The Working Savannah

by Deborah-Ann Milette
(Oklahoma)

I Can do Anything if I set My Mind to it Being a Cat!

I Can do Anything if I set My Mind to it Being a Cat!

Matt was reading at a nice even pace when suddenly he stops mid-sentence, suddenly an eye opens on the big cat. Matt tries again from the beginning of the sentence and stops again, the second eye opens on the big cat. Watching this scene, I throw a pen on the floor under the table because I know what was coming. Matt begins again and the big cat is seriously watching Matt now but with curiosity at the same time, again Matt stops at the same spot of the sentence! As the big cat gets up arches his back into a stretch form takes his paw pulls the book down and sniffs it, I dive under the table. I heard Matt say to the teacher, "See even Motzie can't say that word!" Then Matt and teacher begin to sound out the word, me; I am under the table dying with secretive laughter with tears rolling down my face. As I come up for air from under the table Matt and teacher are sounding out the word, Motzie is back in his Buddha position on the table (paws tucked back in) and watching Matt reading again. Matt finishes the chapter, hugs Motzie and Motzie head butts him and he leaves with his mother. The teacher sits down hugs Motzie and begins to laugh and I start laughing all over again and she said this was the first student that has ever included a reading partner in not sounding out a word and she calls Motzie "Priceless." (Matt is a fictional name as real names can't be given out.)

Hurt, anger and flashbacks begin because someone has triggered me into one, two cats; one big and one slightly smaller stay by my side, the second is learning about it's owner. The bigger cat constantly has a paw on my leg with nails slightly into my leg. Motzie knows that emotionally I am in trouble, Peanut knows something is wrong and knows not to leave my other side as he watches Motzie and does what he does minus his nails thankfully. Motzie is like my own personal EKG monitoring machine only on an emotional level. This has become one of my draw-backs of being in the Woman's Army Corp in Vietnam serving as a surgical nurse in what many would call a Mash Unit tending to the hurt, dying or sewing the dead back together for home shipment. VA doctors and my civilian doctor's witnessed Motzie and Peanut and certified Motzie as my personal "Service Animal" and Peanut is in training at the age of 4 he will be certified as well by the VA. PTSD is my personal flashback horror at times.

The phone rings, a woman answers it and there is serious silence and the cats heads perk up. The collars and leads come out and Service Jackets are put on. The two very special felines proudly walk into the Children's Hospital with their handler and go to the elevators and calmly walk into them and head for the 6th floor. The handler/owner checks with the head nurse for the name and room of the request and instructions while the bigger cat jumps on the desk/counter and greets the nurses while others come around and make a fuss over the smaller cat who is patiently sitting and waiting. The handler guides the cats towards the requested cat visit and enter the room where a very small and frail little girl with a grey color is to be visited. She has many family members in the room around the bed and I ask if this is a bad time, and the father said "Most definitely not; please, please come in!" The little girl tries to smile when she sees me and I tell her both Motzie and Peanut are here to see her today would she like them both to visit with her at the same time, she nods a yes. So Motzie and Peanut on command jump up at the foot of the bed and each cat take a side of the child and snuggle into her. She needs help from her mother to put her arms around the cats and I back away and wait for my boys to decide when they are done. An hour goes by and they are still in bed with her, suddenly Motzie raises his head and cries, staff come running into the room and the father stops them and says "It's OK, let her go she was at peace in the end and that is what counted." Motzie and Peanut got up jumped off the bed and both jumped onto a chair to wait. The parents came and hugged my boys and thanked them with tears pouring down. They then thanked me for bringing my boys to honor their daughter's last request and hugged me and I am crying. We attended Sarah's funeral the three of us and the parents feel they can't thank me enough for doing what I did for their daughter, I told her for me NOT to share my boys with those who need them is a horrible injustice to those who those who need them to and can't. (The child's name is fictional due to confidentiality rules and Hippa laws.)

Many people are gathering and setting up cages, some pop-up cages, cleaning them. Others putting curtains on metal cages. Many breeds of cats are here and one woman walks in pulling a luggage carrier with a dog sized carrier strapped on with bungie cords. She sets up her cage, puts on the curtains. She opens the door and takes out a cat that appears to be the size of a Maine Coon. She reaches into the crate again, with people watching. Their expressions change to a combination of awe, astonishment and surprise. She pulls out a cat much larger than any cat they have ever seen. They talk among themselves taking bets he cannot fit into the cage door. She puts him on the chair next to the cage. They hear me say "hupp" and the big cat slithers through the door like a snake. She digs into her bag and pulls out a sign she places on top of the cage that says "Motzie of A-1 Savannahs and Telling Felid's". Some people come up to talk to her. Motzie now knows he is working. He greets people and hogs the limelight, blocking his cage mate, Martin's Fury aka Peanut. As the show day progresses and spectators arrive, they find the Savannah and curiosity sets in. Requests to hold him are made, children want to hug him and you can see that the cat loves this, sucking it up like a vacuum cleaner. He knows he is on the job, advertising for the breed, as well as being a Good Will Ambassador.

I owe this kind of personality traits in my Savannahs mostly to A-1 Savannahs because of how they breed, raise, and train their animals before they go to their new homes. Only after their eyes are open, the kittens are removed from their mothers, brought into the house and become "hand raised, bottle fed babies." Their two children help raise the kittens by playing with them creating a bond with children as well as adults. Then, I came into the light by purchasing Motzie, from a picture, and enhanced the training they had given him. They question the animal's lifestyle, explore the owner's life and Motzie became the perfect fit for me. They also chose "Dorzie" (who now lives in Utah with a special friend) and Peanut to match with myself and Motzie.

Cats are trainable to become a reading program animals, a service animals, therapy animals, show cats, and just ordinary house pets if I chose, but my home is far from ordinary. I feel my responsibility in life is to show off the wonderful traits the Savannah inherited from it's founding Grandparent, the Serval. I know because I have lived with as many as eight Servals at one time. They are gentle, loving, eager to please cats, even though they are scientifically classified as a wild cat. A cat will do anything for you if you develop that respect first, love second and bond third. If you do not have these three things in place, you cannot force an animal, especially a cat, to do what is normally a dog's position In life. After rescuing and owning exotic cats, it was an advantage and the key to understanding any cat, but especially the Savannah. Is training them easy? No. Is training any cat easy? No, not In anyone's book. But, it can be done by anyone with patience, love, let the cat think it is their idea and time, and I have all the time needed, being a retired, Disabled Vietnam Veteran. Maybe it was something I learned growing up, because my only playmates were animals on a farm.

Motzie is the icing on the cake for all Savannah cats, and as his character in the Warrior Cats book series, Lt. Darkstar D'Artagnan, nicknamed in the book, "Dart", he is a partner to his leade r through thick and thin just like he is to me. (http://www.pIctures-of-cats.org/warrIor-cat-the-long-march.html) Motzie is also the NE Jaguar Association's Mascot for showing off the expensive vehicles. He is my lifetime partner, faithful friend, and constant companion I hope for a long time. The oldest privately owned serval "Hush" was about 24 years old when he passed away, I hope longevity is a trait passed on in the Savannah because I want Motzie & Peanut around for a long time.

Deborah-Ann Milette

From The Working Savannah to Savannah cats


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