In animal shelter lingo, my cat technically qualifies as “special medical needs.”

Juno has allergies. She had been off the streets only for a week when my family adopted her, and we assumed that the scabs on her skin were healing fight wounds. The shelter thought so, too. (My cat just sort of looks like she’s constantly willing to start a bar fight, if only she were big enough to throw a chair).

It was only after she had been home for a few weeks that we realized she was scratching her skin to an unusual extent. So now she is on a special diet of prescription food that costs $8 per pound and that you can get only at the vet’s office. It keeps her outbreaks under control. (If she gets into the other cat’s food, or there is pollen in the air, we have to give her pills. Which, like most cats, she has declared a vendetta against.)

I can’t say Juno is my most loyal companion, because I know for a fact she would gladly push me down the stairs in exchange for half a can of tuna, and she likes my boyfriend more than she likes me, but I’ve had her for almost five years now. She still runs to greet me at the door when I come home from work.

Between Juno and the Legendary Louie, I owe the Midcoast Humane Society the sort of debt that can’t be paid with money. So I figured I would talk a little about their “No Paw Left Behind” campaign.

Now, I grew up in a house with a teacher, who didn’t think very highly of the No Child Left Behind Act, so I was nervous when I heard that name, but I’ve been assured that no dogs are being made to take standardized tests. “No Paw Left Behind” is an initiative to get all animals in the shelter adopted within 90 days of becoming available for adoption, by rallying community support and awareness (so – be aware).

That sounds like an easy goal, and for some animals – puppies, kittens, purebreds – it is. But in 2018, 64 animals at Midcoast Humane waited longer than 90 days to be adopted. Sixty-four animals, for longer than three months. I wish I could take them all home with me, but unfortunately, I do not yet own a private island.

Some animals have a hard time finding homes because they have medical issues. Some have a hard time finding homes because they can’t live with children or other dogs. And some get passed by because they don’t “show well” in their kennel, which, can you blame them? You wouldn’t want to a job interview from inside a cage either.

I hope to adopt a dog myself sometime in the near future, and I know that before I do, I will check out the Midcoast Humane “No Paw Left Behind” Facebook page to see if there might be a good match for me there. Will one of those dogs be a little more work than a brand-new puppy? Probably. But if you’ve been reading my column for a while, you will probably have figured out that I am not exactly afraid of a challenge.

People who work with rescue animals tend to say that they are grateful to their adopters for giving them a forever home. This might be true for dogs, but I have my doubts about cats – mostly because Juno, rescued though she was, considers herself to be Empress Queen of High-And-Mighty Mountain and therefore she never needs to be grateful, because everything good that happens to her is her natural due.

Juno doesn’t cuddle with me. She never really has (except when I have a high fever and become too warm to resist). But back when I was still drinking and I passed out somewhere around the house – the couch, my desk, on top of the bed with my shoes still on – Juno was always right next to me when I woke up. I used to think it was because she was waiting for the right opportunity to try to snack on me. But now I think that, just as she shows her affection in her own way, she was looking out for me in her own way, too.

Victoria Hugo-Vidal is a Maine millennial. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Twitter: mainemillennial

 

 


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