Funny story, and it all started innocently enough. To thank the wonderful and always engaging Jonathan Segal for speaking at a recent PAAHCR (Philadelphia Area Association of Healthcare Recruiters) meeting that Alstin co-sponsored with our friends at Fox Chase Cancer Center, Alstin made out a check to the Montgomery County SPCA. It’s an amazing organization that Jonathan is very committed to and spends a lot of time with.
Because I’m also a Montgomery County resident, I thought (because I’m so smart) that instead of mailing the check in, I would take my wife and daughters with me to drop it off, so they could see the great work they do for animals in the community. I’m assuming everyone reading this knows where this story is going, but for some reason I didn’t.
To say I wasn’t a pet person growing up would be an understatement. My parents were a part of that long, proud Italian-American tradition that told their children you could never get a pet because you were allergic—although who it was that was allergic in my family varied. The whole thing was never clear, and after awhile my brother, sister and I decided it was best not to think too hard about it. In fact, it wasn’t until age 41 that I had my first real pet: a nutty orange cat named Mango, who we rescued.
Back to the SPCA: it was my first time in an SPCA, and if you’ve never been in a facility, it’s both inspiring and heartbreaking. Of course, the inspiring part is that there’s this great organization of people coming together to rescue and protect animals that have nowhere else to go. The heartbreaking part is seeing all of these animals (so many more than I expected) in cages instead of in loving homes. Some of these animals have been abused or neglected and so might (through no fault of their own) have issues that will make it more difficult for them to be adopted.
For us, it was just like in the movies: the four of us are walking through when we spot a cat right out of central casting. Little and gray, with huge eyes; she meows loudly and cutely, reaches her paw through the cage to touch my daughters and tries to stick her head through the bars so she can be petted.
My wife and daughters left the SPCA crying. When it finally dawned on me that there was only one way this would end, I started getting a bit teary as well. It was made very clear that afternoon that there was no way “we” were going to leave that cat (or “baby” as my wife said) in that cage.
Well, we’ve now had Chutney (Mango and Chutney; get it?) for about a month and she’s already part of the family. Although I think at first Mango wondered what this little gray thing was doing in our house and why we upset the delicate balance of peace we’d achieved (I hear you, Mango), the two cats are now inseparable, and nap and play together all the time. They’re mostly best friends, although the fighting noises we hear at 4:30am sound like some space creature is being disemboweled, but I guess that’s the price you pay for family.
Chances are anyone reading this knows a lot more about the SPCA than I do, but I really encourage you to get involved with your local SPCA and donate whatever you can to help them.
But do so at your own risk. Next year, I’m mailing the check.