Leaving Love Behind: Tanner’s Tale

By Judy Layne

His family said goodbye and he watched as they went out the door and drove away.  He waited excitedly by the window for them to return.  He sat there for many hours.  He looked anxiously at every passing car, hoping to see them.  He grew hungry and thirsty, but his food and water dishes were empty.  It got dark outside and there were no lights on in the house; he became afraid.  Days passed and his family still didn’t return.  He wondered if he had done something wrong. He wondered if his family didn’t love him any longer. How could that be?  They had promised to take care of him for a lifetime. Lonely, scared and cold, he tried to find food, but there was none.  After a week, his legs grew tired and he couldn’t get up any longer.  His eyes lost the sparkle they always had. 

Just when his strength was ebbing away, the door opened and the couple who had bought the house from his family entered.  They were shocked to find a sweet cat in acute distress. They gave him food and water he so desperately needed and they tried to comfort him.  They would have loved to keep him, but the wife was allergic to cats.  So they took him to the NS SPCA Colchester Shelter.  He was safe now. 

He had no name, so the Shelter staff named him Tanner.  When he arrived in April, 6-year old Tanner was severely emaciated, had ear mites, fleas and a grade 2 heart murmur He received necessary medical care, along with love and attention from the staff.

Ketrina Harnish-Keating and her partner Ryan Turnbull had lost their precious adopted cat Tobi Jackson to a brain tumor.  In June, they visited the Colchester Shelter and were drawn to Tanner.  “He had the most beautiful amber eyes”, says Ketrina.  “He was sitting in a corner and looked so sad.  The two of us had an instant connection and it didn’t take much to convince Ryan to bring him home.  A few eyelash flutters and pouts did the trick.”

Tanner was skittish in his new home for a few days, but then settled right in.  Ryan relates that “initially, we gave him lots of space and let him come to us for the most part.”  As for Tanner’s favorite things, Ryan says “Looking out the big window in the living room for hours. Cuddling into mom’s or dad’s neck and wearing the new bandana we bought him for Christmas. And lots of treats!” He now has a baby cat-sister, Temmie, that the couple adopted last fall.  “It took some time and patience, but they’re good friends now; we find them playing or curled up together.”

The most surprising thing about Tanner is how amazing he is with children.  “I work at a daycare and he’s come to work with me for full days”, Katrina states.  “The children love him and he’s very gentle with them. The 5-10 year olds in the after-school program feed Tanner, brush and play with him, and clean his litter box.  It’s a great way to teach kids responsibility.”

Luckily Tanner’s story had a happy ending.  Not all abandoned animals are so fortunate.  Last year alone, the Nova Scotia SPCA investigated 89 cases of abandonment.  There is NEVER a good reason to abandon your pet when there are other safe alternatives available.  Ketrina’s advice?  “Pets are totally dependent on us.  It’s heartbreaking to think of the trauma that an abandoned pet must endure.  Take them to the SPCA where they will be cared for while they wait for a loving home.”  The couple’s final thoughts?  “The SPCA has been everything to Tanner.  They nursed him back to health, and gave him the love, care and attention he so desperately needed after he was abandoned. The NS SPCA is important to the community, animals and families they serve.  We’re disheartened to think where the animals they care for would be without them.”

Judy Layne

Judy is a dedicated volunteer with the Nova Scotia SPCA and proud adoptive fur-mama to Gracie. She is committed to speaking for animals who cannot speak for themselves.