2006-02-23 / News

By Barbara Szepatowski

Last Friday, a wonderful Jamestown friend moved to heaven. Mrs. Edna Hill Schultz was the first U.S. Marine Corp nurse to serve in combat.

Her fascinating life was featured in 2003 in an article in the Jamestown Press.

A celebration of her life will be held Monday, Feb. 27, at 11a.m. at the O’Neill-Hayes Funeral Home on Spring Street in Newport.

We met Edna a few years ago, after she took in “Joe Lewis.” Joe was a huge, old, black, doublepawed, “scrapper” cat, who roamed around Pemberton Apartments looking for a meal and a fight, or a fight and a meal, which ever came first. He really didn’t belong to anyone, but after Mr. Kaiser died, there was no one to care for Joe. So Edna took him in and introduced herself to us through the Senior Citizen’s Pet Fund.

Joe wasn’t thrilled to meet us or for that matter to visit with us. There wasn’t a time when we took him to the vets that he didn’t leave his pet carrier a tad bit wet, just to show us what he thought of our visits.

In the beginning, Dr. Randy Wirth neutered Joe, gave him his vaccines, and told Edna he was about 8 or 9 years old. Sadly, he also discovered that Joe had feline AIDS, which meant that his immune system was in poor condition. As a result, Joe was often at the animal clinic for his skin allergies. And although Joe never grew fond of us (as could be seen by his wet cat carrier), we loved Edna from the first day we met her. On the way back form the vets, we always brought her a little dessert from “Slice”, so we could visit and hear her stories.

In mid-December of 2005, Edna went into the hospital for surgery. She entrusted “Joe” to us with the understanding that we would care for him until she returned home. On Tuesday, Jan. 3, we found Joe in the middle of having a stroke. We rushed him to Dr. Jack Civic who stabilized him and sent us over to Dr. Wirth at the Newport Animal Hospital. For two days, Dr. Wirth and the Animal Hospital staff worked diligently to save Joe’s life. Vet Tech Melissa Shuhy even took him home at night to care for him. By Thursday, Jan. 5, it became apparent that while Joe’s body was still with us, his soul had left.

So Joe was put to sleep. Not knowing how we were going to tell Edna, we had Joe cremated.

But wait, this is not sad. For Tuesday evening, Jan. 3, there sitting on my front porch was a big, black cat, with oversized, double front paws. Now understand, cats never, ever, come to visit.

Frankly, with three, friendly but massive-sized pit bulls, no one comes to visit. So, I was quite shocked to come home and find this huge, friendly, male cat rubbing up against me and meowing. Thinking nothing of it, I petted him for a while, went inside, and shut the door.

Wednesday night the same scene awaited me. When I asked the neighbors if anyone knew who he belonged to, they all said no, he had just appeared in the past few days. Thursday night, when I came home and found him for the third day waiting on my porch, I became a believer. Joe was back. So, I wrapped him up in a blanket and took him to the store. During the next month, no one called for him or answered the ads. So I kept him, waiting for Edna to return home.

Edna never knew of any of this. No one wanted to upset her by telling her that her beloved Joe had passed on. And at the same time, we certainly couldn’t figure a way to tell her that Joe had returned.

So, Edna will be buried with the ashes of her wonderful cat Joe Lewis. Meanwhile “Joe2” sits and waits at the store for another “Edna” to come along and give him a home. If you are a believer, Joe2, will make a wonderful new friend.

We are happy to report that in the past week the cat rescue groups in Rhode Island have come together to support a mandatory statewide cat spay/neuter bill. The sticking points were the belief by some of the need for low-cost spay/neuter clinics before implementing this type of legislation.

Other members of the rescue groups did not want fines levied against those who continued to allow their cats to breed for no purpose. Thankfully, the fines remain and the groups will work together this year to implement additional low-cost spay/neuter programs. This important piece of legislation needs to be passed. Please contact either state Senator Theresa Paiva-Weed or Representative Bruce Long to voice your support for this bill. “Defenders of Animals,” “PawsWatch,” and the RISPCA all deserve a big thank-you for working on this difficult issue.

In Shelter news, our construction project is at a standstill as we wait for the roofers to finish a job in Newport. If anyone has any roofing suggestions, we would be pleased to listen, for we fear losing momentum.

We are also still looking for pledges of Sheetrock supplies for the interior. Hopefully, by next week we will be able to report that the project is back on track April is dog licensing month. Rhode Island law requires a current rabies certificate to license a dog.

Both Jamestown and North Kingstown will hold their annual “Rabies Clinic” for cats, dogs, and ferrets on Saturday, April 1. Times and places will be provided as the information becomes available. Jamestown’s clinic is usually held at the fire station on Narragansett Avenue, and North Kingstown’s clinic is at the dog pound on Hamilton Allen Road.

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