Mighty Little Man

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Back in November, I was walking through the mall at the PX on base when I noticed a painting of a cat.  I was amazed at how lifelike it looked, especially considering it was a very fluffy cat.  I asked, “Who did that?”

Her name is Stephanie Weaver, and she specializes in pet portraits.

I whipped out a picture of Little Man and asked, “Can you do this, but add his cape?”

The rest is history.  You can order prints directly from Stephanie here.

For those not familiar with the Mighty Little Man, in his younger days he was mascot of my unit in the US Air Force.  That’s the origin of his cape.  Later, he helped me restore my first car, and that was the only vehicle he would ride in willingly.  When he was about eight years old, he chased a burglar out of the house during a break-in and refused to move from the center of the destruction until I got home.

Then in September 2012, Labor Day, something terrible happened.  He wound up in the hospital and was not expected to live.  Against all odds, he pulled through.  The whole story is in his book, Mighty Little Man:  My Story, His Story, Our Story It’s available in paperback, hard cover, and Kindle formats on Amazon.

But his story doesn’t end there.  In April 2015, something else happened.  He again survived, and in so doing exposed a horrible truth that has lead to Congressional involvement.

All told, the Mighty Little Man has three world records, was named 2016 Pet of the Year by the World Record Academy, and is namesake of proposed legislation known as Little Man’s Law.

His veterinarian Dr. Stephanie Gandy called him, “one seriously tough kitty.”  In fact, that quote is included on t-shirts and other clothing items featuring Little Man’s official logo.

Book and t-shirt orders help me in my fight for Little Man’s Law.  It’s that important.  Our fur babies lives depend on it.

Thank you for your support!

Jonny

To Sterling, With Love

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I’m not really sure why I’m writing this.  I suppose it’s because I wanted there to be some record, some digital memory, of the brief time we shared.  But whatever the reason, there is something I want you to know.

My family and I volunteer with a local rescue organization.  We take in homeless kitties, give them food, shelter, and love until they find a forever home.  A few months ago, we took in a family of eight:  a mama and seven kittens.  One of the kittens, a tiny calico, would one day be your sister.  She was only about two weeks old when she came to live with us.  That was this past June.  But up until about two weeks ago, I didn’t know you existed.

You see, you were living with another foster family.  Some people from out of state found your picture, and the picture of your soon-to-be sister, on the internet and decided to adopt both of you.  Until they could come get you, they requested the two of you be placed together to get acquainted, so the plan was for your sister to go be with you.  But your first foster family had to go out of town, so the rescue organization asked us if we could take you in instead.  Of course, we said yes.

By that time, all of you were old enough to roam the house, except at night or when no one was home.  During those times, we put you and your sister in our bathroom together.  It’s a large room with lots of toys and things.  Just about every cat we’ve ever had started out in that room.  You both seemed happy in there.

A day or so after your arrival, it was a weekend, so I let you all out to explore.  I came in about mid-morning and plopped down on the bed to look at the most effective time-wasting invention ever made:  my cell phone.  While I was browsing, you climbed up on the bed, walked straight over to me, and crawled on my chest.  Then you rested your chin on my mouth, with your nose touching my nose, closed your eyes, and went fast asleep.

My first thought was, “Uh-oh.”  I’m just sorry I didn’t get a picture.

At first, I brushed it off as a one-time thing.  But over the next several days, you made your preferences known.  Anytime I was on or in the bed, you were there, too, right on top of me.  You wrapped yourself around my neck,

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snuggled under my chin,

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cozied up next to my face,

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or piled up on my chest.

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Yes, you really loved to snuggle.

And I decided I wanted you to live with us forever.

But there was a problem:  you were promised to someone else.

I contacted the rescue organization and explained what I wanted to do.  They said they weren’t sure if anything could be done, but they would try to work things out.  I was hopeful.

A few days later, they found another kitten who looked a lot like you.  They contacted the family to whom you had been promised and asked if they would be willing to take him instead of you.  After all, they had never even met you.  Guess what?  They said yes!

It was a Friday night when I found out.  I was so happy!  I went straight to you, picked you up, hugged you tight, and said, “It’s official!  We belong to each other now!”  You purred loudly in response.

But it lasted for only about one day.  And I wasn’t even there.

The next day, Saturday, our first true day as a forever family, I went to a football game.

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It was only the third game I’ve attended in over forty years, and the last time was seven years ago.  Our human daughter asked me for years to take her to a game, and we looked forward to that day for several weeks, so off we went.  We got home very late that night, and you were already asleep in your room.  I remember looking forward to Sunday afternoon.  No one else would be in the house but me, you, and all the other fur babies.

In my spare time, which isn’t very “spare” at all, I’m an author and screenwriter.  There were a couple of movies I wanted to study, so I planned for us to pile up on the bed and spend the afternoon watching them.  But there was something I wanted to do first.  That morning after I got up and fed all of you, I grabbed my time-waster and posted several pictures of you and me with the announcement:  “It’s official!  Meet the newest addition to the family!”  Everybody loved those pictures.

A few minutes later, I noticed I had an unread message.  I opened it, and …

I felt the blood drain from my face.  The family from out of state had changed their minds.  In fact, they did so within about two hours of agreeing to the swap, but no one knew until several hours later.  The unopened message I found was sent at 10:10 PM the night before, a little over 24 hours after I was told you were mine.

One whole day.

I tried everything.  I pleaded with the rescue organization.  I offered to pay the adoption fees for both kittens for the other family.  Then we threw in an offer for $500 cash, on top of the fees.  Nothing doing.  Your new family wanted you, too.  Finally, I wrote a letter explaining the whole situation that was taken before the board at the rescue organization.

They ruled against us.

Devastated doesn’t begin to describe my grief.  And I was not alone.  Several of my human friends were more upset than I’ve ever seen them.  They told me to take you away.  Run.  Hide.  Slam the door and tell the world to …

Oh, how I wanted to do just that.

But there was another problem.  If I kept you against the wishes of your new family, that might bring trouble for the rescue organization.  I couldn’t let that happen.  And somehow, I didn’t think you would want that, either.

After all, they saved you.

Even now, some of my friends still want to make trouble.  But that kind of trouble, a bad reputation or even legal issues, could be a very bad thing.  And I don’t think they’re bad at all.  They tried.  They really did.  They’re hurting, too.  And they are about as picky as anyone I’ve ever seen when it comes to allowing people to adopt their kitties.  Trouble for them could put other kitties at risk.  It might prevent other fur babies, just like you, from finding their forever homes.  No one wants that.

So I talked them out of it.

In a way, I have to admit I’m at least partly responsible.  Perhaps I should have left you locked in the bathroom the whole time.  But I didn’t.

I don’t want you to worry.  The rescue organization checked out your new family.  They are a wonderful family and will take good care of you.

By now, you are at your new home with them.  Although I don’t even know their names and have never met them, I sent them a signed copy of a book I wrote about another cat.  He was very special, too.  You remind me of him.  In the book, I included an inscription that reads, “May your lives together be long, happy, and blessed.”

I also included this picture.  It’s a little blurry, but one of my favorites.  Just you and me.  Together.  On the back I wrote:  “Sterling and Jonny, Oct 2016.”

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I will never forget you.  I know we will see each other again one day, but I hope it’s many, many years from now.  I want you to live a long and happy life first.

Remember I said there was something I wanted you to know?  Well, here it is:  if there is anything you are not, and never will be, it’s unwanted … or unloved.

Have a great life, my friend.  I’ll meet you later.  Hopefully, waaaaay later …

At The Bridge.

Love Always,

Your Daddy for One Whole Day,

Jonny

“The human species can be assholes.”

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That was a direct quote from an animal control officer this morning.

(WARNING:  STRONG LANGUAGE AHEAD)

My wife Caroline and I are foster parents through the Madison Animal Rescue Foundation (MARF) here in Madison, Alabama.  A few months ago we took in a family of eight, a mama kitty with seven kittens, who found themselves on the kill list at a local shelter.  MARF has found homes for all but three (we took one to add to the four we already had), and we expect they’ll have homes by the end of the month.

Then last night, our 20-year-old son Matt came home late after work.  He marched straight to our bedroom, woke us up, and said, “Mom, Dad, there’s a kitten in the driveway.  It doesn’t want to leave.”

We already have a houseful with eight (or is it nine?), so I told him to put some food and water and a litter pan in the garage (that was the Mighty Little Man‘s favorite place in the whole world) and that I would take care of it in the morning.

OMG.  As you can see from the picture above, this kitty is a sweetheart.  I estimate about ten to eleven weeks old, solid white.  Rubs, purrs, and does NOT want to go anywhere but into my lap.  Realizing we may wind up fostering this kitten regardless, I called MARF anyway and basically said, “Help!”

They told me to take the kitten to the Madison Animal Control section at the police station.  That’s the best bet for the kitten to be reunited with owners should they come looking.  After seven days, but probably before, MARF will take the kitten and work to find a foster (likely us) or a permanent home.  Sounds like a decent little story.

But there was something the MARF lady said to me on the phone this morning. When I got to animal control with this precious baby, I had to ask.

I turned to the officer and asked, “How often does someone bring in an animal that is already fixed, fat and sassy, healthy, and has obviously been someone’s pet for years?”

What he said shocked me.  I’m paraphrasing, but essentially he said, “All the time.  But what really pisses me off is when I scan the animal for a chip that leads right back to the person trying to surrender the animal.  They’re claiming it’s a stray until I confront them with the chip info.  Then it ‘belongs’ to a sister or cousin or some damn body.  Yeah, right.”

Gotta tell ya.  That pisses me off.  The solution is actually simple.  And it’s not rocket science:  IF YOU’RE NOT GOING TO TAKE CARE OF AN ANIMAL, DON’T ADOPT ONE!

And that brings me to something else.  I am so glad that animal abuse is now a felony offense.  There is simply no excuse for any human to abuse a helpless animal.

So let me make this clear.  Anyone who tries to pull that shit in my presence will go down for it.  Clear?  No?  Okay, how about this:

If I catch you abusing an animal, my career won’t mean shit to me.  My pension won’t mean shit to me.  I will personally make you wish you had never looked at an animal with anything but love.  And if the cops have a problem with what I’ve done to you, perhaps they’ll lock us up together so the “lesson” can continue – at my leisure.

Clear enough now?  Good.

Rant over.

Oh, and I told the animal control officer that if push comes to shove and they list this baby on a kill list to just call me.  Nobody’s gonna hurt this baby.

Period.

P.S.  Just heard from MARF.  They already have a foster home for the kitten.  Mission accomplished – one animal at a time.

 

A Most Profound Event …

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Jonny and Little Man Cropped.pngJonny and Little Man – Labor Day, 2014

Four years ago today, something happened.  It was an event that has had more affect on my life than just about any other, and based upon what many readers have told me, that’s quite a statement.  It marked the worst … no, I take that back … the second worst thing I have ever witnessed.

A little over fourteen years ago, I was charged with the care of one of God’s most precious souls.  His name was Little Man.  I named him that because he was the only male cat in a house full of females, and also because he was so tiny.  His size became somewhat of a joke among my friends because, well, he grew to be anything but tiny.  And I’m not talking about just his physical size.  He was unlike any creature I have ever known, and I can’t imagine ever being that close to an animal again.

Much has changed since “the big event” four years ago.  That event sent shock waves and altered my life’s journey in unbelievable ways, some that are still unwritten.  I say “unwritten” because, even today, I don’t yet know the final outcome.

Since that day, I have done many things I never dreamed I would do.  First, I witnessed what some would call a miracle.  The picture above, taken two years to the day after the big event, is evidence of that miracle that lead to my first book.  I thought the story was complete, and that’s why I wrote it when I did.

I’ve never been more wrong.

Other events and discoveries since that day have lead to work on a second book, but that effort has been delayed because of even more.  Now I’m juggling a fight for new legislation and another effort about which I’ve been advised to say nothing just yet.

But like a bull in a China shop, I have my head down and am moving forward.

I sometimes ask myself, “Why him?  Why did it have to happen to Little Man?”  But even now, four years later, I must answer by reminding myself that all things happen for a reason.

The next logical question would have to be, “What possible reason could that be?”  The answer is remarkably simple:  because people have to know.

So on this day, four years later, I take a short break to look back and remember an event most profound and a creature most loved to simply say …

God bless Little Man.

 

 

 

They’re Growing Up!

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IMG_0867The “Miracle” Babies

So we’re down to four foster babies and the mama.  There were originally seven, but the other three are together with one of the Madison Animal Rescue Foundation (MARF) ladies, and I hear they are doing well also.  Now, want to get to know these?  We have names and sexes now, too!

 

IMG_0871In keeping with the attempt to stick with names beginning with “M,” meet “Mini-Me.”  Mini-Me is most definitely her mama’s favorite, and she’s a “she.”  All she has to do is … well, nothing … and mama (Miri, for “Miracle”) comes running.  This one fell asleep in my lap the other day.  I couldn’t move without disturbing her, so I didn’t.  And my leg went to sleep (I was on the floor in the bathroom).  That’s ok though.  She deserved a little daddy time.

 

IMG_0874This is “Mint Julip,” and she’s another “she.”  LOVES to snuggle and give kisses, especially under my chin.  Must be my whiskers.  She licks and kisses and sniffs right on my mouth sometimes.  She’s a stout little thing, too.  I mentioned in an earlier blog about her fur.  It’s a little different from the others’.  I like it.  It goes with her sweetheart of a personality.

 

IMG_0868This is “Mandy,” and she’s King (I mean, Queen) of the world!  She climbed up there all by herself.  That’s Miri, the wonderful mama to these sweet babies, on the floor.  Mandy is actually from another litter, but Miri took her in like one of her own.  She’s about a week and a half younger than the others, but don’t tell her that!  She’s a big girl, too!

 

IMG_0870Ok, we tried.  We really did.  But we couldn’t seem to agree on a name for this “little” guy.  So, meet “Tank.”  That’s right.  The MARF lady named him Tank, and the last time she was over, she and Caroline pawed all over him.  It doesn’t look like he’ll be going to any Adoption Days.  Caroline has claimed him.  Yep, it’s all over.  He’s got Caroline wrapped around his paw pinky.  He’s the biggest of the bunch, and the most laid back.  He usually sleeps all sprawled out instead of in a ball.  Precious.

 

So there they are!  They’ll be ready for adoption in about a month.  Stay tuned for further updates!

Jonny and Caroline, the “Suckers”

 

 

Our Foster Children

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How about an update on the foster kitten situation?  Here we go.

The photo above is of the Mommy, Miri.  Did I mention she’s a sweetheart?  OMG, loves to be held, very vocal, a picky eater, but a SUPERB mommy.  Love her to death.  Bless her heart, she weighs all of about 6 pounds, but as you can see, she’s beautiful.

As for the kittens, we have no idea of sexes yet, so I’ll call them all “him” for now.  We’re trying to think of names beginning with “M.”  It’s a Madison Animal Rescue Foundation (MARF) thing.  In our efforts to find homes, they’ll be listed as the Miracle Family.  Hence, Miri’s name (short for “Miracle”).  Ready to see them?

IMG_0817The little fellow is the only black one.  He’s usually off by himself, and already uses the litter pan like a big boy.  Very fluffy.  He seems to be Miri’s favorite since all he has to do is squeak and she comes running.

IMG_0837This one, one of two gray ones, is as cute as they come.  I think he’s Caroline’s favorite. He’s so FLUFFY!  LOVES to be held, and he was the first to use the litter pan by himself.  Precious!

IMG_0839As you can see, this one’s a cuddler also, and very vocal. Loves to be held … no, DEMANDS to be held.  A fluffy little white-ish fur ball.

IMG_0842This little guy, well, Caroline’s pretty sure he’s MY favorite. He likes to fall asleep in my arms.  His fur is different, too.  It’s a little stiffer, coarser, something, I don’t know.  But I like it (and him).  He’s a stout little thing.  Loves to “rassle” with his siblings.

IMG_0836This is the runt of Miri’s biological kittens, and a sweetheart.  One of the MARF folks came and got him for some specialized care (bottle feeding), and to keep another one company (more on that below).

IMG_0843OK.  This one is … something else.  As soon as he spots anyone coming into the bathroom where we keep them separated from our four adult cats, he’s on them like Velcro.  Absolutely HAS to held, and as often as possible.  He likes to bury his head under my chin (yep, he has me around his little paw pinky).  He takes the bottle better than any of the others.  He has this squeaky little mousey sound he makes when he’s snuggling under my chin.  He’s one of the kittens rejected by his young mother and taken in by Miri, and a week and a half younger than the five above.  Did I mention Miri’s a sweetheart?

IMG_0818Word is that this last one barely got any sustenance during his first week.  That’s why he’s so tiny.  He’s the multi-colored one’s biological sibling and the other one taken in by Miri.  The MARF folks took him for extra bottle feeding, and he’s the primary reason why the smaller gray one was taken also – to keep him company.  So far, both are doing well, and this little white one is already using the litter pan even though he, like his brother above, is a week and a half younger than the others.

So there they are, all eight of them.  We still have Miri and the five kittens in the top five kitten photos.  We had to treat them all for coccidiosis, one dose a day for three days, but they’re already clearing up.

The important thing is they all seem to be doing well and will be available for adoption through MARF soon.  So stand by for more!

We’re going to miss them terribly (sniff).

The “Miracle” Family

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Miri and FamilyMiri” and Her Kittens

Last Saturday, my wife Caroline did something she never does.  She stopped at a pet store because she saw a sign that said, “Adoption Day.”  With four cats in the house, she wasn’t looking for another.  Fate had other plans.

The next thing I knew she was filling out a form to be a foster “purrent” through MARF, the Madison Animal Rescue Foundation.  The first call came within less than a day.  A mama and five two-week-old kittens desperately needed a foster home.

I don’t know the whole story, but apparently the mama and her five kittens were dropped at a shelter on Wednesday and found themselves on the kill list two days later.  That’s right, two whole days (they’re supposed to wait a minimum of seven).  MARF was able to get a “stay” until after the weekend — enough time to talk to us about taking them in.  What could we say?

Before we took them in (they were due to be checked out by a vet on Monday), there was another surprise phone call.  Another mama, only six months old herself, had her own kittens, three of them.  One died, and she being so young had apparently rejected the other two.  The MARF folks decided to see if the mama we were going to take, with her five kittens, would be acceptable to two more.  She was.

Meet Miri (short for Miracle) and her seven kittens.  Caroline picked them all up on Tuesday while I was at work.  When I got home, oh boy  … we now have all eight of them in our master bathroom.  In the picture above, I count only six kittens, but rest assured, there’s seven.  A multi-colored one is under that pile of fluff somewhere.

Miri is a total sweetheart.  I expected her to be scared, defensive, aggressive, or whatever, but she was none of that.  She’s much smaller than I expected, but she’s a wonderful mama.  The MARF folks gave us food, formula, and a scale to weigh the kittens so we can get them on their way to growing up big and strong — with Miri’s help of course.

But, first things first.  They were filthy!  Guess who got to bathe seven kittens?  That’s right.  Me! (Anyone who’s read my book about Little Man knows all too well how Caroline is about “smells.”)  Even Miri had caked-on poop all over her tail, bless her heart, but she let me clean her up, no problem.

Gosh, did I mention she’s a sweetheart?

Stay tuned for more updates on the Miracle Family!