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Remembering Scout the Cat

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When my, now fiancée, Jessica moved in a little over a year ago, she naturally brought her clothes and toiletries and others things she had, but she also brought a very special friend: An old, deaf, little lady named Scout. Scout made herself at home right away, sleeping on my face, mewing with her gritty gargled voice day and night . . . In short, she was a tough animal to get used to and I think my initial thoughts were along the lines of "I'm glad she's so old, I'm not going to have to worry about her THAT long". But that quickly past. She endeared herself to me. Her presence, sleeping on my legs every night, became a comfort. She always wanted to be on our laps or at least touching us and she would often bring gifts to us - a pair of mittens or a little stuffed animal lamb - to prove her love and win affection. What started as a terrible cat roommate, became one of the most profound animal friendships I have ever had. Of course, Jessica had this type of relationship with Scout since her mother brought her home way back in 1997 and she had Scout perched next to her from the time she was 10 all the way through into high school, college, adulthood, relationships, different dogs and other cats and pets. Scout was a constant for her.

But there was a problem.

A few months prior to my meeting Jessica, she lost her beloved dog Bogart to cancer. She made the hard decision to end his life before his suffering was unbearable. Only and few days after that, Scout went into shock herself and Jessica was faced with putting a second family member to sleep in less than a month. Miraculously, on the advice of a coworker and vet of Jessica's, Mike, Scout recovered, but she had issues with her thyroid and possibly other issues. Jessica didn't know how long she would have with Scout after that. When she told me this when Scout first arrived in our little apartment, I was worried about the poor thing crashing again. What would be the cost, monetarily and emotionally? How could I prepare for the sadness that would encompass Jessica when her friend of 19 years finally expired?

I dealt with Scout's impending doom the same way I have been trained to deal with many of life's dilemmas: With dark humor. I would commonly Snapchat our friends pictures of Scout peacefully sleeping with the word "dead" nearby. I created some creative poses. Not everyone was amused all the time, but for Jess and I, it was a fun inside joke that we could share.

The problem was, the more time that went by, the more I cared and grew closer to Scout. She was there for every moment we had in our room, almost always on top of us or in our lap. She was there for my birthday party and Halloween and our roommate Christmas and our couch proposal . . . She was there for it all. So when we both noticed that she was losing weight, those thoughts of her crash the year before kept coming up in the backs of our minds. She began periodically throwing up her food after eating too quickly and drinking too quickly. It was a sign that her thyroid and perhaps other organs weren't working the right way. An inconvenient truth about cats is that they are programed to hide pain. Pain is weakness and the weak are often killed or at least marginalized. Scout hid her pain, but we could see it every so often. She was deaf, so we would surprise her more often than we would like. Sometimes she would be jostled from a deep sleep and not be able to get up. In another instance, she just fell over without provocation. It was funny, but sad. This was the end for this tiny, fuzzy cat.

After a little time, Jessica and I made the decision that I think all animal lovers should make: To make sure that the last moment of Scout's life was on our terms and not a situation where she was in pain and suffering. On top of that, she was suffering at least a bit even though she was able to hide it.

We called up our vet Mike and set an appointment. The week that followed was quietly torturous for both of us. For Jessica, she made some artwork using Scout's paws and ink. She also makes origami boxes for all her animals with special personalized notes and trinkets that are interred with the body. For me, I just tried to remember her touch and recorded her voice. I tried to spend as much quality time as I could with her. The night before, Jessica took Scout into her arms and told her what was going to happen the next morning. It's really hard to know if a cat understands you or not, but that night, Scout decided to sleep by each of our heads, Jessica's and then mine, for a few hours. She didn't eat all night and leave the bed to go do cat things. In that, I felt like she understood.

A few hours later, we were in the car to McGrath Animal Hospital. It was a sunny and warm day. birds were just returning after the harsh snow a few weekends before. It was hard, but we did it and saw it through and her suffering was over. Possibly the greatest friend and presence in Jessica's life and a creature that had crawled into my own heart was gone. Today, I think I still hear her sometimes, her awful smokers mew or see her in my periphery. We still mourn, but I can't help but think we did the right thing. I'll never forget Scout Sinatra, the greatest cat in the world.

Scout Sinatra was brought home to Jessica sometime in 1997. Named after Bruce Willis' daughter, Scout spent the next 20 years accompanying Jessica through all her ups and downs. Just this last year, Jessica found the love of her life, Evan, and the two of them made sure Scout was well loved up to her last breath. Many will debate the fact, but all who knew her have donned Scout the Most Greatest Cat Who Hath Ever Lived Lifetime Achievement Award!

The Adventures of Mr Norbert Waggles - Part 2

Mr Norbert Waggles Esquire came to us on a chilly day in March. This is an entry from his journal regarding his new life with the Perry Family

15 March 2017 - The cold white stuff that appeared yesterday outside the house has remained. The icy layer locks the odors of the world beneath and I find myself digging through it to find familiar earthy scents. Otherwise, the vast white landscape is quite enjoyable: It cools the paws and creates quite the sensation when in need of rear egress. New England is quite odd and this stuff is just another example.

Cont'd - Big news! My temporary people, fosters, sat me down on the big ugly couch today and told me something unexpected: They decided to hire me as their Dog of the House! I must say, it was very surprising but very welcome news. I hugged the lovely person in my first act as her best companion and friend. The experience seemed to thrill her thoroughly. As reward for my new position, my new people dropped my slave name, Jasper, for my birth name, Norbert Waggles Esquire. I'll have to check with the bar, but I may be able to practice Dog Law the the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Unlike my human equivalents, dogkind usually ignores state lines as they are manmade. Of course, there are exceptions, especially in more liberal areas of the country. The reptile was indifferent to my newfound permanent status, but the cat seemed slightly less aloof toward my presence. Victories all around!

Cont'd - Update: Nothing learned about practicing Dog Law here in my new home, but there are definitely many locals who could use great representation. I'll have to steal some time on the internet while my new people aren't around to find out more.

The Adventures of Mr Norbert Waggles - Part 1

Mr Norbert Waggles Esquire came to us on a chilly day in March. This is an entry from his journal regarding his new life with the Perry Family

11 March 2017 - I am embroiled in a conflict of wills: My people have seen my cheerful demeanor and hearty energy and deemed it unacceptable. Whereas my personality and deep moral convictions took me far in Tennessee, these New England humans find me overbearing and even a poor guest in their home. They called me Jasper and I certainly feel as if their job description for Dog of the House falls within servitude. Am I not a person? Am I not deserving respect and attention? They see me as a mutt and not as an educated and cultured individual. However they came to their decision, I find myself on the move once again. I sit in the rear of their auto back to the shelter from whence I came and then onto fosterhood. Again. I would say I'm bitterly disappointed, but if these people don't have use for an intellect such as mine, then why shed tears? Someday I will find a permanent arrangement.

Cont'd - This is interesting! We returned to the holding facility, but I was ushered right into the back of a waiting auto. The driver, a lovely person, spoke highly of me and seemed to have an unlimited supply of affection. I waited to see where this person was taking me. Perhaps back to my stomping grounds in the South? It was in that moment that I remembered a quote from the immortal Dr. King: "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed". In that spirit, I made sure that the lovely person driving knew my presence lest she decide to chain me in another facility someplace or bring me into another narrow-minded family unit. I am in the prime of my life and need to find a place in a home where I'm treated with respect. It would also be nice to have benefits and a retirement plan, but that could be negotiated later.

Cont'd - The lovely person pulled into a driveway after our ride, and gestured widely. This apartment belonged to her and it was where I would be staying until she could find another position in another family. The place was nice: Lots of windows, a little space to run around, warm. The person owned a small cat slave named Scout. She was deaf and not at all welcoming, but like all slaves, she demurred to the will of her master. Cats are foolish creatures who believe that defiance is equivalent to freedom and control, but it is they who are closely controlled and confined into little worlds. It was but a few minutes before a man came to the house. He was dressed in a black uniform and cold from the negative temperatures outside. He saw me and introduced himself with an outstretched hand. My background and experience with people has made me quite nervous and skeptical of newcomers, but I knew right away that he was a kind person and unassuming. It became obvious that he lived in the apartment with the other human woman, the lovely one. For now, this would be my people. How long has yet to be seen. 

Merry Christmas

Decorate

Cuteness + Gingerbread = Delightful Christmas Video High Jinks!

It's that time of the year, so it's time to break out the presents, eggnog, and treats for the family to share. "What should I make" you ask? Well how about some delectable gingerbread cookies! Kailey and Elise present their 'Yummy' video, a parody of the ubiquitous Tasty videos, to show you a great recipé they picked off of Pioneer Woman. Enjoy!

 

My Pet Turtle - Part 4

Photo by Jessica Sinatra

Photo by Jessica Sinatra

Greetings children of the web!

Having a veterinary tech living with me has expanded the way I see and enjoy Sandy the turtle. Now, we have a variety of treats we like to give her and she has even taken to eating right from the hand (If we're careful!). She quite enjoys a small bit of strawberry or banana, but will go on the warpath for chicken. When we gave her a piece of chicken, the next time we put a less exciting banana on the platform, she seemed to ignore it for a while, hoping for the meat. We will put the treat on her basking platform and she will sniff it a moment before snapping it up and dragging it into the water. Turtles can only eat in the water. Of course, when we give her a treat, it is always in a very small quantity.

With chicken, we boil the chicken as opposed to other methods, figuring it will be the healthiest way to present it to Sandy. We don't give her fatty parts obviously. I have always been loathe to give her a live fish because of the possible diseases it might introduce into the habitat. I think, playing with the turtle through light training and giving her a small morsel every once in awhile is a good substitution for that missing stimulation. In any event, I must be doing something right, because she's one big and healthy reptile!