In my over half century of living I have had a number of pets, mainly dogs, but a few cats have been included in the mix.
In all that time I never had one that acted in any way like a dog, until Miss Luma.
Our middle son rescued her from the Fort Collins pound almost four years ago, but after quite literally being arrested more than once for what was basically loitering (the cat, not the son), within a year she came to live with us.
It only took a few days for her to become BFFs with our golden retriever, Dane, and quicker than you can say, “Heel!” they could be seen daily, wandering the property paw in paw, delivering a mouse to the door every so often (the cat, not the dog) and being friendly to just about anyone or anything that happened to venture up our dead-end street.
Each morning was the exact same routine: Dad wakes up and stumbles to the bathroom. Luma strolls over to rub against Dad’s left leg (never the right). Dane stands patiently at the top of the stairs, Dad staggers to the same spot with Luma zigzagging between his legs and all three of us would stop.
Neither pet made another move until I said the word, “OK!” and they would both race down the stairs and to the back door, each maneuvering back and forth to be the first one outside.
But the real cat-acts-like-dog part was at night. The dog always came in early (for dinner, of course), but Luma would stay outside, in the dark, in the cold, doing whatever it was she did all day, until I opened the front door and shouted her name.
Like clockwork, she would come running from around the side or even from across the street, doing that cat gallop-looking thing they do all the way to the threshold, at which point she would come to quick stop, and then enter the house ever so slowly, making sure I was fully aware of who was actually in charge.
And there was one night we actually witnessed her chasing a fox out of our yard.
THE LOVE OF ANIMALS
Even my wife, who always insisted she hated cats, quickly came to love Luma. We became a better family because of her, as all pet owners know they provide a type of love and purpose that we try to give in return but ultimately fail at due to our human selfishness.
It’s also human to love anything that can be touched by death, which of course is anything and everything that ever lives.
Last Thursday, Luma had what can only be described as a severe struggle with the top of a garage door, where she was evidently hanging out moments before it began to close.
Sparing you the details, suffice it to say the garage door won the battle, and sadly, Luma lost the war as well.
Being found hours later by my 15-year-old son, desperately clinging to life, is without a doubt the most traumatic experience of his young life and one he will certainly never forget.
Still alive in the vet’s office, Luma was aware of our presence and was able to produce a few “meows” upon direct eye contact before her organs began shutting down.
We were all in the room to witness her last breath.
To those that might say she was “just” a cat, I can only reply that she was “our” cat, and that makes all the difference in the world.
We treat them as family, and they make us better people, causing us to become closer with each other as a result.
I know death doesn’t kill our memories, but memories are hard to pet and cuddle with and love, so I am thankfully reminded of the immortal words of Dr. Seuss: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
But behind our smiles we’ll all still be crying for a while.
Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.