Death In The Afternoon

I had to put the cat down on Saturday afternoon. It was a sad thing, of course, as it always is when you have to say goodbye to a pet. The cat was diagnosed as a diabetic a few weeks back, which is not unusual with dogs and cats these days. It is a treatable condition, that is easier to manage in animals than humans. Your animal is not going to cheat on its diet or forget to take its insulin. With a little discipline and the willingness to master a few medical skills, you can manage a diabetic pet with little trouble.

On Friday night, the cat took a turn for the worse, so I went into the vet not entirely sure what to expect. They took blood and sent me home with some instructions. I figured they were humoring me, so I spent the night making my peace with what I expected was coming. The next day I learned, after further examination, that the cat had a rare type of cancer that was the real cause of the diabetes. They found tumors on his pancreas, which is not treatable, so I made the decision to put the poor thing out of his suffering.

While waiting to see the vet on Saturday, a woman I know came into the office. She was there to say goodbye to her dog. Apparently they called her with the bad news and she came into to complete the process. That was my guess anyway. The girl at the desk seemed to know what to do, despite the fact the woman was sobbing uncontrollably. She sat down on the bench next to me. Out of instinct, I guess, I don’t know, I slid over and put my arm around her. She collapsed against me into a mess of tears and wailing.

I don’t know what it is, but the sound of a woman crying touches some unexamined part of my being. It’s crazy, I’m sure, but that sound reminds me why a man is willing to fight another man to the death or leave his lands to sack the city of some bastard who insulted his people. My grandfather always said that a man protects those who need protection and defends those who need defending. Maybe that’s all there is to it and the sound of a woman crying just triggers those lessons I heard a million times as a kid.

There was nothing I could do for her, obviously, other than to be a shoulder to cry on, as she waited to say goodbye to her dog. Sitting there, being kind to a neighbor, my burden felt a bit lighter. There are always others worse off than you. That’s something I always try to keep in the front of mind. My life is not a walk in the park, but it is not an endless stream of misery either. Most people, it seems, carry around a lot more baggage than me, or they are less able to carry the load than me. Either way, I’m a pretty lucky guy.

Coming home, alone with my thoughts, I thought about how serendipity had intervened to make a tough situation a bit less difficult. My first pet, as an adult, was a cat. Growing up, we had dogs, so I had a bias against cats. The women I was dating at the time thought I needed a pet and she suggested a cat. I was skeptical about the whole thing, but a man does what he must at that age, so I got a cat. It turned out that cats are just like dogs, in that they are what you make of them. Me and the cat went on great adventures together.

At the end of his time, he got sick and I did the back and forth with the vet as you do with pets. It was new to me as an adult, so I got caught up in the process, thinking that there was a potentially good result. When it was time to put an end to it all, I struggled with the decision. I just couldn’t bring myself to say goodbye. Then one night the cat staggered down the hall with his old toy in his mouth. He could barely walk, but to the very end he was going to be all the cat he was ever going to be. I was quite touching.

That night, I could not help but think that maybe I just learned a great truth. That cat was just a cat, but he was never cheated. Who knows what goes on in the head of a pet, but they are here to be our pets. It is literally what they are made for and they are that fully and completely. We lose sight of that as people. Our point in life is to use all of our time completely. There are no do overs or restarts. You just have the time you have and you better use all of it being all the you possible. Life is for living. Don’t cheat yourself.

Perhaps that’s why we keep pets. Long ago, domesticating dogs for work or allowing cats to live among us to keep down the rodent population made practical sense. Keeping animals solely as pets has no obvious purpose, other than to make the time we have more enjoyable. Maybe seeing these little critters come into the world and become their purpose fully and completely makes understanding our own purpose easier. It’s a lot easier to grasp the purpose of a dog or cat than the purpose of that crazy relative in the family.

I will say, that this time was a bit more difficult than other last trips to the vet. I’ve had a lot of animals over the years. Some were better than others. This was a good one. Just about every post I’ve written was done with him lying behind the keyboard. Every podcast was done with him lying next to the microphone. For over a dozen years he was a comforting fixture in my life. He was there at the door when I got home and at the door when I went off to work every day. As pets go, he was a good one and I will miss him.

86 thoughts on “Death In The Afternoon

  1. It sucks to loose a creature you are responsible for, who you love and treasure. Right to the end you must always defend and protect what you love and hold dear, or you are not a whole Christian Man. Courage is more than going ahead into danger regardless of how afraid you are, it is doing what needs doing, owning it. Its always the proper thing as a Man of The West to get right with such things. It is a process, it never has an ending, you grow into it in some ways as you go, it is always a test of the Man you are. Thats how I see it anyways for myself, can not speak for others, in part because it is very personal and totally relative.
    I’m sorry your cat’s time was up. I can say you are not alone Mr. Z. A similar situation came up recently where one of our dogs had to be put down. Like how when it is time to butcher our pigs or fowls, I learned as a boy because of my Grandfather’s love, you must do the deed yourself. The first time I shot a deer, as a little boy, Pop asked me how I felt about killing my deer. I said I felt sad, but looked forward to some great meat after a few moments of thinking why Pop asked me how I felt. Pop said thats good son, your supposed to feel remorse. Killin’ time should effect your soul, or you would be something other than a man.
    Not for the first time did I put down a beloved animal with a bullet between the eyes. You have to look into those eyes, and you always remember your deed. Its hard to come to terms with. The great examination of your soul, searching for what is lacking, and how it all fits into the cycle of human activity and life itself. It comes to you a myriad of times. You carry it always. But I’ll tell you what I have never been able to forgive myself, was a time I bought a old farm been abandoned for a decade, all grown up with young forrest. I had a cat I rescued outside my shop, he had silver roof coating completely cover his left side, took weeks to cut it away. He had fangs that hung below his jaw, no voice but purred like a big cat. I made the mistake of leaving Matty outside when I ran down to town to get supplies, I came back and Matty was gone.
    I failed Matty, he was my charge. I knew better but dropped the ball. I killed him. And all I think about when remembering Matty was the terror and how alone he was at the moment a Coyote or other predator got him. I will go to my grave with that mark on my soul, and will have no excuse for Saint Peter. Only my disgrace and shame for what happened to Matty. He was a my friend. In his worst moments as a stray, he accepted me, trusted me unconditionally. That is true love right there.

  2. A little surprising to see so many men here reveal a fondness for the felines. Z really struck a chord with this fine eulogy.
    Had a silvery-grey green-eyed male I acquired as a 6 wk old kitten,huge ears & eyes. He looked like a baby fruitbat. Eventually he grew into a truly handsome creature,athletic and quite vocal. Had him for 18 wonderful years.

    Reminds me of what the Tin Woodsman said “Now I know I have a heart…because it’s breaking.”

  3. Sorry for your loss. I lost one of the best cats I ever had in July of this year and I still think about her all the time. I’ve lost three dogs in my lifetime and that cat was probably the most difficult grieving I had. I enjoy your blog and normally lurk but I thought I’d extend my condolences.

  4. Your cat companion clearly defied the stereotype of the aloof, uncaring feline. So did my buddy who passed away in July. Although I have nothing against dogs, I’ve come to believe that cats have a special place in the human world. Dogs are biologically programmed to be social creatures, so their affection for humans is not all that extraordinary. Cats, on the other hand, are largely solitary so a loving, affectionate cat is behaving in a way that is contrary to its nature. Your cat, and mine, acted against thousands of years of evolution and instinct to be our companions . . . and that makes them all the more remarkable.

  5. I’m sorry for the loss of your valued companion Z. They get inside our hearts and stay there, making life better in ways difficult to express. The thing that surprises me, and it shouldn’t because I know better, is the empathy they can display. While grieving with my head down on the table for our 18 year old ginger tabby our second cat, a five year old female who had previously ignored me, jumped up on the table and shoulder dived against me as if to say, “it’s alright, I got this.”

  6. Z Man;
    Very sorry for your loss. I was thinking about whether it would be worse to have to put down a pet or just have them disappear. Up in my neck of the (literally) woods we all know what a ‘missing pet’ poster means – coyote chow. That too is heartbreaking.


  7. Sorry for your loss Zman. I had to put mine down some years ago and I remember it like it happened yesterday. They ask for so little, yet give so much in return. I think everyone in your blog shares a common sentiment in your grief. God bless.

  8. My condolences on your loss.
    My late wife and I had a pet female cockatiel – a little bird. Cockatiels are natives of Australia, members of the parrot family. Believe it or not, that little bird had an amazing personality and was quite intelligent. She would sit on your shoulder as you walked around the house – unsafe to go outside with her uncaged. But one day when she was about 9 1/2 years old, I heard a plop behind me, turned around and saw her fallen to the bottom of her cage. When I reached in she was lifeless. Heart attack, stoke? Who knows. I bawled my head off and buried her in my back yard. I still go out there every once in a while and talk to her, just a habit by now, and I have never replaced her.

  9. I know that in my adolescence / young adulthood, when he was alive, I’d have valued our family dog’s life a lot more than many humans. I miss him now thinking about him. Is that wrong, depends on your philosphy of life I suppose.
    Something that is clear to me (my wife thinks so too) is that for many people, most especially women, in modern western society pets are used a substitute for children. This is especially bought home if you spend any time in developing countries and see how animals are regarded there. The pets as a substitute for children is, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say, to the point of pathology: indeed it’s one contributing factor to the low fertility rates in western nations. I don’t mean to say pets are bad but that the fetishizing of them as substitute children is one symptom of the decay of western civilization, further I think it’s something that demonstrates the extreme difficultly in reversing the decline of western civilization… though that’s part of a thesis that would take more than a blog comment to justify.

  10. Zman, I am really sorry. That was a touching tribute. Apart from living the life you shared with your cat well, I feel like you did right by him with this eulogy.

  11. So sorry for your loss Zman. We have been there a number of times with our three dogs and more recently, our cat. I thought we were done with pets but after reading your post tonight, I think I might rethink that decision. There is nothing like the unconditional love of a furry friend.

  12. I’m glad you were there to comfort the woman.

    When a beloved pet dies, I always think of what Martin Luther allegedly said to his beloved dog, “Be thou comforted, little dog, Thou too in Resurrection shall have a little golden tail.” Even if he never said it, I dearly love it. Pets are one of God’s greatest gifts.

    God bless you and may He put another little soul in your life soon who needs your care and love.

  13. Beautiful piece Z. I had a cat I found on a carpentry job sealing up a former dope house. He was a kitten but never stopped being feral and straight up streets. He was a character and gave us a lot of joy until a car took him out. Still have a wonderful 14 year old mutt who still has some game. I’ll be the one crying at the vet when she goes.

  14. I’ve had a quite a few cats over the years. Some were eaten by coyotes, some got run over, some just disappeared. It’s always hardest to take one to be put down.

    My mom’s first cat lived until I was about 6. It was diagnosed with feline leukemia and there was no treatment at the time. She couldn’t bring herself to put it down. I remember listening to it die as it lay in a cardboard box, crying out in agony for some time before he finally went, my mom crying hysterically the entire time.

    Always put your pets down when it’s time. Ease their suffering. Anything otherwise is motivated by (innocent) selfishness, not compassion.

    Sorry about your cat.

  15. Sorry for your loss. the loss of anything is harder on conservatives, we wish the best of life can continue, but it cannot.
    Listened to Death in the Afternoon by Hemingway.
    Did he do anything other than attend bullfighting matches?
    Went to a bullfight in Spain, glorious, horrifying and wondrous as man dominates the animal world.
    Love of a pet is wondrous as well, connection made with another species!
    Like a spaceman! Connected to another world. Affection is a virtue!
    God bless and keep you.

  16. So sorry to hear of the passing of your sweet kitty, Z Man. I grew up with a big dog and only later in life, thanks to my “crazy cat lady”, have I learned to appreciate cats. Which is why I could never get onboard the fashion in “our thing” to use their love of cats to insult liberal women. Cats are wonderful friends and my kitties are an important part of my emotional well-being.


    Two hours prior, on a warm spring day,
    the vet arrived for the last house call.
    We held our golden, Buckley, as
    the phenobarb flowed to
    release us all from pain.

    A few hours later,
    a drive to fetch food.
    At a red light wait,
    a guy pulls up
    windows down
    in the adjacent lane,
    a golden in his front seat
    and another in the back.

    I said through our windows,
    “Very poignant, my golden died today.”
    As the light changed and we had to move on,
    the man revealed perfect understanding
    as he gave the perfect reply, “Peace”

  18. So sorry, Zman. Losing a pet is always a heartbreak. Funny, when I was a kid cats were the one animal I didn’t like, and now I can’t imagine life without them. Wonderful creatures. God bless.

    • P.S. When the time comes for another cat, if you have any interest in either the Abyssinian breed or Egyptian Mau, I know excellent breeders for both. My Egyptian Mau was the most intelligent pet I’ve ever had, and my Aby had more personality even than many dogs I’ve had. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t think of them both. Be well.

  19. I grew up with dogs, but do to my job I went with a cat as a pet for the first time. I had her for 20 years and had to put her down this morning.She was a great pet and Im going to miss her. I’m sorry you had to put your cat down as well. Thank you for writing this article.

    • On the sunny side, you can always count your blessings. I love dogs (merely tolerant of cats), but many members of my family, both in childhood and adulthood, are severely allergic to animal dander. So, no pets for us, ever. I always wanted a couple of dogs, still do, but we can’t have everything. On to other satisfactions.

      As Don van Vliet put it,

      In this lifetime,
      You got my Human-gets-me Blues.

  20. Once upon a time, women were genuinely fond of men, enjoyed their company, and would willing and routinely engage in tactile affection. Those days are gone, but pets have stepped into the breech to provide that stimulus for us. Both dogs and cats innately love giving and receiving tactile affection, and its a win-win as they say. Soon modern feminist women will completely abdicate tactile interaction with men; but fear not, technology in the form of sex robots is now a reality. God help us if they improve the point where they’re better than the organic version.

  21. I am so sorry for your loss. I’ve gone through the same pain over the years with many cats. Down to one now and don’t plan to get another one when she goes. Take care. I am hugely grateful that I found your blog because you are the best one on the blogosphere today.

  22. I’m so sorry ZMan, you did the right thing in not letting your buddy suffer unnecessarily. Many of us have been in that same position and wish you comfort while you mourn the loss of your friend.

  23. Pray you will take comfort in knowing that as you and your cat lived as friends, you also parted as friends. ‘Tis a pity that can’t be said about all relations between or among us humans.

  24. Z did a podcast a while ago with a segment on animal intelligence, and cats and dogs. It was unintentionally comical. I listened with a cat person and she got a kick out of it. Episode 28. At 42:00 min mark.

    He talked about how much smarter humans are than animals. I appreciated that because ever since I can remember the common cliche is that “chimpanzees, dolphins, (pick any animal) are a lot smarter than we think they are.”

    Well, since we’ve all been hearing that for so long, surely we’re now greatly overrating their intelligence. So it’s high time we get to point out how dumb animals actually are. Same goes for Prince. Everyone loves saying what an underrated guitarist he is. But if everyone is saying that, then he’s no longer underrated. In fact he’s overrated because he’s so “underrated”. Let’s settle this right now. He’s technically gifted but flashy. Every note is a show-off note.

  25. I’m very sorry for your loss, Zman.

    I enjoy both dogs and cats as well, but it’s been cats, stray and feral, and many, many of them, who’ve continually crossed my path in need of aid these last 10 years or so. Between their possession of unique personalities, their straightforwardness, honesty, and loyalty, and their inability to care for themselves off the land like truly wild animals, I feel duty bound to to see that they’re properly cared for.

    Almost nothing has drawn me closer to our fellow men like shared empathy toward animals, and almost nothing draws my fury and hate like human cruelty towards them. The beagle I adopted in grade-school died from renal failure as a result of the “2007 pet food recalls”, linked to a Chinese company. Between that, and videos I’ve seen on the internet (too many of them), let’s just say I don’t consider myself a friend of the Chinese. Their rise and spread is a major misfortune for animals, and the environment generally, across the world. That our elite have fantastically enriched them, to the detriment of our own working and middle classes, enabling their growth and spread across the earth, …. I wish the Mongols had chosen differently:

    • Cats by far have the greatest variety of personality. We’ve been breeding dogs for a long time. They are exactly what we made them. Cats have been domesticated for a much shorter time and there has not been a lot of manipulation by man. Some of the new breeds have been selected for certain traits, but mostly breeders select for health and color. The Ocicat is a good example. In the 60’s a woman bred an Abyssinian to a Siamese, hoping for a ticked Siamese. Instead she got spots. The personality of the breed is also rather unique.

      That said, you can get a dog for any personality and lifestyle. If you have kids, there are great dogs for kids. If you are old and slow moving, there are breeds for old people.

      • I know this is way too soon, so file it away for later. It you are looking for one of the newer crossbred cats, check out the Bengal Cat. They are ridiculously expensive, but we found ours at the shelter. Ours has been, by far, the most intelligent, sweet, and delightful of our many cats over the years.

        • Bengals have become popular. I read somewhere that the hybrids have much better health, so there’s a trend toward using small wild cats to try and improve some breeds that suffer from poor genetics. Expensive, but all kittens and puppies are pricey these days. My business partner spent something like three grans for a puppy his wife wanted.

          • I have a dog I adopted…rescued, really. I resolved to never buy a pet, when so many are euthanized. My lil’ fatso bully dog is nearing her end, so I have been thinking about this a lot lately.

      • Try a ragamuffin cat they are bread to be affectionate and love to be held. Ours was very sweet but they are very passive with dogs much to her detriment

  26. Well, this was a pleasant surprise….in a morbid kinda way I guess…

    I had a similar experience with the ONLY cat ever in my life…You handled the subject with aplomb…and I hope for your speedy recovery…

    I must say though (in a vain attempt to mimic your honesty) I started reading with the cynical anticipation that I KNEW where this was going….and that this was going to turn into a sexual harassment or public reprimand debacle for taking such obvious stereotypical liberties with a stranger of the opposite sex ….(if there is such a thing nowadays)

    There is hope for us after all…..


  27. Dear Z Man, I’m so sorry for your loss. It sounds like the two of you had a terrific run together, though. The joy these sweet creatures bring us!

    And thank you for being such a man, Z Man, comforting the grieving woman at the vet’s. Mark my words, she will never forget your kindness and the comfort only a man can provide a crying woman. You are a real man, with a noble heart, and every time she thinks of you it will be like a prayer. God bless you.

  28. When we lose a pet we lose a part of ourselves. He can never be replaced. That’s OK. There is another cat out there looking for you. You can bet on it. How lucky you are to have had time with him. He is in your pet hall of fame.

  29. I had a cocker who looked like a brown bear. At about 5 years old he started moving slow, then could barely walk. I spent thousands of dollars to figure out the issue, but even specialized vets couldn’t understand it. When he stopped eating his food I knew his time was near. So for dinner I brought him a double cheeseburger from McDonald’s. I hand fed it to him piece by piece and for those moments he was eager as a puppy. I’m glad I have that memory, and he had the thrill of a his favorite cheat meal. I woke up the next morning to find him stiff as a board. The difference from your warm, physically animate pet, changing to a cold, stiff object by morning, is hard to get your head around. You just sit beside him and stare down thinking it can’t be real. If you’re ever in this situation, do give your dog a great meal toward the end. You’ll remember watching him be so happy while eating it. Savory rotissieri chicken is a great choice too. There’s a reason why death row guys get a steak dinner at the end. It matters, for everyone involved.

  30. Old commie wrote a nice farewell.
    A Dog Has Died
    By Pablo Neruda

    “My dog has died.
    I buried him in the garden
    next to a rusted old machine.

    Some day I’ll join him right there,
    but now he’s gone with his shaggy coat,
    his bad manners and his cold nose,
    and I, the materialist, who never believed
    in any promised heaven in the sky
    for any human being,
    I believe in a heaven I’ll never enter.
    Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
    where my dog waits for my arrival
    waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

    Ai, I’ll not speak of sadness here on earth,
    of having lost a companion
    who was never servile.
    His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
    withholding its authority,
    was the friendship of a star, aloof,
    with no more intimacy than was called for,
    with no exaggerations:
    he never climbed all over my clothes
    filling me full of his hair or his mange,
    he never rubbed up against my knee
    like other dogs obsessed with sex.

    No, my dog used to gaze at me,
    paying me the attention I need,
    the attention required
    to make a vain person like me understand
    that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
    but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
    he’d keep on gazing at me
    with a look that reserved for me alone
    all his sweet and shaggy life,
    always near me, never troubling me,
    and asking nothing.

    Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
    as we walked together on the shores of the sea
    in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
    where the wintering birds filled the sky
    and my hairy dog was jumping about
    full of the voltage of the sea’s movement:
    my wandering dog, sniffing away
    with his golden tail held high,
    face to face with the ocean’s spray.

    Joyful, joyful, joyful,
    as only dogs know how to be happy
    with only the autonomy
    of their shameless spirit.

    There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
    and we don’t now and never did lie to each other… ”

    He said goodbye. I am very sorry for your loss.

  31. Sorry about the loss of your furry friend, Z, you’ll be reunited in time. I would love to share life with fur kids of my own but my extreme workstyle/lifestyle would make that a cruel existence for them. They need us to engage them, too. I wish your pain will dissipate soon and you’ll be introduced to a new four-legged friend. Good luck.

  32. “The women I was dating at the time thought I needed a pet and she suggested a cat”

    How many personalities did she have?

    • She was fairly normal. The woman I got the cat from was nuts. Breeders are often a bit weird. Maybe it’s just being into something so much that you make it your life’s work. maybe it is spending so much time with animals, rather than people. Most breeders seem to be female, so maybe there’s some connection.

  33. I wrote this back in 2007, when a favorite dog of mine died. I know our own private losses aren’t as interesting to others as they are to ourselves, but I hope you all won’t mind if I share it again:

    I had to put my old dog Spazz to sleep yesterday. I got a call after I left the event that he wasn’t able to stand anymore and I realized then I was finally going to have to do it. I kept breaking into tears on the 2.5-hour drive home. I’ve known it was coming for nearly two years now. In a way I was surprised it took this long, but until these past two years he was always an extraordinarily healthy, active dog. At older than 15-16 he was still running around and playing like a dog half his age.

    I drove straight home from the event after the call. An old country vet near us agreed to call us when he was going to go to his office later in the afternoon, so there was time before we had to take him in. Until that day I’d never seen him look like he was ready to give up, but he was so tired and so weak, he couldn’t fully support himself even on his front paws without someone to steady him. I carried him upstairs where it was warm and nestled him in the bathroom on a blanket. I laid with him and talked to him and rubbed him where he was sore. He relaxed and slept in the warmth.

    When the call came, I swaddled him like a baby and held him in my lap the whole trip — from where I live it’s a long way to everywhere, so it was a 40-minute drive to the vet. I cradled his head in my hand and he seemed to feel secure in my arms. I scratched his ears as we drove. He always took ridiculous pleasure in having his ears scratched, but he was too tired to show his usual appreciation. Katrina drove and my seven-year-old, Danae, came with us, because she has a tender heart and she wanted to be there to help. She knew it was the end for him, but she really didn’t understand how it was going to happen.

    At the vet I set him on the table and calmed him by holding my face close to his and breathing near his nose — he had been deaf for years and while not blind was very dim of sight, but his nose still worked and it always calmed him to have my scent. He licked my nose a few times in appreciation and quieted down. The doctor injected him. His head was in my hands. Katrina and Danae petted him. I felt him go still and felt his head get heavy in my hands. Katrina started to cry, as did I. Danae comforted us both, saying “It’s OK. Be calm. Take a deep breath. He’s just going to sleep… let the doctor do what he can … he’s just taking a nap.” I had to explain to her that he was dead, and watch understanding shadow her face, and hold her while she cried.

    I took him home and Danae kept me company while I dug his grave. I told her stories about him and Sasha — his companion for many years, but who died before Danae was born. Drake came out and helped me dig, and then Katrina joined us as I laid him in and covered him over. Sasha is buried very close by, but it’s hard to tell the exact spot. I don’t mark the graves of my dogs. I don’t need to remember with precision where rest the shells they’ve left behind. I’m forever marked by their lives.

    Up in Columbus in a house I no longer own rest the bodies of two other dogs that were companions to each other in life, though one far out-lived the other. They were Bear, a big, retarded samoyed and Snitter, a clever, good-natured sheltie. I raised them both from puppies, but left them in New Jersey when I went to college. When Bear, a very strong, physical dog (though always subordinate to the much smaller, slightly-older Snitter) became too much for my parents to handle, he came from New Jersey to Columbus to stay with me. I had him there less than a year and a half before he slipped his collar while outside on his run one day the week before Christmas. He ran off and was killed by a car while crossing a road. It was a couple years later that my Mom decided she could no longer care for Snitter and he came to live out his last years with me. I already had Sasha by then, and while he was never as closely bonded with the other two as Sasha and Spazz became with each other, the three got along amiably enough, and Snitter lived many good years with them, dying at 15 and being buried next to his old friend.

    I had bought Sasha, a black and sable border collie mix, immediately in the aftermath of Bear’s death, when his absence around the house was too big for me to ignore. I picked her up from the Humane Society, passing over other flashier or more blatantly cute dogs for her quiet beauty. She had the most gentle eyes. I didn’t notice on her record, but Katrina did, that she was a two-time loser — she’d adopted out and returned twice. I imagine I was her last chance. She turned out to be quite a terror about chewing, but when Katrina, frustrated to the breaking point, drove her back to the Humane Society one day and threatened Sasha with leaving her there if she didn’t stop chewing, she never, ever chewed again. Katrina said the look of anguish on Sasha’s face when she saw that building again was clear. After that she was a perfect lady and perfectly loyal to our family. I remember her gentleness and sweetness most — how she liked to lay her long body alongside mine on the bed and rest her head on my shoulder, but I also remember her remarkable physical abilities — she could leap a six-foot fence and twice caught live birds in mid-flight, and I remember how protective she could be of her family. She was very fierce toward anyone she thought threatened the children or Katrina and me. She was also Spazz’s moral compass and the love of his life. Whenever he’d stray from what she considered proper dog manners — trying to grab food off the table, for instance, she’d rebuke him. She trained Spazz for civilized life more than we ever did.

    Spazz was a rogue — Tramp to Sasha’s Lady. Our first recollection of him is from walks in the alley behind our house when Dasia was a baby. He lived in a yard across the alley and just a little down from us. As I first remember him, he was young, but no longer a puppy, which makes him at least 18 — Dasia’s age. I can’t say how much older he could have been. He could have been as old as two, it’s hard to tell. He had that fresh youth, strength and energy that dogs have in that time between puppyhood and two years.

    Spazz had an extremely neglectful owner (he was the one who gave a very remarkable and non-spastic dog the unfortunate moniker of “Spazz”), and Katrina often took pity on him, bringing him food and water when there wasn’t enough provided for him. The yard’s shabby fence did little to keep Spazz in. He wandered the neighborhood at will, and returned to the yard simply because he considered it his home. He was fast and clever and had uncanny common sense and somehow managed to avoid harm. The neglectful owner kept providing companions — younger puppies — for Spazz, but they all lacked his sense and though I sensed he tried to watch over them, they met bad ends one after another. I think this was the first time I ever saw a dog really grieve. Each time one of his puppy companions was killed, Spazz would become disconsolate. Normally he was outgoing, vocal and friendly, always eager to see us when we came by, but when a puppy would die, he’d mope for days, hardly acknowledging anyone else’s presence, not interested in food, or people going up and down the alley. I can’t explain it as anything other than grief.

    Eventually it was revealed that Spazz’s owner was just using the house as a marijuana-growing site. The police raided it and apparently it was filled with trays of cannabis and grow lights. Spazz ran off during the raid but was eventually picked up by the pound. Katrina, always very intuitive, thought to check for Spazz at the pound and found him there. She made the mistake of revealing that she knew the owner, instead of claiming to be his owner herself, so they refused to release him to her unless the time for him to claim him passed and he went for open adoption, even though she explained that the owner was in prison and wasn’t going to be coming for Spazz ever. Katrina left and decided that well, we probably didn’t need another dog around the house and that it was for the best that she hadn’t brought him home.

    A few months later, Spazz showed up at our back door. We tried to tell ourselves that we didn’t really want him, but our heart wasn’t in it, and he wasn’t about to give up. For weeks we didn’t let him in the house, but every morning, there he was, waiting for Sasha and Snitter to come out to play with him. Eventually, we started feeding him, and finally we stopped kidding ourselves, got him a collar and registration, and brought him inside. I’ve never regretted it for a minute, and I don’t think Spazz did either. We fought a reasonably successful battle to keep him from roaming the neighborhood, but it was hard to curb his independent streak completely. As Katrina says, Sasha was a people dog, but Spazz was a dog’s dog. He was the strutting, devil-may-care rogue that went where he wanted, knew all the tricks, and was envied by all the other dogs. For years we assumed that he was just a mutt, but years later we discovered that he was actually an extraordinarily rare purebred — a Finnish Lapphund. If they’re anything like him generally, I recommend the breed highly.

    When we moved out to the farm, Spazz thrived on that life, too. However, his first encounter with a cow didn’t turn out quite like he expected. Some of our neighbor’s cattle pushed through a hole in the fence to reach the proverbial greener pastures on our side and Spazz, indignant, ran out to repulse the invasion. Most of the cows were, well, cowed by the barking dog sprinting for them. One old horned cow, the last one through the fence, probably because she was the ornery one they trusted to guard their retreat, wasn’t so impressed. With Spazz charging toward her, she put her horns down and charged right back. Spazz’s eyes bugged out and I swear he reversed direction so fast he hit himself in the nose with his butt. Fortunately he was faster than the cow, and she wasn’t interested in a long chase.

    His wanderlust didn’t stop when we moved to the farm. He discovered the joys of deer, groundhogs, skunks and other furry woodland creatures. Sasha, on the other hand, was never such an eager explorer and only ventured off when coaxed by Spazz. Spazz would sometimes take short journeys on his own, but he never went far as long as Sasha was waiting at home for him, and Sasha never left the barn without Spazz. We tried various methods of restraining them, first keeping them tied, which we didn’t like, then an electric fence that was almost entirely successful for Sasha, but only minimally so for Spazz — no matter how we rigged it, he learned to jump it, or even to time the the pulses and slip under between jolts. We couldn’t believe it the first time we saw him there, crouched down like a sprinter, his body twitching in time to the fence charger as he timed a lunge precisely between the fence cycles. The troubles arose when they got out together. Then they might go for miles, because as long as they were with each other, they weren’t too anxious about where they were. One time I tracked them through the snow for several miles before losing them in a heavily trafficked farmyard. All the miles I’d been tracking and they never strayed more than a matter of yards from each other. That time was the only time aside from his final months that Spazz didn’t manage to navigate home — the farmer at that farmyard eventually spotted them and called us. They’d been roaming for a couple days by then and were ecstatic to see us. These trips really worried me for the obvious reasons and also because Sasha had dislocated one hind leg as a pup, and while it hadn’t bothered her when she was younger, now that she was getting some years on her, it would hurt her if she over-exerted it. On a couple of their trips she returned home limping badly. Spazz never returned without Sasha, until the last time. It was Thanksgiving and they’d been gone a couple days. We’d driven all over calling for them, searching the backroads and the woods for them, and finally Spazz came home. I asked him where Sasha was, and he looked around, as worried and perplexed as I was. As I said, it wasn’t like them to get separated. It wasn’t until about a day later that Katrina finally found her up by the road. It looked like she had been killed instantly. There wasn’t a mark on her, and she looked almost peaceful.

    We went through a couple potential companions for Spazz before we found Coolio (we seem to collect dogs with unfortunate names). She’s a tan chow and german shepherd cross. We rescued her from fairly bad conditions, but she impressed us with how she hit it off with Spazz, almost as well as Sasha did, and she too was gentle and a homebody — more of a homebody than Sasha, it turned out, because she refused to be tempted to roam. After Sasha’s death we installed an invisible fence and after learning the boundaries she has shown not the slightest interest in challenging them. It worked pretty well for Spazz, too, except for dire emergencies such as a skunk or groundhog in plain view in his field.

    As the years passed, he grew less and less interested in roaming. When he hurt his back about two years ago, we thought he’d given up on it forever — he was never the quick, agile dog that he used to be after that. But twice recently he’s suddenly ventured off. The first time I recounted in an earlier journal entry [Ed: That journal entry was on livejournal and is long gone. The short version is that he wandered down to the creek in the dark and I found him up to his chest in the cold creek, unable to get out. I only found him because he barked for me when I called him. I had to carry him home.], the other was just two weeks ago. By now I suspected that he’d had a minor stroke — he constantly veered to the left unless he concentrated on a destination, he was deaf, he could barely cross a garden hose without tripping, sometimes had to be helped to his feet if he fell in an inconvenient location, and he couldn’t even see the edge of the deck clearly enough to avoid falling off. But somehow he managed make his way a couple hundred yards to the road, cross the road safely, fall down in a muddy ditch and scramble out of the ditch to the top of a steep 6-foot-high bank before laying down exhausted in the field beyond. We’re not sure exactly how long he was out there. It could have been a couple hours or it could have been all night. Katrina carried him home and we bathed him because he was so muddy. The little adventure exhausted him and he was increasingly frail and unsteady the last two weeks.

    I wonder if both instances were what people call “going off to die.” I don’t know if that was his intention, or if he was just disoriented, or if he scented something he wanted to check out and merely overestimated his abilities. I keep wondering if I did the right thing. I know I did but part of me keeps wondering if I could have nursed him back to health and had him for a year or two longer, but I think those are selfish urges. Eighteen is very, very old for any breed of dog, and he was older than that. He was tired. Tired of hurting, tired of struggling. The feeling isn’t alien to me. Death comes to us all in time, we can’t beat it back through striving, hoping, praying or railing at the fates.

    For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth? — Ecclesiastes 3:19

    I’m flying as I write this. I love to watch the landscape. The glory of the planet spread out below never fails to awe me. One of my pastimes is to look for oxbow lakes or the remnants of them. Sometimes rivers follow very winding courses, nearly looping back onto themselves. Sometimes where the rivers loop closely the river will eventually erode through the section of land that separates the two ends of the loop. Once this happens, the river wants to follow the more direct course. The loop becomes a lake — an oxbow lake. But because there is little impetus for the flow of the river to press far into the oxbow, they invariably silt up over time, first becoming separated from the river, which turns them into u-shaped lakes just apart from the river, then eventually swamps, and finally just depressions in the ground. You can really only see their configuration from the air. I’m moved to write of them now, when talking about Spazz, because they remind me of impermanence.

    A river seems like a very permanent thing to us. If there is a river near your house, you expect that when you go to see the river, it will be where it usually is. And that’s generally true. Few people will see an oxbow lake form in their lifetimes, unless they live near the shifting, sandy wastes out west where some rivers re-cut their courses over and over every rainy season before drying to near non-existence in the heat of the summer. Yet, the change is happening all the time. When you fly you can see them all over, like the tracks of giant serpents, mile-long loops in the earth cut off from their source. Things are always changing, and our lives are so ephemeral we can’t even see the change. Just as I was in the middle of this, in the air over the wastes somewhere near Lake Tahoe, I saw the hugest oxbow I’ve ever seen. There was this giant horseshoe of a canyon, hundreds of feet deep through barren rock, cut off from the river that ran right beside it. What spans of time or magnitudes of force were necessary to eat through the millions of tons of rock that must have once separated one side of the loop from the other? It’s bone dry now and has been that way probably through all the memory of any men who have ever gazed upon it, yet it is the result of enormous, inexorable changes that haven’t stopped simply because we, with our little May Fly lives have decided “this is how things are.”

    We live 6 to 8 times as long as a dog, but our lives are only long in comparison. I buried Spazz yesterday, just as I have buried many dogs before him. Probably within a couple years I’ll be burying my now 18-year-old cat. My father died in 2000 and much, much too soon, my mother and my stepfather will follow. And I will one day follow them. Death is always waiting for us, never very far away, and there’s never enough time. I don’t know why things are the way they are. I hope that there is a reason that creatures as good and as noble as Spazz age and suffer and die. I hope there’s a reason why we have to grieve and continue on without them. I hope it is worthwhile.

  34. Wisdom is perfected in the love of small creatures. I am sorry for your loss, but gladdened to read this testament to the depths of your humanity. Thank you for your willingness to share deeply the fruits of your contemplation, whether bitter or sweet.

  35. Sorry for your lose Z. We also had to put our 16 year old cat down this past Saturday afternoon, and the pain of it still hurts. Your post about your experience made us feel a little bit better about it.

  36. Our cat was locked in an abandoned house and half dead from starvation when she was found, according to the shelter. She is our little companion, and always stays close by. If left alone for an hour or two, she waits at the door and treats us like the Second Coming when we get home. She will happily go on a leash to stay with us, when we go outside. She is old now, and the writing is on the wall, but it is going to be so very, very hard to say goodbye to her. Animals have a purity of soul that we humans cannot even attempt to achieve. They are a constant reminder that we are good, that we have a purpose, and that caring for another is life’s highest achievement. We care for them, and they return the devotion in their own way. They connect us with life. My prayers go out to you and your friend.

  37. Sorry for your loss, Z. Hope the next one is a good one too.

    We lost a sweet and shy lady cat a few months ago. It always hurts. Right after that we nursed a bachelor cat back to health. They all have their own personalities, don’t they.

  38. Sorry about that. It never gets easier. Grew up same around dogs. Wife (then fiancé) impulsively picked a stray up off the sidewalk. Found if you raise them right can be as loyal and social as dogs. There are always two or three around the house and my wife still will impulse adopt new ones from the shelter on the island during summer vacation. Godspeed to your little friend. It is clear he did his job well.

    • Dogs are easier, because you pretty much know what you get from the breed. Cats require a bit more investment to make them good pets, but that’s part of the pleasure. As is true of most things, you get back what you put in. If I did not have to travel, I’d have a house full of dogs and cats.

      • Sincere condolences on your loss. These transitions are very hard. Derb just lost his dog and cited a Kipling poem which might offer some consolation. (I know it is about “the power of the dog” and not cats, but I think some of it applies.)

        I’ve had cats and dogs in my life and loved every one of the little monsters. I didn’t understand them and vice versa, but we loved each other despite that.

        I recently retired and got a German Shepherd bitch. My big girl is beautiful, strong as an ox, smart, willful and frighteningly protective of her pack. She has given me a reason to get up in the morning and exercise regularly.

        Again, sincere condolences.

      • We are on a five day vacation and though enjoying it will be happy to get home to our three cats. Not because we miss them, though we do, but because we know they miss us. They are in good hands with a loving aunt but things are not quite right when we’re not all together. There is a pureness to these creatures that humans will never come close to attaining. I am in awe of them.

  39. For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same. As one dies so dies the other; indeed, they all have the same breath and there is no advantage for man over beast, for all is vanity. All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust. Who knows that the breath of man ascends upward and the breath of the beast descends downward to the earth? — Ecclesiastes 3:19

    I prefer to think that the breath of the beast ascends upward. The passage is quite careful not to confirm otherwise.

  40. That’s what my aunt says, don’t get a pet because you get attached and they are too much trouble. Idk, I don’t really have the impulse to want one. I think it has to do with having them when you were little.

    We have all these neighborhood cats around. I have this big long driveway in back and I find them all gathered sprawled out on the pavement in the evening. They like the warmth!

    One of the victims of the Js is a cat hoarder or something. Which one is that? What is his alleged crime?

  41. I’ll play amateur philosopher. Consider the alternative using a human life as example – can you imagine the amount of suffering you would experience if you lived forever? Every human who has ever lived suffers. It’s endemic to human life, that sense “something is just not quite right”. That’s why we look forward to sleeping at night, because lugging around this ego all day is so heavy.

    I’m going with your cat never had an ego, dogs just the same, no ego. That’s why no matter how long they’ve been in the kennel today, when you get home and let them out, all is forgiven. They never hold a grudge, they just jump right back to full on life, purring and tails wagging.

    Maybe the trick is to see (philosophically) that not a single atom in the Universe is out of place, that everything is exactly as it is meant to be. That’s when we catch up with the Wisdom

  42. (I originally wrote this on Thursday, August 9, 2007. As I reread it today once again I find myself crying. Z-Man, you have my deepest sympathies.)

    Smudge, our Schnocker (Schnauzer-Cocker Spaniel mix) had to be put to sleep today due to complications from old age. I have been crying like a baby all day. I can’t seem to stop. Tears come in waves…I’ve had to stop while I am writing this at least five times. This is one of the hardest things I have ever written.

    I Remember Smudge…

    I remember when we brought her home from the nasty pet store we bought her at, she looked so scared.

    I remember the debate over her name. She was so fast and so hyper that the first suggestion was Streak. I said no, she was too tiny to be a Streak, she was just a little smudge. And the name stuck.

    I remember when she was a puppy and she watched the cats jump from the couch to a nearby chair about a foot away. So Smudge tried to do the same. She made it, ungracefully, half way out to nowhere and plummeted to the floor with a squeak.

    I remember when she was a puppy and she let fly with a dainty little fart. She spun around, sniffed the air, and ran away with a panic stricken look.

    I remember when she was a little older and we took her to my company picnic at and she was the hit of the party. She must have gotten her own weight in food from everyone there. The president of the company personally invited her back for future picnics.

    I remember when we played fetch with her on the local high school football field and I threw the ball just as hard as I could and she’d take off after it. She almost ran the entire length of the field trying to run the ball down and was so far away from us when she got the ball that we had to call her name so she could figure out where to return to. By the time we were done there were a bunch of cops standing there and they gave her a little round of applause.

    I remember when a friend snapped at her at a party at my house because she wouldn’t get out of his face while she was trying to mooch his food. He gave in and she got the last bit of his burger anyway. She was outstanding at the stare-down.

    I remember the heat wave of 1995 when we bought Smudge, and her then little canine brother Edgar, an almost impossible to find (at the time) 6” deep wading pool. At first neither knew what to do with it. And then they figured out its cooling wonders. The next day I came home from work and the backyard was full of shredded blue vinyl. And the pool was nowhere to be seen. They decided it was more fun to shred it than sit in it.

    I remember playing “Find It!” with her putting her rubber ball inside of various boxes and containers and watching her try and dig the ball out.

    I remember faking a throw of the ball. She would dash to the end of the yard only to see me throw the ball in the opposite direction. You could see she was laughing the whole way across the yard.

    I remember her chasing the dog next door up and down the fence line between yards. And plowing into her stupid canine brother Edgar…repeatedly.

    I remember many, many Thanksgiving dinners where quite a bit of turkey and bits of warm croissants never made it to the floor thanks to Smudge.

    I remember many, many Christmas dinners where quite a bit of ham and bits of warm croissants never made it to the floor thanks to Smudge.

    I remember when I, sitting on the couch and gawking at something on the TV, lowered my hand, which held a large piece of pizza in it, to my knee. Never saw her slide up and snag the pizza right out of my hand.

    I remember she also knew when I was taking her picture. And yes, she knew how to pose.

    I remember when a friend, who had too much on New Years Eve, tried to sleep on our couch. He said Smudge tried waking him every fifteen minutes. After all…it was her couch.

    I remember her triangulating a squirrel’s future position during a pursuit and heading towards that point. Still she never did catch that squirrel…

    I remember how angry she was at the mailman.

    I remember how happy she was at the pizza delivery guy.

    I remember how she couldn’t make up her mind about the gas meter reader.

    I remember how Smudge tried to play fetch under the dance floor strobe lights at a local nightclub. We were there for a friends/employees-only dinner shortly before Thanksgiving and I had the DJ turn on the dance floor strobe lights since no one was dancing and she just couldn’t figure out why her ball wasn’t where she last saw it.

    I remember how she loved to go for walks around the neighborhood pulling with 110% force for the entire walk.

    I remember the couple of times we took her to the groomer’s and she came back smelling like cheap perfume with a stupid ribbon in her hair. She was very grateful when we took off the ribbon and threw it away.

    I remember when Smudge wanted to come up on the couch and she would put her muzzle on the couch cushion and look up at you with a “ PLEASEEEE!” look. She always won.

    I remember the family traumas of doggy bath day…and try to clip her nails…forget it!

    I remember when we saw the first gray hairs around her bushy eyebrows.

    I remember the sadness when I would throw the ball and she would run out, get it, come half way back and drop it, telling me, “Dad, I’m too tired…”

    I remember when her weight started to plummet.

    I remember getting angry with her because of all the accidents she was having every night. I always said sorry to her for being angry with her after I was done cleaning up the mess and she always said sorry to me with that look in her eyes.

    I remember those last few days, the instability of her gait, the confusion of which door to use, the laundry room door or the door to get into the apartment. 14 years of going through the same door and suddenly this confusion.

    I remember the morning of that last day when I tried to get her to eat a little bit of hamburger and rice and she wouldn’t eat any.

    I remember that last day when, lying on the floor next to her, crying, I brushed her hair and she looked at me with that look that said, “Dad, I love you, it’ll be ok.”

    I remember lying on my belly, in the sun, taking her last pictures while she posed gracefully. She knew…

    I remember feeding her a last meal that afternoon. She gobbled it up just like old times. I know she did it not because she was hungry but to make me happy.

    I remember the sad, quite drive to the vet. She wanted to look out the window of the car but I could not tell if and what she was comprehending.

    I remember the look on her face as she was placed on the vet’s exam table.

    I remember her last look into my eyes.

    I remember her head growing heavy in my hand as she slipped away…

    I remember Smudge.

    • Sorry for your loss, Z. Glad, though, that you had so much happy times together. Care to share the little fella’s name? (If not we all respect privacy.)

      (Also, well done with the lady in the waiting room.)

      “it’s no use worrying about Time
      though we did have a few tricks up our sleeves
      and turned some sharp corners”

      Frank O’Hara, “Animals”

  43. Sorry for that. When it was time for our 15 yo cat we found a vet who did housecalls. Highly recomended. The cat was chill but not good in cars, and this saved her and us the stress. Even the (female) vet choked up a little. Wish we had done it for the chihuahua.

    Not sure how little kids would view that approach.

  44. I am very sorry to hear about the loss of your cat. Losing pets is very difficult but the good times are worth it. Although they are only with us a part of our lives, we are their whole world. We owe it to them and to ourselves to be good owners. I try to remember that when I have to walk my GSD on cold or rainy mornings and nights.

    My condolences Zman.

  45. Sorry to hear that, zman. I had to do the same thing a few months ago. Fortunately, my daughter was able to make it to the vet to say goodbye to our cat.

    Toast your chum’s life and, when the time is right, acquire another pet.

  46. So sorry, Z-Man. Often when I leave for work in the morning I walk past the laundry room where our long-dead dog used to sleep on her bed. I turn and look at the closed door, wanting to greet and feed her, then … emptiness. Mr. Bojangles grieved for 20 years they say.

  47. If I don’t miss my guess, the cat was probably the real owner and proprietor of The Z Blog and you were just the front-man. 🙂

    You gave him a good cat life so you two did well. I think it is a symbiotic thing: we make our lives better by making theirs better and vice versa. When they go a piece of us goes with them and that is good too. It is my belief that euthanizing a pet out of love is one of the purest and noblest things a man can do.

    Godspeed you guys.

    • That heart-breaking final courtesy of the Master: To guarantee that one’s little companion’s exit, when the pains of old age become visibly insuppotrable, is soft and surrounded by love. Condolence from one who has been there.

  48. Your getting close to Vanderleun, Zman. That put a lump in my throat the size of a golf ball. My bestest Ol’ Buddy the Cat does the same thing when I’m at the computer. I have a little tortoise shell. She was a feral at the school where I worked. When I retired I trapped the little cat and took her with me. It took 3 months of being patient and gentle, but now she’s my little pal. Follows Ol’ Buddy around like a couple of characters in a Tex Avery cartoon. Anyway, Thank you for this. It is a great start to my day.


    • The feral-to-domestic is one of the most rewarding and bonding experiences. Challenging for sure, but the beauty that unfolds is unmatched.

      I’ve had two cats over the years. Both were mostly feral and both would eventually become two of the most amazing animals i’ve ever been blessed to know.

      My first, in my 20’s as a busy finance guy on the career upswing, came to my via the dumpsters in the alley behind my apartment.

      Long work days meant i would only see her late at night before bed and early AM before my commute.

      A bit of lunchmeat at first. She kept her distance. It took a year of incremental trust and care, but then something just switched.

      She moved inside and became the sweetest, most affectionate, social and engaging little kitty. People would tell me she is like a dog. Nope, she was just being her. A good one.

      The second is harder. Perhaps prophetic in the timing of this post. After thst first cat I never thought I could get a pet that great again. But i took a chance.

      She was semi feral cat rescued from an animal hoarder. Spent 14 years in an outdoor shed with 20 other cats. Was skittish, hard of hearing, and scrawny. The rescue group had her as unadoptable. So I took her in.

      She lived in the guts of my couch for two months only coming out at night to eat. “You have a cat?” Yeah she lives upstairs.

      Six more months of gentle care brought her to life.

      She became my shadow. Never more than a few feet away. Weeks of laying on the floor, petting her through a hole in the underside of the couch had paid off.

      Just a few weeks ago she started sleeping on the end of the bed.

      But a storm blew open my door one eve and she got spooked and ran out.

      That was two weeks ago. Still searching. Sleeping with the front door ajar, hoping she can find her way.

      The loss is profound. Maybe tapping into that place where all that love goes when we lose people and pets alike.

      For all of the pain of having to make the choice to end a pets suffering, to say goodbye together, there is a small blessing in that moment; the completion of an arc, a kind of peace that you get from joining the first time you invite them into your life and the day you let them go.

      I don’t want to give up hope, but I also long to know the nature of her fate and to ease her suffering.

      The powerlessness of not being able to save her or ease her into a peaceful end is a terrible place.

      So Mr. Z, while your loss is no doubt profound, you were also blessed with the gift of a bittersweet goodbye, the last act of love that completes the story. I am glad you got that moment.

  49. Oh, I have been there too many times. When my Pomeranian’s heart gave out 5 years ago I cried like a baby. ………………..and yet there is always a puppy or a kitten who knows nothing of our sorrow and needs a good home. Sorry for your loss Zman.

  50. As someone once observed, we take pets into our lives knowing in advance that they’re going to break our hearts. May your mourning be brief, brother. And may another little companion come your way.

    • Yeah, Kirk, if you live as long as I have, you go thru a number of these sorts of experiences, and each more recent one reminds you of some of the prior ones. It goes with the territory.
      Sorry for your loss Zman, and I know that you’ll be good, when the next companion shows up.

  51. I hear you, Z. Critters help us be all the human we can be too.

    Sorry about your loss. There’s another cat out there looking for a chance to be all he can be.

    The time will come.

  52. Sorry man – and good job being a good neighbor.

    I’ve learned over the years that there is no fixing that kind of grief in the moment. Just being there and not cringing away from the situation is the best you can do for your family and friends.

  53. It’s a Hallmark card sentiment, but it’s true for all that — I know pets go to heaven, because if I get there and my dog’s not there, it’s not really heaven. Sorry for your loss.

    • Twilight Zone “The Hunt” is about an old man and his dog after an accident kills them both. They are walking down the road and he first encounters a “Heaven” which will not allow his dog in. He and the dog keep walking. Try watching it without tearing up.

  54. By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,

    Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.

    Where the friends of man and woman do run,

    When their time on earth is over and done.

    For here, between this world and the next,

    Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.

    On this golden land, they wait and they play,

    Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.

    No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,

    For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.

    Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,

    Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.

    They romp through the grass, without even a care,

    Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.

    All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,

    Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.

    For just at that instant, their eyes have met;

    Together again, both person and pet.

    So they run to each other, these friends from long past,

    The time of their parting is over at last.

    The sadness they felt while they were apart,

    Has turned into joy once more in each heart.

    They embrace with a love that will last forever,

    And then, side-by-side, they cross over… together.

  55. Sorry for your loss. It is a painfull thing to lose a good companion. My wife and I are going through this same process at the moment. We’ve been lucky, our cat has been with us nearly 20 years. At this moment I think I never want to do this again. But I know in a year or so I will have a new one.

    • That’s the thing. The last 2% of owning a pet, the painful part, is vastly outweighed by the other 98%. I’ll get another pet soon and hopefully it will be a good one, but even the not so good ones are pretty good.

      • You know the day you get them, that the day they leave you is not far away. He was loved and well cared for, and that is a lot in this wicked world of ours.

      • I’m sorry to hear about your cat, Z. We have a 9 year old Wheaton Terrier, and occasionally bring up with our kids that he’s not going to be around forever. Just to sort of ease them into that future before it arrives. He’s like a sibling to them since we’ve had him since they were 3-6-9 years old. Sleeps in their beds, sometimes rotates around the house in the same night. He’s family.

        Being Irish, we mostly spend our time at funerals telling stories and laughing and remembering. When you’re ready for that, google “Ron White, pick me! pick me!”
        – Hok

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