Joey has proven himself to be a very strong young cat who never let life’s challenges hold him back. One of the things that struck me when I came to visit was how he greeted me at the door to say hello! He lingered at the entrance, sniffed my feet and just those gentle little gestures instantly made me feel at home. In fact, I had to look very closely to realize he was blind. What I saw amazed me but what I remember is how I felt and how he had put me at ease. A sweet young cat so content in his kingdom and enjoying his life.
I think it takes a special person to be able to open your heart and home to a pet that requires things to be done just a little differently. Is it possible for us to learn that or is it something inherent and unique that cannot be adequately taught? I do think it is possible to learn best practices, but for some it seems to be a natural ability that can bring out the best in others. They make us feel safe and loved and they do it with ease. They make us feel like we are the most important thing in their life, and they make us feel wanted. And isn’t that what our pets want too? I think yes!
The bond that we have with our pets defies description, but rather it is something that we feel. We bond with those wonderful creatures in ways that make us feel on top of the world. I do think it is quite possible that the reverse can be true too.
Joey has a relationship with Beth that was so crucial to his survival in the beginning and once his immediate life needs were met, their time together has evolved into one of great trust. Joey knows that Beth offers consistency, warmth and safety. She also promotes fun and companionship with his other cat mates through socialization as much as they will allow. She also has taught him to be able to do things independently which is equally important.
Connecting with other humans though takes time and lots of patience and a good bit of encouragement in just the right way. There is no script or step by step instruction though!! Joey has had the good fortune of being introduced to a very special young lady who seems to know how to reach Joey in a way that makes him feel comfortable, relaxed and loved outside of his relationship with Beth. This is a huge achievement to see him be able to relate to another person so well.
Alaya has that certain gentle wisdom and makes it look easy and through her touch and the sound of her voice through singing, he becomes calm and completely relaxed in her presence. “ I love to sing, and Joey seems to enjoy it…so I sing for him”, she says.
Alaya also went on to share “ I scoop Joey up in my arms and find a spot to cuddle with him. I sing to him, talk to him and pet him and he purrs loudly and seems like he’s happy. Pretty soon we both find ourselves asleep. This is the best feeling, since I feel like we have a special bond. I fell in love with him when I first met him.”
Alaya’s grandmother Lucy has observed her granddaughter’s interactions with Joey and stated “ Joey is kinda particular as to who he will come to. So, to see him come to Alaya without hesitation, warms my heart. Alaya loves animals, and definitely has a soft spot for those with handicaps. She loves the other kitties, but Joey is her favorite. As a side note, Alaya adopted Nena 4 years ago from Lebanon Humane Society. There were many dogs to choose from, but only one tugged at her heartstrings so strongly …Nena had a back leg that was broken in several places and healed incorrectly, due to the old owner abusing her and refusing medical treatment. Alaya and Joey definitely have a special bond.
So peaceful and restful they are when they spend time together. A precious bond!!
It is possible for pets with physical challenges to not only overcome their impediment but also be able to transcend boundaries and have love and trust for others outside their immediate life circle. To witness this is absolutely amazing.
I think Beth said it best: “Alaya’s love for Joey is apparent, and he responds positively to her interactions with him. To me, it exemplifies hope for a world in which all adults support and value both animals and people with disabilities because they did so at an early age, like Alaya does now with Joey. Her love for him is not unnatural, not forced, not learned…it is true love, it’s innocent, and it’s a beautiful thing.”
I have no doubt that Joey seems to have discovered that kindred spirits make the best friends and those companions make for comfortable connections!
Pictures and Video Credits: Beth Hovenstine and with permission obtained exclusively from Lucinda Piper
I extend my heartfelt thanks to Lucinda Piper and her granddaughter Alaya for their valuable contributions to this article and to Beth Hovenstine for her inspirational wisdom and compassion! Last but not least the star – Joey!!
Joey also has his very own Facebook page and by clicking on the link below you can follow the daily exploits of Joey and his Mom Beth as they share their adventures!