** Caution: Could be triggering. **
Last night I was reading a book about a man and his dog. I’m not going to mention the name of the book here (or the movie) because I don’t want a bunch of traffic looking for cutesy pictures of doggies or touching tales of man’s best friend. I’m not a huge fan of dogs. They’re cute and all, but they’re licky and slobbery and jumpy and…well, let’s just say I prefer cats.
As with most books about men and dogs, this one ends in the expected way. I didn’t think this would affect me, but I broke out in wracking sobs… so much so that I saturated both sides of my pillow! After berating myself for being ridiculous I realised this wasn’t about the dog at all. It was actually about my last cat (and probably some other stuff in there but I’ll start with the cat).
She was a dear little soul (only not so little, as you can see). Full of love and personality – even when she was gnawing on my toes to get me moving for her breakfast, climbing up the cupboards looking for food, or bringing me “presents” in that instinctive kitty way. She died some years ago, but in my time-honoured way, I never grieved her loss. Just buried those feelings under food and other stuff. They hurt too much, damnit!
Hers was quite a long and slow death – most probably stomach cancer of some sort. About a year before she died she started vomiting after meals, sometimes vomiting blood. I took her to a couple of vets but they said nothing was wrong, most likely just an ulcer that would get better in time.
It wasn’t until later, when she’d chucked up most food I’d given her and lost almost half her body weight that a vet finally told me what was wrong. By that time there was little I could do. I should probably have done something then but the vet said she probably wasn’t in pain and would last a bit longer, so I took her home again.
A couple of months, and a few more kilos later, she was in pain. She was about 14 by then and spent her days lying on the floor, totally uninterested in her food. She could barely walk. She didn’t even much like cuddles by that point, just a pat on the head occasionally. I knew the time had come and so I did what many good pet owners eventually have to do.
I remember that day like it was yesterday – probably better. It was Good Friday, and none of the regular vets were open, so I took her to the animal protection shelter. The vet was very good, but kitty knew what was coming. She didn’t want to be there, and she certainly didn’t want the nice vet shaving her arm or giving her an injection.
I went home with an empty kitty box. I didn’t cry, just a tear or two. Hell, even my mother – the queen of all ice queens – shed a tear that day. I went home determined never to have another pet – they just die on you anyway.
I miss my Beautiful Girl, though I love my new kitty. I’m sad about how I dealt with this. If I had my time over I would find another vet, much earlier. Someone who knew what they were doing so that something could be done. If you are reading, Beautiful Girl, I’m sorry. I’m sorry you were so sick. I’m sorry I didn’t take good enough care of you or get you treated properly sooner. I’m sorry the nice vet had to shave your arm and give you an injection. I’m sorry you were afraid that day. I miss you and I still love you.
Now, years later, reading a book about a man and his damned dog, all this comes back to haunt me. Some days I think I should have stuck by my vow not to have another pet, despite my beautiful new playmate. This too will surely end in the usual way. And now that I’ve learnt how to feel, it will surely be hurtful and hard and upsetting.