Having read stories about faithful pets and their crazy owners, here is another for your repertoire:
During almost fifty years of marriage, my spouse and I have had four pets, one dog and three cats. Sadly, they are all dead. But we have noticed an interesting fact. They all seem to need to return shortly after their demise, perhaps to check and make certain their family is still safe and no renegade animals have invaded their former territory.
Heidi, the dog, came to us in 1976 a fluffy, white and brown “G-Shep/Husky Mix”, as her adoption papers from the Humane Society stated. She always wore a collar with her identification and proof of rabies vaccination tags attached. She would sit and kick the voluminous fur on her neck and the entire ensemble would rotate, sounding like chiming bells. Thus, we called them her “jingles.” (She would have been a merry addition to Santa’s sled team.) She died in the mid-1990’s. On our first sad night without her, I awoke and heard those jingles ringing somewhere in our sleeping household. I tiptoed around, hoping to get a better fix on the sound’s origin, but it eluded me. The following morning at breakfast, my husband nonchalantly remarked he could have sworn he heard the jingles last night but he must have been dreaming. I, on the other hand, knew she had returned for her last “house check” before heading to dog heaven.
The next pet that remained at our house was a petite Russian Blue cat named Chelsea who weighed in at all of six pounds. She was our “jumper,” able to gaze about and, without so much as a blink, leap from a sitting position to the top of our refrigerator instantaneously and make it look as if she were taking a leisurely stroll in the garden. She developed breast cancer and had surgery. It did little good and the demon returned with vengeance. We decided the day she couldn’t jump into our clothes basket to nap in warm towels just out of the clothes drier, it was time to end her life. Several days after her death, while I was away at work, my husband spotted her strolling into his home office as a gray shadow. He greeted her with his usual “Hello, Little One” and the image roamed a bit and then evaporated.
Pet number three, another cat named Natasha, arrived at our door in the arms of a neighbor boy inquiring if we had “lost our cat?” No, but we would take her. Did we need litter or food? He had extra at his house. No, I had felt the urge several days earlier to purchase just those items in spite of my being mystified why our pet-less house needed them. Tasha lived a contented life with us for five years but succumbed to lung cancer and could not be saved. Her favorite place to nap had always been her scratching post, because it provided her a higher vantage point than snoozing on the carpet or chairs. The day after she died, I was moving her “post” to store it in the garage. The day was one of our few chilly winter days. When I picked it up, I got the distinct feeling she had taken one last nap there before joining the Jumper in the kitty afterlife.
Which brings me to the last of the cat trio, Dustin Hoffman Grout, or Dusty for short. He died early this past Sunday morning of “old age.” He had been our pet since 2002 and had the most expressive “Meow” of any of them. We always knew when he was hungry, angry, running out of patience with his dense human family, or cajoling for more kitty treats. He hasn’t reappeared yet but I know I will hear a complaint, a demand, a thank you, or an “I love you” meow any day now before he heads off the big litter box in the sky.
Happy hunting up there, gang, and we’re coming behind you someday so just hang in there. Love, Mom and Dad Cat. The plot thickens.