Outside Raleighwood 2014
When Bonn wanted to start spending time around horses again I asked an old werk colleague who was into horses if she had any suggestions. Turns out she has two of her own and could use some help with general grooming and maintenance. Bonn met her, met the horses, the ducks, the chickens, the dogs, the cats... and started going out there once a week to help out.
She talked to me about the various yard work and fence repair projects that she saw as needing done out there. Would I come out with her and help out? Nope, I said. This is your volunteer work and I have a book to finish revising.
Last week Bonn got a message from this woman saying she'd been bitten by a flying squirrel and the bite had become infected. She was in the hospital and could Bonn go out more often to check on the animals? When the infection kept getting worse, Bonn decided to start going out on a daily basis.
There is a roommate, but she works and is recovering from a recently broken ankle. Said roommate has a young daughter who knows some things, but isn't the most responsible. At least the roommate has been able to go out and buy additional feed for the horses and get meds set out.
On Wednesday Bonn told me about some rescued animals in the woman's barn out back. There was a hyperactive dog that no one could control. There were five kittens who, from what she could hear, all had bronchial infections and were having trouble breathing. My initial response was a partial shut-down and a desperate, "Don't get involved. We can't save them all."
Bonn came back on Thursday saying she went into the horse stall where the kittens were and took two of them out of their cages and just held on to them. They craved human interaction and warmth, she said. It was as if that simple act had reminded them that life was worth fighting for.
Now, I'm a sucker for animals. Cats especially. Kittens especially especially. Still, I did not want to get involved. We're way too short on money this month to take any cat to the vet, much less five cats -- and then our five cats as well who would, undoubtedly, become infected.
Going to see them wasn't an option, as far as I was concerned. It would just hurt too much to see these little lives I can't save.
Then Friday night Bonn came back after spending 6+ hours out there. She went to bed not feeling well and woke up only slightly better. I set all of my revision work out the kitchen table and started getting ready for a day's worth of work. Bonn, however, insisted she was going back out the tend to the animals again.
We discussed this for a while. And by "discussed" I mean, I tried to reason with her that she shouldn't compromise her health any further and her telling me she was going.
I closed my eyes and gritted my teeth. And said, "If I go out with you will it mean you finish and leave faster than if I don't?"
She said, "Yes."
So I spent my weekend walking an otherwise unmanageable dog and spending several hours with very sick kittens.
Then going home emotionally drained.
Each one of them had individual time with me. The dog got a 30+ minute walk through the neighborhood and the kittens each had time in my lap, in my arms, and getting their bellies and ears rubbed. They had gunk wiped away from their eyes and noses. They were fed and given some meds. They each got temporary names, too. (Perch, Graybar, Boston, Minneapolis, St. Paul)
Someone from the rescue group this woman is associated with is supposed to come and get them on Tuesday and take them somewhere in Virginia where they'll be put in a proper shelter and given medical attention. I truly hope that's what happens. And that they all find good homes.
I did all I could do. I gave them time and love and warmth and attention and energy.
It just doesn't feel like it's enough.
EDIT: Bonn just called in tears. Perch has died & Graybar is going down fast. I've been back and forth on the phone with her and the still-in-the-hospital former co-werker. Bonn's taking Graybar to the vet to be treated. Hopefully she'll make it there in time.
[EDIT: Bonn just called from the vet. Perch is alive, but barely. She's taken all of the other cats except Boston (who is older and doing better than the smaller ones) to a local vet where they are being treated.]