A gift ‘Too Sweet’ for words

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Chris Stewart died three years ago. His family wanted to make a gift to the Central Alabama Animal Shelter in his memory. Chris loved animals, and his parents, Joan and Johnny Stewart, thought Chris would have deeply appreciated the family’s gift.

His niece, Madelyn Stewart, also known as &uot;Too Sweet,&uot; the daughter of Linda and Matt Stewart, was chosen to make the gift. Madelyn, 3, is a student at Leika’s at Church Street Methodist.

Like all the Stewarts Madelyn loves animals and herself has a bassett hound named Abigail. Joan Stewart said the family had a long-standing relationship with the shelter and that family members had gotten pets from the organization over the years.

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All was in readiness, except for the 3-year-old donor. Pretty enough to win any beautiful child contest, the more she was gently coaxed, strongly urged &045; finally begged &045;

to smile and give the check to Teresa Martin, operations manager, the more upset she became.

Then &uot;Petie,&uot; the mascot of the shelter appeared &045; actually worker Karen Cline in costume &045; hoping to close the deal.

Alas, Petie engendered fright, even when her big stuffed head was taken off, revealing, well, Karen.

So the door to the room adjoining the office &045; the cat room &045; was opened. Madelyn’s grandmother carried her into the room and began introducing her to the cats in the cages one by one. Some held out their little paws and the ice began to melt, but still no hoped-for happy face.

So all the adults left, having given up on the photo shoot, and that’s when things began to happen.

The reporter glanced through the door and spied Madelyn on her knees having a very intimate conversation with a single cat, in a cage situated right by the door.

The reporter stealthily entered the room and captured the moment in which the gift was finally given &045; and received. Stealth was really not required, because Madelyn by then had entered into her own world of joy, a world of giving and receiving love.

The smile on Madelyn’s face turned out to be the story.

If you the reader would like to share your life with one of these little forsaken creatures, call the Central Alabama Animal Shelter at (334) 872-5683.

And if you already have a pet, please have the animal neutered or spayed.

Teresa Martin said that in her four and one-half years as operations manager, more than 7,000 animals have passed through her doors. Most never leave alive.

Help make Teresa Martin’s day &045; and that of her hardworking, loving staff &045; and call today about adding a new member to your family.