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Pet People

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Power of YOGI

Four years ago, almost to the day, the four dogs went nuts in the backyard. We found them surrounding a gray, long-haired cat. We got the dogs in the house. The cat was shaken up, but didn't run away. He was a mess, but sweet and friendly.

I had never had a cat, never really knew a cat, didn't think I'd ever like a cat, but Yogi stole my heart. We moved him to the front porch and that's where he stayed. I really had no clue about cats, nor how to bring one into a house full of dogs that tried to attack him. So I fixed a dog house for him, bought cat supplies, and spent lots of time visiting him. He'd come running from wherever he was whenever anyone came out to visit. He never went far, and though I worried about him, I figured he'd be okay since we lived on a dead-end road out in the boonies.

I tried to find him a home, and once even took him to someone who showed interest. My Mom was visiting and went with me to take Yogi to the home. We both were hesitant about the situation at the home, and after we left him there, we had second thoughts and decided to go back and get him.

Winter came and I padded up the dog house with a sleeping bag, heating disk, etc. I never met such a loving, personable cat. Spring came again and I enjoyed even more time outside with Yogi.

Then one day, a neighbor came over and asked if I had a gray cat. My heart sank.I knew something was wrong. She said one was lying on the road near my mail box. It was Yogi. His body was warm, and I thought maybe he was still alive. I rushed to the vet, but he was gone. I was never so devestated about the loss of a pet in my entire life. I felt guilty, knowing the statistics of outside cats. I was inconsolable.

I felt I had to do something. Atone maybe. I approached Cats Are Us and convinced them to let me put their shelter on Petfinder, which I did. That's where I met Catfish. We were building the addition to our house and that's where I planned for Catfish to live. I knew I had to keep him safe, so I insisted on getting the Cat Fence-In system, which the Boss installed. Tarzan was a stray that became more visible once Yogi was gone. I resented him at first, because this was Yogi's house. But he and Catfish got to know each other through the fence, and after he was trapped, neutered and let us pet him, he joined the cat house. I still think to this day how much Yogi would have loved living inside, with safe access to the outdoors he was used to.

But I was still devastated by the loss of Yogi. One day, a friend told me that he would give me a sign. I didn't think much of it, until one day when I went to make dinner. I went to the potato bin that sat next to the kitchen island. As I grabbed a potato, I saw something in the bin. I picked it up. It was an animal cracker cookie that looked EXACTLY like Yogi. I had bought animal cracker cookies weeks and weeks before, and transferred them to a zip lock. One must have fallen out. I had gone for potatoes so many times since then, but it was on that day I found it. There were about eight different animals, but the cookie was a cat, with a big bushy tail like Yogi. I can't begin to tell you the feeling of peace and love I felt from Yogi the moment I saw and touched that cookie. I KNEW it was a sign from him.

That night I had a dream. Yogi was in the front yard and we were playing like we used to. Then he turned into a black panther and leaped into the woods in a puff of smoke. That was the last dream I had of him since--and I knew in my heart he was at peace. I finally got some peace of my own.

I know now that Yogi was sent here to make me fall for cats and help them. Does that sound crazy? Maybe, but I know it to be true. If not for him, I wouldn't have gone to Cats Are Us and they might not be on Petfinder. I think he enabled more cats to be adopted through that one small act. He made me expand my dog-only world. Good came from such tragedy and heartache.

The end of this month will be three years since he was killed, and it still hurts and I still miss him. But I truly believe his death was for a reason, and for other cats out there who need homes.

Always remember that there are silver linings. There are things that will hurt us when it comes to losing our pets. But the chain of their lives are connected, their spirits matter and they do live on. I truly believe we will see those wonderful souls again when it's our turn. Don't ever doubt it. You might not always understand the reason for your pet-loss pain, or why a pet had to die to young, but there is a reason.

The pictures above are of Yogi when I first found him, and later, when he bloomed into the beautiful cat he was. And...the Yogi cookie.

posted by Sandy at 4/17/2007 08:31:00 AM


Blogger pearcehart said...

Sandy, what a touching story. How you made something positive out of such a tragic situation is inspiring! I personally believe that nothing comes to us that we cannot handle with the grace of God. We learn from tragedies and grow, struggling most of the time but becoming fuller and wiser through that growth. I absolutely believe in signs and you dream of Yogi transfoming into a panther is amazing. Our kitties are big cats in small packages. They are not naturally social animals so when a cat bonds with a human, it is magic indeed. I always see my kitties in the arms of Jesus. I know many people don't believe animals go to heaven, but I do. I am comforted by the thought no pain, illness or fear will touch my four-legged children ever again. Thank you for sharing that story about Yogi. I have always been a cat person. I'm glad that you are too.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 9:49:00 AM  
Blogger Skeeter said...

Yogi is beautiful!
Y’all all know that I clip my girl’s fur but I don’t know if I could have clipped that gorgeous fur collar if Yogi were my baby!

Sandy your story on Yogi is heartwarming to my soul this morning! We all wonder if we did “right” by our past pets. I let the girls get away with far more then Skeeter ever got away with. You all know I adored my Skeeter but I still wonder, was I wrong for not allowing him those little fun things that my girls enjoy so much today. I feel guilt occasionally but I know that he had a much better life after I plucked that little yellow guy from the wild. Yogi and Skeeter taught us how to open our hearts to cats and their lessons will remain with us forever! Yes, I too think that everything happens for a reason. And your Yogi was perparing you for future babies in your life! What a wonderful gift Yogi gave to you...

Sandy, my first cat that I really called my own was taken off the front porch chair by a wandering dog! I saw the dog destroy an innocent little napping white kitten. Imagine the horror to my young eyes! My little Snowball was gone and it broke my heart! I was just a child but I learned that day that cats are not always safe outside. That is why my Skeeter was an indoor only cat… “Snowball made sure that Skeeter lived 16 years with me.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger Sandy said...

Oh, what a sad story about the little white kitten! But like Alice said, I do believe their souls live on like any living creature. I can't imagine having to witness that!

Though it still hurts my heart about Yogi, I know he had a mission where I am concerned. I think we all have a purpose in life and even if it seems small, that's only because our minds are small and we don't understand the big picture.

Today, I can even joke a bit about Yogi. I often say that Tarzan probably pushed him in the road so he could take his place. Isn't that horrible?

I also think of Catfish, who would never have gotten adopted. When I went to take pictures for Petfinder, he was in a back room, in an area reserved for cats "not ready" for adoption.I didn't know that was the "wild" room. He was born wild and rescued later in life, so it's amazing that he let me pet him when I came by and that he touched my heart so. I asked Suzanne when he became so "friendly" after hearing his story, and she said: YOU.

Another thing Yogi did. Right before he died, The boss and I planned on quitting smoking. We were finishing up our last packs. When Yogi got killed I thought "I can't quit now! I need it for the stress!" But then I thought, NO, I can always come up with an excuse. I am going to quit for Yogi. And that's what I did.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 10:21:00 AM  
Blogger Laurisa said...

Sandy, that reminds me so much of my story of why I got into rescue work. Thanks so much for sharing yours.
Almost 6 years ago, I lost my dog Molly. She and I were playing ball in the front yard and for some unknown reason, she ran into the road. I live on a quiet country road and she normally NEVER went anywhere near it. She was killed instantly. I was devastated and depressed for weeks. Searching the internet for some kind of comfort, I came upon a poem or story of some sort that said you should go outside at night, find a star in the sky and talk to it as if it were your pet. After 30 days, supposedly you would receive some sort of sign from your lost pet.

Not one to normally do these sort of "fruity" things, but in such pain and sorrow, I started talking to my star every night. This went on for about two weeks. was just starting up and I started searching on it to find a dog similar to Molly (a Doberman/Rottweiler mix). A week went by and I hadn't found what I was looking for. Then I posted a "Pet Wanted" ad for a female Doberweiler (as I call them).

Lo and behold, within an hour a woman had emailed me back and said that there was a female Doberweiler at a shelter up in Kentucky. The shelter director had slated her to be put down the next day, but the lady could arrange for me to take her if I made a committment to get her right away.

I hemmed and hawed all night, thinking that I might not be ready for another dog just yet. I missed Molly so much. I had about made up my mind to tell the lady that I wasn't coming to get her.

I called the next morning and talked with her a while about the dog, her disposition, etc. I was about to hang up, but asked her "Oh, by the way, what's the dog's name?". Shockingly, she responded that her name was Star.


I immediately jumped in the truck, drove to Madisonville and loaded her in. We've been best friends ever since.

After some soul searching and what not, I realized that I had been touched by a special spirit and called to do rescue work. I've been with the Humane Society of Dover-Stewart County for almost 6 years now. It's not easy work, but it's more rewarding than anything else I've done in my 29 years.

Thanks again for sharing your story of Yogi, Sandy. We have so much in common!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger Sandy said...

Oh Laurissa! What a great story! It makes dealing with all the sad stories more bearable to have these happy endings!That was definately a sign from above--a STAR!

Yes, so many of us have so many things in common, as do our pets. I bet there are more stories like this out there with people who got involved in rescue. It's like we don't always choose what we do in life--it often gets chosen for us. Our purpose in life.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Sandy said...

MESSAGE FOR ALICE from birdie:

"I posted earlier, but somehow it didn't show up. Anyway, I am very very sorry Alice. Many hugs to you and Trouble. When we brought Socks home, Greta and Susanne told us to keep him in the cage in case, but he was meowing and meowing... So hubby had pitty on him and let him out. Birdie didn't seem to be bothered with him until he was playing with her jack. Then she gave us that look "Heeeey, he is playing with my Jack". So, they pretty much got along right away.. However, sometimes I do think that Birdie is planning his early demise.

Anway, Alice if you go to Cats R Us.. please check out Mud Pie. He was Birdie's roomie and all his other room mates have been adopted. He is the last one.. I would have adopted him already, but hubby said "No more" and our home is too small anyways."

I know Mud Pie is still available if you want to check him out when you visit!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 12:17:00 PM  
Blogger Sandy said...

BIRDIE! I know what the problem was with your post. You had the word HUGS in brackets, and when I tried to post your message I got an error which said the brackets weren't allowed. That's because those brackets are used in html and that is what the problem was!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger Birdie said...

Awww! Thank you Sandy for figuring it out! Duh, I am a computer dunce...LOL

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger pearcehart said...

Birdie, I will definitely check out Mud Pie. I wish I could take them all home...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 1:18:00 PM  
Blogger O'Malley said...

Sandy, My daughter is not up yet or she would be wondering why I am sitting in front of the computer crying. How amazing that Yogi completely changed your outlook on cats. Its so hard to lose them. I think its awesome that Yogi gave you a sign. He must have known you were hurting and didn't want to see you go thru that.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 7:14:00 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

I'm back!
Oh everybody's stories have me ready to go open a six pack of beast to get through the day now or maybe two or three valiums, my heart is absolitely breaking for all of you as well as myself! As sad as this all is at the same time it shows how we have been led to our babies we all have now.
Sandy, like you I believe the ones we had before have paved the way. Before we got our Tiger our daughter had begged for a long time for a kitten and we wouldn't give in. When we finally did I fell so in love with him that he became more mine. I babied him and kept him inside and watched him like a hawk after having thought he'd ran away one time. I'll try to be brief on my stories as they are repeats. When he was six he developed Diabetes, we gave him the first insulin shot. The vet said he would be fine if I left him that night to go to a ballgame where my daughter was cheerleading. I was gone several Hours, came home to find him seizing on the floor. I was devastated! I rushed him to the vet but by the next day he was paralyzed and had some brain damage. I was told he had no chance and needed to be put down but I fought that for a few days. Finally after more seizures I realized I had to let him go. It just about killed me. I held him, kissed him and told him how much I loved him and how very sorry I was to have let this happen to him, then watched as he took his last breath from the injection. I could hardly breathe! I still cry over him and miss him so much! I did not want another cat! I couldn't stand the thught of how much it hurt when something happened. In spite of that about a month later we learned of a sweet kitty about 6 months old who needed a home so that is how we got Samantha.She was so lovable and precious and it was love! When Sammy was about 10, we got Cosette. I found her in one of my Mother's huge shrubs. We kept hearing the baby kitten's crying. When I looked inside the shrub there in a huge bird's nest was this tiny kitten with a big chunk bit out of it's little face. Guess a mam bird got her. We tried but couldn't find out where she came from so took her with us to try to find her a home. It was a 5 1/2 hour drive and before we'd driven a couple of hours I knew exzactly where that home would be. I was in love again. Fly Boy said No No No! No more cats! One is enough! Later Cosette ( I'd already named her ) was lying on the arm of the sofa when he went over ato her and said "Poor little thing, you've had a rough start", I knew then she wasn't going anywhere. Unfortunately she had Feline leukemia and only stayed with us for 18 months before we lost her.She broke her leg 6 weeks before her death which I feel was my fault for not blocking the area from where she fell so regrets there too. Another sad story for another time. But when she died Sam missed her and cried and searched the house for her. We went to Cats Are Us and got Brittany for a companion for her. We fell for her just like the other three but Brittany was too rough for Sam so got Courtney who also stold our hearts. Brittany and Courtney are just a month apart so played together and Sam loved watching them. Ond day a year later while taking food and litter to Cats Are Us, this precious littel baby reached out of her cage and touched me. I took her out and loved on her and instatly fell in love once again. It took two weeks of begging before Penelope became part of our family. Sadly we had to put Ssammy to sleep last year from kdiney failure but she lived for 15 years and gave us so much! I wish I ahd taken her to the vet sooner when she started losing weight but she had been on a diet to lose and we thought it was ok. Yoou don't always know till it's too late. Anyway the reason for me writing this chapter of my book is to show how each of my cats have paved the way for the ones we have now. Had it not been for losing the ones we did, we wouldn't have these girls and I can't imagine life without any of them!
I do believe when they die they go to heaven and I am still waiting for signs that they have forgiven me for the things I did wrong. Tiger used to come and lie on the foot of my bed after he passed away when we lived at our other house, no one will even convince me that wasn't him. I felt him there. I only wish he wold come to me here as I think Samantha has a few times. Sorry this was so long and drawn out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

Sandy, Your Yogi was so beautiful! He knew how much you loved him too and you were just learning about how to take care of him so don't beat yourself up anymore.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Skeeter said...

Pam, You were not gone long! Happy-happy, joy-joy... Your stories also bring tears to my eyes this morning. The little kitty (Cosette) in the bushes with a bitten face is really sad. I am glad you gave her a nice home for her few short years…

Sheba had a tough life in the wild also. Her little ears are torn in several places from having to defend herself from something horrible. She was so small and scrawny that we thought she was a kitten. We assume a Tom cat got to her the first time she came into season thus producing Cheetah which Sheba directed to us from the woods a few days later…

Sheba & Cheetahs story:

The Saint and I have no children so Skeeter became our child. We were devastated at loosing him but I took it worse then the Saint. I thought in time, I would get over loosing him but the pain was just as difficult for me with each passing day. I had a hard time getting out of bed as morning time was a special time for me and my Skeeter. One day, about 4 months after putting Skeeter into the ground, I walked into the yard to fill the bird feeders. You know that feeling you can get when something is staring at you? Well, that happened to me. Something told me to look at the edge of the woods. That is where I saw this little black kitten sitting by a tree watching me. I did not hesitate and I let out a whistle as if calling a dog. She jumped up and stuck that tail in the air and came running to me! I was so happy to have her visit me. She was hungry and I went into the house to find something for her to eat. The Saint and I had recently been to Sam’s club and had a 3-pack of canned chicken. Funny, because we had a big argument in the middle of the store over getting that chicken because we rarely eat canned chicken and I did not feel we needed that much darn chicken! The Saint insisted we needed the chicken so we got it. (Everything happens for a reason) Anyway, I fed her the chicken and she gobbled it down like a starving kitten! When the Saint got home from work, he found me in the back yard with my new friend. We took off to town for kitten milk and food for her.

She was spending her nap time in a tree-house that was on the property when we bought the house. The Saint wanted to dismantle the tree house when we moved into the house but I would not let him because I thought it was cute. (Everything happens for a reason) I worried about her being outside but hey, she was not my cat so who am I to worry. Yeah Right…I found myself excited about getting out of bed each morning to feed and visit with my new friend. I would let out a whistle and she would come running from the woods! About 4 days later, when I called her for her morning milk and food, she had a smaller kitten with her. She was so much smaller that I thought it must have been the runt of the litter. This one was not so friendly but I knew in time I would win its trust. She had no problems lapping up the milk and chowing down on some kitten chow on the front porch with me though! I still had Skeeter toys (I could not bare to part with them) so I took the long stick with feather and bell and slowly won her trust.

The Saint and I had talked about keeping them but we were not sure if they belonged to someone or not. We decided either way, we were going to get them to the Vet to have them fixed and shots! Then they would just be yard cats. We live out in the country and they would have a good life. Well, I got them into the sunroom with no problems but the day I closed the door on them the runt went ballistic on me. She was so scared at being closed inside that she was climbing up the wall! She had clawed her way to the top of the window while screaming like mad. It was so upsetting for me that I was crying right along with her. I knew if I gave in and let her outside, that I would never see her again due to her fear. So I toughed it out and in time she calmed down. I set up a litter box, food and water in the sunroom for them. They were never allowed to go into the rest of the house which we dubbed, “The Big House.” It took me 11 straight days of working with that kitten to get her to trust me. On day 11 in the sunroom, she finally ate some kitten chow out of my hand! I was so excited. We let them get a bit tamer then took them to the Vet for check-ups and shots. They were healthy and we made appointment for spaying a few weeks later. That is when the Vet told us that Sheba was probably the mother to Cheetah. We told the Vet that we don’t know if they belong to anyone or not and that is when he said to us that they do now!

I had worked so hard with Cheetah that I had formed a special bond with her. She was needy and did not need to be outside any more. Sheba took a special place in the Saints heart due to those slits in the ears. He is always for the underdog. She is independent and did not need me as much as Cheetah did. Plus I think she kind of resented me for not letting her outside. She is a hunter and wanted to be out and I would not allow her to. I truly think she was only trying to find a home for her kitten when she showed up! It took time for Sheba to adapt to indoor living but Cheetah became my little lap monkey in no time at all. And they got into the Big House and in bed with us in no time at all! It took Sheba at least a year before we ever heard her purr. She is now happy and no longer resents me making her a indoor only cat!

Who was it that said, you don’t find your pets, they find you??? This is so correct in our case. Skeeter’s story is a good one too but I will tell that another day as this is way too long as it is….Sorry…

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger Skeeter said...

Sandy, do you still have the cookie or just a picture of it???
I would have probably found a way to preserve it if it were mine…
Am I the only crazy person to do such stuff???

Laurisa, I love the Star story!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Daisylouu said...

Sandy has the cookie. Trust me!

Thursday, April 19, 2007 5:01:00 AM  
Blogger Sandy said...

Yes, I have the cookie in a tiny ziplock along with some of Yogi's beautiful hair. I keep them in a jar with name tags of Penny and Tramp. I also have a snip of hair from Tramp, and Tram's ashes. All on a little shelter next to a picture of them. :)

Thursday, April 19, 2007 9:34:00 AM  
Blogger Skeeter said...

Okay, now I don’t feel so silly keeping a whisker from Skeeter! I found it on the bed the day we put him in the ground. I took it as a sign… “He may be gone but will always be with me”

Thursday, April 19, 2007 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Skeeter said...

I keep waiting for Dragon to come on here and say, "Eat the cookie"

Thursday, April 19, 2007 6:48:00 PM  
Blogger dragon said...

Skeeter, I wouldn't say lets eat the cookie. I would say get me a glass of cold milk, I got a cookie to eat. I have looked at the cookie several times. I don’t see a cat, but I’m sure it’s there. I see maybe a cow, a horse, or maybe even an elephant. No cat. But that’s not for me to say. It’s not my memory of the precious cat. We get on some sensitive subjects for Dragon to be himself. I don’t to hurt Sandy’s feeling on her life-changing event. Maybe see a Zebra, a Kangaroo, a Monkey, an Anteater, maybe an octopus, but I don’t see a cat.

Thursday, April 19, 2007 8:11:00 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Dragon, my brother, show your more sensitive side here bud. If you don't see the cat in the cookie then just say so and leave it at that. Sandy is comforted by that. Sandy remember as much as we love him, he is a man and we all know how they can be. I saw a cat as soon as I saw the cookie but then we girls are far more sensitive and intuitive as the guys. Knowing you I don't think you will let anything Dragon says bother you too much.
And Sandy, I too have saved hair from my cats too so guess we are abnormal together,ha.

Thursday, April 19, 2007 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger Sandy said...

I guess Dragon is either stupid or blind, because anyone can tell it's a cat! :) Dragon might have burned his eyeballs breathing fire!

Friday, April 20, 2007 12:19:00 AM  
Blogger Daisylouu said...

Well, I guess if dragon is blind, it would explain his willingness to enter the hottub.

I must admit, though, I think that cookie has an incredible likeness to Richard M. Nixon. On second thought, it might look like the Virgin Mary and you might be able to make some extra money having people come to your house to view it??? Just a thought.

Friday, April 20, 2007 4:45:00 AM  
Blogger Stacey said...

Daisylouu, you and Dragon sound like two peas in a pod. I do like the Virgin Mary idea though. Hey, if they can see her in a cinnamon bun, why not in a cookie?????

This could be another side venture of Dragon Enterprises. Hmmmm..... We could make cookies that look like our pets!!!!!

Friday, April 20, 2007 8:13:00 AM  
Blogger Sandy said...

You know, that's not a bad idea about the cookies!

Friday, April 20, 2007 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

Stacey, girl you are right on! Not only cookies for people but also for pets! Here we go gang, anotehr great idea for Dragon Enterprises. They just keep coming. We can truly have a huge enterprise here!

Friday, April 20, 2007 5:09:00 PM  
Blogger dragon said...

I keep looking at the cookie wanting to see the cat. I have even tried looking at it cross-eyed, thinking it you of those visual puzzles. I just don’t see the cat. I want to see the cat.

For those who are concerned about what your pets eat make some your own treats. It’s very simple and will give you that warm fuzzy feeling. Here is one recipe.

Beefy Biscuits
2 cups whole wheat or all purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4cup wheat germ
2 teaspoon beef bouillon powder
1/2 teaspoon yeast extract (adds additional meaty flavour)

Mix above ingredients in a medium bowl.
Add: 1 large egg, 1 tablespoon cooking oil and 1 cup hot water.
Stir well. Roll out on a well-floured surface to 1/2 inch thickness. Place on ungreased cooking sheet. Bake on center rack, (275 F.) for about 2 hours until dry and very hard. Let stand overnight to dry thoroughly. Makes 10 big bones and 14 puppy bones.

Monday, April 23, 2007 4:45:00 PM  
Blogger Stacey said...

Wow. A Dragon that cooks. Every girl needs one. Wait, isn't this the same Dragon that talks about how the women folk belong in the kitchen (and the hot tub)????

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 10:12:00 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

Dragon, it is so obviously a cookie that looks like a cat! I mean, bro, look at that fat tail and the body itself. The face looks lie a cats face! Come on now.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007 11:16:00 PM  

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Pet People

Sandy Britt, an animal welfare advocate and volunteer with Clarksville rescue organizations, takes care of three dogs: Zoe, Scooter and Peanut; two cats: Catfish and Tarzan; and one husband, Glen, and according to him she takes care of them in that order.

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