Monday, May 11, 2015

Saying Goodbye to a Beloved #Pet - #Petloss #Pets #RainbowBridge

Spazzy's picture for the 2014
Christmas card...isn't he
handsome for 17?
It's taken me a few weeks to be able to write about this.  My cat of 17 years, Spazzy, died in my arms on Sunday, April 12th.  He was very old, but still enjoying life, and while I knew he couldn't live forever, I also knew I would never be ready.  In a way, I'm somewhat glad I didn't have to make a painful decision about when it was time...that was taken out of my hands.  He began panting and stumbling, and it was over within the hour...he died in the car on the way to the emergency vet.

So I'm dedicating this post to Spaz and his brother, Shadow. I've always loved animals, and I grew up with a house full of pets and a horse that resided in our friend's barn.  That stable in Maryland was the site of many wonderful childhood memories, and it became the inspiration for the setting in my novel DIVINE FALL.

I managed somehow to have a dog, Bailey, throughout grad school, even though I had to live in a very undesirable apartment complex in order to have a dog with me.  He became my husband's dog too when we married, and he moved with us to Cape Cod when I was pregnant.  Once we had settled in to our new location and I'd had our son, I decided it was time to adopt more pets from the local shelter.

Spazzy and Shadow on their
first day in their forever home
My husband is not a cat person, but I convinced him, despite the fact that we had a 6-month-old child.  He came with me to the shelter, and a little black kitten came up to us quickly with a sort of "get me out of here" rush of affection.  I have an affinity for black cats, and I fell in love with this 6-month old black kitten (same age as our son!).  Then I promptly scooped up that cat's littermate, a black and white kitten, and explained to my husband that we couldn't possibly separate them...and two isn't much more work than one!

Their personalities dictated their names.  Shadow was loving but cautious, and it took him a little while longer to establish a friendship with Bailey.  Spazzy was...spastic.  He had no fear.  He would jump right in my son's little play yard and gently play with the baby.  In that instinctual way of animals, he seemed to understand he was dealing with another infant, and the claws never came out.  Spazzy was also obsessed with straws, and he learned to fetch them when we threw them.

I had every intention of keeping them inside, but they were curious cats who found their way out time and again.  We installed cat doors and it worked perfectly.  My second son was born three years later.  I would put one child in a jogging stroller, strap the baby to my chest in a carrier, put the dog on the leash, and walk around the block every day.  And two cats would follow me.  People stopped their cars to stare at our bizarre parade.  When the kids got older, the cats would follow us to the bus stop on the corner.

As they got older, though, they spent the majority of their time indoors...mostly on our laps or on our beds.  Sadly, Shadow died at the age of 13.  By that time we'd said goodbye to Bailey and rescued Winston and Sweetie, two dogs, via the Petfinder website.

Otis and Spazzy,
hoping for a treat
Saying goodbye to a cat I've had since my oldest son was a baby was incredibly painful.  I miss him terribly, especially when I lay down to read.  He'd often settle right on my chest, fighting with my book for attention.  He'd plant himself on my lap when I was at my computer writing.  At dinner time, he and our newest rescue, a border collie named Otis, would wait patiently in hopes some tasty morsel of food would drop.

Spazzy and Shadow had wonderful kitty lives, and I take comfort in that.  I can't even imagine all the adventures they had.  And when I'm ready, I'll return to the shelter and pick out my new companion--and his or her companion--because two is better than one :)

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