When I first met you in June of 2005, I was anxiously seeking help for my cat, Alex, a handsome gray and white fellow with a mustache. We had moved from Vermont to California in May of 2005. My female cat, Lila, adjusted very quickly to her surroundings but Alex was having difficulty. When I took him outside, he seemed uneasy and confused, not his usual good-natured self. On a few occasions, he bolted out of the yard and bounded across the street. I was afraid he would get hurt or lost or both so I kept him inside, confined and unhappy.
When you came to visit, I sensed immediately that Alex and I would be heard. There was something in the air. I felt you were listening not only to my words, but taking in the essence of my experience and my concerns. I right away told you about the time Alex got lost in the woods in Vermont. It happened in the fall of 2002, a few months after I adopted him. I searched for him frantically for three and a half days, traipsing through woods and meadows, putting up signs, knocking on doors, visiting the Humane Society and placing an ad in the local paper. After giving him p for dead, I received a miraculous phone call. Alex had been found alive and well.
At this point in our consultation, Alex opened up, wanting to tell his side of the story. He gave you images of being chased through the woods in the dark, by another animal, possibly a coyote….escaping up a tree in the nick of time. Now he wanted freedom in his new territory and wanted me to trust him and that he was planning on being around a long time. You touched your chest and told me Alex felt “heartsick” about leaving our closely-knit community in Vermont…how he missed our friendly neighbors, especially the children, whom he loved and who loved him in return.
I knew he had been a stray but didn’t know why. Alex gave you images and thoughts of a household filled with tension, angry people watching the car drive away and being left behind, abandoned in the snow, left to defend himself in the cold. After hearing Alex’s story, I felt like weeping…and yet, he looked relaxed and composed, as though he’d finally put down a heavy burden. It sounds dramatic but the body language was obvious. I knew then we’d find a solution, a way to give him a life and me personal relief.
Thanks to you, Barbara, Alex and I worked out a plan. He promised to stay reasonably close to home and I promised to let him go out…to trust him. Since he has a tendency to wander to visit people, I created a flyer with color photographs introducing Alex to the neighborhood. I passed out the flyers to fifteen households.
As the weeks went by, I took great delight in hearing about Alex’s exploits: how he was discovered on a neighbor’s kitchen counter scrounging for food; how he helped children sell lemonade by drawing attention to the stand; or how he cavorted with an old golden retriever. Once again Alex could be Alex, the indomitable spirit.
Thank you, Barbara, for making this all possible. The experience was profound. You cleared away fears and barriers and gave me knowledge of a new world. You have a remarkable gift… and both Alex and I are fortunate to have found you.
Julie Becker and Alex
Nevada City, CA