Saturday, April 09, 2011
Testing Our Strength.
I want to be strong. These past few weeks have tested that, for me and for Scott.
We have two cats, Kasha and Hunter. Hunter is a big, strong, awfully affectionate kitty. He makes friends with everyone and has no fear. Kasha - ehh, the polar opposite. Sixteen years old (or more - we're not really sure), had medical issues as a kitten, and has always been our "scaredy-cat". Hides out in the bathroom closet, runs from everything, afraid of her own shadow. Both cats are STRICTLY indoor cats. They're okay with that. Hunter may want to peek outside when the door is open, but Kasha - no thanks. Needs her home, her security, her places to hide.
Kasha has been missing for two weeks now. We couldn't imagine where she had gone. A senior cat, we were afraid she had gone and hid someplace, ready to make her peace with the world and pass away. We searched everywhere. Tore the place apart. No Kasha.
Then we realized that we had a dryer delivered the last day we saw her. The basement door was open for quite a while. What if she had been in the basement, freaked out, tried to run up the stairs and - with the door open and blocking her path to the kitchen - ran outside? Impossible. But, the only answer.
We posted fliers. Talked to all the neighbors. Posted, pleading, on neighborhood blogs. No answer. No one has seen her.
The weather has been typical Seattle spring. Not too cold, but wet, ugly, unfriendly. She hasn't come home. We don't think we'll ever see her again. We sob, thinking of her alone, terrified, cold, hungry, too scared to let anyone help her. We go on, trying to keep our hopes alive. She's our baby, one of our kids. She's missing. We never thought we'd see her beautiful, fragile face on "Missing Pet" fliers. We don't eat or sleep or work well. She's gone.
Last Thursday was Scott's birthday. I bought flowers, photography books since he's really getting into that, bought steaks for dinner. I started dinner before he got home, arranged the flowers with his gifts and cards placed just so next to them.
We have two dogs, Stoli and Kali. Kali is big and strong, five years old, a strong warning bark and protector of the the universe (our universe at least). Stoli - not so much. She was, in her prime. The runt of the litter, but sleek, agile, fast, athletic. She would catch low-flying birds swooping across the back yard, leave them as gifts on the back step, I love you, I hunted for you.
She's fifteen years old now. Half blind, half deaf. Her back legs and her spine are giving out, so we carefully maneuver her down the stairs, keep her inside when it's cold out, pick up after her when she has "accidents" in the house. We take care of her now. She's our baby.
Birthday dinner cooking, Scott comes home, we let her in like we do every night to eat inside. She's not walking right. She falls. Something has changed.
Scott carried her out to the front yard to do her business. In horror, we realize she has no use of one of her back legs. It drags, her paw bent under, she can't walk. We start to cry.
Scott is off the next day. He drops her off at the vet, waiting by the phone. I'm at work, stomach in knots. It's an incredibly busy time at work. I dread going to the clinic, watching her die as we make that decision, and then having to go back to work. I don't like to talk about personal things at work, and I'm dying because I have no support. I tell one of my co-workers, another animal lover, she tells me she's so sorry. I wait for the phone call.
Scott calls later, Stoli may have had a stroke. They're not sure. Dogs recover easier than humans from strokes, the vet says. But her spine is deformed, discs out of place, she's an old girl. She seems okay, to the extent she can be. They give anti-inflammatory drugs, pain medicine, send her home. Scott carries her to the car, carries her inside, carries her upstairs. She'll be around a little while longer, but no more walks. No more getting up and down the stairs. No more puppy.
She's doing okay - still has an appetite, still love chewing on the new toys Scott bought her, still loves smelling the grass and the air. But we have to carry her in and out, up and down, steady her and be her leg while she pees, poops, eats.
I wonder if I have the strength for her.
But we do. We do whatever we need to do. We'd do whatever we need to do for any one of our kids, at any time. We'd probably lay down our lives for them. Really.
So we grieve for the fact that Kasha is gone. We grieve for the fact that the young, athletic Stoli is gone. We grieve for Hunter, who doesn't know why Kasha isn't there to play with anymore, and for Kali, who is out in the back yard alone all day. We go on.
But part of us doesn't. Part of us dies, and we grieve.