As I type this, our favourite kitty, Mr. O'Reilly is missing. He's a rescue with quite a story. Oh the places he'd gone before Miss Evan tracked him down and brought him home to live with us. I was opposed to collecting any more animals as they're a big responsibility and as a worldschooling family, freedom is number one, right? We already had Marcos, our rescued potlicker from Belize and that was enough for me. Well, they say you don't choose your pets, they choose you and I believe that now. Before I realized what was happening, the situation would allow for no other decision. Mr. O'Reilly was joining our family... and then we had two.
Getting away was becoming a little more difficult as we had to clear every trip with grandma before booking to make sure Marcos could stay with her. Then there was the matter of finding someone to at least stop by to feed Mr. O'Reilly and keep his litter clean. Not impossible to coordinate but there were still a few adventures we had to forgo because of the pets. It was during this time that we came up with the idea of creating and sharing shorter yet more deliberate, more enriching trips. In a sense you could say that our growing pet family helped inspire the GoWorldschool initiative.
Fast forward about 18 months... a half dead, 12 week old kitten turned up on our doorstep late one night. Miss Evan, the little animal rescuer that she is, forfeited her Christmas and birthday gifts for the year in order to help with the cost of the cat's medical bills and care. The kitten had severely infected ears & throat, ringworm, an upper respiratory infection and was infested with lice. Needless to say, the bills amounted to more like 5 years worth of gifts but luckily for both of them, I'm also a sucker for an animal in need. Evan went above and beyond to demonstrate her level of commitment and responsibility, often turning down social invitations to stay home and give meds and supervise the little terror (err, kitten?) The intention was simply to foster this one until she was well enough to be adopted into a forever home but somehow the universe (and baby Zoë) had other plans. As she regained her health, our vet confirmed that Zoë had some permanent disabilities. She's deaf and has neurological damage which causes her to walk with a head tilt, making her unsteady on her feet. She's unable to jump or do anything that requires much balance, she could never go outside as she startles very easy and runs off in a panic at the slightest sudden movement. She was deemed unadoptable by every pet rescue group in our area and by this time had already made her way into our hearts... and then we had three.
It was around the same time that Mr. Reilly developed IAHA (anemia cause by an autoimmune response.) His body was attacking it's own red blood cells. He was rushed into the hospital after collapsing in our kitchen and put on a variety of meds. We were told that he would always need to be on the steroid to suppress his overactive immune system. That was a sad day. Poor Mr. Reilly was too sick to go outside, his favourite part of the day. He loves to sit and sun himself in the driveway and although he ventures into the surrounding yards, he's always within earshot. Missing a dose of his meds was too risky though. He had to stay in.
Without hesitation we postponed our Southwestern U.S. tour and Miss Evan spent the following weeks administering meds around the clock and keeping her dear friend company. He eventually graduated to steroid injections which allowed all of us a little more freedom to roam again. We managed to get Nevada and some of Arizona in before receiving word that Mr. O'Reilly was experiencing undesirable side effects from the steroids. Home we went to explore alternative options. We found a natural colostrum product which acts as an immune modulator so rather than simply suppressing the immune system it balanced it. This was amazing as it meant we no longer had to quarantine him. He could safely mingle with Zoë and all her infections as well as venture back outside occasionally. The new treatment was working great, it was maintaining his red blood cell count and life was good once again.
Good, as long as we stayed home that is. It was now impossible to find anyone willing to care for two cats who required this degree of special care. To reinforce the fact that we were suddenly very grounded, Marcos became unwell. All I could do was ask the universe "seriously??" He underwent a battery of tests locally before we resorted to taking him out of town to a specialist at a teaching hospital. Finally, he was diagnosed with ehrlichyiosis, a tick born disease that the doc suspects he brought with him in a dormant state, from Belize five years prior. What are the odds?
Now it's 2018, the pets are all well and on nothing more than a healthy, raw diet and a daily dose of supplements which includes their Transfer Factor to keep the IAHA and ehrlichiosis away. We have big brother Julian back in town and happy to cat sit and grandma has claimed Marcos as her walking companion. WHEN we find Mr. O'Reilly, we are immediately outfitting him with a tracking device and getting back to planning some new edventures. This is how we do it, we fly by the seat of our pants and the universe tends to deliver in the end. It's always interesting to watch the unfolding. We don't always know how it's going to work out but it does. It just does.
*(Did we mention the snake? I guess that makes 4...)