Contributed by foster and volunteer, Debbie Brame
March 5, a typical Saturday at the Petco adoption event turned out to be not so typical afterall. Kaitlyn and I had Kiara, Kovu, and Winston in a cage together that day to be viewed by potential adopters. Some lookers for Kiara and Kovu wandered by and were interested in one or the other but not both, so they quickly dissipated after hearing our preference for them to be adopted together. Winston too was looked at by a few people, one wanted to declaw him and the other had not taken their pets to the vet in over ten years, so both were a resounding NO! Kaitlyn left early that afternoon, but not too long after her departure an eight year old girl named Charleigh along with her mother Michelle asked to see Winston. Charleigh held him for a long time, and later I heard Michelle ask,
“Are you sure this is the one?”
Charleigh quickly nodded yes, and then she proceeded to stand by Winston’s cage while Michelle filled out the adoption application. Excitement and joy quickly turned to disappointment though, when Charleigh learned that they would not be able to take Winston home that day because I needed time to process the paperwork. Two days later the application was approved, and Kaitlyn and I packed up Winston, or Sir Winston as I often called him, along with some of his favorite toys and drove him to his new furrever home. Granted, this was not a typical adoption for us. In our twenty something adoptions since becoming fosters last September, we have only adopted out 3 singletons, two of which went to homes with an existing cat. Kaitlyn particularly was not too thrilled because she didn’t even meet the folks yet that I had approved, and we ALWAYS BOTH have to love our potential adopters before we proceed with an adoption. Lastly, we had not performed a home visit, and rarely do we adopt out without a home visit. Nevertheless, I told her this was one adoption I was approving without her blessing, and after meeting Charleigh, Kaitlyn understood.
On the way home that night I bet Kaitlyn that 1) either Winston would be sleeping in Charleigh’s room that night even though Michelle said they would keep him on the ground floor so as not to overwhelm him, or 2) Charleigh would be sleeping on the couch with Winston. Well, I lost that bet, but not by much. Charleigh WANTED to sleep on the couch the first night, and the second night she was granted her wish. I am told that Winston snuggled beside her most of the night and gave her lots of head bumps. I believe it wasn’t long after that when the twosome moved to Charleigh’s bedroom, and they have been inseparable ever since.
I could list a million reasons why this was the purrfect pairing, but I’ll let some of the selected stories below do that for me. I call these my “weekly Winston updates”, and I think I have been requesting Michelle to share her favorite Winston stories with me every week since the adoption except for the two weeks we were out of the country vacationing in St. Martin.
Michelle: “So far, their favorite thing to do together is read! He’s very happy sitting in his bed and listening to her read.”
Michelle: “Very active this morning!! He slept with Charleigh most of the night and woke her up by bringing his birdy toy up on her bed and chasing it back and forth. Charlie’s been playing with him with that mouse on a stick toy all morning!”
Michelle: “…last night he did the funniest thing: she always reads in bed before going to sleep and she’s always asleep by 8:30. She is on spring break tomorrow so I told her she could stay up until 9 PM. At 8PM, Winston started meowing at her and walked up the stairs. I think he knew it was time to read and go to bed!!”
Michelle: “Winston is hosting his first sleepover. So far so good!! He’s loving the attention!”
Me: “Ok, I’m feeling lonely and sad. We adopted out two of our fosters last night and we had to put down a kitten that was having seizures. Any news on Sir Winston to share and help brighten my day?”
Michelle: “…Winston is Charleigh’s little shadow, that’s for sure. She reads in bed every night for 40 mintues while he snuggles. Yesterday she got home late from show choir practice, so I told her only 20 minutes of reading. From her I got the ‘But mommy, please?’ and immediately after, in exactly the same tone, from him I got “meow meowwwww?’ So I said, okay 30 minutes. She said ‘thanks’ and he said ‘Meh!’ And they both ran to her room. It was hilarious! There’s no way I can say no to BOTH of them.”
Me: “You made me smile!”
Me: “Happy Easter….any Sir Winston stories to share today?”
Michelle: “Several…most importantly, Aaron and Charleigh used
treats to teach him to do a fist bump!…He has almost mastered it!
He will do it 90% of the time.”
Michelle: “…Oh yeah, the other thing is that he likes to sleep curled up with her at night, but he sometimes gets up and causes trouble which wakes her up. She now tells him every night before bed, “I love you very much buddy, and if you want to sleep by me that would make me happy, but if you’re going to keep me awake then you should go now. About ¼ of the time he does leave right on cue!”
Me: “I think Charleigh speaks cat.”
Michelle: “Me too!”
Michelle: “We will not see him sometimes for quite awhile.
But as soon as she gets home, he leaps at her and gives her
tons of love!! And she gives it back. We had a bit of a private
conversation earlier today when she came home and then left
again for a play date. I told him, I know buddy. I miss her very much too. But she is growing up and we have to let go. He gave me a head bump and waited by the door for her.”
I could go on and on sharing these weekly updates that Michelle has so graciously shared with me. On softball game days, Winston grabs a pair of Charleigh’s socks and snuggles with them until she gets home and then eagerly sits and listens as Charleigh revisits each play by play. On laundry days Winston LOVES to help, and if Michelle gets started a little late, Winston enthusiastically starts taking sheets off the beds without her! Having mastered the commands to fist bump and jump, Charleigh is now working on the command to sit, and so on and so forth. But when it comes right down to it, I’ll never get over the fact that even though there were a few smaller, younger kitties at Petco that Saturday in March, and it’s usually these smaller ones that get all the attention, it was Winston that caught Charleigh’s eye. And I remember Michelle repeatedly asking her “are you sure, are you sure“ and her nodding yes.
“Charleigh is SUCH a good kid” beams Michelle. “But there was always something missing. It was Winston! I’m convinced of it!”
Michelle later confided that after learning they would not be able to take Winston home that day at Petco, she really tried to persuade Charleigh to go with a kitten that a friend of their neighbor had available that same day.
“But she would not budge! She would’ve waited a year for him I think!” said Michelle.
I’m just glad she only had to wait two days!