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Mary Ellen and Miss Wings
Mary Ellen
Tips 'n' Tales Newspaper Columnist with Miss Wings

Street Vagabond
to Hero of the Heart
* Kleenex Warning- Tear Alert*
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Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"©
Betty Tisdale, world traveler, humanitarian, and mother of ten adopted children,
recently fell in love and adopted Connor, an orange tabby from an animal shelter. 
The love Connor demonstrates for another cat is heroic!


Betty grew up with the harsh rule "NO PETS." Later, in her thirties, a friend leaving on vacation left her cat with Betty.  Along with the cat came the realization that Betty didn't have much knowledge about pets.  Betty phoned her friend in a panic, "I am deeply concerned about your cat's health!  She is making odd noises!"  Her friend laughingly informed Betty, "That is what a purr sounds like!"

Betty Tisdale is a quiet celebrity and world-renown woman.  She was originally inspired by Dr. Tom Dooley, author of "Deliver us from Evil", about his efforts rescuing babies and children in Vietnam.
During the last 50 years of Betty's humanitarian work, she has been featured in print media as well as on many TV shows around the world, including NBC Dateline, USA Today, Evening Magazine, Life Magazine, "Chicken Soup for the Soul", "Chicken Soup for the Adopted Soul", "Expect Miracles", etc.  She was also interviewed by Barbara Walters on the Today Show, and Betty even has a CBS movie "The Children of An Lac" which was made about her amazing life's journey. 

Shirley Jones played Betty's part in the movie as Betty rescued and found homes for 219 Vietnamese orphans in the USA, during the fall of Vietnam in April 1975.

Since 1961, Betty has personally delivered vitamins, books, clothes, hand sanitizers, school/medical supplies and money for necessities to her orphanages.  Her efforts have funded the building of several orphanages and schools in war torn areas.  Now, she is in need of money to purchase computers for the orphans. 

During the Vietnam era, she married a medical doctor (when she was 49) who had five children.  All boys!  So on subsequent trips to Vietnam, Betty evened up the number and adopted five orphan girls-- three were babies right out of their cribs! 
It was too hard to decide who to adopt, and who to leave behind.  So she took the first five female children she walked past.  But not just any child, Betty reveals, "I decided to adopt the babies who looked like they might not survive."

One of these children, Thuvan, shares, "Much like how Mom chose her cat Connor, she always picked the children who looked like they were close to death.  For Mom, it is a challenge to take someone (or something) that is close to dying and nurse them back to health-- sort of like a getting a "Gold Star" for saving a life. 
For instance, I only weighed 6 pounds, at 6 months old, when my mother saw me.  She  took me out of the orphanage and gave me to her friend in the British Embassy.  They cared for me until I could be legally adopted."

Because Betty was not raised with pets, she embraced her children's desire to have pets. "When I married, and we had 10 children, one dog just did not seem like enough!  So, over the years, each child brought a stray pet home.  We soon had a menagerie of 11 cats, 3 dogs, and a small pig...until the pig grew larger than the child!"

Today, all ten are adults and their love of animals continues.

Some people wake up and wonder what to do with their day.  Not Betty.  When she travels overseas to the orphanages and leper colonies, she dearly misses her cats Brian and Gizmo.  They ground her to her home.

"The last time I was in Vietnam, my daughter, Kim Lan, called crying.  My beloved cat Brian had died," recalls Betty. "On my return, I immediately went to an animal shelter to find another precious cat.  How does one decide in two rooms of cats desperately seeking homes?  I stood once again in a dilemma. It is the same dilemma that touches my heart each time I walk into an orphanage.  This time, which of these furry babies desperately seeking a loving home should go home with me?  I chose a cat who looked just like Brian, a huge Maine Coon." 

The next day, the shelter phoned and said, "A family came into the shelter this morning, who lost their Maine Coon when they were moving.  They have identified his photo, and it is the cat you have."  Of course Betty was happy to return the cat to its original family.  Apparently, just knowing Betty, even if you are a cat, it has you rubbing close to miracles!

So, back to the shelter she went. This time a huge orange male cat turned his dirt-streaked face and beautiful green eyes to look at Betty. 
Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"© 
Connor's Compelling Green Eyes
She shares, "In that moment, it was like looking into the eyes of the many street urchins that I have rescued overseas.

In the shelter's visitors room, I held this large stray-street kitty. He would not leave my lap.  So, I gently brushed him and knew he was the cat for me. He is so lovable."  Just think, this was her second choice of a cat at the shelter!
Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"©
Betty and Connor Cuddling

The staff had named him Connor, because of his Irish red fur. But, what a sight! He had roamed the streets and had obviously seen the rough side. One ear lobe was hanging, he had a broken tooth and disheveled fur. 

"It took two baths to get the street grease off Connor.  And, now he is the most beautiful cat in the world!  He never leaves my side.  I put a box in my office, to keep him away from the printer, as he loves sitting beside it with his paw on the tray," explains Betty.

Betty's other cat Gizmo, 15 years old, became Connors other great love.  Gizmo had began his life in New York and migrated to Seattle with Betty's daughter, Mai Lara. Gizmo had lived in a 9th floor high-rise in New York, and now he had cancer. Betty's heart went out to him and she took him under her wing.  He could live the rest of his life at her home with more to view than just one window staring out onto another high-rise window. 

Gizmo loved Betty's backyard, he especially loved sitting amongst the flowers and shrubs.  And his new buddy, Connor always followed him like an orange shadow.  The three became inseparable.  If Betty was in one room, both cats were too. Even when she had a shower, both cats sat patiently in the bathroom waiting for her. 

As the days advanced, and it became evident that dear Gizmo was dying, he lay beside the warm heater grate.  Connor would sit next to him. 
Photo by Betty Tisdale©
Inseparable Friends
Photo by Betty Tisdale©
Connor keeping Gizmo company.

Betty quietly shares, "Gizmo would wobble out to the kitchen and Connor would sit patiently watching him eat, never interfering."
Photo by Betty Tisdale©
Connor teaching us all about patience, love and compassion,
while Gizmo eats off a silver platter.
"When Gizmo made a trip to the litter box, Connor would accompany him.  In Gizmo's last few days, he crawled under the dining room table. Connor held vigil beside Gizmo, as Gizmo's last comfort."
Photo by Betty Tisdale©
Gizmo finds comfort under the dining room table with Connor's company.

"My other daughter, Kim Lan, and I held a funeral for Gizmo in 'his' backyard. We were crying and left the door open so Connor could see what we were doing.  It is now months later, and Connor has never left the house since Gizmo died.  It is evident that Connor, like other pets, is deeply grieving the loss of his friend." 
Today, Betty at the age of 86 continues traveling the world, as the founder of H.A.L.O., Helping And Loving Orphans. She continues to show the world what love and adoption can do for both pets and people. She welcomes speaking dates about her orphans/orphanages in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Bogota Colombia and Mexico.
Kindly consider forwarding this amazing story on Betty on to local media in your area to help her continue helping the orphans.
Betty's daughter, Thuvan, is creating a book of Gizmo's and Connor's tale of love and compassion and is looking for a publisher.


Betty's Tip: "Adopt a child.  Adopt a pet.  Both will bring untold love into your life."
At the end of each Tips 'n' Tales is listed to help you locate and adopt pets. allows you to type in the breed of pet you want, your city and it then shows you available pets in shelters and rescue groups in your area.
Imagine 268,585 adoptable pets at your finger tips!  It is that easy!
NOTE:  FDA Report: report all adverse reactions related to your pet's food.   (425) 483-4949
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