We were one of the lucky ones. We were able to bring our cat with us. Her name is Callie and she has been a godsend and a comfort since we arrived at our temporary home away from home. Normally Callie hates to be put in her carrier and will fight to get away, but during the flight away from Fort Mac she didn’t struggle once when being taken in and out of her carrier. It was as if she knew. She has been a welcome distraction and her love is wholly unconditional. Her antics make me smile or laugh out loud when I play with her with her favorite thing – an elastic string. Her needs are simple and easily met. She loves to have her belly scratched and will often stretch out full length with all four legs fully extended – it’s a sight to see. I am so grateful to have her with me.
Callie was a gift from my niece and has flown from Ontario to Newfoundland and two years later to Fort Mac, so she is a seasoned traveller. I will never forget the day she came to live with us. She was two years old and the first night she cried pitifully but the next night she slept above my head on my pillow. My voice is very similar to my sister’s, a frequent visitor at my niece’s home and Callie was a favourite of hers. So I think she recognized the family connection. At any rate, it didn’t take long for her to accept me as her new “mom”. Caring for Callie since leaving Fort Mac has given me a sense of normalcy and continuity.
On the day we were evacuated from Fort Mac many people were not as fortunate. I heard many stories of pets left behind for one reason or another – often because the owners were unable to get back to their homes to get them. Sometimes animals were so panicked by the smell of smoke they refused to cooperate. Some ran away and hid in places where the harried owners could not find them – and time was of the essence – evacuation was mandatory. I cannot even imagine how horrible it must have been for people to have to leave their fur babies behind. Happily most people have been reunited with their pets, though some of the rescued animals have yet to be reunited with their humans. I cannot help but think how confused and sad these animals must be, but I am grateful for the heroic efforts of groups such as the SPCA who rescued pets and gave them food and shelter until their owners were found. The relationship between humans and animals is difficult to explain, and perhaps only animal lovers will truly understand. I only know that life is infinitely more enjoyable since Callie came to live with us and I owe her more than she knows or can understand – or maybe she does.