Room at the Inn

Room at the Inn

Clouds scudded across the Christmas Eve sky; it was dismal and cold. Even the toasty warmth of the shelter was periodically slammed by frigid gusts barreling through the door as kind hearts stopped with donations. The intended recipients of this largess reclined with full catty and doggy tummies relishing the comfort and attention. These guys hadn’t made it to a home for the holidays, but the cat cages held new toys, scratching pads and clean bedding and the dog kennels had deliciously stuffed Kongs and here and there a new Kuranda bed.

The gentle murmur of guests bringing good cheer muted the normal shelter sounds of excited dogs posturing to be walked first or a cat telling everyone he wasn’t getting near enough attention. The scent of vanilla candles mingled with chocolate chip cookies in the drowsy warmth. In one corner stacks of clean litter pans were waiting to be quickly whisked into cages and food cans and bowls were lined up on the counter to make fast work of Christmas Day chores.

In anticipation of tomorrow’s celebration, everything was ready at home too. So, I yanked open the drawer full of combs and brushes and set about providing each cat with the gift of a Christmas grooming. While moving through the room billing and cooing to each little face as I brushed, the sky darkened and the guests bustled on their way.

Out of the murky gloom, a man approached cradling a carrier and shuffled down the side of the shelter to the door. With everyone else spoiling the dogs, I moved to greet him. Sick love ones claimed his help in another state. He needed to leave immediately. There was no one and no where he could safely leave the stray and her kittens who had found a way to his porch.

In the back room on the counter under a window was one big empty cage – ONE – every other space was filled. Earlier, a volunteer had set the clean cage up with litter and a bed. Mama and her kittens would have a warm place and a warm meal this Christmas Eve. The kindly man’s eyes filled as he helped the little family from the carrier to cage. Then, he moved swiftly out into the icy dark, while I covered half the cage with a light blanket for their privacy and comfort.

A few of the other volunteers drifted in to gaze at the good mother and her little ones snuggled together in the bed. Contented that on Christmas Eve of all times there had been enough space and love to surround them, we returned to our own homes for a very Happy Christmas.

Madelyn McCarroll
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