I feel an apology is in order to pet lovers the world over.
Growing up we never had a dog, in fact I was scared of them. Petrified actually. This fear only heightened after I dodged being attacked by one when pregnant with my first child. I was walking down the street with his father, and turned a corner to come face to face with a German Shepherd; the biggest dog I had ever seen in my life. The dog bared its teeth and launched at us, I ran 9 months pregnant back the other way while my sons father dealt with the vicious animal. In hindsight me screaming like a lunatic probably caused him to freak out.
When I was about 11 or 12 my sister got a kitten. The cat was pretty good – it answered to about 8 different names. Lee Man, Maschief, Cat and Putty to name a few. My sister used to walk around with the cat around her neck like a scarf. He was pretty obliging when I think back. Mum ended up really attached to the cat, especially after my older sister and I left home and then my youngest sister went overseas. The cat replaced her daughters which I found weird – it was a cat, not a kid.
Then one day the cat got sick. My parents had split by then, dad dropped over and the cat was stuffed. He couldn’t breathe properly – and off to the vet dad took him because mum can’t drive. She was distraught. I agreed to go visit the cat and suss out the situation. The vet was blunt – the cat was fucked, it was old, the bill was already at almost a thousand dollars, and even if he saved it it was likely to die soon anyway. Knowing we didn’t have the money to pour into saving a cat I went to see it.
Maschief was in pain. A lot of pain. And I looked at the vet and said put him down. Right now. I said goodbye, I cried and touched him. Then I went home and told mum Lee Man had died, that he had died while I was there. To this day she doesn’t know the truth.
She was beside herself for weeks. I felt bad for her – but after a while I thought will this depression ever end? It was a cat for fuck sake. Get a new one. It wasn’t a bloody kid. I offered to buy her another. Offer declined, I’m sure my insensitivity was repaid by another week in bed.
Fast forward 20 years and we picked up our first family pet yesterday. A Labradoodle named Archie in case you haven’t seen my four thousand posts on him. One day it’s taken to fall head over heels in love. All he wants is a pat, some food and lots of sleep. In turn he looks at us like we are the best things he’s ever seen. The dog is smart.
And finally I get it. All those years of thinking it’s just a pet. Why do you bang on about your animals so much? All my friends that treat their animals like humans. I’m sorry for thinking you were odd. And mum – if I had my time over now, I’d spend every cent I had to save that cat.
Even if you only had gotten one more day with him.