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Introducing Oliver!

August 2010

Hi, readers! One of the best things about country living is having enough room, inside and out, for pets. For the last two years, my household has consisted of my dog Sadie (12), and two cats, Gussie (15), and Pippin (2), and my little menagerie seemed to work well. But recently, it became clear to me that with such a big age difference between the two cats, Pippin really needed another young cat to play with, and Gussie really needed a little bit of peace!

Since moving to upstate New York, I've probably fostered over two hundred cats and kittens for AWAN (Animal Welfare and Adoption Network). AWAN is a local rescue organization whose mission is "to care for animals in need and places homeless pets into loving homes." In fact, Pippin was one of my charges and he ended up staying permanently!

Since I didn't have any foster kittens in my care at the time that I decided to adopt again, I turned to another local organization, the Ulster County SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Many litters of kittens and puppies are typically born in the spring, and at the UCSPCA about thirty kittens were available for adoption. I was hoping for a girl since I'd only had boy cats, and I wanted one who would be playful and not too shy. And then I saw Oliver. He caught my eye because he was in a litter with four other kittens, all of whom were asleep, and Oliver was trying to wake up his brothers by repeatedly swatting at them. He curled up against my neck when I held him, purring the entire time. He was cute, sweet, active and healthy, and I knew right away that I wanted him. Since the UCSPCA is very careful about tracking the ages of the kittens and when it is safe to allow them to be adopted, I had to wait one more week before he was ready to come home with me.

Oliver's homecoming was everything I'd hoped it would be. After a little initial nervousness on Oliver's part, he and Gussie now get along beautifully. And I think even two-year old Pippin is sometimes amazed at Oliver's energy! It's lots of fun to watch them play with the same toy or chase each other around the house. And I'm sure that Gussie is much relieved that Pippin has found another playmate. As for Sadie, I think Oliver would love to romp with her, but Sadie prefers to encourage his friendship with Pippin!

AWAN and the UCSPCA have helped many, many animals find loving, permanent homes. Organizations such as these are also valuable resources when pet owners are looking for low-cost vaccinations and spay/neuter clinics to ensure healthy animals and prevent over-population. My experiences with pet rescue, fostering and adoption have been consistently positive throughout the years. As some readers may know, Sadie's mother was a rescued stray, and I based two of my books (A Dog's Life and Everything for a Dog) on the challenges that stray dogs face. Every cat I've ever had was a rescue, and I've loved each of them very much. It's easy to see why I am an advocate for abandoned animals . . . and why I'm enjoying having a kitten in the house again!

Happy reading!

P.S. Be sure to check out the photo link for pictures of Oliver! Also, if you are interested in learning more about pet foster care and adoption, please check out the following web pages: - Ulster County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals - Animal Welfare and Adoption Network - American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals