Thursday, November 25, 2010

Goodbye to a Well-Loved Pet

This morning, Thanksgiving morning, I walked into my bathroom and found our cat, Rascal lying dead on the floor.  He went to his favorite spot to die.  This week he's been having serious breathing problems and I gave him extra love knowing it was coming.  But I wasn't planning on today.

We've had him for 13 years.  I guess I can't really talk about him right now, but he was one special cat.  I guess all I can do for now is pull out a poem I wrote for our dog, Yahoo.  The situation was different, but it echos within me and the pain is the same.

Several years ago, they came to take our dog, Yahoo, away.  Her fierce loyalty and protectiveness of her family made her a danger to anyone who came into our yard.  We got her at the pound and found that she was half Australian Shepherd, a very protective breed.  It seemed as if all our efforts to contain her were simply little problems for her to overcome and with all the people coming in and out of our house, she managed to get out now and then.  We knew it would eventually happen, and yes, someone reported her.  It was a horrible relief and a horrible time.  Here's my poem for Yahoo.

Today we said goodbye to Yahoo.  Last day of August.  Dark sunny day.


 Couldn’t sleep tonight.
Too many tears.  Too many thoughts.
Every time I think of you my face is flooded again.
No use.
I came downstairs to find you not in your cage.

And you’re not at my feet
          content just to be near me.
Yahoo, color of wet pinestraw
          luminous brown eyes always trusting.
Always faithful.
Semper fidelus.
You taught me the meaning of THAT word.

I feel traitorous.
Lifting you up onto that blue truck
          because you thought it smelled suspect and wouldn’t jump.
But you trusted me.
So I put you in that cage and latched the door
          Feeling like some black-booted minion loading you onto a train     
                   with a one-way ticket to your end.

It took some time for me to get used to a shadow.
There you were, everywhere I turned.
Everywhere I walked.
Everywhere I stood.

Wherever I would walk, you would hover until I stopped.
          then contentedly you would park yourself at my feet
          curled up by the computer, by our recliner, by the couch.
If I moved too much you would just lie down and watch me
          content to know I was there.
If I went upstairs, you would just watch and wait.
          Waiting there, no matter how long I was gone
                   red tail wagging at the sight of me.

If our house was full of people you had me marked.
Your momma.
Where is my mail getting friend?
Where is my backyard garden friend?
Where is my swimming pool friend?
Where is my sit or shake or bark or stay or dance for a treat friend?
Where is my pig’s ear  friend?

I need you, my faithful friend,
I want my dog back.
Oh, you were faithful, too faithful.
Your sheep-herding property-defending breeding defined you –
          what else could we expect?

You loved us fiercely – and oh, how fiercely that was!
And defended us!
No, you wouldn’t bite them as they faced you,
          your breeding inclined you to bite them as they turned,
          just like a sheep going astray – it needed a little nipping guidance.
The pizza man got more than a nip.  A lot more.

But oh, how safe we felt at night with you here.
          No need to worry whatsoever.
We could shout at the Boogy Man – HE should beware!

But we couldn’t contain you.  Oh how hard we tried!
But every few months you would find a way.
Running, bounding, free – leaping like a deer – the way God made you.

But they didn’t like it.
I can’t blame them.
Too many complaints.
Too much jeopardy.
Then the ultimatum.
Then the blue truck.

Oh, how I miss you, my shadow.
Your beautiful red hair, your lovely shape,
The kinky-permed hair behind your ears, your flowing tail.
Trusting, trusting, always trusting eyes,
          and a happy pink lolling tongue.

Where is that pan-licker?
Where is my dishwashing helper?
Where is that Pickle’s-friend cat chaser?
Where is that eager-to-go-for-a-drive girl?
Where is that happy green-scarved dog, ready for the park?
Where is my biking companion?
Beautiful, ecstatic, muscled, flowing girl?
And here I am without a shadow
          a part of me missing forever.
A little lost like Peter Pan.

I loved you.
I still love you.
I will always love you.
Goodbye, Yahoo.


  1. I am so sorry for your loss. Pets are very special.

  2. Yeah. Wasn't great timing, either. But it DOES remind us of how special life is!

  3. Color Cat,
    I know words can't ease the pain. I'm sure memories of Rascal will warm your tears and hold your heart.

  4. Thank you so much, Juana. At least my son is doing pretty well (He's eleven). A few years ago we lost another cat and he cried on and off for almost a YEAR! He's doing quite well this time, so it's helped a LOT.