Visiting animal shelters can be dangerous.
I’m not measuring danger in accidental flea infestations or bitten fingers, since in my experience, the critters at my local shelters have always been clean, laid-back, and polite. No, I’m talking about the danger of falling in love there — the kind of love that leaves you imagining your new friend curled up on the sunny bed in your apartment, or sprawling warmly on your lap during a lazy Sunday of reading.
It’s happened to me before, when as an eleven-year-old I refused to leave one without the scrawny calico kitten mewing plaintively in my arms. So when I decided last weekend to go to a nearby shelter “just to look,” I probably knew what I was getting myself into.
I knew I’d be adopting a cat within a few months anyway, but then I got there and saw all the sweet-faced cats and spotted one that ate her kibble so darn adorably, who had the note “very affectionate! purr bug” written on her name tag, and slinked around joyfully when taken out for petting purposes. Suddenly it was the next weekend and I hadn’t stopped thinking about her for a second, and so I outfitted the apartment with items from PetSmart, rushed back to the shelter to adopt the little purr bug, and slipped on her green collar with the jingling bell and the gold tag that spelled out her new name, Koko.
After a few initial hours of hiding under the bed, Koko has asserted herself as head of the household, and demands to be loved. She will curl up in a ball on my neck as I settle in to watch a movie, just to remind me that petting comes first, and following the plot comes second. And there’s nothing she loves more than being brushed. Nothing.
In the end, the “danger” involved in visiting an animal shelter blossoms into the most loving reward.