I experience a meaningful connection with each and every shelter animal that I work with, but occasionally those connections run especially deep, particularly when I have the opportunity to work with an animal over a long period of time, combined with the joy of experiencing a real transformation with them. And even better is when I have the opportunity to work with the animal after they have been adopted into a loving home.
Such has been my experience with little Beatrix, who originally was named after me at BARC Shelter. I will use her shelter name for purposes of this piece, though of course I use her new name now when I see her.
You can see an earlier post about Sarah (and her cagemate Aladdin) here:
Little Sarah was dumped in front of BARC's vet's office a couple of years ago as a young kitten. The vet tech who took her in noticed that she was quite fearful, and semi-feral. The tech knew that I would most likely spend a lot of time with her, and so named her after me - Sarah Hauser.
Through a very slow, gradual process, little Sarah and I got to know each other, and she came to trust me with her heart. Initially she was at the back of her cage, terrified. One of our breakthrough moments was when I discovered that she enjoyed rubbing her face against my hand. I kept moving my hand forward bit by bit, and before we knew it, she was at the front of the cage. We continued doing this, and it became a routine. Soon she began coming forward on her own.
Over some time, combining this technique with gently picking her up and placing her on my lap transitioned into her coming out on my lap all on her own. This evolved into another whole game. Eventually she would hear my voice upon entering the shelter, and she would begin to meow. I would say "Sawah! what happened, Sawah?". She would get so excited. I brought a stool over so I would be at the same level as the cage, and the minute I opened the door to the cage, she would jump out onto my lap.
I felt so much joy and love for her, and it was such a beautiful experience to see her personality coming forth more and more. She was affectionate, loving, and even had a little sense of humor. It felt like she was my kitty, although she lived at the shelter. It was that close of a connection. I told her I was sorry I couldn't be her forever person, but that I would always love her and that the right person or people would someday give her a loving home.
I worked with her a lot with both TTouch and Reiki, and she became a perfect demo kitty to show others TTouches, as she would stay on my lap comfortably for a long time. She was still rather shy with others, but was getting more comfortable all the time.
Then, BARC built a play room, so we were able to interact inside the room. The first time I took her in the room, I realized the space was too big and overwhelming for her. She just wanted to stay on my lap. I started to work with her inside a doggie x-pen so she could get used to the space a little at a time. Over some time, I started to open the door of the x-pen and she got used to the rest of the space.
As she got used to being in the space, she began to really enjoy it, jumping and playing and running from one end of the space to the other.
Other people began to be able to play with her and pet her more and more, and it started to feel like her day was coming soon for her to find a forever home. Her cage buddy Aladdin (a kitty who was also very shy, who I had worked with along with Sarah) had been adopted and now it was her turn. A couple actually had adopted both Sarah and Aladdin briefly a ways before that, but they were not quite patient enough to continue their socialization process, so they had returned them. Anyway, it felt like Sarah's time should be soon.
My BARC friend Mary, who does a wonderful job with adoptions at BARC, called me one day and told me that a lovely couple (named Whitney and Matt) was interested in adopting Sarah. They had another kitty, actually with similar markings to Aladdin, who they wanted a kitty friend for. I spoke to Whitney to give them some tips on making Sarah comfortable, and for introducing the two cats, and told them I would be delighted to come over and give some advice in person as well.
On my first visit to Sarah's new home, I knew that she had ended up in the right place. I actually knew that beforehand, but was reassured meeting the people in person and seeing the whole situation. They had a cage set up for her for a safe space, but Sarah was already so interested in exploring her new space that she was not spending too much time in there!
I knew that the people were going to give Sarah a great home and that she was starting to connect with them really well right away. The whole place was set up beautifully for the kitties' comfort, and the layout would work out really well to be able to keep the kitties separate at first and let them get used to each other gradually.
Over the next weeks and months, I made a number of visits to see Sarah, and each time saw things evolving really well. Sarah has formed a very strong bond with Whitney and Matt, and I felt her getting closer and closer to them, and responding to me less, which is just how it should be.
Sarah is a real lap kitty with them, very affectionate and loving. It is such a joy to see this bond. And I feel myself letting go, though of course I know she and I will always be connected in our hearts.
The relationship with her new brother Nero has taken a little time, but has been getting better and better, thanks to a lot of love and sensitivity and work on the part of Whitney and Matt.
Today when I arrived at their apartment, I sat down on the floor and let the kitties figure out where they wanted to be for the session. Nero settled on a chair near me, and began to settle into the energy right away. Sarah took a bit of time, first going into the window, then into a sun patch near me. She kept coming to me intermittently to nuzzle my hand just as she used to do.
Then she meowed in a way that made me wonder if I should go sit on the couch to see if she would join me.
Sure enough, she jumped right into my lap and stayed there for the rest of the session. I felt her sink into the energy in layers, getting deeper and deeper and deeper. The room was filled with Reiki energy and a feeling of harmony. Nero was snoozing comfortably, totally sinking into it. And I felt my heart and Sarah's heart completely connected.
Connected in the way we used to be when we were together at the shelter, though of course it was different now. I felt some images go through my mind of some of the times there. And then we were present together there in the room. I told her silently how happy I was for her. That this was her home, that this was her place. That she was so loved here, that she was safe here. And that I would always love her. That her dear soul would always be in my heart. And I thanked her for her love, all the love that she has given me. And all that she has taught me. And I felt so much gratitude from her.
When Whitney came back in the room, Sarah went back into her lap, which again was just as it should be. But I will feel that experience of togetherness with her, that unity with her in her new environment, and the bond that I have with her that is beyond time and space.