Sample Saturday: “Hugs and Hisses”

Guinness World Record-holding surf dog Abbie passed away today. Abbie was adopted from Humane Society Silicon Valley, where I have been volunteering in one capacity or another for a little more than a decade. Today’s sample is in Abbie’s honor. Purchase links are below; all proceeds benefit HSSV. Thank you for reading.

In 2010, I started a journey about my life purpose work; I even wrote a book about it. I was fortunate to have life coaches around me whose tools I could use, and I looked seriously at what gave my life the most meaning.

All of the resources I used told me that we, every one of us, knows deep down what constitutes our purpose. However, many of us bury it because of discouragement from those around us or circumstances that we see as beyond our control.

When I started doing this work, it all came back to the top.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I read James Herriott’s All Creatures … novels incessantly; he chronicled his own adventures as a Yorkshire vet in those pages. My clinic would be called Hillcrest, and I would help animals.

What I didn’t know until I was an adult was that I suffered from dyscalculia: similar to dyslexia, but involving numbers. If I could see how something worked, as was the case with geometry, I could do it. Algebra and trigonometry were beyond me and, thus, so was veterinary school. I learned to type so that I could get a good job. College went on the back burner; I went back as an adult and often joke that I may finish my anthropology degree by the time I’m ninety.

Anyway, I’ve had pets whenever I could, ranging from fish and birds to cats and dogs (with aspirations toward a goat and a horse). The animals in my life were generally my best friends.

I volunteered with the SPCA in my city as an adoption counselor in the early 1990s, but when I moved away during my divorce I couldn’t work out the logistics.

I volunteered at the Josephine D. Randall Museum in San Francisco during that time as well, teaching inner city kids about the rehabilitated wildlife in the Animal Room.

I wrote articles for local animal magazines.

But that was a long time ago.

When I took Lulu for her last kitten shot, I saw Humane Society Silicon Valley for the first time. It was, and is, one of the nicest facilities I’ve ever seen. Everyone was smiling and nice, especially the young man dressed as Santa.

“Oh! A kitty,” he cooed as he held Lulu for her photo; it was the annual craft fair, unbeknownst to me when I made the appointment. Lulu was one tiny kitten among many dogs waiting to have their photos taken with “Santa Paws.”

I had been trying to find meaning from many things, including volunteering as a museum docent, doing social justice work, my writing, and returning to church with a progressive congregation.

However, the life purpose work that I did always brought me back to animals. I thought about how I had socialized our grumpy little Gigi and our shy calico, Abigail, and realized that I had something to offer the homeless cats at Lulu’s alma mater. My life purpose work did not have to be what I did to earn a living.

Want your own copy of Hugs and Hisses? Back cover copy and purchase links are below.

Award-winning author, animal communicator, and Reiki practitioner Sharon E. Cathcart shares tales from her humane education work in this new memoir. Sharing stories of both happiness and heartbreak, Cathcart brings us into the challenging world of animal rescue. All proceeds from the book will benefit Humane Society Silicon Valley.

AbeBooks; Alibris; Amazon (geo-targeted link); Angus & Robertson (Australia); Apple Books; Barnes & Noble; Better World Books; Blackwell’sBOL (Netherlands and Sweden); Bokus (Sweden); Book Depository; Bookshop; Booktopia (Australia); Chapters Indigo (Canada); Dymocks (Australia); Exclusive Books (South Africa); Fnac (France); IndieBoundKobobooks (also available for 2400 SuperPoints); La Feltrinelli (Italy); Librerías Gandhi (Mexico); Love’s Sweet Arrow; Mondadori (Italy); Porrúa (Mexico); Rakuten Japan; Scribd; Smashwords; The Ripped Bodice


3 thoughts on “Sample Saturday: “Hugs and Hisses”

  1. I’m glad someone else mentions dyscalculia. I had a dickens of a time with math on paper. But later,working as a cashier I found it easy. I could add tax and such in my head. I still get math on paper wrong(ever get your taxes back corrected?:) I use a calculator or double check my math. Interestingly enough my brother has dyslexia.


    1. If I can see it, I can do it … making change makes sense. Algebra just hurt my brain. A few years ago I had an aha! moment about algebra and said “If only they’d taught me that way …” Of course, a teacher with 30 kids in the room is going to teach only one way, and those who can’t learn that way are hosed.

      It’s always nice to know you aren’t alone. If it weren’t for calculators, Excel, and Turbotax, I’d be in trouble. 😉


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