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I have always felt that those of us who love animals are listed in secret yellow pages, exclusively available to animals.  These yellow pages are used by lost, sick, or homeless animals.  How it works is that when these orphans are ready to find the right “forever home” they find these mystic yellow pages and look us up.

They proceed to either show up at our jobs, around our cars, or at our homes.  We – the chosen people -- then find ourselves scratching our heads in bewilderment as to how, once again for the umpteenth time, we have been selected.  And then we do what we always do -- BRING THEM INTO OUR LIVES.

As the mom, caregiver, and guardian of two happy chirping parakeets, one playful little bunny, three rascal cats, and my best bud Dixie dog, I was sure that my aura by now would have read “Full House” or “No Vacancy.”  I guess I was wrong.  Perhaps my newest family member, Tonka, does not read auras or got her paws on last year’s secret yellow pages.

So there I was one late summer day, cooking in the kitchen and looking out the window at my deer dining on my spent begonias when I noticed a black and white ball of fur sunning on my front porch stairs.  At first I thought I had a little baby skunk, but with further observation (assisted by my glasses) I found that this little darling was a kitten.

When I tiptoed around the house to meet her, she did her imitation of a startled and scared kitten, dashing under the porch for cover.  Startled and scared -- yeah right!  Within two days she was sitting on the stoop waiting for her meals as if to say “Yo, Mom, I’m hungry.  You’re late.  What’s for dinner?!”  And within three days she was explaining her preferences on how, when, and where to pet her.  As you can see, Tonka (as we named her) knew what she was doing and had me properly trained within a week.

I know the safety and health statistics of cats living outdoors are certainly not as good as indoor cats, but at the moment keeping Tonka outside seemed like the best course of action.  I was enjoying my new gardening companion and loved my garage greetings when I arrived home.  I prepared a home for Tonka under the front porch and let her live like Elsa the lion from “Born Free.”

No sooner did I mulch the entire area where she would be living, fill a Vari-Kennel up with pillows and blankets, smother the Vari-Kennel with insulation, and then topped it off with an Indian 100% wool blanket when my husband decided that we had to bring her into the fold or she would not survive the winter!  At that moment I got it!  My husband was in this year’s edition of the Animal Mystic Yellow Pages!

While each night got colder, I could see he was right.  Besides the weather,   I soon became tuned into the hovering hawks knowing my Tonka would be quite a yummy treat for them,  I worried every time a UPS truck brought a package.  I broke into a full sweat when I saw the oil truck backing into our driveway.  These were all opportunities for my little Tonka to be hurt.  Yes, it was official -- Tonka had truly burrowed herself under my skin and into my heart.

Tonka has since been to the vet for blood work and a poop check.  While the blood work came back normal, she did test positive for not one but four parasites!  She is on an herb regimen, living comfortably on the back porch INSIDE in a very comfy crate complete with her favorite foods, bedding, and litter.  When all is free and clear, she will join our menagerie as the youngest and dearest.

While I have my moments of feeling overwhelmed, be it from time demands, money spent, or vet visits, I would never give up any one of my furry companions.  They continually give me the opportunity to cherish life.  For that I am eternally grateful.  Thank you, Tonka, for giving me one more opportunity.

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