Ed Kostro

Ed Kostro is a wonderful man who sees the value of life in every living creature, be it the humble ant or the mightier and majestic moose! 

Ed Kostro Ever since he was a tiny child of about 3 years old, all creatures held a fascination for him. His wonderful book, ‘Curious Creatures - Wondrous Waifs, My Life with Animals’ tells the story of his life and meeting some wonderful two-legged, four-legged, and in some cases, no-legged – creatures – all of which had an impact on his life. 

 In this section you can read all Ed’s poems, stories and articles.

Ed Kostro is a freelance writer. His work has appeared in Catholic Digest, ByLine Magazine, The Almanac for Farmers & City Folk, Pets: part of the family, PetLife, Cats, and Baku's 'Zine.

Ed's non-fiction animal memoir, 'Curious Creatures - Wondrous Waifs, My Life with Animals', depicting his 50-year love affair with all animals, has recently been published by PublishAmerica.com.  Oliver's Journey is also an excerpt from this book.

Ed currently resides in Illinois with his wife Rebecca, and several rescued dogs and cats, including three 'left behind' hurricane pets he recently brought home from the Gulf Coast.

Ed's book 'Through Katrina's Eyes: Poems from an Animal Rescuer's Soul' was chosen as the selected 'Book of the Month' (for August) of the North Shore Animal League, one of the largest 'no-kill' shelters in the world.

For every book purchased from Amazon through their website, a portion of the proceeds will be donated back to the League.

Be sure to check out Ed's websites.

http://edkostro.home.comcast.net/wsb/html/view.cgi-home.html-.html

www.authorsden.com/edkostro

 

 

SonnyMy spouse and I finally managed to move out of the big city two years ago with all our numerous dogs and cats.  I wanted to move to escape the endless fireworks there, which constantly terrified and traumatized our pets.  My spouse wanted to move to prevent me from rescuing any more homeless street orphans.  When we moved, we already had 12 rescued dogs and 12 rescued cats, and she believed that was more than enough for any family.

We settled into our new home in the country, and before long, were all enjoying our peacefully serene rural idyll.  But since moving out to the country two years ago, we very sadly lost two of our beloved cats to kidney disease - our Flower, who I rescued in Hurricane Katrina, and our Jasmine, who I rescued from the city streets.  We miss both immensely, as do our other cats.

This past June, on Father's Day, my spouse looked out our front window and saw a sad looking cat standing on our new front porch.  She immediately said: "It appears that one of the children you left behind in the big city has found you.  Your Prodigal Son is here!"

I raced outside to feed this poor hungry feline.  And based on my spouse's humorous comment, I named him Sonny. He is a gorgeous orange tabby cat, but he is shy and fearful of human beings, and I believe that he must have had a very hard life.  Sonny has taken up residence in our barn, and after nearly three months living with us now, although he is extremely grateful for his daily meals and for a place to live, he has not yet learned to trust me.  But I am working on that.

I was mowing our front lawn one morning, about a month ago, when I noticed a small, grey tabby cat following me.  I stopped the tractor, got off, sat on the ground and talked to her. Less skittish than Sonny, I told her to ‘wait a minute’. I rushed into the house yelling to my spouse, “Cher is here!  She found Sonny! Bring some cat food!” My spouse duly obliged.

CherRight now, Sonny lives in our barn and Cher lives in a huge evergreen bush, right outside our front door and, once again, we have 12 cats.  My spouse has come to love both Sonny and Cher.  I can't say the same about Country Joe - a stray Pitbull who recently arrived at our front door - but that's another story.

Ed Kostro

 

 

I have lived in a noisy, congested, big city for most of my life, and for most of my life I have dreamt of moving to the quiet, serene, nature-filled country.  About 12 years ago, my spouse and I were finally ready to make the move.  At that time, we had only 2 dogs and 4 cats.  Moving would have been quite easy back then.

But just as we were getting ready to move, Hurricane Katrina struck a devastating blow to the Gulf Coast in August of 2005.  And instead of moving, I found myself travelling down to the Gulf Coast with hundreds of other Pet Rescue Volunteers from all over the country.  We rescued thousands of abandoned and left behind dogs and cats in the months following Katrina; and I myself eventually brought home two rescued dogs and a rescued cat.  I also helped transport dozens of rescued dogs and cats all over America.

Now my spouse and I had 4 dogs and 5 cats at home.  Moving then would have still been relatively easy.  But soon after returning to Chicago, I found myself being inundated with phone calls and e-mails from people who had heard of my Katrina Pet Rescue efforts, and who now begged me to start trapping abandoned homeless cats and dogs wandering the streets of Chicago.

So instead of moving then when we should have, I found myself out on the streets of Chicago at all hours of the day and night, trapping dozens of homeless cats and dogs.  And with every call or e-mail that I got, my first question to the person calling or e-mailing me was:  “Sure, I can trap this dog or cat, but what will you do with it when I do trap it?”  And their answers always were:  “We’ll Adopt It!” or “We’ll Pay Its Animal Hospital Costs!” or “We’ll Find It A Good Home!”  And 9 out of 10 times, these people wouldn’t keep their promises, and my spouse and I were stuck with another enormous vet bill, and we had yet another homeless dog or cat on our hands.

Since I refuse to take any dog or cat that I rescue from the mean streets to a ‘Kill Shelter,’ my spouse and I ended up with a houseful of cats and dogs that no one else would adopt.  But the calls, and the texts, and the e-mails from people begging me to “Trap Just One More!” never ended.  So last summer, we finally decided that it was definitely time to move to the country with our houseful of rescued cats and dogs because we sadly had no more room to take in any more.

We spent months looking at homes out in the country in several states, and last Fall we finally found one that we thought would be perfect for us and for our extremely large pet family.  But now, the hard part would begin – transporting all of our many cats and dogs to our new home.

Numerous friends offered to help us transport our pets to our new home in the country, and although I trust most of my friends, I also now see more and more horror stories of pets that are being transported somewhere escaping from vehicles at rest stops or on busy highways, and I was not about to let that happen to any of our pets.  And sadly, many of these pets that are lost in transit, are never seen again.  So I told my spouse that we would have to transport all of them ourselves.

transporting the dogsTrip One:  My vehicle was loaded with Cats; Rebecca’s vehicle was loaded with our Small Dogs, which I affectionately call ‘The Poopers.’  Rebecca had the much easier ride.  Our small dogs all love her immensely, and they would follow her anywhere, so they were quite happy on this long new journey with her.  The cats in my vehicle however were not very happy at all – they were all stressed out, and they all cried and meowed and cried some more until we finally reached our destination.

Trip Two:  We had decided that Rebecca would stay at our new home with this first batch of cats and dogs, and I would return to our old home in the city to transport the next batch.  On Trip Two, I transported three of our large rescued dogs (which I affectionately call The Beasty Boys) to their new home, and since they would follow me anywhere, all three of them enjoyed the long journey immensely.

Watchers Trip Three:  Three cats and three dogs still remained at our old home, so I decided to transport these three cats next – Gracie Lou, Tina, and Buttons.  Little did I realize that these three felines were already extremely stressed out, having watched us already take away many of their feline friends.  I managed to get Gracie Lou and Tina into Cat Carriers against their will, and when I picked up poor terrorized Buttons to place her into a Carrier, she panicked and bit down on one of my fingers to the bone.

I had to literally prise her teeth out of my finger, and now, I was in immense pain.  But all three traumatized cats were in carriers, so I decided to immediately transport them anyway.  Within an hour on our trip, my entire left hand had swollen up like a baseball mitt, and the pain in my left hand was now almost unbearable – but I drove on.

Unfortunately, I had to travel on a tollway to get to our new home, and when I handed the toll booth clerk my money with my swollen left hand, she gasped out loud and said:  “Man, That Is Nasty Looking!  What Happened?”  I pointed to the back seat and the three crying cats in carriers back there, and she yelled out as I drove off:  “Good Luck!”

When I finally reached our new home several hours later, Rebecca took one look at my swollen left hand and said:  “Man, That Is Nasty Looking!  You Better Go To The Doctor Right Away!”  Of course, I hate going to the doctors, so I waited several days, in excruciating pain, before doing so.  And when I walked into the doctor’s office and showed her my swollen left hand, she immediately proclaimed:  “Man, That Is Nasty Looking!”  I had to laugh as I told her that I had heard that a time or two before.

The doctor immediately gave me a Tetanus Shot, an Antibiotics Shot, and Gobs of Huge Antibiotic Pills that were bigger than any I had ever seen before, which I had to take every four hours for an entire week.  The swelling in my left hand didn’t go down for a whole month.  I have been bitten by snakes and dogs, and stung by bees, wasps, and hornets, but none of those bites and stings even came close to the pain that I endured from poor frightened Buttons’ cat bite.

We're getting our own roomsTrip Four:  Three Dogs Left – Jack, Shadow, and Tater.  Jack and Tater jumped right into my truck; they were ready to go!  Poor Shadow however immediately panicked, and he raced all around our yard in sheer terror.  He had been nervously watching me packing up cats and whisking his dog buddies away for the past few weeks now, and he must have now suddenly had a flashback to his prior life out on the streets.

Poor Shadow had been cruelly tossed out of someone’s van when he was only 8 months old, and he soon became feral.  He wandered the streets for months, trusting no human being, and it took us over a month to finally catch him.  And when I finally brought him home, I had to sleep out in our backyard dog kennel with him for over a month before he finally began to trust me.

me and my ShadowI really believe that poor Shadow thought that I was now rounding up all of our dogs and cats, whisking them away in my truck, and then abandoning them somewhere.  I finally had to lasso him, and then drag him inch by inch into a Dog Carrier.  Thankfully, he didn’t bite me like Buttons had, but the poor guy just could not stop shaking, trembling, crying, and moaning the entire trip.  Jack and Tater kept looking at him like:  “What the heck is your problem?  Everything will be OK.”

When we finally reached our new home, Jack and Tater happily jumped out of my truck and immediately joined their Beasty Boy Brothers in our new yard.  Poor traumatized Shadow, however, would not come out of the dog carrier for a very long time.  Then he finally sat up, looked all around, and spotted Rebecca and all of his Beasty Boy Buddies joyously romping around in our new yard. He suddenly came racing out of the carrier.

He happily raced around his new home’s backyard several times; very playfully reunited with his Beasty Boy Brothers; then he pounced on me and knocked me over in the grass.  Then he began lavishing me with non-stop, exuberant, wet, doggie kisses.  I laughed and I laughed, and I could now hear him thinking to himself:  “Oh, God!  Oh, God!  You Didn’t Abandon Us!”  “Oh, God, Oh God! This Is Our New Home!”  “Oh, God, Oh, God!  “I Love You!  I Love You!”

If You Ever Want To Experience True, Unaltered, Unconditional, Everlasting Love; Rescue An Abandoned Dog.

As For Buttons The Cat, She Is Still Making Me Laugh Several Months Later.  Every night now in our new home when I settle into my Recliner to watch a little television, I eventually hear her jump off the bed in the bedroom.  She then silently walks into the living room and she sits right at my feet, staring at me in silence.  Sometimes I ignore her for quite some time; and yet, she won’t move or stop staring at me.

Then I eventually laugh, and I look at her and I say:  “Buttons, I Forgive You For Biting Me!  Don’t Worry About It Anymore!”  And once I say that to her, she gets up, silently heads back to the bedroom, jumps up on the bed, and falls fast asleep.

And Life is Good, Once More.

Ed Kostro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My journey back to the Gulf Coast for Hurricane Katrina’s 10th Anniversary Remembrance was everything I had expected it to be, and much more.  And I am extremely glad that I made this journey.

As I headed south on the interstate, a flood of emotions and memories now filled my heart and soul, and it was as if I were now traveling back in time.  Ninety miles north of New Orleans, I stopped at the site of the first pet rescue camp that I had worked at immediately following this storm.  It was here that I had truly learned what tragedy looked like.

Row upon row of rescued dogs in hastily constructed pens; a MASH Unit to care for the many sick and injured pets that we were rescuing; and a place filled with dedicated animal lovers like myself.  It was also here that I learned what 20-hour work days felt like – there were no slackers in this group of extremely dedicated pet rescuers from all around the world.

In the days and months that followed this storm, we managed to rescue over 15,000 left behind companion animals.  And because of this horrendous storm, a law was eventually passed that would now allow people to evacuate these disasters with their animal family members, instead of having to so horrendously leave them behind to fend for themselves like they had in this disaster.

As I stood gazing out at this place that had once contained everything described above, all I saw on this trip was an empty field – but the memories of what once filled this entire area will remain with me for the rest of my days.

Soon, I was back in the city of New Orleans itself, and here I found a very pleasant surprise.  A large portion of this great old city has now finally been restored to its once former greatness, and this pleased me very much.

As I wandered the old Warehouse District, I eventually stopped where I had rescued two starving puppies huddled under an abandoned car ten years ago, on a dark and stormy Halloween night.  This entire area had been completely devastated by this storm.  Today, this area was once again thriving, with a lot of new construction and a marvelous World War II Museum which I visited.  As I left the museum, I suddenly wondered what had become of those two starving puppies I had rescued here, and I now hoped that they were both alive, and well, and being loved today.

Katrina memorialThe next night on my 10-Year Anniversary trip, I attended The ‘Gratitude Gala’ a gathering of fellow pet rescuers like myself, who had all returned here like I had, to remember the largest pet rescue operation ever held in our nation.  I saw many familiar faces; reminisced with several people that I knew; but I was also saddened by the fact that several good friends had not been able to join us here.

The next morning, on my way out of town, I stopped at a local cemetery to pay my respects to the many victims of this horrendous hurricane – both human and animal.  Nearly 2,000 people had tragically lost their lives in Hurricane Katrina, and over 150,000 left behind companion animals also had.

JuniorAnd as I now drove north towards home, I realized how this horrendous storm had changed my life forever; how it had given me a new respect for companion animals; how it had prompted my pet rescue efforts in my own hometown over the last 10 years; and how it had made me cherish even more the many rescued dogs and cats that were all now anxiously waiting for me at home – including my three now truly cherished Hurricane Katrina Survivors.

Photo One:  Our Katrina Pet Rescue Camp, 90 Miles North of New Orleans

Photo Two:  The Lost Pet Memorial, Honoring All The Pets That Died In This Storm

 

Photos Three, Four, and Five:  My Three Hurricane Katrina Survivors – Junior, Tater, and Flower

 

Tater

 

 

Flower

HarrienyetI’ve been rescuing furry little street orphans ever since Hurricane Katrina devastated our Gulf Coast twelve years ago, leaving thousands of them homeless. As a result, our home has been filled with needy street orphans for the past twelve years – both feline and canine.

I promised my extremely understanding spouse that I would finally end my pet rescue efforts this year; but before long, I found this unfortunate little feline.  She was living out on the mean city streets with a colony of feral cats, but she was different from them.  She was far more frightened than feral, and she was truly a mess. Every time that I encounter one of her kind, my heart always breaks for them.

So, unfortunately, I broke my promise to my spouse, and I managed to catch her in a cat trap with some enticing food.  I took her straight to an animal hospital.  Sadly, I learned that she was FIV Positive; that she had not been spayed; and that she had no microchip.  This poor little street orphan did, however, have a skin infection, an ear infection, a gum infection, and her once long and luxurious fur coat was extremely filthy and matted beyond belief.

They had to shave her entire body at the animal hospital; give her a much-needed bath; and some antibiotics.  My spouse and I also began giving her daily ear drops in our home for her ear infection, and we eventually took her back to the animal hospital for some urgent dental work and teeth cleaning.  They had to extract eight cracked and infected teeth, and now, she is finally on the road to recovery.

Little Harrienyet - shavedWhen I rescued her from the streets, I named this poor little street orphan ‘Harrienyet.’  ‘Nyet’ is the Russian word for ‘No.’ This poor little sick girl, shaved and furless, is also an older feline.  More frightened than feral, I imagine that she once had a home somewhere, before she was cruelly tossed out by someone or callously left behind to fend for herself when they moved away.

And even sadder to me, there are millions of homeless street orphans just like her wandering the mean streets of America today.  Their dire plight will not change until we finally pass mandatory laws to Spay and Neuter and Microchip all our pets.

Thankfully, over the past few months, Little Harrienyet has been slowly learning to trust human beings again; her fur is growing out again; and she is now starting to enjoy being petted and talked to by my spouse and I.  She is finally receiving the love and the care that every pet (both feline and canine) truly deserves from each and every one of us.

Please Adopt, Don’t Shop, For Your Next Pet.  And Please Spay and Neuter and Microchip Your Own Pets.

Ed Kostro

Each and every year, despite all of the yearly warnings to pet owners, hundreds of unsecured pets run off in terror because of July 4th fireworks, and many of them very sadly become lost.  And July 5th, each and every year, is always one of the busiest days at America’s already overflowing animal shelters because of the vast numbers of lost pets being brought in.  Pets and fireworks don’t mix very well, and they never will.

Now imagine the trauma and the terror that is experienced each and every Fourth of July holiday by both America’s wildlife and by animals like feral cats that live outdoors all year long.  In my area, the abysmal fireworks’ booms and bangs go on and on and on for several weeks before, during, and after the Fourth of July.  As a pet owner and a pet rescuer, I’ve come to hate this time of year.

About two weeks before July 4th this year, I began receiving calls and messages about three tiny terrified kittens that were running through my own neighborhood, desperately attempting to find some sort of safe haven from all of the noisy fireworks constantly being shot off.  But by the time that I would manage to reach the backyard of the latest terrified kitten sighting, these three tiny street orphans always raced off into the night before I ever got there.

As both an animal lover and a pet rescuer, this was extremely frustrating, and extremely heartbreaking to me.  I couldn’t even set up a feeding station or a live trap for these three tiny traumatized kittens because they never remained in one place for very long, and I knew that they were now starving.

About a week after the 4th, I finally got the break that I had been hoping for.  One of my neighbors called to tell me that these three kittens were now huddled under the dense bushes in his front yard.  I raced out of the house with one of my traps already baited, placed the trap next to his bushes, and quickly retreated.

Precious, Tiny and MidnightWithin minutes, I saw three tiny starving kittens emerge from the safety of these bushes, and they were headed right toward my trap.  One was soon inside, two were soon inside – and just as the third kitten was about to enter my trap, yet another horrifically loud boom went off directly overhead, and this third kitten once again fled into the night.

Thankfully, I now had two of the three kittens safely rescued, and I took them home.  But I also knew that I had to somehow catch the third tiny sibling still on the loose before it starved to death.

My break came two nights later when, unbelievably, I spotted the third kitten race into the bushes in front of my own house.  I crept down my front stairs, placed a baited trap beside the bushes, and quickly retreated.  Within minutes, the third starving July 4th kitten was caught.  When my spouse looked at this last one, she said:  “It’s Precious!”

My wife and I have been caring for ‘Precious’ ‘Tiny’ and ‘Midnight’ for a couple of weeks now, and all three of them are adorable.  They are now safe, and sound, and still extremely hungry – they can’t seem to get enough food.  They also like to be held and cuddled a lot.

kitten bathtime for Precious, Tiny and MidnightWe took them to my vet’s office recently, and all three have thankfully been given a Clean Bill of Health.  We will continue to foster them until a local cat rescue organization can take them under their wing.  As you can probably imagine, pet rescue organizations all across America are now all overflowing with ‘July 4th cats and dogs.’

Please safeguard your own pets each and every Fourth of July; and please consider both the utter trauma and the absolute terror that both indoor pets and outdoor animals now experience each and every year from our modern day obsession of shooting off fireworks for weeks without end around each and every Fourth of July holiday.

Ed Kostro

To read more of Ed's articles and poems, please click on  the link: Ed Kostro

P.S. Last word from Ed:

As most of you know, Rebecca and I already have a house filled with rescued dogs and cats that no one else was willing to take in, so we are very sadly unable to keep these three adorable ‘July 4th kittens.’ And, as usual, whenever I rescue a homeless street orphan these days, it gets harder and harder to find anyone willing to foster or to adopt them. A lot of people say that they want to help homeless animals today, but very few people actually do. America’s animal shelters are all so very sadly overflowing with unwanted dogs and cats, and they have been for a very long time now.

Thankfully, CatNap from the Heart has agreed to take these three kittens under their wing. They are a marvelous nonprofit ‘no-kill’ rescue organization dedicated to creating lifelong relationships between companion animals and adoptive families. They will be providing continued care and shelter for these three adorable kittens until they can eventually find loving new homes for them.

Rebecca and I gave CatNap from the Heart a monetary donation for helping us and these three adorable kittens out, and if you would also like to help them to continue their much needed mission, please visit their website linked here. They also have a ‘Wish List’ of much needed supplies. They are currently providing care and shelter for more than 100 homeless cats.

www.catnapfromtheheart.org

 

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A Cats Prayer

Lead me down all the right paths,
Keep me from fleas, bees, and baths.
Let me in should it storm,
Keep me safe, fed, and warm.

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