Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Rose By Any Other Name...

Merry Meet and Happy Full Moon Friends and Lurkers!

I love animals! Oh, now there's a friggin' understatement! I love animals more than I do some people! What's not to love? Their hearts are pure, free of judgement and they love without condition. How many stories have you read (probably posted by me) about pets who have either saved or have given their lives for someone they love? I couldn't love my "companions animals" more had I given birth to them myself!

Did you notice I used the term, "companion animals" rather than "pets". Apparently, referring to them in the latter sense is considered derogatory. You can't make this stuff up. A professor at the University of California, at the insistence of the animal rights activists, decided that "companion animals" is the more respectful term when referring to one's pet. This is the kind of verbal engineering that is now required in order to live in our society. We are always dancing on egg shells for fear that we will offend some one's race, sex, religious affiliation or anything else that one could possibly find to be offended by. Why shouldn't the same apply to the family pet?

Let's get real here for a moment, shall we? How many names do you currently have for the same pet? Go ahead, you can say it, I already know. We often have nicknames for our pets that sound absolutely nothing like the names they've been given. Those of you who have met our, my apologies, our Canine American, Ginger, probably have heard us refer to her as, "Patootie", "Tootie", "Toots", or "The Baby". This is, of course, with the exception of Ray, who likes to refer to her as "Baby Wheezer". Guess friggin' what? Animals will react to the inflection in one's voice. That's why you can call them "asshole" and as long as you say it nicely, it's all good with them! Still, I usually make every effort to be respectful and maintain an air of political correctness, lest one of my "companion animals" decides to pee on my bed in protest!

In addition to our various "companion animals", we also have a large Koi pond that is the home to 22 of our "aquatic acquaintances". We feed the "fine feathered friends" that frequent the "feathered friend feeder" in our backyard, not to mention the chipmunks and squirrels as well. I'm not sure of the politically correct term for "rodent", but I like to refer to Chipmunks as "Professional Landscape and Excavating Engineers"and Squirrels as, "Suburban Tree Experts with Suicidal Tendencies.

If you've been reading me for a while, you've met the newest member of our clan, Autumn and Jazzy (she's the cute one in the surgical cap) but most have never heard me mention, Dominick. Dominick was my Mom's cat. We raised him from about the time he was 6 weeks old. He lived with her until she moved from our family home and was no longer able to care for him. On a recent trip to our veterinarian of 30 years, the technician asked, "Tracy, we're updating our computer system. I'm assuming we can remove Dominick?" "Why?", I wondered. Did I miss something? I immediately swung around and glared accusingly at Ray, who was fortunate not to have appeared guilty of any sinister act. No, in fact, the vet tech's assumption was a perfectly reasonable one. Dominick is an enigma unto himself!

I've lived with cats my entire life and I have NEVER ever had a cat live this long. I guess one might say that it's a testament to how well we've cared for him or excellent cat genes on the part of his parents, but whatever it is, it's really beginning to freak me out! Dominick is now approximately 26 years old, in human years, to our closest guesstimate. That would make him 120 years old in cat years!

I have to be honest, caring for a cat of this advanced age is not all sunshine and roses. Literally. Dominick behaves the way you would expect anyone who has lived to be 120 years old might. He sleeps more often than he's awake. He walks with a slow shuffling gait and he has lost many of his teeth which, without dentures, requires that his food be as close to pureed as possible. None of these things stop him from being the first one to ask to be fed in the morning! Unfortunately, his eyesight is not as great as it used to be, so occasionally, he will presume he's in his litter box, when in actuality, he's not.

Dominick isn't exempt from the "various names for the same pet" phenomenon either. We call him "Dom", "Nickie" "Domi" or "Keith", because well...we think he's begun to look like Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones in his old age. Despite how derogatory it may be, my kids refer to him as "Smelly Cat", and with good reason. The loss of teeth has left him with a remarkably pungent aroma that often enters a room before he does! Sorry, Keith!

As you can imagine, living with so many critters requires teamwork on the part of the entire family. Most mornings, Ray is on "cat detail". Before work, he goes down to the basement, cleans the litter box and checks to see that they have fresh food and water. On a recent morning, he came storming up from the steps, pissed off to beat the band! I couldn't imagine what had happened, then he shouted, "Trace, we have to do something about this fucking cat! (That would be Dominick) "It's getting to be "that time!." Oh, no he didn't! I couldn't imagine what poor, crotchety old Dominick could have possibly done to deserve such disrespect, until I saw Ray, with a look of utter disgust on his face, grab a Lysol wipe and start cleaning off the bottom of his bare foot. I took a wild guess and innocently asked, "Domi missed the litter box?" He was not amused!

We have discussed that, in all likelihood, unless nature makes the decision for us, we may eventually have to help Dominick off to the next phase of his soul's journey. This has got to be the absolute worst part sharing your lives with pets. You just know going in that it's a broken heart waiting to happen. At some point, you may have to make the difficult decision to end a pet's suffering and yet, you somehow find that strength because you love them too much not to. We all concluded that, for Domi, now is not that time. He still appears healthy and has just as sunny a disposition as he had when he was was a kitten. For now, Dominick a.k.a. Keith will remain "aromatically challenged" and Ray has learned to wear shoes when he's on "cat detail."

In Darkness, Light!



Carol said...

Well Tracy you know how I feel about animals especially cats. I have fed outside strays, been taken to court had to get a lawyer but never once missed feeding them especially in the cold winter. No matter what any heartless Mother F..... said.

as for my inside cats I have lost a couple had a broken heart for a long time.

and yes, I love animals more than people.

That is why I feel so connected to you because I know how you feel about animals and all the good things you do for animals (yours and outside) In fact, I don't think I really have a friend that don't like animals.

The only thing is HOW CAN YOU TALK ABOUT MY KEITH!!!!!!!!!!!!!
HE IS A ROLLING STONE! HE HAS A BEAUTIFUL BODY. LOL I remember at a Stones concert about 3 years ago he took off his shirt it was a sight for sure LOL LOL.

Tracy said...

LOL! Carol, I am an absolute fan of the Stones. I had a major obsession with Mick Jagger when I was a teenager!

You've gotta admit though...there is a resemblance.

Let's just hope Keith never smells as bad as Dominick...

:::humming::: "What a drag it is, getting old!"

Carol said...

I have had a thing for Jagger since I was young. I still do!!

I am waiting for another concert but I think it is over for the Stones.

and yes, It is a drag getting fucking old!!!!!!!!

How about "Gimme Shelter" i have all their CDs.

This Monday night we are going to see Neil Young. He is another one that I love. Can't wait!

matthew said...

I love this post--I wish all my pets could be cut from stock as tough as Dominick and Keith. Ah, wasn't it Keith (or maybe it was Brian or Mick) who was once quoted as saying, "We piss anywhere, man"? Yeah, go Dominick, Keith, and old beings formed from barbed wire!

BTW, I'm a huge Keith fan (and animal lover). Years ago, I even tracked down a jeweler in Sweeden who made me a near-exact replica of Keith's skull ring. Lovely.

Tracy said...

Hi Matthew!

Yes, Dominick (Keith) grows more ancient and fragrant every day! We really find him incredible!

I love that you tracked down Keith's skull ring! I can't tell you how many times I had jewelry custom made simply because I fell in love with a design that I conjured up in my head!

I grew up listening to the Rolling Stones. I think I fell in love with Mick Jagger when I was 11 years old. Their longevity is just as astounding as Dominick's!

If I haven't mentioned it lately, your writing and photography are awesome! I took some photos that I think you'd like. I'll try to post them.

matthew said...

Thanks for the kind words, Tracy. I love your blog as well--I'm fascinated by the topics here. I would love to see your photos.

I was born in '73, but have been a Stones fan since '81, when my late grandmother bought me "Tattoo You," which I think may have been their last truly classic album. I have rounded up the others over the years.

I saw them for the first time in '94, and remember hoping that Keith would live long enough to play the gig--he didn't look well then either (he he). Well, I've also seen them in '97, '98 (twice), '99, and '01. Long live the Stones--and the rest of us!