Oliver is dead...one year later...
'It's just an animal...'
Pets become part of the family. We feel an emotional bond with our animals, perhaps because in some ways we are their masters (they rely on us) and in other ways they master us by emotionally attaching us to them. A kind of therapeutic symbiosis.
In 2016 we rescued an abandoned baby kitten, just a shadow, and named him Oliver. From the backyard of the children’s piano teacher, who informed us that he had been around for a couple of days and was soon to go to the abandoned animal death camp.
I was sweating at the time in the studio and the children kept sending me text messages of the sweet little abandoned kitty who was about to meet the end of existence. I could not play executioner with him, as I am very emotionally attached to all of God’s creatures.
He was the neediest animal you could imagine. Perhaps it was left over from being abandoned as a kitten. And he ate a tremendous amount and became very peevish if he did not get what he wanted in the food department. Again, not to anthropomorphize, but perhaps a compensation for feelings of abandonment. He was tremendously affectionate and always wanted to jump into your lap. Not a comfortable task for a cat weighing more than 30 pounds.
But he was a tender and lovable pet and our dog also very much enjoyed playing with him - thinking he was also a dog.
"Go get kitty!" and Viktor would run over and nudge him with his snout. Kitty would also play along.
A few years ago he went on a little kirandulas (walkabout) and was gone for a couple of days. We found him stuck in a tree and were able to rescue him by hoisting a basket up there and encouraging him to jump into it (we put some food into it).
He loved potato and corn chips, but middle daughter was strict. Very rarely.
He was sent outside last night before bed and not brought back in. I got up first and was surprised to not hear him screaming for food, as he does every single day. I immediately had a bad feeling. I walked around the house and around the yard and didn't see him. I sensed it.
When middle girl went out to look (he sometimes gets stuck under the canoe, forgetting how fat he is), she brought his bag of food to shake it. He usually comes running.
I was over my head in my work when the door burst open and stoic daughter was crying, "Oliver is dead and the vultures are eating him."
We raced across the street - as anyone fighting the inevitability of death would do - and I hoped she was wrong. The death scene was too gruesome to recount. But I could tell in hoisting him into the bag that indeed it was him.
Oliver you brought so much joy to this family. I am sorry we were never able to give you all the affection you craved. I am sorry we did not do more to protect you, as you were in our charge.
Animals do not have souls so there is nothing to hope for. But there is an enormous empty space in all of our own hearts tonight as poor Oliver sits dead in a trash bag in the garage waiting for me to dig a big enough hole for his eternal rest.
P.S. - strangely, Viktor the dog will not leave his crate.