Editorís note: This is the second of a two-part series that began last week.
By Rev. WALTER KLOCKERS
Immanuel Lutheran Church
Dr. Brent explained that both the catís front legs had been broken. I struggled over what to do.†
It broke my heart to have Tawny lying on the floor looking up at us and purring despite obvious pain. He fully trusted me. We had built a bond, me and this street cat. I dreaded the thought of putting him to sleep. So I asked the vet what he could do.†
He explained that he could splint and wrap each leg. I asked Dr. Brent how much this would cost. He told me. Once again, my heart sank. There was simply no way I could afford what he was asking. So, I asked, ďCan I make monthly payments?Ē Dr. Brent nodded his head and we struck a deal. I decided to have the cat neutered as well.
Tawny was soon returned to me with both of his front legs splinted with casts on them. Walking was most difficult for him.†
I hadnít figured out the next step. This was a street cat. How would a street cat survive like this?
I couldnít have him live in the apartment. No pets were allowed. So I went to the hardware store and purchased some boards, nails and chicken wire. I built an enclosure right outside the apartment door, underneath the stairs that went to the second floor.†
Quite predictably, the landlord had a fit. However, I refused to take down the enclosure, siting that it would be there only for a matter of weeks. What was he going to do, evict us? This was seminary housing, and technically I had no inside pets. Still, I realized I could be asking for trouble. Thankfully, that day of reckoning never came.
A few days later, I discovered what had happened to Tawny. Turns out that the landlord caught him sunning himself on the hood of his van. He was so angry that he broke both the catís legs.
The chicken wire enclosure worked well for a couple of weeks. Then one day, Tawny managed to squeeze out. In doing so, he lost one of his casts. He disappeared for several days.†
Thankfully, Tawny did return. I tried repeatedly to chase him down but to no avail. Even with a splint on one leg and another leg that was gimpy, he could scale a fence and escape.†
Eventually, I gave up. I squatted down in the parking lot next to the dumpster. I looked at Tawny and calmly said, ďYa know, buddy, okay, Iím not going to put you back into that wire cage.Ē As unbelievable as it may sound, the cat reversed course and came toward me, and I petted him. We struck a deal that day.
The remaining cast remained on Tawnyís leg for the recommended time for healing. I then trapped him in the apartment so Dr. Brent could take it off. That leg had healed well. The other one, not so much. Tawny would always have a limp.
When Jeanne and I moved back to Washington state and began my internship, Tawny came with us. He became a house cat. We couldnít bear to leave him on the streets with no one to feed him. He lived with us for seven years before crossing over the rainbow bridge.
Itís my view that when we have an animal as a pet or companion, we are charged with responsibility for their care. She/he is a creation by Godís hands.†
So, do the right thing. Spay or neuter your cat or dog. Donít leave them behind if you should move to a new location. Give them exercise and your attention. They depend on us. Please live up to this most holy charge and calling.
Walter is pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church and has served as parish pastor for more than 30 years.