Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Loss of My Co-Pilot

     I really wanted to talk about my physical therapy appointment from today, but maybe later, I wanted to talk about the loss of my Co-Pilot.  So this past week or so has been pretty tough for me.  Those of you that read my blog regularly know that I was kind of depressed with the speed bump my recovery took.  I was just starting to get over that when the "hard choice" had to be made last Wednesday.  My cat, Harley, aka kitty, had been having eye and ear issues, so Mandy called and set an appointment at the vet for him.  He was almost 16 years old and really starting to show his age, but I never thought the day was going to go the way it did. 

     So before I go on, here is a little back story.  In 2000 I was living in Dayton, Ohio going to school for commercial photography and really wanted a pet.  My roommate at the time had two cats that I got along with pretty well, but I thought it would be hard to bring a dog into that situation.  I was planning on moving out when my lease was up and getting a place of my own and I didn't want to pay the extra fees they tack on to your rent if you have a pet and I thought I couldn't hide a dog very easily from the landlord, but maybe I could a cat.  While I was out one day I stopped into the pet store I would go to when I had my freshwater aquarium to look around, when I came across a bunch of kittens.  There was one in the bunch that responded to me being there, so I asked to hold him and he immediately curled up in my arms and started purring.  I never really was a cat guy and I never owned one, but living with the two my roommate had I grew fond of them and I thought getting my own cat would be fine to have while I was still living with my roommate.  I also thought, several of my friends in school had cats of their own and they were able to hide theirs from their landlords so I said what the hell and purchased him.

     He was your typical American domestic short haired cat with jet black fur and yellow eyes except for his left eye that had a small dark spot in it.  I took him to the vet the next day and despite his size at the time, the vet took one look at his paws and said he was going to be a big cat when he grows up, and boy did he ever.  Mandy and I use to joke because he weighed almost as much as our two chihuahuas combined.  He was the perfect companion for me, being just enough of an independent soul that he could cope with my long hours of my school schedule.

One funny story from those days was when he was a model for Elder Beerman Department Store.  Yeah you read that right, you see while I was going to school I did an internship in their photo department, where all the catalog and Sunday ads were produced.  The local humane society was to bring animals by for a photo shoot with some kids, but they never showed up.  I volunteered Harley for the job and a couple weeks later he was a famous model in the Sunday ads.

     The other story that I love to tell about him is about the night in my apartment when he sat and watched TV.  I was laying on the couch and he was laying on my side as I flipped through the stations.  Nothing was on that I cared to watch and I ended up just leaving it on some nature show on wolves.  After a few minutes Harley jumped down and sat a couple feet from the TV watching so intently, occasionally getting up on his hind legs and pawing at the TV screen and doing that thing when animals turn their heads to the side as if they are saying "huh, what is that".  When the commercials came on he would lose interest and roam around the room, but as soon as the show came back on he was right back sitting in front, watching.  This went on till the program was over and when I look back now on his almost 17 years with me, that was the only time I can remember him ever doing something like that.

     So back to last week.  I knew something was wrong the moment they weighed him; he had dropped a good 10 pounds since the last time I weighed him, and for some reason I still didn't think it was going to end the way it did.  The vet came in and did her exam and before you knew it, cancer came out of her mouth.  She pointed out that his thyroids were huge for a cat and was making it difficult for him to swallow.  I guess I never noticed, its not like they were protruding out so far, you had to know what you were feeling for to know there was an issue.  After she gave me all the options, she allowed me to decide the course of action while she spent 10 minutes with another patient.  I called Mandy and spoke with her about it.  Basically my choices came down to 1: spend a ton of money to absolutely confirm cancer and have him put down, 2: take him home and wait till he can no longer eat or drink or 3: put him down now.  I ran through my options and at the end of it, both one and two seemed pointless.  Either way she said with a large as his thyroids were there was little she could do and I thought it would be selfish for me to take him home and let him suffer just so I can have a few more days or weeks with him.  After a lot of cuddling and crying I made the decision to give him peace.

Our last minutes together

     I'll miss the cuddle time on the couch, the instant purring when I would walk in the room and a friend who was always there for me when I needed him.
Love you Harley

I had him cremated so I will have him wherever life takes me


  1. Oh my gosh. I have tears. I'm 100% a cat person. I love every kitty in the world. I think they are fantastic and there is nothing in the world that compare to purry-kitty-love. Bless you for doing the right thing for your buddy. I have yet to make that decision for any of my pets (cats and one horse) as an adult. So I can't imagine how hard that would be. My oldest kitty has been living with heart failure for 3.5 years now. So I'm mentally trying to be "ready" but I know there is no preparation. Thanks for sharing Harley's story. {hugs} to you.

  2. I'm so sorry for your loss. I've had to make that same decision in the past and it's never easy. RIP, Harley.

  3. Oh man, who is chopping an onion. Sorry about the loss of your pal. He sure was a cutie and had a great life, no doubt!