Susan Blakeney

Susan Blakeney and her dog, Scotch.

Although I was the only human in my car, still it sounded like I had a choir of accomplished singers in the vehicle.

For the first 45 minutes of my four-hour ride, I heard a wonderful mix of sopranos, altos, mezzo-sopranos, basses, tenors and the like, and then the performance that had started in such earnest came to an abrupt end.

There was silence and only the hum of the wheels on Interstate 26 as I continued my journey to the Upstate with my new foster kitty, Chrissy.

Chrissy apparently had a lot to share with me. Was she protesting the car ride? Perhaps it was a listing of grievances she had? Maybe, just maybe, she was simply pleased she had a human ear all to herself to finally listen to her and hear her.

Four months earlier, I had randomly met Chrissy at the Darlington County Humane Society shelter. In working with shelter manager Jackie Kirven to take pictures of cats to be featured in the local papers, I had pointed to a petite calico mix quietly sitting in the far recesses of her small wire cage.

“Who is that kitty?” I asked, curious that she was in a wire cage in the outside habitat while other kitties roamed freely.

In a soft, hushed voice, Jackie replied, “Oh, that is Chrissy. She is shy and breaking my heart.”

And so the seed was planted.

Chrissy had grown up at the Darlington County Humane Society. She arrived as a young kitty after a foster home had not worked out for her, and an adoption lasting only one day likewise did not end in success. Now labeled as shy and skittish, she had a lack of confidence that made her an easy target for other cats to pick on her, and so she led a very solitary life in a smaller cage, hoping beyond hope that perhaps a miracle might come her way. Luckily for her and for me, the staff adored her and felt certain someone would see her potential to be a perfect companion cat and select her to head on home.

It’s been almost three weeks since I had the choir in my car. Chrissy still has an incredible range as she discusses with me daily new concerns, areas of pleasure or areas of dislike. I call her a lung with four legs!

Every day is a new adventure for Chrissy loaded with intriguing sights, sounds, smells and small challenges to help build her confidence. Chrissy is slowly developing into a wonderful companion who will now seek me out for attention and also welcomes the challenge of meeting my dog and other cats.

The plan for Chrissy all along was to put her through kitty boot camp in my home and then launch her into a rescue group. As the days tick on by, I try to stick to that plan, but does it need to be revisited? Do I become a foster fail?

As I hear the gentle purrs and also grumbles from Chrissy today, I am reminded of all of the other voices at the shelter right now hoping to be heard. Some are happy, some scared, some hopeful, some have no words.

Chrissy finally has her audience and someone to hear her, and honestly, she could not be happier.

What voice might you hear from the shelter? Who might speak to you?

Chrissy would love for you to stop on by to hear those still wishing to be heard.

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Susan Blakeney is a volunteer at the Darlington County Humane Society. She lives in Seneca.

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