"She was pampered when she was little, for what baby is not irresistible? She wore tiny pink ribbons in her hair and was given all the attention she wanted. She was well-behaved and generally did not cause a ruckus in the household. She felt part of the family, she belonged and, if she had thought about it, figured her life would go down the same path for a very long time. It didn't.

She was happy on the trip out, going for a ride, getting attention, feeling part of the whole. She had been part of this family for awhile, enjoying the companionship, the feeling of being well-loved and well-cared-for during all seasons. She had taken rides before, to visit here and there, sometimes being left in the car until the others returned. Then, it would be back home and everything fell into the same routine. This ride was different.

It was longer, things were quiet in the car, even tense. The driver set ramrod straight, determined, while some of the passengers had tears in their eyes. She really couldn't make much out of it, but felt the tension and was uneasy herself.

It took a long time and the car went deep into the country, away from the city she knew so well, She had looked outside her house, setting in the windowsill, watching the houses across the street and people going by, all were familiar. Now, looking outside the car window she could see lots of trees and telephone poles and could pick up unfamiliar smells that were different, even scary for their unknown qualities and newness.

When the car slowed down and stopped she got up and stretched, looking out to see where they were. She could see nothing but fields, road ditches and trees. It was then her world changed forever. The car door opened and she was shoved outside. She thought there must be some mistake as the car speeded off away from her. She tried following the car for awhile, but soon lost it to distance. She couldn't keep up. She stopped, looked around and became frightened for nothing was familiar, the sights and smells were all too new, too different. Couched down in the road ditch she looked around softly mewing her dismay. There had to be some mistake. Somewhere a dog barked, and she couched down trying to hide in the long grass of the ditch. She heard a car approaching and her fright propelled her into the nearby field.

Darkness was coming on and dew and dampness was falling all around her, coating her fur with moisture and making her cold. She had never slept outside in her entire life. She had always had a warm, soft bed, shared with her human companions. She shook off her paws, being wet and muddy from the moist soil.

Confused and miserable, she wondered what to do, but ended up crouched in the field most of the night. She heard lots of movement around her and acrid smells she was not familiar with but knew by instinct it was some other animal, most of them big and hungry.

By morning she was wet and bedraggled after some brief overnight showers and hungrier than she had ever been. There were no bowls of water and clean feed put down in front of her. She had never had to fend for herself. Now it was thrust upon her.

It was cloudy but a weak sun began shining and she stiffly walked along the roadway, wondering what to do. If a car passed, she leapt into the grasses of the ditch, too scared to stay in the open. She came upon some buildings and could smell the familiar scent of humans, even some other cats like herself.

Scared and wary, she went into a nearby building where she was approached by some other cats. Their welcome was a spat and claws, but the building was dry, the weather outside wet, and she needed to be out of the elements.

When a human came out to feed the other cats, she was chased away, shooed back so the others could feed. Hungry, she waited until the human left and gradually worked her way to the food. She spat and growled her way to the bowl until one of the cats give her access. She ate hungrily. Over the next few days she was chased away repeatedly until finally the human came out with a gun and shot at her. She left hurriedly, taking to the field and road ditch again.

She found another set of buildings, another bunch of cats and the warmth and dryness kept her brave. Here she was accepted faster, and although the human chased her away, she persevered and could eat and be in the dry. Had she found a new home? She wasn't sure, but the experience kept her wary and shy. She felt unwanted."

You might wonder where this story came from, but it is repeated over and over when people decide they no longer want a pet and take them out in the country to drop them off. Sometimes the outcome is not a happy one if the dog or cat starves and becomes ill, or is eaten by other wild animals. Over the years we have had dogs and cats appear on our doorstop needing food and a place to stay, we can't care for them all. Pets are a responsibility. If you will end up abandoning your pet on a country road, think twice before you get one.

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Jeannine Roediger has lived on a family farm all her life, first as a farmer's daughter and now as a farmer's wife. She writes weekly for the Times Bulletin and enjoys gardening, quilting, cooking, bird watching and writing.