As she prepares for the 7th Annual GTHS Walkathon, Monika Merz, Chair of the Georgian Triangle Humane Society’s Walkathon Committee, reflects on her why: Why does she choose to volunteer her time and spend countless hours organizing such a large-scale event? Why does a woman who has had a remarkably successful business career have the desire to support a charity organization like the GTHS? Here’s the answer:
“My parents have always had pets – both cats and dogs – and all were rescue animals. Some found their way to my parents’ doorstep and were taken in. Friends gave others to mom and dad. It didn’t matter how a pet found their way to my parents . . . they were all loved.
When my dad was 90 years old, their cat and dog had both died. Even though both my parents loved pets, my father did not want to get another one. His age worried him. What would happen when he passed? Who would look after their pet?
My mother missed having a cat and came home one day with a black kitten. She was at a local farmer’s market and couldn’t resist. My father was not happy, especially as the kitten was black. Perhaps he had some superstitions that we didn’t know about. However, the new kitten immediately jumped on my father’s favourite chair, purred and took command of the household. They named him Lou Lou or Louie for short.
Louie and my father were inseparable. The cat would sleep on the top of my father’s chair while my father read. Louie greeted all visitors at the door and was loved by the entire family and friends. He knew who I was and waited at the door for me when my mother told him that “Monika” was coming.
My dad died shortly after his 100th birthday. Together, Louie and my mother grieved over the loss of my dad and became even closer. Louie became my mother’s comfort and was showered with even more love. My mother was 87 at the time and when she needed to move to a retirement home she would not leave without Louie. We were lucky and found one that allowed pets.
When my mother’s health deteriorated and she had to be hospitalized, my husband and I adopted Louie. I had promised my father and mother that Louie would always be welcome in our home.
Even though we already had a cat, Louie came into our lives and settled into our household. He took command of one of the chairs facing the fireplace despite protests from our beloved cat Tora-chan. Louie was a gentle soul and tried to get along.
Louie was with us just under a year. On his last night, we all watched the Academy awards. I gave Louie his nightly allotment of kibble. As usual, I was rewarded with a big purr and we had a nice “talk”. Louie died in the night of a heart attack. We were devastated, as he had become part of our lives. But I’m sure he is now with my parents who were waiting for him.
Louie gave my parents so much love. They delighted in all his antics and loved telling “Louie” stories. My mother claimed that Louie gave my father a reason to live.
My parents were lucky that they had family who gave their beloved pet another home. Sometimes the shelter gets a cat that is older and has been surrendered. I always think that this must be so traumatic for an animal that has had a comfortable home and love. And it must also be traumatic for the pet owner who, for some reason, cannot look after their pet anymore. I remember how my father worried about what would happen to Louie.
It is indeed fortunate that at least there is a loving place at the GTHS where perhaps these older cats can have another chance at a home and love.
This is why I walk.”
Fulfill your “why” by registering for the GTHS Walkathon taking place on September 22nd