Category Archives: animal rescue

Farewell Beulah – –

When we moved from England to Florida eighteen years ago Wendy’s office was beside a state park, and the park policy for stray cats was to give them three days to charm someone into taking them home, and if that failed, kill them.

Beulah, relaxing on David’s armchair, anticipating potato chips

Beulah took a strategic nap on the hood of Wendy’s car, and became part of our life. She eventually moved with us to Big Stone Gap along with our Scottish cat Valkyttie, and our dogs Bert and Zora.

She started by patrolling our bookstore, willing to share these duties with Valkyttie, but the two never got along, so Beulah regularly went outside as well. We think Valkyttie’s jealousy started when Beulah got featured in the Kingsport Times as the bookstore cat as Wendy’s first book came out. The photo garnered a lot of attention and for years we had people enter the bookstore demanding to see Beulah, bringing her treats, etc. Understandably, Valkyttie took this hard, since she was the senior member of the feline management team.

Once Beulah added the front lawn to her regular route, a guy who walked past every morning would stop on his exercise route, sit on the front steps and chat with her. He called “kitty kitty kitty” and if she were inside she raced to the door to see her gentleman caller.

One particularly hard winter we moved her to our guest room with all the modern conveniences. She decided she liked these private accommodations, so when spring came and we opened the door to let her out, she decided to just stay there. So we opened a window in her upper story room, giving her a private balcony on the roof below. She took sun bathing there.

Meanwhile her gentleman caller grew concerned. One day he knocked on the door to ask if she were well. We pointed out her balcony, called her name, and she appeared. He waved, she gave a regal nod, and thereafter in the mornings we would hear a gentle “Good morning Beulah” when he walked by.

Big Stone Gap ran by the usual unwritten small town rules: successful interlopers with the temerity to run not only a thriving business but write an internationally-acclaimed book about it–the town had a book, thank you–needed to be harassed. We knew eventually someone would fuss about Beulah being on the same floor as the Second Story Cafe above our bookstore.

Her being in a separate enclosed room would have nothing to do with it–and wasn’t illegal. The health department knew. But what’s illegal and what’s fun to play with on social media aren’t always the same. We wanted Kelley, the cafe owner, to not have to wear anything more than she already did from association with us. And we didn’t care to engage with the GMP (Gap Mean People). Mean people suck.

Enter our friends David and Susan. David and Beulah had…. an understanding. Beulah adored David, who often visited the guest room. Sometimes he brought his wife Susan, and when he did Beulah pretty much tried to push her out of the bed. She was David’s cat, 100%.

So she went to live with David. And Susan, although Beulah never acknowledged her as anything but housekeeping staff. Beulah spent many happy years in the shangri-la for cats that is their home, even making best friends with Laurel, another rescue cat from Big Stone. They shared cups of catnip tea as they discussed the old neighborhood.

Until this month, when Beulah was diagnosed with cancer. She is not yet in pain, but the time is short. In the most loving of acts between an owner and a human, a time has been set for Beulah to cross the Rainbow Bridge, pain free. She will spend today eating her favorite foods and cuddling in David’s easy chair, being petted and called pet names. Tomorrow, she will go to the vet, and thence gently into that Good Night.

If ever a cat had it made, Beulah did. She had two loving families, an adoring fan base that spanned not only America but six countries–she got fan mail from Korea and Portugal when Little Bookstore was translated for those countries.

It was a very good run. Godspeed Beulah; those of us who love you wish you well.

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Filed under animal rescue, Big Stone Gap, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch

NOW WE ARE SIX

To start this story properly, you have to understand that my parents are chaos magnets. Accept this and move on; I have, and it makes life simpler.

My parents called me a few days before my monthly visit to their house, where I do odd jobs: gutter cleaning, patching roof holes, running errands, helping with some decisions like where to eat dinner and whether they should sell their home and move in to an assisted living community – that kind of thing.

“Can you take these chickens that showed up here?”

Beats last month’s question: “how are you at spackling?”

Turns out, the next door neighbors had been feeding some “cute little birds, like rock doves or something,” but they were going on an extended holiday from before Thanksgiving right through Christmas. They wanted my parents to continue throwing corn to the “cute little birds.”

Which were bantam chickens, three of them. My dad said fine, hopped onto the Internet, and researched bantams. Two hours later he had five sacks of feed, a stack of corn cakes, a jar of meal worms, and a shovel.

“What’s the shovel for?” my mother asked.

“They dig into the ground to make nests for themselves and it’s frozen so I thought I’d dig a couple spaces up for them.”

My mother secured the shovel, and my dad tossed corn all over the driveway. The trio took up residence in the thick holly bush just beyond it. All was well (and I was blissfully unaware of the poultry presence at the parental palace) until one day there were only two.

Searching proved useless. Not even a feather remained. That’s when Dad called. “They’ll get eaten. Can you take them?”

My trip to the parental home was at the beginning of a travel gig for work; I wouldn’t be back home for six more days. And couldn’t really see the chickens waiting patiently in the car or hotel for that long so….

We hatched a plan. Dad would try to catch them on Friday, the day I was going home again, and I would come back and get them before heading to Chez BeckWelch.

He called Friday morning. They beat the bushes, searched the hedges, but the scrawny little things were nowhere to be seen. “They must have been listening on the phone line,” my dad joked—and then thought about it and went out and yes, the little miscreants were roosting up in the magnolia tree that intertwined with the phone lines, just above his head in the front yard.

“Maybe Sunday?” Dad said to me. I said sure, figuring this was never going to happen.

My first full day home from the long week of work travel, I dug into some domestic chores and had almost forgotten about the potential Chicken Run until the phone rang about noon.

“They walked right into the trap following me with a piece of corn cake. We can meet halfway.”

Halfway, when you are trying to negotiate with a father who is 1) hard of hearing 2) convinced he knows all the exits between Michigan and Florida and 3) eager to get the job done meant I drove two hours and he drove one, but we did both find the correct Cracker Barrel. Which is something of a miracle since he can’t actually work his mobile phone.

We parked around back and he handed me the caged chickens. The pair were peeping loudly in their fear, so I assume the people who watched the exchange figured the restaurant had run out of chicken and called a local farmer. No one looked concerned.

Home I drove with the now-quiet bantams, and introduced them to their new friends, the Leghorns. Leghorns outweigh bantams about 2:1, so we left the little girls in a cat carrier overnight to let them get used to the co-op, er, coop. And avoid getting sat on.

Today the new girls are running around the yard, investigating brush piles, digging pits, and that perennial favorite of chickens everywhere, pecking the hosta beds to death. Oh well. They are cute, the new girls, and our four bigger hens are pretty much leaving them alone. So far so good. Chicken Run: The Holiday Adventure has not turned out to be a horror film.

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Filed under animal rescue, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, Wendy Welch