The Second Time Around

November 7, 2011

Just to recap, in my last blog article, I noted that I had to give a cat rescue back as she had a biting problem. This scenario occurred at just about the six month marker of my darling Hercules’ passing. I totally believe in synchronicity and when I got the itch to get another cat as a fur pal for his sister Judas, I went with the feeling. Ok, so the first try didn’t work out for her, but it did work out for the foster lady and for my coaching her. All wasn’t for naught. It just wasn’t the right situation for Judas.

My initial reaction after this mean cat was out of the house was, whew, I’m so glad it was gone. However, the itch to get another cat as a companion for Judas didn’t stop. Perhaps it was Hercules in spirit letting me know it was time since I really felt him guiding me to another cat that coincidentally looked a lot like him. Initially, I didn’t like the idea of getting another cat that reminded me of my precious angel, but I went with what I sensed would be best for Judas.

How did I pick this new rescue cat? I did a thorough search of the available rescues within 50 miles for about 2 weeks, looking at what must have been hundreds of photos and even talking to some people about the best gender and type for a fur pal for my 17 year old female. I was advised to look for a male about 5-7 years old, since a younger cat might be too rambunctious for an older cat, and a female, as I had found out before would be too competitive. Whereas before I had looked at the outside beauty of the animal, this time, I looked at the face to determine how sweet and sensitive I felt the creature would be. After all, beauty is only skin deep. My prior experience with Athena taught me that although she was a gorgeous Tortoise shell, she had a really mean disposition. This time, I looked at the temperament first and that he should just be healthy.

Out of so many, one became a clear choice. His name was Spike and he is a brown tabby with a white blaze down his face. He just looked so cute and sweet. Somehow I knew he was the one. Next, I contacted his foster and began the process to meet him. The rest went well. His foster family had him with two other males for the last three years. This was both good and bad news. He had never lived with a female but he had shared a 10×8 cat house with two other male cats. Ok, so he knew how to share. I was willing to take a chance on him. He’s a sweetie, but all didn’t go well right away!

More on how he adjusted in the next article.


God, Please send me a pet!

September 28, 2011

 It’s been five months since my fur baby Hercules crossed over to Rainbow Bridge. Both his sister Judas and I miss him terribly. Sometimes she stands at the front door, which has a glass center pane, looking out and just cries wondering when he will return home. I come down the stairs and try to explain to her that I miss him too but that he isn’t coming home.  “Let’s welcome another fur baby who doesn’t have a home into our lives. It will help us heal while, at the same time, help a lost creature find a new home.”

I had helped my friend find a new pet two years ago by searching on the internet on animal rescue sites using the criteria he gave me. After several weeks, I found a two-year old male Virginia hound that was stated to be friendly to cats (after all there was his beloved Sherman to consider). So he went to the pet fair and met his soon to be Shelby, short for General George Shelby.

How can a pet find me?

This time, I wanted a pet to find me. When my Hercules and Judas were babies, they turned up at my house, then in a more spacious neighborhood allowing for the possibility of wild cats leaving their young. So, my guys found me and how lucky they were to find such a welcoming Mom! I wondered if such a thing could happen around a townhouse in a more compacted area; most probably not.

Help is close by

I told my pet sitter that I was ready (or thought so) for a new fur baby. She loved Hercules after caring for him for 12 of his 17 years and also understood my at trepidation about bringing a new pet into the house with his sister being an older animal like Judas.

Then she said, “One of my petsitters rescues cats and she has a new one available. I replied, “That’s great, but I’ve decided that I want a tortoise shell after seeing some young ones around the lake on my walk”. There’s a woman with 12 cats and some are tortoise shell or tortis, but she won’t part with any of them.

A new fur baby finds me

To my surprise, my pet sitter says, Her new rescue is a tortoise!” Wow! The writing was on the wall. I knew immediately that this cat was coming to me. The timing and the situation seemed to be falling perfecting into my lap so to speak. I felt that the universe was guiding me to this particular animal. I asked for the contact details and called the woman, Cathy and things just fell into place from there. I was able to visit the cat and found out what I needed to know. The torti was a female, about five years old, had just gotten her shots and appeared quite healthy. She was playful and seemed friendly to me. I immediately agreed to adopt her. Due to her golden markings between her eyes, I named her Athena, after the Goddess of Wisdom. (The sixth energy center is just between the eyes and signifies the energy of wisdom and psychic understanding).

My new fur baby

Athena would soon be mine after a very careful adoption process. More in my next posting.


Sleeping Into Oblivion

July 28, 2011

Ever feel like sleeping all day? Sometimes it’s just a matter of being tired and needing more sleep. Other times we may really be sick and our bodies may actually need rest to rejuvenate. These are all possibilities. Another one is that you’re depressed.

When you don’t feel quite like yourself, (who else could you feel like?), you might well want to avoid contact with other people and prefer to stay by yourself. I see this behavior in my cat Judas when she’s upset about something. A cat, you say, well, yes. Cats are very sensitive creatures and my Judas is particularly so. When her brother Hercules crossed over in April, Judas’ behavior changed dramatically. Whereas before, she wandered around the house, sat on different chairs in different rooms or in the sun by the front door, she would hide in the closet or just sleep in her little bed. Mostly she started to just sleep. This has been the beginning of what I’d call her grieving stage for her brother Hercules. She’s depressed over his loss. I can really tell. For her, sleeping is a way of getting away from the world as she knows it and simply checking out. Sometimes she stands in the middle of the living room floor and just screams at the top of her lungs. I find this her way of asking, “So where is my buddy Hercules?” How many of us would like to do the same thing when stuff happens in our lives or when someone dear to us departs? It all seems so unfair. One reaction is to try to unhook from our daily activities.      

Honestly, there are lots of events besides the loss of a loved one that can cause situational depression. This is a term that captures the symptoms of depression a person exhibits due to circumstances occurring within their world or environment; a caveat to this is that the behavior is not normal for them otherwise. Thus, the situation causes them to feel depressed rather than actually being depressed.  I’m not a psychologist so I don’t diagnose, nor treat depression, but I can certainly tell when my friends that are normally pretty happy get upset about something in their lives; they may even need to take medication for awhile, but this doesn’t label them as depressed people.

Then there are people who have given up on life and are in assisted living. These people really are depressed AND they sleep all day. When I visit my hospice clients as a volunteer, they all take lots of naps. In addition, when they’re not sleeping, they have a tendency to be physically present, but appear to be mentally checked out. Thus even when they are awake, it’s not the kind of awake that you or I are used to. Sometimes I chat with them, but little gets through to their comprehension. And, in return, they will tell me something like it’s important but the words formed from their mouths are garbled versions of what their brain has conceptualized. It’s all quite sad.

So, when I look at all this sleeping going on, is it just a momentary depression or a real depression? For Judas, she got up a little while ago and came to visit me! So there’s hope for her. She seems to be coming out of her depression. I tell her that I miss Hercules too and we can help each other. Having friends provides companionship and a sense of community. Pets need people and people need other people. That’s why I visit depressed people in the hospice. It’s so that they aren’t alone for that period of time. Perhaps it will help them to not be so depressed.


Whatever concerns us shows up!

June 13, 2011

Do you like scary movies? What constitutes scary? Remember Indiana Jones, Temple of Doom when the female lead sees snakes all over the ground? It was her greatest fear materializing. Or perhaps for you, it’s a fear of the dark. Or maybe it’s a fear of high places. If so, ever have a dream about falling? It’s natural to have “fears”, since fears are an extension of concerns. The real question is what we do about them. Do we hold them “in” to fester or do we get control over them. Otherwise, fears can take over and cause havoc in our lives.

An example:

Here’s a recent example of how one of my fears played out. My darling male cat, Hercules went through two traumatic months prior to succumbing to the complications of renal failure on April 5. The decision to end his life after 17 wonderful years was devastating for me. Life without Hercules was sterile since the little guy was my alarm clock for many daily activities. He told me when to get up (with a swat in the face), and he cried on my bed when he thought it was time to go to sleep. He even told me when it was time for a break, which normally involved giving him some affection as well as play time. I soon realized I was afraid of life without my little angel.

But why should I feel this way when there was so much more to live for! The rational mind tells us all the logical reasons why our fear is, well irrational! However, we don’t listen, not at first anyway. I fixated on my memories of my fur baby using my time to make photo albums, memory cards to send out to friends and a 3-photo framing for the wall. Once this time went by, I realized that I was concerned about his resting place. I buried his ashes next to a rock near his favorite play area just inside the park area adjacent to my townhome.

A few weeks later, a registered package came by way of FedEX. Around midnight I opened the package to learn that the local Park Association planned to restore the stream and one of the tributaries ran right by Herc’s burial spot. I immediately became alarmed. “Oh, no, what if they disturb Herc’s resting place!” I thought. This fear began to grow until I was very agitated.

What’s the lesson here?

I stood back and asked myself, “Is this issue a lesson that I shouldn’t hold on to a place that just has ashes when I know that Herc’s soul is everywhere?” or, “Is the lesson that I shouldn’t worry and just turn the whole issue over for a divine solution?  I came to understand that the latter was the case. Then, I got hold of myself saying, “No, I will send the project manager an email and surely the work can be done in such a way as to avoid trampling on his remains.” I wrote up my concerns, found a couple of pictures of Hercules, one of me performing his celebration of life ceremony, and sent it to the association project manager.

The result:

The very next day she called me to say she was coming out to see for herself which “rock” was involved. We met, she looked at “Herc’s rock”, and then indicated that she understood the sensitivity of the situation. In a very sincere gesture, she assured me that a notation would be made on the blueprints, so that when the stream restoration work is done, Herc’s rock would not be disturbed! Yeah! It all worked out just fine, for the highest good of all concerned. Perhaps the Association will eventually call that rock, Hercules’ Rock. Somehow the thought made me smile.


Five Days Without My Baby

April 17, 2011

It’s been five days since my little boy Hercules crossed over Rainbow Bridge. Since then, there’s no one to wake me in the morning, so I sleep too much. I awaken tearful and my heart in pain without his dear touches on my face, “Mommy it’s time to get up”. There’s no one to interrupt me during the day to say, “Stop and let me love you”, so I just keep working and working. There’s no one to say, “Feed me, I’m hungry”, so I don’t realize that I’ve gone all day without eating as food doesn’t seem important. There’s no one to tell me to sit and watch TV so we can be together on the sofa, so I feel isolated in my aloneness. Hercules isn’t here to say, “Mommy, come to bed now. I want you to sleep with me”, so I stay up too late. And the cycle goes on. My life has a huge hole in it. I have to learn to manage my own life rather than have it managed by my love for this little angel that left me.

Hercules, when did it happen that you grew up from being such a little baby to getting so old and dying? Is this what it’s like to see children age? I’ve never had children so I’ve never had the experience of seeing children grow up. Hopefully, most parents don’t have to endure the passing of their own children. With pets, they just don’t live that long. But 17 years is close to 1/3 of my life. Hercules lived with me through the end of my marriage, through my divorce and through the years since. He’s weathered my trials and tribulations and he’s been a trooper through it all.

There were times when I wasn’t as patient as I should have been with his constant demand for attention. Sometimes, when I was working in my study, I would tell him, “Not now, Mommy has to work.” Isn’t this what parents do, thinking that there will be more time when they can be together?” There comes a point, when time runs out.

Last year when he lost a tooth I realized that the time just might be running out and I began to thank God every day for each additional day we had together. Every day I held my angel in my arms and told him how much I loved him. He knew every day how much he was loved until the dementia clouded his mind. Then I think he still knew somewhere inside. Even on the last day when he walked around in circles, he still wanted to be with me, have me hold him and so it was a good day. The final moments were good. He ate well and yet we both knew it was time for him to pass on.

As I sit here typing this note, I’m crying for my baby. But now he talks to me in my head. He tells me, “Mommy, don’t cry. I’m ok. Mommy, go out and play. I don’t want you to be sad. I have lots of friends here to play with. It’s a nice place. Please be happy. Enjoy your life. I will watch over you now as you did for me all those years. I love you Mommy. “

I love you too Hercules. I hope that God is looking out for you and keeping you in the light. You are a dear angel and I know that if it’s possible, you are looking out for me.


Final Farewell – Saying Good-bye to a Pet is so Very Hard

April 11, 2011

My darling angel Hercules was laid to rest Thursday April 7 at 2pm in a lovely garden ceremony near my home in Reston, VA. We chose his favorite play area, which we called his bunker, to bury his ashes. As I’m a minister, I conducted a full pet memorial program complete with music, saging the site, appropriate prayers, verses and those present offering remembrances of Hercules. He was held in high esteem by all who knew him as a very lovable guy. Even my coaching clients would often enjoy having him on their laps during sessions and stated that he improved their experience. His energy was wonderful. I know God was with us during the ceremony, as it was a most beautiful and warm day, with the days proceeding and after rainy and cold. How could it have been otherwise when one of God’s own angels is returned to him?

Hercules laid to rest

Hercules was brought to me by God in July, 1994 after I had prayed for cats to show up on my property to keep me company. My prior pet had died about five years prior and I was lonely for a companion. I only had to wait 4 months when these little babies showed up. Hercules got his name by being the first to come to me and allow my touch – so he was the brave one. His sister, Judas was the sneaky one. (She is still with me and I have to remember to give her extra love as she wonders where he’s gone.) So God brought Hercules to me as my little angel for 17 years, and as he was only a gift, he was returned to God on Tuesday April 5 at 4:25pm.

Hercules loved me unconditionally and I loved him in return; in fact, I had to love him enough to let him go. It was the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make. But let me say this. Now that I’m back in my logical mind, I realize that he was fighting to stay alive because he knew I was grieving. The signs of his severe deterioration were there, but I kept telling myself – just one more intervention and he’ll be ok. Eventually, I knew it was enough and together we made the decision over this past weekend. Somehow he knew, because Monday night he was more like his old self. He ate better, seemed more alert, and slept with me under the covers like he used to do prior to getting so sick. We had a very good last day.

Bless you Hercules. I couldn’t have loved you more and you couldn’t have loved me more. I learned never to let a day go by without telling you how much I loved you. I’m so glad that I did. You truly were a blessing, one that will remain in my heart all the days of my life.

Good-bye my angel. May God keep you safe in his divine light.


When it’s time for a pet to go

April 8, 2011

How much life is enough?

When deciding when to let a beloved pet go, one must consider their quality of life over one’s own feelings. This is an extremely difficult thing to do and a trial on which I was tested this past weekend.

For nearly two-months my dear cat Hercules was battling with chronic renal failure including anemia, dementia, possibly tumors and a host of other ailments. We would get one of his major issues under control and then another would pop up. He was on fluids for the renal failure which I learned to administer. Then his red blood cell count took a nose dive and thrice weekly shots were required. He needed four different medications twice daily and some natural remedies which I found to be helpful. All this I learned to deliver in as reasonable manner as possible, partly through trial and error. Which meds could be taken together and given in one syringe? Which ones tasted funny thus requiring a bit of ground up food be mixed in to camouflage the taste? I experimented until I had worked out a program that took about 2 hours in the morning and about 1.5 hours in the evening.

Hercules

I curtailed my own activities to make sure I was home in time to do the evening medical program, including having my birthday dinner at 4pm so that I could be available. I didn’t mind taking care of my little darling. After all, for nearly 17 years he’d given me love, companionship, and reminded me when it was time to go to bed and often woke me in the morning. “Mommy, get up and feed me.” “Mommy, pet me.” “Mommy put food in my bowl.” Often, I’ve hear him outside my home letting me know he wanted to come in and then he’d cry to tell me he wanted to go outside. He was a great communicator. Unfortunately, once he got sick, he lost his voice. Or perhaps, he was too weak to use it.

 When the time comes:

During one of our several emergency room visits, the attending veterinary technician gave me some advice. Having just put her dog down, she said in response to my question of, how do you know when it’s the right time? “When there are more bad days than good ones.”  Then she added, “Be sure to pick a good day.”  Her words kept ringing in my head. I was evaluating my pet’s life. Was his situation bad enough to end his life?

 When yet another crisis occurred over the weekend, I had to face the reality. The pattern of problems was a sign of the inevitable. It was like putting one’s finger in the dam. Eventually, it wouldn’t hold the flood of water back. Hercules loved me so much that he was stoically dealing with the needles, the meds being popped in my mouth, the forced feedings because he knew I was grieving. I was crying so much. I didn’t want to let go.

 There’s a sense among pet owners that one more intervention will get the pet over the mountain and on the other side with renewed strength and vigor. And, sometimes the new medicine or protocol does buy weeks or months of life. But for my Hercules, the non-stop care bought him 7 weeks of added life. However, I realized that he had no real quality in that life. Sure, he was alive. He could walk down the stairs, but no longer up (his heart wouldn’t take it). He could lie in the sun at the foot of the stairs, which he enjoyed. However, I had to watch him constantly or he would end up in the lower level just sitting on the bathroom mat since he couldn’t walk back up again. Sometimes he’d eat on his own, and sometimes I had to force him. He hated being force fed.

 Then there was the dementia. He could have a can of food sitting right in front of him and he wouldn’t realize it. I had to constantly put the food under his nose and then he would eat some. This meant that I had to be there or he wouldn’t eat. If I had to go out of the house for a few hours, it would be hours that he wasn’t eating. So my schedule totally revolved around him. When did he need his fluids? When did he need to eat? I didn’t mind caring for him, but it was limiting for me. He was my baby and I loved him. That said, I finally had to let go. God had given this little angel to me and it was time for me to love him enough to stand back and let him go to his peace.

 I had a talk with him over the weekend and we agreed. It would be Tuesday when his regular vet came back to the animal hospital. Somehow he must have known, since we had a wonderful day together. He ate more, seemed more like his old self and slept under the covers with me. But I agonized over the decision right up to the last moment. At the vet’s, I was crying horribly. Then a sense of calm came over me. Hercules and I knew it was the time. We both were ready. The vet gave him an anesthesia and within seconds he put his little head down and that was it. He was out. The vet told me he was ready. He was at peace.

 My little darling Hercules passed at 4:25 pm April 5. I stayed with him for about 20 minutes until I realized the body on the table was no longer Hercules. He was gone to Rainbow Bridge to wait for me. Upon coming home I I lit a candle to celebrate his life and said prayers. May God’s light shine on him forever. And so it is. Amen.

 Here is the poem about Rainbow Bridge:

There is a bridge connecting heaven and earth
It is called Rainbow Bridge because of its many colours

Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge there is a land of meadows,
hills, valleys with lush green grass

When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this special place
There is always food and water and warm spring weather

The old and frail are young again
Those who are maimed are made whole again

They play all day with each other
There is only one thing missing

They are not with their special person who loved them on Earth
So each day they run and play until the day comes
when one suddenly stops playing and looks up !

The nose twitches !
The ears are up !
The eyes are staring !
And this one suddenly runs from the group !

You have been seen, and when you and your special friend meet,
you take him or her into your arms and embrace
your face is kissed again and again,
and you look once more into the eyes of your trusting pet

Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together, never again to be separated

Author Unknown


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