I finally was able to capture a photograph of Houdini in her new home at Plainbrooke Farm. It was about 7 months ago that her life changed dramatically. Her 87 year old owner, Tom Van Sant, died suddenly and left Houdini and her mom, Mommy alone with no place to go. When I learned this, I hastily offered to foster them so that they wouldn't wind up at the overwhelmed shelter.
Their stay with me revealed several things. That they weren't the best of friends, Houdini hadn't been spayed and she seemed pretty distrusting of people. With limited space and two dogs, I was desperate to find them a good stress free home. They were with me for about a month. Mommy eventually came out of her shell with the help of patience and kitty treats, but Houdini remained stressed and unfriendly. And then she went into heat. And no one had inquired about adopting them.
At the time I had just begun taking the occasional horse back riding lesson at a farm in Chester Springs, PA. It was a great escape for me, and the horses are beautiful. Feeling like I had no other options for the cats, I asked the farm owner if they could live with her on the farm. She said, "Yes." I took Houdini to get spayed and vaccinated through a local low cost spay and neuter mobile clinic. Mommy had been spayed at the PSPCA and so she came with Dooey (my dog) and I to our usual vet and got her shots. Then I loaded the cats into the truck and we drove out to the farm.
Beth, the farm owner, kindly offered to set them up temporarily in the party room where they host kid's birthday celebrations. We put water, food and their litter box out to encourage them to stay and know that this was where they could find food. I found leaving that day to be difficult. I had bonded with Mommy and felt anxious about these creatures being forced to adjust, again. But their life would be so much richer and free on the 70 acre farm than in my row house in Philadelphia.
My next visit left me feeling like I had made a mistake. Mommy looked stressed and Houdini was no where to be found. I left that day feeling terrible.
Then I got a message. Mommy had been taken in by a woman who rented a house on the property. And Houdini was living in the barn and was caught lounging on the couch in the tack room one night!
And so it went. They have new lives now. And they have adapted. Houdini is still shy, but I've been told she allows some children who visit the farm to pet her. And she seems to trust the horses. And there's a valuable lesson here: sometimes you just have to let go and trust that the universe will take care of its own.
Happy New Year everyone! Here's to a year filled with sincerity and kindness.