by Lee Juslin
My name is Jacoby Koh or Jake to my friends and clients. I am a certified therapy cat, but not just any therapy cat, because, while there are many good therapy cats out there, I’m at the top of the therapy game.
Usually my human and I make regular visits to patients at Tufts Medical Center, but on this particular day we were told no visits because the city is on lockdown. Huh? Must be big to stop my work. My curiosity was aroused, and you know what they say about curiosity and cats.
Later, we got an email from our friends at Tufts telling us to report for duty at a place called the Boston Sheraton. There was to be an event sponsored by the Boston Athletic Association to benefit the first responders and folks who had been at the finish line or in the medical tent at the marathon when the bombs went off. Soon I was in my Pet Partners uniform, my custom carriage standing at the ready, and we were off. Little did I know that this would be the toughest assignment yet of my stellar career.
When we arrived, the first thing I noticed was a number of other therapy teams on hand. Whoa, this was big! And, speaking of whoa, there was my therapy associate, Lily, she of the equine persuasion. We had little time for small talk. Duty called.
As we went into the hotel lobby, I was immediately struck by a sense of almost overwhelming sadness mixed with a bit of fear but also determination, blanketing the entire area. I sat up straight and tall in my carriage, my chocolate coat gleaming, my gorgeous green eyes darting here and there to take in the entire scene. I knew right away I would need my A game.
People, who seemed quiet, even a bit lost, began to mingle with us professionals. I had my purr cranked all the way up to high, and I head butted and rubbed against folks as eagerly as I could hoping to change sad faces to happy smiles. I am, if I do say so myself, especially good at doing just that.
Those people who came over to meet me were all class acts. They were cat people, and some shared photos of their own cats with us. Between my human talking to them and my comforting purrs, we made quite a team. First, we talked to a nurse who had been in the medical tent and had seen some awful sights. She showed us photos of her cat, Fred. Then, we talked to a military woman, also a cat person, who really enjoyed stroking me. But, who wouldn’t given my beautiful, soft coat. Did I mention these people were all very discerning types?We worked the crowd for about two hours, and I definitely felt that blanket of sadness lifting when we were through. On the way home, we visited the memorial shrine where my human left a photo of me. In fact, there were a number of shrines at many of the nearby intersections with crowds of people visiting them and leaving personal messages. This had been quite a day.
The one thing I still don’t understand is that you humans have declared yourselves the highest, most evolved species. That opposable thumbs thing and all. Yet, you are the only species capable of committing acts of mindless atrocity against one another. The only species that can produce pure evil. Perhaps you are not as evolved as you think you are.
“Cats look beyond appearances–beyond species entirely, it seems–to peer into the heart.”
–Barbara L. Diamond
Jacoby (Jake) Koh with Lee Juslin and Coco Koh
If you would like to follow Jake’s adventures, check out the daily Abyssinian blog: Aby A Day.