Sunday, December 18, 2011

Red Devil

On Christmas Eve 2011, it will be three months since I lost Devil. Smiling Red Devil with Boots of Silver, my D, my favorite. Thus far, I have not been able to write any piece of this end story, as the hurt runs so deep. We lost Flare last spring, then Willy the cat, then TinkerBelle, but when we lost D, something broke inside of me. He was my second Siberian, and he filled our house with so much life. We never knew him as old, although he was at least 11 or 12. He was always just our D, our policeman, our favorite. This is the dog who had dozens and dozens of near death fights with Sparky, my first Siberian and the spoiled rotten king of the house. I have written of when they met. And now, there will be no more fights, no more shouting at each other, no more growling and carrying on with each other. There is something terribly amiss in my household, with my Devil gone. That fateful day, the last thing he did before he was led out of the exam room, was to pull back from Rhonda, and shove his head between my legs, to say goodbye, or to say, "I don't want to go!" I replay that moment where I loved him up for the last time, feeling that big furry neck once more between my hands. I asked Rhonda if there was anything to worry about, but of course not. He was fine, except for those mineralized ball bits in his stomach that were making him sick, and except for the terrible damage done to his neck and spine over the years from those awful fights. But he had just played with his ball, he gave us toothy kisses, he barked like a seal for his dinner. He policed the house dogs and came over to me for loving. D was another one of my dogs that did not like you to pet him too much. He enjoyed some good head rubbing and wooling was fine, but stay away from my hips and legs, and never, never touch my feet. D never came home. After a successful surgery, he began to bleed, and we could never get that bleeding to stop, even after three transfusions. We had to say goodbye at Tacoma Pet Emergency, and it was a very long goodbye. Devil was tired, and by then, I guess, he was ready to go. All I wanted to do was put him in my truck and take him home. He would be fine, he was always fine. Not this time. His leaving was as difficult as he could be under the best conditions. Horrible, awful nightmare of dying. Don't ever believe it is easy, it is not. Leaving this world can be as much of a struggle as coming into it. After he was gone, his crate became his shrine. D loved his crate and was well known for hiding all manner of things in the back of it. We talked to him constantly, and still talk to him. He was such a huge presence in this household of 27 Siberians. A gentle giant, it was true. Noble, handsome, intelligent, stubborn, loving, and had issues:)) We have allowed Tenzing to move into D's crate, but the other dogs have chewed on Devil's bed, so I gave it to Ibis, who was my foster that came in with cancer, and will leave me soon with cancer. But she does not know that. D knew though, and so did I. I now think of he and Tink playing as puppies once again in the green fields and snowy pastures across the Bridge.

I also think of that last goodbye. And await our final hello, when I too cross the Bridge to take the team back once again.


Amber is a small, gray cat who has been part of my life for six years now. I have only touched Amber once, when I caught her in the live trap and took her to Mountain View to have her spayed and receive her Rabies vaccination. I would guess she was about one then. I first met Amber and Ed in the fall of 2005 when I bought my home out on the Deschutes River outside of Rainier, Wa. She had been left at the home with a male cat whom I named Ed. Ed and Amber, named after the previous owners of the house. Ed disappeared that first year, but Amber, my little friend that I can never touch, is still here. She appears like clockwork every morning, a small gray shadow in the shrubbery beyond the hen house. I fill her small bowl with kibble, and keep the chickens in their corralled yard until she finishes eating. I see her seldom at any other time. After the snow comes, I will see her small cat prints leading from under the garden shed over to the chicken shed where she eats up on a shelf and out of the weather. Many times, I have thought she was gone, but she always comes back. I have considered bringing her in the house with the other cats, or perhaps giving her a permanent home in the Musher's Cabin, but she is wild, of the wild, and will know no cage. Amber bore two litters of kittens. The first tiny three babies brought such joy to me. She had them out under the shed. I carefully watched them grow, and saw that they needed to go to the vet. They had Ringworm, Herpes, and unfortunately FIP. So we had to euthanize those three sweet babies; Sprite, Squirt and Fuzzball. That event broke my heart so much, that even though I knew I needed to have Amber spayed, I waited too long and once again she bore three little kits. Two gray, like her, and one dark tabby. I named them Cougar, Lord Greystoke, and I forget the third. They grew and were wild little creatures, but they had the misfortune to come and play in an old wood stove in the dog yard, where the dogs found them. Poor little things, first one, and then Cougar. They gave the dogs ringworm on their noses and faces. Again, a sad ending. But, we still had Lord Greystoke or Tarzan as my vet, Rhonda, likes to call him. That silly little boy would follow me around the driveway, and throw himself at me,as if he was saying, "Take me home, Sue." So unlike his mother, who would hide at the sight of me or any human. I took him home. He too, had the ringworm, but he lived in the Musher's Cabin for a long time, until he was clean, and then he came into the house and joined the other Stargazer cats in the cat room, safe from all dogs and predators. I captured his Mama that one time. She was a hurricane of fear in the exam room, but she survived, and was spayed. That time she was carrying five kittens. I felt so blessed when both Lord G and Amber's bloodwork came back free from Feline Leukemia. Amber lives on. I may capture her again, as I think she could use a dental and a look over.
We have been having cold, clear weather here in Rainier, and the pellet stove has been burning non stop. I emptied out the ash tray, which still had some live coals burning. Normally, I take that out to the fire pit, but this time, I dumped it in the garden. The next morning, I watched Bullet sitting on the deck, staring intently over in that direction. Often that will mean, Amber is about, or the free range chickens. All I saw was a plume of smoke, wisping lazily into the air. Those live coals had kept smoldering overnight. In my mind, I saw a little gray cat, sitting on her haunches, holding her front paws up and warming herself by the fire. Such a happy thought for me. I hope for Amber, that she has a nice cozy hidey hole somewhere on my property, keeping her dry,warm, and safe, as I continue to feed her like clockwork in the morning for many years to come.