We have had a lot of pets in our lives as a couple. We started out with a mouse named Raynelda Mouse. There was a anchor on Channel 4 who was named Raynelda Muse. We had a dog, Goldie Hahn, a cat named Meow TseTsung and presently an orange striped cat named Hobbs. We had two for a while.
Miss Fortune came into our lives one fall morning lurking under the truck by the trash cans, close to the fence. I have no idea where she came from, but she was one big matt of hair and yowl. She was a long-haired calico, and looked and sounded like she hadn't had a decent meal in a long time. She introduced herself to us with a scolding, telling us that we didn't have any food out back. At first I tried to discourage her by spraying her with water, telling her to go back where she came from, but Sailor has a much more tender heart, and come to find out, as I was chasing with the hose, he was feeding her in the back. So what is a Mudda to do?
She got friendly enough to let us touch her. She was deaf as a post, probably infested with ear mites, no telling how old she was, she had missing teeth. But if you picked her up, you would discover she was nothing but matted hair and bones. She was surprisingly light as a feather for as large as she looked with all that matting.
We figured she wouldn't make it through the winter, and indeed we had a rather severe winter, but every morning, Miss Fortune would yowl at us.
She got so she didn't yowl anymore, and was always there when the food was put out. Hobbs and she didn't much like each other, but she was scrappy enough to hold him at bay where food was concerned.
Hobbs was jealous of Miss Fortune. We had put a large couch cushion out for her, since she had no padding. It had been there before she showed up, but Hobbs was not interested. He preferred to sit up high somewhere or in the shop. We knew Miss Fortune could not jump that high, so we put the couch cushion inside a trash can, tipped on its side with a rug covering most of the opening. When we showed the new bed, she graciously accepted. But when Hobbs saw this, the next thing we knew, Miss Fortune was sitting on the rug and Hobbs was reigning in the trash can.
She seemed contented just to have her daily kibbles and water. Sometimes we would mix a raw egg with some milk, which was lapped up eagerly. I decided at the beginning of the summer I would try to have a pet groomer cut her hair, but had never made an appointment. Last week, I told our neighbor girl, who watches the house when we are gone on vacation, that the next time I went, I would pay her extra to make an appointment and get Miss Fortune groomed.
But that was not to happen. Today, I noticed she was licking herself by the base of her tail, and seemed to have a great abundance of flies bothering her there. I heard her familiar yowl, something I haven't heard in a long time, and went looking. She was hiding down at the bottom of the stairs that leads to the basement, her tail tucked as tight by the door and flies still pestering her. I brought her some kibbles and water, which she ate and lapped gratefully. I figured she would never get back up those stairs. But later I found her hiding behind some boards propped by the back door. She had squished herself as far as she could and was still crying for help.
This was it. I knew it, so I told Sailor.
We loaded her up in a box and put her in the back of the truck. Guns are not allowed in the city, so we drove to the prettiest part of the desert, overlooking the river, and there, with me on the other side of the truck, eyes squeezed shut, ears plugged (coward that I am) saying a prayer for this sad little scrap of life. I heard the shot, and I began to cry. We buried her at sunset in this great "pet cemetery" and drove home.
Sometimes you don't get to choose your neighbors or even your pets, but it is how you choose to treat them that will determine how you are remembered. I am glad my husband has a kind heart.