It was the pathetic mews of a hungry mother cat, scrounging in a dumpster to feed her kittens that first caught Bob and Kathy Rude's attention. They found the hungry cat and several more hungry felines while helping out at the family restaurant one summer. The chance meeting between the hungry strays and two government computer programmers led to the creation of Rude Ranch Animal Rescue, one of the United States' hardest working No-Kill Animal Sanctuaries. Read on to meet these original Rude Cats and find what can go right and wrong when you try to help a few stray animals and inadvertently start an animal sanctuary.
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The Best Little Cat House In MarylandTHE TRUE AND MOSTLY ACCURATE STORY OF HOW RUDE RANCH ANIMAL RESCUE CAME TO BE
By Bob Rude Kathy Rude
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2009 Bob and Kathy Rude
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Early Years
My name is Kathy Rude and my husband's name is Bob Rude. I grew up during the 1960's in Hebbville, a small town near Baltimore, Maryland (we don't need to be any more specific on the year). As I was an only child on a somewhat remote farm, I didn't have a lot of other kids to play with most of the time. That was probably why the animals on the farm became my best friends.
I would play with the barn cats and have a blast watching the kittens running around doing kitten things. I also had a dog named Rover that loved to go for walks and run and play around the yard. Occasionally I'd visit the pigs and cows at the barns, but they weren't all that much fun to play with.
I did the usual thing, graduated from high school, and went on to college at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County. I briefly thought about becoming a veterinarian, but remembered how I almost lost my lunch during high school biology class (never take biology as your first class after lunch). I ended up majoring in computer science instead. Maybe not as interesting, but the insides of the computer didn't gross me out as much.
Ifinished college, realized the "mom and dad savings and loan" was shutting down and decided I better find a job. That's when I started working at the Census Bureau. That's also where I met Bob, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Bob also grew up during the 1960's, but in Cameron, a small town in northern Wisconsin (I'm not saying that Bob robbed the cradle, but his 1960's number was somewhat smaller than mine). There weren't a lot of people in that part of the country, but there were plenty of animals and tons of wilderness areas. They also had very cold winters and very short summers. That was one of the reasons Bob and I stayed in Maryland. I did the love, honor and cherish thing at our wedding, but drew the line at the freeze your butt off in winter wonderland.
Bob always had a love for animals. Even when we first dated, Bob would talk about his pets or the animals he rescued unlike the average guy who would talk about the women he dated or his amazing sports conquests. He had more stories about animals than anything else. I liked animals too; I just never envisioned turning my house into an animal sanctuary. Well, Bob changed all that.
The earliest rescue Bob shared with me was at the age of five when a lonely Basset Hound followed him home from kindergarten. He tried to sneak it past his parents, but didn't have much luck. His parents gave him an ultimatum. The dog could spend the night in the garage, but had to go somewhere else the next day.
That night the garbage man stopped to pick up their trash. Bob knew he had a couple of dogs at his house; so, he summoned up the courage and talked to him about the dog. After a few minutes of pleading, the garbage man agreed to take Cleopatra, the name Bob had given the Bassett Hound. Not a very formal or sophisticated process, but I guess it was Bob's first official adoption.
Bob's parents weren't big on having pets, but did give into the kids occasionally. Bob and his sisters, Linda and Diane, managed to talk them into three kittens at an early age. They also had two hamsters and two parakeets. Diane even taught one of the parakeets to help her play solitaire (the old fashioned solitaire using actual playing cards rather than the computer game popular today).
Bob was into all kinds of animals; so, when the circus came to town he was the first to volunteer to help with the animals. The circus people were letting the neighbor kids help out in exchange for free tickets. Bob's job was to walk the elephants. I'm guessing he had a little help with this activity, but he still thought it was really cool.
His next pet became the best pal he had growing up, a handsome Siberian Husky named Nick. Bob first met Nick on his father's garbage route. No, Bob's father wasn't the garbage man that adopted Cleopatra. His father, also the mayor and police chief of the village, started the garbage route when the aforementioned garbage man could no longer keep up with his schedule. One of Bob's perks for tossing trash cans around was the chance to play with all the animals along the way. His dad would talk to the customers and Bob would spend his time talking to (playing with) the animals. Nick was one of Bob's favorites.
A year or so after meeting Nick, Bob got a call from Nick's guardian. He had suffered a heart attack and could no longer properly care for Nick. He knew how much Bob loved him and was hoping Bob's parents would feel the same way.
Bob prepared for the biggest sell job of his life. He really wanted Nick and was determined to convince his parents he was ready for the responsibility. Imagine Bob's surprise when his mom immediately agreed to make Nick part of their family. Bob's mom had secretly fallen in love with Nick too (all that prep work for the heated debate wasted).
Nick had a lot of adventures with Bob and his family. One of them involved the family parakeets that constantly harassed him. Their favorite activity was to do an aerial fly-by on Nick's head. After months of this routine, Nick finally lost it and grabbed one of them in his mouth. Bob and his sisters screamed at him and were sure the little bird was a goner, but by the time they reached the little guy, he flew straight to his cage no worse for the experience. He never did buzz Nick again. Maybe old dogs couldn't learn new tricks, but apparently old parakeets could (at least if they wanted to get any older).
The next animal I recall Bob talking about was a green heron he and a friend found while walking along the Cranberry Creek near his home town. They noticed something out of the ordinary along the bank of the creek. They went to investigate and found what appeared to be a dead green heron. Then one of its eyes's blinked. Bob picked up the bird and carried it back to his parent's garage. They checked it for injuries and found it had been shot once in the chest. Something had to be done soon or the bird would die.
Bob's friend sterilized a jack knife with some matches hidden in the garage (I didn't ask why they had matches hidden in the garage) and used it to remove the bullet. Being a fan of westerns, the wound was sterilized with whiskey covertly confiscated from his parent's house. Bob claimed there was only enough whiskey for the bird, none for themselves. Then it was time to consult the Encyclopedia Britannica, the place kids went to get information before the internet, and find out what the bird typically ate.
While the bird was recovering, it stayed in a cage in the garage. As it grew stronger they moved it to an outside pen at the neighbor's house. One day they came out to check on the bird and it was gone. The little guy had regained enough strength to fly back to its home in the wild.
In retrospect they probably weren't following the best surgical protocols or operating in the most sanitary conditions, but back then money wasn't plentiful and their families generally couldn't afford veterinarians. They figured it was better to try something rather than let this beautiful animal perish. Bob and his friend never really knew what happened to the green heron, but they probably wondered if it was "their" green heron every time one flew overhead.
There were a lot of other rescue stories in Bob's early years, but I probably should mention that Bob did go to school and somehow managed to actually graduate from high school. He was the captain of the golf and basketball teams and was involved in a number of other school related activities. He even managed to pick a college to start the next phase of his life. He went on to a local junior college, the University of Wisconsin at Barron County and then on to the University of Wisconsin River Falls to complete his college education.
He had high hopes of becoming a veterinarian when he first entered college, but his plans were sidelined by a combination of organic chemistry on his mind and the chemistry of too many alcoholic beverages on his body. He did manage to complete a bachelor's degree in mathematics and was thrilled he survived college.
During college he started dating Erin, who would become his first wife. After college they moved to Washington, D.C. where Bob started working for the Census Bureau. He was well on his way to becoming a computer nerd.
Bob also met his first two pets as an adult shortly after moving to the Washington, D.C. area. He was sitting in the living room of his Temple Hills apartment when he saw something fall off the roof of the building next door. It looked like a cat, but he wasn't sure. He ran down the three flights of stairs fearing he would find an injured animal; instead he was greeted by a little cat that just wanted some attention. He brought her into the apartment and planned to surprise Erin when she arrived home from work. They decided to keep the little cat and named her Smokey from the movie Smokey and the Bandit.
As it turned out, Smokey didn't move into the apartment alone. She soon gave birth to a little kitten they named Bear, from the TV series BJ and the Bear.
Shortly after that, Bob and Erin were married in 1985 and bought a townhouse in Crofton, Maryland. They moved into the townhouse with their two cats and Bob's sister, Linda, who had moved to Maryland in an attempt to escape the cold of Wisconsin.
Unfortunately, or fortunately for me, Bob and Erin soon divorced and went their separate ways. Bob kept the cats and Erin got the VCR. I was pretty sure Bob felt he got the better end of the deal. I never met Erin; so, I couldn't really comment on her; I just assumed Bob needed some practice at the husband thing before meeting the right woman. At least I got a broken-in model, hopefully with all the new husband kinks worked out.
That left Bob living in the townhouse with Smokey, Bear and his sister Linda. Soon his sister Diane graduated from college, took a job near them, and moved into the townhouse with them to save money on rent. Now Bob was living in the townhouse with his two sisters, two cats and two German Shepherds they had just rescued (maybe he was starting some sort of Noah's Ark). All went well except the townhouse only had one bathroom. There just wasn't enough room for everyone. They made the big decision to buy a house together. They moved to their new house in Gambrills, Maryland over the Memorial Day weekend in 1989. Bob was thrilled; it had four bathrooms, no more waiting.
Unfortunately, their two cats, Smokey and Bear, had succumbed to feline leukemia shortly before the move. It was a fairly unknown disease at the time and the loss of the two cats really hit Bob and his sisters hard. That was probably the reason Bob had a soft spot for leukemia cats.
Shortly after moving into the house, Bob and Diane were driving home from their bowling league when they saw the car in front of them hit something. They stopped and looked around, but couldn't find anything. Then they heard some meowing down in the ditch. They started calling out and this little black and white kitten crawled up on the road. He was in pretty bad shape and needed immediate medical attention. Of course it was around midnight so that didn't leave a lot of choices.
They went to the emergency vet and learned the kitten had fractured his back and had a bunch of other problems. The vet said it would probably be best to put him to sleep, but that was not an option for Bob and Diane if there was any chance of survival. They told the vet to do what he could to stabilize him and then took the little guy home for bed rest. He was never able to walk normally, but Buddy, the name they chose for him, quickly recovered and became a big part of their family.
Of course two dogs and a cat just weren't enough for a big house like theirs. One night Diane was out driving with a friend and heard some meowing while at a stop sign. She investigated and found there was a kitten hiding in a culvert. She crawled into the culvert and found not one, but two little kittens; a little calico they named Callie and a little black and white one they named Blackie. They put the kittens in Bob's bedroom until they had time to work with them and get them accustomed to humans. The kittens were a little frightened, but seemed thankful for the food and shelter.
The next day Bob came home from work and couldn't find Callie or Blackie anywhere. He searched and searched the room but couldn't figure out where they were hiding or how they could have escaped the room. When all else failed, he sat down in his recliner to watch TV. As he was settling into the recliner, he felt something pushing up on his butt. The mystery of the missing kittens was solved.
Shortly after the kittens moved in, Linda moved out; not because she didn't like the kittens, but because she met her soon to be husband, Bill. Then Bob's parents retired and moved in with him and Diane. I guess Bob's entire family wanted to escape the frigid winter wonderland of Wisconsin.
By now Bob and I had known each other for several years. We first met in 1986 when I started working at the Census Bureau. At first we didn't talk much, mostly because Bob was always tucked away in his cubicle banging away on his keyboard. He was a true computer geek.
Then one day we realized we had started dating. Neither of us was quite sure when it happened, but at some point it did. We had one of those long courtships. The dating was working well so why mess with it.
Then Bob popped the question. I know, you are thinking it was the marriage proposal thing, but that came later. This was the "do you want a cat" question. I was busy working on my master's degree and wasn't sure I wanted the extra responsibilities of raising a cat. Bob felt otherwise. He found me a frightened little torti kitten at a local animal shelter. I fell for the little ball of fluff and named her Tia Maria ("Tia"). The next few years were somewhat quiet with work, school and life getting in the way of rescuing animals. Bob and I were still dating and spending most of our free time together. Then Bob popped the other question. I readily agreed to his proposal; after all, I had already spent six years training him. The wedding was pretty normal as far as weddings go, but the wedding cake was bordering on the ridiculous. My mom made wedding cakes for a living and felt she had to go all out for her only daughter. It was a three dimensional masterpiece that required enlisting my dad's carpentry skills to complete. It consisted of twenty-two individual cakes in a heart shaped pattern. Bob had to rent a Ryder truck and recruit two of the guys in the wedding party to get it from my parent's house to the reception hall. Fortunately, for Bob and his friends, it arrived in one piece or at least in the twenty-two pieces they started with.
Now that Bob and I were married he had to figure out what to do with his pets. Bob was moving into my townhouse, and his dogs probably wouldn't adapt well to life without a yard. The cats would probably adjust, but they were also Diane's pets. The animals were already used to living together in the Gambrills house, so they decided the animals would stay with Diane and Bob's parents. Besides, Bob's mom had become best friends with Buddy, the little kitten that was hit by the car, and would probably put up a fight before letting him go.
Of course that created a dilemma for Bob; he was living in a house with only one pet. He had built a really cool fish pond in the back yard, but he didn't consider them pets. He had to remedy this situation. He convinced me I really wanted to add a kitten to our family for Christmas. I sent him out in search of the right addition to our family and he found a cute little torti kitten at a local shelter (sound familiar)? Unfortunately for Bob, she had a cute little sister in the cage with her. Bob just couldn't pick one over the other. He took a chance that I wouldn't beat him over the head with a rolling pin and adopted the sisters together. When I got home from work that evening, I was greeted by two cute, red ribbon-wearing kittens. Obviously I couldn't be upset with Bob. We named them Billie Jo and Ashley Ann ("Ashley").
Excerpted from The Best Little Cat House In Maryland by Bob Rude Kathy Rude Copyright © 2009 by Bob and Kathy Rude. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents
The Early Years....................3
Birthplace of a Rescue....................12
Maggie and Friends....................19
The Great Kitten Capture....................31
Anyone Want a Kitten?....................36
Cali Leads us to Boomer....................40
The Quest for a Sanctuary....................49
Adventures in Moving....................62
Goldie & Bones Arrive....................71
The Population Explosion....................78
Y2K and the Stray Dog....................86
What's in a Name?....................88
Buffy the Feather Slayer....................99
Sophie and Her Kids....................103
Xander and Friends....................107
Tommy & Ceasar Arrive....................112
Quiver and Friends....................118
Volunteers Invade Rude Ranch....................124
Tommy Visits the Emergency Vet....................130
The Challenge of Fundraising....................134
Surviving the Hard Times....................139
Vacationing with Marilyn....................142
The Great Blizzard of 2003....................148
Help Wanted, Please!!!....................161
It's Kitten Season....................164
Scruffy and the Abandoned Car....................171
Hurricane Katrina - The Adventure Begins....................176
Hurricane Katrina - The Adventure Continues....................185
Hurricane Katrina - The Adventure Ends....................197
Bob Visits the Emergency Room....................205
Just Another Day at the Ranch....................219
The Bunny Invasion!....................225
Floating Down the River....................229
Santa Claws Brings CNN to Rude Ranch....................241