Doing Something New.

Author:Puterbaugh, Dolores T.

IT IS IMPORTANT for our mental health to try new things--perhaps an unusual cuisine, or a bed and breakfast stay with a room facing the red rocks of Arizona. What about a cruise along glaciers, or a working vacay at an archeological site? Yes, that all sounds very interesting but, like so much else I do, sometimes "new" is slightly off-kilter. Hospice care for cats, owl pellet analysis, and dinner out on Thanksgiving Day--in one week, I did three things completely new. I never anticipated doing any of them; am grateful for all of them; and can recommend all three.

At 17 years old, my beloved cat Clancy passed away. In his prime, Clancy was a tall, long-tailed black cat with copper-colored eyes. Unlike any of my other, sweet cats, he also was the cat I deserved--a little too skinny, a little too smart, and a little too temperamental. He met me at the door every night, tail wagging. I could not do food prep without him standing on his hind legs, patting me on the hip like a pesky preschooler, certain there must be turkey on the counter for him.

He also destroyed everything within reach; my husband has had to redo the drywall, while furniture and the front door remain to be replaced due to the wrath and territorial spraying of a neutered, maniacally possessive pocket panther.

For the last three years of his life, he had increasing dementia and lost a great deal of vision. We spent a lot of time, he and I, sitting on the floor together because he was afraid of even being up as high as the sofa. He finally stopped eating or drinking and, to my surprise, I found myself taking the loving advice of our longtime pet sitter, Shari, a vet tech, and calling in Helping Hands Pet Hospice. I have had to say goodbye to animal companions in many ways and this, while still heartrending, apparently was the easiest for my friend.

Always averse to outsiders, he accepted petting and treats from the vet without argument, no struggles or crying (or biting, which was his panic-driven response to his last office visit). Animal lovers will join me in saying he knew it was time, and those who call such behavior anthropomorphizing will say I am being silly, or perhaps projecting my own need for comfort onto a sickly cat. No surprise to some of you; I am going with St. Francis over B.F Skinner on this one.

In a different arc of the circle of life, there are owl pellets. It all began on a lovely October afternoon while visiting my parents and sister in Vermont. On one...

To continue reading