Animal Advocates of B.C.


"Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace." Albert Schweitzer 1875 - 1965

In Memory of

Remembered by Donna Bourne

Cat, Handsome.JPG (52482 bytes)

Donna B and Sally.JPG (33029 bytes)

On July 5, 2001, I lost my Chesapeake Retriever Cross, “Sally Girl”  to bone cancer. This was a devastating loss for me – and I had lost three beautiful cats also to cancer in the year and a half prior.

Needless to say I did NOT want anymore animals in my life- been there, done that – I had had up to nine rescued cats in my townhome at once and wanted freedom and time to grieve for my “Sally Girl”.

Donna B's Sally at the beach.JPG (34059 bytes)

Five months went by and I happened to be looking at the Pet Page in the North Shore News for animals needing homes. I saw this particular big white cat named ‘Handsome’ and immediately felt a strong draw – but I said to myself – No; no I don’t want anymore animals. My life is too up in the air and I don’t need this. Three more times (every two weeks) the Pet Page was there and so was Handsome – each time the “draw” being even stronger – why THAT cat???

Finally I had to call and left a message with Animals Advocates, reluctantly expressing my interest in the big white cat named Handsome. I came home the next day and the message on my answering machine from Judy Stone of Animals Advocates was “Donna – Handsome has been waiting for you”.

Handsome's story is only too familiar to rescuers - he was left behind when his "family" moved and he survived on the street until a kind soul took him to AAS.

Judy delivered him to me on New Years Eve, 2001. My bonding and extreme love for him was immediate. In the days to follow that bond and love grew and grew. This was the cat of all cats. I had never had a cat quite like him and I was thoroughly, totally in love. He was such a sweet, sweet, knowing boy and he understood about ‘house’, never once scratching my furniture and never an accident. I loved him with all my heart and soul and we would spend many hours ‘talking’ and playing, me reveling in his loud purring as  I combed him.  He didn’t want to go outside and that was just fine with me. He had been abandoned and I saw behavioral traits from that. For the first month he would hide under my bed when someone came, except for my son. Later I had my bedroom re-carpeted and I shut him out of harm’s way from the rest of the house in my living room. I never heard such a wailing and desperation. I carried him down to the rec room and comforted him. He was fine to stay there while the carpets were being laid.

Donna B's Handsome, a happy cat.JPG (17743 bytes) Slowly, he started to come ‘out’ when people came to visit – finally to the point of ‘flopping’ in front of them as if to say, “I’m so cute- how can you resist me – I love to be petted”. People were amazed at his size and personality.  I think he finally began to realize that I was going to keep him – I was not going to abandon him or give him away. I told him I would love him and keep him as long as life would permit.

When I first got him I took him to my veterinarian for a check-up who wanted to give him a ‘round’ of vaccines. I said no – I don’t know his history. I had also heard and read some negative things about annual booster vaccines, that in fact they aren’t really needed and may suppress the immune system.

I took my Handsome back to the vet on August 14, 2002 for round worm treatment. The vet said at that time ‘You love him so much, it would be a shame to lose him to something we could have prevented’. I, in that weak moment relented. So came the onslaught – rabies included – all together between the shoulder blades. I came home with a gnawing feeling – why had I done that????

 Then - at the end of August, Handsome went off his food. I took him in for a complete blood work up. The results showed very high white blood count, he was jaundiced, and indications showed ‘Lympho Blast and Leukemia – and an egg sized lump between the shoulder blades which the Vet advised was post vaccible sarcoma.  Prognosis very poor with chemotherapy which I could afford and didn’t want to put him through. I went for a second opinion at the Animal Advocates' veterinarian – same diagnosis.

 How could all this have happened so fast????

 I was reading, reading, reading – trying to find answers. I read a paragraph from the book “WHY IS CANCER KILLING OUR PETS?” by Deborah Straw. I had bought this book after losing Sally Girl to try to find out why so many pets die from cancer. One sentence states Dr. Richard Pitcairn's warning ‘giving a vaccine to an animal with cancer is like pouring gasoline on a fire.’ The next page warns of one type of vaccine that has, over the past ten years, actually produced malignant tumours or sarcomas in cats. Deborah Straw’s cat Puck died of this virulent cancer, which is caused by killed virus leukemia and rabies vaccine that are traditionally administered between the shoulder blades.

 So now – perhaps Handsome may have had latent cancer and the gasoline was poured on an open flame. I was devastated, my precious sweet boy – how could I do this to you. I was so angry at myself and the veterinarian – and at this time of writing, still am somewhat.

 I decided I did not want Handsome to go through Chemotherapy, which Animal Advocates told me never worked anyway and only put the cat through terrible suffering. I would love him and care for him in a palliative role, one day at a time – being sure that he did not suffer unreasonably. I even had homeopathic remedies applied, hoping against hope that a ‘miracle’ would happen. It just wasn’t fair that I would find this beautiful boy – only to lose him nine months later.

 A day at a time took us to September 28. That morning he was especially bright. He came out on the patio with a great deal to say. He seemed especially comfortable that day.  In the latter part of the afternoon we had one of our ‘big combs’which would go on for half an hour. His ‘purring’ was especially loud and vibrant.

 Then - at about 7 p.m. – something happened. He seemed to get very weak and very uncomfortable and began deep laboured breathing. Oh no – I knew. I prayed a prayer I found.

 “Dear God – this wonderful boy has been a gift – such a faithful and honest companion. Enfold him in your embrace and ease his way home to you – Holy Spirit give my boy your peace and heavenly blessing – Amen". Goodbye my dear sweet boy – I will love you forever.

 I gave him a small tranquilizer to help him which did seem to.  I stayed awake with him till after 1a.m.  I woke at 5 a.m. expecting him to be gone – but he was still with me – looking straight into my eyes. We stayed like that until the end came at 6:55 a.m. My beautiful boy was gone. Death is so final. No matter what one has lost before – it never insulates you for the next loss – it only gives understanding.

 As I sit and write this today, I wonder how I will live without him.

 My daytimer for that day – September 29, 2002 had the motto: -

 “We can’t feel sad over the loss of those we love, without first remembering that the real and true sadness would have been never having had them in our lives at all.”...For that I am so very grateful.

You can bet I will be extremely pro-active regarding vaccines.  It was too late for my precious boy – but hopefully my lessons learned will help others become aware.

And I will be forever grateful to Judy Stone of Animal Advocates who cared for him and then let me have him.

To My Handsome,
Love, Mommy

Donna B and Handsome.JPG (25358 bytes)
From AAS - Several years ago Donna lived not far from a large dog that had been chained to a tree for two years. Every day she took it treats while she was walking Sally and she grieved for the dog.  She saw how the dog's "family" never walked it, petted it, or even acknowledged its existence, even though it leapt and cried with anticipation every time it saw one of them.  Donna has had far more than her share of personal grief in life, and even though she has been on thrice-weekly dialysis for years and seems as though a summer breeze could blow her away, like all people who understand suffering, she could not bear to witness this innocent dog's grief.  The dog was rescued and found a home where it was cherished and never alone. Women like Donna blow us away....