Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thankful: November 16

I am thankful that I was blessed to be able to spend almost thirteen years with my good friend, Duke, the cat.

Today, we had to put him to sleep.

It has only been two weeks since we had to euthanize our dear dog Sunshine, so this was adding insult to injury.

Duke had been roaming a lot lately and staying out for several days before we'd see him. This had been going on for about six months. Finally, this time, he'd been gone longer than usual and on Friday evening, Kevin found him hidden up in his shop/storage barn. He wasn't locked in, just hiding. When we picked him up, he was nothing but skin over bones. It was obviously he had lost a lot of weight. Not wanting an emergency charge, we decided to wait through the weekend before taking him to the vet. Kevin and I both prepared ourselves that this might be the end for sweet Duke. We gave him treats throughout the weekend and loved on him a lot. I noticed that his tail "wasn't working" and that he was getting in and out of the litterbox a lot -- never a good sign for a cat.

Our dear friend, David, the vet, told me that I could spend a lot of money on tests, but that a weight loss this significant (he was down to FIVE POUNDS) and a tail that was paralyzed were not things that were going to 1) be fixable or 2) be easily fixable or not be a high maintenance activity. I would have done it for him -- those who know me know I would -- but the vet said it was just Duke's time.

He gave him a sedative and I was able to hold his sweet, small body in my arms, feeling his heart beat and hearing him sigh as he drifted off to sweet rest. As I did, I thought that this must be a wonderful way to go and that when it's my time, I would certainly want to be held as I drifted off. I certainly feel that I will be held by the King of Kings and my Heavenly Father when it's my time to go and he will feel my heart beat and hear my sighs and I leave this world and go to the next. It was heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time.

We buried Duke under the evergreen tree where he loved to lay and watch the birds and squirrels. As was tradition with all the animals that leave us, we took a snip of hair and whiskers and put them in a baggy to keep. When I come across them on occasion, I am able to fondly remember the sweet animals that each little tuft came from. Some may think this is weird, but honestly, it's a sweet comfort to me.

Duke was such a good cat through the years. He truly was Kevin's cat and loved Kevin more than any of us. He was a serious hunter cat, bringing us home mice, moles, birds and other wildlife on a regular basis. He was a lovey, lovey cat too and loved to sit on your lap and "make biscuits" with his paws.

I remember when I was just a month or two pregnant, back in March 1997, I found both Duke and Dutchess in a drainage ditch on a rainy day on my way to work. It took me forever to get them out of the ditch, and having no where to take them, I took them to work with me that day. Everyone at work had a blast playing with them -- they were just small black furballs. We tried to find their home, but no one (surprise!!) claimed them, so they, along with Punch and Judi, became ours.

The passage of so many of our friends this year, along with so many other things, has made 2009 a year I'm ready to leave behind. However, I wouldn't trade the years I've had with all of these sweet, sweet friends, for the pain I feel when I have to let them go.

Thank you, Duke, for being such a dear friend!

Duke Latham
January 1997 - November 16, 2009
a dear friend

Photos to follow as soon as I can get them scanned in. I've been quite sick the last several days and I just don't quite feel like it right now.


Corinne said...

I am so sorry Maria! I have had the same type of experience and it is just hard!! Hugs to you!

Lori said...

I hate, hate, hate this for you because it's SO hard...and to be doing it so frequently--I'm just sending you a HUMONGOUS hug and prayers for your hearts to continue to heal.

I'm going to wipe all the tears away and then go give Dixie some love.

Jennifer G. said...

Two treasured pets so quickly. I'm sorry!