When we left Australia for North Cyprus, we had – for the first time we’ve been together (35 years) – no pets. We had sad a sad farewell to our Jack Russell, Rosie, in early 2010, but celebrated her long, loving life of 16.5 years.
So when we set off for the eastern Mediterranean, we decided we’d be footloose and fancy-free. We looked forward to travelling around Europe without a care in the world. Unbeknownst to us, however, the Universe had a complete different idea of our future and it didn’t include being footloose and fancy-free.
Our happy-go-lucky ways lasted until late June when a white, stray cat who’d been hanging around in our complex decided to move in. And once we started feeding her and she’d got her paws under the table, so to speak, she introduced her two kittens. So we threw up our hands, surrendered to the inevitable and adopted the whole kitty and caboodle.
In late September to early October we went back to the UK to visit family and friends we hadn’t seen since 2004. We found a carer for our cats and set off for our three weeks’ holiday. Which turned into two when the airline, Pegasus, summarily cancelled our flight and we had to return early.
We were disappointed and angry our stay had been cut short, but told each other that it was lovely to see our little feline family again. We got home on the Wednesday and happily told ourselves driving home on the Friday from the supermarket that having cats around wasn’t too bad but we didn’t want a dog as they tend to tie you down.
Sigh. Why do we drop ourselves into it like this? On the Sunday afternoon we were sitting on our patio and Bryan noticed one of our neighbours fussing outside the wall beside our garden. My husband wandered down out of curiosity and found a puppy which had collapsed completely and folded up over a plant with her head under her body as she was too weak to get up. She was severely emaciated and close to death and our Turkish neighbour had no idea how to take care of her.
As Bryan picked her up, she managed a feeble wag of her tail, just one wag, and that was it. So we spoon-fed her water and washed her as she was in a disgusting state – covered in dirt, fleas, lice and ticks. Then we knocked up some chicken and rice, and spoon-fed her little by little. We put her in the cat’s crate overnight with a blanket, covered the crate with another blanket to keep out drafts and left her by our bed so she had company through the night.
To be very honest, we didn’t know if she’d make it, but she’s a tough little survivor and she staggered out next day, headed for the water bowl to drink on her own, hoovered up the remaining rice and chicken and hasn’t looked back. She was eight weeks’ old and now is four months’ old. She has grown like Topsy (and we’d also wanted a small dog if we ever did get one) and bids fair to be a very big dog indeed.
That was it, then. Our furry family was complete. But wait. The Universe had other ideas. Last Sunday I heard someone calling out front and found another neighbour from further along our complex. He asked if I was Australian and El Stupido brightly said yes. And then he said he’d been told the Australians take in stray dogs and kittens. He’d found a stray puppy dumped beside the nearby English school, it had been wet, hungry and howling and he couldn’t leave it, because it would be like leaving a little kid. But he’s Jordanian, isn’t familiar with caring for dogs, lives upstairs and has two daughters to care for. So I sighed again, went to tell Bryan that a new addition to our menagerie was on the way, and thus Ziggy arrived on our doorstep.
Ziggy is in much better nick than poor old Sadie was, thank goodness, and thankfully he and the older dog took to each other straight away. They play together, fight together, eat together and sleep together. He has a little whiskery face and, like Sadie, is bidding fair to become pretty big.
So we congratulated ourselves that we’d reach the end of the adoption road. But wait, that road wasn’t blocked off yet. A couple of days later we heard a kitten bawling in the field beside our wall and lo and behold! we found a young kitten, about 8 weeks, in a dreadful condition, thin, nervous and, poor little thing, missing one eye. So in she came to join the throng. She never stopped eating when she first arrived and was nervous and timid. The first couple of nights she slept in the small cat cage, Sadie slept in her crate beside our bed, we kept Ziggy in the bed with us for some peace and quiet and the three older cats came and went as they wished as we always leave our verandah door slightly ajar. We have now, thankfully, reached the stage where all the animals sleep outside and we totter off to bed and shut the door, after days of absolute chaos of dogs roaring everywhere, cats hissing as they get knocked over and feeding time at the zoo twice a day: Jezebel, aka the Moggy Mafia, gets fed separately as she’s quite aggro and the kittens are terrified of her; Sadie and Ziggy get fed next; and finally Bella, our little rescue kitten who is now pretty confident and putting on weight and playing like a kitten should, gets fed on the counter as otherwise the others pinch all her food.
The moral of all this? Well, make plans and watch the Universe howl with laughter as it tears up the plans and stomps all over them. For some reason we have been called to caretake all these mutts and so we have surrendered to the call and now have a good-sized menagerie, thanking heaven along the way that we have a fair-sized apartment and a bit of garden to accommodate the cats and the dogs. Especially in Sadie’s case, it was a case of never knowing quite how the mystery of life works as, if we hadn’t been home, she would have died for sure.
We are simply crossing our fingers that there are no more surprises in store from the mystery of life!!!!