Mary Johnson meets Izzy for the first time. (Photo: Theba Lolley, THV 11)
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - He has touched the hearts of everyone at THV 11, and so far, everyone else he's met since his rescue three weeks ago on Izard St. in downtown Little Rock.
• Photo Gallery: THV 11 staffers, Help 4 Paws work to rescue Izard the cat
Appropriately named Izard (Izzy, for short), he had the chance to learn some vital social skills at his foster mom's house. He learned what it's like to lounge in the sunlight of a screened-in window, how to play with some really fun toys, and even how to get along with other cats.
• THV 11 visits Izard the cat for an update on his condition
• Photo Gallery: Izard the cat enjoying life after rescue in foster home
Saturday, March 23, Izzy met a special person who has taken him to his forever home. She is Mary Johnson, and alongside her husband, Rick, she intends to give him all the love he can handle.
Here's Mary's story, in her own words:
I first met [THV 11] in February 2008 after an F-4 tornado destroyed our family farm in Clinton. We had three family houses next door to each other that were blown away and my mother was killed.
In that tremendous loss, I also lost two beloved cats that were rescue animals. One was a grey tiger named Smokey Joe, and his best pal, Black Jack. They were inseparable. They would play, curl up together, snooze, and fight. They were buddies.
Losing my animals was the second most devastating loss next to my mother. Houses, cars, and belongings can be replaced, but the love of an animal leaves a gaping hole in my heart, as they too are family.
I never gave up on finding them as many people encouraged me to continue looking and calling their names. Many offered stories of encouragement about animals returning home after a long duration. I'd spend hours walking the property calling for them, knocking on neighbors' doors, making calls, and checking the local animal shelter.
Two weeks later on a cold and snowy night, the Lord spoke to me and told me to go to the farm with the flashlight. I drove there with a flashlight in hand, as the power was still off from the tornado, and there were no streetlights. I was dressed in my pajamas and house slippers. My husband thought I had lost it, but I knew there was a reason!
It was pitch-black as I pulled into the driveway. My headlights caught a pair of eyes darting across the road. I stopped, jumped out of the vehicle, and started calling out names. Black Jack ran to me, leaped into my arms, skinny and scared. I was thrilled!
I placed him in the vehicle, and he rode in my arms, purring and snuggling my hair as if to say, "Thank you for finding me!" To this day, Black Jack loves to ride in vehicles.
I never found Smokey Joe. I spent weeks, months, and years, still hoping that somehow, someway, Smokey Joe would come home. My heart hurt as I imaged his fate. Did he survive the tornado and end up in another town? Did someone find him and offer him a warm, loving home? Was he injured and wandering around lost, or was he killed that night? I resolved that I would never know. Black Jack is now 7-years-old and has an innate ability to predict stormy weather.
I had closed my heart to adopting as the loss hurt so much. That was until I saw Joey the Garden Cat's story about Izzy. My heart leaped! Here was an animal that was found wandering the streets, injured, hungry, and alone.
I didn't hesitate to tell Joey's momma/agent Theba Lolley that I wanted Izzy. I could open my heart once again to this animal and offer my home and heart to an animal that needs love!
I want to give Izzy what I hoped Smokey Joe might have received if he survived the tornado. Theba warned me that Izzy is a special-needs animal with his crippled back leg, but little does she realize that Izzy offers me far more than his requirements in care, a chance to open my heart to one that deserves a happy, loving life. We'll make great companions!
Dr. Terry Dew in Russellville, Joey's cancer doctor, has agreed to look at Izzy's initial leg x-rays to evaluate his injury, but just from observance, even though he doesn't put much weight on it, it doesn't seem to bother him much.
THV 11 staffers are so excited to see Izzy's transition from a cat on the streets to one enjoying his forever home.