Rae saves the day for many a stray

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 5, 2000

Six-year-old Kellie Rae may have her own TV show one day, starring as "Doc Holliday, Animal Healer."

This outgoing little girl loves to help out stray pets, and her Nannie's house is always a good place to start.

Nannie (Jeannette Holliday) says "everything with four legs shows up on my doorstop."

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Young Kellie is always ready to provide food, friendship and fun for these needy animals.

Photos by Angie Long

Some six-year-old girls dream of receiving the latest Barbie, the hottest new video game, or a frilly canopy bed.

Kellie Rae Holliday dreams of having her own shiny, pink, plump little-pig?

That's right, pig, as in "oink,oink".

"Well, they are awful cute, you know." Kellie reminds her family.

Sighing, her daddy Anthony responds, "Yeah, sugar, but we're not getting a pig… Ya'll are gonna have to make do with what you've got."

Most little girls would consider themselves pretty lucky to have what this Crenshaw Christian Academy's first grader has.

After all, she and big sis, ten-year-old Courtney, have their pool , a trampoline, bikes to ride and even a golf cart to cruise around in. There appears to be plenty of fun "stuff" to make a girl happy.

All those things are fun, sure, but can you cuddle up with them?

Will they love you unconditionally and lick your face every morning?

Do they make you feel all happy down inside? Of course not, silly.

And that's why Kellie Rae Holliday loves pigs and ponies and monkeys and bunnies, and especially, dogs and cats.

She has become a cross between a

modern-day female "Dr. Dolittle", someone who seems to speak the animals' languages, and a miniature Honoraville version of the ever-enthusiastic "Croc Hunter" on TV, always ready to round up another potential pet in need. "If we'd let her she'd have an entire menagerie living here.

She really has a great love for animals." Kellie's mom Susan explains.

Kellie's affection for animals goes back to her earliest years, to a much-adored

chocolate pure-bred boxer named "BoBo." Bobo had lived with Kellie Rae's mama and daddy for many years until the birth of Courtney.

Then he went to live nearby with his Nannie (Anthony's mom Jeanette Holliday) who developed a strong bond with the dog following the sudden death of her husband.

Everybody in the family, it seemed, loved BoBo, who was treated as a full-fledged member of the family (including his own birthday parties.)

Sadly, the dog passed away last year.

Yet he left many good memories of his long and loving life as the "Holliday Family Dog."

Kellie excitedly shows off some of the many snapshots taken of BoBo and his antics over the years. She also bubbles over with stories and shares snapshots of her beloved Bassett, Dolly.

"She was real sweet, she'd come and cuddle up in the bed with me and Courtney, stuff like that."

Unfortunately, little Dolly had one very bad habit-running out into the sometimes busy road.

Despite the Hollidays' efforts to break her from this, she was one day struck down by a vehicle and died.

Though Kellie misses her old pals, she takes comfort in knowing that both Bo and Dolly and all the other animals that have gone are up in Animal Heaven somewhere, just waiting on their humans to come and join them one day.

Kellie definitely lives by the credo,

"Tis better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all."

At an early age she's learned the hard lesson of saying "goodbye" to loved ones; it won't stop this kid from opening up her heart to more animals in need of TLC.

She currently has a grey male cat, Smokey, who is her absolute favorite pet of all.

"He's so pretty and so soft and sweet, and he'll sit on my shoulder, I really love him. Only he stays down at my Nannie's a lot; he likes Precious." Explains Kellie. Mom further adds with a twinkle in her eye,

"Precious is a lady cat, you see.

We'll soon have to take Smokey in to-ahh- "get a shot" so he won't be wandering off too much."

Kellie Rae and Courtney also have a pair of year-old white albino bunnies who live in hutches on the forest's edge.

"They are soft and cute but they have an attitude," sighs Kellie.

Courtney agrees.

"We tried to harness them and put them on leads. Oh, brother, they were hopping like crazy, shootin' those little poop pellets everywhere."

Now the bunnies are simply admired and handled within their hutches, and everyone is happier.

Kellie admits she can't resist the charms of the numerous strays that show up at her Nannie's, or the family's nearby church.

It breaks her heart to see an animal go hungry.

She grew indignant with Nannie when she wouldn't allow Kellie to feed the latest stray, "Wishbone".

"I think it's just bad to let hungry dawgs and kitties go hungry. I don't have to go hungry, why should they?" Kellie insists.

One evening last year after a church social, Kellie happened to spy a very thin and miserable-looking mutt outside the fellowship hall. She took her few scraps out which the dog eagerly accepted.

Hurriedly, Kellie returned to the fellowship hall and began soliciting scraps from every man, woman, and child in there to go towards the "Starvin' Dawg" Fund.

For at least one night, that was a full-bellied, contented mutt, thanks to the kindness of a kindergartner.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that a new "church cat" showed up on the front portico one Sunday morning.

Who do you think was the first one to give it a good cuddle? Yep, ole "Doc Holliday" herself.

One day she'd like to have a big farm with room for all her critters; maybe she'll even become a real doctor, the animal kind, who knows?

One thing's for certain-Kellie Rae Holliday loves animals, not just as playthings, but as fellow creatures of God who sometimes need the help of human hands and the compassion of our hearts.

Age is, after all, no prerequisite for wisdom; we older folks can learn a lot from these little ones.