Friday, September 09, 2016

I saw him!

Thursday gave me my first Walking Dude sighting in months! I was so happy to see him!

The Walking Dude is a unique Chicago character. He's tall, thin and his long hair and mustache are always lustrous and shiny. And he walks. All day. All night. He wanders the city. Occasionally selling wristwatches to the drivers waiting at cabstands. But mostly he watches the river or monitors construction and then starts walking again.

In May, something terrible happened. A thug took a baseball bat and beat Walking Dude senseless. It was a stupid, pointless act of cruelty. Walking Dude has nothing worth stealing, except his quiet dignity, and he's never done anyone any harm.

He was in the hospital for weeks as doctors worked to restore his eyesight and mobility. More than 1,000 Chicagoans pitched in nearly $40,000 for his care.

He has rejected any attention or publicity. He refused to press charges against the man who beat him because he feared appearing in court. Despite all the media coverage his plight received, he's refused to appear on camera, joking that he doesn't want to be "a Kardashian," or a person who is famous for nothing.

So today when I saw him on the street, I resisted the impulse to reach out and shake his hand. He wants to be left alone, and I respect that. But I was thrilled to see him, all the same.

Walk on, Dude.

Oh, Bobby!

I stopped at Petco after work this evening. I had a coupon for $5 that expired today and I can't afford to throw $5 in the trash, so I hauled my fat ass over there this hot night and invested in a pair of new scratching posts.

Connie prefers a specific type of post -- it's sturdy and wrapped in rope. I couldn't find one in the row where most of the cat goodies are displayed and asked one of the employees for help. She directed me to the clearance bin at the front of the store. I never check that bin because it's off the doggie aisle and I assumed it was all canine items.

Beside the clearance bin was a series of cream colored carriers -- 9 in all -- filled with cats from the local shelter. Their ages and stories made me so sad. All were over 5, and given up for adoption because of allergies or because the owners moved to a "no pets" building. Imagine how confused and depressed these poor cats must be, having lived their lives in a household and now suddenly in a cage at the front of Petco. What had they done wrong? Where are their people? Breaks my heart.

Especially Bobby. I don't know why he particularly got under my skin, but he did. This good-sized cat looked so vulnerable and exposed, sleeping under the fluorescent lights in the petstore. His furry little plight touched me.

I admit I was tempted to adopt him. My feline roommates would adjust easily to a new addition. Reynaldo got along well with both Joey and Charlotte, no problem. Connie grew up in a hoarder situation so being surrounded by other cats is fine with her. I could get Bobby out of that cage and into a home where he could play and be cuddled.  I could do that.

EXCEPT for FIP. The shelter that sends these cats to Petco doesn't screen for this virus -- most shelters in Chicagoland don't. But after Joey died, I paid to have the extensive bloodwork done to screen Rey and Connie and learned Connie has the infection and shared it with Rey. Neither cat has symptoms. Right now both are healthy. But they have it, and a third cat entering the house would likely get it.

Of course, it's possible Bobby already has FIP. As I say, shelters can't afford to screen for it. But it's just as likely he doesn't, and I think it would be irresponsible for me to adopt.

Besides, I can't save them all. That's really what this comes down to, isn't it? I hate the thought of any animal being unloved. But I can only do what I can do. Right now, keeping Rey and Connie healthy is my priority.