by Susan Karol Martel

Dedicated to “Trouble” who rescued us for the last nine years.

Euthanasia seemed like our only option. We felt stymied over our inability to find a remedy for our cat’s long occurring urinary incontinence. “Trouble,” a nine year old black shorthaired, one of our six four-paws, two of which are dogs, has always been an indoor cat; at this point, he wasn’t made of the stuff to live outdoors, nor could we pass on his unfortunate condition to another owner.

“Troubled” seemed to be an apt name when he came to us, but we settled upon dropping the “d” thinking he was insecure enough. From the time he arrived, along with his mother, brother and sister, having been dropped off with several cans of food at the foot of our circular drive, he has always been scared and hesitant, possibly a precursor to his problem.

After countless approaches and with veterinary guidance, having lived with this dilemma for a long time, we were now facing the strong possibility of having to spend big bucks redoing the hardwood floors throughout the first and second floors of our home. We had already treated or replaced countless numbers of draperies, throw pillows, books, magazines, papers and a back pack among other assorted items. Thus, we were compelled to choose this last resort.

Trouble’s final destination was the Morris Animal Rescue in Center City. Veterans of their varied animal services, we felt that Trouble would be treated humanely. Over the eighteen years living within the Awbury Arboretum, we have fostered and taken in many strays when unable to locate their owners.

Some people seem to think that dropping off their unwanted pets among Awbury’s 55 lush acres would provide them a better life than abandoning them on the streets. Maybe the word gets out telepathically among local strays and vagabonds having crossed into Awbury’s borders that we are a sanctuary residence for those in need. Maybe the word gets out that we too are in need of rescue.

We’ve brought other animals that have attempted to rescue us to Morris if we needed to re-home them, so we have the routine down pat. Because street parking at 13th and Lombard is difficult, my partner drops me in front of the building with animal and carrier in hand and then finds a place to park and wait. This time was no different. I entered through the double set of glass doors with the kitty jungle gym like enclosure to the left of the entrance. Trouble, likely thinking we were taking a trip to the vet, was his usual panicked self. He tried to become invisible by pushing himself up against the back of his carrier as tightly as imaginable while I signed papers for his surrender.

As I waited to release Trouble to a technician, I glanced out of the large front window and saw a woman walking down the street with two beautiful dogs, a Silky Terrier and Yorkie mix. I smiled automatically which is usual for me upon seeing most any animal, this time grateful for the distraction from my reason for being there. Instead of continuing past the rescue as I had anticipated, the woman made an unexpected abrupt left turn and came inside.

From the look on her face, I knew immediately what was to be the inauspicious outcome of her visit. I listened to her story as she spoke to the intake person behind the desk. She couldn’t afford to keep them anymore. Seeing all three together, it was apparent that the pups were as attached to her as she was to them. They may have been the best buds she had in her world and she was likely theirs.

Trying hard to block out my immediate urge to take them both home, I envisioned my partner pulling up in front of the entrance and, upon seeing me with the empty crate plus two dogs, precious as they were, driving right by, leaving me standing by the curb. So there we were, two strangers who were rescued by our animals. There was one difference: I have the current good fortune to be able to care for my rescuers and she unfortunately did not.

As the technician approached I said good bye again to Trouble, offering up a silent prayer that his life in kitty heaven would be happier than it was at that moment. The palpable sadness of the woman sitting next to me distracted me from rethinking for the umpteenth time if there was something else we could have done for Trouble. My arm automatically reached across her shoulder. As she readily leaned into me, I lied by telling her that I knew how hard it was to do what she felt she had to.

Though there have been numerous times when we wondered if it would be prudent financially to take on one more creature, I can only imagine the circumstances leading to not having enough money to take care of her pups. I tried to reassure her that she had given them a good long start (one dog was nine and one three) and that she was doing a brave and loving thing by sending them on their journey to a new home. The intake person tried to comfort her as well by adding that small dogs were easy to place and that they would do their best to provide hers with new owners who would be able to take care of them. The steady arm across her shoulder seemed to be more of what she needed than any words.

Within 15 minutes, the attendant came back with my carrier, now empty. As I reached down to hug my unnamed friend once more, she stood up, turned and hugged me so tightly that I didn’t attempt to let go, me being the only available substitute for the way she wanted to hold onto her pups. She told me how much she appreciated our chance meeting and my compassion. My face wet with tears, I left the rescue, my feelings over relinquishing Trouble intertwined with my sister-by-circumstance’s grief.

We arrived back to a house that immediately felt emptier than when we left, though there were five waiting four-paws. How grateful I am on this day to know that for the foreseeable future, I will have the ability to continue to be rescued and to have been the one to comfort the woman who had surrendered her pups, as opposed to the other way around. I offered up my second silent prayer of the day that my unidentified sister would have the good fortune to be rescued once more.

If you are in the need of rescue, there are two loving pups, one a Silky Terrier and one a Yorkie mix waiting to be vetted and then adopted at the Morris Animal Rescue, 13th and Lombard in Center City. Tell them Trouble sent you.

Susan Karol Martel, Ed.M. is a psychotherapist in private practice, a columnist, and author. She can be reached at 267-693-3625 and Her website is

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