"He's quite strong." Were the words of a friend.
He is a horse.
He has the strength to carry you.
He has the ability to kill you.
He wants to work with you.
He was born without shoes.
He could run within minutes of falling from his mother's womb.
He knew nothing of his strength then.
He has learned to harness it.
To control it.
To use it in a way that keeps him safe.
He understands how to survive.
He likes company.
He likes to be touched.
He knows what love is.
He thrives from feeling loved.
He wants to feel love.
He wants to please.
But, if he doesn't understand.
He may use his strength against you.
Strength doesn't come from muscles alone.
Strength comes from the mind also.
He has a sense of right and wrong.
He has understanding.
The way he responds to a situation comes from within.
Show no fear, and there isn't any.
Be soft, but clear, in the mind
That, will come through in the body.
When he tenses, let go of yours.
Give him his head.
Soften your hands, your mind, your nerves.
Clear the space between your heart and your mind
And he will feel that.
Stay with him, if you can.
Working with him should not be a battle.
It is a partnership which is to be enjoyed.
This dog is a wise dog.
He knows stuff that only he knows
And he knows how to use it
So that he gets what he wants.
He spends a long time in the rucksack
But when he wants,
But only when he thinks it is necessary.
He is warm and safe and snug here
So why rush to get out when
He can stay
Safe and snug.
Why get cold and wet when he can be carried.
So here he is
Until he decides
It is ok to leave
And he can.
So he does.
The story of the rehabilitation of Rufus
By Monica Hornsey
Last year we were approached by a lady in Peppard, near Henley. A very large aggressive tabby cat was coming in through her cat flap attacking her little female cat, eating all its food and spraying everywhere. Typical behaviour for a stray unneutered make cat but this cat was exceptionally big, very, very aggressive and had been around for about two years. We gave the lady a trap and after many attempts the cat finally went in for the food.
The cat was taken to The Veterinary Centre in Henley by Barbara, one of our transport volunteers. As the cat tested negative for FIV and FeLV he was neutered. The following day I collected him and brought him back to one of my cat houses. I left with this enormous, incredibly smelly tabby cat with the nurse’s comments ringing in my ears “I think he must be the worst cat you’ve ever brought to us. He’s absolutely wild!” I brought him home and let him go in the cat house wondering what on earth I had let myself in for.
For the next two weeks I left him alone to calm down, just feeding and cleaning out the litter tray. After a few days, he decided the best place for him to be was on the shelf, just inside the door so that he could spit in my face as he entered. I’ve never seen a cat look so angry. His eyes would cross with fury, he would launch himself at me and spit with as much force as he could. I took to wearing a jacket with a hood and entering backwards. I moved the litter tray to a different part of the house so that he couldn’t jump on my back as I bent down to clean it. Not that he ever had – I just didn’t want to give him the opportunity!
After a while the tom cat smell started to subside and he started to clean himself up a bit. I realised he was very frightened of feet as well as the brush I used to clean up the cat house. He was also terrified of anything that I had in my hands such as a food bowl. Many a time he would knock the food bowl out of my hand and the food would go flying.
Usually cats like this take about four to five months to come round and learn to trust people again but this cat was by far the worst I have had in the 15 years I have been fostering. I started to think that perhaps a home as an outdoor cat would be best when Jackie Jones rang to ask if we had any cats suitable for her stable. As Jackie lives quite close to me she came straight way to look at my monster. As we entered the cat house, I explained about his spitting etc but even so we both leapt about three feet in the air when he launched himself at us, spitting with fury! Jackie spent some time with the cat and then announced that yes, she would like to have him for her stable but could she visit, say every other day to try and tame him a little. So began a period of about two months when Jackie would come along and spend time with the cat. If I was at home I’d make her a cup of tea, if not, she’d just go in and talk to him. She gave him an old fleece jacket, which smelled of her and her horse as she had worn it while mucking out. Jackie decided to call the cat Rufus because of his dark red nose. Jackie takes up the story with her poem.
As you lie beside me,
curled up on my bed,
I wondered what you had before.
Did you runaway?
Were you lost on a hunting trip?
Were you just forgotten?
To end up on Peppard Common
to make your own way.
You were a big cat, a handsome cat
A purrfect cat now.
But when we met you were scared, frightened, angry,
With cross eyes to match,
And a spit to make a human jump
six inches off the ground.
You hated hands.
Trapped and sent to the vets
In a crush cage
You were violent aggressive mean.
“Don’t come within a foot or I’ll bat you,
Spit, hiss and show you my teeth”
Your manhood removed,
To Monica’s you went.
And here comes the irony.
I wanted a yardie cat for the stable but a bit tamer.
“He’s a bad one.”
“Well if I can’t tame him, nobody can.”
So Monica and I agreed
I could visit and play.
I gave you my smelly fleece.
Despite doubts you were asleep on it next day!
You showed no signs fo going quietly so the big green gloves arrived.
You batted, bit and battered but they were thick.
After ten days, I used the fleece to sort of hold you, stroke you.“That’s ok” you seemed to say,“I don’t want to run away.”But each morning, a spit, a hissA cautious approach was notAmissThe gloves were safe, the hands were not.It seems you must have been beaten a lot.
We had to be brave to use bare skin.
The claws or the teeth might sink right in
Monica had the joy of food each day
To give for breakfast and then to play
Your face went thinner,
You began to calm down.
Lots more handling
And messing around.
You had a new bed which you never left,
So we had no choice
But to stroke you there instead.
Then one morning a phone call.
But you weren’t completely won over.
Not yet convinced.
You’d play for a while, then revert.
As your confidence grew,
I knew the day had come for you to move.
Next day Monica said so too.
We agreed Monday, my birthday
So into a stable and cat cage you went,
For your final weeks before freedom.
Still being cautious and usng gloves
You very quickly told me that
TRUST was something we had.
LOVE even stronger.
A bond was made.
And after ten days you yelled
“Let me out, I want to come out”.
So I opned the door,
And out you stepped, purring around my bodyHAPPY and CONFIDENT.I knew it was time to set you free.SO I asked Monica to come and see.You sat on her lap.No hurry to leave; no gloves needed now.The progress you’d madeShe could not believe.
And then; the plan went wrong.
I’d bought a collar and tag.
You looked very smart.
You hopped out of the stable
To watch me leave.
Then, as you hopped back in,
I knew in my heart
You weren’t a yard cat
But a house cat.
And now as you lie beside me,
Curled up on my bed
I know what you have.
LOVE and AFFECTION
And most of all SAFETY.
I LOVE YOU RUFUS. YOU ARE MY FRIEND.
EVEN IF YOU SNORE!!!
“I KNOW MUM AND I LOVE YOU TOO.”
Reaching out to your heart so that you can connect to mine.
With peaceful blessings.