Friday, August 30, 2013

Part I - Odilia's World (Former Foster Friday)


I am so excited to finally be able to share with you Odilia's Journey from Amy's point of view.  She says this is "Part I" that alone made me smile.  Her account of the events touched me, and I hope you enjoy it.




Part I - Odilia's World
 "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even heard. 
They must be felt within the heart." - Helen Keller
It's funny, this thing called life. It is as if all the world's a stage, as Shakespeare said, and we are just here to play the role that has already been written for us. In this act, Odilia is the playwright and I, the actor.
I met this wondrous, little creature in May when Connie (www.kittyblog.net) brought her along to the BlogPaws 2013 conference. Connie, who herself, is quite the inspiration, has been fostering rescues for more than a decade; opening her home and heart to kittens and mama cats in need - before they are ever suited for adoption. She has cared for dozens of pregnant cats and kittens – nurturing and nursing through the worst of illnesses, malnourishment and neglect. She has transformed many homeless kittens who would have never had a chance otherwise into healthy, socialized, happy souls that easily find and transition into forever homes with loving families.
Each of Connie's fosters has held a special place in her heart, but Odilia, was the icing on the cake. Born without sight, this two pound mite was simply destined for greatness. Abandoned at birth with her mother and a shelter unsure of how to provide her with the care she needed, Connie didn't blink.  As she posted in her blog,

"'The Shelter asked, 'Do you want her, she has no eyes, no one wants her'
 "How could I possibly refuse?"                                       

A month after being in Connie's care, and barely eight weeks old, Odilia's zest for life was already quite apparent. She traveled like a pro from Maine to Virginia to accompany Connie to the pet conference where for 3 days she paraded around either in a tiny silver carrier not much bigger than a camera bag or in Connie's arms. Every time I'd run into Connie, I couldn't help but realize how taken I was with this little wonder. I felt an instant connection. It was fun to watch her being showered with attention from fellow attendees and Odilia seemed to thrive on being passed from one cooing adorer to the next and parading around at the end of her leash as everyone stopped to pet and hug her.
In the back of my mind I just knew I had to make her part of my life but with two dogs and three cats at home, I knew I was nearing my limit. I had just recently become engaged and my fiancé, Ray, also had three cats of his own. Talk about a furry Brady Bunch. I knew my plate was full, yet I couldn't help but stay in touch with Connie after the conference. I followed Odilia's progress and antics via social media over the next month along with so many others who had come to love her. Surely someone would beat me to inquiring about the possibility of adopting her.
When I finally worked up the nerve to ask Connie in late June, I hadn't even considered the 559 mile distance between us. Where there is a will, there is a way, has pretty much always been my motto and it has always been Odilia's, as well. My will to get to her was greater than any obstacle and I was setting the plan in motion even before I think I realized it.
When I broke the news to Ray, I expected him to roll his eyes at me and be the solid, rational person that I've come to depend upon to balance my carefree, no-boundary self and reason with me that adopting Odilia was just not practical right now. We had two households to get ready to combine, one to sell, nine animals to integrate, 2 full time jobs, our part-time hobbies/jobs, and the list went on. Oh, and then there was a wedding to plan!

Not only did he offer to cancel our beloved annual trip to the beach that we always look forward to but he suggested we make a vacation of driving and touring the New England states in order to bring Odilia home with us. Thrilled, shocked, and overjoyed doesn't even begin to express how I felt. I had longingly hoped for him to suggest such a plan but never had I expected it!    
I had no clue how to even begin preparing for this little creature's arrival but something told me not to worry. Somehow, through all the anticipation and nervousness, I also had this odd sense that this was meant to be and Odi and I would figure it all out when the time came.
One month later, Ray and I set out on our journey. We had the most memorable trip, stopping in the quaint town of Jim Thorpe, PA, then Woodstock (bucket list item!). We headed north to Gloucester, MA, (another bucket list place!) before landing in Kennebunkport - home to the Bushes, Connie and Princess Odilia.


We were staying for two days and because our B&B didn't permit pets, our first order of business after checking in was to go visit Odi & Connie.

or stop for ice cream
Before I knew it, I was in the 'kitty room' made so familiar via webcam on Connie's blog. And, there, right in front of us, in all her glory was Princess Odi running amok with her fellow roommates. After a short but sweet visit, we needed to return to get settled in for our stay.


It was hard to leave but I knew we'd soon return. We ate our way through Kennebunkport, and took in the beautiful coastal sites. The next day, Ray dropped me off at Connie's and after visiting with our girl, Connie and I headed to the shelter to 'make it official'. Odilia really was going to adopt me!  
I couldn't believe mama Connie was going to entrust me with this precious soul. It just seemed so surreal. Yet, it was as if Odilia, herself, had decided that all of this was supposed to happen and I was the muse following through on her plan.


Papers in hand, I'm sure I resembled a peacock strutting out of the shelter. Connie and I spent the afternoon together celebrating our little miracle kitty. After she dropped me off at the B&B, I could only imagine how bittersweet her drive home must have been. I knew she was happy for Odilia, the little girl nobody thought would ever find a home - except for Connie. But, she had spent more time with this little miracle than most of her fosters and had grown quite attached. How could she not. Odi was more than irresistible. This little wonder knew how to work her charm! She had captured Connie's heart and by now the affection of hundreds of admirers through Connie's blog updates and conference attendance.
We picked up Odi the next morning for the long drive home. I had prepared a mini-palace for our girl in the back seat of our SUV complete with pillows, blankets and toys. We put our little pampered princess in her temporary castle knowing she was fully depending on us to take care of her.
Backing out of Connie's drive way was probably the toughest part. I was so excited to have my girl yet so torn driving away from one of the most loving caregivers I have had the privilege to befriend. Aside from giving Odilia the very best life I possible could, I knew I had a big obligation to ensure I kept Connie, as well as Odi's many followers, up-to-date on her life. Caring for Odi would be easy. I was hoping I wouldn't disappoint Connie.


Odilia made herself right at home, perching on a fluffy blanket placed on the arm rest right between me and Ray. She travelled like an old hat the entire nine-hour trip - much better than either of us. She spent time on our laps, on Ray's shoulder, and climbing in and out of her carrier and pimped-out crate.



I was filled with as much excitement as uncertainty about my crew at home. All were rescues and each had always been so kind and open to the newest addition to the family. I just wasn't sure if I was pushing my luck with number #6. I was pretty sure Oakley, my Golden boy, and Hope, my little part dauschand/collie/golden/aardvark would be fine. Both liked (or simply tolerated the cats). BoBo, my oldest cat, was a very gentle-natured boy and welcomed everyone into our home. Grayer, my youngest male, was quiet and passive. Gracie, my only female feline, was my worry. She would either decide to mother our new kitten, as she had Grayer, and take her under her wing, or she'd be a finicky female feline and give us all a hard time.

Amy's friends decorated her house for Odilia's homecoming
When we arrived home, I held off picking the dogs up from the sitter. I left Odi in the comfort of the air-conditioning until I greeted and made a fuss over each cat. Ray then brought the crate into the house and I brought Odi in her pink carrier. I let the cats sniff everything until their sniffers were worn out then placed Odi in the crate so she could get a better feel of all the newness around her. The cats, who apparently had much more left in their sniffers, continued to examine this new creature. Odi stood at a safe distance in the crate and stretched to check them out, too. Everyone seemed more curious than upset. I was turning blue from holding my breath. 
I had transformed a spare room into a cattery hoping to replicate the comfort of the room Odilia had become accustomed to at Connie's. We carried the crate (and, Odi) upstairs and let the new round of sniffing begin. I placed the crate against a baby gate in the doorway of the room and carefully transferred Odi into her new abode. I was so relieved to let her out to stretch.
I thought I had created an environment that would take her weeks to explore.  I strategically stacked crates, shelves and baskets so she would be able to 'work her way up' as she became accustomed to the layout of the room. I was certain it would take her weeks to find the top shelf of each. I had scattered toys and varying textured items and rugs to entice her already extraordinary senses. I first showed her the location of her litter box which she immediately christened. Then, with the trio of new siblings watching her every move from the other side of the gate, Odi made her way around the room with one fell sweep calculating and storing every corner and obstacle in her super memory. I watched with sheer amazement as she confidently maneuvered the room, checking out every item. Then she located a feather and began swatting and playing with her new toy. 
I think we all just looked at each other in disbelief.  Odilia was 'home'.



"Not the senses I have but what I do with them is my kingdom." - Helen Keller



26 comments:

  1. Odilia's story is every bit as compelling as Homer's. Thank you for including us in her journey to her new life. hugs and purrs Caro and Austin xx

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  2. Odilia is a super-sepcial kitten, and while followups on former fosters are always fun, this is fantastic to read. Even seeing bits and pieces on Facebook isn't the same as getting the whole story at once!

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  3. Fantastic for Odilia and her new family,I can't wait to see the next instalment of her tale,xx

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  4. Now THAT man of hers is a keeper!! Two paws way up.

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  5. I was so excited to see this next installment of Odila's journey. I am so very happy for her, she is such a precious soul and indeed she has a wonderful forever family and we can't wait to see the next page in this journey! We are so proud of you Odila!!

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  6. Odi's story is so incredibly beautiful and special...I think you two ladies should think about collaborating on a book about her one day :) You are all so special, loved and admired.

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  7. What can I say? FABULOUS!!!

    MORE!!!

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  8. OK - as a foster, THESE are the stories I love reading. I got all choked up reading about how much Amy was worried about you. :) Odi hit the jackpot!!

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  9. what a wunderkatt! thank you for making her life complete, and for sharing her with us!!

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  10. That's so beautiful! We were lucky enough to meet Odilia at BlogPaws, and she is amazing. Congrats to this little wonder, and to you, her forever family. We look forward to more of your adventures together.

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  11. What a great report! She got truly wonderful home and family. (Ray is such a nice guy - I wish their happy wedding, too :-) )

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  12. Such a beautifully written account of Odi's journey to her furrever home. We hope Part 2 isn't too far away. :)

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  13. What an amazing girl Odilia is! Amy is so lucky to have this little gift in her life.

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  14. Wow, what a wonderful update on Odi. We miss seeing her with regularity. She is such a lucky girl to have two loving homes in her very short life. We will look forward to additional posts in the future. Purrs and hugs, Lily Olivia, Mauricio, Misty May, Giulietta, Fiona, Astrid, Lisbeth and Calista Jo

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  15. That is great to hear!!

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  16. What an amazing story! What a wonderful kitty! Yay for her family!

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  17. This is such a beautiful story - I am so happy for you!

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  18. *sniffle* WE LOOOVE happy endings!!! Odilia's going to be SO happy with Amy!!

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  19. Fabulous! We can't wait to read more. We're so happy Odilia has such a wonderful home.

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  20. This is a foster dream story...and what a love and respect Amy had for your feelings and the care you gave Odilia and how wonderful it must feel to know that Odilia is in such good care! PAWSOME!!!

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  21. It makes us so very happy when special kitties find forever homes with humans who truly appreciate the qualities that make them so special. We're so glad Amy, Ray and Odelia gotcha'd each other.

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  22. What a wonderful way to be brought up to date on precioius Odilia -- via the blog that introduced us all to her. Thanks for a wonderful story, Amy, and thanks for passing it on, Connie.

    I agree with Melissa -- the both of you writing a book together about Odilia. (I'm a book designer and would gladly give you some free tips.)

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  23. What a wonderful way to be brought up to date on precioius Odilia -- via the blog that introduced us all to her. Thanks for a wonderful story, Amy, and thanks for passing it on, Connie.

    I agree with Melissa -- the both of you writing a book together about Odilia. (I'm a book designer and would gladly give you some free tips.)

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  24. Beautiful post and update on Odilia. We are very happy for her and her new forever family.

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  25. Incredible lovely and touching story. Go Odilia!

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  26. What a beautiful story! We're so happy for everyone and can't wait to hear more about little Odilia's adventures! We loved her Christmas card picture!

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