Thursday, November 17, 2011

One Year Ago Today

  A couple months after settling into Oregon, McKay and I decided to get a dog. After the whole Lola fiasco (demon cats originate in China, if you were wondering), even I, who have always been a crazy cat lady at heart, was wary of adopting a pet of the feline variety. But I was lonely, spending roughly 10-12 hours alone each day, and I needed something to coddle and love while McKay was off blowing stuff up, or whatever chemists do. So, dog it was.

  We had planned on adopting a small dog from my hometown in California. Small dog purely because of apartment restrictions, and from California because one of my favorite hobbies was to cry while looking through the LA Craigslist pet section, where just about every other entry said, "HELP PLEASE!! WILL BE PUT DOWN TOMORROW!!" I'm not sure why I liked to torture myself like this. Anyway, I wanted to save one of the impending-doom doggies, and I figured we could visit all the local shelters at Thanksgiving while visiting my parents, and find our perfect canine companion and pat ourselves on the back for being awesome. I'm not sure why I insisted we check out the animal shelters in Oregon. Impatience, most likely. But one night I dragged McKay to the local Safe Haven (a no-kill shelter) to look at their small dogs.

  First we looked over the cats section, just because systematically they were the first thing you'd look at if you're going to be thorough. The kittens melted my heart a tiny bit, but the thought of how freaking adorable Lola was at that age as well stopped me from insisting we go the kitten-route instead. There were lots of adult cats, too. Some were on sale, from the usual $40 to $15 because they'd been there for so long. McKay checked these out especially since he always likes a good deal, and I rolled my eyes. One in particular caught my eye, in a not-good way. He was a fat ginger cat, with freaky yellow eyes and ears that had been practically shredded  towards the top. I did not want that cat. He was ugly, and I told myself he was probably mean. Plus, he had FIV and he was seven years old, a ticking time bomb. His tag said he had been in that cage for nine months. I figured there was probably a reason for that and moved on.

  Then we looked at their small dogs. We even took one or two out to the play yard to see if we had any connection with them. Honestly, though, those tiny buggers were more interested in smelling the last dog's urine than in us, and I shrugged when McKay asked what I thought. I figured the volunteers would know the dogs better than we would after five minutes of looking stupid trying to play fetch, so I asked a girl walking by if she would recommend any of the small dogs.

  "I'm not really into small dogs." She said, crinkling her nose. "But if you want a CAT, Sylvester here is a pretty awesome dude. And I don't really like cats, either." While I was wondering why she volunteered at an animal shelter if she apparently hated animals, she led us back to the cat section. Particularly to the beaten-up ginger I'd already decided I did not want. Before I could think of an excuse, she opened Sylvester's cage, and he obligingly jumped out. We stood staring at one another for a minute before the volunteer said, "You should sit down. He'll probably curl right up on your lap." I was skeptical of this, but I crouched down.

  Sylvester immediately climbed up on my lap, purring, and commenced kneading my jeans to shreds. I pet him hesitantly, and he lapped up the attention. After a few minutes of this, I thanked the volunteer and said we'd think about it.

  I didn't think I would. I did not want that ugly cat, even if he was surprisingly friendly.

  I had been praying that we'd find the right animal companion. Maybe that sounds stupid, but if you had lived with Lola for three months, you would understand. Anyway, every time I prayed I couldn't get Sylvester out of my head. But I brushed it away--I did NOT want that cat, we were getting a SMALL DOG, dang it! But Sylvester haunted me.

  Two weeks after the Safe Haven visit, I told McKay we were adopting Sylvester. McKay had liked Sylvester (plus he was ON SALE), so he was happy enough to go along with it. It was a stormy night, but I wasn't waiting any more. I knew I wanted Sylvester, and I had a sense of dread that if we waited, he wouldn't be there anymore. So I sent McKay to buy a litter box and cat food, and I went alone to Safe Haven.

  "I came to get Sylvester!" I proclaimed as I banged the door open in the midst of a storm (it might have flashed lightning behind me. That would've been dramatic). ". . . If he's still available." I added lamely.

  The woman at the desk clasped her hands at her chest and exclaimed, "God bless you!" (that is not a dramatization, that really happened). I then awkwardly took a seat while she finished up another family's paperwork and a volunteer went to get Sylvester.

 When the volunteer handed Sylvester to me (in a carrying box, so it could have been any cat in there, really), she said solemnly, "You will not be forgotten for this."

  "Oh! Um, okay." I said.  Apparently, I was a freaking HERO for adopting this cat. All in a day's work.

  After nearly crashing about a thousand times on the way home because I don't drive well at night/in storms (and getting lost for a half hour), I finally made it back to our duplex. I opened Sylvester's carrying case and stepped back, prepared to give him space, though my tendency is to smother. Sylvester looked around him briefly, then stared up at me. So I sat next to him on the couch, and he curled up on my lap.

He's hardly left it since.

We love you, buddy. Happy one year anniversary.


  1. I love this! Cuddling pets are the best. My cat is this same way & I wasn't even a cat person.

  2. I've never thought of Sylvester as an ugly cat. I think he is quite handsome, but I am particular to ginger cats...

  3. He's the most handsome cat I've ever seen now, but initially (especially right next to the kittens), he was not super attractive. Especially in that small cage making him look especially fat, and his ears were a little disturbing, haha. But, yeah, now I baby talk, "Who's my prettiest little kitty?" at least once a day.