RUSTY is a cat! Before I tell you about his relapse (And make my recovery analogy), let me give you a brief history of Rolf and Jill's Animal Planet. Jill, my fiancé, has been involved in animal rescue her entire adult life. As one of the former Directors at North Shore Animal League, she was instrumental in rescuing neglected animals from puppy mills and backyard operators all over the country that were guilty of just horridly abusive conditions. Along with that, she helped convert dozens of "kill only shelters" into ones whose aim was transformed into "adoption first". Adopt more, euthanize less or even better, not at all! It's her life's calling and how she has ended up with three geriatric dogs all with health issues that nobody else would adopt. Stuffy, a 17 year old Pekingese cancer survivor (just like Jill :-)), Libby, a 15 year old Golden and Edgrr, an 11 year old Bulldog. So that's who she brought into our relationship.
Me--- When my Ex-wife tossed me out of the house (well deserved), I found myself going from a house with 3 kids, 2 dogs and 2 cats to living alone in a small dark ranch the size of a trailer (sorry Chris). Anyway, having just gotten out of a 30 day rehab I needed some kind of support and friend so I immediately went to the local shelter and brought Nala (adorable black and white cat) home. With no human support, Nala could only do so much and I soon relapsed myself. But without her to be responsible for, it would have been much worse, so in a sense, we saved each other.
Fast forward almost 4 years later when I met Jill, (After 2 years sober) and my animal family would soon grow. As a side note, on my way to meet Jill for the first time (picnic in the park), I saved what I thought was a stray dog from an almost sure death on Route 106. Talk about a good "first impression" for an animal lover like her! Anyway, about 2 months after we met we had to stop by her mom's house to drop something off one day. It was early July and it was one of those SCORCHING and muggy NY summer days. As we were about to leave, out of the corner of Jill's eye she thought she saw what looked like a gerbil scurry underneath a parked car at the end of the driveway. Turned out to be the most adorable 3-4 week old kitten. She was wilting and seriously don't think she would have survived the day. With her having the 3 dogs, "Ruby Tuesday" now joined Nala and me in my townhouse in Oyster Bay. At about the same time as we met, I had noticed a stray cat scavenging for food in the development. I started feeding her and she became a fixture outside my house and we named her RoJi (acronym for Rolf/Jill). RoJi of course, did as strays do and soon we were feeding her and her daughter "Mini-Me". Fast forward even further and she did it again and thus "Bootsie also entered the fold. They were all black and white and obviously family so when "Rusty" showed up out the blue, we had no idea where this Orange guy came from. He decided to "adopt" us and literally lived outside my front door in a cat bed that we left there for him because he wouldn't leave! He wasn't ready to come and live inside although he would come in and eat and then leave. But every night, like clockwork, he would nestle up in his bed by my door (It was Jan/Feb and so, so, COLD. Well one night while he was inside eating, we trapped him and well......Now he is #3.
OK, so now for the relapse story! This past Monday morning I had company; little Bootsie, much like Rusty had done, felt secure enough with me that she would come upstairs into the apartment, have breakfast and hang out for a few, and then be on her way. Because she was a stray and you never know if they are sick or not, I put the other guys into my bedroom with the door closed anytime she would come and visit. Well when she left, I got distracted and thought that I had closed the apartment door but....oops..... I didn't and let the guys out of the bedroom and Rusty flew the coop. Bootsie was still lingering outside and the second he saw her (they had been friends is Rusty's stray days), they BOLTED!!!!
I spotted them later that night and Bootsie came to the door to eat but Rusty wanted no part of that. He had rediscovered his old life, his old girlfriend and he was going back to his old ways. That's where the relapse analogy comes in. Sometimes all it takes is ONE re-visit back to a former life and old habits and the lure and memory of it is just too much to resist! It's that way for an addict and why it so important for those truly addicted to be vigilant and to never test the waters again. I learned that the hard way before I finally "got it". It's amazing how quick that transformation can occur.
Oh, happy ending, Rusty's hunger got the better of him. We put his old bed out in front of the door. He was curious and decided to sniff around and Jill opened the door with a bowl of food in hand. He took one step inside and she shut him in. At first he acted like a caged Lion and roared. After a couple of hours though, he was back to our old red mush who realized that comfy beds, couches and a never empty cat food bowl, wasn't so bad after all :-)