Nicole and Toni circa 1970
It was 1970 and I was 4 years old. This particular year was the start of my love for four-legged creatures. It was Christmas and all I was focused on was a Schwinn bicycle with a banana seat. I got that bike, but I got an orange tabby kitten too. The focus suddenly changed from that Schwinn bike with the banana seat to this wild kitten whose hair stuck out like he had stuck his tail in a light socket. He was wide-eyed and full of energy. I named him Toni and I made him part of our family.
I remember one year — we were moving from San Fransico to Arizona — Toni had gotten out while the movers were at the house. I pitched a full-on BITCH fit convincing my mother that someone needed to stay behind until Toni showed up. My mother stayed, Toni returned and the cat remained part of my family until he was 13 years old.
I know that Toni was the beginning of my love affair and advocacy for animals. He taught me that love could be unconditional, free-flowing, and without limits. Toni passed when I was 17 years old and it was 21 years before I had another pet. My next pet and the pet after that were rescues — 35 dogs and 12 cats — all rehomed to their forever homes. Through the journey of rescuing, I have observed all kinds of relationships between humans and animals. Some of those relationships have been tragic, some loving, and way too many lacked the necessary resources. Over these years of rescuing, I have observed a parallel in the treatment of animals and the treatment of humans.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ~Ghandi
I think this quote speaks volumes about where we are as a nation and the parallels to the inhumanities and disenfranchisement of both humans and animals. This inequality and abuse are not a but/or conversation. It is an “and.” It is a daunting conversation, but it is one that should be had.
As a pet parent and petpreneur, I noticed social media's narrow portrayal of pet parents. It seemed to mimic a nationwide media view of the "ideal" family: a "perfect" white, two-heterosexual-parent household. The media's algorithm was based on something far from my experience as a pet owner: a black, single, mature, struggling female entrepreneur who loves the shit out of animals, is crazy about her own fur monsters and doesn't have it all together.
The truth is, pet-owning humans' homes consist of same-sex, single, black, Latinx, gay, transgender, handicapped, mature, overweight, underweight, apartment-renting, and a variety of other kinds of pet parents.
I am out to change those algorithms and open the field of play for all humans who love pets. One of the things we have in common is the love of animals, and if we can start with that common ground, I believe we will find more things in common, creating a natural flow of connection for a peaceful existence.
WoofCat’s slogan, "We Have Pets In Common," reiterates the common ground that 84 million people have in the United States. WoofCat’s platform of People & Pets continues to remind us that no one needs to be omitted from life’s algorithm in order for someone else to be relevant and that those who have been omitted are the same people who are discriminated against, abused, tossed aside, harassed, and even killed. They will not be forgotten.
WoofCat is creating an “and” conversation about the need for someone else to be tall while another is on their knees, and that conversation begins again through the common love of animals. Call me crazy, overly optimistic, and unrealistic. I have made a choice to be brave enough with a little help from some furry little friends and a host of human friends.
Please join me in creating a new algorithm by sharing WoofCat writings, podcasts, and posts that highlight community inspirations, ways to make a difference in the world through actions, and how to be brave in a world that needs an extra dose of courage (all from people who also love their pets).