Sunday, September 16, 2007

Goodbye, Sweet Kitty

The Hunk salutes the Colonel

On Friday we had Colonel euthanized. He was 14 years old. We had gotten him when he was a kitten shortly after we had moved into our house here on Peggy's Lane. And for the next 14 years he was a celebrity member of our family: a feisty, dynamic, strong-willed, mouse hunter/killer and fearless defender of our home territory. On more than one occasion I witnessed him attack dogs -- many times his own size -- that had carelessly wandered into our yard (before our fence was complete). Once a stray pigeon tried taking up residence in our back yard. That was short lived. I've never known a cat quite like him. Many of our friends had said the same.

Over the last year, however, Colonel's health began deteriorating. He started losing weight and getting thin -- dangerously thin. The vet diagnosed it as diabetes. A few months later he started having trouble walking, particularly the use of his hind legs. Steadily he got worse. As a consequence he became more sedentary. His outdoor time became less and less. He began using his litter box almost exclusively, but eventually even that became problematic. He then showed signs of having trouble feeding himself. It was sad. Colonel was dying.

Realizing the inevitable, Sandie made the appointment with the vet. On Friday I took him in. While I was in the vet's office waiting a voice in my head kept saying 'No - you don't have to. He'll get better. Take him home.' I fought the urge; it was just wishful thinking. The vet entered. After a short discussion I gave him permission to proceed.

I brought Colonel's body home to a grave site I had prepared in our backyard. After carefully laying his shoe-box casket in it, I filled in the void space with dirt and folded the grass blanket back over the site. I then sat down in a lawn chair a few feet away and reflected. Dang this is painful. For 5 years I had kept in my gun safe a bottle of Russian cognac that Kim had gotten me when she, Pete and Mom were in Russia. Sitting under the tree that day, I finally opened it and took a shot.

Farewell Colonel.

Here are some pics of Colonel in better days. . .


Jackie said...

Oh, I'm sorry to hear about Colonel. I know how very hard that is. Our pets really pull at the heart strings. I'm glad you had him for 14 years - and that you'll have your photos and memories.

Inland Empire Girl said...

Hugs to both of you. Tell the Hunk it was a lovely tribute. I had the same thoughts in my head when I took my dog Lucy to be put to sleep. What a beautiful cat to remember now.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Jackie & IEG: Thank you. It's hard to know what to say when you lose a pet. He grew up with the kids. . .and they were all crazy about him. (He was quite a stinker when he was young, and even before he got sick, he'd hook your pant-leg as you walked by if he wanted to play or be petted.
We'd play hide and seek with him, and more often than not, he'd scare the daylights out of me, when he'd jump out of his hiding place.

Silver Valley Girl said...

I am so sorry about the loss of Colonel. When our cat Lynx died, I cried and cried. I actually wrote a children's story about it called, "My Mom Cried the Day the Cat Died." Lynx was my buddy, and he was also a very special cat, and I still miss him at times. You were very blessed to have Colonel in your life.

myrtle beached whale said...

When I was born my parents got me a dog (no child should grow up without a dog). My dad named her "Trixie". Anyone my age would know why. When I was 17 at the University of Idaho I got a call at my dorm in Theophilus Tower (Only in Idaho would an 11 story structure be called a tower). It was my dad. He said he had some bad news for me. My dad was not the kind of guy to use the telephone at all (that was mom's department). I immediately assumed something had happened to my mom. He said very directly as was his style, "Son, I had to put your dog down." My reaction would not have been any different had he said he had had to put my mom down. I dropped the phone. I could not attent class. Actually, I did not really need a good reason to not attend class. He had waited until I left to do what he had to do. It was tougher on him than me. This was a dog that dad had once jumped into the frigid water of the North Fork to save. This was a dog that had accompanied him on every fishing and camping trip for 17 years. At 17, Trixie was not able to function as a dog. Losing a long-time companion is tragic whether they are human or just think they are. I have had many dogs since Trixie (not a cat guy), but none like her. If fact, some of their names I cannot even recall. You can't feel sorrow for a 14 year old cat and a 17 year old dog. They have had a good run. It is only sad for those of us that are left behind.

Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

SVG: Thank you. I think we have all had pets that we thought of as family members. Colonel was feisty, but he always knew when someone didn't feel well, and would go sleep on their bed. At those times I called him the "Angel Kitty." (The rest of the time I sang "Evil Kitty" to the tune of "Evil Woman" when I referenced him.)

MBW: So sorry about your dog Trixie. Isn't it interesting that our parents always did what needed to be done, and spared us the pain - no matter how difficult it was for them. I think that generation taught us a lot, by example, about what it meant to be an adult.