(*Be sure to watch the video, below this story, of Samantha & Winnie’s friendship!)
After our elderly beagle/terrier, Miss Honey, died of throat cancer in 2013, we found ourselves adopting another dog from the same county no-kill shelter (in Sparta) that year. Not long after Miss Honey’s death, we adopted Samantha. She was one of 42 dogs that had been rescued from an extreme hoarding situation when she was about 6 months old. It left her with missing enamel on nearly all of her teeth. A volunteer at the shelter fell in love with Samantha, named her and adopted her. This volunteer socialized her and spent most of her days with Samantha, taking her everywhere with her. Then, the woman’s life changed dramatically – and in a way that left Samantha alone way too much. So, she sadly had to surrender Samantha back to the shelter. Samantha was there two weeks before we found and adopted her. We fell in love with her immediately. She is so pretty, smart and sweet! She amazed us when we got her home! It seemed like she had always had been with us, and more than that, she immediately demonstrated to our three cats, her ultimate respect and friendship for them. It was stupendous! The transition was seamless and filled with awe and joy for all.
We were still grieving our previous dog, Miss Honey, but it made so much sense to honor her by saving this wonderful, amazing Samantha. Samantha is a clown, she makes us laugh and smile all the time. She is also extremely demonstrative of her enthusiasm and love for all of us. She is a healing, uplifting presence for all who meet her. Everyone who has met her so far has been completely enchanted.
In early Dec. of 2014, our older cat, Abigail, died of an aggressive mouth cancer. It was sudden and happened faster than we could process. In April of 2014, my older sister died of cancer as well. That was a lot. Sometimes things are so hard, it is best to move on and grieve as you do. We didn’t plan to adopt again right away. But the reality is, there are always amazing animals in need and we had the room for one more.
In late Jan. of this year, we adopted Winnie from a nearby town’s no-kill shelter. She chose us. As they do. And everything about finding her was an echo of deep love connecting to our dear kitty, Abigail.
Abigail’s passing was fast, but also full of grace and comfort. That was something I hadn’t experienced before with an animal companion death. It seemed Abigail had some strength and gifts to impart even in her transition. We adopted Abigail from the Humane Society in town in Jan. of 2003, a couple years after a beloved cat had died in a tragic accident. Abigail had chosen us. She had put her paw out and touched my nose gently. She was the much less common, female orange tiger. She had been homeless, was just under a year old, wasn’t spayed (she went through heat once – eek – then we had her spayed) and was sweet as a peach on a hot summer day. She also had a temper, but that was part of her charm. She was our baby cat when our daughter was a baby. They shared the crib and were close always.
Meeting Winnie at the shelter this past Jan. was a startling experience. Female orange tiger cats aren’t common at all. And there was one in front of us! Purring and loving us up! We observed her a lot, and she was only like that with us. She put her paw purposely in our daughter’s hand. And then in my husband’s hand. Like Abigail, Winnie had been homeless, was not spayed and is so sweet and smart. We were over the moon to adopt her! And like Abigail, she went through heat once and then we had her spayed.
By the way, Abigail left behind a cat husband. The other older cat in our household who is still going strong, Boris. Boris and Abigail were always in love and were like an old married couple in recent years. When Abigail was dying, Boris acted more and more like a kitten around her. It has been hard for him, but we take extra care with him, to make sure he knows we understand. Winnie doesn’t resemble Abigail, except that they are/were both orange tigers. The really cool thing is: Winnie looks like she is the offspring of Boris and Abigail together! Her face is like Boris’s and her personality is like Boris: super smart, tenacious, persevering and strategizing. She also has the heart-melting sweetness that Abigail had at times. It is like Abigail sent us her and Boris’s spiritual child. It seems against the odds and has been such a wonder for me. The timing and connection is uncanny.
But probably the most surprising and funny thing that has come of all of this? We thought that Winnie would be a lovely companion for our 5.5 year old Wesley, a tender-hearted and gorgeous Maine Coon cat we adopted from Tabby Town about 5 years ago. And they do really like each other. Which is adorable. And great for both of them! Winnie loves to hold Wesley’s magnificently foofy tail, snuggle her face in and go to sleep.
But the biggest and best surprise is this: Samantha and Winnie became the best of best friends. They play together for hours! They snuggle all night. Winnie cleans Samantha’s face and ears with fierce love. Samantha loves it. And more than that, Samantha needs it. They complete something in each other. They are as close as sisters. All of it is what I call ordinary miracle….filled with joy, wonder and healing medicine for those who witness, connect to, tune in to and experience it.
Here is a video I just made of Samantha and Winnie’s unique friendship. It is jokingly called “Tuesday Night Fight Club”, because they can play pretty intensely, but it is all play and totally harmless. They are both young and have lots of energy to play with! The second half of the video shows their snuggly side.
Chandra S Sherin ©