by Lee Juslin
One day Brianne saw an ad for a pet that was about to be listed on Craig’s List. Brianne knew this was not good. She inquired and soon Rhiannon Rukkaus came to live with her. Brianne uses Rhiannon (re-an-non) for her call name but says Rukkaus means love in Finnish.
From the beginning it was clear that Rhiannon was special. She sensed when Brianne was feeling down and would stay by her side. In one bad incident, Brianne was considering cutting herself when Rhiannon jumped into her lap and knocked away a nearby knife.
Brianne was able to teach Rhiannon basic commands like come, sit, and occasionally fetch. Rhiannon had become the therapy pet that Brianne needed.
In addition, to making sure Brianne was well, Rhiannon became a protector and guard. When a recent earthquake hit Brianne’s area and caused her home to shake, she was unable to get out of bed. Rhiannon climbed on top of Brianne, as if to hold her down, and stayed with her until the shaking had passed.
On another occasion, Brianne and Rhiannon were sitting outside. Because Rhiannon is obedient and takes her job seriously, she never needs a leash. Then, suddenly, a deer appeared in the yard. Rhiannon jumped up, hackles raised, and chased the deer off. Many of us think of deer as mostly nonthreatening, but Rhiannon was not taking any chances.
Most of these characteristics, from knowing commands to protecting their humans, are not unusual for dogs especially for therapy and service dogs who are trained to serve humans. However, Rhiannon is a cat; a beautiful black mini panther. Now, who says you can’t train cats!
Rhiannon, however, is not all work. She knows when she hears Brianne singing, it is a time to play. Her favorite toy is a dried out pepper. It’s an unusual toy but, then, Rhiannon is an unusual cat.
Adopted as a kitten, Rhiannon is now three years old. Brianne and Rhiannon work with an organization called Brain Aid that helps people with problems similar to Brianne’s, and the charity has helped give Brianne focus in her life. Rhiannon is one of their mascots. Brianne helps the organization plan fund raising concerts and other events. Rhiannon, of course, is right by her side helping in her own, unique way.
Remember, never list an animal on Craig’s List and never hand a pet over to a stranger. Find a rescue that can help when you need to rehome your pet.
If you would like to learn more about Brain Aid and their festival on World Mental Health Day (10/10/20), visit their website, Facebook page, or see them on Instagram.