• In Memory Of •
1990 - 2005
Friday, August 19, 2005
i missed him terribly, even before he was gone from my life. The cancerous bone-tumor on his right front leg and shoulder was spreading, so I kept him well-medicated and pain-free, and asked a local, compassionate vet, to come to the GC&N Complex this week; first to anesthetize him, and then to deliver the final and fatal shot while he was asleep, in his favorite cardboard box, in my air-conditioned office, on my desk. He was my unquestioning, loyal little friend and companion, for the past 15 years. When I found Pickle in 1990, as an abandoned, 8-10 week-old kitten, at the now-defunct Pickle Nursery in nearby New Park, PA, he fufilled the last part of my "grand plan" for the GC&N Complex: the obligatory "mouser". (We were under construction and he was a welcome addition and diversion for me during that hectic time.) He was emaciated, riddled with fleas, ticks and worms, so I immediately took him to a nearby animal hospital, where they cleaned him up, and treated him for 2 days. His left eye was severely swollen, and they aggressively-treated it with antibiotics. When I brought him home, we continued the antibiotics, but to no avail; his infected eye burst when Mom was holding him on the front porch bench, one afternoon. We rushed him back to the animal hospital, and they enucleated it, and Pickle has been fine, ever since. He'd meet me when I arrived at work, everyday, on the GC&N's front steps or on the western lathhouse side, where I park my Jeep. Even on the day he died, he was there to meet me. Before opening the GC&N Complex up each morning, a 30-minute effort, I would spend some quality time with Pickle, feeding, petting and talking to him. Heck, after a "tough night of mousing", he'd then spend most of the day sleeping. In the early years, Pickle would nail anywhere from 2-6 field mice per day, and would reliably bring 1-2 of them into my office, and drop them on the floor for me, as tribute to his "food giver". He liked to "share". As he got older, he didn't do quite as much hunting as when he was a rowdy kitten and young cat; he was mostly can-fed, and I attributed this to the arthritis he had in both his front legs (misdiagnosis by another vet; it was lethal, cancerous tumors beginning to form). I consulted several vets in the area, and the prognosis was very bleak: enjoy the time you have left with him. I fed him 3 Cortizone (5mg), daily, to stimulate his body and appetite, and a powerful painkiller mixed-in with his high-potency vitamins, as prescribed by Dr Stanley Cohn VMD, of Old Trail Veterinary Services, Glen Rock, PA. He was in no pain, but he was suffering, from increasing-immobility due to the spreading tumor. I recognized that, immediately, and knew when his quality of life, would end, an earthly-release was needed. He loved to sleep in long, shallow boxes on either my desk, or on the front counter. Pickle loved to be near people and greatly-relished their attention and affection. He and I had been marooned together for 3+ days in The Blizzard of '96, through numerous tropical storms, heavy snows and various ice storms, the 9-11 muslim-islamic-terrorist attacks, various and sundry good times and bad times. I've heard it from some people, that animals don't have personalities or souls. I disagree; they sure do; most more so than some people I've met over the years. Every pet I've ever had, has had very individual personalities and very discernible souls. I've seen and touched Pickle's soul, and he's touched mine. Now, He Belongs To The Ages, and can have that eternal rest for his innocent, little spirit and soul, which he so badly needed in his final days. No more painful, earthly bonds or physical suffering. Goodbye, Little Friend.
Around The Garden Center™.
This was one of the worst weeks I can ever remember. Knowing that I was losing my little friend and companion was tough enough, but having him put down was the "hardest gift I've ever had to give him". I didn't have a choice, since the cancerous tumor on his right front leg and shoulder was just getting progressively-worse, by the week. He wasn't in any pain, thanks to the drugs I'd had him on daily, but I could see he was progressively-suffering over the past 8-10 weeks, since it was discovered and diagnosed. The tumor was steadily metastasizing to his lungs, spine and brain. Letting him linger just wasn't an option, anymore, IMO. I called the local vet for a remedy, and he agreed to make a "house call".
On Wednesday, August 17th at 3:00pm, I took Pickle's last earthy meal and fresh water to him, while he was lying under the shady and cool lath house, just outside my office. He ate and drank, appreciatively. I brought him into my office, put him on my desk in his favorite box, petted him, thanked him for being my friend, thanked him for bringing so much joy and love into my life, told him what was going to happen, and that he'd be going to a much better place than he was now in (all cats and dogs automatically go to Heaven), nuzzled him, and waited for the vet, Dr Stanley Cohn VMD, of Old Trail Veterinary Services, Glen Rock, PA, to arrive. My GC&N Staff — Jennifer, Karen and Brad — said their tearful good-byes. Dr. Cohn arrived at 3:30pm.
At 3:45pm, with Dad and several friends/customers/GC&N Staff watching, while I stroked Pickle lying in the cardboard box on my desk, Dr Cohn administered a valium tranquilizer in the nape of Pickle's neck, and we waited 4-5 minutes. I stroked and petted him while he went into a valium-induced, physically-relaxed state. After Pickle was well-tranquilized and almost unconscious, Dr Cohn shaved the left forearm, put on a tourniquet, found a vein, slid the hypo with pink liquid in, backed-it out slightly to see blood enter the hypodermic chamber, and slowly administered the fatal shot, while I was stroking and petting Pickle. I kissed him on the forehead, said goodbye, Pickle took one final breath, and passed from this earthly-plane and all the problems he had to deal with. His earthly-troubles were finally over, and he was free of the painfull-bonds of this earthly-plane.
I had already dug his grave, to fit the small, slatted, wooden coffin I laid him in, with the cardboard box he died in, perfectly-fitted inside. I covered him with his favorite towel, put his brushes, comb and toys inside, closed the top and secured the casket. I then carried him to his grave, at the top left of the front stairs to the Main Retail Building, and lowered him into his final resting place. I backfilled the hole, sprayed it with water to help the soil settle, and went home. Tears ran down my cheeks, knowing that he'd not be there, the next morning, to greet me, as he'd so faithfully-done for the past 15yrs.
On Thursday morning, I arrived to find that my staff and landscape crews had already placed the boulder and his special, cast bronze plaque over his grave, mulched it nicely, and were asking what additional landscaping I wanted for him. I told them that he's fine, just as is, and that "he's home, now". And many, many thanks for helping make it look good, all of you.
Each morning, I pluck a rose or flower or spring of catnip from the 2-acre Display Gardens, and lay it on Pickle's grave. There's a chipmunk who's making a home under the boulder, with the cast-bronze plaque on top, and s/he drags the rose down his/her hole and eats it. The sugar-laden rosebud is just too tempting to let lie around, I guess. LOL!
This week's Journal is intentionally-truncated, and devoted to Pickle, alone. I'll pick-it-up with next Friday's regular Journal, as I've obviously-moved everything inappropriately-political from this week, into next week's entry.
Am I going to replace Pickle, with another kitten or cat? I don't know; probably not for a while, until I get over his loss. If I were to find a kitten in distress, abandoned or in danger, I'd grab him/her in a heartbeat and give it a home. Maybe by Spring, I'll be able to go to one of the local shelters, and adopt one or more kittens. Maybe. Time will tell.
I'll see him again, and all my life's pets and friends – Tiger, Rags, Caesar, Sandy, 'Groid, 'Casian, Miriam, Puff, Dusty, Wicky – at The Rainbow Bridge, someday. Video is here. As will you see all your pets, whom you've had, loved and cherished, in your lifetime. Count on it.