I rescued Gus-Gus from Animal Care and Control, a kill facility, in Harlem, NY. For a skinny 5-week-old kitten, he had incredibly enormous ears. With his grey coloring and tiny size, he looked more like a deformed mouse or rabbit than a cat. He was the last of his litter to be adopted and had just a few hours left at the facility. I took him home with me and soon learned that raising Gus-Gus (like the mouse in Disney’s Cinderella) was going to be a challenge. Suggestions about Gus’ lineage ranged from feral stray to purebred Maine Coon to lab experiment gone horribly wrong as Gus had superpower strength. His temperament varied between docile kitty and vicious wild animal, switching between the two with almost no warning. His paws were the size of small baseball mitts, and according to one unfortunate cat sitter, his swipes felt like a prizefighter’s punch. When Gus was feeling mushy, he was just a love, giving me big velvety kisses and loving snuggles. Gus could also be clownish and destructive and his antics kept me from sleeping through the night. It was suggested that a playmate to entertain him and tire him out in the daytime would solve my sleep problems, so I adopted Kizzy. My Kizzy Kat came to me by way of a cat rescue organization called Ollie’s Place located in Manhattan, NY. I was told she was plucked from a hoarding situation in Brooklyn and that she would do well with other cats. She and Gus got along well and bonded easily.
In 2011 we all moved from Brooklyn, NY to Santa Fe. Traveling with cats is never really easy and carrying 18lb grumpy Gus-Gus through security created a bit of a spectacle in the airport. The stress was worth it and as I settled into my new home in Santa Fe, it was comforting to have Gus and Kizzy by my side. In May 2013, during the first quarter of my internship, Gus’ kidneys began to fail and I made the heart wrenching decision to put my beloved Gus to sleep.
My house (and my heart) seemed empty without Gus, and I began to entertain thoughts of bringing a new pet into the family. Not wanting to make any impulsive, grief driven decisions, I gave myself a few weeks to process the reality of life without Gus. I longed for Gus’ companionship and dog-like energy; I had been able to train Gus to perform simple commands. By the second week in June, I concluded that it was time to bring a dog into my home – and my heart. With my SWC tribe mates along for dog selection advice, I adopted Sundae from the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society.
I don’t know much about Sundae’s life before coming to live with me. The shelter said she was found wandering a Santa Fe neighborhood and was brought in by city animal services. I met her and took her home with me the same day she was returned from a prior failed adoption. I’m not sure how old Sundae (named such because she’s sweet and looks like a hot fudge sundae) is, the shelter initially said somewhere between 2 and 5. Subsequent paperwork surfaced indicating she’s likely closer to 8, but it doesn’t matter to me, she’s in her forever home now. She has had some behavioral issues, but as we get to know one another better, we’re working through them. Sundae and Kizzy are also processing their new relationship, with positive progress seen daily. I look forward to the day that we’re all able to peacefully share space on a consistent basis.