Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Vaya Con Dios, Tinkerbell

This week we have been learning about death in our family. No, we have not had a close relative pass on, but rather, the family cat. She had been sick for a while, vomiting and peeing all over the house.

This was our second cat to die in two years. The first cat just about bankrupt the family. I bought into the vets suggestions of surgeries, expensive foods, and medicines. After the first cat passed on and left me with a bill of nearly one thousands dollars to contend with, I decided that this was nuts. No more time off from work for afternoon trips to the vet. No more coming home to give a mid-afternoon antibiotic. I vowed that I would not allow the remaining cat to consume more medical services than my kids would.

So when the Vet began suggesting expensive treatments, urinalysis, behavior modification (mostly our behavior, not the cats), medicines, and possible surgeries, I remembered my vow: I made the tough command decision to have poor Tinkerbell put down.

I believe she thanked me for it. Her importance in our household waned in recent years, and its hard for an old cat to contend with the attentions of the young children. She had been getting a little snippy lately, and the oldest child has developed an alergy to the cat.

Tinkerbell had been like a member of the family, once. But now with a one year old boy crawling all over the house and sticking everything into his mouth that he can put his little hands on, the idea of hairballs, urine and vomit on the carpet began redefined the problem we were having. In the end, I had to conclude that she was actually NOT a member of the family, but a pet who had had a good life, and had come to the end of her road. Saving for college took precedence over saving the cat.

Thats why I bought the fish earlier this week.

I thought having an aquarium would take the edge off of losing the cat for the kids, and I was right. As best we could, we prepared the kids for the demise of the cat; we all said our goodbyes, fed her a whole can of tuna (her favorite! Starkist!) and then we went off to feed and ogle the new fish.

On the second day of owning fish, we had our first casualty: a white Molly female was found floating belly up. That brought up a discussion among the kinds as to whether Tinkerbell and the fish would be together in Heaven, or whether Tinkerbell was in Cat Heaven and the fish was in Fish Heaven. This remains an open debate (feel free to weigh in).

On the second day, the kids were thrilled that the Gold Molly had babies! Five of them to be exact.

On the third day, we were down to four babies, and today I counted three. Another discussion about Heaven seems inevitable.

Pets add so much to our lives. And at certain times of our lives, we can be as close to them as we are to any person. I don't mock people who are close to their pets. I have elderly clients who are very comforted by the love of their pets. At this stage in my life, with kids who were younger than my pets, I had different priorities: clean house, less work, more money.

The love of my kids keeps me going today, not the love of my pet. Right now, my wife and kids and a few fish are all I need. I am a lucky man.

Vaya Con Dios, Tinkerbell! No regrets.

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