Tails of Help success story: Mr Hercules*

* (some names have been changed to protect privacy)

“You need some sort of hope and inspiration. And that’s exactly what you gave back to me that day. And every day.”

Everyone has good days and bad days. For Janice, however, the bad days seemed to be outnumbering the good ones. She had fallen ill, was unable to work, and had to give up her pets after a rough breakup. She wanted a companion, but wasn’t sure if it was the right time for her. She asked for a sign.

“I kind of sent out that little prayer and let it be,” recalls Janice, thinking little would come of it at the time. However, just a short while later, as she was filling up at the pump one day she picked up some littered newspaper to throw it in the garbage. There, right in front of her, was her sign: “on the page that [the newspaper] was open to there was this big ad that said ‘Angels Adoptions Kittens – Kittens for Adoption’.”

After a few wrong turns, she made her way to the small trailer filled to the brim with kittens and cats needing a home. But one in particular stood out to Janice: Mr. Hercules.

Mr Hercules relaxing

“I had gotten up to go to the bathroom while I was kind of looking at all the cats,” says Janice. “I came back out of the bathroom and [Hercules] was sitting on one of the chairs down the hallway and [the trailer owner] said: ‘He just watched every move you made and stared at that bathroom door the whole time you were in there’.” Janice knew then and there that this was the cat for her.

When she got him home, however, she realized he was a bit more like a dog than a cat. For instance, she says, he listens attentively like a dog, he loves tummy rubs. He is also somewhat lacking that graceful agility of a cat – he needs a running start to jump up onto the kitchen chairs and sometimes doesn’t even make it!

“He has this thing when he purrs,” she adds. “He gets really happy and he starts to purr, he actually starts to drool… It’s worse than dog drool. This cat drools like a dog when he’s happy. It just pours out of him. It’s hilarious!”

Recently, however, Mr. Hercules’ demeanor changed. At first, Janice thought he might be taking on her symptoms, as they shared such a close connection. When he manifested his own symptoms – he lost bladder control and would cry and cry when he went to the bathroom – Janice was beside herself. She didn’t know where to turn.

Pets provide vital companionship for people who cannot work, but when medical emergencies arise, they often cannot even afford to get their animal examined. Janice knew there could be a significant expense to determine what might be causing Mr. Hercules’ pain.

She did what many desperate pet owners do in this case – she turned to the humane society.

“I called the humane society to see if I could surrender him and they would fix him and I could adopt him back,” says Janice. The woman explained that unfortunately the humane society could not provide the free care, but referred Janice to an Alberta-wide organization and directed her to the Tails of Help website.

After looking through the website and realizing that her AISH recipient status qualified her for the program, Janice contacted a participating veterinarian. “The woman at the vet’s office had called back and she said ‘We can look at him. We can help you!’ I got off the phone with her and I just, I hit my knees. I fell to the floor and I just said ‘Thank you!’ Thank you God. Thank you everybody that’s made this possible.”

Janice had thought that giving up her cat was her last hope at saving him. Many pet owners who cannot afford essential care end up surrendering their animals in hopes that someone else might be able to step in. Tails of Help is a registered Alberta charity working to help owners with sick or injured pets and keep them with their families.

The process is remarkably easy for owners, notes Janice. ” I was so grateful that I didn’t have to fill out a whole bunch of forms and submit a bunch of papers… and then on the other hand I felt guilty because I felt like the vet had to do all the work and I was creating a bunch of extra work for the vet.”

The vet assured her that this was not an issue, and submitted the paperwork to Tails of Help for funding. Mr. Hercules was diagnosed with diabetes and is now on insulin. His blood sugar is back to normal, he no longer cries when he goes to the bathroom and, best of all for an owner to see, he’s running and playing again! “He’s got this tunnel thing he runs through,” laughs Janice. “Now he’s playing in his tunnel again.”

Mr Hercules playing in his tunnel

Getting better can be contagious, too. Mr. Hercules may not be able to cure his owner, but he certainly does inspire her. “I was reading a book about healing and the book had said ‘you’ve got to have inspiration and you have to have hope in your life or you’re never going to get better.’ You need some sort of hope and inspiration. And that’s exactly what you gave back to me that day. And every day.”

Janice is thankful to have her family member back, and is even more acutely aware now that sometimes just one thing, just one action, can make a complete difference in someone’s life.

“Some days are okay and bad days are not good and I get sad or whatever and it was one of those days where I was having problems,” says Janice. “And he was having problems and then something finally went right.”

To find out more about Tails of Help and how you can support our cause by volunteering or donating, please visit:   www.tailsofhelp.ca/give 

UPDATE: Since this article was written, Janice has contacted us to provide new information about Mr Hercules' condition after being diagnosed and treated for diabetes.

"He is good now, he doesn't need insulin, thank God... He was on insulin for quite awhile, but (we're past) that with a food change and everything seems to be well now... "

"Thank you again Tails of Help, not just for all you've done for us, but for the reminder that somehow love is enough and that angels guide, support and protect."