Story of Love Shared by Dasha Maghooli.
I’ve been rescued numerous times, by numerous creatures, over the past 13 years. The result of all this rescuing is my relatively large and happy family, the story of which I love to tell. It includes some great adventures, and each is enhanced by the addition of new love to the crew. This is the story of my rescue family.
It was November 2003. I was living in Los Angeles, my long-term boyfriend had recently left me, and I was on the verge of buying my first place. It was both a heartbreaking and thrilling period. One of the things that most excited me about my own place was that I could finally get a dog. I grew up surrounded by animals and over the past decade had various apartment friendly pets, including guinea pigs and parrots, but I longed to have a dog. As I was closing on my condo, I was also scouring local rescue Web sites.
One day, a rescue posted a picture that took my breath away. It was a little 10-pound female terrier mix, with the deepest, brownest eyes you’ve ever seen. It really was her eyes, as her fur was wiry and bedraggled, and she was much too skinny for her frame. She immediately made it on the short list. I planned to continue looking for the next month until I could move in to the condo. But those eyes. They haunted me. I couldn’t stop thinking about her and decided, against my better judgement, to visit her, just to get her out of my system.
Well, as you can imagine, that was not only a terrible idea, but one that I’ve never regretted. I walked up to the little peanut, named Cora May at the time, and opened her cage which was about chest high. She walked up to me without hesitation, put her little paws on my chest, and—no exaggeration—rested her head near my shoulder. That was it and she’s been in my life ever since. She turned out to have a ton of emotional problems, which included a passion for biting men’s ankles, but over the years she’s calmed and continues to be my best friend.
After about a year in my Los Angeles condo, I decided to take a 9-day trip to Thailand and volunteer on an elephant rescue. This was the first time I had left the dog formerly known as Cora May, currently known as Bobbie (a much more suitable name for a very sassy girl) overnight. As she was safe with the pet sitter, I was off exploring the countryside of northern Thailand.
Long story short, I fell in love with Thailand and decided to move there. I went back to the states for a few months, packed up some clothes and my dog, and moved to Chiang Mai. While this was an adventure in itself, its relevance to this story lies in the next addition to the family. I lived in a small residential compound in Thailand that employed young men as security guards for overnight shifts. One of these guards would often bring the strangest looking kitten with him. The little guy didn’t have any fur, was very skinny and had huge ears. I asked my neighbor about the kitten, as she fed all the strays in the neighborhood and new all of the beastly gossip. She told me she had talked to the young security guard and found out the cat was a “Sa-Fink”. The little guy was a sphynx! He was born to a fully-haired cat family as a genetic anomaly and was given to the young boy at about 3 months old.
I would visit the boy and his kitten every day that he worked, and my dog and the kitten loved to play together. As the hot season turned to the rainy season, the boy would show up at my door at the beginning of his shift and ask if the kitten could stay in my apartment overnight while he worked. This happened more and more often, until finally my neighbor came to my door one day and let me know that she had—unbenownst to me—negotiated a deal. She let me know that I would give the boy one thousand baht (about $40) and he would give me “Sa-Fink” forever. This was a surprise, but I also knew the kitten would be much safer and healthier with me than in his current situation. And so, almost eight years later, Meowzy is a beloved and senior member of the family.
The next rescue isn’t my husband’s favorite story, because it’s personal. After four years in Thailand, I once again packed up some clothes, along with Bobbie and Meowzy, and moved to Seoul, South Korea for an academic position at a top university. Instead of leaving Seoul a year later with an additional pet, I left with an additional person. My husband and I were married there and shortly thereafter moved back to California. We were now a family of four.
Husband and Wife, Dog and Cat. Once again, we were very happy, with no plans to expand. That is until we saw Anna. Anna is a boxer. You know the face. She came across my Facebook news feed; someone had seen her in a local shelter and wanted people to know. My husband and I were living in an apartment, already at capacity, and couldn’t entertain adding a 65 pound canine to the group. Anyway, she looked like a pure bred and someone would swoop her up. Sigh. Again with the eyes. I resisted for about three weeks, until I couldn’t take it any longer. I called the shelter. Yes, she was still there. No, they were not a no-kill shelter. Yes, her time was short. What were we to do? Coincidentally, we were closing on a house within the next month, so now we had a boxer. Husband, Wife, Bobbie, Meowzy and Anna. One over capacity, sure, but more than enough love to go around.
A few years later, we were living in a roomy, suburban single-family home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We finally had a place that was big enough for everyone, complete with a large fenced yard. Living was easy in Tulsa, so when Husband came home from his shop with a rodent trap, complete with a tiny, black feral kitten, it wasn’t too difficult to imagine letting her stay. She didn’t seem interested in being around humans anyway, so we would just keep her until she was old enough to take care of herself. It wasn’t long before she decided the thug life was no longer for her, and Dado became the sixth member, and fourth dependent, in our family.
It was a blissful life, until I was accepted to Harvard University for a one-year master’s degree program. If it weren’t Harvard, we wouldn’t have gone. But it was, so we did. All six of us lived in a shoebox studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts for the 2015-2016 school year. Daily winter walks with the dogs and twice-daily kitty-litter cleanings alone were a full time job—not to mention the homework! It wasn’t easy, but it was one of the best years of our lives. Harvard without my rescue family wouldn’t have been the same.
And now, 13 years after falling in love with Bobbie’s eyes, we are all together, back in Los Angeles, living as a big happy family. Bobbie is 16 now, Meowzy is 8, Anna is 7 and Dado is 2. We hope and pray that for the time being there are no more lives at stake, no more beautiful eyes to make us lose our senses, and many more years with all six of us together.