On June 16, some boys in a rough part of West Oakland were spotted throwing rocks at two little homeless kittens.
Fortunately, the person who spotted them -- and saved the kittens -- was Ronald Spann, a volunteer with Island Cat Resources and Adoption, which rescues homeless felines in Alameda and Oakland.
If the cats are too old to change their ways, they are vaccinated, spayed or neutered and returned to their colonies, where they live out their lives under the eyes of ICRA volunteers.
But most homeless kittens, like these two, make great pets, so they are placed in new homes after being socialized first.
ICRA doesn't have a shelter, which is its greatest asset. It means every kitten is placed in a foster home, where it's loved and snuggled until it learns to trust people and become the happy, playful kitty it was always meant to be.
Some ICRA foster families have kids, so kittens fostered with them do well when placed in homes with children. Others have adult cats, so kitties fostered there do great in homes that already have resident felines. Still other homes have dogs, so kittens fostered there tend to be dog-friendly.
That's what happened to these two kittens. After being rescued by Spann, they were fostered by Jody McKevitt, of Alameda, and her Rottweiler, Keeper.
It's impossible to overstate Keeper's devotion to her little girls. Every night she'd insist on sleeping underneath their kitty condo, and
Under her guidance, the kittens blossomed into mischievous little love bugs.
Unfortunately, Keeper was dying of cancer. As she got weaker and weaker, she slowly lost interest in her favorite pastimes, such as going for walks or even eating. But whenever she heard the kittens crying her head would perk up, and she'd do her best to comfort them.
Keeper died on July 17. She was humanely euthanized near her beloved kittens.
After her death they went to another ICRA foster mom, Gail Churchill, whose golden retriever, Rosie, took up where Keeper left off.
When she was in a calm mood she let them climb all over her and play with her feet. When she was feeling playful, she'd gently roll them across the floor with her nose. If they started nipping at her paws, she'd glance up at Churchill with a look that said, "Mommy, help!" But she still let them do it.
Finally, last weekend the kittens were ready to be adopted.
And the person who adopted them was me.
Because they were born around the time I was attending my college reunion in New Haven, Conn., I decided to name them Pepe and Sally, after the two iconic pizza parlors in downtown New Haven -- Pepe's and Sally's -- where I misspent so many of my college days.
As I write this, the pizza girls are happily chasing each other around the bedroom. They are incredibly cute and incredibly sweet, and I owe it all to Spann, McKevitt, Churchill, Rosie and, of course, Keeper.
If you'd like to adopt an ICRA cat, or if you'd like to volunteer or donate to their lifesaving work, visit www.icraeastbay.org.
Tell 'em Keeper sent you.
Reach Martin Snapp at firstname.lastname@example.org.