Tag Archives: Westport Humane Society

Remembering Dusty

“06880” reader Adam Stolpen writes:

My best friend died Sunday morning, and I was responsible. Though a vibrant personality to his last breath, he was quite ill and in pain. I wanted him to die naturally at home, but could not cause him to keep suffering simply because I loved him too much to say goodbye when he depended on me not to prolong the inevitable through heroic means.



We first met Dusty at the Westport Humane Society nearly 2 decades ago. He won all of us over. As any friend of a cat knows, he quickly proved that our home was now his place. He seemed to tolerate me as well as my son Eduard, but it was clear he was my daughter Betty’s cat.

Dusty was a constant presence, and a singularly pleasant companion. As he approached a people-age of 100 he began to slow down. He spent his days watching life from the window, sleeping in the sun on his favorite chair and developing a psychic way of knowing every time I approached the refrigerator (which held his fresh shredded Stew Leonard’s turkey).

Recently his body began to fail him. Couch backs were replaced with cushioned seats, high beds ignored. By last week his favorite hidden shelf became too much of an effort to reach. He lay in the sun on a rug. Wonderful vets tried what they could. He’d knowingly look into our eyes. We sensed he was saying, “It’s not that you live, but how you live. For me it’s over.”

Dusty and Betty.

Dusty as a kitten, and Betty as a pre-teen.

Betty came up on Saturday. They lay near each other, his head resting on her hand. He slept by her all night. The next morning he came to me. We sat for an hour talking — ok, I talked. He listened and snuzzled my leg. We followed our morning routine, watching the sun come up one final time.

We took Dusty to the vet early Sunday morning. He was not alone at the end. He knew he was deeply loved. It was quiet, peaceful and gentle. I have little doubt he was aware of what was happening, and was content. How different the life of this abandoned kitten could have been 20 years ago if we’d not met.

But this story is not just about Dusty, or how much is missing from our home since his death. It’s about how much he brought into our lives, and how glad we all are that we visited the Westport Humane Society and adopted that little ball of dust.

They’re open today, with animals waiting for a new home. I know, because we took all Dusty’s things, to pass along to the next stray kitten who wanders in.

Dusty, once more.

Dusty, once more.

Humane Society logo

When I-95 Took Its Toll

Before it focused its attention on Brooklyn — its real estate, its music scene, the type of glasses its hipsters wear — the New York Times actually reported metropolitan-area news in places like Westport.

Kathie Bennewitz — who was researching the construction of I-95, and the destruction it wrought on Saugatuck — unearthed a couple of interesting Times stories from nearly 60 years ago.

On June 20, 1956, the newspaper announced: “Advancing ‘Pike Drives Wild Animals to Town.”

“Human dwellers in Fairfield County are not the only inhabitants to be dislocated by the construction of the Connecticut Turnpike,” readers read. “Denizens of the woods on and near the Thruway route are also being displaced.”

A Westport Humane Society spokesman said he’d received “frequent” calls from residents wanting to know what to do about “the wild life that is invading their backyards and sometimes even their swimming pools.”

Raccoons, possums and skunks were “regular visitors.” No word, though, on deer.

Construction in 1957 of the Connecticut Turnpike bridge in Saugatuck. Charles Street feeds into Riverside Avenue (bottom). Note the Gault tanks along the river (upper left).

Construction in 1957 of the Connecticut Turnpike bridge in Saugatuck. Charles Street feeds into Riverside Avenue (bottom). Note the Gault tanks along the river (upper left).

Less than a year later — on February 15, 1957 — the Times reported that Westport had saved a 35-foot, 70-year-old holly tree from the chainsaw.

Town officials rescued it from highway demolition. Uprooted and towed 2 miles behind a police escort car, it was transplanted “a short distance from the police station in the center of town.”

“It was too beautiful to destroy,” said First Selectman W. Clarke Crossman.

Wildlife being forced from its natural habitat by construction. Saving trees from destruction.

As the saying goes: “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”

A Very Humane Story

The Westport Humane Society has taken some hits lately — right here on “06880.”

So it’s nice to hear this story from alert reader Lori Cochran, director of the Westport Farmers’ Market.

Lori also volunteers at the Humane Society.  Staff members there know the Market collects food for the Bridgeport Rescue Mission and Westport Gillespie Center.

Last week, a Humane Society staffer named Mindy pointed out the Humane Society’s 2 raised beds, used to grow vegetables and herbs to feed rabbits.

Mindy wondered if the Humane Society could harvest them for donation to the Bridgeport Rescue Mission at the Thursday Farmers’ Market.

Could they?  Of course!

“How cool, right?” Lori writes.

“At a time when every non-profit is looking inward at how they will survive, the Humane Society thought about how it can help others.  To me, that is the definition of community.”

And, Lori notes, there are no rabbits at the shelter now.  So no bunnies were harmed in the making of this donation.