Pet lovers are extraordinary people. I had my share of pets growing up of all types, dogs, ducks, fish, whatever. But as an adult I always expected more of animals than what they are equipped to give. My shortcomings, not theirs. But there was a time when I learned what pet lovers feel. My remembrance of that pet.
A GIFT OF LOUIE
By Jim Kittelberger
This is a new direction for me in two ways. First I want to tell you about someone I once knew, who I miss very much. Secondly, The subject is not a person, but an animal. Now I like pets a little, but I am one of those who really cannot accept animals as animals. I want them to act like humans and behave properly, eat properly, and please do not do any of that animal sniffing in inappropriate places thing. In short, I really should only let animals like Asta, Eddie, Lassie and Rin Tin Tin in my house through the medium of television. I really love other peoples pets and thoroughly enjoy petting them, throwing sticks so they will fetch them or watching them go through any of their other tricks. But then they always have to revert to form and do a bathroom thing, which, if I am walking the dog, I then have to watch or pretend I am busy looking at my hands like I just discovered them to divert my sight from the natural dog habits. And then, if I am civic minded, and of course I am, I must retrieve their droppings and stow it away in a bag, which I must carry with me until I can dispose of it. Oh, the indignity of it. Now, all you animal lovers, please do not get angry with me, I told you at the outset I am not an animal person. Walking the dog is another subject I question, I never had a dog I walked, they always walked me, straining at the leash and walking in circles until I was tied up neater than a rodeo cowboy ties up a lassoed steer. But once and only once, I was given the gift of Louie, a gift selected for me by the God of animals, so I would know the depth of feeling one can have for a non-human creature. I know he was God given because of the way he was introduced to us. While driving to the local mall one bright shiny day with my wife and son, my son spotted this cat sitting by the side of a country road and determined quickly that it was a lost cat. My son speaks up, It's lost dad, can we take it home?
Giving it not one seconds thought, my wife retorted with parental wisdom, If God wants us to have that cat, he will be there when we return from the mall. Thinking, or not thinking which was certainly a possibility, that it would of course not be there. Now don't get ahead of me.
After spending a bit of time at the mall, we started our return trip home, and as we approached the spot where the cat had previously sat and certainly would not still be there..Well you know the rest, there he sat. Now what was I to do, he was skinny and looked like a lost cat and I did more or less put it into the hands of God. On the trip home, the little God-given cat laid contentedly on my son's lap, as if he had returned home after a long tiring trip. Not being prepared for cat ownership, we had no place for the animal to do his thing, if he indeed had to do it at all. Then the little skinny lost cat endeared himself to us and ensured himself of a home for the rest of his days when he centered himself on a flowerless flowerpot and did his business. My wife and I proclaimed this kitty a gentleman with good manners. Any question of him not belonging was dashed with that one act forevermore. He became everything a non-animal person could want. He was obedient and anxious to please. He would demonstrate throughout his life that he was a gentleman through and through. On holidays, he would docilely agree to our putting a red bow around his neck and would accompany us to the door as guests would arrive, as if he knew each one and was part of the welcoming committee. He was known as Louie and he became beloved by all who knew him. He spent many years with us, until his kidneys failed him and I had to do one of the hardest things I have ever done, have him put down by the vet. It was not a quick decision. We prayed that he would die a peaceful death in his sleep, but it was not to be. Then on the last day, his kidneys failed completely and he urinated on his jerry-rigged bed in the kitchen, an act the gentlekitty Louie, we believe, found intolerable. The plaintive cry he produced seemed to say, Please, I have to leave you now. At the very end, he knew better than we what had to be done, when we were so reluctant to do it. Louie sleeps now beneath a very old maple in our back yard. He died with the unwritten epitaph, Much loved, very much missed, and never to be forgotten. Could any of us hope for more?
We have never replaced him with another. We all agree that God's gift of Louie and the memories we have of him are one of a kind. We were lucky to have had him for thirteen years.