August 06, 2010

help winky!

  • About the author EB

hey book people! Can we find a home for Winky, a lovely cat belonging to book club girl’s cousin? See below for photos and Winky’s story. Comment if you might be interested in adopting her or know someone who would! After all, if someone else doesn’t take her, I might be tempted to.

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I met Winky in October 2001. In the aftermath of 9/11 living halfway around the world in Greece, I was feeling so forlorn and detached. My friends and family had been through such a traumatizing experience, and all I could do was muster some words of encouragement, and lend ear via e-mail. The weeks that followed filled me with grief and despair. How could I, being one person who would like to see the world be a better place possibly make a difference? This is what I pondered every evening as I walked the 15 minutes down my street to work as an English-speaking nanny to my favourite 6 year old girl in the world.

Walking the streets of Thessaloniki was an everyday experience as during the day I had private lessons all over the city. Stray dogs and cats are a common sight. There are no such places as shelters, or dog catchers, or any kind of law pertaining to the care of animals. The common thought in Greece was that they “liked their freedom” and even if they were given a home, the dog or cat would dream of roaming the streets always. Of course I scoffed at what I considered a naivety mixed with neglect, cruelty, indifference. Although there were so many wonderful things about the country in which I now lived, I was happy to have come from a place where although I didn’t approve of the euthanasia performed on animals, there seemed to be a sense of respect and an attempt of care for each one.

As I walked to my evening nanny job, just weeks after 9/11, there they were- a bunch of kittens finding their feet for the first time, having ventured out from their nesting place for a romp and play on the sidewalk. As I admired these cute fur balls running and jumping, not any of them letting me get close enough to pet it, I saw that one had its back toward me, and perhaps I could sneak a little stroke of his or her fur. As I bent down the kitten turned and looked at me. I sucked in my breath and withdrew in horror to see that this kitten had one eye popped out of its head. Shocked and saddened, I quickly carried on walking, fearing that this poor beast didn’t have long to live on the street like that. Wondering – had this cat been purposely maimed by horrible children, or perhaps been in a cat brawl? Nevertheless, it was one small, tiny other terrible thing in this terrible world. At that moment, I made a promise to myself that if I saw the cat again, I would do something to help it. It would be nice to make the world even just the tiniest bit better. After having walked away, knowing I’d be late if I lingered longer, I promptly forgot about the cat and my promise.

About a week later, now leaving my evening job to go home, I exited the apartment building not knowing if I should take the bus around the corner, or walk. It was late, about 10:30pm, and although I was in a safe neighbourhood, I was tired. This was the only time in my 4 years at this job that I started walking toward the bus, then backtracked, telling myself that I shouldn’t be lazy. Almost home, late, tired, there she was- my kitten with her one eye. The promise I had made to myself came reeling back to me. Now I was on my way home, this time I had no excuse. I had to help her. And she was different- not only was she on the sidewalk with her siblings, but she was boldly chasing after people’s feet meowing for help. This wise creature knew it too- she would not last long in her condition without someone to help her.

I found a box and after several attempts to put her in, and a stray dog chasing me home trying to playfully knock the box from my arms (he did once and Winky went running and both had to chased down) I finally got her home. She was dirty, ragged, and the one eye, well, although I love animals, I was afraid to touch her. I tipped the box on its side in my bathroom, provided a towel to sleep on in her little tent of a box, and gave her some food and water. She seemed to know that I was afraid to touch her and stayed clear away although she could have easily rubbed up against me. She seemed to sense and respect my awkwardness toward her. It was late, and I went to bed.
During the night I needed to use the bathroom. I turned on the bright overhead light, and she rose stretched and blinked and looked as if to say “what’s going on?”. As I sat there, across the room from her I spoke sweetly and softly something like this- “sweet, little kitten. I am so sorry for all your troubles, I will do what I can to help you, you poor thing” as she watched me, SHE STARTED PURRING!! It was the first and only time in my life I knew a cat to purr at soft sweet words merely spoken to her, no touching involved! I think it was at that moment I fell in love. What a gorgeous disposition!

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I was able to bring her to a veterinary school and for a bit of a reduced fee, she had an operation to remove her damaged eye. The students handled her readily, and observing this, I realized although she was dirty, I could touch her and not worry. There was an audible gasp from the students as well as they turned her on her back and saw her beautiful markings and super soft fur on her belly. I was like a new mom, so proud of my beautiful kitty!

Financially I was struggling, and after her stint of antibiotics post-operation, she then needed de-worming, and de-fleaing. Yuck, but what a lovely cat with one eye I had when it was all over! And somehow financially I managed to scrape by. I never could regret any of it, considering the warmth, love, affection and companionship she provided me. She and I became steadfast pals, and she served to educate some of my friends who cringed at the sight of a cat inside someone’s house.

Later, a friend knowing I’d be the only volunteer, brought me an abandoned kitten who I dropper fed and was miraculously able to save. These two travelled back to the US with me. Coming back, I was to stay with my parents for an indefinite amount of time. My parents already had two cats of their own and my family was not happy with an additional two. I soon sought a home for the kitten I had saved more recently, and I was happy and satisfied to have found a sweet family with a young girl to adopt her. Winky, on the other hand, was so close to my heart, I begged my parents to let her stay, I begged them again when instead of finding a job and my own place, I returned to Europe, England this time to do a post graduate, 2 year program. After my program my intention was to return to the US, however, I met my husband, fell in love and got married and settled here in England.
Bar none, sadly, England has the strictest laws in the world concerning animals being brought into the country. Some of the hoops seem to be impossible to jump. I am so thankful for my parents who cared for her since 2004, and being able to visit with Winky all these years has been a blessing. However, my dad cares for my mom who has Alzheimer’s, and although Dad’s heart is big, he has found it increasingly difficult to care for Winky as well, and give her the attention and love she needs and deserves. May Winky be adopted by the most loving family and may she be happy and healthy into her sunset years!! She is friendly, sweet, caring, knowing, and still as playful as the kitten she was when I met her. May she enrich the lives of those whose path she crosses. She will surely be missed.

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