Birthdays, Old Age and Pink Salmon

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Gordon reaches the grand age of 15 years old
(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Today is Sunday 9th April – just an ordinary day for Brutus and Rocky, nothing special about it except for plans to take Rocky for a drive to chat to the sheep.

The boys were up at 7.30am ready to go into the garden for the first pee of the day which as any dog will vouch is the best one. Rocky always checks the garden for intruders – invisible or otherwise while Brutus goes to what is now known as ‘The Brutus Tree’ to check to see if any more rats have appeared.

‘Good morning Gordy, how’s it going?’ Brutus grinned at Gordon as he lay curled up on the sofa.

Brutus adores Gordon you see, cleans his ears and his bum and despite Gordon having hardly any teeth, allows the ginger cat to get him in a ‘death-grip’ when he pretends he is an African lion hunting springbok in Namibia.

 

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Brutus and Gordon – brothers from another mother

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

‘Gordon, did you hear me?’ Brutus shouted to his brother. Gordon ignored him and stared boot-faced towards the window and then began to pointedly wash his anus with his hind leg held high in the air.

Looking somewhat hurt and confused, Brutus trotted up to Rocky who was now crossing his legs and muttering something about ‘being desperate for a piss’.

‘Gordon won’t talk to me’ Brutus whispered to the black kelpie.

Rocky shrugged and said something about him getting moody in his old age.

Both boys were let out into the garden and nothing more was said.

‘He looks smaller these days don’t you think, like really skinny?’ Rocky said to Brutus.

Brutus was busy gazing into his tree checking for rats, ‘He is still my big brother and can hunt things in Africa he told me so, I don’t think he is smaller because then he wouldn’t be able to hunt’ Brutus growled without taking his eyes off the tree, ‘Bloody rats – they are hiding from me on purpose’ he added fretfully.

Rocky shrugged his shoulders and trotted back to the patio door to be let back in as it was breakfast time.

As he pressed his snout against the window he spotted the frail cat sitting on the kitchen work surface talking to himself. ‘Everyone is a wanker, I hate everyone, nobody loves me, nobody cares and I am going to puke on the floor’.

Slowly and somewhat unsteadily on his feet, Gordon went to the floor and started making the unmistakable and dramatic sounds of vomiting and trust me, nothing and I mean nothing will make a cat owner sit up and take notice quicker than the violent sounds of a cat throwing up.

He barely puked anything but it was enough to get my attention. Clearing up the tiny bit of sick that I swear he had forced out to be noticed, I petted him and told him how marvellous he was and good on him for sicking up that furball.

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Gordon demands attention by puking

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

‘Yeah right, I don’t believe you love me and I am going to bite you later with my gums and shit in your clean laundry’ Gordon snapped at me and then wobbled off looking like a doddery old man that has lost confidence in his walking stick.

Rocky continued to stare through the window racking his brains to see what could have possible upset Gordon. It didn’t take long to find out either because just ten minutes later my husband came into the kitchen clutching a tin of pink salmon.

‘Happy 15th birthday Gordon’ My husband walked into the kitchen and kissed Gordon on the head and gently lifted him on to the kitchen workbench to have his salmon, which yes I know is unhygienic and all that stuff but I don’t really care.

‘I thought you had forgotten’ Gordon stuttered in his old man voice – a bit like Winston Churchill if you know what I mean.

‘As if we would forget’ I cuddled him – feeling his bones creak.

‘I love you Mum’ Gordon grinned and then promptly bit my hand with his remaining two canine teeth and called me a ‘bitch’.

It was a King that tucked into his salmon this morning, despite having very few teeth he made light work of it and even tolerated me putting on a tie for his birthday photo shoot.

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Gordon – hunting his salmon (in Africa of course!)

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

‘Can I tell my friends that I hunted that salmon in Africa?’ Gordon asked me.

I didn’t dare tell him that he didn’t really have any friends except for Tess and Pippin, but I agreed anyway and it was enough to make him happy. After all, a good imagination and an ability to dream never hurt anyone.

Meanwhile Rocky was outside looking mortified. How on earth did he forget his brothers birthday. Turning round he quickly ran over to where Brutus was to let him know they had some serious making up to do and plenty of arse licking (literally in Brutus’s case).

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Rocky is such a thoughtful little dog

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

After breakfast the boys sat hovering by Gordon watching him eat the rest of his salmon.

‘Gordon we are SO sorry we forgot your 15th birthday, we didn’t mean to honestly we didn’t’ Brutus sobbed. He was totally distressed that he had forgotten and couldn’t stop crying as festoons of snot dripped from his nose and his eyes all red and puffy from being so upset.

Rocky was a bit more dignified but not too proud to admit that he was sorry and tried to bring Gordon his fluffy penguin.

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Gordon is well loved by both of his brothers as you can see

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Gordon carried on eating and after a few seconds stared down at the boys. His eyes showing every year of his 15 years, the once 7kg cat did actually look quite frail and tiny.

His grumpy old face softened and he replied to his brothers ‘That’s OK, you have remembered now and that is what matters’.

‘I love you Gordon’ Brutus sighed, wiping his eyes and nose as he had been crying that much – guilt does that to Brutus you see. Brutus feels guilty even when he has done nothing wrong. Rocky dug a 3 foot hole in the garden and Brutus cried for days and apologized for it and even went to the police station to insist he be arrested for a crime that he didn’t commit.

‘I love you right back Brutus’ Gordon replied.

Licking his lips Brutus said hopefully ‘I can help you eat some of that salmon if you like, just as a favour of course’.

‘Bollocks’ Gordon replied, ‘Don’t push your luck’ and with a flick of his tail, Gordon turned round and flashed Brutus his bum.

‘He still loves us then!’ Rocky said sounding ever so relieved.

‘Yeah, I reckon’ Brutus barked happily, ‘And Rocky?’

‘Yes Brutus?’ growled Rocky.

‘He is still our big brother’ Brutus nodded firmly, ‘No matter how small he is’ – and there was no arguing with that.

 

Happy 15th birthday Gordon.

 

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright April 2017

Brutus learns the real meaning of Christmas

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Brutus

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Brutus and Rocky were in the living room discussing Christmas and their shopping list. Gordon had just done an Exorcist style vomit over the dining room and had gone back to his food bowl to ‘replenish what had been lost’ much to Rocky’s disgust and Brutus’s admiration.

‘So what do you want for Christmas Brutus?’ Rocky asked him.

Brutus looked thoughtful ‘I don’t want much really, I would like a honking pig as Mum killed mine in the garden, I would like some more flappy toys, a spare gingerbread man, maybe a squeaky Santa and another snake, I would like a new collar and ID tag – not one of those crappy collars, perhaps a doggy stocking, a new camp bed for my bedroom and a new stuffed rabbit’ he finished looking absurdly proud of himself for being what he thought was ‘restrained’.

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Brutus with last years gift that ‘exploded’ all by itself in the garden

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Rocky gasped ‘Not much? That is a huge amount Brutus and most dogs don’t get that much and some dogs don’t get anything at all’.

Gordon said nothing but stopped eating to listen to the boys talking. Inwardly he was shocked though as Brutus had lots of toys, admittedly some had ‘exploded’ all by themselves in the garden but he never went without that’s for sure.

‘What about you Rocky?’ Brutus asked him. Stretching out on the sofa, Brutus snuggled his head down on the red pillow and waited for Rocky to tell him his Christmas list for Santa Paws. Brutus loves Christmas and every year in the three Christmas’s we have had him, he makes me tell him bedtime stories about how Santa Paws visits all the dogs and leaves them food and bones that their owners have bought them and given to Santa for storage.

Rocky shrugged his shoulders ‘Well last year I wished for my hips to be not so painful and a bit better, but I have already got that present now because Mum bought me special powder to go in my food and they are so much better although I still can’t walk as far as normal kelpies’.

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Rocky is a simple kelpie dog with simple needs

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

‘But I would like some new tennis balls to replenish my collection, I would like a generous slice of turkey if Dad can spare it, I would love to be able to get on the sofa with Mum and Dad and maybe even play with my fluffy penguin after lunch.

‘Of course we usually get a collar each year and I love the Rogz collars and always have a red or a blue one and an ID tag is nice as we usually get one every year as well.

But my best gift is when Mum does her Skype call to the UK and gets to talk to her family and I get to talk to her Daddy – AKA John Stocken because I have met him, I think he could be referred to the doggy version of our Grandad if such a thing exists’, Rocky said knowingly. A wise kelpie beyond his years, Rocky just knows ‘stuff’ and is an oracle of information.

‘You know John Stocken? How?’ Brutus demanded, feeling more than a little jealous of this as he only ever hears my Dad over the phone when he calls me.

‘I have met him’ Rocky said smugly, ‘He came to Perth once and threw my tennis ball and rubber chicken for ages, we had fun, we had cuddles and everything and I slept outside his room for 3 days after he flew back because I missed him so much’.

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Rocky, Dad (AKA – John Stocken/Daddy Stocken, and the rubber chicken – Rocky on the left looking camouflaged!

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

The two dogs fell silent for a bit and all you could hear was the sound of Gordon occasionally crunching his cat biscuit.

‘But Rocky, I don’t understand – most of your presents are not sold in the shops so where would you buy them? How would you get them?’ Brutus asked looking puzzled.

‘That’s just it Brutus, Christmas isn’t about how much money is spent on things or how many toys and bones your owners buy for you, it is about the stuff that money can’t buy.

‘Time with those that love you, video calls to friends and family, nice food, cuddles, turkey dinner, the stuff you can only do or speak about with people you love. You can’t buy any of that in the shops.’

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Rocky creating his own memories on one of our road trips

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

‘Sure having toys and stuff is great but those memories last a whole heap longer than any toy that explodes in the garden’. Rocky finished.

‘But what about my toys, I love opening my toys?’ Brutus frowned.

‘You know out of all the stuff on your list Brutus, the one that is the most important above everything else?’ Rocky asked him.

Brutus shrugged because he didn’t know.

‘The collar and ID tag that Mum gets us and pays to have engraved to say we have a home and family of our own. The rest doesn’t matter’ Rocky said.

Brutus quietly walked off to his bedroom and stared at his bed which contained one of his fluffy blankets, his beloved Tony Abbott doll, his stuffed rabbit, his penguin, his honking hedgehog, his bear, baby teething ring and his deer antler.

It wasn’t a too shabby collection of toys, next to it was a bowl of fresh water and a food bowl, his camp bed and behind that a cupboard containing some more freshly washed blankets in case he shit the bed (don’t ask!) and needed his bum washed and fresh bedding.

He walked back into the kitchen and stared at Rockys bed which had been hand made by Cuzz Bro’s Creations, covered in a red blanket, a Julie Gillard doll, another Tony Abbott doll and a gingerbread man which Brutus thinks is his but it really belongs to Rocky, plus a deer antler, bowl of water and food bowl.

Walking into the dining room Brutus noticed a selection of leashes, head collars, a collar, Rocky’s muzzle and Brutus’s camo harness. Brutus also took in the toy box in the garden packed to the top with toys and his recent birthday present of Fat Cat (flappy cat) and his snake he got from Dee Cole at the Funky Dog Company, as well as shit loads of tennis balls scattered around the garden.

Nothing more was said that afternoon about presents from either of the dogs. Gordon never asks for anything anyway and still has toys from when he was a kitten, even his plastic bed belonged to our cat before him – Bruno and is about 20 years old and Gordon loves it. Gordon likes simple things like bird feathers or being allowed to chew my bras (bastard).

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Gordon  – almost 15 years old and an all round naughty boy and member of the ginger club

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

So today I had to go and do my Christmas shopping and I hate shopping, like really hate it unless I am in a pet shop and then I love it.

‘What would you like for Christmas boys?’ I smiled at them as I was about to leave.

‘Tennis balls would be good and a new ID tag’ Rocky smiled at me.

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I shall have a tennis ball please Mum and lots of cuddles and turkey

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

‘But if we can go to the farm area on Christmas Day so I can catch up with the sheep that would be good as well’ Rocky added.

‘How about you Brutus?’ I asked him.

Brutus stared at me, his red/brown eyes bore into mine, expecting a long list I got ready for his demands of toys/bones etc.

‘If you can see fit to buying me a new honking pig to replace the one you squished in your car that would be nice, and a new ID tag because I have scraped the writing off mine on the wall when I rub myself against the bricks every morning’ Brutus growled.

‘Is that all? Are you sure?’ I asked him, this was news to me – Brutus is the King of Christmas lists and has even resorted to writing his lists on an entire roll of toilet paper to fit in what he wants which involves half of City Farmers.

‘Some turkey dinner would be nice and if I can be with Rocky when you Skype Daddy John Stocken and everyone else that would be brilliant’ Brutus barked at me.

Shrugging my shoulders I smiled at them and went off to do my shopping while secretly wondered if someone had swapped my dog with a newer angelic version.

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Brutus the Good Boy

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

After I had gone shopping

‘Did you mean that?’ Rocky asked Brutus, he could barely believe what he had just heard.

‘I’ve got loads of toys, I’ve got pretty much everything really and as you say, the rest of the stuff can’t be bought’ Brutus said firmly.

Rocky looked at his brother in admiration, nudging Brutus affectionately with his snout, Rocky grinned ‘Except for the honking pig – they are $11.00 in the supermarket because I have checked on Mum’s computer’.

Brutus laughed and wagged his tail ‘Yes, let’s not forget the honking pig’.

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Going in the car to look at the sheep – cost? Priceless

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Gordon sat washing his anus from the other chair, at almost 15 years old he had seen many Christmases as you can imagine and he had realised long ago that the best Christmas is one that creates memories and not shopping lists, like the time he ate tinsel off the tree and had to shat it out with my help pulling it from his bum (now THAT is a memory!).

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You thought I was joking about the anus!

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Three hours later I returned with very little in my bag as shopping had been a total nightmare, we don’t have children so not much to buy anyway really. But what there was in my bag; was a packet of tennis balls and a honking pig.

And in the post winging its way to me is an envelope with two bone shaped ID tags for the boys all engraved with the best present a dog could want – their owners details and enough phone numbers on there to show the world we love them.

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The most important things – the famous honking pig, collar, ID tag and a bone. These were Brutus’s first things bought for him when he came out of hospital after being critically ill.

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Merry Christmas everyone, thank you for the lovely comments and support so many of you have given this page over the years.

Samantha, Gordon, Rocky and Brutus

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright December 2016

An Open Letter to Gordon – my cat

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Gordon – a face meant for smooching

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Old age, our pets and our attitude

Our pets age, they get old, they slow down and get more demanding – a bit like us really.  One minute they are young and before you know it, time has flown by and at a glance they have become old; leaving us wondering just when it all happened.

I have read so many stories about owners surrendering their pets once they become senior and there are too many photos of grey faced animals with opaque aging eyes staring back at us from pound rescue photographs.

I find it leaves a nasty taste in my mouth when a pet is given up purely and only for being old and then quickly replaced by a younger pet.  What kind of message does this send out and are we really so arrogant to think that old age does not apply to us and we as humans will never get old or demanding?

This blog is dedicated to my senior cat Gordon who is stepping in to his senior years which is also bringing with it a change of personality – he has no boundaries, he is demanding, he is naughty and even chews my hair when I sleep.  Could I surrender him for these reasons and swap him for a younger cat?  Absolutely not, I love him and I love every ginger hair on his head and I love the old cat he has become.

This story details how I see Gordon, his behaviour, his appearance and how it is all too easy to assume that he will always be around.  I have written this to him as an open letter – yes I know he is a cat and can’t read, but if he could then this is what I would tell him.

So treasure your senior pets, treasure every single grey hair on their face – they have earned it and if you have loved them properly then you have earned the right to have them in your lives and for that reason; you should count yourselves very lucky.

Gordon

At 9 weeks you came in to our lives.  I remember we had to choose between you and your twin brother Anthony and we picked you because you were not scared of our dog – a whippet bitch called ‘Rema’.

You marched right up to her and smacked her on the snout and I will never forget the look of horror on her face as you did that.  A tiny little ginger kitten taking on a 12kg whippet that quickly developed respect for you.

You were young, energetic, naughty and ‘full of beans’ as I would describe you. You would shred the carpet, eat our towels, fight with the dog and hang round her neck and swing from the curtains in a small ginger bundle of fury.

Gordon and my whippet ‘Rema’ – best friends

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

At a year old you had the look of a ‘teenage’ cat about you.  You had developed retrieving skills and would play ‘fetch’ with your beanie baby toy panther that you loved to carry around with you and bring to us if we asked you to.

Gradually you grew into a fat cat that seemed to go more orange the more mischief you got in to.  You had developed a habit of stealing things which included boxes of matches, inhalers, jewellery, cotton buds – anything that you could fit in your ginger mouth.  Your ‘spoils’ were hidden in your favourite spots that I soon found and then you would move them somewhere else and it would take me ages to find out where.

At six years old we took you to Australia where you flew by plane and landed in Perth a day before we did where you spent the next 30 days in quarantine.  On release from quarantine you quickly settled in as an Aussie cat and adapted to the heat, the noisy birds and life in general, your life in London was now a million miles away.

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Gordon at Byford Quarantine, WA

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

You spent the next seven years looking fabulous with a glossy coat and having an energetic zest for life.  Being an indoor cat you had no predators and none of the usual risks associated with being an outdoor cat and we marvelled at your health and vitality for a cat of your age.

The parrots taunted you and you argued back in your cat-like ‘chatter’ as you made ‘clicking’ noises with your mouth at the window, no doubt threatening what you would do to them if you ever got out.

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Gordon looking very ‘orange’ – note his eyes starting to look old

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Six months after arriving in Australia, we acquired our first ‘Aussie dog’ – a 4 month old kelpie called ‘Rocky’.  Within the first five minutes of meeting him, you had smacked him smartly on the snout and ‘boxed’ him with your huge padded ginger paws, making him pee himself because he was so scared of you.

The line was once again drawn with you and Rocky knew from that day on to never cross you and became and still is, your biggest protector to this very day.

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Then three years ago we fostered a 12 week old ridgeback/kelpie puppy called Brutus – which was meant to be a three day thing really, except that Brutus ended up staying.

You took to Brutus immediately and let him get away with a remarkable amount of rough-housing until a point was reached where you would get him into one of your ‘death-grips’ and pin him down by his throat (all 30kgs of him).

Brutus has adored you from the very first day he met you and enjoys washing you, cleaning your ears and following you around until he annoys you enough to get a biff on the snout (claws in of course).

A baby Brutus and Gordon and then a grown up Brutus and Gordon

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

At what point did I notice you got old

It kind of crept up on me really (probably like it did to you) but one day I was walking around the house getting various bits and pieces ready for work the next morning.  I happened to glance down to see your frail ginger body trotting after me as you struggled to keep up.

I laughed and thought it cute but on closer inspection you were like an old man trying to keep up with life as your joints hurt you and you stiffly tried to trot after me as I went from room to room to get things.

Your agility and balance has slowly declined over the years and last week you jumped up on to the sofa while I was sitting on it and as I looked round, all I saw was your ginger face appear full of panic as you lost your grip and fell backwards to the floor.

As if you were embarrassed, you sneezed, shook yourself and limped off as if to say ‘That didn’t hurt, I meant that to happen’.

Your stomach has become more sensitive as you have aged and whilst you have always been prone to vomiting – probably due to you grooming the dogs and ingesting their fur, your vomiting has become more frequent and now you can do it without warning whilst managing a somewhat splendid Exorcist style projectile vomit as you hit the blinds and the walls with the contents of your stomach.

Your bones have started to ‘crack’ when you are picked up and despite our attempts to treat you like a piece of fine bone china, the extent of your fragility is apparent.

It doesn’t stop you being naughty though and you still like to bite up and down our arms like you are chewing a corn on the cob, except that now your jaw kind of ‘clacks’ as you bite down, your bite is weak and your stiff legs somewhat feebly bicycle against my arm as you try and kick me.

Knock, Knock – who’s there? Gordon, that’s who!

A habit that you have had since you were a baby was to stand on your hind legs and use your front legs to scratch at the door.  You had the ability to do this for hours on end until we relented and would let you in the bedroom.

These days you still do it but I can barely hear you but I know you are there.  I can hear you meowing and crying and the oh-so-faint sounds of your paws weakly scratching at the door.  I let you in straight away, I always let you in because I don’t like the idea of you wanting to come in so bad that you will still use what energy you have to scratch at that door and I know how much it must hurt your arthritic paws.

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Still in charge – no matter how old you are

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Sometimes you have those mad half hours where you take a shit in your litter tray and then run around the house with a joyous expression on your face as you skid along the floor and bump into doors/windows while the dogs look at you as though you have gone mad.

Talking of dogs, you still have the power over Rocky and Brutus.  You can get Brutus on his back in submission in a matter of seconds as you try and get him in a ‘death grip’ by biting his throat and kicking him with your hind legs.  He could kill you with one bite but no, he has a healthy respect for you and is so protective of you.

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Brutus has your back Gordon

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Everyone needs a hug sometimes…

Every evening when I get home from work I sit on the sofa and relax with a cup of tea, just unwinding as people do.  Like clockwork you always jump on my knee and demand my attention.

In your younger years, you started off subtle and would never sit on my laptop or push drinks out of my hand but as you have aged, your boundaries have long gone and you are more than happy to shove my cup of tea right out of my hand or sit square on top of my laptop and ‘make puddings’ on my chest as you knead my boobs and go off into a trance of delight because you quite simply love your cuddles.

I have learned that resistance is futile and as soon as I see you march across the coffee table, I know that my cup of tea must be quickly finished, my laptop shut down, phone on the table and the blanket gets put on my lap so that you can get comfy.

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Gordon – simply cannot be ignored

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Then as quickly as you demanded to get on there, you decide that you have had enough and walk off with your tail held high in an act of defiance that says ‘I can do what I want’.

‘He won’t be around forever you know and one day you will miss all of this’ My husband warned me one day when I complained that you wouldn’t leave me alone.

I stared at you when he said that and tried to imagine life without you, life without Gordon – the cat that flew from the Motherland to Perth, the cat that had been with us through thick and thin and has seen us through our life stages.

I realised that he was right, that you wouldn’t be around forever and there would come a day that I would be regretting the day I chose my privacy, laptop and cup of Yorkshire tea over the cat that I loved so dearly.

Now when you want a cuddle; you get it and as for me going to the toilet on my own, well that is so overrated and I no longer complain when you want to sit on my knee while I am trying to pee.

You still love your life, you still enjoy your life, you are just slower and older but you still know how to demand what you want, get what you want and you still know how to be naughty.

So when did you get so old my darling Gordon and why did it take me so long to realise that you are not replaceable by a mobile phone, laptop computer or ‘time alone’.

Now I make the most of each time you want a cuddle, I am privileged that you are so desperate to sleep on my lap and I love the fact that you follow me around.  But most of all I am proud, proud that you are my cat and that we bought you with us from London to Perth and I am privileged to be seeing you into your senior years.

You are getting older Gordon and you won’t always be around but while we have you, we promise to look after you, never to let any harm come to you and love you for the rest of the time that you have with us and when the heartbreaking time comes to send you over to Rainbow Bridge, we will walk right beside you to that entrance.

Thank you for being our cat

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The gift of owning a senior pet cannot be underestimated

(Photograph by Sam Rose)

Samantha Rose (C) Copyright January 2016