers have not gone unrewarded. This has been a banner year for flowers. We have roses, daisies, iris, sunflowers, cornflowers, a beautiful tree or two and some gladioli. There is much more, of course, but I am still acquiring a working knowledge of gardens in Michigan. My own garden is a testament to how much I have to learn! The gazebo got a good wash in the spring and I was pleased to see that our clean up crew was careful to remove and protect the wren’s nest that yearly houses a family of gape mouthed chicks. Baby birds, and the way they appear to be all mouth, always enchant me. It seems impossible that they could grow into that maw, but of course, they do! Early spring is when I begin to check in daily to the “falcon cam” in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. For the past 10 years I have watch as mated pairs of Peregrine falcons lay their clutch of beautiful claret colored eggs and nurture their young on a ledge high above Monument Circle. For many years the pair were Kathy and Kinney—now their own offspring have taken residence to carry on the proud bloodlines of what was the oldest and most productive breeding pair of Peregrines in the U.S. I have taken to watching local cams also—trail cams are new to me and there are several that have provided amazing views of a wide variety of critters: skunks, a badger, many raccoons and squirrels in addition to the deer! They are a joy to watch.

Back at the Center saw a year with fewer than kittens than usual. Could it be that our relentless efforts to promote spay and neuter programs are finally beginning to make a difference? On that note, it was this year that saw the realization of a project very close to the hearts of all rescue organizations and volunteers: a low-cost spay/neuter/vaccination offer for the residents of Antrim county and their pets. In cooperation with local vets and Antrim County Animal Control, the Center now provides regular opportunities for essential services at a reduced cost. If you have not already heard of this wonderful addition to our programs, please check it out on the website—and pass the word. It is making a difference to the wellbeing of the animals in Antrim County!

On a personal note, and speaking of kittens…we had a blessed event in our very own home. Three bedraggled, dirty and starving kittens were unceremoniously dumped at Animal Control just as the staff was undergoing a changeover. As an experienced bottle feeder, I got the call to come and collect the three waifs. Harry, William and Kate took up residence in our “nursery” and began to grow on my heart! What a surprise! Having found loving homes for the “married couple” (by now neutered and spayed), I prepared myself for giving up Harry.

Oddly enough, I just could not find anyone who was willing to take on a healthy, beautiful, large, lushly furred bundle of orange joy. So the die was cast and Harry (or Pancho as my husband inexplicably calls him) joined the pack and proceeded to shake up the residents with his joyful antics, crazy obsessions and extra loud purr. He has, to say the least, brought us a hatful of laughs and so much love. The big boys have taken him under their wing, (paw?), and together they terrorize the household and make fine use of their Catio—a Christmas present from my talented carpenter husband. Now if only the temperature would get above 0 degrees, they could actually enjoy the great outdoors in safety and comfort.

It was a good summer at the Center—many happy moments when new forever families claimed our kitties and dogs. Some of my best memories are of the adoptions of cats that, for a myriad of reasons, presented a challenge. Some were older ladies and gents, some bonded and in need of a double adoption, some who were shy and did not immediately seek attention from potential families. However, saving the best for last, the end of this year gave us the joyful task of saying goodbye to two of our longer term residents: Snow White, a kitty with, shall we say, a strong desire to be an only kitty-child and our beautiful Sassy, who waited patiently for 3+ years to find the perfect home.

My heart sang for joy at these adoptions…it is what keeps volunteers like me going. My imagination fills with happy scenes of contented cats and happy humans living in harmony, free from cages, stress, fear and danger. We are fortunate at the Center that our residents, dogs and cats alike, are happy and well loved here with us, but nothing beats your own bed in your own home with your own person to love! So congratulations to Snow and Sassy—you gave this old lady the courage to sign up for another 10 years of rescue work, And while we are on the subject of joyous

events…Mindy and Missy, two gentle and loving dogs suffering from heartworm, were another small miracle.

I grew up believing that a heartworm diagnosis was an almost certain death sentence for any afflicted dog. Thanks to improved veterinary care, that is no longer the case. Although Mindy will be on medication for the remainder of her life, a kind and loving person fell for her gentle good looks and happily took Mindy home for good. Missy is now our office dog, as she patiently awaits her forever home. Another heartworm survivor, Missy will also need lifelong medication, but she is so worth the effort. A wonderful mix of Great Pyrenees and ??, she is a big gentle lover. She adores Jenna and follows her like her shadow. She is a treat to walk, like a big soft fluff ball floating on the end of her leash. Her personality is complemented by her wonderful looks---soft brown eyes, soft thick fur and a body made for keeping her family warm on these three dog nights. Check her out on our website, or come by the Center—even in these arctic conditions the road is ploughed and the Center is warm and welcoming. As always fundraisers are a part of the life of any rescue organization. Over the course of the year the Center has benefitted from the goodwill and generosity of individuals and businesses alike, raising the funds needed to continue and expand our mission. The annual Mead and Cider Tasting was again a roaring success despite the roaring rain! We will be treating the community to another grand evening this coming September as once again The Stonewaters Inn, Bee Well Meadery and Moka/Starlight team up to feed and water us as we shop the amazing donations given by generous members of the community. It’s the first Thursday in September, so save the date! Currently Adam’s Madams in Central Lake, Bee Well Meadery and Moka/Starlight in Bellaire are teaming up to collect items from our Wish List that will be shared with Antrim Animal Control. Every donation brings a chance to win a $100 to one of these fine establishments, so stop in and get your ticket! A final, very personal note. Having spent many years volunteering at a large municipal shelter, I have seen first hand the many challenges that come with housing a large number of animals and caring for their welfare. Our local shelter, ACAC has done an outstanding job this year of caring for and rehoming a huge number of cats and dogs in addition to pairing with HFMF to provide low cost spay/neuter/vaccination programs for local residents. My hat is off to you all for a hard job exceedingly well done! As Bing Crosby sang, “the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful”—so, in the dying of the old year I feel the possibilities of the New Year to come. We will continue our work; with your help we will give hope to the animals that come to the Center. Your support and kindnesses make the Center strong!

PS…We have a BUNNY! Check out our caped crusader: Captain Carrot

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