Love for BenBen

 

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A few days ago I came across an amazing story of a remarkable cat named BenBen. I immediately fell in love with this little kitty. Because so many of my followers are cat lovers, I thought I would share his story. (Be warned, you might cry. Tears of joy!)

In April, 2016, BenBen was brought to a shelter in Canada with multiple wounds – a broken spine, broken paws, several lacerations and a damaged ear – called a cauliflower ear.

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No one knew what had happened to him but veterinarians speculated he may have been attacked by a bigger animal.  He was given several surgeries, but with little hope for a complete recovery. Because of his severe injuries, veterinarians said he would never walk again.  If he remained alive he would need extreme care, and it was unlikely anyone would be prepared to help him.  He was in fact, eventually deemed ‘unadoptable’ and scheduled to be euthanized.

BenBen was depressed, but to make things worse, he has a condition of excess skin on his face, which gives him a permanent mournful expression. (It is nonetheless, endearing!) BenBen was called the ‘saddest cat in the world’.

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As the days passed, BenBen grew more listless and sulky.  He refused to eat or drink. Shelter workers thought he was preparing to die. He was on death row and he knew there was no hope for him.

However, one kind-hearted soul met BenBen and could not allow his demise. Sandy Windover is an ER veterinarian who had assisted with BenBen’s care. She did not want to let him go, and just a few hours before BenBen’s scheduled euthanasia, arranged to adopt him.

BenBen went home to his ‘forever home’ with Sandy.  Even as a passenger riding in her car, he already began to perk up.

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Once they were home, Sandy reports that he immediately (within one hour!) began to get better. He was moving, purring and snggling up to her.  Sandy got a special non-slip training mat to help assist BenBen’s recovery so he could strengthen his legs and learn to walk again.

Little by little, BenBen was rehabilitated. Now, not only can he walk, but he also plays and can fetch a toy! His appetite is great, and he is even known to sometimes snack  on pizza.

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The resilience of animals never ceases to amaze me. The story of BenBen touched me so much because in part it reminds me of my own cat Jasper.

Jasper, like BenBen, had been taken into Chicago Animal Care & Control by a good Samaritan who found him in an alley. It was the dead of winter (and Chicago winters are awful!) Jasper was half starved and suffering a respiratory infection that would have killed him if he had not gotten help. The veterinarians treated him, nursed him back to health, gave him all necessary shots, and within a few weeks Jasper was deemed ‘adoptable’.

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However, no one wanted him. Jasper is a black cat and it is notoriously hard to get anyone to adopt black cats. Apparently, old superstitions die hard and many people still consider black cats to be ‘evil’ and bad luck.

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Jasper had been sitting in his cage for six months when I walked in, specifically looking for a black cat. (My previous one had died a few weeks before.)  Needless to say, it was destiny!  The shelter workers were thrilled that I wanted him and confided to me that they would not have been able to keep him for much longer.

When I brought Jasper home his muscles were somewhat atrophied and he could not jump. I knew if I had to carry him around, or if he was less active than a normal cat, that would be okay.  However, within two days Jasper became Supercat, able to leap tall counters and kitchen sinks in a single bound!  He has a permanent soft voice due to his respiratory infection, and he rarely meows. We call him ‘the quiet man’ but in danger he has a mean hiss!

Although Jasper’s situation was in no way as severe as BenBen’s, both cats illustrate an important point – with a little love and care, animals can recover from horrendous situations and go on to lead happy, fantastic lives!

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If you are thinking of adding a pet to your family, please consider a shelter animal. They are very loving and loyal, easily trained and resilient. Having seen the worst and overcome great hardships, your shelter pet will be so happy to have you!

Many people were moved by BenBen’s story. Here is one video to celebrate his new life!

 

 

 

The Goat Speaks

 

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Oh, you silly, silly humans. Why all the nail biting, my dears? Clearly, at the beginning of this World Series, I promised you I would lift the curse.  I signed the agreement with my hoof print, did I not?

Now, a goat such as myself may possess a good deal of deceptive qualities. But one thing I guarantee is my sincerity!  A promise is a promise and I, Murphy the Billy Goat, namesake of the Billy Goat Tavern and former pet of Mr. William Sianis, am as good as my word.

The question of the Cubs winning was never in doubt.

What’s that you say? The rain? Yes, of course I sent the rain! And with it I brought a seventeen minute game delay.

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There was a method to this madness, for it allowed the players to contemplate their fate. They regained their bearings and therefore could more fully appreciate their win! A well earned victory is far sweeter than a gain not toiled for.  And so it was,  I stretched that game out to all of ten innings, allowing the Cubs their spoils at just one mere point above their competitors!

What’s that you say? The suspense nearly killed you?  Well now. Surely you can guess, it is my good pleasure to watch humankind sweat. I delight in seeing you on the edge of your seats!  You are, after all, such naive creatures.  I cannot help but toy with you.  And yet, would you not agree, I created a most memorable situation? This is a game that will be etched in your minds for all of eternity.

In the end, the curse is broken. One hundred and eight years of bad luck has been ended at my bidding.

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Oh, you need not thank me.  Just remember me for what I am —  a most honorable goat. I have but one request. I ask you never place me in ridiculous circumstances ever again. Leave me out of your ball parks!

Do not prop me upon your bar stools!

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Do not make an advertisement of me! For the love of the cloven hoof, GIVE ME MY DIGNITY!

Instead allow me the peace of my barn and companionship of my fellow animals.  If you do so, I will watch over your Cubs  and give them cause for celebrations in many years to come. They are a young team, new in their history. They may have a most bright future.

I, the honorable Murphy, will serve them well.

** NOTE ** Read Murphy’s original story and promise here.

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The Raven

 

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At the height of my fame I was known as the master of macabre, Poe the poet. But you, gentle reader may call me Edgar.  It is with much displeasure I look upon your current world. The nightmares you  now face are far more devastating than any I have poured from my pen.  In hopes of diverting your attention  I will tell you a bit about my own life.

Yes, in my day we had atrocities as well.  Disease and tuberculosis.  The enslavement of human beings for profit, great plantations built upon sweat of those who never saw a farthing for their labor. As for myself, I was orphaned at a young age, separated from my siblings and raised by a man called Allan. He hated me.

First, I will speak of the raven for  I hear he is  still an obsession of many.  It was my wife,  my sweet Virginia, who inspired that poem. “Edgar,” she told me, “choose a bird!  One of dark and eerie countenance.  Only such will move the minds of your readers, for they long to be frightened out of their wits!”

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She then giggled her girlish laugh and I knew she was right. The  poem I created sold by the hundreds, enabling me to begin my travels on what you in your modern world would call a ‘book tour’.

Virginia was my muse, my inspiration. She spoke of dark things;  human beings buried   alive,  black cats and black death, the stench of coffins and great stone mansions that crumbled in the quaking earth. Many a night she would entertain me with her wild imaginings, all of which found a true place when I put pen to paper.  Yet her dark fantasies worried me. Her behavior was peculiar, not like that of most women.  Often in the night I found her perched on the balcony as if she meant to take flight.

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Oh, she was a nubile creature!  Our marriage was quite unconventional.  When I wedded her she was but thirteen years old, a budding beauty, hair of silk and skin of peach.  And I, in my lustful maturity (for I was  then twenty seven) could not resist her coquettish charms.

What’s that you say? Pedophilia? The word was not in my vocabulary!   Before you jump to any vile conclusions be assured; my love for Virginia was pure.  She was family,  my first cousin.  We shared the very same blood!   As such, I think I saw in her a bit of myself —  my own reflection.  I could not resist the charm of her lovemaking, the exquisite pinnacles we achieved, for who does not secretly desire  carnal knowledge of one’s own self?

What’s that you say?  Incest?  Risk  of birth defects?  We knew nothing of your modern genetics!  Even if we had, I certainly would not have stopped the union, for I adored Virginia with a passion that was sublime, a passion very few humans will achieve.  Alas, she was to bear no children, a thing I have always regretted.

My true  nightmare  began when Virginia took ill with tuberculosis. In the stifled, slow moving days and the gloomy nights I watched as her  body atrophied. She became a walking cadaver, a blood spewing entity, standing in the path of the reaper, doomed for the bed of death.

When Virginia passed from this world I was devastated. In my loneliness I even tried to replace her.  I courted several ladies. I had affairs with the beautiful Nan Richmond and the illustrious Sarah Whitman. I even called upon the widow Elmira Shelton who  had once been my fiance (before I met Virginia.)  Yet my efforts were for naught.  None could rival  my true love.  Though she was gone I still burned with passion for her.

I then traveled to Baltimore, on a speaking tour. It was there that the spirit of Virginia began to haunt me relentlessly.  She came to me in dreams, visions and visitations. She was pale as chalk, thin as bone, with red stains of tainted  blood still trickling from her lips.  Yet to me she was lovely.

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These visions lasted four nights and it became clear to me; if I wished to reunite with Virginia I must pass through the dark realm myself. I must enter the red masque, step beyond the veil and know the silencing of my own telltale heart.

And so it was outside a public house, on the streets of Baltimore that I drew my last breath.

The night was wet and blustery, chill of the early  October winds setting in. I had been drawn from my chamber, beckoned by a bird. Yes, a raven. Of courses a raven!  What else?  I stood on the pavement  in bare feet and a nightshirt.  I was then encompassed in what I can only describe as a thick fog, soft to the touch of my skin, rich, relaxing and delicious. In that fog  I could feel Virginia’s presence. Finally I saw her, nubile and fresh as she was on our wedding day. In that moment I was  no longer tied to this earth. I joined Virginia in that place of  enthralling darkness, to return nevermore.

Try as they might, doctors  could report no discernible cause for my death.

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This post is in response to the Daily Prompt Nightmare

 

 

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1st of the Month: White Rabbit!

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Do you say  ‘White Rabbit’ on the first day of the month?  In my family we have  this tradition. We do it as a fun competition. The first one to say it wins.  (We don’t actually win anything, we just Win — if you remembered first you are the smartest smart guy. )

I got to thinking about this tradition and wondered if anyone else practiced it, where it came from, and if it make any sense at all. Actually, it always made a lot of sense to me, because as an Alice in Wonderland fan, I knew Alice found all her adventures by  following the White Rabbit!

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I did some sleuthing and found out that the rabbit utterance  apparently  started out as an ancient Celtic tradition.  It was used  at the beginning of the lunar month to honor the sacred animal. This animal was not exactly a rabbit, but something other-worldly that resembled a rabbit.  The image of this rabbit-like animal could then be found in the full moon.

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In some parts of Scotland and northern England, children are still taught to say ‘White Rabbit’ at the beginning of the month as a magic charm to attract money through unexpected means.

This quote comes from a ‘Notes and Queries’ book dated 1909:

“My two daughters are in the habit of saying ‘Rabbits!’ on the first day of each month. The word must be spoken aloud, and be the first word said in the month. It brings luck for that month. Other children, I find, use the same formula.”

Another tradition holds that ‘Rabbits, rabbits, rabbits’ should be spoken as the first words and the beginning of the month, and ‘Hares, hares, hares’ as the last words at the end of the month.

Interestingly, the tradition was also adopted by RAF bomber aircrews in WWII, who believed uttering ‘white rabbit’ as their very first words upon awakening would keep them from harm.

I found this quote from the 1922 novel  ‘Solomon in all his Glory’ by Robert Lynd:

“Why,” the man in the brown hat laughed at him, “I thought everybody knew ‘Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.’ If you say ‘Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit’—three times, just like that—first thing in the morning on the first of the month, even before you say your prayers, you’ll get a present before the end of the month.” 

So this month I am going to be the first to say White Rabbit.   Maybe I will even get a present 🙂

Try it and let me know if it works for you!

“Never underestimate a great superstition.”

 

 

At The Circus

 

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When I was a kid, I used to love the Circus.  I admit it. I mean, it was so exciting!  All those great animals  performing tricks for our entertainment.  The Circus came to town every year, Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey. It was the greatest show on earth.  And who could resist that junk food? Candy apples were my favorite. I loved the three rings, the wide elephants, the smell of hay and peanuts. Plus there was the Freak Show, and I could definitely relate.

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The Circus, to me, was a real treat.

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When my nieces and nephew were little, I also took them to the Circus. Why not? This was FUN, a kid’s paradise. Truthfully I never gave it a second thought. Until one time we went to the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey, and I noticed something disturbing.

The tigers came out in a parade. Oh, they were magnificent! Bengal giants with their coats of orange and black.. The tigers paraded in a line, then a circle. But something was peculiar. There was this one tiger. He would not go with the rest. He backed away, snarled, would not walk in the circle. I don’t remember the trainer being particularly cruel. Just that the animal was stubborn. I watched. The tiger clearly was NOT going to perform his stunts. He rumbled, backed up, growled, shook his head. This  big cat was definitely NOT okay.

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I know enough about animals to know that if one does not want to do something, you should not force him. An animal can be coaxed, loved, persuaded, even bribed to do your bidding, but not forced.  The tiger was then taken out of the line and put somewhere. I don’t know where. It had to be a solitary confinement.  I remember saying, “That tiger is gonna blow.  Oh yeah, he is gonna explode!  Mark my words.”

I realized something was very wrong.  Then, all of a sudden, the whole Circus was wrong.  There were stunt people. I remember a woman who got locked up in a glass box, flexing and folding her limbs until she somehow perversely fit in this tiny cage that could not even hold a kitten.

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There was another woman who twirled by her teeth on a rope. I remember her spinning around, long hair flailing. I worried about her neck snapping, her teeth becoming dislodged.

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Grandma asked the nieces if they wanted dolls. There were these plastic dolls for sale, souvenirs that actually resembled the dangling tooth woman. The girls did not want them.  They looked at me with wide morose eyes. Yep, the kids knew better.   In that moment it all became creepy. Dear god.  Who ran this place?  Could it be?  The Circus was actually –  an institution of cruelty?   This was exploitation, blatant and unmitigated!   Why hadn’t I noticed before?   What the heck were we even DOING there?

Most revelations in my life have come like this – big flashes where all of a sudden I realize:

EVERYTHING I KNOW IS WRONG.

This was one of those moments.

That night on the News we heard a report that the Ringling Brother’s tiger escaped.  Not only did the animal blow his temper, but he apparently blew the entire pop stand as well 🙂 Goodbye PT.   He escaped your cages, busted out of your Alcatraz traveling show.

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What happened to that tiger? I do not know.  Somehow I could not bring myself to learn the follow up.  He was, no doubt recaptured. Probably hit with a stun gun.  Personally I liked to picture him in the wilds of Africa, roaming the plains.  But I am sure that did not happen. Even I am not that naïve.

After that we boycotted Circuses entirely.

 

But I gotta admit — I still love candy apples and a great Freak Show 🙂

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This post is in response to the Daily Prompt, pingback:

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/circus/

Black Cats

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Black cats are often feared, mistrusted, and misunderstood. It is a shame that they are not recognized for the unique and loving creatures they are!  But it’s not all bad.  Did you know that  historically black cats have been celebrated and revered in many cultures?  In certain parts of the world these ebony beauties were thought to be full of luck, love and supernatural magick.  Consider the following:

Black cats were thought to bring good luck in many parts of Great Britain.  In Yorkshire, for example,  it was believed that a black cat kept in a fisherman’s home would ensure his ship’s safe return from sea.  Also,  it was believed that a black cat aboard ship would bring a bounty of fish.  If the cat was banished from the ship, the supply of fish would run out as well.  In Cornwall,  it was believed that passing a black cat’s tail over one’s eyes would cure soreness and headaches.  In Wales, it was believed that  a black cat could ensure good health.  (Modern day scientists have proven that  keeping a cat can actually lower one’s blood pressure. This is, presumably, because a cat has a calming effect, so there is definitely truth to the theory.)

Scottish folklore states that a black cat found on your porch will bring financial prosperity.  It was also believed that a bride seeing a black cat on her wedding day would ensure a happy marriage.  In many Asian countries, particularly Japan, a black cat was considered an all around good luck charm.  In Ancient Egypt, the black cat was revered and represented by the goddess Bast.  Many pharaohs and queens owned black cats.

In modern times, engineer and professor of animal science Temple Grandin has spoken praises of black cats.  Grandin claims that there is a relationship between fur color and animals’ behavior.  Black cats, she says, are known to be more sociable and therefore make great pets.

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Aside from all this, black cats are beautiful!  Who could not love their playfulness, their loyalty and their mystery?  Yet due to their bad reputation and association with evil, black cats are reportedly the most overlooked animals in shelters.  If you are adopting a pet, please consider a black cat.  Guaranteed to bring health, prosperity, love and luck 🙂

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“I am a swath of black velvet, a dark beauty, a companion, playmate, and a keeper of the castle. Do not overlook me.”