Library Home > Erma Bombeck Writing Competition > Winning Entries
Itís Monday. I steal a breath of fresh air from the crisp January morning before I step through the doors at work, where I am greeted by the dissonance of barking dogs and the unpleasant odor of litter boxes in the process of being cleaned. I riffle through my stack of things to do today and see that a kitten was found in a cardboard box next to the sign that reads ďDonít dump animals. Itís illegal.Ē I head over to the cat holding room to take a look. A barely legible note is taped to the kennel door. ďHelp me Iím very sweet but no body wants me because one of my leg r deformedĒ The note is punctuated by a frowny face.I scoop up the kitten and take her back to the vet clinic, a windowless shoe-box in the heart of the shelter, for an exam. I suspect the kitten has a dislocated hip. How long has the leg been this way? I am losing my faith in humanity, and I havenít finished my second cup of coffee yet. Her eyes are crusty, dried snot has collected around her nose, and copious fleas run along her skin. Nothing new there. I finish my work-up by applying some flea medication and syringing some yellow deworming paste into her mouth. She starts to salivate and shakes her head in attempt to spit it out. The mixture of yellow paste and saliva slings into my hair. Then, in a last ditch effort to survive, a flea sails off of the kittenís fur. I squash it with my thumb nail on the steel exam table. I went to college for 8 years to do this. I think back to vet school, where I dreamed of a future full of generous clients that would pour praises on me for saving their precious animals. This isnít about me, though. The most meaningful pursuits in life are never about ourselves.The grungy-looking kitten stares up at me with deep, stormy gray eyes, and I know that I am giving her a fighting chance at a better life. That is all any of us wants for ourselves, for each other, and even for our animals. I understand the motivation of the kitten-dumper a little more clearly, and a wave of compassion washes over me. Right now I could not be surer that I am doing what I am meant to do.