2019-02-07 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

To most folks, last weekend centered on Super Bowl LIII. Not me. Last weekend I was “bowled over” with a bowling benefit back to back with Kitten Bowl VI. Shelter rescue never sleeps, and neither do the volunteers.

Mimi Needs Knees: Last Hope planned a Bowlathon on Groundhog Day to benefit special needs pets even before we took in the designated recipient. Mimi, a Chihuahua no more than two years old, came into Brookhaven Town Shelter as a frightened stray with bent back legs, supposedly found in Mastic Beach by a Good Samaritan. How could this crippled dog run away or fend for herself? She has such a hard time walking.

Several weeks ago you may have noticed Mimi pictured in “Pets” with a tiny black kitten. When Mimi entered Brookhaven Shelter, she wouldn’t stop trembling so the staff gave her a stuffed animal. She clung to it, but was still frightened and shaking. The staff decided she needed a warmer friend and put Dexter, a black kitten, in the cage with Mimi. They became a bonded pair.

Mimi poses next to her “Mimi Needs Knees” donation jug at Bowlathon. Mimi poses next to her “Mimi Needs Knees” donation jug at Bowlathon. The Odd Couple traveled to Last Hope in Wantagh together. They snuggled several days in a Meet n’ Greet room until volunteers noticed Mimi was eating most of Dexter’s food, so the duo was separated. Dexter is thriving in a cat cage while Mimi went into a foster home.

Poor Mimi needs new knees. Mimi has probably lived in pain most of her life. Both of her back legs are bowed outward, and she walks down on her haunches like a frog.

She saw two surgeons. An orthopedic specialist said she needs surgery to repair Grade 4 luxating patellas in both back legs. (Grade 4 is the most severe form of this condition.) It’s best to operate on one leg at a time with an eight- to 12-week recovery between operations. He gives a 90% chance of success. The surgery estimate is over $7,000, including her spay and physical therapy sessions.

Mikey reads to his hero cat Gino. They were featured on Hallmark Channel Kitten Bowl VI. Mikey reads to his hero cat Gino. They were featured on Hallmark Channel Kitten Bowl VI. The Bowlathon at Levittown Lanes became an event to raise funds for Mimi’s surgery. Eighty people attended. Mimi made a surprise appearance. Her foster Mom Mindy brought her in a handbag pouch. The tiny guest of honor posed for photos. Mimi’s first leg will be repaired February 7. Other fundraisers are being planned. We are auctioning off four Knicks tickets­— good seats—and requesting Mimi Needs Knees donations, any amount, to Last Hope PayPal. Everyone hopes Mimi gains the ability to move easily, and finds a doting home.

Kitten Bowl VI: Last Hope has been in all six Hallmark Channel Kitten Bowls. We host an open house at Last Hope screening the Kitten Bowl with a tailgate party lunch, raffles and, of course, cats for adoption. The feline football game entertains audiences the same day as the Puppy Bowl and that other big game; but more important, Kitten Bowl promotes adopting cats from shelters throughout the US.

Our team is the Last Hope Lions with the likes of Prince Hairy and Toddcat Gurley. We’ve never won a Kitten Bowl. This year the Lions missed the extra point at the last moment, and lost the semi-finals to the Little Longtails, 23-24. The Longtails went on to clinch the 2019 trophy. It’s all in good kitten fun.

Heartwarming, true stories intersperse the quarters. A Cat Bowl pre-game show was added Saturday evening to showcase adult cats. The story of Last Hope adoptee Zoey (formerly “Nina”) and her senior mentor was aired. Zoey came to Last Hope after being surrendered to Babylon Shelter when the owner of a litter of three told the shelter her young son was stabbing the kittens.

We don’t know if that was true, but no one was taking any chances. Zoey was adopted from Last Hope by a patient family. She hid in a mattress, was scared and eventually bonded to their 20-year-old cat Kelsey; and, interestingly enough, to the young, gentle boy in this new home. Kelsey helped to bring Zoey out of her shell and to show her how wonderful their pet parents are.

Kitten Bowl VI featured the life-saving bond between Last Hope’s cat Gino and Mikey, a toddler. Gino is an orange tabby rescued by Last Hope volunteer Mary from an evicted hoarder in Central Islip. He entered our Adoption Center on New Year’s Eve 2014 when, at one or two years old, he was treated for severe ear infections and open sores on his head. It seems Gino had a rough start in life.

Gino was adopted by Jennifer on St. Patrick’s Day 2015. Now Terri, Jennifer’s aunt and Last Hope vice-prez, will explain about the incredible relationship Gino has with his baby brother Mikey. They even have matching ginger hair.

Last July Terri wrote: “I wanted to tell you about one of Last Hope’s amazing cats. He was adopted by my niece. His name has always been Gino. Not sure if you all know, but my niece had a baby boy named Mikey, who was born prematurely and weighed only one pound. He was in the hospital for months before being allowed to come home. From there, he had doctors and specialists in and out of his home taking care of him.

Not long ago Mikey celebrated his first birthday. He has always had a special bond with Gino. They really love each other. Mikey reads to Gino, they cuddle and even head butt each other like cats do.

Mikey has recently been having seizures and it’s been quite serious. His fever spikes and then has a seizure, sometimes lasting more than five minutes. On the night of July 22, Gino kept crying and crying, sitting next to Mikey. His crying woke up my niece, Jen.

She went over to Mikey. Turns out his fever was very high and he was having a seizure. If it wasn’t for Gino crying and watching over Mikey - who knows what might have happened. The baby was taken to the hospital and had another seizure in the ambulance.

Mikey spent three days in the hospital with the doctors monitoring him. His fever stayed a bit high and he had an ear infection. I’ve heard of dogs notifying people about medical emergencies but never a cat.

Gino is a savior in the view of all of us.”

Gino and Mikey filmed a re-enactment of their relationship and that fateful night for Hallmark Channel cameramen. You’d think both the cat and his boy belonged to the Screen Actors’ Guild.

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