Tag Archives: animal shelters

Selena Speaks Her Mind

DSCN1814Well Hello There! I’m Selena, and I’ve been rescued from a shelter and am staying at the Litter Bookstore – oh sorry, the Little Bookstore – with my brother. Nobody was looking at us in there because he’s grey and I’m a tabby. I knew we were in trouble when we’d been there about three weeks, and two pretty little calico kittens came in and they were both gone the next day. Sure, they were cute – if you like tiny, fluffy, big-eyed, round balls of light colored fur.

Anyway, my brother Justin and me, we’re waiting at the bookstore for a furrever family. We’re not planning to go together. I like him just fine, but honestly, he kinda gets in the way of my needs. He’s such an attention hog. Always jumping on people’s laps before I can get there. And he’s lazy. All he wants to do is lie around on women’s bosoms with that creepy smile on his face. He’s got no shame. No work ethic.DSCN1822

Me, I plan to earn my keep as a house cat. I can relieve your muscular tension by walking back and forth on your shoulders. You can get on with your work and when I’m done massaging you, I’ll just slide into that space between your arm and lap and rest there. This position gives you support while you’re typing. No, don’t thank me. All part of the training here at the bookstore about how to be a good house cat.

DSCN1837I’m also excellent at household chores. I like to drink running water, so I jump in the tub when I want a drink, and lick the floor of the bathtub until somebody turns the faucet on. It keeps things clean. Again, no need for thanks. Happy to help my furrever family out. Mom and Dad got me spayed so you won’t have to worry about maternity leave either.

For fun, I like to lie in your lap. For exercise, I like to move between laps. For food, I like a lot of it, and that wet stuff is nice but I eat my crunchies like a champ because it’s important that my fur stay nice and shiny. All part of the service of being a house cat – keeping myself beautiful for you. No no, it’s fine. Anything to make my family happy.

So if you’d like to meet me, I can be interviewed Tuesday – Saturday 10-6 at the bookstore. Oh, yes, my brother is here, too. If you want to meet him. I’ll leave that up to you.



Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

Should Auld Aquaintance – – –

A guest post from Jack on a special occasion –

It’s just a year since our beloved Valkyttie passed over the rainbow bridge and we can begin now to celebrate her more memorable escapades without breaking into tears.

Val-Kyttie surveys her domain...

Val-Kyttie surveys her domain…

For newer readers Val was our venerable bookstore cat/manager and was age 19 when she died. She began her life as a tiny abandoned kitten in the Leith cat and dog home in Scotland and we adopted her as soon as Wendy arrived in my homeland (as promised; I bribed her to marry me with early promises of kittens).

Val got her name because she was feisty (the valkyries were warrior princesses), but I wanted to be able to call her ‘Kittie’ for short. She displayed her bravery starting in her sixth week of life, by seeing off a local tom (ten times her size) who tried to use our yard as a shortcut. A seasoned traveler she moved effortlessly from Fife to Lancashire, then across the Atlantic to the US. Everywhere she lived, she established as her undisputed domain and took full charge.

When ‘The Little Bookstore’ was published we insisted she appear on the cover and the artist, a cat lover, obliged; she is sitting on the roof of our front porch. When the publishers of the large print edition asked for a photo for that front cover, we gave them a picture our friend Elissa took of Our Matriarch in full managerial mode, surrounded by bookshelves. Whether by accident or design, the Polish, Portuguese and Korean editions all have her hiding somewhere on their covers. Of course that means she garnered many new friends all over the world, while many of her less distant fans asked specially to meet her when they visited the bookstore.

During the last couple of years of her life, she had to put up with a continual stream of foster kittens. She could be quite stern with them, yet displayed grandmotherly traits with the more wayward ones.

Just yesterday our good chef Kelley made bacon and eggs for my breakfast and I found myself automatically moving to a less accessible corner to eat it. I realized that I was remembering that Valkyttie always noisily insisted on her share of the bacon.

When we lived in the tiny rural village of New Gilston in Fife she would always accompany us when we walked along our favorite woodland trail. In January I was in Scotland for the funeral of a friend and scattered Val’s ashes among those same trees.

That’s when I shed my tears. Now we just think of the happy times. Every cat is special, but once in awhile, a special x ten cat comes along. Valkyttie was special x 100.

And now she lives on; a friend of Wendy’s got ‘hold of another cracker of a photo Elissa took, and Valkyttie’s message will never die.

Valkyttie antiquated bookstores meme valkyttie bookstore meme Valkyttie meme


Filed under Uncategorized

Dorian Grey, Kitten of Erudition, Speaks

DorianGood afternoon. I am Dorian Grey the Kitten. No doubt you’ve heard of me.

For those who missed the major news stories, I was in a litter of four kittens and their mother pulled from the shelter by a kind rescuer named Julie Winston. Ms. Winston asked The Bookstore to take me in. That’s how we call it in cat circles; it’s taken on the mythical proportions of Shangri-La or El Dorado. By the time she had a “yes” it was too late to pick us up that weekend. However, it did save our lives, as we were excused from the Friday cull. Thank you, Ms. Winston.

May I state for the record how disappointed I am in Mom’s former “owner,” who dumped us all in the shelter because we were “too much to take care of.” Hmmph. If one is going to be so irresponsible as to not spay a “beloved” pet, the least one can do is own the problem so created. Namely, ME. Yes, I realize spaying Mom would’ve resulted in me not being here, but let me tell you, as poster child for the unwanted offspring of household pets, the shelter is no place for newborns.

By the time we left on Monday we were all sick as dogs. The shelter staff lady works hard—she was the one who made sure the rescuers knew we were in there—but it’s too much for one person to keep the place disinfected. The vet we went to told the Bookstore Lady I would likely die, but she could save my sisters and brother.

Bookstore Lady took me home. I don’t remember very much about that, as I wasn’t feeling at all well. But I remember when she gave me goat milk in a syringe; I was so hungry I practically jerked the thing out of her hand! The lady that makes desserts for the Café in The Bookstore came downstairs and saw me eating. She likes to care for kittens at night because she doesn’t sleep much, so she took me home and fed me every two hours. She saved my life – the third human that day to do so!

DoriNow, as you can see, I am the very picture of health and vitality. And adorability, if I do say so myself. Also, I’ve been adopted by a nice lady named Maeve who is collecting me Monday. I still have a few meds to finish up before leaving, plus I weigh .7 and everybody wants me to weigh a pound before I go. I have no objections.

My sisters and brother are still at The Bookstore; they’re not as cute as me, but even so they need homes. Mom is in Hospital getting her hysterectomy, and then she’ll be looking for a place as well. She won’t ever have to go through that shelter thing again, trying to keep babies and herself alive with so little hope.

I’d like all you humans to be responsible for your pets, so they don’t end up sick and scared and starving like me. Because who would want to live in a world without cuteness?

Thank you. You may go now.


Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, Hunger Games, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, small town USA, VA, Wendy Welch

The Monday Book: A SMALL FURRY PRAYER by Steve Kotler

I got this book because my agent recommended it. (We have somewhat similar reading tastes.)

Kotler fell in love with a woman who rescued dogs, and he liked dogs, so he became a dog rescuer. And dog philosopher, because this book is chock full of ethnographic and philosophical divergences into how dogs see the world, and how humans think dogs see the world. Those were pretty interesting.

The story is less a story than journalism, because Kotler is a research journalist. If you’re looking for “this puppy was SOOOOOO cute,” this isn’t the rescue book you’re looking for. It’s got a lot of depth to its analysis of why people rescue, but even more on why dogs (and all animals) matter. When you get to the part about Kotler getting in the cage with a mountain lion, you know you’ve having fun.

I wouldn’t say this is a book only animal lovers will love. Actually, Kotler’s love for his wife, which drove him to move to New Mexico and run a household dog rescue, is the unexamined force behind all the research he does into why dogs matter. And his observations of what it takes out of her to do this work are very astute. I’d almost recommend this book as a spousal manual for those who love rescuers, rather than rescuers themselves.

Still, it’s a wide ranging read, and New Mexico itself is an interesting (perhaps hysterical) character in the plot overall. The plumber won’t come on Thursday because the earth energy forces are bad. That kind of thing.

I was entertained, informed, and moved by this book – a rare triple crown. If you’re driven by stories, maybe this won’t interest you so much, but if you like journalistic storytelling, you’re gonna love it.

1 Comment

Filed under animal rescue, book reviews, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, out of things to read, publishing, reading, small town USA, Uncategorized, Wendy Welch, writing

The Planning of Cat Parties is a Difficult Matter….

The naming of cats is a difficult matter/It isn’t just one of your holiday games….–T.S. Eliot

cat-feeding-circleJack and I have finally crossed the line between “cat people” and “those crazy cat people.” We’re hosting a reunion for all who have adopted cats from us. With an unprecedented ten adoptions in the last two weeks we now have 110 fur babies running around happy–and spayed or neutered–out there in the world. We look forward to seeing how many of their parents can make it to the reunion.

Here’s the plan: mark March 13-15 on your calendar. Friday, March 13 is our regularly scheduled ceilidh dance to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. What better way to kick off an event than by, well, kicking off? Ceilidh dances are lots of fun, lots of movement with catlike grace. Lots of kicking. And we teach the dances as we go.

Saturday we’ll have lunch for cat adopters, and everyone will bring a photo of their fur baby. Those who want to can share stories in the circle. And that evening, a nice dinner, followed by a Murder Mystery themed around Cat Rescue! (Ohh, the puns and jokes we will have. It’ll be the cats pajamas. Sorry.)

Sunday will be a brunch for those who want to attend. We’ll need to charge a nominal weekend food fee to cover things for Our Good Chef Kelley. Also, since about half of our adoptions have been local, we can round up spare rooms for those who don’t want to add hotel expense to their travel. For those who want more privacy, there’s a lovely B&B in town, Carousel House, operated by Donna Ball–three blocks from the bookshop. There’s also the Comfort Inn (chain operated, a mile and a quarter away by car) and the Country Inn (a local establishment, about 4/10 of a mile and easy to walk). And there’s the Jessee Lee Campground, with a charming creekside walking path covering the .75 miles between them and us.

So if you’re a cat adopter, let us know if you want to bunk in with someone local; otherwise we suggest making a reservation soon at one of these fine establishments. There aren’t that many rooms in Big Stone Gap. :]

If you haven’t adopted a cat but want to attend, you are very welcome as a “Friend of Cats” member.

Yes, we have gone crazy. But this seems like a nice way to celebrate the rescue of 110+ cats. Especially when we think about the ones who didn’t get rescued. As the Chinese proverb says, “It is better to light a single candle than to sit and curse the dark.”


Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, Life reflections, Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch, writing

Roger Tells it like it Is

Hey. I’m Roger. I’m here with my brother Arthur and my sister Scarlet, and my mom, Hester.DSCN0487

Mom says we didn’t always live in the bookstore, but I don’t remember anything else. She says she used to live in a nice house with a family, but she got pregnant and they took her to a place called a shelter, and that’s where we were born. She talks a lot about the couch and the rug and the nice lady where she used to live – except now she says maybe she wasn’t such a nice lady ’cause she didn’t get Mom fixed, and then she threw her away when she was pregnant. I think Mom’s feelings are hurt, like she’s feeling betrayed or something.

But anyway, we all live here now, and it’s fun. We have lots of food, and room to play, and a water fountain that keeps our water dish topped up and sometimes Arthur and I have water fights. Except Arthur’s kind of the DSCN0495scaredy cat of the family. He runs when feet come into our room. Which is kinda dumb, I keep telling him, because feet are attached to people, and people are the Source of All Good Things. They give body rubs and they carry cans of wet food and they have those little foil crinkle balls we all like. They’re really very nice, feet are.

Scarlet’s got this figured out. She’s what visitors call “adorable” and “plump.” I can tell you right now what her future’s gonna be: she’ll get adopted by some young girl who renames her “Tiffany” and lie down on that girl’s pink ruffled bedspread and sleep 22 hours a day, get up and rub her human when she comes home from school, deign to wear a hat for a few minutes, then eat and go back to sleep. She’ll need those other two hours for eating. Scarlet likes to eat. That’s all I’m sayin’.DSCN0465

Me, I’m the adventurous one. I like to explore the dark corners. I’ve killed like six flies and a couple of spiders since birth, and I can jump from about six feet and land on all four paws, no trouble. Kinda scares our foster mom when I do this. She says I look like a flying squirrel wearing a tuxedo. Whatever.

And I think Mom’s hoping for another shot at a loving family. She’s gonna get her tubes tied as soon as her milk dries up – yeah, me and my siblings might still be sneaking an occasional shot there. And Mom’s not even a year old yet, barely more’n a kitten herself. Makes me kinda sad when I think about it. I mean, we didn’t mean to ruin her life or nothin’ – we couldn’t help being born. But what kinda parent throws a pregnant teenage cat into a shelter instead of taking responsibility for getting the kittens a home and Mom fixed?DSCN0466

Anyway, Mom’s really pretty; she’s got this gorgeous fur that looks dark in the shade but turns to red-brown and gold mixed in the sunlight. Someone’s gonna visit the bookstore and fall in love with her again.

You can come visit us all in the bookstore. We like feet – even Arthur’s starting to come ’round on that.


Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, humor, Life reflections, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, writing


hazel in shelter “20-year-old cat, brought to shelter,” said the post on my Facebook timeline. I was tagged as one of six women rescuing cats in this community.

Hazel came the next day, along with a vague background story: she was jealous of the family baby, and grandma had taken her to the shelter so the son, whose cat she was, wouldn’t have to. How … compassionate.

Hazel can’t speak, so she can’t defend herself. She only sits with sad, big eyes, staring. She can’t eat or poop, as she either has a tumor (which maybe the family knew about before they bailed on her) or is constipated because of her trauma. She has no familiar smells, no familiar rugs about her. She had no familiar foods until we appealed on Facebook to know what she’d been eating, and someone called the family. Meow Mix wet.

Hazel can’t give a last lecture, telling us what we ought to know. We only know that she is dying in the back room of our bookstore, afraid and heartbroken. People say, “It’s so good of you and Jack to take her.” No, it isn’t. It isn’t doing a blind bit of good, because what Hazel wants is nothing we can give her.

We do know that families have other ways of handling “the problem” (of going on vacation, having a baby, the cat getting sick or pregnant, etc.) than taking a cat to a shelter. Some families just toss the cat in a dumpster, take it to the woods, shoot it–hopefully with one clean shot. This family chose a “humane” method, I am told. They took their 20-year-old cat to the shelter, where emotional blackmail kicked in for the rescue community and the cat came “home” here. Having chosen to do evil to their cat, they chose the least evil they could do. How …. considerate.

Hazel was well cared for all her life; she has shiny fur and no urinary tract infection, great feats in a cat her age. She was loved. Why did you stop? What part of you can you turn off to successfully leave her at a shelter, knowing she’d be euthanized? I haven’t stopped crying for three days, and I barely know your cat. Can you show me where that OFF switch is, please? It might come in handy.

Because we’re not running a rescue now, but a hospice, something we were never meant to be. We’re supposed to be pulling kittens and cats out of the shelter before their euth date hits. Did you know that 1 in 5 kittens makes it out of a shelter, 1 in 9 adult cats? The only animal with a higher kill rate than cats in a shelter is chihuahuas: 1 in 12 makes it out alive. And nobody, but nobody “adopts” a senior cat.

And we now know, according to my husband, that we can never do this again. He said, and I quote, “I’m not watching you bloody cry yourself to sleep for three days because some shits of a family has pulled emotional blackmail on a bunch of people trying to uphold the sanctity of life. People have to realize a pet is a lifelong commitment and take care of their own messes.”

We know that Hazel has been put through Hell for the convenience of her human family.

And Jack is right about taking care of their own messes. Yesterday a dog rescuing friend went postal on FB and explained that people who give up pets to rescues and shelters think they’re doing something good, when rescues are not there to solve your problems. We’re supposed to be catching the strays, the unhomed, not the inconvenient. We’re supposed to be uniting families who will make a LIFELONG commitment to animals who will give unconditional love, by pulling animals from shelters. 8,000 companion animals a day getting euthanized, and you want a rescue to come get your kittens because you “forgot” to spay your cat?

It feels like emptying the ocean with a sieve, rescuing cats. While we were doing our pitiful best for Hazel a family of kittens five days old were euthanized in the shelter because there was nowhere for them to go. We couldn’t take them. We had your old, heartbroken, dying cat who is longing for you.

You bastards.


Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, bookstore management, Uncategorized