By Jeff Nations
WINCHESTER -- Kamryn Dixon had plenty of choices -- that's for sure -- in selecting an animal for a newspaper profile.
Dixon, an animal caretaker at Frederick County's Esther L. Boyd Animal Shelter, was tasked with that imposing selection this week. The dozens of dogs currently housed at the shelter were straight out of the running, in Dixon's mind -- the last such feature went to a canine, and Dixon plays it fair.
That left the cats -- 117 of them on Tuesday morning, with more always arriving and some lucky ones departing to new homes.
Tough task? No doubt, but Dixon had just the feline in mind.
Rachel, a 7-year-old black-and-white domestic shorthair, isn't one of the easiest adoptable animals at the shelter. Dogs always go quicker, for one thing, and kittens often steal the hearts of those looking to adopt from the multitude of available cats.
So Rachel has been waiting since March 10 when she was handed over to the shelter as a custody release.
"I don't know what happened with the owner, if she was left behind or not, but we kept her in here a stray period to give the owner time to come in. They never did," Dixon said. "She was nice, she was friendly, so we gave her a shot and put her up front."
Rachel isn't what might be described as an unusual cat, not like the three-legged tom -- and his sister -- who were recently adopted from the facility. Rachel is "smallish" and won't be mistaken for a purebred. What she is, in Dixon's experience of being around her for months, is adaptable.
"I don't' think she's one of those that needs a special house, that needs to play all the time 24/7," Dixon said. "That's a good thing with cats. They'll come around when they want your attention and will go away when they don't."
"She'd be great with families, single adults, couples, anything like that."
That's not to say Rachel is the stereotypical aloof kitty -- really, she's anything but that.
"She is really loving," Dixon said. "She loves you to cuddle with her. She can be playful, but most of the time she just wants you to pet her and hold her, and be a nice little couch potato."
Rachel arrived at the shelter alone, but Dixon said she's done fine with socializing with other cats. For never having been in a shelter before, Rachel's spirits have remained upbeat despite her long wait. That friendly demeanor is what has Dixon convinced that Rachel is the perfect companion animal for someone.
"She just wants to be loved -- all the time," Dixon said. "She's still got a good bit of life left in her, a good bit of love left to give."
The Esther L. Boyd Animal Shelter is located at 161 Fort Collier Road, Winchester. For more information on Rachel, call 540-667-9192