Buster

Cat Chronicles, Buster (then)

After his initial dusting with flea powder, we decided it would be best to give both cats a flea bath. Rocky was first. Gentle giant that he was, he turned into a cougar when wet and it took us both to keep him from lunging out of the sink like a large furry banana. When he was done it was poor Buster’s turn. He was so small and so stressed that when it was all over, he collapsed. Horrified, we thought we had killed him. That was the last bath they ever got.

Turns out Buster was part dog (he growled, and fetched). He also had a penchant for opening drawers and retrieving underwear which he scattered different places for us to find. The front door had a window you could see through and several times people must’ve thought there’d been a break in when they saw clothes strewn up and down the stairs.

We also found out he didn’t like whistling, not one bit. I started whistling to the Seven Dwarfs tune watching an advertisement one night and he leapt from where he was on the living room floor, and headed straight for my face the source of the infernal sound. 

When he was a kitten, he tormented poor Rocky endlessly. He jumped on his back, and clung to his tail and ambushed him every chance he got. Every now and then Rocky would have had too much and just held him down with one giant paw as if to say, “Okay now sonny, I’m still boss here.” But it was obvious they loved each other.

Buster also liked cookies and would try to bat them out of my hand before they got to my mouth. Rocky and Buster went through several out of state moves together which they handled like pros. They observed all through bright curious eyes, except the time we encountered a violent downpour crossing the desert and both of them dove to the back under the blankets. Buster was thrilled with the Arizona house with its wooden banisters two stories up. He scared us to death by sailing through the air and landing on the skinny railing, part cat, part monkey.

The next move to New Mexico was also just fine as long as we were all together, except for our stop in Gallup. Buster went mad and wouldn’t stop yowling and we couldn’t figure out why. Later we found out that there was a frequency there that humans couldn’t hear.

After our two years at Intel Corp. in Rio Rancho, NM we both put in for a transfer. We longed to move closer to California so we transferred back to Arizona. 1 hour and 45 for a flight, and 12 hour drive is do-able.

Our temporary stay for the first weeks there was a local business hotel with many rooms and a homey atmosphere right in the center of Chandler. There was a Great Pyrenees dog show nearby and they were all lodged at the same hotel. Buster and Rocky just took it in stride. They never had potty accidents there or any other place. 

In fact, the only bathroom incident Rocky ever had turned out not to be. While we were still in California, my Mom had kicked off her Birkenstocks and Rocky decided there was a smell on her shoes he liked so much he had to mark it. While we all looked on horrified, he filled up the entire shoe. We determined he was exactly a size eight bladder.

Arizona was our home again from 1998-2016. After renting for awhile we put an offer on a nice house on a corner lot. We built a huge fire pit in the backyard which Rocky loved. Happy times were spent there. But those times also were tainted with sadness. Rocky and Buster were getting along in years.

Now: We have spent almost 5 years living here at my Aunt’s property in a Motorhome and four and a half months without a cat family member. (Since 9/28/2020) when we put Briggs down. There are cats around, the two Weigumina’s and George at my folks. But we miss the patter of feet. The constant presence, the expectant looks, the furry body in the lap, and the purrs. It’s amazing how one small cat can fill up a space in a home and a heart.

“Animals are proof God loves us”

Goodbye faithful friend….

Goodbye faithful friend….

The dawn broke around us gently and beautifully with promise but with a pall quiet as a distant church bell of sorrow. Tomorrow we lose you and it doesn’t seem real. Tears come and go at unexpected times but we keep to the rhythm of the day’s routines because somehow that rhythm is comforting. As if things are as they’ve always been for the past 20 years. 

You get as many treats as you want today, buddy. You have told us in your own way that it’s time. You are hurting and we know it. Tomorrow our world will have been shifted off its axis as it does after a loss. The reminders will come, like darts to the heart. 

We will think we hear you everywhere. We will wait for the familiar sound of your feet jumping off the bed heading to your bowl for a drink. We will watch for you underneath our feet and the emptiness will feel unbearable. Everyone thinks their dog or cat is the best, but you truly lived up to what E. called you, perfect Briggs. You never got sick, never did a thing wrong, never had an accident in the house. You always came out to greet company. You were a people cat. A cat of cats. 

Thank you for making me laugh this sad morning. I thought maybe you would forget about secondses, but when I looked down you were looking up at me waiting for your second helping of fish eye gravy (it’s really Fancy Feast but it looks like fish eyes). We will think of you at Shrimp-o’clock, and five in the morning and every hour in between. 

Your name plate remains forever, Briggs Dupree: Venture Capitalist by day, Jazz Musician by night, and larger than life Superhero changing into your red and blue cape to save us. Because sometimes, God knew we would need something soft and furry that purrs or barks that comforts the way no human can.

9A7A8EDB-684A-470A-94FA-0775D8A0BB8D

The morning is quiet and the mockingbird sings, picking up the same endless melody he closed with last night.

David Nevue hymns play softly in the background and I am praying for my nieces little cat who is very sick. Seems to be something she ate. There are little teeth marks in the interlocking rubber floor mats in the bedroom. And now there is a big bill, but that pales in comparison to a girl who is heartsick. Oh Lord, sometimes we just get tired of all the sorrow. The world is weary. We are weary too. 

As I sit here amidst my tears there is a joy deep down resting at the bottom of my soul, in a feathered nest. It’s that quiet peace God gives. The living promise that He will never leave us or forsake us. That there is still joy for the taking. The assurance that in the end, all will be well.

I walk outside and see yet another mangled baby bird that will never sing a note. This is the fourth. Why do things have to die? I guess sometimes things can be rescued and sometimes they can’t. I think of the little mouse I saved one morning. Two bluejays were attacking it mercilessly. They would pick it up in their sharp beaks and then drop it to the ground. The mouse was terrified and when I went to pick it up it squeaked in fright. The poor thing didn’t know I was trying to save it.

I could feel its little heart beating in my gloved hand, and then it was my turn to be a little afraid. What if it ran up my sleeve? I hurriedly carried the stunned little creature to safety and settled it beneath some shrubs. I wonder if that’s how God feels about us? We fight so hard when He’s only trying to save us from ourselves. 

He looks down at the way we’ve chosen to mangle our world, our lives, and then He watches as we walk right past the gate that would swing wide and welcome us in.

He longs to pick us up and settle us in the only place we will only ever find peace and safety? “Rest my child,” He beckons. Finally, exhausted by all our own efforts, we collapse at His feet. He welcomes us, takes us as we are.

He’s the God of second, third, seventh, one-thousand chances. This morning I didn’t think I had any words at all. But God supplied a few, as it turns out.

The  train sounds in the distance, life propels forward. And the joy outweighs the sorrow once again. Despite everything, we have hope.  Pray with me friends? That a little cat a girl loves will be okay today.

A Rescue Story

67F55AB8-724C-4DB3-A005-DC81C49DD66F

I’ll never forget the first time I saw him. As we rounded the corner of the medical complex to go in, there he was. The smallest kitten, no bigger than a minute, all alone. He was scared and crouched behind a shrub. A lady in clacking heels was nearby with a small box. She said, “I’ve been trying to catch it for hours.” I looked at Elaine who sighed big time because she knew I could never leave the situation alone. She proceeded to the lab to get her blood work with a sense of foreboding that the day had just taken a turn and somehow she would be involved. I seem to find kittens and cats everywhere. It’s not like I try.

Anyway, this office lady was on her break and clutching this box to put the little guy in. I crouched down quietly and held my hand out for him to smell and he walked right up to me. My heart did a flip as he nuzzled against my neck and purred. She looked on in amazement and said, “I am taking him to the pound to see if they will take him.” I said, “Let me make a call.”

We exchanged phone information and I told her I would wait right there. In a small panic I called one of the patron saints of Animal Friends Connection, Marion. She told me that if I could keep him a few days she would see that he got into the vet. It was no surprise to me when she came back with the little guy in the box to tell me they had no room at the local pound.

I put him in a carrier and off we went to my Mom and Dad’s house where I explained the situation. I was able to keep him there two days. My Mom has some memory issues and she was upset by the little guy’s presence. She kept asking why the cat was here and who it belonged to. The Angels at AFC accepted him into their community. I had named him Stash by that time for his brown mustache. He promptly went to the vet where he was treated for several things. I gave them money to help with his care. I was already hopelessly attached.

F0880390-FAEB-433D-9323-5AC81AA72833

I went to visit him in quarantine after the vet. He was being treated for several things common to kittens left to fend for themselves. He peered out through the cage at me but I couldn’t hold him. My heart ached and ached until finally he was taken out of quarantine and brought into the shelter where I could go and visit. All the shelter workers were sure I would adopt him and in my heart he was already mine. And yet, I had a elder cat at home who had been a faithful friend for 19 years and I didn’t know how he would react to a kitten. I had done that in the past with disastrous results.

When you volunteer at a shelter, this is the risk you take. You wonder when you will meet “The One” who fully captures your heart. You tell yourself the rewards outweigh everything else and really, they do. But now it had happened to me. And every day I wrestled.

EC368134-43A1-4A6A-B877-577F6956F237

Every time I went to the shelter I wondered if I could resist bring Stashie home. Each time, after I loved on all the other cats, I spent extra time cuddling him and holding him close. Maybe it was my imagination that he remembered me as he nuzzled my ears. But maybe it wasn’t. I cried over him. One particular time coming home from the shelter Elaine had her phone ready to video his homecoming. But in the end, I just couldn’t do it.

Our Briggs has been so loyal for so many years, and his health is not the best. I could not bring myself to subject him to a new cat friend. I know me, if he rejected him and was miserable, I wouldn’t give Stashie back, I would deal with it and it wouldn’t be fair to either one. So for now I go visit, and I’m praying for the best home for him. He is a great cat. He doesn’t try to get away when I pick him up. I can hold his paws and he doesn’t mind.

For now, it’s a rescue story. Soon, I hope it will be an adoption story. Maybe he’ll even get adopted with a special friend to grow up with. The good folks at Animal Friends Connection continue to care for Stash and all the other doggies and kitties who will someday find forever homes. And I am so grateful for all they do.