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The Dog Died, and The Cat's on the Roof

Despite the title, this is a serious blog entry, dedicated to all you pet lover's out there. Although, I seek to sprinkle a bit of levity, the way I try to deal with such events, I hope this blog gives some of you comfort out there.

(We're totally talking in the confines of our beloved pets, and not dimishing the tragedies in our human families - my grandmother (actually my wife's blood grandmother), the most selfless and dedicated woman I've ever known, is lying in a hospital - it's taking a toll on the family - and I'm praying for a miracle!  She adores my kids, and they her.) 

I wanted to take a time out from the world of SQL Content to make a short commentary on some recent events in concerning our love of animals and pets.  I'm just sharing my observation and experiences in the last couple of weeks. I'm sure there are dozens of personal stories out there, so I invite you to share them here if you wish.

I was saddened, really, to hear about SQLServerCentral.com's Steve's Jones Twitter|way0utwest sudden loss of their puppy, on his way over across the Atlantic to London, for Redgate's SQLIntheCity.  It will be especially hard on his family, even harder, now that he is abroad.  I wish him and his family well, and get through this with peace.

There's an old joke about the "Cat's on the Roof", told here, interestingly, on an MSDN blog.  Basically, it's an anecdote on how to and not to break the news of a pet's loss. 

In the saddest moments, when someone loses a pet, it truly is a great loss for many - especially, with young children who have bonded with them, and grown up with them in their formative years.  Nonetheless, it is equally hard on us adults, who have loved, bonded and taken care of the pet from infancy. 

An in-law of mine, recently lost his cat (and best friend) at 21-years of age!  WOW! That's a long lifespan, even for a cat!  He took really good care of it (best food, best litter, etc.)  He received him as a kitten when he himself was 10 years old, raised it and brought it through 3-houses, until finally he passed of old age.  The poor thing lost its teeth, could barely hear, and barely see.  It relied upon, mostly its sense of smell to get around.  I once joked, you need to get it a seeing-eye dog!  But, 21 years is a lifetime in itself, for a growing boy, who is now 31-years of age and an adult.

I remember, my father, who I maybe saw cry twice in my life, cried when we lost our first cat.  She stayed up nights as his companion when everyone was long asleep, and was a special cat. We often joked that she thought she was a dog, b/c she did circus tricks that I trained her to do, and even tried to submit a video to David Letterman's stupid pet tricks.  Sit, beg, up, come here, give me your paw, fetch, jump thru the hoop was among its repoitoire.  "Where's Robert", would make her seek me out!

Dogs and cats are different in many ways.  Cats are more independent, and self-sustaining, Dogs need to be babied more.  No doubt, a dog is a true friend and companion, will protect you, and can take with you on trips, and family jaunts to the park.

It's said that at the level of POTUS, (President of the United States), when you're at the lonely top, not sure who to trust, or who's your friend or foe - everyone has their own political agenda - "if you want a friend in the White House, get a Dog!"  Indeed, dog is man's best friend. (Just like Bill Clinton did when the Monica scandal broke :-)

In these past two weeks, our family cat, not the nicest, sweetest cat in the world, gave birth to a small litter of kittens.  Twins, in fact!  We moved, and she got out, and the rest is history.  I wasn't too upset when it left, but the kids were, and they were brightened the day she came back!  It was gone for about a week, and showed up exactly on my wife's birthday at midnight! 

2-months to the day she got out, she started acting strange.  She was pacing the house frantically, and meowing.  I knew this was it.  It started going into labor, and the kids were curiously looking on.  She was extremely affectionate! (Sure, she knew she needed some moral support :-)  When she still didn't give birth yet, I saw her jump on the couch, where my daughter fell asleep (they're particularly attached to each other), and she was meowing at her, and tapping her with her paw, for her to wake up! 

Sure enough, in the wee hours of the morning, a little black and and gray carbon copy of mom emerged.  A short time later, a totally pure beige/orangy furred kitten arrived.  We were wondering if this would go on all night.  How many did we expect for this litter?  As time went on, we knew, two were it.  The kids for apparent reason, got up to witness this whole event.  It was truly an amazing and interesting family experience (or science experiment :-)  First, she ran off, and then we called her back to the nest - she ran - the cat instantly bonded with them.  For the first few days, she would "call" us to help position the babies on her nipples.  She submissively rolled on her back, and eventually the kittens found it themselves.  Watching this cat over the next week or so, I actually gained respect for it!  Mother Nature is truly remarkable, and the cat has become nicer ever since.

Everyday and night, the kids and us checked the bed we made to see how the little meows were doing.  Looked fine, ate well, and moved on.  One night this past week, my wife went to the hospital until late at night.  She came home, and woke me up, "The kitten's dead!"  I got up dreary eyed, and heart-broken, as I peered over it's lifeless body, next to the nest.  We don't know how it happened, and didn't know how to tell the children come morning. I took care of the needy, in the middle of the night. They were all talking among themselved what they're gonna do when they grow up.  The one that died, was the carbon copy of the mother. :-( 

I wondered how mama cat would react, but I think she already felt what happened.  Her and her remaining kitten seem very close.  She always snuggles it with her paw, and sleep together.

It was sad, and even sadder with my grandmother in the hospital.  The whole kitten event has had the effect of distracting my kids thoughts.  Now that it died, what do you tell your little children when they ask why is everybody dying?  I choke up tears, even as I write that. We were planning on giving one of the kittens to my grandmother.  She would have been delighted. It is said that furry friends can lower and maintain blood pressure.  I hope in a spiritual sense, we did give the kitten to her.

So, I totally understand what Steve and his family, and so many others out there are going through.

There is a really fantastic and truly unique book out there, very moving and one that all pet-lovers should read.  It is by a local radio host in NYC, Mark Levin - politics aside - he was devasted by the loss of his dog, Sprite. It's called Rescuing Sprite, about a shelter dog that they rescued, and it died, old age.  He was so upset, he almost gave up his career, and wrote the book as therapy.  Mr. Levin even set up a spot on his website, for listener's to share their stories, called Mark Levin's Pet Corner, pet lovers' stories of joy and anguish.

I hope this blog and discussion will help some of you through your own tragic pet loss.

Fortunately, mom and kitty are doing well: MomAndKitty

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