Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Pets And Gardens - Part One

Cookie and her misaligned jaw

Of the three stray cats, who have adopted us and taken to living in the barn, Cookie is the one who needs the most TLC. An old frail cat, who hirples along with an unsteady gait, Cookie’s jaw is out of alignment, as a result of an accident with an airgun, her owner informed me one day. Realising that was already too much information for my sensibilities, vis-à-vis animals and unfortunate accidents that happen to them, I refrained from asking her to elaborate.

As I cradled this survivor in my arms, trying not to think about her ordeal with the airgun, I was suddenly transported back in time to a day in my childhood. After school I played with a little boy called Brian, who lived next door to me. One day he came knocking on our door to tell us a story about ‘bad boys’ who had thrown a baby rabbit into our dustbin.

Sure enough, we found this pathetic little creature, covered in the old ashes from the previous evening’s coal fire. It looked quite lifeless, as my mum lifted its minuscule limp body into her cupped hands. Convinced it was dead because its body was cold and it did not move, she said the kindest thing would be to bury it. I had never seen so small a baby animal before. It was love at first sight. Looking at it as intently as I could through misty eyes, I imagined I saw a slight twitch of its nose and begged my mum to let me take the rabbit indoors.

Once inside, I ran for one of my mittens to make it a cosy bed. The baby rabbit could not have been more than a few days old. As I was only five at the time, you can imagine how small my tiny hand was, and the size, therefore, of the tiny creature which could fit easily inside my mitten. My mum placed it on the top of the warm stove to see if the heat would help to revive it. As it was not yet weened, she told me to run and fetch my dolly’s bottle, which she then filled with warm milk and a teensy amount of brandy.

It seemed to me that it lay for hours, motionless, on that stove. But, when it finally did make the tiniest of movements, I shall never forget the sucking sound as it managed, ever so slowly, to take a few sips from the bottle. I was enraptured. So reluctant was I to go to bed that night, thinking, as I was, about my new ‘best pal’.

This weak little creature, tucked up inside my mitten on the stove, clinging on for dear life, had stolen my heart. All kinds of questions assailed me and prevented me from sleeping. Would he be alive in the morning? If he survived would my dad build him a hutch? And an outdoor 'run' to play in on sunny days? What should I call him?

Very early next morning, I remember creeping through to the stove, but there was only an empty mitten lying there. Assuming that he had died, and that my dad had probably buried him, I went back to bed and crawled down under the covers. As I sobbed quietly to myself, I made up my mind that I was definitely going to be a vet when I grew up. I would look after sick animals and make them all better.


Sally said...

Oh dear! Hurt animals tug at my heartstrings. I can't understand the cruelty of humans that would purposefully hurt an animal. Cookie is a lovely cat. I miss my cats terribly. Lovely story WG.

A wildlife gardener said...

Thanks, Sally. I am always on the side of animals and children because they are both so vulnerable.

CG said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. I love the photos of Cookie and the story of the rabbit brought tears to my eyes!

I will plant some forgetmenots on ollie's grave; thanks for the idea!!

A wildlife gardener said...

Thanks for your visit, cg. These experiences stay with us for life.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

I'm glad that Cookie found a loving home with you. She needs it, they all do. Breaks your heart sometimes.

Cruelty to animals is something that I will never understand.

Poor little bunny baby, at least you gave it some comfort.

So you wanted to be a vet too? Join the club!

A wildlife gardener said...

Though animals, and several rescued ones in particular, have played a big part in my life, I actually became a teacher. Cookie is a lovely wee cat who purrs all the day long, Yolanda. She melts my heart.

Monkey said...

Your bunny in the mitten story brought tears to my eyes too. You write beautifully.

The photo of Cookie with her jaw is priceless. It gives her a rakish air.

All of our cats were rescued strays. The one we have now was supposed to stay with us for 5 months while her owner was out of town. That was 3 years ago and I'm thrilled. She's so happy here and she makes us happy too.

A wildlife gardener said...

We are definitely the lucky ones, aren't we, Monkey! Animals bring their own special magic into our lives. In return for food and shelter, they give unconditional loyalty and love, and accept us just as we are, no questions asked.

Thalia said...

Dear Wildlife gardener,

Cookie found the right person to take care of her! And the bunny too. It's a very touching story!

A wildlife gardener said...

Thank you, Thalia. True stories are often moving, especially where animals are concerned. Their helplessness begs us to be on their side.

Green thumb said...

Thank God dear wildlife gardener that there are people like you around but unfortunately the number is still not enough.
Lately the world is waking up to the need for saving animals but that is again because the changed eco-system ultimately affects us- How selfish!
I am glad Cookie found the right home and wish that more of us get inspired from such a moving story of your life.

Gotta Garden said...

What a kind heart you have! Cookie is adorable and I'm so glad she found you.

Ziggywigs said...

I love your blog and the pics of the putty cats are wonderful....Taz reminds me of my youngest cat. How nice of you to look after them all.