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Column: A garage sale for a good cause

Spring is nearly over, and with it, garage sale season. Late April through Memorial Day is the peak season. The Last Hope garage sale, one of my favorite annual sales, is happening right now in Farmington. The Last Hope sale runs through 3 p.m. Saturday in the strip mall at 18400 Pilot Knob Road. The garage sale is indoors, right next door to Akin Hills Pet Hospital, so rain or shine it's a good place to shop. The best thing about this garage sale is, in addition to the racks of stylish clothes there is usually a whole table full of pet products, including lots of brand new clothes for dogs, homemade treats and toys and gently used pet carriers.

Why would a garage sale have such awesome pet supplies? The reason is Last Hope provides foster homes for pets and connects people with pets ready for adoption. They don't run a shelter. Instead, volunteers open their homes to provide shelter for pets waiting for adoption.

I've adopted a few pets, and although most of my pets came from a rescue organization like Last Hope, the spunkiest pet I've owned I found in my backyard. One summer a scrawny calico cat kept showing up around my yard, sniffing at the garbage can in the driveway and leaving dead mice near the back door. When the weather turned cool, I decided it would be a good idea to catch the wayward cat and bring her to the shelter. I couldn't in good conscience leave her outside to freeze.

Using a can of tuna, I managed to lure the cat in through the back door. I grabbed a beach towel and gingerly picked her up, but then she slipped out of my grasp and launched herself towards the open door. Unfortunately, even though the back door was open, the storm door was closed. The cat leaped out of my arms and catapulted herself into the glass pane of the storm door. She landed on her feet, but then slowly shook her head, dazed and unsteady. I bundled her in the towel and gently set her in my pet carrier. The dazed cat and I drove to the vet's office. She was quiet the entire way.

The vet examined the cat and ordered a few tests. Vet techs came in and out of the exam room, administering vaccinations and drawing blood. The cat sat on the table, watching me balefully and occasionally emitting strange, low grunts.

The cat never made it to the shelter. What was supposed to be a couple of weeks spent convalescing turned into a lifetime. She spent 14 years at my house, and living a life full of treats and catnip toys. I taught her to come when called and to play soccer with a ping-pong ball. She was a good little buddy. As soon as I walked in the front door, the cat would come running to greet me, her ample belly swinging. Since she passed away a few years ago, I miss her almost daily. I never thought of myself as a cat lady, but sometimes a pet just shows up and turns you into someone you never thought you'd be.

That's why I believe Last Hope is doing a great thing, matching up pets with owners. Even though it sounds corny, they are changing people's lives, giving families, couples, and seniors a chance to experience the companionship of a pet. I can't imagine a much better mission than bringing people love.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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