Thursday, January 31, 2013

for the love of Hershey

It's official, Hershey has found his forever home!!! Yahooo!!

The first time I saw Hershey on
 the back porch, Oct 20, 2012
I knew giving him up would not be easy. He's the first animal that I have ever given away by choice (the other's left me through death). Even though I only had the blessing of being with Hershey for a little over three months, my heart was quite attached to the little guy. As I told him, he will forever have a piece of my heart.

This little cat has spirit and lots of personality. He can be feisty and incredibly lovey. He's curious and bold. And oh my is he fluffy!

I wanted to send Hershey off with some special toys. I bought him some rattly mice, a nip nanner, kickeroo, and Da Bird toy. I especially wanted the interactive toy that would give his new human plenty of opportunities to play at a safe distance from Hershey's teeth.

I brought the Da Bird toy home on Tuesday night and had to give it a try. He LOVED it! I remember other bloggers saying how wonderful these toys are, but I kept putting off buying one due to already having a house full of cat toys. Now, I know, these toys are definitely amazing!

I tried to celebrate Hershey in the last night we had together.  We played LOTS of Da Bird toy!!

And we celebrated some more on Wednesday, our last day together...

In the end, I think he had a good time of play! Hershey so loves to jump and pounce. This is the perfect toy for him to get out lots of energy. A bigger play surface would be better, but at least the soft bed cushioned his wild jumps!

After a long snuggle break from all the crazy play, it was time to leave my house for the last time. I'm thankful Hershey was a good sport about it because I was an emotional mess. I'm also super thankful that Laura was able to go with me so I didn't have to face this alone.

As I sobbed on the drive down to Hershey's new house yesterday, I feared Hershey would feed abandoned once more. Of course I told him what all was going on, I also prayed that God might help Hershey understand that I'm not abandoning him but rather giving him a chance at finding a forever home where he can get much more play, loves and attention than what I could offer. 

The worst nightmare about leaving him that I imagined involved seeing him hiding under the bed, all scared in a strange place, giving me those eyes that say, "What are you doing to me? Where are you going? When can we go home?" 

Thankfully, none of that happened. Hershey was a rockstar. He came right out of his carrier and started exploring his new place.

After about 30 minutes of checking everything out, he was home.

Mike, Hershey's new human, bought him lots of stuff and was ready for Hershey's arrival - he got a scratching post, several soft beds, a cardboard scratcher, and other goodies! He's also working on getting the right cat tree.

No hiding under the bed for this boy! He got right to work owning the space.

When we left Hershey, I felt an intense mix of sorrow and joy. I'm thrilled for Hershey that he got a good human that will take great care of him. Mike will enjoy Hershey and spoil him rotten! Even with that joy in my heart for Hershey, there remains also the sorrow of not getting to see and love on Hershey on a daily basis. It does help knowing he will be well. Coming home to a house without Hershey was hard. Even with five cats, it feels somehow empty without Hershey.

Of course, I'm now eager to hear from Mike to see how things are going with Hershey. Mike generously offered me visitation rights, something I hope to do sometime! I often drive by the apartment where Hershey is living so I will always be reminded to pray for him and send him positive thoughts.

Thank you Hershey for sharing your fluffy self with me, you are a delightful soul. Thanks for showing up at my backdoor and being such a great cat. Take good care of yourself Hershey and know that I will always love you. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Hershey gets a home!

Good news! It looks like Hershey may have found his new home!!

The prospective adopter came by and hung out with Hershey for nearly 1½ hours. Hershey did great, it didn't take long for him to be asking for pets. After lots of play and hanging out, the adopter said he wants Hershey!! The plan is for me to deliver him on Wednesday evening. Yahoo for Hershey, I think he'll do well in his new home.

I feel some angst about giving him up, but it does help having met the adopter and having a strong sense that he will be cared for well. I insisted on follow-up pictures and stories!

I imagine actually leaving him at someone's home and driving away will not be easy.

After the visit, Hershey got a rare treat, he got some supervised time down in the general population. He loves having the house to explore, which he doesn't usually get because he harasses the resident cats.

Hershey loves the tunnel. It's one of his favorite games, running through and pouncing out the side of the tunnel. He would probably just hang out in there all day if given the chance.

With Hershey on the loose, all the other cats were on high alert! They all kept a sharp eye on Hershey's whereabouts.

I tried to get a jump photo, but he was too quick!

The party ended when Hershey pounced on Nahum.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hershey update

Mr. Hershey is still hanging out with us. So far several people have expressed interest. The first candidate met him last weekend and didn't immediately fall in love. He was a little unsure about Hershey's bratty biting behavior.

When Hershey doesn't want to do something or gets super excited he likes to express that energy using his teeth. He'll grab a hand with his claws, hold it in position and chomp! He uses a bit more force than is comfortable.

Changing this behavior will take consistently giving him an undesired consequence such as the play and attention immediately cease and I leave the room right after he bites. Hopefully in a short period of time he'll learn that using his teeth brings about something undesirable.

Meanwhile, someone else will be coming over later tonight to meet Hershey! I hope they fall in love!

In unrelated news, I'm taking a photography class! The photographer who did the pet photos with santa at the big holiday pet adoption event is teaching it. It's a basic "how to get off the automatic setting of your DSLR camera" class. I'm excited and hopefully in a few more weeks I'll start taking much better pictures! You'll have to let me know if you start to notice a difference in picture quality.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

cuddle work

One might think that all cats are natural snugglers, that proper snuggle technique is innate.

Nahum and Rose sure make it look easy.

Willow and Buddy might need a little more practice.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Be still

My quest for spiritual nourishment brought me to Saint Edward State Park, one of my favorite parks in the area. This park exists now on what used to be a seminary built in 1931. The seminary building and spacious grounds on the shore of Lake Washington remain beautiful. The day was a rare gorgeous, dry January day. A few puffy clouds shared the sky with the endless blue and a bright shiny object that I've heard is the sun.

I took off on a foot path I've never taken. As the path wound through the tall trees I prayed as I know how to pray. A few minutes later, I hear "shut up" in my head. I pause and work at shifting my brain into "being" rather than "doing". As I continued to meander along the path the words "be still" entered my mind. I rhythmically repeated these words while slowing my breathing to match my strolling pace. In time I connected to the beauty that surrounded me, and began to commune with God in his created space. Yes, this is my heart's true desire.

After a bit my mind quieted and I was more able to notice and delight in the many intricacies of the forest, the very things that drew me to God so long ago. As I walked a hymn from, my faith community in Vermont came to mind -  "Peace, be still and know that I am God". We always sang it in rounds, as a contemplative prayer. I walked and sang this prayer in my mind as I noticed the forest beauty around me.

I noticed little patches of snow around the forest floor, slowly melting. I felt my heart was also slowly melting as my connection with God slowly reawakened.

One summer long ago while attending summer camp, we did what was called a "sit and watch" which involved going off by oneself in the forest away from everything, sitting on a log or rock and just noticing. No talking, no thinking, no nothing. Just being with nature and taking it in for about 15 minutes. It was powerful.

Along the trail was a bench that provided the perfect spot for sitting and just being. I took the invitation and sat and listened and watched.

Tears came as so many old memories rose into the consciousness. Faces, voices, experiences - all gone now. My heart was grieving the loss of my faith community in Vermont. I realized it was at this time in my life where my worship template was formed. I didn't know at the time that such a place and experience would never be again. It was a once in a lifetime few years which forever shaped who I am and how I commune with God.

As I resumed my walk the words "I miss you God" bubbled up from my heart. More grieving, this time from a place of missing regular meaningful connection with God. I know I have not been intentional about creating space for that connection and the natural landscape and architecture of this area doesn't naturally foster that relationship.

It feels good to grieve, to feel. The emotional thawing I am desiring is underway, perhaps the Spring thaw has come early!

Maybe it's not too late for a New Year's resolution; to be still.