Thursday, January 29, 2009

And You Thought All Girl Scouts Were Good....

I told you a couple weeks ago how I got my very first pet, Caesar. She was so special to me and was the best cat a little girl could ever ask for. She wasn't my only pet though -- considering I have two cats right now, I suppose that's obvious.

Anyway, like most girls, I was fascinated by horses. When I lived in Belgium, there was a barn just down the road from us, and a friend of mine Kiersten Grashofer -- I can't believe I remember that name! -- owned a horse named Melody that I got to see every once in awhile. Unfortunately, my French wasn't good enough to take lessons at first, and by the time it was good enough and a new session was starting, we were moving back to the States.

I immediately started riding after we moved and loved it more than I could have imagined, much to my mom's chagrin -- and that of her pocketbook! That was third grade, and I kept riding until I was pregnant with Little Miss. I'd still be doing it if I could find the time and justify the expense.

The summer after fourth grade, I had the opportunity to choose what camp I wanted to go to. Whoo! What a responsibility for an nine year old. Ok, so it wasn't so hard. My mom handed me the catalogue of Girl Scout camps, and I found the one that was horseback riding.

Oh, what a joy those two weeks were. I had so much fun riding and grooming and just hanging out around the horses. The other girls did, too, although they were less interested in the horses than I was.

Their favorite game was Stick 'Em.

Like every barn -- or almost every barn -- they had barn cats. It helps to keep the mouse population down, which reduces disease et al. And when you have barn cats, there are constant litters of kittens since barn cats are rarely spayed and less often neutered. And they tend to not live that long, so the new kittens keep the population stable, sadly. (I just realized I made a pun!)
This barn had six kittens. They were only a few weeks old, and oh! were they cuddly and soft and cute. Many of the Girl Scouts liked to pick up the kittens and toss them at haybales to see if they'd stick. Yep, that was their favorite game.

I was appalled. When I found what they were doing, I cried. And for whatever reason, the counselors did nothing about it. After awhile, my resolve grew.

When my mom arrived to pick me up at the end of the two weeks, I told her that I was taking two kittens home and was going to save them from this life of misery. My mom isn't exactly an animal person, and we already had a dog and a cat at home.

I begged. I pleaded. I told her of the torture these cats were going through, of how the girls laughed at the poor mewing kittens flying through the air before thrusting out their claws in a panic on the haybales to keep from falling four to six feet to the ground.

My mom finally relented and allowed me to take one kitten home. It was really hard to choose only one to save, but one finally called out to me. Luckily, one of the counselors knew how to tell boy from girl -- my mom had obviously learned from our last encounter.

The poor little kitten was gently placed into our car, and we began the drive home. She hid underneath the seat the whole way, mewing softly but never moving.

By the time we arrived home, I had found a name for her. I named her Copper Top because she never stopped. And yes, this was in the days prior to the Energizer Bunny or that may have been her name. Considering her blaze orange coloring, many people assumed I named her Copper because she was copper. Sadly, no.

We took her to the vet to be spayed and get her shots. That's when we discovered she had fleas. Lots and lots of fleas. Oops. Sorry, Mom. I swear I didn't know. Fortunately, we quickly rid ourselves of the fleas, and life was happy.

While Caesar didn't love Copper, they tolerated each other pretty well, and all was good. After Caesar died, you could tell that she missed having someone around. My mom wasn't about to gete another pet though, and I lived in a college dorm, so she was stuck.

When I finally moved to an apartment off campus, I brought Copper with me. I lived alone, so she was a great companion and was so happy to have me around all the time again.

Even at the age of eleven when I brought her to Chicago, she was still head shy. Eleven years of a gentle and loving home with me and my family, and the poor cat still flinched anytime someone approached her too quickly from the front with a hand out. She never got over being picked up and thrown at haybales over and over again.

I sometimes think about the other five kittens that I couldn't take with me. I wonder how many of them stayed at the barn. I wonder if the Stick 'Em game persisted with other groups of Girl Scouts. I wonder if any of them ever had a family to love them....

Knowing that I was at least able to save one kitten who had a long and happy eighteen years with me before she passed away one afternoon has to be enough. At the age of nine, I didn't have the power to do more. The injustice and wrongness of it still burns in me though.

27 comments:

Jill January 29, 2009 at 7:19 AM  

congrats on being featured! just stopping by from SITS to say HELLO!

Spring Fricks January 29, 2009 at 7:33 AM  

Ugh...I have never heard of such a game and I'm totally appalled. As a fellow cat lover, I'm so happy you were able to save Copper. That is truly an awesome story. BTW, here from SITS.

Noah's Mommy January 29, 2009 at 7:37 AM  

Poor copper....at least she has an awesome home now....and congrats on your being the FB for the week....awesome...

Kara January 29, 2009 at 7:47 AM  

I can't believe the girls did something so mean, that is just horrible. I'm glad you were able to save at least one cute kitty.

Kori January 29, 2009 at 8:00 AM  

That is terrible. I'm sorry.

I also wanted to say Congratulations on being the SITS featured blogger.

Dina January 29, 2009 at 8:00 AM  

congrats on your sits day!

Jenna Lewis Cox January 29, 2009 at 8:03 AM  

congrats on the feature!! have the BEST day!

Pink & Green Mama January 29, 2009 at 8:12 AM  

Here from SITS and also a kitty lover. Glad you rescued sweet copper. I've rescued a few cats in my time, including our current two and my mom's current two. Her cat still flinches and is missing a tail from an injury before we got her...too bad we can't find those same girls now and play a game of stick'em with them off a tall building...or at least a medium sized barn.

Lisette January 29, 2009 at 8:15 AM  

Stopping in from SITS...Congrats on being featured!

Tessa January 29, 2009 at 8:26 AM  

just stopping by, congrats on being saucy! love your blog

MaBunny January 29, 2009 at 8:53 AM  

That is Horrible!!!
I've never heard of that and I too would have tried to help the poor kittens. I'm not a big cat person, but I don't like seeing any animal hurt. Yay for copper:)

Kally January 29, 2009 at 9:05 AM  

Congratulations on being the SITS featured blogger!!

It's hard to imagine anyone treating little kittens so cruelly. So sad...but what a happy and safe life you were able to give Copper. Great eye-opening post.

The Eadle Family January 29, 2009 at 9:19 AM  

Hey, here from SITS! Poor kittens. I would have been sad as well.

Reeni♥ January 29, 2009 at 9:28 AM  

What a sweet story. Those poor little kitties!!

Sparcam January 29, 2009 at 9:35 AM  

You are a great story-teller. Thanks for the few minutes of escape!

Jamie January 29, 2009 at 10:01 AM  

Wow...That's a pretty terrible thing to do to another living breathing creature. I guess that makes you a member of the Totally Rad Animal Saving Hero club. I've added you to my blogroll so I'll be coming back to visit for sure.

Molly January 29, 2009 at 10:21 AM  

Evil children!

When I was little we always had a barn full of kittens and I used to go out with a book (usually something about cats) and read them a story while they piled all over my lap. It cracks me up to think how that must have looked.

Raevyn January 29, 2009 at 11:04 AM  

Granted I wasn't a girl scout long enough to make it to sleep-away camp, but I can't imagine any of the adults that I was involved with at camp allowing such an activity to continue. And had my mother found out about it, well, she would have raised holy hell as far up in the organization as necessary to see that it was stopped.

Makes you wonder who or what those girls tortured as they got older too...

Karen January 29, 2009 at 11:10 AM  

That's a horrible game to play! I grew up on a farm with my 4 boy cousins down the road. Not even they thought up that game. Kudos to you for rescuing a kitten.

And oh, the memories the stable years brings back. *sigh*

Aleta January 29, 2009 at 11:51 AM  

OMG.. I can't imagine don't that. And I'm shocked that the counselor didn't stop their behavior. I hope 4 other girls had the same heart that you did and took those kittens home.

Yankee Girl January 29, 2009 at 12:18 PM  

As a veterinary technician and an animal lover I that goddess every day that there are people like you!

Enjoy your SITS day! I'm having fun reading!

bernthis January 29, 2009 at 2:10 PM  

People who do what those did kids end up as serial killers. seriously, cruelty to an animal like that is the first sign that the person is way F-ed up. I'm glad you could at least save one.

I'm not a huge cat person (if you read my post today, you will know why) but I still worked at a shelter and helped them to find homes. My God.

Mama Kat January 29, 2009 at 3:16 PM  

Congrats on your SITS day!! How exciting!!

And good for you for helping that little baby kitty...I wish you had a picture of her!

jennifersusan January 29, 2009 at 8:40 PM  

Happy SITS Day! That is such a sweet story. Just so you know, not all girl scouts were that mean. I was one of the nice, save the kitty type of girl scouts too.

anymommy January 30, 2009 at 3:27 AM  

I went to Girl Scout camp too and I have similar negative memories - not the treatment of animals, but I remember that the way some of the girls were treated really broke my heart. I also remember (with shame)that I just tried to stay out of the mean girls' way. Good for you for doing something, even for just one kitten!

And, I already knew we had horses in common, but I adored those weeks, despite the negatives. With the horses all the time, riding for two hours a day. Heaven for me!

Jaden Paige January 30, 2009 at 7:45 AM  

Poor kitties! What an outrage! :(

I would have done the same thing you did- tried to save as many as I could. Little girls can sometimes be JUST as brutal as little boys...

Kathy B! January 30, 2009 at 8:21 AM  

Oh NO! As a leader of two GS troops I am appalled. I will promise you that if I ever find any of my girls doing something so abhorrent that they will not get away with it!

With that said, I just found your site and it's wonderful! I'll surely be back :)

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