As families in Ontario and Alberta celebrate Family Day today, some are celebrating with their pets.  Ripley is our beautiful orange tabby and the original Posh Pet.  While he is also known as “Ripley Cat”, “Purr Face”, “Baby”, make no mistake…he is definitely one cool and classy kitty!  I think he considers the other names we call him as his “aliases” that he uses when he goes on his secret missions. He’s a debonaire, James Bond type of a cat.  However, February 13 marked a milestone in Ripley’s life, for he has been an important part of ours for 15 years.

Ripley was a rescue from the Toronto Humane Society all those years ago.  My husband, Dean, and I had decided that we wanted a kitty in our lives. Okay, truth be told, I had decided that I wanted a pet in the home and my dear husband probably thought that there could be worse things I could want. He was rather ambivalent, having grown up in a decidedly pet-free home.  However, in deciding to get a pet, I had also made another important decision – ours would come from a shelter.  I have always had a soft spot in my heart for “unwanted” animals and yes, I am one of those who, on the rare times that I watch tv, can be turned into a puddle of tears should the donation appeal ads come on.  All of this led us to set out on a cold February evening in 1996 in search of a new member of the family.

When we arrived at the THS, there were so many to choose from.  Dean and I drifted away from each other as we read the notes posted outside their cages.  Such a huge decision and big responsibility.  After a period of time which left me feeling rather overwhelmed – I wanted to take them all – my husband came over quietly and said, “I think I have found him”.  I was so surprised.  Dean hadn’t been the impetus behind us getting a cat.  But, he had found him.  He took me over to Ripley who was sitting his cage looking up at us.  I asked my husband why he thought he was the one.  He simply said, “He reached out to me”.  And so he had.  Apparently, as my husband had been peering into each cage, Ripley took his front paw, put it through the cage and touched Dean on the hand.  That connection was all it took.

After about half an hour in which we were interviewed to determine if we would be good adoptive parents (we were so nervous that they would reject us), we were handed a cardboard “crate” with Ripley inside and directed to the in-house pet store to pick up things like litter, food etc.  We drove home and brought Ripley inside.  I still vividly remember how, when we opened his crate, he very cautiously poked his head up like an antennae, looked around and then lithely jumped out to explore his new surroundings.

Today, Ripley is a contented 16-year old who has brought us so much joy.   His initial abandonment issues – his former family simply moved on him and left him on the street – have all but disappeared.  He is strictly an indoor cat and seems to be happy to spend his days and nights in the warmth of a home, lying on the softness of a bed or couch with a full tummy.  He has since also acquired a sister (also from a shelter) and, while she can be a source of aggravation at times (aren’t all sisters?), he likes the fact that she is around.  And we’re so happy that he is with us.  As he enters his golden years, he has slowed down a little bit, but that has made him all the more cuddly and affectionate.

Happy Anniversary Ripley!  We love you…you have truly found your forever home.

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