This is my mother, Amelia C. Valvano. She is undoubtedly to blame for everything! Since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I witnessed my mother's love for animals. That's where I got it!
At a very young age my desire to have pets literally made my father's temperature boil, but the "Queen" of the house (my mother), always had her way. So that's when the "Noah" in me was born.
Looking back, I can remember the security I felt when surrounded by animals. When Easter rolled around, I would beg my mother to get me baby chicks...and so she did. Then mom agreed that we should get two parakeets, weirdly named Saturday and Sunday. Mom and I trained these two little friends; Saturday and Sunday would fly to either of us and land on our shoulders. I remember those days...they were terrific.
A few years later I became obsessed with owning a Chinchilla. After a few pleas, mom agreed and "Cheech the Chillin' Chinchilla" became part of our family. Dad almost flipped his lid, but he had no choice but to accept it. It was amazing to have such a cool friend to care for. He was with us for almost seven years before he went to Chinchilla heaven.
Over the years we included multiple fish tanks, which included exotic fish. Our home was a thriving pet store, and it was always so therapeutic for me. We also had many dogs along the path: Ginger (the first), Whity, Frenchie, and Smitty. I can't exclude the cats! Growing up we had Blacky and Tiger. Dad put his foot down, and they remained outdoor family members. Sadly, Blacky was taken from us early and was hit by a car. Tiger, on the other hand, was with us for many years. She was the neighborhood "hussy" and had dozens of litters of kittens. Nonetheless, the neighbors loved to see Tiger sitting outside our home. The would give her love. Tiger knew she ruled the block!
Moreover, Dad never knew (or caught me) when I would take Tiger's kittens to my bedroom for the night.
The desire to have animals in my life grew stronger. I was now in my early twenties and now lived in Jacksonville, Florida. The entire family followed suit and moved further south (Saint Cloud). At that time we had two Labradors - Midnight, and Twilight, and one Dashhound - Lucky. We also had six fish tanks, two ferrets (Slaughter and Pepé Le Pew). And of course, we had three cats - Noon, Evening, and Dusk. Yes, I know you are see a pattern.
Okay, so I can't leave out my Sugar Glider - Freddie! I was obsessed, okay? I had to have as many fur-babies as I could! Freddie was just awesome, and would glide across the room into my arms. Then, he would take a nap in my shirt pocket. It was a bond we shared for almost five years. Freddie too went to sugar glider heaven.
More time went by, and we decided to move to Saint Cloud to be with the family. We left Jacksonville and began our new life. The dogs went to New York to be with their mom (one of my best friends, Teddie), and sadly our ferrets went to ferret heaven.
Dusk traveled with us to Saint Cloud, and soon after, we adopted Caesar. I won't lie, it is quite hard for me to even look at these photos.
Dusk and Caesar were very different in every possible way. Caesar was a Manx with a love/hate streak in him. He was the wild one, but deep inside he loved everyone in his own way. He became more attached to Ian as the years went by. However, Caesar and I had our own special relationship. Dusk, on the other hand, was my son...he was truly my son. I had never experienced a love for, and from, another animal in my life. He would wait for me, greet me when I arrived home, and slept so close to my head. Dusk never left my side. He was almost human! He would sit on the couch (or on top of me) and watch television. When I battled a two-week case of bronchitis, Ian reported that Dusk remained by my side on the couch the entire time. Dusk would always pose for hundreds of photos, and knew he was gorgeous.
We lost our home in the City of Saint Cloud and moved in with Mom and Dad out in the country. Mom and Dad already had their fur-baby. Ginger (the second), is a Chihuahua with a fantastic personality. We never needed to install an alarm because Ginger has the ability to hear sounds from the other side of the planet. She acts as though she's a Doberman Pinscher, and believes she's much bigger than she actually is. Dad grew to love our children and enjoyed watching television alongside Dusk.
A few years went by. Dusk lived for seventeen years, until that day came. I was crushed from the inside when we had to euthanize him. I remember holding him for the last time before placing him into the arms of the Vet Tech. I couldn't stay...I couldn't watch...I had no air left in my lungs, and my heart was severely broken.
My best friend and son was gone, and so was a part of me, forever.
Not long after losing Dusk, we also lost Dad to Huntington's disease. Very soon after, Caesar got extremely sick. I became so very close to him at this time; however, he could no longer use his back legs. It was heartbreaking to see him in pain, and we had to do what was best for him. Again, we lost another loving friend. The grieving process for both Dusk and Casar almost killed me.
A few months went by, and it was almost Christmas. I was in one of the deepest and darkest places I had ever experienced. Mom and Ian saw the state I was in. I swore I would never care for or love any other animal again. Well, that didn't last long.
In a spontaneous moment, we dropped everything we were doing and off to Pet Supermarket we went! Once we arrived, it only took minutes for us to decide who the next fur-babies were going to be.
Teddy and Emily became our newest fur-babies, and I poured every bit of myself into loving them. It was indeed the best Christmas of my life. Although the heartache was still shadowing my soul, I was able to love and receive love from our new children. Teddy is a handsome man who struts his stuff every day. He's my head-butting baby boy and loves to receive attention. Emily is the queen of the house and will remind you of that every second of the day. She's my shadow and suffers from separation anxiety...even when I need to use the toilet! These two angels have stolen my heart, and when I have to travel, Ian always puts them on FaceTime so I can talk to them. Yes, I'm dramatic - get over it!
Life continued onward, and soon after, I had a moment. I had a seriously spontaneous moment. I asked (okay, so I demanded) that my friend Gigi take me back to Pet Supermarket. I knew what I wanted, and within three minutes inside the store, I had a baby ferret in my hands. I instructed the store workers (by pointing) that I needed "this" and "that" without pause. The store workers were attentive and helped me get everything I needed for yet a new fur-baby. His name is Thunder! He was to become the WeHaveAFace USA mascot!
Thunder is such a wonderful boy! He's so tame, playful, and loving. Ginger enjoys running around the house with Thunder as they play tag. The cats, on the other hand, want nothing to do with Thunder. You would think after all of these months they would understand him...but they look at him and think, "What in the hell is that?"
So, by now you would think the story ends, right? NOPE!
A year later, we decided to "babysit" two additional fur-babies. My brother and sister-in-law are in the process of looking for a new home, so we opened our doors to Sniper and Reese. What do I say about these two? Well, considering that Reese is a female, she had to learn the ropes around Emily. Reese is a loveable cat and finds a safe haven in mom's room. Okay, so she doesn't have a choice at times. It wasn't easy in the beginning, but they have drawn the line in the house. Both Emily and Reese understand that it is not wise to be in each other's company, or it's on! So, they try to avoid one another as best as they can.
Now, what about Sniper? Sniper believes that he is the KING of the household. His personality is pretty simple: touch me, love me, feed me, then leave me alone. Sniper gets the attention he needs and then tries his best to break out of the house! That's an entirely different story!
We all live together here in Noah's Arc...as peacefully as possible. I might not be Noah, but I sure love the companionship and therapy of my fur-babies. Thanks, mom, it's all your fault, and I love you for that!