Yes, I know that I swore that I was done with pets. The heartbreak of losing them is just too hard to bear.
Even before Neiko died I kept saying that I was never going to have another pet. Watching him suffer with his weakening hips and growing slowly more feeble was awful. Why do we put ourselves through that? Loving and caring for these animals and then having to let them go? Who needs it?
The emptiness in this house after Neiko died was palpable. Sure there was no more hair all over the furniture. He was no longer waking me up in the middle of the night to let him outside. I didn’t have to feed him or brush him or worry about getting his nails clipped. I didn’t have to fret about where he was or what he was up to. But neither was he there to greet me with his wagging tail when I came home from work. He no longer snuggled with me on the couch while I watched TV. I wasn’t being entertained by his tricks. I didn’t have his soft, warm fur to pet. The not having him was worse than the losing him.
I’ve had lots of pets. I’ve lost lots of pets. But the having them was so much better.
I waffled about getting another one. A dog would take lots of work. There’s the house breaking, the training, the walking and the grooming. They are so cool and so much fun, but they are a lot of work. A cat would mean a litter box and cat sick and furniture clawing. They too are cool, but they can be a pain in the butt. Dogs and cats need to be fixed, an expense I could do without.
Yes. No. Maybe. I don’t know.
I decided to just wait and see. If the right pet showed up, I’d accommodate it.
Well, guess what?
A visit to the Northwest Animal Shelter web site one day – just out of curiosity – had a new pet ready for adoption. A six-month old kitten named Christian was at the top of the list on the cat page. Hmmm... He’s litter trained, he’s had all his shots, and he’s already been fixed. And he’s cute as a button!
|Oliver exploring his new home at Alegria.|
My hands were filling out the on-line adoption application before my brain could fully process what I was doing. I agreed to a home inspection and to allowing follow-up visits after the adoption. I agreed to return him to the shelter if he didn’t work out for me and I promised to make sure he got proper vet care. I submitted details about my life and my home. I gave an exhaustive account of my pet-ownership background and the types, ages and frequency of the visitors I get. I almost didn’t click Send. I was expecting to have to jump through no end of hoops for this cat.
On Thursday I got a call from Christian’s foster mom. She invited me to come and get him. It really was that easy. My daughter and I drove to the foster mom’s home where I paid my adoption fee and placed him in a carrier for the ride back. No fuss, no muss. Just thank you for giving Christian a new forever home.
The first thing I did was change his name. Christian is now Oliver. I don’t know where the name came from, but it just seemed to fit. It means olive tree and the branch of the olive tree is a symbol of peace. I figured that a symbol of peace would be a good way to ring in the New Year!
The poor little guy got car sick on the way home. Suddenly the van was filled with a distinctly fishy odour with over-tones of bile. It was not pleasant, but it was probably better than anything that might have come out the other end. Thankfully we weren’t far from home. We had to make a couple of stops – for cat supplies! – before I could get Oliver out of the carrier and clean up the mess.
Oliver survived the ordeal quite well. When I got him home and opened the door to the carrier, he, in true cat fashion, sauntered out like he owned the place and began exploring his new home. While Oliver explored, I busied myself with setting up his litter box, putting out his food and water dishes, unwrapping his toys and his scratching pad and, of course, cleaning up the cat sick!
|Peeking through the banister.|
After he had thoroughly gone over every square inch of available space (some doors were closed) Oliver hopped onto the couch and curled up beside me. His loud purring told me that he approved and was grateful to be at Alegria with me. He even gave my hand a few licks. We watched an episode of Murder She Wrote and enjoyed some snuggle time. Oliver settled in like he was meant to be here. And I think that maybe he really is.
The house feels more complete again. There’s a pet who needs me and seems to even like me once again. Oliver may depend on me for food and shelter and a clean litter box, but I already depend on him for the companionship he so generously and lovingly has to offer. It’s hard to believe, but I already love him with all my heart. He hasn’t replaced Neiko, but he sure has filled that empty place in my heart where Neiko used to be.
|Oliver has staked his claim on the back of the couch.|
I’m sure we’ll have many happy years together. And when I have to face that loss, I’m sure I will be devastated. But I’ll get through it, knowing that I was able to give him a good home and lots of love.