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I SPEND MY WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON SURROUNDED BY CATS, NOW.

The Girl is a lover of animals.  Actually, her brother is as well.  We have two cats which are named Cutie and Sammy, but we refer to them lovingly as Flea Bag, and Pee Pouch, respectively.  The children of course, adore their cats and the cats, in general manage to put up with the children.  

Recently, the Girl was given an opportunity to volunteer at a cat rescue shelter.  Great, I thought.  Something to keep her occupied and teach her responsibility.  But of course, the Girl is too young to volunteer on her own, which is how I find myself surrounded by cats every Wednesday afternoon. 

I always had cats growing up, and when I was arround nine we got a dog, Lady Abigail Hazeltine.  She was a beautiful pure bread Irish Setter who we would shave nearly bald in the spring so that she wasn't plagued by foxtails.  We lived in the country and she roamed free most of the time.  She LOVED to steal strawberries straight out of our garden.  You would go out to pick strawberries and they would all be gone.  My favorite cat was Pickles.  I got Pickles when I was pretty little.  My sister's cat was named Cuddles - he was gray and very fluffy, and Pickles was a tabby cat.  Friendly, playful and a little fat is how I remember Pickles.  Both Cuddles and Pickles lived to a ripe old age, and then we had other cats, but now that I am an adult - pets are just one more thing to take care of and spend money.  I do love how much my Offspring enjoy their pets, but every time one of those stupid fish of ours dies, I think to myself, "Why did we do this to ourselves?"  Actually, I try to think that, but it is hard to think over the sound of the Offspring sobbing.  "He was my FAVORITE fish, Mama."  So far, four "favorite" fish have died.

But I digress.

I do love going to the cat rescue center with the Girl, though.  It is a wonderful place -- just for cats.  Right now we have about 13 of them, and they are all just lovely cats - some friendlier than others, but all of them would make wonderful pets.  They are waiting to be adopted - although it looks like we might lose two of them to a new home.  A lady came by this evening, and is very interested in sweet Peaches, and another friendly cat named 007.  

The Girl gets right to work as soon as we arrive.  She checks liter boxes and sweeps the floors.  Then she goes around and grooms as many cats as she can.  Last week she brought a book and read to them.  It slows my schedule down to have to take two hours to go with her to the rescue center.  She can't go alone because she isn't fourteen, so I have to work a shift with her.  I let her do all the work, and just play with the cats.  They are rowdy bunch.  I love this glimpse I get of the Girl though - capable, confident and in charge.  We've only had the "job" for three weeks now, but I can see how proud she becomes when she puts on her t-shirt; her work uniform.  I love listening to her tell her friends, "Look, I've got to go. It is time for me to go to work, now.  I have a job. I take care of cats."

It is hard not to feel a little sad when I see pictures of how tiny she used to be.  She was an ADORABLE baby - super chubby and those ringlets!  But I am proud of the girl she is growing up to be, and cannot wait to see what she does next.

--Jen