By Paris Permenter
Every rescue cat has his or her own story, a previous life history that's often unknown before landing in the hands of a shelter or rescue. While little is known about the early life of now four-year-old Zeki, a Turkish Van mix, one terrible fact stands out: as a kitten she was partially skinned with a hunting knife by an unknown assailant in Dallas. Found by a Good Samaritan, the road to recovery was marked with surgery and recovery.
Eventually Zeki (Turkish for "clever and courageous") found her way to the home of Arden Moore, pet author, radio host, and pet expert who also teaches pet safety. But Arden doesn't just teach pet safety using models and dummies. She calls on her fellow teaching teammate: Zeki.
Whether teaching a class at the Cat Writers Association or delivering a cat behavior talk at the Pet Sitters International Conference, Arden works side-by-side with her cat, who Moore says "has never met a stranger or been in a strange place. She is outgoing, friendly, curious and definitely motivated by her favorite food on the planet: deli turkey." Future travel plans will take Zeki to BlogPaws in Las Vegas for pet first aid demonstrations.
Zeki's role is definitely hands-on. "I'm one of a dozen or so active certified master pet first aid/CPR instructors with Pet Tech, the world's premiere hands-on, veterinarian-approved program," explains Moore. "Thom Somes, The Pet Safety Guy, and founder of Pet Tech, says Zeki is the first feline teaching assistant in the program's 15-year history.
"Having a cat tolerant enough to allow students to check her capillary refill, brush her teeth, apply different types of safety restraint muzzles, wrap her in a bath towel, check her pulse and perform a snout-to-tail wellness assessment is invaluable. Zeki gives people the chance to practice their pet first aid skills on a willing cat and gain confidence so that they can be better pet parents for their cats - especially during a pet health emergency."
In classes within driving distance of her California home, Zeki works alongside her canine sister, 11-year-old Chipper, a Husky-Golden Retriever mix. More distant teaching assignments mean that Zeki is paired up with a local therapy or service dog. "In recent classes in the Dallas area, Zeki calmly and confidently worked alongside a pit bull therapy dog named Rosey Grier and a Poodle-Bichon mix named Maddie. Not a single hiss or growl was evoked," recalls Moore.
Along with her work as a pet first-aid instructor, the one-time rescue cat is also a certified therapy cat with Pet Partners, the national organization formerly known as the Delta Society and has provided comfort to individuals who are in hospice programs.
"Zeki's message to people and to pets (and those looking for loving homes) is to live in the Me-NOW," says Moore. "She had a terrible kitten hood, surviving a brutal knife attack that required months of recovery. But she is a shining example of living in the present moment and aiming for good things in the future. We can't change our past, but we can make a difference today and tomorrow. That is the lesson Zeki teaches me every day."
Photo courtesy of Arden Moore
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