Eighteen pound, eight year old orange cat, Garfield, had a pretty good life until his owner recently passed away. Fortunately for him, the Humane Society/SPCA of Sumter County, a no-kill shelter, became his temporary residence until he could find his new home. And then a miracle began to take shape.
Terry Shertzer moved from North Carolina to an independent living complex in The Villages two years ago at the age of 97, with her beloved Beagle, Cody. As things happen, her dear Cody passed away in January 2019. Terry was overcome with grief for her special little guy.
Enter Terry’s daughter-in-law, Ellen, who understood Terry’s sadness, and who also happened to be an active volunteer with your Humane Society/SPCA of Sumter County. Ellen knew Terry loved both cats and dogs and had always had one or the other, or both, her entire life. Terry had even raised Boxers as show dogs, and owned a boarding and full-service training and spa facility for dogs and cats in Michigan for many years. One day, in early February, Ellen suggested Terry accompany her to PetSmart where she could visit with the Humane Society/SPCA adoptable cats showcased there. Terry wasn’t gung-ho at the idea, but she agreed.
Gloria, another HS/SPCA volunteer, who is quite involved with the cat adoption program, happened to be at PetSmart at the same time. While Terry talked to the cats, and petted several of them from her chair, Gloria pointed to a large orange cat who hadn’t moved from his cubby, and commented that he hadn’t let anyone touch him, and rarely moved from his spot. Terry turned her gaze to the sad, lonely feline, but continued to chat with Gloria. And darned if that big ol’ marmalade cat didn’t emerge from his safe place and amble right over to Terry! She reached down and started to pet him. Gloria was shocked! Garfield purred.
Here’s where the miracle comes in. Within minutes, Terry, surprising even herself, announced, “I want to adopt him. And I want to take him home today.”
Of course, the Humane Society/SPCA has procedures they have to follow, so Terry, although disappointed, went ahead and filled out the application to adopt Garfield. Early the next day, Terry received confirmation that her application had been approved, and Ellen drove her back to the store to pick him up.
Terry is the first senior to adopt a senior pet in 2019 from your Humane Society/SPCA, and a 99 year old adopting an eight year old cat is an exceptional, but great way, to launch the year. Senior-to-senior adoptions are not commonplace, but this one was meant to be. According to Terry, “He took only two days to feel at home.” She also decided to call him Gabby because he’s quite vocal and has sweet-talking chirps. He runs to the door to greet her, and sleeps with her.
“He has settled in quite nicely, and he’s always anxious for his breakfast,” she said, smiling. Terry continued with another funny story. “We have emergency buttons in our apartments here. One is in the main living area, and one is in the bathroom. All you need to do is pull the string if you need assistance. One day, I was sitting in the chair reading a book, when suddenly a voice boomed over the emergency speaker, and asked if I needed help. I was puzzled why they thought that and said so, but they already had someone coming down the hall to assist me. Before I knew it, they were here. We discovered Gabby, in the bathroom, playing with the string,” Terry said, chuckling. “So I had to wrap it around the safety bar so he can’t get to it.”
Terry is a remarkable woman. In her lifetime, she lived in several states with her doting husband of 68 years. She modeled sportswear and swimwear in New York City when she was young, raised two successful sons, and plays the keyboard to this day. She is spunky and enjoys her life, has many friends, and everyone at her living facility is already planning her 100th birthday party in June.
Gabby and Terry are indeed a match made in heaven. “He chose me. He needed me, and I needed him,” Terry said. Gabby is comfortable now, kneading biscuits on Terry’s lap, safe and sound in his fur-ever home, and Terry has a delightful companion who makes her smile every single day.
Your Humane Society/SPCA does not have an upper age limit for adopters, as each adoption is considered based on the individual circumstance and best suitability. In cases of older citizens, it is recommended that extended family members participate in the adoption process and agree to take responsibility for the pet should it outlive the prospective adopter, which we’re happy to say was the case with Gabby, the marvelous marmalade.
The Humane Society/SPCA of Sumter County, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit, no-kill organization helping animals in need throughout Sumter County, Florida. Donations directly help to cover the cost of saving, treating and caring for neglected, abused and abandoned animals. Learn more about the HS/SPCA at hsspca.org, 352-793-9117, on Facebook or at the shelter located at 994 CR 529A, in Lake Panasoffkee, Office open: Mon.-Fri. 7:30am-4:00pm, Sat. 9:00am-4:00pm. Kennel Pet Viewing: Mon.-Sat. 9:00am-3:30pm. Visitors are always welcome!