A Sad Day

Today was awful.

Actually, it didn’t start out awful…  the kids were all great, practically all day.  Nothing drives me towards stress-eating or drinking faster than unruly children.  And since I am regularly in charge of at least four children during the day, it’s safe to say that most evenings I am indulging.

But today, miraculously, all four children were just normal, children-like kids.  Mischievous.  Happy.  Clever.  Funny.

Which is fortunate, because by noon I was completely pre-occupied with guilt, sadness and regret.

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You may or may not have pets.  That’s somewhat unimportant when relating to today’s events.  Even the most pet-less or uncaring soul can relate to the sad, twisted emotions of today.  (Note:  Pet-less does NOT equal uncaring.  Uncaring equals uncaring.)

Let’s begin: 

Toby, the boy-dog

Toby, the boy-dog

I have two rotten dogs.  Toby and Mica.  It’s no secret they drive me to the brink of craziness.  They steal food from little fingers:  food that I’ve carefully prepared for little FINGERS, not paws.  They pee and poop all over my carpet.  It’s not carpet I love, in fact, it’s disgusting carpet that I hate.  Regardless, it’s carpet that occupies my home, and until I win the lottery or until this blog starts earning me any income, it’s carpet that’s going to know the soles of my feet intimately for a LONG time.  (I also own a steam cleaner.  Coincidence?  Not.)

Mica, the girl-dog

Mica, the girl-dog

The only thing they do to endear me to them is hint at my protection.  I live in the country, and when my husband is out of town these two mongrels are my only safety.  I know without a doubt they would die to protect me.  This is a pretty big attraction for me towards these dogs, albeit the only one.

Scavenger (Taxi's sister), Domino, and Toopweets (our other boy-cat)

Scavenger (Taxi’s sister), Domino, and Toopweets (our other boy-cat)

I have five cats.  I used to have seven, once upon a time, in a much larger home.  Once, years ago, Toby chased and caught one of our more friendly cats, Taxi, and shook her viciously.  It wasn’t a proud moment of my life when I smacked and kicked Toby to let her go, but let her go he did.  Taxi never really recovered from the incident, and wisely never showed her face near the dogs again.  She lived in the rafters of our duct-work.  Safe in a world filled with mice and dust, high above the canine terrors.  Eventually we gave Taxi to my Mom, so she could live on the main floor again.

They have treed several of our cats before.  Even though we had three cats when we adopted the puppies nine years ago, the brother-and-sister dogs never really understood their role as SIBLINGS.  They were brother-and-sister pups, first and foremost.  They didn’t really adapt well to our feline household.  As we added cats we figured they would get used to it.  But small cat-terrorizing events over nine years eventually added up.

Our dogs are cat-killers.

I think it’s the German Shepherd in them, truly.

A flashback:  {When I was fifteen, my ten-year-old tabby was killed by our family dog, a German Shepherd mutt, while I was at summer camp.  I’ll never forget my Mom walking with me through the Confederate graveyard on Johnson Island after picking me up from Camp Patmos and explaining to me what happened.  I was devastated, in the way only a 15-year-old who had never lost anyone other than an aunt could be.  I cried every night for a year over Rikki, my beloved orange tabby girl who followed me everywhere and let me dress her up as a baby and push her in a pram.}

Today, it was my husband’s “Rikki”.  His name was Pounce, and Ty had received Pounce as a kitten 13 years ago from his mother.  Pounce came onto Ty’s scene three years before I had, and was already a Crotchety Snob by the time I made my debut.  By finally marrying Ty and making good on all my teasing, I eventually won Pounce over.  It took him at least 6 months into our marriage – he wasn’t one to blindly trust – to let me pet him, and probably two years to actually give me a kiss.  This cat had serious loyalties.  He was Ty’s Cat, through and through.  Over the last ten years of our marriage, Pounce won his own place in my heart.  He was still Ty’s Cat, and reserved certain greetings for Ty, but he condescended to cuddle me in the middle of the night sometimes, and would even allow a “goopa” (kiss) or two every now and then.

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All day today, the dogs kept barking up trees in the backyard.  (I had let them out at 4:30 AM a few days ago because Toby was whining and I figured if I didn’t get up now to let him out, I’d be cleaning up poop in the morning.  {PS.  Mica had already pooped on the carpet.}  They immediately ran aggressively through the yard, chasing some idiot animal that thought our fenced-in back yard was a good place to scavenge. )  So, I figured they had treed a coon or a possum, both fairly popular in the country.  I kept yelling at them through the kitchen window, and thrice let them into the house to give their vocal cords a rest.  I put them back out during meal times.  (By the way, I have four kids, 5 and under, during most days of the week.  There are 300 “meal times” during the day.) Each time they went back out, they’d run back under the trees barking at whatever was treed.

Let’s cut to the chase.  It was Pounce.  My favorite Person-Earth’s-Favorite-Pet-That-He’s-Had-Since-Way-Before-He-Even-Met-Me.  Those idiot dogs cornered Pounce under a thick blanket of pine trees.  I had no idea… I just thought they were being their usual idiot selves.  It wasn’t until my 5-year-old daughter, Cozy, came running into the kitchen crying, “I think the dogs killed Pounce!” that I had an inkling of what had happened.  I’m ashamed to say I even put her off for a few minutes while I finished the dishes, saying, “Oh Honey, it’s a raccoon”.  She kept insisting it was Pounce though, so I finally abandoned the mound of dishes and followed her.  Before I even opened the slider I saw she was right.  There was nothing raccoon-ish at all about the long short-haired skinny body on the ground, and with my tongue pressed to the roof of my mouth all I could do was pray it was a stray cat as I walked towards him.

Pouncer

There wasn’t much blood.  Only one dog with enough sense to be sheepish and another idiot dog with misplaced pride standing near the poor cat.  It looked like Pounce.  The same white-tipped tail, the same clawless front paws.  The same black-and-gray tabby stripes.  But a closer look at his face and I saw those were NOT Pounce’s insolent eyes.  Those were a strange cat’s angry, unbelieving eyes.  I felt a glimmer of hope…  maybe this was a stray.  Maybe I wouldn’t have to tell my Love that his kitten was dead.  Maybe I could just feel sad over the spent life of a poor soul that tragically wandered into the wrong yard.  Dig a grave for this Unfortunate…I could do that.

I called for Pounce.  In the garage, in the front yard.  He didn’t come, of course.  Eventually I had to face reality that our dogs killed our cat.  It was Rikki all over again, plus fifteen years.  Fifteen years of role-change, where suddenly I was the Giver of bad news instead of the Receiver.   I was dreading Ty’s return home.  What was I going to say?  Should I just hand him a shot of whiskey and straight-up tell him?  Should I let him greet the dogs with his usual love and affection and then tell him before he hated them forever?  Should I call him now at work?  Should I text him?  Should I let him tell me about his day first and then tell him?

Not a shot from today, but a similar expression of the seriousness in her blue eyes.

Not a shot from today, but a similar expression of the seriousness in her blue eyes.

First, a conversation with Cozy.  When we discovered it was, indeed, Pounce, she cried.  Hard.  I was impressed, honestly.  I mean, we have two dogs, five cats, one goldfish, and six hens.  That a 5-year-old attached any importance to someone who’s been there ever since she could remember made me crumble.  After I had found a suitable box and towel to wrap the poor cat in and finally came back inside to deal with human tears, I wrapped my arms around her.  (The other three small girls were blissfully ignorant of any sadness.)  Cozy spoke wisely through her tears, “Will he be going up the stairs now, Mama?”  (She’s referring to a scene from a family favorite movie, It Came Upon The Midnight Clear, where Mickey Rooney’s soul climbs from his corpse up stairs to Heaven).  After I confirmed this truth (Hey…  there’s no way animals aren’t in Heaven.  Why create them on Earth if they aren’t going to make us smile up there?)  She asked to pray with me.

It was one of those rare moments in parenthood where I felt a calmness:  despite ALL my failures, she’s learning the important things.

It was a rough few hours until Ty got home.  Ultimately, I just sputtered it out, as soon as he greeted me.  I couldn’t think of a better way.  We’ve lost a son together, our first-born.  We know loss.  Losing Pounce – although certainly not the same – is hard on Ty.  He’s a friend to him, someone he’s protected, fed, and most recently shoved thyroid medication down his throat, not to mention cleaned his litter box for 13 years.  Ty has an attachment to Pounce like I had to Rikki many years ago, and to lose him to the ultimate betrayal of another pet is the worst way to say goodbye to this longtime friend.

No one this good-looking should be so sad

No one this good-looking should be so sad

Please pray for Ty’s grieving, and for his forgiveness of our idiot dogs.  They won’t be any easier to forgive then my idiot dog from my childhood, but ultimately, they are just animals, acting instinctively.  This is why we are the superior race, so that we can fight OUR instincts.

We already miss you, Pounce.  You were the best cat ever!

We already miss you, Pounce. You were the best cat ever!

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5 thoughts on “A Sad Day

  1. Ugh. How horrible. I’m so sorry – a terrible thing to happen to you guys, and especially Pounce. <>

  2. awielfaert

    Chels,
    I’m not supposed to be ready this week. I banded myself from blogs, facebook and regular reading. It’s my assignment this week from the artist’s way. When I checked my e-mail this morning and saw your post I had to read it. I can’t even imagine what you are going through. I’m so so sorry. I love my dog Max, but if he did that I don’t know how I’d forgive him. I’m holding you and your family in my thoughts and the light today. I very much remember pounce and meeting pounce for the first time even. I love you and i’m thinking about all of you. A good read for you and the girls about death in “Nana up stairs and Nana downstairs” by Tommy De Palo. It might be helpful.

    I love you,
    -Alisha

    • Thank you, Lish! And thank you for the book suggestion, I will check it out! Cozy seems to be doing ok, although today she did say she was feeling sad about Pounce. I think the trauma of his death is what is still lingering. Ty is still pretty angry at the dogs, but I know he will forgive them eventually. He is a big softy for animals 🙂

  3. awielfaert

    *reading

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