20 year Tribute

This is a hard post to write, especially before the fact, so I couldn’t do it last night. I am trying to emotionally prepare myself for having to put our 20 year old cat, Dolce, to sleep. Dante, our 13 year old cat, died around this time last year on his own at home, but it was painful. I thought Dolce would go before him, but after throwing an embolism at the vets just from getting a urine sample last week, I brought her home and she perked up and even walked down and up the basement stairs. She’s in renal failure but she continues to defy all odds. Our vet wanted me to put her down right then and there but I felt that after living 20 years, she deserved to die at home. Luck has been on her side. When I saw her at the pound she was in a litter of three kittens but I couldn’t take more than one. When I went back to pick her up the next day, they had put the other two to sleep because they had colds. She is my family’s first pet — almost as old as my oldest son. We’re having another vet who makes house calls come by today. We’ve comforted her this past week and I even asked one of my photoshop gurus to come by with his wife, who runs a pet sitting service, to help me administer fluids. They were lifesavers. The bag is now empty but Dolce continues to eat tuna, although she’s starting to turn away, and she’s drinking water. Her body is shutting down and she can barely walk. She looks like she’s just had enough. I have a lot of respect for her will to live and strength. She’s never been a complainer. In fact, we named her for her mild temperament. She’s transformed from a somewhat scared pound cat to an independent, wise, old lady cat. I’ll be sad without her keeping me company, but it is in her best interest to stop her misery. It’s one of the hardest decisions to make as a pet owner. Although we will no longer have any pets when she is gone, except our leporinus fish — just not the same, and I will be outnumbered by males in the house, I will continue to reflect affectionately on her many years of companionship and joy that she’s brought our family. It’s hard to believe this time is finally here.

Dolce as a kitten. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer

dolce by water. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer

She taught our younger cat how to drink from the watering can. I had just happened to leave it filled from watering the plants and she found this to be a great opportunity. I left it filled all the time thereafter.

My son Jackson took some great photos of her. He’s got the creative eye.

dolce. Photo by Jackson Spencer

dolce on sofa. Photo by Jackson Spencer

dolce -- I\'ve had it look. Photo by Jackson Spencer

dolce sleeping. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer

dolce-sketch by C. Ashley Spencer

It’s a very quiet and still day…doves cooing, birds chirping. You can sense spring is right around the corner, but it’s about to rain. There is a solemness in the air that just makes you want to appreciate the moment. It’s called Peace.

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2 Responses to “20 year Tribute”

  1. Dear Ashley, I am so sorry to hear to hear of the loss of your beloved pet, Dolce. As a devoted animal lover myself, the decision to put an animal out of his or her misery, is one of the hardest things that we, as the owners or keepers of animals, have to do. I know that it is the humane thing to do and I admire YOUR courage in saying “no” to the vet’s suggestion that you put Dolce to sleep at that moment, when Dolce threw the embolism at the vet’s office. I know that taking care of her at home and giving her the dignity to die at home, took courage and hard work, both emotionally and physically, but, was in the end, the the kindest thing you could have done for such a beautiful animal who gave so much, so lovingly and freely to you and to your family. I think that is why it is so hard to say goodbye to animals; they give so freely and so unconditionally of their love. There is no “baggage”, no bad memories of one’s time with a pet, simply loving, warm companionship. The fact that you are able to love an animal, Ashley, speaks volumes about your capacity to love and to give; some people, and I have always felt sorry for them, aren’t able to give and connect to animals. What joy and wonder they are missing out on in this life. Your 20 Year Tribute to Dolce is very special and brings more than one tear to my eye. It reminds me of the animals I have loved and lost in my life, most recently, my beloved Bull Terrier, Napoleon. I am so sorry for your loss and know that it will take time, as do all losses, from which to to heal. You will think you see Dolce out of the corner of your eye, or feel her presence….for some time to come, I know. I am sure that Dolce knows of your tribute, wherever her spirit is and appreciates her life with you and your family. I truly believe that all dogs and cats go to heaven, whatever your perception of heaven is, for they are innocent and pure of heart and soul. I will, happily (!) see you soon and we can discuss the loss of Dolce more, but, in the meantime, please accept my most sincere condolences. I assure you that you gave Dolce the most dignified and comfortable end to her life and I know that she loves you for it. I’ll be thinking of you and your family during this time of loss and hoping that you will be feeling better soon. All love, Shauna

  2. Joe Wiegand says:

    I wasn’t planning on crying today. Thanks for the surprise. Now I’m going to vote for you and what you do, which was what I was going to do before I found the story of sweet Dolce. Peace be with you guys.

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