This is the reason I haven’t been doing the podcast. And honestly, even writing this, I don’t know if I actually am going to be able to sit down and record this or if it’s going to end up as just a blog post.
Anyone who has listened to me for a notable amount of time knows that we have had a rather large family of pets. Many of whom have been with us for many years. One of which, my cat Fluffy, has actually been with us since just after our oldest son was born. Matter of fact, she was actually about 4 months older than him. As a combination of both her commanding personality, and her status as both the first and oldest pet, Fluffy was the senior pet in charge of everyone. Not just the other pets, but us as well. She would raise hell if we weren’t in bed on time. But she also was always there to take care of us if anyone was sick. We always said Fluffy had to have been an old southern nurse in a past life because of the way she took care of everyone in the house, but made sure you knew that she was the one running the show. And she ran the show for nearly 14 years.
But in mid January, Fluffy started acting strange. She started getting lethargic. She started sleeping more and not patrolling the house like she normally would. We noticed at one point that she hadn’t left our bed in at least two days. Which also meant that she hadn’t eaten or had anything to drink in at least two days.
We started taking her out of the bedroom and out into the living room to sit with us during the day. We started bringing her cans of wet food to get her to eat. she actually started getting up to get water on her own. And she would go to the litter box and make her way back to bed on her own when she didn’t want to be out with us anymore. But she didn’t have the energy that she usually did. She stopped yelling at us. She wouldn’t even complain about me taking the covers from her when I came to bed. We knew her time was running out. We thought that any day would be her last. Surprisingly, she continued on like this for nearly a month. Some days it even seemed like she may be making a recovery. It seemed like every time we’d talk about her condition, the next day she’d be up and around trying to prove us wrong about how bad she was. But we all knew that she wasn’t going to be able to go on like that for very much longer and had come to accept that she was not long for this world.
Meanwhile, we got hit with a complete and utter curveball and shook the entire family to the core…
Now, we had 5 animals: 2 dogs and 3 cats. Fluffy was very much my cat. We had bonded deeply and she was never far from my side. You could even say that she was my Familiar. But, next in the hierarchy of the pets in the family was Jasper. Jasper belonged to my wife. He was our 10 year old shepherd/husky mix. He was one of the many animals given to us by my sister over the years. You may recall our dalmatian, Emmitt, who also came from her, who we lost a few years ago, who was also the top dog under Fluffy. Now, Jasper was just a big sweetheart. He was always happy. He didn’t pay any mind to the cats as long as they didn’t try to mess with anyone. He even let our newest kitten, Baz, sleep on him as a baby. Separation anxiety aside, Jasper was just a super chill happy guy. And as much as Fluffy was by my side, Jasper never left my wife’s side, save to do his business in the back yard. While she would be at work in the office, he would stand guard outside the office door. If someone wanted in the office, he had to escort them in. Ever her security guard and very best of good boys. He really was just the sweetest happiest guy who never cared to harm anyone or anything other than out of defense.
But in the midst of our “hospice care” for Fluffy, in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, completely out of nowhere, Jasper had a massive seizure. It was one of the most terrifying things we’d ever seen, and there was nothing we could do to help him. We had no idea why it happened. All we knew was that we had to get him to the vet immediately. Unfortunately, things didn’t get any better from there.
After examining him and running bloodwork, it was determined that Jasper was not only severely diabetic, but his blood sugar was so high that he had gone into diabetic ketoacidosis. His blood sugar was so high it had become acidic. His heartrate and blood pressure were through the roof, and another seizure was more than likely to occur. He was facing multiple days of hospitalization, and tens of thousands of dollars of testing, and treatments just to get him stabilized, followed by a lifetime of medications and bloodwork to control the medications for the diabetes. Cost aside, with his age and health, we couldn’t put him through all of that. We didn’t want to subject him to the remainder of his lifetime being spent getting poked and prodded and medicated just to possibly extend his life by a few more years for our benefit. So we made the heartbreaking decision to put Jasper to sleep. Completely out of nowhere, while mentally prepared to lose one beloved family pet, we lost another that we were in no way ready to say goodbye to.
In the aftermath of losing Jasper, the whole energy in the house changed. All of the other animals’ temperaments changed. You could physically feel the loss of his presence in the house. His best friend, our husky, Mystik was obviously in mourning. She didn’t eat for several days. She just moped around the house. The other cats, Toby and Baz, started to cozy up to her as they seemed to all mourn their lost companion. Jasper really was the big soft heart of our home. There was an emptiness left in the house without him that I don’t know if we could ever, or would ever replace. But our pain wasn’t over.
What about Fluffy?
You know how I said that every time we talked about Fluffy’s condition, she seemed to get up and show some improvement, almost out of spite? In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best idea to discuss the prospect of putting her to sleep while she was sitting with us on the couch. She went on like this, with the sort of “kitty hospice” we had her in for around a month. But one day, a little more than a week after Jasper died, she seemed determined to show us that she was perfectly fine. She got up that day on her own and came out to the living room to eat and get water. She went to the litter box herself. She even climbed up on the couch and then back into our bed by herself. The whole day was spent with her figuratively giving us the finger for even suggesting that she was sick and that it was time to end her suffering. Unfortunately, she refused to accept how wrong she was.
I’m not going to get into the details of it, save to say that when I got home from work that night, I found Fluffy dead and cold in the kitchen, in a manner that would have traumatized anyone else in the house if they had found her. I know that because of how it has affected me. It appears that she was still trying to show off that she can still keep up with everyone else, and she couldn’t. Even typing this now, the images are rushing back to me, and I know that she did not go peacefully. I am heartbroken at the loss of my tuxedoed companion, and every part of me hurts inside and out knowing how it ended for her. I was ready to wake up and find her having passed in her sleep, but not like that. That broke something inside of me that I don’t know could ever be healed. I will forever have that image of how I found her burned into my mind and my heart.
In the span of two weeks, we lost two of the most beloved members of our household. The entire pet/family dynamic has changed. Toby is now the senior pet in charge. Mystik and Toby are working together to keep things together. They all went through another period of mourning after Fluffy’s passing. Nevermind that all of them saw her, and saw how it broke me in that moment. None of them have been the same since, and neither have we.
I know it may sound dramatic, being so upset by the loss of a couple of pets. But they were family. They were our friends, our companions, our protector, our nurse, a silly smile on a bad day, and the closest thing to a daughter we ever really had. And not a day is gonna go by where we aren’t going to wish that they were still here with us, even when they were yelling at us to go to bed, which I’m sure Fluffy would be doing to me right now…