• Barry KuKes

Talking About Pets: Rolf and Cleo

About six months ago, a 1-week-old kitten named Cleo was brought to the animal shelter because her mother was no longer available to care for her. Cleo was placed in a foster home, where the foster parents bottle fed her for about 4 weeks and cared for her every need. Cleo loved to play with the foster parents’ dog, Rolf, a large male Rottweiler. Rolf was very protective of Cleo and the two were always together.

Once morning after breakfast, Cleo jumped onto the kitchen trash can and from there she managed to jump onto the countertop. Rolf watched as Cleo walked toward the stove and then he suddenly jumped up and grabbed Cleo with his mouth and brought her down to the floor. The male foster parent began to scold Rolf for grabbing Cleo but then realized that the burner on the stove was still hot and had Rolf not grabbed Cleo, she would have severely burned her paws. “Good boy Rolf!” said the parent. From that day forward, the foster parents made sure to keep Cleo away from the stove and off the counters, even if the stove was not hot.

About a week later, Rolf was in the kitchen sleeping on his side. Cleo jumped on top of Rolf as usual, but Rolf did not respond. He just laid there. Cleo jumped on Rolf again and began to meow. Still no response. Cleo snuggled up next to Rolf’s face and began to meow very loudly. She would not stop until one of the foster parents came into the kitchen to see why she was screaming. The foster mom approached Cleo to see what the matter was, but then noticed Rolf was non-responsive. She got on her knees and began to rub Rolf and talked to him loudly. “Rolf, Rolf! Wake up Rolf!” Although she could tell Rolf was breathing, he would not respond to her touch or her voice.

The foster called out for her husband, who came quickly and tried to wake Rolf from his deep sleep. Rolf did not respond, so they moved the 93-pound dog onto a blanket and dragged him to the car so they could transport him to the emergency veterinary center. Cleo refused to leave Rolf’s side. As the parents pulled the blanket toward the garage, Cleo rested on Rolf’s chest and continued to meow.

When they arrived at the emergency center, two staff members came out to the car with a gurney to assist. Again, Cleo refused to leave Rolf’s side. The foster mother picked Cleo up into her arms so the medical staff could tend to Rolf.

Cleo was so worried about Rolf. She meowed loudly as she sat in the lap of the foster mom while they waited in a private waiting room. After about 20 minutes, the vet came into the room.

“We gave your dog an antihistamine injection. It appears he was stung by a bee or wasp and had an allergic reaction. He is coming around now and should fully recover, but it’s a good thing you brought him in when you did. Another 20 minutes and Rolf may not have made it,” said the vet.

The parents and Cleo waited for an additional 45 minutes and then the door opened, and Rolf walked into the room. “Rolf! Thank goodness you’re alright,” said the foster husband. Cleo jumped down from the foster mom’s lap and ran to Rolf who in turn licked Cleo’s face with his large sloppy tongue. “If it hadn’t been for Cleo sounding the alarm, Rolf might have died,” said the foster mom.

As you may have guessed by now, Cleo was adopted by the foster parents and is now Rolf’s kitty sister. Both animals look out for each other and love to play together. It’s wonderful to see two different species get along so well. They are supposed to be fighting like cats and dogs, yet they are so happy to be together. Animals teach humans so much by example. That’s something to think about. Remember, adopt don’t shop.

Contact Barry KuKes, community outreach director for the Halifax Humane Society, at barryk@halifaxhumanesociety.org.

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