By Amy Elizabeth Rufe
Lindy does volunteer work. She visits hospitals, nursing homes and an Alzheimer’s unit. She really enjoys her work, and it is very moving to see the patients light up when Lindy comes through the door, or to see an Alzheimer patient recognize her from her last visit. A lot of people do volunteer work, true, but Lindy is special, and has taught me a valuable lesson. You see, Lindy is a cat.
Lindy came into my life about 18 months ago, when she was only 6 months old. We adopted this almost all-white calico from the pound, and she took the house by storm. I suspect she thinks she is human.
Both our kitties know their names and respond, but Lindy also comes running from wherever she is when I whistle. She is keen, friendly, and fast. Based on her outgoing and seemingly fearless nature, I thought she might be an ideal animal for pet-assisted therapy.
In her class of about 30 pet-therapy volunteers, she was the only cat in a room full of dogs, but she handled it with grace and style. She was just 16 months old at the time; still she passed her tests with flying colors. During her observed visits she grew to be more comfortable being in her little travel bag, with loud noises, funny smells, and with strangers touching her. She learned to walk on a leash. We have now been certified and have been visiting clients for more than eight months.
Recently, she was “interviewed” by the local newspaper for her outstanding community work. She just sat regally in the chair of the newspaper reporter soaking up the praise (while I did all the work!) Although I knew I had a pretty special cat, I was still amazed last Wednesday when *she* taught *me* a lesson.
One scorching hot day brought temperatures soaring into the high 90s. There was not a flicker of a breeze. Both the cats were hot and grumpy. I was hot and grumpy too. I didn’t want to go to the nursing home, but I got Lindy’s harness and leash out, grabbed her bag, and we both got in the car. She let me know in no uncertain terms that she was not happy about all this fussing in the heat, and I considered canceling our appointment for the day.
When we arrived at the nursing home, Lindy was cool, calm and collected. She sat on several laps. She even snuggled up with a few of the elderly in their chairs and beds. She made no fuss, but did her job beautifully. She KNEW!! I don’t know what goes on in that little brain of hers, but I know she knew she was doing an important service. Thanks, Lindy, for reminding me how important these people are! It is so easy to forget and turn volunteering into a job, instead of a joy. Lindy showed me otherwise.