The Day We Walked With Gordon

Gordon

Gordon

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Wednesday 23rd August 2017

‘Will you walk with me Mum? You promised?’ Gordon asked me as we both sat on the sofa. His beautiful green eyes now speckled with age, his once 7kg frame now barely touching 4kgs.

His eyes bore into mine, searching for my response – almost pleading for it.

I bit my lip and hesitated. He was right, I had always promised him that I would walk with him right by his side and I was not about to let him down now.

‘We will both walk with you, one of us either side and will be proud to do it Gordon’ I reassured him, ‘Even if you did put your teeth through my finger that time causing me to have tetanus’.

‘Yeah, about that…….’ Gordon laughed.

Suddenly Brutus came running into the living room with his gingerbread man in his mouth. ‘What are you talking about? Is it me? Everyone always talks about me because I am nice!’

‘Not everything is about you Brutus,’ Rocky snapped at him and went back to reading his newspaper – ‘The Kelpie Times’.

‘Well I heard you saying about walking with Gordon so thought I might be invited’ Brutus wagged his tail and cleared the table of its contents in the process.

Gordon stared at him ‘No Brutus’ he said firmly, ‘Just no’.

Saturday 26th August 2017

‘Mum! Mum! Why is Gordon wearing a tweed suit?’ Brutus yelled.

Rocky glanced up and saw Gordon standing there looking rather odd and if not out of place, wearing a tatty tweed suit – the type old people wear.

‘It is a day for tweed and I am dressed for that occasion’ Gordon replied as Brutus tried to clean his bum, ‘and one day my friend, you too will wear tweed’.

‘What occasion? I have never noticed that suit before either?’ Rocky looked puzzled and then after a few minutes, he realized what it was about and said nothing further.

Brutus stood there with his gingerbread man in his mouth, his tail had stopped wagging, ‘I don’t understand’ was all he said and then dropped gingerbread man on the floor and walked back to his bedroom looking confused muttering something about tweed suits, old men and mothballs.

A short while later

 ‘Where are you going? Can I come’ Brutus pleaded. ‘Are you are taking Gordon to the vet? You always take us when he goes, shall we get in the car now?’

‘Brutus, come and sit with me’ Rocky said firmly and patted the mattress on his bed to gesture for Brutus to sit down.

‘But we always make these trips as a family!’ Brutus started to bark and then realizing it wasn’t going to have any effect, he jumped on the bed beside Rocky.

‘I don’t understand’ Brutus repeated and nudged Rocky in the ribs for reassurance.

Gordon looked at Abdel and myself, he stared up at each of us ‘Will you walk with me now?’

‘Of course’ I replied and we took him to the car leaving Brutus with his face pressed up against the window wondering why he had been left behind. Rocky sat upright on his bed rigid like a bookend staring at us through the glass, as the car pulled out of the garage while Brutus repeatedly mouthed ‘I don’t understand’.

In the car

‘What are you doing?’ Abdel asked me as I grappled with my phone while trying to balance Gordon in his basket on my knee in the front seat.

‘Lion King – The Circle of Life’ I replied simply, ‘It reminds me of Gordon’. I turned the radio down and put Lion King on full blast on my phone.

‘Now that’s more like it’, Gordon laughed.

‘Do you remember when I got tickets to Lion King and held you above my head like Simba?’ I reminded him.

LionKing

Gordon – my very own Lion King

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Remember? How could I forget!’ Gordon replied. ‘I believe that this song was written for me’.

‘Yes Gordon, I believe it was’. I agreed and turned up the volume on my phone.

Feeling his ginger fur stick out through the wire squares in his cat basket, I smoothed him down and touched him, memorizing every single part of him.

‘How about the time in London when we had a guy round to measure up for blinds and he didn’t like animals. You jumped into his over sized laundry bag and all I saw was it shifting across the living room with you inside it.

‘I had to grab you and throw you across the living room before he saw you, and I managed it as well. He never did notice that you had damaged some of the stuff in his bag’. (This is actually true, it was in our flat in London)

Gordon laughed.

‘It’s not been a bad 15 years has it?’ Gordon looked up at Abdel and myself.

‘It’s been the best my friend, it’s been the best’. Abdel said quietly and carried on driving.

And in that journey to the vets we laughed, we talked, we played ‘Circle of Life’ as loud as we could while knowing that our very own Lion King was on the front seat of our car in his basket.

And so we walked….

‘Are we there yet?’ Gordon asked Abdel.

‘Nearly Gordon, nearly’ Abdel replied.

‘How will I know when I am there?’ Gordon looked at me.

‘Because you just will’ I patted his head.

‘Hold on a minute, I can see something, look at that over there – I can see towels hanging on the trees!’ Gordon shouted excitedly. His long slender ginger legs with pink toes like little beans, his nails gripped on to my jumper.

The finaltowel

The final towel – the night before Gordon left us, he didn’t eat it

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Gordon looked at Abdel and myself and then looked ahead of him. As if conflicted, he kept alternating his gaze between us, and what he could see in front of him.

As we got closer I could see a large white greyhound waiting at the gate. He wore a glamorous soft red martingale collar with a golden disk around his neck saying ‘Bowie’ on one side and ‘Gate Keeper’ on the other. Clutching a clipboard he was ticking names off and greeting various animals that were lined up to go in.

‘Hello there, you must be Gordon – I have heard all about you. You look very smart in your suit; it’s the perfect day for tweed! These must be your humans who I must say are jolly privileged to see this’, Bowie greeted him affectionately.

‘Will you come and make my bed?’ Gordon asked Abdel hopefully, ‘And put sardines in my bowl and smooth my head down?’

Abdel looked down at Gordon, not quite believing what he was seeing or what was happening. He rubbed Gordon’s ears and stroked his back over the tatty tweed suit.

Abdel.1

He promised he would ‘walk’ with him to Rainbow Bridge – and walk with him he did

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Sorry Gordon, your humans can’t go beyond this point, it’s not their time’ the greyhound said gently to Gordon who looked panic stricken at the thought of not being with us.

‘But they need me, and I need them’ Gordon protested, his long nails defiantly gripped my arms.

Bowie smiled, ‘I know my friend but they and you, are going to be just fine, I promise’.

‘Well I guess this is it then, you said you would walk with me and I guess you did’, Gordon said after a few minutes.

‘What do I do now?’ Gordon asked Bowie the greyhound.

‘There are some towels hanging on the washing line and they have your name on them’ Bowie encouraged him.

‘Maybe tomorrow, I am a bit sore today and tired, I am so very tired’ Gordon yawned.

‘Try it, you never know it might be OK’ Bowie nudged him with his long white snout.

Gordon nervously walked ahead and was surprised that his joints didn’t hurt him. There were several brightly coloured towels all clipped on a washing line and blowing in the breeze as though they were enticing Gordon to get closer and shred them.

Cats were scattered around on chairs, trees or just chasing butterflies. Some were playing with dogs, some were eating and some were having a catnip party and were off their faces on catnip while playing a game of poker.

I stepped forward to get a better look at him but Bowie blocked my way. ‘No further for you my friend, this is our world now and your place is with your boys at home. We have got this covered’, Bowie winked at me and wagged his tail.

‘Oh and Samantha?’ Bowie asked, ‘Don’t you tell the other humans what you have seen today, they will get jealous and we can’t have that now can we!’

Abdel and I took one last look at Gordon who started running towards the towels, he then looked back at us as if to get permission to chew them. The next minute he pulled a towel off the line and was bicycling furiously with his hind legs kicking the fabric, while shouting ‘bollocks’ and his tweed old-man-suit had been replaced by a luxurious silky ginger coat that tends to be worn by the young, fit and healthy cats.

I looked round at Abdel and then back towards Bowie and in that split second of looking away, Bowie was gone as was Gordon.

Back to reality

Abdel and I kept our promise to walk with him to Rainbow Bridge and that is exactly what we did.

Gordon had a cannula placed in his arm and then he was handed back to us all cuddled up in his blue blanket. I sat in a chair and he sat on my lap while my husband stroked his head and the vet crouched down to my level and told Gordon just how loved he was.

He went quickly, so very quickly – I knew he would, he was so frail and the moment he was removed from his basket it was like his illness and years had caught up with him. Gordon looked exhausted, he looked sick and had been holding it together in the home but once at the vets, there was no further need to do that because he was ready to go.

Once out of his basket it was like someone had turned the lights on and we could clearly see how tired and sick he was. It was no longer about our selfish needs to keep him, it was about his need to go on the final journey of sleep that he so rightly deserved.

me and Gordon

Goodbye my darling cat

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

His huge personality left with his little heartbeat, leaving behind his old body on the vet’s table. I cried that embarrassing sobbing that you can’t control that vets and nurses have seen so many times before.

Since when did he get so tiny, so thin and so frail? How did such a big cat with a huge personality get so small? I held him in my arms, we both did – he felt so small but still warm like he was asleep. Where did he go, where did you go Gordon, did we do the right thing? Why does it hurt so much and why do we feel so guilty?

Our hearts were breaking as we cradled our little cat of 15 years who we had brought over to Perth from the Motherland over 9 years ago. The cat that had seen us through the toughest times, the death of my Mum, some serious health problems, a few house moves, moving to Australia and when my husband was nearly killed in a car accident. Gordon was the one constant in our lives and whatever happened, he was there at home ready to bite us and shred the towels and say ‘bollox’ whenever we told him off.

Baby Gordon

Gordon aged 9 weeks old

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Gordon doing his time at Byford Quarantine in 2008

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Gordon and Brutus

A very special bond between Gordon and Brutus

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Empty Basket

We walked out clutching our empty white wire basket that we have had for years, in fact it belonged to our old cats Bruno and Juniper and I walked out of the vets with it empty when they crossed to Rainbow Bridge as well.

It was a painful drive back home; I kept the basket on my knee as though Gordon were still in it. He always travelled in the front and it didn’t seem right to put the basket in the back. I remember thinking that the basket would probably never get used again because no way could I ever face getting another cat – ever.

Rocky and Brutus

‘I still don’t understand?’ Brutus said to Rocky.

‘Brutus, when an animal goes to Rainbow Bridge it is customary for them to wear a tatty tweed suit and once they pass over, they regain their beautiful coat again along with their health’ Rocky explained.

‘Tweed suit? But Gordon was wearing a tweed suit this morning’ Brutus gasped, his eyes looking around the room for his brother.

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Photo taken the day after Gordon died – the quietest they had ever been

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Gordon! Gordon! Stop hiding, it’s not funny any more, come on Gordon, where are you?’ Brutus was frantic as he ran into Gordon’s bedroom to check for his brother.

Gordon’s grey plastic bed with his brown fluffy blanket and his stuffed reindeer in it remained untouched with all his other toys lying around plus a bowl of cat chow and a bowl of water from that morning. Although the room was full of Gordon’s stuff, it was empty of Gordon. I had to clean that room when we got back which was hard.

empty room

The empty room, too clean, too tidy and not right

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘He’s gone Rocky, he’s gone!’ Brutus cried and when the realization hit him, he kept howling even the calming influence of Rocky couldn’t console him.

Back home

Once we were back home I took the basket in to Gordon’s room and placed it on the floor and started crying again. There was a Gordon sized gap that had been left in our home and I knew that the animal dynamics were going to change because of it. I didn’t know how they would change, just that they would.

I suddenly felt a wet nose on my face as both of my boys came into Gordon’s room. They pressed themselves up against me and both tried to wash my face.

‘Don’t cry Mum, I don’t like it when you cry’ Brutus kept swallowing which he always does when he is nervous. Rocky rested his head on my knee, he said nothing but kept pressing his head into me and licking whatever bit of me he could reach.

My house was quieter, the dogs were out of sorts and I could now leave the bathroom door open without my towels getting chewed. Did I like it? No I didn’t, nice towels are overrated and nice towels are shit.

I missed my little cat, I couldn’t bring myself to throw his stuff away or even give it away; I just couldn’t do it. I bagged it up and put it in the spare room.

We had Gordon privately cremated – something I never thought that I would do or would even consider. For some reason I changed my mind and I am glad that I did because we get comfort in knowing that Gordon is still with us in his own way (he is on the bookcase).

In my stories Gordon swears a bit (as many of you that follow my animal stories will know), his favourite word in my stories is ‘Bollox’ – and that is how he spells it as well. So it seemed only fitting that we would have that engraved on the brass plaque on his box.

The vets also took some paw prints for us which is a nice keepsake as well and when keepsakes are all you have left, they suddenly become very important.

LionKing2

Gordon’s ashes – and that is just what he would say as well

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Pawprints

The vets took a paw print for us and gave us this lovely card with a handwritten message

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Pet Bereavement

I have been through this before many years ago but was hoping that at 50 years old, I would be older and wiser and how wrong I was, how very wrong.

I had also underestimated how hard this would be on Brutus as it hit him so hard that his grief was tangible. Just after Gordon died Brutus started to curl up outside his bedroom while holding his fluffy turkey in his mouth. He had started to vocalize and howl the loneliest howl I have ever heard a dog make, it was heartbreaking to witness.

You will have noticed that I have taken photographs of anything out of the ordinary in terms of my pets behaviour. You may not see what I see in the photos but it was there and I promise you that.

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Brutus curled up outside Gordon’s room

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Rocky is a sensitive little kelpie dog and that night we lost Gordon, he lay in the spare room with me while I made myself ill from crying. His slim black paws gripping round my arm and he had pressed his solid little black body up close to me, so close that I could feel his heartbeat. That is unusual for Rocky, as he normally likes to lie by my feet, but that night he patiently let me cry into his fur until I fell asleep.

I woke up at 5am and Rocky was sitting by the door to go out and he went straight to his bed and went to catch up on his own sleep. Animals are so special and I often think that some humans don’t deserve such loyalty and love that we get from our pets.

Getting used to things

When your animal grows older with you, you have your routine and you just ‘get’ each other. Your cat knows what you do and vice versa but once the cat (or dog) has left you, the gap is enormous and getting used to not having to care for that pet, hear or see it around is hard – very hard.

It was the longest week of our lives dealing with our own grief and by now Rocky, who had been sensitive to our own feelings, was now starting to exhibit distress from Gordon not being there.

It took several trips into Gordon’s room to get Rocky to settle and realize that Gordon wasn’t coming home. Brutus has taken even longer and still checks for Gordon to this day.

Brutus had a habit of stealing Gordon’s toys, in particular his fluffy reindeer. He always pinched it and would suckle on it and walk around with it proudly presenting the toy to whoever was around. The day Gordon died, Brutus stole this reindeer and brought it to my husband.

‘Don’t let him have that, we can give it to the new kitten’, my husband blurted out, looking protectively over Gordon’s beloved reindeer.

‘What new kitten?’ I asked him, he shrugged and walked away without saying anything further. New kitten? I don’t bloody well think so.

Never say never

It was on the Friday after we had said goodbye to Gordon and a colleague at work and myself had been looking on a pet rescue site, just looking of course.

‘My house is so empty without a cat’, I said to my colleague. We had always had a cat in our 26 years of marriage and have never once been without one.

‘That’s cute’, I pointed out at this tiny 7 week old rescue ginger tuxedo kitten from a pet rescue website. My colleague agreed and we continued to look at cats but I kept going back to this little kitten.

Later that night I showed my husband a picture of this kitten and to my surprise, he told me to email the cat rescue place to see if he was still available. Not expecting to hear anything back, I sent the email and didn’t think any more of it.

The words ‘We will never have another cat’ were fading fast in our heads, the ‘Gordon’ sized gap in the house was enormous and it wasn’t just a Gordon sized gap, it was a cat-sized gap as well.

The next morning Abdel and I had gone out for lunch when I decided to check my email. To my surprise the kitten was still available, asking my husband what he wanted to do, I left the decision to him but something inside told me that this was meant to happen.

‘Let’s go now and view him’, Abdel said with a flicker of excitement in his eyes. And after speaking to the rescue lady, it was organized that we could drive to her house to view the kitten and to see if we would be suitable as owners.

Seven weeks old and full of attitude

The first thing we saw when we were taken into the kitten room were several kittens but one in particular stood out and that was the unmistakable orange semi long haired tuxedo kitten that we had seen on the pet rescue site.

This tiny little chunky boy marched across the floor totally ‘owning’ it while shouting to his siblings, ‘Move out of the way you bastards, this family has my name on it’. Then walking up to my husband, he gazed up at him and said ‘Pick me up then!’

And in that split second, we knew our decision had been made and it was certainly not the ‘Never again’ type of decision either.

‘The name is Kuma, pleased to meet you’, the kitten said to me when it was my turn to hold him.

Kevin2

Kuma – now known as ‘Kevin’

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

‘Hello Kuma, how would you like to be called Kevin?’ I asked the furious bundle of ginger who was trying to gnaw on my knuckles.

‘That’s fine, but my middle name is Bastard’, Kevin replied.

‘What do you think?’ The rescue lady asked me.

Abdel and I looked at each other and then looked at Kevin, ‘We will take him’. Then opening his wallet, my husband handed over the cash and we completed our adoption papers.

‘Catch ya later losers, see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya!’ Kevin yelled to his siblings and his Mum, who did a phone gesture with her paws saying ‘Call me!’

Fast Forward to now

Rocky has accepted the new baby and is also terrified of him, he won’t give Kevin eye contact but sits protectively outside the cat room when he hears Kevin crying. I have warned him that by being scared of him that Kevin will exploit that and launch a takeover of his bed and his food bowl. Rocky said he knows who is going to wear the trousers in this house and those trousers will be ginger so resistance is futile.

Brutus is on a very slow introduction as Kevin still looks like lunch/prey but each day Brutus gets to sniff Kevins bum while Kevin is in my arms and gets rewarded with food as we are working on a positive association with the kitten.

We always give Brutus choices and when Kevin is in my arms, there is usually chicken or some treats on the work counter in the kitchen that Brutus can have as a reward for choosing food over being over excited and too focused with the kitten.

Kevin got an ear clean from Brutus the other day which was cute but Kevin is far too small to be left alone with Brutus as Brutus is so big and clumsy, we are just being cautious.

Brutus still has to check Kevin’s room for Gordon and sniff the litter tray and we are slowly getting there but it will be a long while before Kevin is allowed to play in the same room as Brutus. We are lucky that we do have a cat room with lots of toys and we are so glad that we kept Gordon’s stuff.

Kevin’s cat basket belonged to our first cat Bruno, we bought that basket in 1994. The cat bowls are about 20 years old, we just pass them down from cat to cat and in its own bizarre way, we pass down the stories as well.

Kevin

 babykevin

The day Kevin came to us – note Gordon’s fluffy reindeer

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

At the time of writing this (19th Sept 2017) Kevin is 9 weeks old, he is a sweet little kitten who has started to shin up our legs and use our torso as a cat scratch pole.

He is in to absolutely everything, chewing, trashing his crate in his room if he isn’t fed on time or fed enough. He will tip his entire bowl of food over if you upset him and dabs his paw in his water bowl and flicks it.

Yesterday I could hear the sounds of his bedroom being trashed and tiny paws skidding along the floor and a ginger voice shouting ‘Yeah, bollocks to everything!’ and ‘Gingers have rights too’.

Kevin3

Gingers rock! – according to Kev

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

A large bowl of meat and biscuit had been consumed, there were toys everywhere and Kevin was trying to convince me that every time I leave him alone in his room, a large ginger Tom cat appears and teaches him what to say and what naughty stuff to get up to.

The conversation went something like this – ‘Don’t be silly Kevin, I can’t see any ginger cat, you must be imagining it’ I tried to reason with him and told him that it is quite common for baby cats to pretend to see things.

‘But Mum, I am not I swear, there really is a ginger cat that appears on the clothes drier each time you leave me alone. It was him that taught me to chew the blinds and said you would like it’. Kevin protested.

Sighing, I shut the door – I had no time for this, I am finalising my book before it gets sent to the typesetters in two weeks. Large ginger cats in the spare bedroom – whatever next?

‘Told you she wouldn’t believe me!’ Kevin muttered after I had left, ‘Why doesn’t she believe me?’

A large orange tabby cat sat on the clothes drier, his coat luxurious and plush, his eyes a beautiful green colour, his puffy mouth that was begging to be kissed.

The ginger cat looked at Kevin who at 9 weeks old was tiny compared to him. ‘Don’t worry lad, she will soon believe you. Now, are you ready for tonight’s lesson – because I am going to teach you how to chew some towels’.

‘Towels? Really? That sounds fun!’ Kevin grinned, ‘By the way, what is your name?’

‘You can call me Gordon’ The ginger cat replied simply, ‘Now – about those towels…..’

Kevin and Gordon

Gordon lives on in the naughtiness of Kevin

(Photograph by Samantha Rose)

Thank you

Thank you to the veterinary staff at Spearwood Veterinary Hospital, Perth Australia for looking after Gordon for the past nine years since we arrived in Australia, he could not have been better looked after.

Losing a pet is hard enough but how their final journey ends in the vet surgery and how it is dealt with can leave a lasting impression on the owners – either good or bad.

To be given the time to chat, to cry, to say goodbye and have the vets and nursing staff show such genuine compassion and emotion, is not a skill, it is a gift because you simply cannot make that up, it has to come from the heart.

Dr George Jackson – you have an amazing and incredible team working for you. Your staff made that awful day for us so much more bearable.

And while we said ‘never again’ to another cat, you had better get yourselves prepared for Kevin and before you say anything, yes he is a bit tubby because if I don’t feed him when he wants, he trashes his bedroom and shreds my ankles.

These ginger cats can be so demanding you know.

Samantha

If you need help

Pet bereavement and grief is real and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It is never ‘just a cat/dog/pet’, it is YOUR pet so don’t let anyone tell you what to love or how much to love it either.

We have can’t believe how much losing Gordon has affected us, both my husband and I are still picking up the pieces and having intense moments of missing our cat and it is almost 3.5 weeks on.

All I can say is you have to acknowledge your feelings and ignore anyone that tries to dismiss what you are going through. Please be kind to yourself if you are going through this and if you do find yourself struggling to cope, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

Help for Pet Bereavement

Never again or how soon is too soon?

I can’t believe that a week after losing my precious Gordon that we have another kitten. I was adamant that no cat would come into my home and take Gordon’s place and that I could not put myself through that ever again.

Then I had a word with myself and made myself face up to a few things. Firstly, when you lose a pet and you get another one, you are not replacing them in any shape or form. Each animal that you bring to your house is not replacing your old pet, it is creating a new space, new memories, it is a new personality that is going to make you laugh, cry, spend money on toys and treats – it is going to be different. No guilt needed, just giving another pet a chance of a loving home.

I realise that we as pet owners don’t want to put ourselves through that pain again, my goodness the thought of it still scares me, the pain that I am still going through and choosing to do it all again with another animal? I must have rocks in my head.

But on the other side of the coin, wouldn’t life be harsh if we only limited ourselves to loving only one animal and never allowing ourselves to have another? I don’t regret any of my animals that I have owned in the past, they have all given me love and memories to treasure and for that I am grateful.

Anyway, that is my update and I guess writing it all down and documenting the whole thing is more for my benefit really. I always express myself through my writing and this is no different.

If you are interested then you can check out this five minute micro doc about how we got Gordon to Australia.

Gordon’s Story – Get Gordon Down Under

 

Samantha Rose (c) Copyright September 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

G and B

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.

IMG_4891

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.

IMG_4920

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).

Rocky car

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