|Benjamin Stein-d'Lobita and Axel d'Lobita with Winston|
Several years ago before I had moved to Buffalo from Long Island, NY, a neighborhood black cat that had eye problems disappeared during the spring and was never seen again. He had always followed me home as when I walked around, meowing and insisting on endless belly rubs. I always wondered what had happened to him. I sincerely hoped that wherever he was, he was at peace and somewhere he was loved.
My parents had always firmly believed in “don’t shop, adopt” and took in many rescued animals, leading to my passion for rescuing pets. In December 2015, my then-fiancé (now husband) Ben and I had been mulling over the idea of adding a new furry member to our family. We had left a multi-roommate situation where our three-year-old cat Orion was one of six living in a three level house. He no longer had his best friend (a white Siamese mix named Walter) that he had bonded with over a year and a half. Ben and I had also discussed finding a special needs cat that required extra love and attention. We knew whomever we adopted had to be cat-sibling friendly and able to adapt to a small apartment. I began my search on Petfinder.com daily, scrolling through a plethora of adoptable cats while working overnights at a hotel.
A week before Christmas I had discovered Winston's profile. The Ten Lives Club of the Walden Galleria Mall had a posted a short paragraph on his history. He was a rescue from a high kill shelter that lost one eye but still had all the charm in the world and love to share. I printed out his Petfinder listing and came home the following morning and showed it to Ben. Winston’s story and personality called to me and I knew from that moment I wanted to bring him home. I called the shelter to ask if he was still available after returning from a holiday trip. Kristen, the manager from TLC, confirmed he was still at the shelter. I asked Ben his opinion on Winston and he agreed that he would be a good fit for us. Every few days I would check the shelter’s Facebook page to see if Winston was still there, and he was. We had to stand by to prepare our home for a new addition and ensure he would have a smooth transition. Ben and I agreed we would not adopt a new family member until everything was ready.
A month before Valentine’s Day, we made the trip to the mall to meet Winston after weeks of patiently waiting for the right time. An hour and a half ride from downtown by bus, we arrived in the afternoon and requested to have a meet and greet. Kristen noted that if he were to go home with us, he must have a slow introduction to Orion. The second stipulation was that he must take his beloved green coil toy home. After the approval was given we asked if we could return the next day with our friend’s car to pick him up. As of January 15th, 2016 Winston came home with us, coil and all. Orion and Winston met nose to nose through the carrier and behind the bathroom door; Orion seemed unfazed but interested in who this new friend could be. After a few days we allowed them to interact with supervision but barrier-free. Winston became a much-loved part of our small family. His similarities to the long-departed neighborhood cat continued to make me wonder daily if this was him in a new body but the same spirit.
Ben now volunteers at TLC’s Galleria shelter, and we have since adopted our third cat and second special needs baby, a deaf cat named Neil. We thank not only the Ten Lives Club for their dedication to rescuing high risk, special needs, FIV+, and senior cats but also Petfinder.com for helping us connect with them and find Winston.