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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sasha, 1996-2009

My partner and I celebrated our seventh anniversary this month, but neither of us really approve of Hallmark Holidays and we didn't make a big deal out of it. I had papers to grade anyway, and Eric was doing work from the computer in his home office as well. I only mention it today because of another anniversary connected to the first that became sadly salient yesterday afternoon.

Eric and I moved into the little Rockridge bungalow where we still live today after we'd been together for a year, and that move was the occasion for a different unholy union (apart from our own, I mean). Each of us had chosen to care for a feral cat from the SFSPCA as a companion. Eric had chosen Sasha seven years before we met and by the time I entered the picture they were an incredibly tight-knit little family.

I say that Eric chose Sasha, but the story is that Sasha chose Eric, pretty much leaping into his arms unbidden with his motor running like mad the moment he set eyes on Eric, and this after exhibiting indifference to hostility to pretty much everybody else who had given him a glance up to that point. Sasha never veered from that assessment of Eric a day of his life. I have never seen such monomaniacal devotion from a cat in my life, it was incredibly sweet and a little bonkers.

I chose my own feral disaster area, Sarah, after Eric and I met. At that point I had been mourning the loss of my companion Rodent (the awful name has a dumb story attached to it that we can skip), who had been a kitten in the last litter of a family cat from childhood (Grasshopper, daughter of Cleo), and who had lived with me the whole decade I lived in Atlanta, lived with me there through well over a dozen moves and who knows how many friends and boyfriends and so on during the times of my adventuring, moving with my partner of the time Jules (still very good friends, he's living in Switzerland now) from Georgia to California when the time came for grad school at Berkeley. It's amazing what banisters our animals are as we climb the steep stairs.

Rodent died cuddled next to me while I slept Christmas Eve, 2001, in the big apartment overlooking Dolores Park in the City I rented at the time with two friends, both of whom were home for the holidays thus leaving me alone in that echoing warehouse of a place at the worst possible time. I always regretted very much that Eric never had the chance to meet Rodent, and I also regretted that Eric's Sasha -- who had a perfect, uncanny physical resemblance to my desperately missed Rodent -- wanted nothing to do with me at all.

As I said, Eric and Sasha were a pretty tight-knit unit of many years when I entered the scene. Eric's a rather solitary person, like I am, and Sasha was not at all used to intrusions. Early on, when I would come to Eric's place Sasha would leap to the top of his ratty, ragged, ill-smelling green-carpet tower and stare at me with unblinking fixity for hours with the most predatory stare imaginable. My territorial incursions were not appreciated. My alien smell was anathema. My efforts at cooing and friendly pats were impertinences beyond bearing.

When Eric and I found our bungalow for rent through a friend, the place was so charming, the street so sweet, so price so right we just made the leap, and it felt like one -- not only because we both have fairly cautious natures and hadn't been together for that long, really, but also because we simply couldn't imagine what it would be like to weave our two crazy-cat families into a crazy-quilt that wouldn't be in tatters within days.

Our Sarah is a plump owl-eyed girl with a Hitler mustache, but she is far from as intimidating as that sounds. She has a bird in her head where her brain should be, for one thing. Leaves tracked in from outside are well-matched antagonists for her ferocity. Her battle hisses and trills are so adorable, Eric and I sometimes try to provoke her to irritation just because she makes such a cute spectacle of herself when she is enraged. Like Sasha, she was plucked up by the SFSPCA from Golden Gate Park, her mother and brothers and sisters all dead, and she nearly the same. When I brought her home, Sarah still had a terrific gash in her neck from some bird of prey trying to make lunchmeat of her. For the first years of her life she was completely skittish and spastic. And Sasha, as I have said, was a grumpy, jealous, and obsessively territorial beast.

To put it plainly, Eric and I were scared to death to introduce them. It was possibly the most flabbergasting thing I ever saw when Sasha, upon meeting Sarah in our new home, confounded every expectation and scenario we had spun, and was instead instantly cowed into submission by our little girl, giving ground to her in everything she asked for days and days.

For Sasha, Sarah was some deus ex machina. For Sarah, Sasha was at most a mild amusement. I'm not entirely sure that she grasped the fact that we had moved into a new home at all, rather than simply moving through a locked door in the old place to a new wing. Sarah's extreme blank stupidity makes her the most unflappable and stoical creature within miles. When Eric and I were playing the game of choosing who would play each of us in the movie version of our lives, we chose for Sarah a bag of mixed dried beans.

Within a few weeks, Sasha had rectified the initial power imbalance between them, and had come to an accommodation with me (especially since Eric and I decided I would be the sole food-slave to get in his good graces). We sometimes had the feeling that however devoted the cats remained to us, they represented for one another the only real people in the house. We humans were pawns selectively deployed in elaborate politics we could scarcely understand. The territories they had staked out between them were palpably demarcated, mutually respected, but seemed to include contested zones for which they would skirmish through scent-marking rituals that they would impose on table and chair legs and on doorways and so on literally for hours and hours on end, patiently roving through the rooms, doing their grim work and undoing the work of the other, day after day. Sarah and Sasha were incredibly real for one another, and they were very contented in their surreal shared cat world. At night, after we had gone to bed, they would call to one another and you could hear them chasing each other downstairs, galloping on their cat-feet, playing like lunatics.

It really is a hard thing to try to convey what a sweet and charming cat Sasha was. He showed these aspects of himself to so few. With strangers he was standoffish at best, slinking off to hide under a bed when guests were here, and greeting them with what was almost inevitably called a "banshee howl" or "Nazgul shriek" once he grew impatient that they had lingered too long in his home. You may laugh, but words cannot convey the truly unearthly uncanny sound he could emit when he was unhappy. That jagged nails across a thousand chalkboards iceberg tearing into the steel of the Titanic deranged dinosaur menacing some distant lemur ancestor sound would make every hair on your body prick at its pore like an ice-cold electrocution.

Sasha scared everybody, animal, vegetable, mineral. Cat lovers were especially offended at Sasha's indifference to their earnest ministrations and aggression at their attendance -- it felt like a personal failing to be found wanting by Sasha, and everybody but Eric was found wanting. I am not exaggerating when I say that I personally felt less accomplished in the award of my Ph.D. (well, face it, having Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature on your diploma makes it feel a bit like a novelty item, like a whoopee cushion or something) than I did after a half decade of what psychologist Carl Roger's would call the offer of "unconditional positive regard" that Sasha grew to love me and let me in to the charmed circle of his care, second only to Eric. Those last couple of years Sasha would let me pick him up in my arms and would purr and nuzzle my nose and deign to let his forehead be kissed. These were scenes unavailable to the wider world, precious beyond description.

Like many feral cats, especially male ones, Sasha was plagued all his life through with medical problems, especially digestive issues. He was never an easy cat to care for. He had periodic crises, and then manic bouts of pure punk behavior in the recuperative aftermath. He had been eating less than usual for weeks and walking a bit stiffly lately. He was as bright eyed and spunky and affectionate as ever with us, and we would give his fur a rueful brush and joke that he was getting to be an old man.

While I was away teaching on Tuesday, a sudden crisis sent him in his kitty carrier to the pet hospital down the street. We spent an anxious couple of days playing phone tag and hearing that the good doctors were struggling to stabilize him enough in the first place to administer the tests to determine what was happening with him. Thursday I lectured on formal logic while the minute hand of the clock tapped toward the number which I knew would trigger Eric's call to determine whether or not Sasha should be put to sleep to end his pain and fear in some strange place among strangers.

I hadn't had a chance to say goodbye and had scarcely been able to focus on anything for days. Actually, the news seemed better than we expected and we were able to bring Sasha home with some antibiotics. Friday night he collapsed again. We were told he was suffering from pancreatitis. He spent a night sleeping with Eric all to himself in the guest room downstairs, to his utter delight. He had a last long day at the home he had loved for half his life, cozied up to his favorite heating grate behind the living room chair while we scratched his head for hours.

He was a terrible mess, though, unable to eat and stiff with pain, but just as sweet faced and bright brained as ever. The doctors declared him beyond healing and to be suffering in a way that would only get worse the longer it went on, and we put him to sleep in a blinding white room with an evil needle to a shaved patch of skin on his back leg. I held his soft little paw pad and rubbed his chin and he was sweet as an angel when he vanished from the world, his clear eyes wide and kind for me the whole time. I hope my finger on his chin smelled like home.

Nobody can know like Eric does, and like I do, what we have lost in losing Sasha, what we miss without our grumpy, sociopathic, sweet little punk man around anymore. This is dedicated to him.

9 comments:

jimf said...

So it came that Beren was dragged before Melko, and he bore a stout
heart within him nonetheless, for it was a belief among his father's
kindred that the power of Melko would not abide for ever, but the
Valar would hearken at last to the tears of the Noldoli, and would
arise and bind Melko and open Valinor once more to the weary Elves,
and great joy should come back upon Earth.

Melko however looking upon him was wroth, asking how a Gnome, a
thrall by birth of his, had dared to fare away into the woods
unbidden, but Beren answered that he was no runagate but. . .
a great trapper of small animals and a snarer of birds, and had
become lost in the hills in these pursuits until after much
wandering he had come into strange lands, and even had not the
Orcs seized him he would indeed have had no other rede of safety
but to approach the majesty of Ainu Melko and beg him to grant
him some humble office -- as a winner of meats for his table
perchance.

Now the Valar must have inspired that speech. . . for it indeed
saved his life, and Melko marking his hardy frame believed him, and
was willing to accept him as a thrall of his kitchens. Flattery
savoured ever sweet in the nostrils of that Ainu, and for all
his unfathomed wisdom many a lie of those whom he despised deceived
him, were they clothed sweetly in words of praise; therefore now
he gave orders for Beren to be made a thrall of Tevildo Prince
of Cats. Now Tevildo was a mighty cat -- the mightiest of all. . .
and he was in Melko's constant following; and that cat had
all cats subject to him, and he and his subjects were the chasers
and getters of meat for Melko's table and for his frequent feasts.
Wherefore it is that there is hatred still between the Elves
and all cats even now when Melko rules no more, and his beasts
are become of little account.

When therefore Beren was led away to the halls of Tevildo, and
these were not utterly distant from the place of Melko's throne,
he was much afraid, for he had not looked for such a turn in things,
and those halls were ill-lighted and were full of growling and of
monstrous purrings in the dark. All about shone cats' eyes glowing
like green lamps or red or yellow where Tevildo's thanes sat
waving and lashing their beautiful tails, but Tevildo himself sat
at their head and he was a mighty cat and coal-black and evil to
look upon. His eyes were long and very narrow and slanted, and
gleamed both red and green, but his great grey whiskers were as
stout and as sharp as needles. His purr was like the roll of drums
and his growl like thunder, but when he yelled in wrath it turned
the blood cold, and indeed small beasts and birds were frozen as
to stone, or dropped lifeless often at the very sound. Now Tevildo
seeing Beren narrowed his eyes until they seemed to shut, and said:
"I smell dog", and he took dislike to Beren from that moment.
Now Beren had been a lover of hounds in his own wild home.

"Why," said Tevildo, "do ye dare to bring such a creature before
me, unless perchance it is to make meat of him?" But those who
led Beren said, "Nay, 'twas the word of Melko that this unhappy
Elf wear out his life as a catcher of beasts and birds in Tevildo's
employ." Then indeed did Tevildo screech in scorn and said:
"Then in sooth was my lord asleep or his thoughts were settled
elsewhere, for what use think ye is a child of the Eldar to aid
the Prince of Cats and his thanes in the catching of birds or
of beasts -- as well had ye brought some clumsy-footed Man,
for none are there either of Elves or Men that can vie with us
in our pursuit." Nonetheless he set Beren to a test, and be
bade him to catch three mice, "for my hall is infested with them,"
said he. This indeed was not true, as might be imagined, yet
a certain few there were -- a very wild, evil, and magic kind
that dared to dwell there in dark holes, but they were larger
than rats and very fierce, and Tevildo harboured them for his
own private sport and suffered not their numbers to dwindle.

Three days did Beren hunt them, but having nothing wherewith
to devise a trap. . . he hunted in vain getting nothing better
than a bitten finger for all his labour. Then was Tevildo scornful
and in great anger, but Beren got no harm of him or his thanes
at that time because of Melko's bidding other than a few scratches.
Evil however were his days thereafter in the dwellings of Tevildo.
They made him a scullion, and his days passed miserably in the
washing of floors and vessels, in the scrubbing of tables and
the hewing of wood and the drawing of water. Often too he would
be set to the turning of spits whereon birds and fat mice
were daintily roasted for the cats. . .

Now it is to be told to thee. . . that in those days Tevildo
had but one trouble in the world, and that was the kindred of
the Dogs. Many indeed of these were neither friends nor foes
of the Cats, for they had become subject to Melko and were as
savage and cruel as any of his animals; indeed from the most
cruel and most savage he bred the race of wolves, and they
were very dear indeed to him. . . Many were there however
who would neither bow to Melko nor live wholly in fear of him,
but dwelt either in the dwellings of Men and guarded them
from much evil that had otherwise befallen them or roamed
the woods. . .

Did ever any of these view Tevildo or any of this thanes or
subjects, then there was a great baying and a mighty chase,
and albeit seldom was any cat slain by reason of their skill
in climbing and in hiding. . . yet was great enmity between
them, and some of those hounds were held in dread among
the cats. None however did Tevildo fear, for he was as
strong as any among them, and more agile and more swift save
only than Huan Captain of Dogs. So swift was Huan that
on a time he had tasted the fur of Tevildo, and though Tevildo
had paid him for that with a gash from his great claws, yet
was the pride of the Prince of Cats unappeased and he lusted
to do a great harm to Huan of the Dogs.

Great therefore was the good fortune that befell Tinuviel
in meeting with Huan in the woods, although at first she was
mortally afraid and fled. . .

[S]aid she, ". . . I am not here for the love of wayfaring,
but I seek only Beren."

"What knowest thou then," said Huan, "of Beren -- or indeed
meanest thou Beren son of the huntsman of the Elves. . .,
a friend of mine since very ancient days?"

"Nay, I know not even whether my Beren be thy friend, for
I seek only Beren from beyond the Bitter Hills, whom I
knew in the woods near to my father's home. Now he is gone,
and my mother Gwendeling says of her wisdom that he is
a thrall in the cruel house of Tevildo Prince of Cats. . .
and I go to discover him -- though plan I have none."

"Then will I make the one," said Huan, "but do thou trust in
me, for I am Huan of the Dogs, chief foe of Tevildo. Rest thee
now with me a while within the shadows of the wood, and I will
think deeply."

. . .

Tinuviel fared on. . . until [she] came even to a cliff, sheer
of one side, and there upon a stony shelf was the castle of
Tevildo. . .

Now does Tinuviel wander disconsolate upon the lowest terrace
and look in dread at the dark house upon the hill, when behold,
she came at a bend in the rock upon a lone cat lying in the sun
and seemingly asleep. As she approached he opened a yellow
eye and blinked at her, and thereupon rising and stretching
he stepped up to her and said: "Wither away, little maid --
dost not know that you trespass on the sunning ground of his
highness Tevildo and his thanes?"

Now Tinuviel was very much afraid, but she made as bold an answer
as she was able, saying: "That I know, my lord" -- and this
pleased the old cat greatly, for his was in truth only Tevildo's
doorkeeper -- "but I would indeed of your goodness be brought
to Tevildo's presence now -- nay, even if he sleeps," said she,
for the doorkeeper lashed his tail in astonished refusal. "I have
words of immediate import for his private hear. Lead me to
him, my lord," she pleaded, and thereat the cat purred so loudly
that she dared to stroke his ugly head, and this was much larger
than her own, being greater than that of any dog that is now
on Earth. Thus entreated, Umuiyan, for such was his name,
said: "Come then with me," . . .

[H]e led her along that terrace to an open space, where upon a
wide couch of baking stones lay the horrible form of Tevildo
himself, and both his eyes were shut. Going up to him the doorcat
Umuiyan spoke in his ear softly, saying: "A maiden awaits they
pleasure, my lord, who hath news of importance to deliver to thee,
nor would she take my refusal." Then did Tevildo angrily lash
his tail, half opening an eye -- "What is it -- be swift," said
he, "for this is no hour to come desiring audience of Tevildo
Prince of Cats. . . Nay, get thee gone," said Tevildo, "thou
smellest of dog, and what news of good came ever to a cat from
a fairy that had had dealings with the dogs?"

"Why, sir, that I smell of dogs is no matter of wonder, for I
have just escaped from one -- and it is indeed of a certain very
mighty dog whose name thou knowest that I would speak." Then up
sat Tevildo and opened his eyes. . . and he bid others to
lead Tinuviel away to a certain chamber within, and that was
the one where Tevildo was accustomed to sit at meat with his
greatest thanes. It was full of bones and smelt evilly; no windows
were there and but one door; but a hatchway gave from it upon the
great kitchens. . . Now gazing therethrough, for it was ajar,
she saw the wide vaulted kitchens and the great fires that burnt
there, and those that toiled always therin, and the most were
cats -- but behold, there by a great fire stooped Beren, and he
was grimed with labour. . .

Then partly in fear, and part in hope that her clear voice might
carry even to Beren, Tinuviel began suddenly to speak very loud
and to tell her tale so that the chambers rang, but "Hush, dear
maiden," said Tevildo, "if the matter were secret without it is
not one for bawling within." Then said Tinuviel: "Speak not thus
to me, O cat, mighty Lord of Cats though thou be, for am I not
Tinuviel Princess of Fairies that have stepped out of my way
to do thee a pleasure?" Now at those words, and she had shouted
them even louder than before, a great crash was heard in the
kitchens as of a number of vessels of metal and earthenware let
suddenly fall, but Tevildo snarled: "There trippeth that fool
Beren the Elf. Melko rid me of such folk" -- yet Tinuviel, guessing
that Beren had heard and been smitten with astonishment, put aside
her fears and repented her daring no longer. . .

But Tinuviel said: "There is a great beast, rude and violent,
and his name is Huan" -- and at that name Tevildo's back curved,
and his hair bristled and crackled, and the light of his eyes was
red -- "and," she went on, "it seems to me a shame that such a
brute be suffered to infest the woods so nigh even to the abode
of the powerful Prince of Cats, my lord Tevildo"; but Tevildo said:
"Nor is he suffered, and cometh never there save by stealth."

"Howso that may be," said Tinuviel, "there he is now, yet methinks
that at last may his life be brought utterly to an end, for
lo, as I was going through the woods I saw where a great animal
lay upon the ground moaning as in sickness -- and behold, it was
Huamn, and some evil spell or malady has him in its grip, and
still he lies helpless in a dale not a mile westward in the woods
from this hall. Now with this perhaps I would not have troubled
your ears, had not the brute when I approached to succour him
snarled upon me and essayed to bite me, and meseems that such
a creature deserves whatever come to him."

Now all this that Tinuviel spake was a great lie in whose devising
Huan had guided her, and maidens of the Eldar are not wont to fashion
lies; yet have I never heard that any of the Eldar blamed her
therein nor Beren afterward, and neither do I, for Tevildo was
an evil cat and Melko the wickedest of all beings, and Tinuviel
was in dire peril at their hands. Tevildo however, himself a
great and skilled liar, was so deeply versed in the lies and subtleties
of all the beasts and creatures that he seldom knew whether to
believe what was said to him or not, and was wont to disbelieve all
things save those he wished to believe true, and so was he often
deceived by the more honest. Now the story of Huan and his helplessness
so pleased him that he was fain to believe it true. . .

Now crept they through the woods in the direction she had named,
and soon does Tevildo smell dog and bristles and lashes his great
tail, but after he climbs a lofty tree and looks down from thence
into that dale that Tinuviel had shown to them. There he does
indeed see the great form of Huan lying prostrate groaning and moaning,
and he comes down in much glee and haste, and indeed in his
eagerness he forgets Tinuviel, who now in great fear for Huan lies
hidden in a bank of fern. The design of Tevildo and his two
companions was to enter that dale silently from different quarters
and so come all suddenly upon Huan unawares and slay him, or if
he were too stricken to make fight, to make sport of him and torment
him. This did they now, but even as they leapt out upon him Huan
sprang up into the air with a mighty baying, and his jaws closed
in the back close to the neck of that cat Oikeroi, and Oikeroi died;
but the other thane fled howling up a great tree, and so was Tevildo
left alone face to face with Huan, and such an encounter was not
much to his mind, yet was Huan upon him too swiftly for flight, and
they fought fiercely in that glade, and the noise that Tevildo made
was very hideous; but at length Huan had him by the throat, and
that ct might well have perished had not his claws as he struck
out blindly pierced Huan's eye. Then did Huan give tongue, and
Tevildo screeching fearsomely got himself loose with a great wrench
and leapt up a tall and smooth tree that stood by, even as his
companion had done. Despite his grievous hurt Huan now leaps beneath
that tree baying mightily, and Tevildo curses him and casts evil
words upon him from above.

Then said Huan: "Lo, Tevildo, these are the words of Huan whom thou
thoughtest to catch and slay helpless as the miserable mice it
is thy wont to hunt -- stay for ever up thy lonely tree and bleed
to death of thy wounds, or come down again and feel my teeth.
But if neither are to thy liking, then tell me where is Tinuviel
Princess of Fairies and Beren son of Egnor, for these are my
friends. Now these shall be set as ransom against thee -- though
it be valuing thee far over thy worth."

"As for that cursed Elf, she lies whimpering in the ferns yonder,
an my ears mistake not," said Tevildo, "and Beren methinks is
being soundly scratched by Miaule my cook in the kitchens of my
castle for his clumsiness there an hour ago."

"Then let them be given to me in safety," said Huan, "and thou
mayest return thyself to thy halls and lick thyself unharmed."

"Of a surety my thane who is here with me shall fetch them for thee,"
said Tevildo, but growled Huan: "Ay, and fetch also all thy
tribe and the hosts of Orcs and the plagues of Melko. Nay, I
am no fool; rather thou shalt thou give Tinuviel a token and she
shall fetch Beren, or thou shalt stay here if thou likest not
the other way." Then was Tevildo forced to cast down his
golden collar -- a token no cat dare dishonour, but Huan said: "Nay,
more yet is needed, for this will arouse all thy folk to seek
thee," and this Tevildo knew and had hoped. So was it that in
the end weariness and hunger and fear prevailed upon that proud
cat, prince of the service of Melko, to reveal the secret of the
cats and the spell that Melko had entrusted to him, and those
were words of magic whereby the stones of his evil house were
held together, and whereby he held all beasts of the catfolk
under his sway, filling them with an evil power beyond their
nature. . . When therefore he had told it Huan laughed till the
woods rang, for he knew that the days of the power of the cats
were over. . .

But Tinuviel was very glad, and spoke saying: "O Beren from beyond
the Bitter Hills, wilt thou now dance with me -- but let it not
be here." And she led Beren far away, and all those cats set up
a howling and wailing, so that Huan and Tevildo heard it in the
woods, but none followed or molested them, for they were
afraid, and the magic of Melko was fallen from them.

This indeed they rued afterward when Tevildo returned home followed
by his trembling comrade, for Tevildo's wrath was terrible, and
he lashed his tail and dealt blows at all who stood nigh. Now
Huan of the dogs, though it might seem a folly, when Beren and
Tinuviel had come to that glade had suffered that evil Prince
to return without further war, but the great collar of gold he
had set about his own neck, and at this was Tevildo more angry
than all else, for a great magic of strength and power lay therein.
Little to Huan's liking was it that Tevildo lived still, but
now no longer did he fear the cats, and that tribe has fled before
the dogs ever since, and the dogs hold them still in scorn since
the humbling of Tevildo in the woods nigh Angamandi; and Huan has
not done any greater deed. Indeed afterward Melko heard all and
he cursed Tevildo and his folk and banished them, nor have they
since that day had lord or master or any friend, and their voices
wail and screech for their hearts are very lonely and bitter and
full of loss, yet there is only darkness therein and no kindliness.

-- J. R. R. Tolkien, _The Book of Lost Tales, Part I_

Go Democrats said...

Oh, Dale, I am sad for you. Our pets give so much and ask so little in return.

jimf said...

> _The Book of Lost Tales, Part I_

Part II, actually. "The Tale of Tinuviel".

jimf said...

> [W]e put him to sleep in blinding white room with
> an evil needle to a shaved patch of skin on his back leg.
> I held his soft little paw pad and rubbed his chin
> and he was sweet as an angel when he vanished from the
> world, his clear eyes wide and kind for me the whole time.
> I hope my finger on his chin smelled like home.

You know, of course, that the major difference between a
cat (or any animal) in that position and a human in that
position is that the animal can have no concept at all
of "death", and so can have no fear of death in the
abstract. (Not that the cat wasn't afraid, of course,
but no **more** afraid than of any other visit to the
vet, and getting a shot there.)

Knowledge of good and evil, indeed.

Anisa said...

I'm so sorry, Dale.

I left my cat, who I've had since I was 9, at home in San Diego when I came to Berkeley, and my heart drops every time I mistake a crumpled sweater on my bed or a movement in the corner of my eye for her presence. I can only imagine how I will feel when she's really gone. I really feel for you.

Martin said...

That was beautiful. You write so well.

I lost a dog in 2005 that I had for 14 years. When it happened, I was glad that she had finally been released from her misery. Most pure bred dogs (she was a Golden Retriever) are heavily inbred and suffer a lot of medical problems. Towards the end, she had cataracts in both eyes and was basically blind, had arthritis so bad that one hind leg was permanently gimped (couldn't put weight on it), and had a large tumor growing on her shoulder. Still, we loved her and she got around remarkably well without site. And I'm sure she recognized each of us individually by smell.

Surgery to rid her of the tumor was out of the question because the anesthetic might kill her at that advanced age (14, not bad since the average life span of a Goldie is 12).

I wasn't there at the end. She lived with my parents, but they decided to pull the plug in their own way. She basically couldn't get around anymore and was losing weight quickly because she found it difficult to chew her food, so they pulled her food. She died that night, we like to think in her sleep. She was found in the morning curled up like she usually sleeps.

My parents called me and told me the news. I was sad and restless so I decided to drive. Not anywhere in particular, but just drive. It lets me think. And right when I got in the car that Daniel Powter song "Bad Day" came on. I balled.

AnneC said...

Gah, as a totally shameless and incurable Cat Person, this so makes me want to cry! What a life Sasha had, and what a tribute. I can tell he'll be greatly missed.

Anonymous said...

I have 6 feral cats inside my house and a dozen or so living in the backyard that I care for. We are always trapping new ones and taking them down to the county spay/neuter clinic... we took one kitten in a few months ago and it turned out to be a hermaphrodite! s/he died though from related urinary malformations. a very very sweet little creature, we all miss hir very much...

Anonymous said...

the feral role call here:

inside:

Ronnie and Reggie (Kray Kray twins)
Fig
Ribble
Kinkeleba
Cho Cho aka Andrew Invergowrie

outside:
Inkatsu aka Inky
Minkatsu aka Minky
Pinkatsu aka Pink Nose
Big Poppa E - aka Fauxmanuel
Fauxmanella
Silver Dollar
Chaim
RoJo
Trixiebelle aka Skinny Ho

and several more now RIP... Baruch, Ivan, Ayler, Margaret Tiger Rug, Manuel