Friday, August 04, 2006
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....
Yesterday, Mom and I had her cat Ashley put to sleep. Mom called about an hour after lunch, and with her usual lack of tact dropped the bomb on me that he needed to be put to sleep. Now. No, it couldn't wait. I asked her to get a Saturday appointment, but the vet is only open on alternate weekends and this Saturday is on the off weekend. She hung up on me when I told her I couldn’t take time off work. I called her back and asked her to get a late appointment today. She got one for yesterday (as in two hours away from our phone conversation) and by that point I was so frustrated I agreed and begged the boss for permission to leave early.
I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Ashley didn’t seem all that sick to me, although he had obviously been losing weight. Mom said he had occasional good days and frequent bad days of puking and not eating, but he always seemed happy and alert when I visited. According to her he was no longer eating anything offered, but he had gone through anorexic spells before. The night before last he violently threw up in the hall outside her bedroom, then got in bed with her and pawed and meowed at her. She then decided it was time.
I considered consulting with the vet alone, but it would have just been prolonging the inevitable. He was her cat and if she felt he was suffering, it was her decision to ease his discomfort.
The vet and his staff were very condiderate and compassionate. We sat with Ashley across our laps as the vet administered the sedative. It was quick, almost instantaneous. They let us have as much time as we needed, then the tech came and made a paw impression for Mom to take home.
I hope we made the right decision.
Ashley found Mom when he was just a feisty little scrap of a tabby kitten, full of personality. He ran up to her as she was taking trash to the community dumpster, meowing his little head off. (In rural NC there is no trash pickup. You either take it to the local dumpster or directly to the dump.) She didn’t have the heart to leave him; the dumpster was only a few hundred feet from a busy 4-lane highway, so she let him in the car and took him home. My childhood cat was still alive, but old and very frail, so mom left Ashley with a neighbor for a couple months until she had the old girl put to sleep. Ashley was simply too rambunctious for an elderly cat who just wanted to sleep on a warm lap and be left alone.
When Ashley finally came home, he was quite the little stinker. He loved to use his claws on everything, people included, and was constantly in trouble. He managed to knock over a heavy room divider which wedged against the bathroom door, effectively barricading him in. Mom had to call the local fix-it guy, who somehow cracked the door open far enough to cut out a hole on the inside and work the divider free. Mom was hours late for work and was absolutely livid. Ashley was nearly tossed out for that episode.
He managed to annihilate our woodpile-residing family of chipmunks as well as many birds. He attempted to get the resident hummingbirds, but they were too quick and would tease him mercilessly with fly-bys. He would spend hours under the feeder hoping to snatch one.
He was quite the outdoor kitty in those days. Mom lived in a little cabin on a mountain, so he had acres and acres for roaming. He’d disappear for 2 or 3 days, then show up hungry and tired. He’d crash at the house for a week or two, then go on another expedition.
He was the only cat we’ve had that would go on walks with us. He’d start out with us, then find a bug or bird and trail behind. Pretty soon we’d hear sad meows and he’d come bounding back to us. Then he’d run ahead, realize we were nowhere to be seen, and come meowing back. When we’d come to an under-road drain pipe, he’d pop in one side and out the other, his meow echoing.
When Mom moved into town, Ashley had to adjust to indoor life. He hated it at first, but became the consummate housecat. He grew into a sweet lap cat, although he still gave out the occasional swipe when the mood struck.
Rest in peace, little guy. You were well loved.