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  • Joe Detelj

Born Free


In an old flick, Born Free, a European family living in Africa finds an orphaned lion cub, raises her, and eventually returns her to the wild. It is a wonderful story illustrating the communion we share with the creatures cohabitation this earthly home with us. The lioness name was Elsa, and that is how our orange tabby, Elsa, came to be named.

Elsa came into our lives the very first year we moved to Pennsylvania. Apparently someone had dropped her off in our field . She had been farmed out, we assumed whoever it was thought she would fend for herself, or be adopted by us, or simply just go away for them. Attracted to her feeble cries, I found this little bundle of fluff in the high weeds. Dreamcatcher Farm was at that time, just that, a dream. We had ,of course, a notion that we wanted a farm, that we would like to grow our own vegetables, and that some chickens roaming around the place would be nice, but many, if not most, of the specific details had not quite been worked out yet.

Never having owned a cat, if I can abuse that word, this was as much an adventure for us as it was for Elsa. Her first introduction to home was when cupped in my hands I approached our back door and rang the bell for fear of dropping her. Puzzled, Jackie answered the call and upon opening my hands shared with her my find. I believe it was love at first sight, though not really understood by us as yet.

Elsa’s journey started in the garage where we put her until we sorted out what we were going to do: keep her, take her to a shelter, or find her a home. Elsa had already figured this out far in advance of us. One inadvertent lapse in leaving the interior door to the garage open and in a flash, and I mean a mili-second Elsa bounded into the house and ran like a demon from room to room. She was possessed. Up the couch, down the couch, up the drapes, down the drapes, jumping in the air, doing loop de loops, around the coffee table, finally, coming to rest in Jackie’s lap. We were so struck by this show that we knew the next stop was the vet.

Dewormed, vaccinated, checked out and “fixed”, our first native rescue came home. We discovered at this time that female orange tigers are extremely rare cats. We were informed that 99% of them were male and that the females were almost always sterile. Unfortunately this tid-bit was gathered after the operation. I am assuming that the vet did not want to take any chances on almost.

Our time with her from day one has been a pleasurable delight. She is the queen of the critters. All her fellow orphans who have come and passed through Dreamcatcher Farm have deferred to her reign. We have learned much from her. She inspires me with the affection she returns in appreciation for the care and nurture we give to her. Were it so that all the world’s orphaned creatures were so fortunate to have found such circumstances. But, that is not the case Too many cats ans dogs are left to reproduce unchecked and then left to fend for themselves in an environment that can not possibly support them. A cruel fate awaits most. For our kind we find ourselves in a situation where the uncaring ones outnumber the caring, the impoverished outnumber the more able, and a mutually rewarding communion goes unheeded and diminished.

We have a responsibility, it seems to me, to limit the unfettered increase in the numbers of these animals so that an equilibrium of possibility and potential is created. Elsa inspires these thoughts, and heaven knows what an extension of that thinking would produce if it were expanded to humankind. Imagine, functionally planning and organizing our lives with the express purpose of maximizing the potential of all within the bounds of necessity. That is a dream.


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2160 Hoffa Mill Road, Lewisburg, PA 17837 

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