Tag Archives: cats

Loving Lenny

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
– Anatole France

“Something is wrong.”

It was three years ago today on a bright, cold winter Saturday morning in February. I had popped out of bed early and hurriedly thrown on a pair of old jeans and a comfy sweatshirt, excited that this much-anticipated day had finally arrived. After six full days of this animal-lover’s pleading and begging on Facebook for someone to adopt a sweet, lonely pit bull mix that had found his way to our local animal shelter, my prayer had finally been answered. Little “Lenny” (the name I promptly bestowed upon him after observing his ‘gentle giant’ ways that mirrored his namesake in the classic Of Mice and Men) was going home! And who had adopted him?

Lenny’s shelter photo – Facebook, Feb 2015

You guessed it—me!

After seeing that there was no public interest in saving this sweet boy from his ever looming demise date, my big-hearted husband finally gave in. Lenny was coming home to join our family. Lenny would be pet number five.

The only problem we faced was timing. The shelter (which was unfortunately not a no-kill shelter) had scheduled sweet Lenny to be put to sleep on Friday. But because of mine and my husband’s out-of-town work schedules, neither of us could work it out to go pick up our sweet boy before closing time on Friday. So, the shelter graciously agreed to extend his date to Saturday—with our promise that we’d definitely show up by the time they closed at noon. No problem! I rose with the sun with my happy heart pounding out of my chest. Our baby was coming home!

And then I walked into the living room and everything changed.

There lied my precious fat calico kitty Patches on her little pet bed, struggling for air.

“Something is wrong.”

At first the words came out in a whisper, but as I realized the seriousness of the situation, they gained strength.

“Something is wrong!”

I called out to my husband, “Richard! Something is wrong with Patches!”

My husband came into the room and said, “Let’s get her to the vet. Hurry.”

I began scrambling for my shoes and for a large towel to wrap my sweet cat in. We rushed to the car and started the thirty minute drive to town, with me all the while holding my fluffy girl like a baby in my arms in the passenger seat. We made it to the emergency vet and while my husband ran to the counter to explain what was happening, my beautiful cat’s gentle sweet soul left her body as she lay in my arms in the waiting room.

My girl was gone.

The last photo of Patches – February 6, 2015

Just like that. This day that was supposed to be filled with such anticipated joy was just bombarded with a soul-crushing sadness that I couldn’t possibly have seen coming. I heard voices swirling around me, offering help–burial services, cremation–but all I could do was look at the lifeless eyes lying in my aching arms. My sweet girl had seen me through so much over the past few years. She had watched my children grow with me. She saw my marriage fall apart. She saw me fall in love again and welcomed this new, amazing man into our world. She had been my constant through all the changes swirling around me.

And now she was gone.

I looked up into my husband’s empathetic eyes and saw the pain I was feeling reflecting back at me. He gently took my arm and led me to the car. I wouldn’t let Patches go. I held onto her lifeless body and couldn’t bring myself to put her down.

“Honey. We have to get to the shelter.”

My husband’s sobering words pulled me out of my stupor and I glanced at the clock. 11:00 a.m. In the rush of the morning’s tragic events, time had slipped away from me. We lost my baby that morning but we still had work to do. We didn’t have time to take my sweet Patches home and bury her and come back to get Lenny. We had no choice. We had to go straight to the shelter or we’d be too late.

We pulled into the parking lot of the shelter and my strong, stable husband finally convinced me to turn my kitty over to him. He gently took her from my arms, covered her lifeless body with the towel, and placed her into a box. We had no choice but to lay her sweet body in the trunk until we could get her home to her proper burial. After we got her in place, my husband took my hand and walked me into the shelter. There, we found our Lenny.

And he was terrified.

My eyes locked onto his and I saw his fear of the unknown. I saw the uncertainty and questions that I was feeling too. Could I do this? Could I switch gears so suddenly? From the heartbreaking pain of loss straight into the joy of a new adoption?

No. I couldn’t. And my sweet Lenny didn’t expect me to.

Dragging our terrified new pet to our car, my husband placed him in the backseat. And, in a last minute mindless decision, I climbed back there with him. We both cried all the way home. Both of us were scared. Both of us were leaving what was familiar to us and embarking on a journey where nothing would ever be the same. Both of us were shaking, sad, and weak.

Lenny’s ride home from the shelter – 2/7/2015

We needed each other more than ever.

Now, three years later, here we are. We’ve adjusted. My sweet Lenny helped me through one of the hardest days of my life back then. And I think I helped him through his, too. We snuggled on the couch on that cold Saturday back in February until our pain began to subside. We held onto each other until we realized that our broken hearts had just enough room for each other. My gentle giant coaxed me back to happiness and taught me to open my heart to another furry soul. And I taught him that some people just won’t ever leave you.

They just won’t.

We’re a team now, sweet Lenny and me. We didn’t have the happiest of starts, but we’ve promised each other that we’ll have a happy ending. Instead of me saving him, he saved me.

Someone told me once that they believed that my precious Patches chose February 7, 2015 to leave me on purpose. She knew that this would be the day that I would be able to accept her departure. I don’t know about all that. But I do know this.

A whole big furry ball of gentleness and love immediately filled the spot that she left behind. Was that divine intervention? I don’t know.

But I certainly know who’s a good boy.  My Lenny, that’s who.

Lenny and mom. February 2018.

***

“When we adopt a dog or any pet, we know it is going to end with us having to say goodbye, but we still do it. And we do it for a very good reason: They bring so much joy and optimism and happiness. They attack every moment of every day with that attitude.”
– Bruce Cameron

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Drama Break

 “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”
– Isaac Asimov

Last month was a month of  many changes for me.

If any of you are regular readers, you’ll probably notice that my posts have dropped dramatically lately. In fact, I only posted one last month, which was in honor of the death of a friend.  I’ve had many things to write about – too many, in fact – but I just couldn’t seem to find the words.  Everything that was happening was big stuff. Big changes – some good, some bad. Lots of “blog bling” as I like to call it….but the words just weren’t rising to the occasion.  And I couldn’t figure out why that was.

liz

Meeting Elizabeth Gilbert…Squeeee!

But then I stumbled across some notes I had taken last year when I went to a talk by my favorite author, Elizabeth Gilbert.  Something she said had resonated with me at the time, so I jotted it down. She said:

“I have found that I cannot write drama while I’m living drama.”

Oh.  Okay, I get it now.

How right she was about that. I’m the same way. When I write, there has to be calm. The room has to be quiet, the chores have to be done, there can’t be anything pressing that needs my attention…there just needs to be calm.  And my life lately?  Heh.  There’s not much calm going on here.

mePatty

Patches – February 6, 2015

First of all, on February 7, I lost my beloved cat, Patches. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ve probably heard about Patches a time or two. In fact, she helped me make it into Chicken Soup for the Soul for the second time with the article I wrote about her and her “step-brother” entitled Tattle Tail. Patches was my girl. She had been with me through a lot over the past six years. She was a rescue kitty and I wasn’t exactly sure how old she was when I got her – but her age had really started showing in the past few months. And on February 7, she gave up the fight…while laying in my arms.

There was so much I wanted to write about Patches. I lost my little buddy – surely she deserved a blog post, didn’t she?  But I just couldn’t find the words. Me – the person who has “words” for everything, had no words for the loss of my sweet little pet.

And to add to the “drama” – see this picture?

meLenny

This picture was taken literally within an hour of my losing Patches.  This is Lenny – the rescue pup that we were on our way to pick up from animal control when Patches died in my arms. Talk about drama. My emotions were all over the place. I had to switch emotional gears in a way I don’t think I’ve ever had to do before. To go from such grief to such happiness within minutes…it was just too much.

meLenny3

Lenny and I on the car ride home

But Lenny helped me out.

See, Lenny was scared too. And confused. He had no idea what was happening. We practically had to drag him into the car because the poor little thing didn’t know what was waiting for him. Once we finally got him in, I climbed in the back with him – teary eyes and all – and he immediately just made his way into my lap and snuggled. We both needed that. No excited tail wagging or licking or any of that puppy stuff – nope. Just calm, confused, scared snuggling. Oh, how we needed each other that morning. I’m not exactly sure who saved who, to tell you the truth.

(By the way – once Lenny got home and settled, that puppy nature came out full force!  He’s such a happy boy and our lives are so much happier with him here. Ain’t he a cutie?)

meLenny2

Lenny lovin’

So, here I was with another major life event to write about – a new little furry member of the family – and still…nothing.

And then came even more changes.

A new job.

I have had a major commute for work for most of my life. In fact, the last time that I lived and worked in the same county, I was eighteen years old. EIGHTEEN. (Now, I’m not going to tell you how long ago that was exactly, but just trust me…it was a long time ago.) And suddenly, I was faced with the opportunity to switch jobs and take a position that was only 14 miles from home. It was such a hard decision to make – I loved my old job and loved the people there. But really, work was the only thing I had in that town. When I was faced with the opportunity to do the same work (with a bit more responsibility…which, for me, is a good thing) and do it closer to home, I just had to take it.

Today was my first day.

And, again, more blog bling. Loss of a pet. A new furball to love. And now a job change. Blog bonanza, man. And what did I have to say about it all?

A big fat nothing. *sigh*

So, I return to the words of my mentor – “I cannot write drama while I’m living drama.” Writing is a way for me to process things. I see things, I feel them, and then I process them through a blinking cursor on a blank computer screen. Sometimes, that process is a quick one. And then other times…the real times…the times that shake me up a bit – well, those are the times that may take just a bit longer.  And you know what?

That’s okay.

No more fussing at myself for not writing. For not running. For not reading. For not….well, whatever. Sometimes my heart just needs a little time to get back to its regular rhythm before it lets my brain in on the secret that it’s time to get back to normal. I’ll be back. Heck, I just wrote this. I guess I am back.

I just needed a little downtime, that’s all.

Thank you all for still being here.  I’m just human, I suppose. Life happens. And eventually, I get back in the swing of things and start putting those happenings into words again.  That’s the thing about writing. It never goes away. It’s there. It’s always there…just waiting on the green light from its human container.

Hopefully, traffic is flowing again now.

***

“I think what makes people fascinating is conflict, it’s drama, it’s the human condition. Nobody wants to watch perfection.”
– Nicholas Cage

Tattle Tail

“If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.”
– Mark Twain

“Ok, what is it now, Patches?”

Patches, my fat little calico, was once again trying to tell me something – something of utmost importance, mind you.  A usually quiet cat (other than her incessant “I’m so happy” purr), Patches would only get vocal when she needed something.  The food bowl is empty?  “Meow, meow, meow” would resonate through the home until I would finally obey Princess Patches’ commands and follow her to the kitchen to replenish.  CATpaw1Time to go outside?  Again, meows would echo off the walls until I made my way to the front door, where she would be sitting with her paw up on the door waiting for someone with thumbs to come along and release her.

Granted, I was aware – and appreciative – of my cat’s intelligence.  When she wanted something, she would make it happen. (I’d like to think she got that from me.)  But honestly, the needy meows would sometimes border on the annoying side.  And this particular morning was no exception.

Patches and I had just made a move.  The sweet man in my life and I had just decided to combine our homes and take the next step in our future together.  And although he and I both knew we were ready, one little question remained hanging in the air.

How were our cats going to take the news?

CATsnuggleHe, too, had a ruler of the roost.  A muscular, sleek, gray cat named Mittens.  At first glance, you would think Mittens was not a very nice little fella.  The first time I ever saw him, I almost laughed at the irony of such a sweet, cuddly name as Mittens paired with such a fierce looking tiger-like cat.  But I soon learned not to judge a book by its cover.  Under that fierce exterior, lied the sweetest, most cuddly furball I’d ever met.  Falling in love with Mittens didn’t take long at all.

Would it be that easy for Patches?  Well, we were about to find out.

The inevitable came.  After moving everything else I could think of, it was finally time to pack up Patches and move her as well.  CATtravelShe was none too thrilled with the 45-minute drive (no more little quiet kitty, that’s for sure), but, much to my surprise, once we arrived at the home and I put her down to wander through the house, she seemed to be immediately at ease.  She sniffed around, circled the perimeter of every single room, and eventually made her way to the living room where she found her favorite resting spot on the radiator, and promptly went to sleep.  Wow.  That was easy.

Now, on to the hard part.

Patches, meet Mittens.

We let Mittens inside, and he immediately knew something was ‘off.’  He made his way through the home sniffing around until he finally found the culprit – a massive pile of sleeping multi-colored fluff resting on ‘his’ radiator.  CATradiatorPatches woke up – and thus, the fighting began.  The hisses, the growls, the shrieks.

Sigh.  So much for love at first sight, huh?

Over the next few weeks, the cats seemed to slowly come to a truce.  There was definitely no love lost between them, but at least they were learning to coexist – even managed to share from the same food bowl (just not at the same time, mind you!).  As long as no blood was shed, we considered the status quo a success.

Which brings me to this particular morning.  The incessant “meow, meow, meow” could be heard throughout the whole house.  I was getting ready for work so I didn’t immediately go to find out what was going on.  I figured whatever it was would pass.  But the meows started getting closer, and soon there stood Patches in the doorway of the bathroom staring up at me with that “hello?  Didn’t you hear me calling for you?” face.  “What, Patches?  What is so important?”  I knew her food and water bowls were filled – those were the first things I had taken care of when I woke up that morning.  CATwindowI knew she didn’t want to go outside (Miss Lucy, the sweet, playful outside doggy took care of making sure Patches would now, and forevermore, be considered an ‘inside cat.’)  So, what on Earth had my little fat cat in such a tizzy?

I let curiosity get the best of me (I guess I learned that one from her), and decided to stop what I was doing and follow her.  We made our way down the hall, with her looking back every second to be sure I was coming, and ended up in the kitchen.  Patches made it there first, and calmly and methodically sat down on the floor and looked up at the counter.  And there, up on the counter, chomping down on last night’s leftovers that were mistakenly left out and not put up in the refrigerator, was Mittens.

Patches had just told on Mittens.

I immediately busted out in laughter.  I mean, yes, Mittens was doing a bad thing and was definitely eventually shooed off of the counter and scolded – but seriously?  He got told on?  By a cat?  Once my giggle fits finally subsided, I realized that there was a deeper meaning to be taken from this whole thing.  Yes, our kitties were learning to coexist; yes, the fighting had stopped; and no, there was no cuddling or playing between the two, much to my dismay.  But, finally, there was ‘this.’  This incident told me all I needed to know.

Mittens and Patches had now become brother and sister.  Tattle “tails” and all.

Mission accomplished.  Our happy little family was complete.

CATs w Rich