This I Have Learned…

Mary Jo Bellner Swartzberg

Why would you want to do anything but rescue a pet? (Paul Shaffer, multi-instrumentalist)

It seems that every other household in SaddleBrooke has a beloved pet. This might be an underestimation, as the only way to really know how many pet owners live here is to audit everyone’s homes! But, one thing is certain, while people who live here love their children and adore their grandchildren, they really, really love their pets – those furry companions we have in later years when family members might live in other regions of the country.

SaddleBrooke residents are passionate about animal support groups, with such activities as the Pet Rescue Network and the Wags and Walkers group – both such worthy causes! Hours and hours of volunteer time are devoted to such causes.

Our household is no exception in having and loving a pet, as we have a little, 18-year-old calico cat named Callie, whom we love.

Callie had been losing weight right before our very eyes, so we took her to the vet last year. We were surprised to find out that she had hyperthyroidism, which is the result of an overactive thyroid gland that comes with symptoms of a rapid heartbeat and an increased rate of metabolism. It can also result in either a decrease or increase in body weight. Despite being on a non-iodine food diet, Callie continued to lose weight and now is at a very frail five pounds. A visiting vet came to the house to draw blood and discovered that Callie also has a tumor (called adenocarcinoma) the size of a golf ball in her abdomen. We are staying the course with her and, presently, she is asymptomatic.

Knowing of Callie’s condition, I could not help but reminisce on how we rescued Callie from a household with a barking dog and a large, pushy cat that terrorized Callie. I also recall how nine years ago, when we flew from Ohio to Arizona that Callie was terrified during the six-hour flight and wetted herself. When we arrived to the villa we were renting in SaddleBrooke, Callie, wet with urine, refused to come from under our bed and would not eat, drink or eliminate. In order to save her life, we grabbed her by her front paws and pulled her from under the bed, gave her a bath in lavender-scented Soft Soap and followed up with a Turkish towel rubdown. Blinking her eyes, but not protesting, she suddenly starting drinking water and eating the food we had put out for her.

Unlike humans, pets do not understand their diagnosis or illness because, well, of course, they are pets. They simply enjoy the company of their owners and give us unconditional love. And, when the day comes when Callie can no longer stay on this earth, we will be ever grateful for the time we had with her.

This I have learned.