Sixteen year old Emily loved Thursday afternoons. That was the day she volunteered at the Chelsea Animal Shelter. She had become the youngest person to work at the shelter four years previously when her mother suggested she give it a try after seeing her face when she was told, once again, that they couldn't have a pet. Emily knew it wasn't her little brother's fault that he was so allergic to animals that he had to carry an inhaler. She just felt that it wasn't fair that she should love animals so much and not be able to have them. "I wish I hated every dog and cat in the world," she cried. "You love them because you are a caring person" was her mother's gentle reply. Sue Diamond secretly hoped that when her daughter saw the poor animals at their worst, she would feel better about not having one. If that didn't happen, she would, at least, be able to spend some time with them.
When the shelter agreed that Emily could come in and help with the animals care, she was more excited than she had been over any gift. She loved being able to pet them, take the dogs for a walk and even clean up after them. She took time to visit every animal but her favourites where the older ones. "Everyone loves the puppy's and kittens," she would say, "and they are cute but the older dogs and cats need me more. They aren't likely to ever get adopted."
She hated seeing them in wire cages. They looked so sad and Emily was sure that they weren't comfortable. The staff told her the enclosures had to be designed that way so they could be kept clean but Emily thought there had to be a way to help.
She was telling her mother about the problem as she watched Sue work on a quilt she was making for an elderly friend. "I wish", said Emily, " I could make a quilt for all the animals to lie on."
Sue looked up at her, thought for a moment. "You can." "I can. How?" "Well, they would have to be a lot smaller, of course, and washable. Why don't we make a couple and you can take them to the shelter and see if the staff like them."
Emily was even more anxious for Thursday to arrive that week. The two little quilts were clutched in her hand as she went to find the director. After explaining the reason behind the quilts, she laid them on the desk. One was smaller than the other and suitable for cats or small dogs. The other was twice the size for the larger dogs. Both had a short stitch length so nails wouldn't get caught and were closely quilted so it would stand up to repeated washings. "These are lovely, Emily," the director smiled, "but could you make enough for all the cages and some spares?" Oh, yes. Mom said she would ask all the quilters she knows to help make them. She said they could even do some that could be given to the people who adopt the animals."
In a very short time, Chelsea's quilters had provided enough cage quilts, as they came to be known, for every animal at the shelter. They had, in fact, made so many, that the staff was able to provide the older dogs with two so they could have the extra warmth much to Emily's delight.