A conservative news and views blog.

Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Rest in Peace Blackberry

Timothy Birdnow

Yesterday I had to do a very, very hard thing.

Longtime readers of this website are familiar with Blackberry, my Bombay cat. I had to have him put down yesterday afternoon.

It was sudden; he was sneezing, and had become lethargic, so I took him to the vet, who diagnosed bronchitis and a sinus infection. He was given a shot and sent home with amoxicillin. He failed to improve, so I took him back to the vet, who ran x-rays and found his heart enlarged. Essentially, he had a heart attack (or, as they called it, congestive heart failure). The vet actually took him home with him over the long 4th of July weekend, and discharged him on Tuesday to me, since his lungs had cleared and he appeared to be doing better. But he remained in his lethargy, and over night his breathing became quite labored. I took him in yesterday, and unfortunately our vet (Dr. King) was out so we saw another. She gave us options; a difficult, aggressive treatment with long-term hospitalization and a likely poor outcome or we could end his suffering. And he was suffering! I had to make the final decision, and, after finding out his legs were full of fluid as well as the rest of his body, decided to put him at peace. My wife and I remained with him as the injections were administered. Frankly, I haven't stopped crying over him.

He was my very best friend. I work for a property management company, and he was the pet of a young girl who we evicted from a flat in a bad part of town. He was outside on a frosty November, living with some feral cats in an abandoned building near the property we manage. A dog had gotten ahold of him, and his tail was badly chewed. He came to the door as I was exiting the building, wanting to return to the only home he knew. I took him home with me.

And never was there a more loyal or wonderful friend. Whenever I was sick he would be at my side, staying with me in my sick bed until I was well. Once when I choked on some water he tore into the room, a look of terror on his face. He woke me when we had an earthquake (while the other cats went to the basement to hide). He came to me whenever I was down. We were the very best of friends.

And he was far smarter than a cat had any right to be. I tried to train him to walk on a harness; there were clips designed for the index finger and thumb of a human, and he watched how I operated them. Once outside, he went under a bush and I felt some tugging and voila! He had unclipped himself and was running free! There were other things; I could tell him to get my wife out of bed and he would do it, harassing her until she got up. I was not even present; I would say "get Cathy up for work" and he would do it! I would take him out in the back yard and, when it was getting close to the time to come in, would tell him "just 15 more minutes" and he would dutifully come to the door after a little while. I had watched him try to open a door, putting his hands on the doorknob and turning (he couldn't grasp it well enough, luckily.) He dominated the other two cats, although he was the smallest of the three; he was far above them intellectually. He was more like a child than an animal.

He loved the outdoors, too, and I would let him in the yard, although I had to watch to make sure he didn't go roaming. I once took him to my cabin in the woods; he was horribly sick on the ride, but loved it once we were there! He marched a picket around the place, getting up every hour to make sure we were safe. His fondest wish was to catch one of the pidgeons that fly outside of our bedroom window.

Now he never will. How I miss him!

My wife and I have no children and will have none at our age. Often childless couples treat their pets as their children, and I know this is what I have done with Blackberry - and the other two, Goccia and Elliott. We got Goccia from the Humane Society so Blackberry wouldn't have to be alone all of the time, and Elliott (another black Bombay) I found in a similar fashion to Blackberry. Blackberry was very unhappy about Elliott; he looked too much like him. He came to terms with the situation, but he liked to torment little Elliott, who is much younger and very gentle. I fear that Blackberry may have become hyperthyroid; he was always running amok. I didn't realize this could ruin his heart. But that does not bear thinking about...

At any rate, I had to make the call, and I chose to end his suffering. He was in my arms, but he moved away for a minute to my wife; I think he knew what was happening and wanted to say goodbye. I held him until the end. Now he is at peace.

If God is just He will give Blackberry paradise. The Bible says Creation suffers for Man's sin, and Blackberry therefore must be given a reward or God would be a most detestable tyrant. And I could find no Heaven without my best friend. Blackberry was more than a dumb animal; he had a consciousness, a mind capable of effecting reality. Quantum physics says the observer determines what is real and what is a probability, and he was capable of doing precisely that. If that is the nature of reality, that consciousness is what is real, than he will be waiting for me.

I believe God is just, and Blackberry is in His arms now.

But it is still terrible; he wasn't that old (only about ten) and this was so sudden. It feels like I lost my child. I certainly lost my best friend.

Many would find my grief silly, crying over a cat, but he was so very, very much more to me.

I'll never forget you, Blackberry! Some day we'll be together again, and then it will be forever!

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