• Annie Giudicessi

Love Your Pet Day!

Today is National Love Your Pet Day!But if you know me that's something I do every day. I wanted to take some time to introduce you to the HeyGiud Pets and tell their stories in honor of this #hashtagholiday.


Meet the HeyGiud Cats!


This is Gracie and Georgie. You can follow them on Instagram at www.instagram.com/georgengracieg

Giorgio Giudicessi is my oldest cat at just around 6.5 years old. I was in a rough place emotionally and knew the health benefits of having an animal, specifically a cat. I'd grown up having cats around the house but had never had one while I was on my own. A friend had posted a link about the Animal Rescue League of Iowa and I clicked the link. I scrolled through the photos of adoptable cats and was met with this face.


He looked a lot like a cat my brother had owned for 18 years and had recently lost so I text him the picture with a message somewhere along the lines of 'He looks like Toby! You need him!' but it wasn't the right time for my brother and sister-in-law to adopt an animal. So I sent the picture to my Mom with the message 'Can I have him?'


It took all of a minute before the phone rang and she told me to get ready. We drove out to the ARL Main Location and met him. I had to wait for the okay from my apartment that I could get him and the next day drove back out to the ARL and brought my little guy home. I was so tiny then, only a few months old at most. He quickly became my sidekick. When I went through health challenges he was the one who would lay with me and care for me, in fact he still is, I'm writing this with him laying beside me as we listen to the latest episode of our favorite podcast.


When people say 'I don't know who saved who' I never knew what they meant, until Georgie came home. He's my best friend, my constant companion and has always been the best part of my days. He would wait for me at the door when I got home from work and when I started working from home was so excited to spend all day snuggled up and overseeing my work. Life wouldn't be the same without this guy. I still have the photos of him from the ARL site saved on my phone so I can look back at his tiny, probably 4 lb. kitten version in comparison to the nearly 20 lb. full grown cat. He's an expert at snuggling and napping, and his purr is the greatest sound in the world.  


It was just the two of us for just over 5.5 years until last July. The ARL was holding the grand opening for the Clowder House, one of the newest additions to their main location. It's a facility strictly for cats as they get ready for adoption. As a member of FuseDSM, the 2017 Chair of the Ambassadors, and a Board Member I was able to not only attend the grand opening but present a plaque commemorating the event to Tom Colvin and his staff at the ARL. Part of the grand opening was a tour. I have discovered that I shouldn't have been allowed in the building because I was about three-fourths of the way through when I found her.

Her name was Grazie, which is a common misspelling of the Italian word grazi, which means thank you. Grazia is the Italian translation of Grace and which is my great-grandmother, who was born in Italy's name. I also happen to have two other great-grandmothers named Grace so it felt like fate to me. I needed to bring her home. Just as I had when I found Georgie online I sent the above picture to my Mom saying "Can I have her?" which earned the response that we'd talk about it.


By the time I arrived a my Mom's house for dinner knew I needed her. She'd had a surgical tag on her kennel which I was told was for her upcoming spay surgery and she'd probably be ready for adooption by the weekend. She was right around six weeks old which meant she'd be able to adjust to life with Georige from a young age and he might be excited to have a baby around to care for when I'm gone on long days for work. So I called back and asked them to hold her for me because I'd chickened out while I was there. 

The following day I received a phone call from my friend, Noah. He works in the Pet Help Center at ARL and has been a friend of mine for over ten years. He said he had bad news. The little cat I'd fallen in love with wasn't preparing for her spay surgery, it was more serious than that. She'd come in as a stray with two broken back legs and the vets believed that she would need to have surgery to have one of her back legs amputated. He assured me that cats, especially as young as this one, recovered really well and often didn't have any limitations to life post-surgery. He told me to think about it and decide if I was ready to adopt a special needs cat. Without thinking I said yes. Special needs animals deserve love too!


As soon as I was off the phone I did my research. What would her surgery be like? What kind of care would I need to give her? Would I need to separate her from Georgie while I was gone so that he didn't hurt her? I talked to my friend Meredith about life with a special needs animal as she had rescued a three-legged dog named Pickles while she worked at ARL. Everyone assured me that I'd be able to do it. So I told Noah that my initial yes was now a 100% yes and I couldn't wait to bring her home.


I did wait though. I waited THREE MONTHS while the staff at the ARL cared for her in preparation of her surgery, they wanted her to grow and get strong first. During that wait Noah was an amazing help. Giving me updates from the vets, letting me know that the staff at ARL would help me learn everything I'd need to know about caring for a special needs animal, and making sure that she knew she had a family waiting for her.


Then the call finally came! I was prepared to spend the day celebrating Georgie as it was the 6th anniversary of his adoption and a day that he and I celebrate each year with extra snuggles, treats and some special food. When Noah called that day he said she was ready and that he had news. That little cat was strong and determined, she'd managed to heal well and had all four legs! I grabbed the kennel and my keys as fast as I could and headed to the ARL to bring her home.


The last four months with both of them have been wonderful. They have bonded better than I could've dreamed. Georgie is so excited to have a companion. Gracie keeps him on his toes with her bursts of energy. There's extra kitty snuggles to go around and yes, extra cat fur too. But to know that these two cats are part of my every day makes it worth all of the extra fur. 


If you are considering getting a pet DO IT! And if you live in Central Iowa please consider adoption from the Animal Rescue League of Iowa. I've had the pleasure of getting to know Tom and many of the staff members over the last several years because of my involvement with FuseDSM. Georgie and Gracie were the fifth and seventh animals my family family has adopted from them. Their staff are amazing and take such great care of the animals at the shelter. And when you bring them home you get to enjoy sweet moments like these. 


Not a cat person?The Animal Rescue League has everything from dogs to guinea pigs to horses! You're going to get to learn more about Karli the Intern very soon, I promise, she also happens to be an ARL Rescue Momma. This is her little guy Rizzo! 

I would love to hear about your pets! Share the photos of your animals and their stories with us on social using #heygiudpets and tagging @heygiuddsm on your favorite social networks.

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