Saturday, August 18, 2007

Auntie Lou wouldn't approve of Horror House.

Auntie Lou wouldn't approve of Horror House.

I took Daisy on an extra-long third walk this morning, just because we could and she was enjoying it. This after I had Liberty cozy upon my lap for a good while and I attempted to catch up on my newspaper reading. (this via im with aoljournals, so adding more to this btw....)

The woman from the county shelter who conducted our home interview told me that her main criteria was, "Will the animal be loved?" I know of studies done on human babies with their essential needs provided, such as food and clean diapers and clothing, and proper medical attention. They don't thrive, however, without some amount of touch. Yes, touch, love, attention.
Even at this latest walk, outside feels more like a summer in Maine today. It's cooler. The highs may only reach mid 80's. M is happily at a water park with a girlfriend, and I'm thinking dag, would I be cold there today? I think of my Aunt Lucille, my mother's oldest sister. She lives in Portland (Maine), now, and used to live just over the border into New Hampshire for many of her adult years.
Auntie Lous is a cat person. In this home in the country, next to their barnhouse and simply land and woods behind them, she had cats. A lot of cats, sometimes 30-40 of them I *think.* Lucille's second husband, my Uncle Jenkins we'd call him, had a dog. Sounds like a stereotype, I know. Crazy Auntie Lou with 40 cats.
Hers was one of those home-based not official rescue center type places. Thing is, she did take care of them. They didn't have much money. (Excuse me, Daisy decided she just had to ask me for the cats water bowl, which is somehow preferable over HERS that I just filled again. And Captain knocked a curtain down after lounging in front of the open window.)
Sometimes when we visited in the summer, the dog would be put outside for a bit, on a chain that'd let him wander into the barn, with water nearby, and never for long enough that he'd miss feedings or playtime.
One room there was "the cats room." I don't remember it well right now from my childhood, but I think it was where they were fed, and had their climbing items and beds. Things like that. Perhaps some litter boxes albeit I think they primarily went outdoors.
None were allowed in the dining room where they ate, or, at least not when we visited and no real evidence that they were, otherwise. The dog wasn't. Not really much odor, either, which in retrospect surprises me.
Eventually, as she got older, she had to find other homes for many of them. At this point, Lucille lives in an apartment where she's allowed one extremely spoiled cat.:)
I'd love to provide loving homes to MORE cats, actually, and a canine playmate for our dog. But, I can't. I don't have a 2-story home and a barn and huge outdoor areas, and I don't have the money. For another dog, I'd also want more time. I come home many a lunchtime as it is to be sure Daisy doesn't go too many hours without attention (especially if it's a dance class or visit Dad night).
I read and see stories about homes such as "horror house," nicknamed for a mansion in New Jersey recently discovered to have approximately 80 animals in it. There were also several decomposed animal bodies in plastic bags (I believe in the garage area?), and feces all over the floors, and petfood all over the floors. I don't recall hearing of the overall health of the live animals.
The couple apparently started out taking in animals, perhaps as a rescue center. They had space for, well, at least several. I can understand this. Heck, even M has said she wished to run a horse rescue center when she's older, at times quite seriously persuing that idea. My heart melts to see some of these creatures, especially the older cats, at the shelters.
I can understand live throwing curves, and that this woman's business ended up going into bankruptcy. I can understand financial strain.
I can understand holding off for an extra month or 2 on a routine vaccination. Heck, Tinkerbell and Captain are due theirs and we'd planned them for a week and a half ago, but when I called to verify the times for the twice a week when they offered vaccinations and office visit with only charging for the vaccinations, they informed me that's down to once a week now. That time next week is when I take M in for HER annual visit (and shots she's nervous about).
I can even understand coming home and being surprised by a not fully secured trash can being dumped onto the floor, or a bowl of food knocked down or thrown about the floor. Or, until I got metal cans for the dry foods, a bag of it having been reached and torn open upon the floor, (sorry, Indie's crying to go outside but he's deaf and hence WON'T go out alone when I can catch him). This isn't normal, but, it's conceivable. Hence, the report of this home having pet food all over the floor I'm not as conce
concerned about. I'm not clear if it was one of those "oops" moments, or something more chronic and horribly unhygienic (sp). What I am NOT understanding is why remains weren't taken care of (a home in Virginia? within recent years had remains kept in shoeboxes in a garage area). Wrap and bury them, or freeze until you can (but wouldn't a mansion have a large yard?), or contact a vet or shelter for info on disposal options. I imagine a dogs corpse would be large.
And, what the heck is up with feces all over the floor? Yes, young kittens not fully trained, puppies left for too long, the sick ones (which can include elderly ones w/ poor control), there will be accidents. My cats as kittens needed to be encouraged; Daisy as a newly released from puppy-jail had a couple accidents. This "horror house" didn't sound like that type of situation.
Even Auntie Lou, even if only an hours notice of us visiting, even when up to 40 cats, never had the home covered in feces (nor food all over the floor, tho perhaps on ledges in the cats room). I hated going away for 28 hours last weekend and returning to full litter boxes. Yet, I just cannot comprehend a home full of feces. Hire someone to help out, plead for volunteers, do something if you personally do not have the time to walk the dogs and clean up.
My six pets are family members. When M was little, I sometimes could not afford to feed her AND me, but by golly she always got fed (I didn't), she always got medical attention (I sometimes forgo'ed prescriptions for a bit, or dental visits), AND plenty of love:)
I'm not sure if plenty of love could be showered upon 30 or 40 cats (and one dog, he got his attention). Auntie Lou DID make sure that they were cared for, until she was unable to and then she painfully, regretfully, found homes. But, 80? Dogs and cats? Sadly, their story is not uncommon. Well-intentioned, but, ultimately, not a good home.
Another thought while enjoying this fine air outside, okay, in addition to knowing I'll take Dad outside in this today. Not clear how some elderly get sufficient vitamin D intake, being shut in's. Also thinking, I'll alwaysbe a cat person. N has a dog, but is allergic to cats. Maybe we DO workbetter as friends.
enjoy your day, all. :)

(Meaning, I know that the situation was not thee best at my Aunt Lucille's.  But, it was still nothing like the filth and neglect in some of these "pet collector" homes that I hear or read about.  Even she'd have been upset.)


  1. Auntie Lou sounds like my kind of person. If my love had it her way we would be rescuing every stray that wanders our way. I swear these felines have radar for sympathetic folks like my love who would fill the house with lost souls. Fortunately my colleague with the horses, daughter going to college, has space for a few cats so we have brought a few by. I envy Auntie Lou up in Maine. When I lived outside of Boston Maine was my favorite haunt. The granite coast and thick pine forests. Loved it. Applied for a job there, no luck.

    Sounds like you are getting a little YOU time. Enjoy. Can't remember the last time I was able to relax with a paper, usually have to dash through it. Only going to be in the 70's here, my kinda weather... can't wait for winter, bring it on ol man.

    Thinking of you.

  2. Well I am an Auntie Lou fan!  I was horrified when I heard about that house - there is no excuse for it.  I know life can throw curves but you have pointed out the obvious and these things were more than just having a bad time.  I believe people get "sick" and become collectors of animals, forgetting the needs of the animal.  You are good animal mom, I can tell and that makes me a fan of yours too!!!

  3. I like cats but my sister has a cat phobia, so I have elected not to have a cat. Poor dear, she freezes the moment she spots a cat anywhere in the vicinity. I hadn't heard about horror house. It truly sounds like it was a horror. How sad for those poor animals.--Sheria