I was in Petco, Manhattan’s favorite pet store, buying cookies for Carmela, my basset hound friend. They have a biscuit bar where for a nominal fee you can mix and match treats for your four-legged lady.
What possessed me to tool on down to animals for sale will remain a mystery. I passed turtles and parakeets, gerbils and mice…lizards, snakes, even a parrot named Bertha.
But then came….cat adoption.
I found myself eye to eye with a 7 month-old tiger kitty named Sam, his little nose sticking out of the cage like an Eskimo’s.
Did he just smile or is my sugar dropping? “So, I was wondering there lady…wanna have a cuppa coffee with me? I’ll treat.”
Okay, just like Joan of Arc, or Bark, in my case, I heard voices. To say I was charmed was an understatement.
Let me remind you, in less than a month Carmela will be gone and I’ll probably never see her again. The truth of this brings me to my knees. For the past 8 months I’ve loved something that has brought me more joy than I can say…the loss of it will be hard.
Joey the doorman suggested I start stepping back to loosen my attachment, but I said no Joe, I’ll be there till the end standing on the curb as they pull away…heartbroken, but I know in time, I’ll get over it since, that’s what we’re designed to do. Heal, mend, press on like the soldiers we are.
But back to Sam and me.
I asked what the deal was adoption wise. A nice guy named Bill said, “Well, first they come inspect your home to make sure you’re worthy of this little guy, and if all goes well…he’s yours.”
My heart leapt. As far as I was concerned, it was a done deal. But then said, “Is there a fee?”
“Oh yes, I forgot…150 dollars.”
My euphoria folded like a pup tent.
“Excuse me? Did you say 150 dollars?”
He did. I can’t afford to pay my union dues this month…they need to go on a credit card…my medical bills wink like shifty whores from all corners of my desk. I’ve been eating lots of pasta lately because it’s cheap.
I suddenly hated Petco. He explained, it wasn’t them. It’s a private organization called Angelica’s something or other that operates from the store. He suggested I email her, see what she has to say.
Now I don’t want to boast, but any critter who comes home with me has hit Lotto. I’m the quintessential, over-the-top, can I get you a blanket and cigar, type of pet owner. I’d give Carmela a full Swedish massage, if she’d let me.
So I leave Sam, telling him not to worry…to go home to email his, we’ll call sponsor.
In seconds I get a reply.
“Sorry, that’s our fee. If it’s not to your liking, go to the pound.”
For a New Yorker who’s seen everything, I was cyberly speechless.
Not even a dialogue let alone a negotiation. I’m thinking, but I’ll give him the greatest home…isn’t that the point…to get him a home?
I’m told by my friend Mary, who rescues, that’s cheap…standard…it keeps them in business, but it still felt shoddy to me. I know rescuers, when they get a live one, they’re at your door before you can say…did I say that?
I sat very still wanting so much to lambast her, but didn’t. I thought, Sam’s sweet, and he will get a home unlike the 1000s of cats who get put down every day all across the world.
I started to cry.
The good news is, I realize I’m ready to love an animal again, and not just Saturdays and Sundays for an hour.
When Carm goes, I will fill that gaping hole she will leave with a Sam…
I just haven’t met the right one yet…but I will…
I know I will.