Sparky, the Vivacious Mascot of a Michigan Shelter, Is Adopted by an English Couple and Flown to His New Home Outside London
"He took me here on the other side of the Atlantic. I thought they would say 'you guys are completely mad'."
-- Rose Rasmussen
Although Old Blighty, like everywhere else, certainly has its fair share of ailurophobes, that does not alter the salient fact that the English are some of the world's most ardent champions of the feline species. It is, after all, impossible to ever forget Hector Munro's Tobermory and Dick Whittington's nameless cat still lives on in folklore centuries after his death.
At 17 Gough Square in London, a bronze statue of Dr. Samuel Johnson's cat, Hodge, adorns the courtyard in which he used to play and hunt. Tourists leave tins of wet food and scatter kibble into replicas of the oysters that Johnson used to feed him.
There was widespread sorrow a few years back when John Major's former resident feline, Humphrey, finally succumbed to the inevitability of old age. (See Cat Defender post of April 6, 2006 entitled "Humphrey, the Cat from 10 Downing Street Who Once 'Read' His Own Obituary, Passes Away at 18.")
It therefore is not anything out of the ordinary whenever the English go to great lengths for the sake of a cat. That point was made explicit once again earlier this month when Rose and Chris Rasmussen journeyed from their home in suburban London to tiny Harrison, Michigan, forty-seven kilometers outside of Mount Pleasant, in order to adopt a vivacious nine-month-old moggy named Sparky that they had seen profiled on Petfinder. (See photos above and below of them with Sparky.)
"He took me here on the other side of the Atlantic," Rose told The Morning Sun of Mount Pleasant on May 13th. (See "Purr-fect Cat Sparks Four-Thousand-Mile Trip.") "I thought they would say 'you guys are completely mad'."
Actually, that turned out not to be the case. In fact, officials at the Clare County Animal Shelter, where Sparky had hung his hat since last August, were not even surprised that the charismatic tuxedo with the sparkling green eyes had piqued the Rasmussens' interest.
"A lot of people would ask, 'Why come from England'?" Clare County Animal Control Director Dave Gendregske acknowledged to The Morning Sun in the article cited supra. "When people meet Sparky, find he has a dynamic personality, they fall in love with him."
The Rasmussens also were taking quite a chance by traveling so far in order to adopt a cat they knew only from the web. "There's no turning back," Chris freely acknowledged. "You have to take a chance."
Before the couple was able to take Sparky home with them they had to fill out a mountain of paperwork and the red tape was not any picnic for Sparky either. He had to be microchipped, vaccinated for rabies, subjected to a blood test, and checked out by a veterinarian. He most likely also was sterilized.
The Rasmussens left Harrison with Sparky in tow sometime during mid-May on a trans-Atlantic flight to London. Upon arrival, he will be required to serve six-months in quarantine before he will be allowed to join them and their resident feline, Leo, at home. They will be able to visit him during the interim, however.
It is not exactly clear from the account given in The Morning Sun why the Rasmussens had their hearts so set upon adopting a tuxedo cat but it must have been that Sparky reminded them of a black and white moggy that they previously had owned. Otherwise it would have been much simpler for them to have adopted a cat closer to home.
Far from being the type of cat that sits around twiddling his toes, Sparky undoubtedly will find plenty to keep himself busy at the Rasmussens. While he was at the shelter, for instance, he not only served as its mascot but the staff used him in order to test the temperament of dogs awaiting adoption to get along with cats.
He additionally provided the staff and volunteers with loads of free entertainment. "Sparky likes to explore," volunteer Betty Beadle told The Morning Sun. "He destroyed Christmas trees twice."
That petit fait alone should make the yuletide season an adventure for the Rasmussens!
With his long-distance adoption, Sparky thus became the second American cat in recent memory to have been adopted by the cousins from across the pond. Last August, par exemple, Sue Watts of Birmingham saved the life of a beautiful green-eyed, black and white cat named Tinkerbelle that was on death row. (See photo above.)
Watts, who had traveled to Davenport, Florida, last July in order to attend the wedding of a niece, accidentally met the stray shortly after her arrival and began taking care of her. Once her vacation time was over, she committed the near-fatal mistake of handing over Tinkerbelle to the notorious cat killers at the Lakeland SPCA. (See Cat Defender post of May 11, 2006 entitled "Mass Murderers at SPCA Are Operating an Auschwitz for Cats and Dogs in Lakeland, Florida.")
Once back in Birmingham, her conscience got the better of her and she negotiated by telephone a last-minute reprieve for Tinkerbelle and had her shipped to England. The cat had to spend the mandatory six months in quarantine but if all went as according to plan she should have been home with Watts several months ago.
"This cat struck up a relationship while we were there and we fell in love with it. So, it's the cat that we want to provide a home for," Watts explained at the time of the adoption. (See Cat Defender post of September 4, 2008 entitled "Tinkerbelle Is Freed from Death Row and Flown to Safety in England Capping Off a Storybook Ending to Her Travails in Florida.")
Photos: Ryan Evon of The Morning Sun (Sparky with the Rasmussens) and Fox-13 of Tampa (Tinkerbelle).