This week was a tough one, for a whole lot of reasons…but this is one that I can write about. We adopted Peanut from the Calgary Humane Society when he had been there for weeks and was scheduled to be put down, along with his sister who was sleeping in a corner of their shared cage. Ironically, I was drawn to an old tabby (looked much as Peanut looks now) who was curled up in his small kennel space, quite peaceful…a tabby that had found his way into this situation when his forever-mother had passed away.
My daughter had other ideas. That day we met Peanut, a seven week old tabby who was literally climbing the walls of his cage and crying out to my daughter, Cayley…”PICK ME! PICK ME!” I walked Cayley over to the older boy and said, “Look! We need to save this beautiful boy!” Her head was cranked over her shoulder and obviously making eye contact with this crying baby, literally dangling from the cage by his claws. He had chosen her.
There was no way that I was leaving the building, without him. That’s what happens when you visit a place that harbours lost and forgotten pets; your heart strings require a decision of you. And so, you leave with your arms filled with love, a forever-love.
We picked him.
That was in July of 1999. As I look at his adoption contract, I notice that we listed as his date of birth, May 8, 1999, my birthday. He was scheduled to be euthanized, along with his sister, 7 days from his adoption date. Our Peanut is now 15 years old and at times, experiencing survivor’s guilt, as are we. Often we have been challenged about leaving his sister back at the Calgary Humane Society on that day, so long ago.
Peanut has been with us through so many of our personal struggles, heart aches and joys. He is family. Our dear border collie, Laurie-dog, took him under his wing and Peanut learned to groom his dog-friend regularly and rarely did they sleep alone.
As a kitten and young cat, he spent much of his recreational time finding and then hiding in plastic bags and pop boxes. Even when his body had outgrown his mind, he nested in the funniest places. Peanut has given us much to laugh about when we take ourselves too seriously and he is the go-to guy to pick up and curl into hurting arms when sobbing begins over illness, loss or hopelessness.
A part of every celebration, Peanut has never been any sort of problem or demanded anything from us. He is flopped on his basket chair where he can watch the action at the bird feeder or curled on his red couch while family is hanging about. When his dearest friend Laurie-dog passed, he lost his greatest companion, but at the arrival of Max Man, he quickly re-assigned his loyalty to this crazy boy, that, in no way, demonstrated the same calm as Laurie did.
I wrapped Peanut in a bath towel and deposited him in a Soby’s re-usable bag a couple of weeks ago and took him over to Doctor Marty on High Street in McKenzie Towne. Dr. Marty has been taking care of our boys for years. I had asked for a geriatric exam for Peanut because I felt, in my bones, that things just weren’t right. For a short few days, I agonized that we were losing our Peanut Butter (immediately, right now, this moment) and could hardly breath for the remembrance of losing Piper, Edgar and Laurie-dog.
These pets become a part of us, our families and in some way, our identities. Doctor Marty, in his compassionate and knowledgeable way, gave me confidence in his diagnosis process and in his treatment. He also assured me that he would give me the knowledge to recognize whether or not Peanut is feeling unwell, discomfort or pain. In the end, Peanut has been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism (on the day of his initial exam his heart beat was sitting at 210). With follow up care, I will have to diligently monitor for the onset of kidney failure. Presently, my sweet man is being treated with medication every twelve hours and I am hopeful that this will give us more quality time. Thank you, Marty, Jennifer and Amanda.
So, why am I writing? Morning coffee always tastes better with writing. Also, I wanted to write my love and gratitude…for what it means to be a pet owner. Owning an animal that requires our care and concern, takes us out of our selfish place, at a very personal level. There are lessons to be learned in caring for a pet that we can apply to our larger lives. We must be vigilant in our concern for how animals are treated because it is a reflection of how we treat one another.
I suggest, where it is in your means, that you support agencies that do good for abandoned and mistreated animals.
Peanut has given our family a life time of shared experience. I am grateful that we chose him and I hope to enjoy the rest of his time with us.