If you know me personally you have probably heard this story more than once. The story of how I ended up with a cat, named Black and White, 8 years ago. I tell this story often, because I am still amazed at how God can give you something that you never thought you would need. I am in no way saying that Ferrell was God sent, but I am saying that God uses different things, people and animals to demonstrate his love for us.
In 2010, I found myself coming home from Iraq to an empty apartment. I was alone after being surrounded by people 24 hours a day, every single day. Everyone knows how hard deployments are, but what everyone doesn’t know is how you build a camaraderie with your fellow Soldiers. Wake up there’s a Soldier, go to sleep, there’s a Soldier. You are never alone over seas. Even when you go to the port-a-john, there is someone outside that port-a-john waiting. When I arrived back in the states for the first week, I felt so isolated, I actually missed Iraq. I missed one of the worst experiences I had ever lived through. I missed the Soldiers and I missed the bottled water.
Prior to deploying I lived with my younger sister. I was also engaged to a really nice young man and he and I co-owned two dogs. A dachshund male, Ronnie, and a mix dachshund and terrier, Jasmine. Before I deployed, my sister moved back to NC. During my deployment the young man and I ended up breaking up and he kept both dogs. Why did he keep both dogs? Let’s just say when people are hurt, they do mean things.
So when I came home, being this alone was definitely a new feeling for me. Have you ever found yourself slipping into a slow depression? Well that was what I went through when I got back from Iraq. I would go to work and not want to leave, because that was the only time I wasn’t alone.
One of my dearest friends, Cheryl, had cats. I don’t know how many she had, I think one day my count was up to three and a few more cats came from behind the couch. One of Cheryls cats ended up getting bad off sick. She was worried and she ended up taking the cat to the vet. One day during lunch, she asked me if I wanted to ride with her to check on the cat at the vet, then we could grab lunch afterwards. When we got to the vet, she received some good news and was able to go back into the kennel area to visit with her cat. I stayed in the waiting room. While sitting there, the receptionist began to talk to me about a black and white cat that was sitting on the floor in a pet crate. I of course was ignoring her, but given the occasional polite nod and um-hm, which is customary when you are ignoring someone.
When Cheryl came out of the back, she of course was immediately drawn to the black and white cat. She complimented the cat on her color pattern and her yellow eyes. I on the other hand was rubbing my growling belly. Then Cheryl turned to me and asked me a question “Why don’t you take her (the cat) home, you don’t have any pets since that asshole took yours?” The receptionist being the opportunist she was says “That would be awesome, We were able to find homes for all of her kittens, but not for her. She was brought in after having kittens under a ladies door step and since she is an older cat, she may never be adopted. She already has all her shots and has been fixed. We can’t keep cats her though, so if she doesn’t find a home, she is scheduled to be euthanized at the end of this week.”.
My first thought was “should have left her under the door step”, my second thought was, “sucks to be that cat”. Cheryl and I left. Yep, we left black and white there and we went and ate lunch.
When I got back to work, after eating a hearty meal, my conscience kicked in. I was leaving that cat there to die. They were going to kill her. I had to go back and get her. What type of person was I to just let them kill that poor innocent black and white cat?
So after work, I went back to the vet and I adopted black and white.
When I first got black and white with yellow eyes home. I ignored her. The receptionist told me she was a feral cat, so of course thats what I called her “Ferrell”. She did her thing, I left food out for her and she left me alone. The first night at her new home, Ferrell howled all night. I think she was sad. They had taken her kittens from her and adopted them all out. I know she still misses them. She howled until I opened the bedroom door. Weird thing was, she didn’t want to come into the bedroom, she jus wanted the door open. Weird Cat. I think she may have a little post traumatic stress from her days of being stuck in the kennel at the vet. She still doesn’t like closed doors and she has hurt herself a few times trying to get out of the pet crates. I ended up having to toss all the hard crates and now I only transport her in a soft crate.
Cheryl had made me a promise, that if I didn’t like the cat she would come get her once her cat healed from its surgery. Of course, she never did and I never mentioned it. After week two, I kinda liked seeing the cat sitting on the couch when I came home from work. She would meow for food whenever her bowl was empty, I would feed her and she would rub against me to say thank you once she was full. I didn’t realize how lonely I was until after I got the cat. I stopped working late, because I knew she was waiting to be fed. I also didn’t mind sitting at home alone. After I adopted Ferrell, being alone became a thing of the past.
Days turned into weeks, weeks into months. When it was time for me to move to another state, I had the opportunity to give her up. I still wasn’t extremely found of her, but she never caused any problems. She kept mostly to herself. She didn’t bother anyone so I figured might as well take her with me. Besides, the thought of being alone in Delaware scared me.
When we got to Delaware she allowed me to sit on the couch with her for the first time. Usually, in Texas, whenever I would move to sit on the couch she would always jump down, stretch and go somewhere else. I guess she started missing Texas as much as I did. Over the years, she has come to trust me more. She follows me from room to room now, feeling more comfortable whenever she is able to see me. She even lets me rub her belly. Time has flown by and she has become a friend. I am still not keen on cats, but Ferrell is no longer just a cat. Let’s face it, eight years is a long time to be with some”one”.
I read a book a few years back called “The Dog who came to stay” by Hal Borland. This was a beautiful memoir about a man, and a stray dog that just shows up on his farm one day. The memoir recounts how the bond between the man and the dog grew over the course of a few years. In the end the dog doesn’t die. Nope, Pat, the dog, just leaves and goes back to wherever he came from. Isn’t that beautiful, the dog came for as long as he was needed, then when he wasn’t needed anymore, he left the exact same way he came.