Cat Therapy In The Park
I packed up Kali-Ma in her new pet safe booster seat and decided to take her to a park I came across today for a stroll. I thought I was going to get some fresh air and provide myself some relaxation after a stressful day. As it turns out, Cat Therapy isn’t just for nursing homes. Kali-Ma and I met several people along the way. It seems Kali-Ma makes a connection everywhere she goes, and there was Cat Therapy in the park today.
Kali-Ma And The Ducks
It was the perfect 80-degree day with puffy clouds in the sky and a gentle breeze blowing on my face. The Clinton River quietly flowed through the park as people peacefully enjoyed the surroundings. I took a few long deep breaths in pure appreciation of the serenity while Kali-Ma nestled in her stroller. I let her rest while I turned to face the river enjoying the view.
As I turned back around I saw that ducks were waddling towards her stroller. They were coming from the grass, the water….everywhere. Kali-Ma seemed completed undisturbed. She glanced at them through the screen in her stroller and she peacefully laid back down. It was only when I approached them to take a photo that the ducks scattered. I couldn’t help but wonder what unspoken language they were speaking in the silence to each other.
The Woman In The Wheelchair
We continued to walk along and I came across three people at a picnic table. Two were seniors and beside the table was an elderly woman in a wheelchair. They were sitting near the river and appeared to be finishing their lunch.
The woman sitting at the table glanced over and said to me “Oh, I thought you had a dog in that stroller”. I wheeled Kali-Ma’s stroller up to the woman in the wheelchair and asked her if she wanted to pet Kali-Ma. I explained that we were a registered animal therapy team and showed her Kali-Ma’s tag on the front of the stroller.
The man said, “She is more of a dog person”. I said, “Oh, that’s ok”. And as we were getting ready to go the woman in the wheelchair reached her hand into the stroller and touched Kali-Ma. Her face lit up, just like the patients at the nursing home do and she said, “she is so soft and so nice”. We talked about Kali-Ma and she continued to pet her for a few moments. All the while smiling that familiar smile.
As we turned to leave the woman sitting at the table said “Thank you. That was very nice of you.” I replied, “It was nothing. It is what we do”.
The Happy Meal
We then came across a grandmother and her granddaughter sitting at a picnic table eating a MacDonald’s Happy Meal. Just the sight of it took me back to when my mom used to buy me a Happy Meal and take me to the park as a child. Kali-Ma and I sat down at the table adjoining them. The grandmother asked me about Kali-Ma and we began to chat.
The grandmother told me how special the park was to her, and how she had been coming to it since 1968. She said she use to drive to it after work and take long walks. She brought her children there and now her grandchildren. It was a very special place to her.
I took Kali-Ma out of her stroller and she sat on my lap listening to the woman share the memories of her life. We then talked about how technology was changing the world. She didn’t know how she felt about a world in which it wasn’t likely that her granddaughter would be taking drivers training. She shared her experience, her wisdom, and her journey. Kali-Ma sat quietly, not moving as if we were in the presence of something much greater than ourselves. In a way, I believe we were.
It was time for us both to continue on our way. She thanked us for stopping by and told us to enjoy the park. I thanked her for sharing her time with us. Kali-Ma was getting tired and we headed to the car, but not before one last stop.
As Kali-Ma and I were near the park exit a woman approached us with a small, adorable, little girl. We began to talk, and the woman told me that she was the girls’ grandmother. She said that the little girl was visiting her from California. She was absolutely precious and her name was “Aida”.
The grandmother shared how Aida had a dog, but desperately wanted a kitty and for whatever reason could not have one at this time. She asked if Aida could pet Kali-Ma. Aida touched Kali-Ma and immediately her face lit up. She was so cute that I asked if I could take her picture with Kali-Ma and she posed like a little model.
She then asked, “can we take the kitty home with us?”. Never have I been so touched. I explained that the kitty had to come home with me and she seemed to understand. Wherever Aida is tonight I certainly hope that one day she gets her kitty. She is a precious little girl.
I never know now what a stroll in the park, a walk in the market, or any public time out together with Kali-Ma will bring. I had completely different intentions for my time with her today, but as life would have it all things worked out even better than I could have planned.
I am still learning that Cat Therapy is a lifestyle for us. It’s not just on weekends, or at the nursing home. It is wherever we are needed and whomever we come across that needs us. It is who we are and what we do, and I couldn’t be happier. As for Kali-Ma …..I do believe she has been leading this journey since the start.
If you are interested in training your cat to become a Therapy Cat please read a blog I wrote on how to begin here Cat Therapy Training. It just may change your life too.
Happy Tails to you until next time……