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

 

 

I had once again arrived back at Base Camp, for the third time; nearly eight weeks after Hurricane Katrina had devastated the Gulf Coast. 

I just can’t seem to stay away from this place; there are so many ‘left behind’ pets here from both Louisiana and Mississippi; and so much tragedy and heartbreak here, from just one storm.

As I wandered the long rows of dog pens and kennels that I had helped construct many weeks prior, I saw many familiar faces among our canine residents, many sad and lonely faces of dogs that wait and wait each and every day, for the human that they love with their entire essence to somehow find them, and to take them home.

Soon, I found myself wandering through the buildings housing all the ‘left behind’ cats and kittens; and here, too, I saw many familiar feline faces, and far too many of these felines appeared lethargic, distressed, or ill.  Cats, too, often bond with, and severely miss, their beloved human friends far more than many people even care to imagine.

To date, we have processed nearly 2,000 ‘left behind’ animals here; and very sadly to me, there have only been about 150 reunions between pet and owner.  As a result, many of these animals are now being sent around the country to foster homes or animal shelters to make room for more of them.  It seems that there is no end to the pets in need here; and I truly wonder when this tragedy will end, if ever.

Most of the volunteers working here rejoice in each and every reunion, and the hope of new reunions with each new dawn keeps many of us coming back.  But we also now rejoice in placing dogs and cats with loving foster homes and ‘no kill’ animal shelters.  If these pets cannot be reunited with their former owners, our fervent hope is that they can find new loving homes, and once again live normal dog and cat lives.

On this trip, when I wasn’t out searching for more ‘left behind’ animals, I spent much of my time helping people load dogs and cats into trucks, vans, and trailers, for their long journeys to distant foster homes or shelters.  And as I lifted each crate into a waiting vehicle, I silently wished each dog or cat ‘Bon Voyage’ and hoped he or she would somehow find a wonderful new life, with wonderful new foster parents.

The two starving young pups I found huddled under an old junked car on Halloween morning in New Orleans left camp in the trailer pictured above.  I miss them already, and I truly hope that these two innocent, deserving, adorable young dogs find loving homes at their final destination.

I also spent a lot of time in our MASH Unit with the many injured and traumatized pets here.  These animals are being medically treated for a wide variety of illnesses and injuries.  And because of their severe medical conditions, the dogs in the MASH Unit must be kept separate from the general dog population, and this usually means that they must be housed in small confining cages.  So each and every morning and evening, volunteers assist the medical staff in walking these poor creatures.

I seemed to always walk two particular dogs:  one was the valiant guard dog that I had brought into camp that was suffering from a severe case of malnutrition and mange.  And thankfully, this sweet loyal creature seems to be improving each and every day.

My other favourite walking companion was a gigantic elderly brown chow.  He was an extremely friendly and docile dog who had suffered severe head trauma during the hurricane, and one of his eyes had to be removed as a result of this terrible injury.

Yet, this dog’s valiant spirit lives on; he is extremely glad to be alive; and he always rewarded me with huge wet doggy kisses after each and every one of our daily walks together. 

As long as I live, I will never forget any of the animals here, especially these two brave, sweet, extremely ill, ‘left behind’ canines, whom I’ve affectionately now begun calling ‘Mangy Dog’ and ‘One Eyed Jack.’

Part 3:

 ©2005, Ed Kostro

My latest trip to New Orleans was truly the saddest one yet for me.  Nearly five months after Hurricane Katrina wreaked her havoc, entire sections of the city still lie in complete ruin.  Entire neighbourhoods still do not have running water or electricity, and enormous heaps of garbage and trashed vehicles still block and litter many city streets. 

The Cruelty Has Begun

 

And, despite what some local officials proclaim, thousands of dogs and cats are still attempting to exist on their own in these devastated abandoned neighbourhoods.  And very sadly, most of these animals no longer trust mankind at all. 

But who can blame them?  First they were left behind in the storm to fend for themselves, and now, they are starving and being hunted down and shot and poisoned by vicious human beings who have decided that they are just another nuisance to be disposed of, like the tons of trash still heaped on these city streets.

MaxA sweet black and white cat named Max was recently found with an arrow protruding through his chest, and despite emergency veterinary surgery, little Max died a few days ago.  Numerous dogs have been shot by guns, and truly sick individuals are now placing bowls of antifreeze on the deserted streets to poison these starving and extremely de-hydrated animals.

As I cruised these dark eerie neighbourhoods at night, I saw hundreds of terrified dog and cat eyes forlornly staring back at me from abandoned buildings and homes.  As I cruised these areas in the daylight, I saw packs of starving dogs frantically running through backyards and abandoned homes desperately searching for food and sanctuary.  I also saw numerous emaciated, injured, sick, and pregnant cats forlornly huddled under cars and in blackened doorways and windows.

The only way that these animals can be rescued now is to live-trap them.  Once they are trapped, they are taken to a staging area in downtown New Orleans where they are immediately given medical care and shelter.  And hopefully, many of these untrusting animals can still be re-acclimated as pets and can soon find loving new homes.

Nearly five months after the storm, numerous kind-hearted compassionate animal rescue volunteers are still in New Orleans, still attempting to help these abandoned pets.  Many of them are now trapping these dogs and cats, and many of them are also making daily food and water drops to these devastated city neighbourhoods in our attempts to assist these truly desperate starving ‘left behind’ creatures.

We will never be able to rescue them all, but we continue to try, one animal at a time.  And although their plight truly sickens us, each and every successful rescue makes each and every rescuer feel just a tad better.

We have rescued thousands of truly sweet docile ‘left behind’ dogs and cats over the course of the last five months who will now get a second chance at life – a chance that each and every one of them truly deserves – from each and every one of us.

And the largest animal rescue effort ever launched in the United States sadly continues – one ‘left behind’ pet at a time.

Thousands of them are now being cared for at animal shelters and humane societies all across America.  Perhaps you could find it in your heart to adopt just one of them – to make room – for just one more.

©2006, Ed Kostro

 


In Honour of the Last Star Wars Movie, And Based on a True Story Of Two Canines Who Invaded a Feline Home, And the Valiant Cats Who Fought Back 

Whenever You Are Down And You Feel There Is No Hope Remember This Tale 

A short time ago, in a galaxy not that far away, trouble was brewing on the planet Catnip.  Its gentle, wise, contemplative, and cerebral feline residents were under attack from the evil Canine Empire.  And, they were fraught with worry.

The serene residents of Catnip were accustomed to peace, tranquility, and the finer things in life.  They had long ago given up lives of violence, hatred, and aggression.

They had evolved.

In their advanced, enlightened stage, however, they were totally unprepared to wage war of any sort.  They were certainly not prepared to face the onslaught of the evil Canine Empire.

One of the Empire’s many subjects, the tiny Bark Invader known as Chica Blanca, had lived among them for several years, but she had been vastly outnumbered and outmaneuvered since she had arrived.  She had never been a serious threat to their continued peace and tranquility.

But unbeknownst to the residents of Catnip, the cunning Bark Invader had been plotting a desperate takeover for quite some time.  She had also been doggedly seeking a canine cohort to assist her in this dastardly plot.

Now, she had finally found one; and, she had done her homework well.  She had enlisted the services of a giant, evil, marauding canine known throughout the galaxy for his crude, barbaric, uncivilized ways.  She had enlisted – Darth Turbo – a black-hearted canine ruffian from a distant desert world.

The residents of Catnip were now doomed.  Sadness and hopelessness now filled their once happy feline world.

Luckily, a heroic feline leader soon stepped forward amidst this great turmoil and unrest.  He had arrived from his home world of Felinia many years prior.  His name was CatEye Master Yoda Buddy.

From the moment he declared war on the evil Canine Empire, all the residents of Catnip knew that if any feline in the entire galaxy could save them, it was Master Yoda Buddy.

His fame and his legend were known far and wide.  He was simply a genius at war strategy and tactics.  He also had a strange mystical aura about him.  The benevolent feline gods had definitely bestowed the ancient ‘Feline Force’ upon him.

Princess Gabriella immediately summoned Master Yoda Buddy to her Kitty Kastle and implored him to address the Catnip Grand Council to reassure them that he could help in their dire plight.

Master Yoda Buddy readily agreed; and he gave a fine speech that day about the nobility of the ancient feline race and its overwhelming capacity to survive against any and all odds.

Before long, each and every Catnip resident was feeling much better.

Master Yoda Buddy soon initiated his great CatEye Knight training program.  Princess Gabriella’s own step brother, Prince Montgomery Catwalker, soon became Yoda’s finest student, and a great warrior and leader in his own right.

Young Tuffy Bird-Catcher also soon became a proficient warrior, as did apprentice Jessie Jouster, Prince Monty’s second in command.

Master Yoda Buddy taught all of his pupils extremely well.  He taught them how to use their speed, their wits, their keen eyesight, their sheer numbers, and of course, their superior intelligence, against this barbaric, uncivilized canine attack.

Before long at all, the CatEye Knights were ready to launch their very noble counter attack.

Unfortunately, the Great War waged on for months.  Sometimes it appeared that no progress was being made at all.  The tiny Bark Invader and the gigantic Darth Turbo kept coming and coming.

They would nip, bite, bark, and run.  They would raid the sacred Catnip food piles.  They would steal priceless Catnip treasures.  And, they would hide in ambush and snarl hideously.  They were relentless.

But the ancient Feline Force had definitely returned to the residents of Catnip, and their hearts were brave and true and strong.  They fought on and on, and somehow, they persevered.

Their cunning, patience, and endurance were finally rewarded one great and fateful afternoon at the Historic Battle of Litter Box Hill.

Prince Montgomery Catwalker and his CatEye Knights surrounded, faced down, and finally defeated, the cunning Bark Invader and the evil Darth Turbo.

Master Yoda Buddy, himself, was summoned to confront the two fallen canine villains.  A hush enveloped Catnip as Master Buddy sagely contemplated their fate.

In his great feline wisdom, Master Yoda Buddy did not order these two canines killed or even banished from the kingdom.  He had decided to allow them to remain on Catnip and to live in peace with its feline residents, if they would vow in their canine hearts and souls to give up their evil barking, biting, raiding ways.

Both the tiny Bark Invader and the giant Darth Turbo immediately agreed.

Even though they were only canines, they were both smart enough to know when they were licked!

The End

 May The Feline Force be With You, Too

 

©2005, Ed Kostro

"God help the outcasts,
Show them the mercy
they don't find on earth;
God help my people,
we look to you still;
God help the outcasts,
or nobody will." 
The Hunchback of Notre Dame,

Lakeshore LouieAs I sat serenely at the deserted lakeshore
Eagerly listening to nature's sunrise serenade
I soon felt something gently brush up against me
Under the tall tree's thick early morning shade

I looked down and soon saw a truly forlorn creature
It was emaciated and had extremely sad haunted eyes
Its fur was muddy dirty flea-riddled and badly matted
And I soon heard its very plaintive heart-wrenching cries

It was a small brown tiger-striped cat
Who truly looked to be in need of a good friend
So I gingerly picked it up and carried it to my truck
As it desperately clung to my side without end

I soon wrapped this poor starving creature
In a thick blanket that I keep inside my truck
And it slowly began purring somewhat contentedly
Believing it had finally found some compassion and luck

As I drove this extremely frightened waif to my vet's office
I sensed its anguish and began talking to it soothingly
I also told my new friend and travelling companion
That I had decided to name him Lakeshore Louie

My veterinarian carefully examined this forlorn furry creature
And told me that Louie had been on his own for a very long time
He had been a house pet and then obviously abandoned by the lake
Which we both knew was a far too frequent and hideous human crime

I don't know if I'll end up keeping my new pal Lakeshore Louie
But if I don't keep him I have pledged to find him a loving new home
I believe that we all have a duty to help out our neighbours whenever we can
Especially those neighbours who are homeless starving and in this world so alone

Very sadly to me, both spring and summer, traditional moving times for most people, find many re-locating humans callously 'dumping' thousands of their once cherished pets, in the false believe that they can now take care of themselves.

They dump them in forest preserves, by lakeshores, on America's highways and back roads, near a neighbour’s residence that has pets, and they even leave them in empty homes and apartments - to fend for themselves.  These humans are much too busy to even have the decency to drop them off at a local animal shelter - or perhaps, much too embarrassed.

And many of these once pampered pets don't have either the hunting skills or the cunning to survive very long on their own.

My cat, Gabby, was found in a vacant hi-rise apartment - with no food or water.

My cat, Monty, was dumped at a restaurant parking lot - probably after his owners enjoyed their last meal in town, before moving on - without him.

My tiny dog, Blanca, was left in a big city alley.

My giant mutt, Turbo, was found aimlessly wandering a desolate desert highway.

And my cat, Patty, about to give birth, was tossed into a dumpster behind a factory.

Not very long ago, I stopped at a tollbooth on the highway, and the toll collector asked me if I wanted a puppy - a moving van had just come by, and someone inside it had hideously tossed a box containing six German shepherd pups onto the pavement before speeding away.  This compassionate woman had rushed out in heavy traffic to scoop them up before they were crushed.

Every spring and summer, America's animal shelters are over-flowing with these woefully abandoned creatures - these truly innocent, frightened, modern day outcasts - and the majority of them will be sadly euthanized.

Perhaps you can find it in your heart to adopt one of them.

And please help any of your homeless neighbours in need - both the human, and the nonhuman kind.

"I don't know if you can hear me,
Or if you're even there;
I don't know if you would listen
To a lonely gypsy's prayer;
Yes, I know I'm just an outcast,
I shouldn't speak to you;
But, still, I see your face, and I wonder,
Were you once an outcast, too?"

©2005, Ed Kostro




In Christian households, Easter, of course, is celebrated as the religious holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. But the celebrations of Easter have many customs and legends that pre-date Christ. 

Kitten and skunkMany scholars, accepting the derivation proposed by the 8th-century English scholar St. Bede, believe the name ‘Easter’ is thought to come from the Scandinavian ‘Ostra’ and the Teutonic ‘Ostern’ or ‘Eastre,’ both ancient Goddesses of Mythology signifying Spring and Fertility, whose festival was celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox.

Traditions associated with this ancient pagan festival survive in the Easter Rabbit, a symbol of fertility, and in coloured Easter Eggs, originally painted with bright colours to represent the sunlight of Spring.

We’ve all heard of the Easter Bunny, but have you heard this tale of the Easter Skunk?

It was just last spring, around Easter time, when a stray female cat and her one tiny surviving kitten were brought to an animal shelter by a kind-hearted soul.

Sadly, this particular shelter had more unwanted waifs then they could possibly adopt out, and mama cat and her kitten were scheduled to be euthanized.

Miraculously, they received a second chance at life – an Easter Renewal of Life, if you will - due to a most unusual benefactor.

Fortunately for the baby kitten and its mother, a 3-week old orphaned baby skunk was also dropped off at the same animal shelter, just before the two felines were to be put to sleep.

 Instead of bottle-feeding the orphaned skunk, shelter workers soon decided to put the infant skunk in the cage with the nursing mother cat to see what would happen.

Amazingly, the mother cat quickly took to nurturing the skunk as if it were her own offspring.

I can’t help but wonder if this wise old cat somehow knew that she had received a great Easter gift.

The baby skunk and the infant kitten quickly bonded and nursed and played together, and they soon became like brother and sister.

Because the animal shelter doesn't keep wild animals, a wild animal rescue group compassionately took in not only the baby skunk, but the mother cat and her kitten, as well.

After the orphaned skunk was weaned, it was released back into the wild, and a home was eventually found for both the momma cat and her precious baby.  Their lives had been miraculously ‘resurrected.’

Second chances in life often come about when you least expect them; and from some very unusual sources.

And the Easter Holiday truly can bring all sorts of miracles, to all sorts of God’s creatures.

© Ed Kostro 2005

Be sure to check out Ed's websites:

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

www.authorsden.com/edkostro


 

 

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  • Reduces the number of unwanted kittens

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