Four

This has been a tough year for family pets. Four now have passed on to their reward.

In January, we lost my buddy Chuck, who at sixteen went way too early. Chuck was almost like a dog – he’d come running to the door when I got home and even ran to the door when he heard me grab the keys to leave. A cat’s cat, Chuck lived like he was King of the World, getting into everything, racing around maniacally. Always around us, with us. He loved head butts, double-ear pets and basically any attention we gave him. Chuck was often in the woodshop with me, inspecting my progress. Just short of fourteen he was diagnosed with cancer. Not willing to let him go just yet, Chuck endured a year of chemo, which was as successful as we could hope – he got a year and a half cancer-free before the disease came back. Fuck cancer. I miss that cat.

Not long after, my sister lost Lorenzo, as sweet a cat as you could meet. L was elderly but still left too soon. That would be a theme this year. A laid back kitty, Lorenzo had years earlier lost his long-time buddy Kona but was joined by a rambunctious kitten, Agnes. Those two got along famously as well (See photo below – Lorenzo on the right.). The loss of Lorenzo drove a hole in my sister’s heart and left her house with an empty feel that Agnes, great kitty that she is, could not quite fill.

Spring and summer came and went. My sister adopted an adorable Norwegian Forest cat, Abby. It seemed then that the pet drama for remainder of the year was getting Abby to coexist with Agnes, a kitty undoubtedly affected by the loss of her best friend Lorenzo and maybe wasn’t ready for a new roommate.

But no. I mean yes, that drama played out but it was shortly overshadowed by the passing of our Koda, aka The Mutt. Koda was The. Best. Dog. Ever. (Apologies to Spot.) Her life was also way too short and way too full of medical issues. Koda came to us as a shelter dog in very poor condition. We instantly saw she was the one and proceeded to fix her up best we could. Koda was a Kelpie and like the breed, she loved the outdoors and liked to ‘herd’ us as we hiked the many trails of Central Oregon. Like Chuck, Koda often hung out with me in the woodshop, getting in the way mostly. Her medical issues never completely went away and last year she developed severe seizures, horrifying to watch as there was nothing we could do other than make sure she didn’t hurt herself. The pet neurologist prescribed an anti-seizure medication which worked fabulously in terms of stopping the seizures but also severely affected her mind. Koda essentially became like an Alzheimers patient, a condition which degraded in the coming months. In late October, her condition plummeted and it was time to let her go. She was maybe fourteen years old. We miss that pup immensely.

You might think that was enough, that 2022 was done inflicting pet trauma. Sadly, no. Unexpectedly, that sweet new girl Abby developed symptoms of compound medical problems, issues too great to overcome. To say she left too soon is a tragedy of understatement. Although Abby wasn’t with my sister very long, they almost instantly developed a close bond. I was lucky enough to meet Abby during a two-week trip to visit in early October, in time to witness the Abby-Agnes drama but before Abby’s medical issues cropped up. Unfortunately, I had to cut that visit short to rush home to be with Koda in her last days. We were all very much looking forward to the time when Agnes finally accepted Abby. The signs were there that it would happen.

Four pets. Four fur friends. Four chunks of our hearts. Gone. Remaining are Andy, our cat and the eldest of the bunch at over eighteen (Lorenzo might have been a bit older, we’re not sure), Agnes, still in her prime, and my other sister’s cat Frankie, also doing really well. We all started the year with six pets, added one and now have just three.

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