Dec. 22nd, 2016

eilonwy2017: (why this is hell nor am i out of it)
I got home last to PA last night after 10 hours of driving. It's the third time I've been home in two months (Thanksgiving, [ profile] tamnonlinear's memorial, now Christmas.) Before this I hadn't been home since last Christmas. (I usually come home in summer, but it was a crappy summer, I was sick with, as it turned out was probably iron deficiency, and I couldn't face the drive.)

I brought three out of five cats home. (Mia and Jessie would in no way be okay with getting put into boxes-- if I could even have done so--, driven for 10 hours, and then forced to live in two rooms with three other cats. They are being checked on daily by a good friend.) The cats, of course, hate the drive. Marlowe and Callie cry most of the way. Widget, in recent years, has become a terrible traveler. She used to be completely fine, but now she drools all over herself and usually poos a few times, too. Yesterday was the worst day of the year for Miss Widget... and it was capped off with a quick bath. Every year since she started to get some bad at traveling, I tell myself that next year I won't bring the cats. Yes, I'm away for almost 3 weeks, but they've had me away longer. This year the reason I brought them was because Marlowe goes through phases where he scratches his back to ribbons and he started doing this again while I was gone for Thanksgiving. The vet and I can't quite figure out what's going on with that. (The vet is convinced it's flea allergy, but I've never seen fleas on Marlowe, he gets flea treatments, etc.) I think it's seasonal allergies, but I can't quite figure out the pattern. The other option is stress, and with his getting the scratchies while I was gone, on top of having moved several new cats in (and out) of the house, although he never saw them, I worried what my being gone for 3 weeks without him might do. Once I decided to bring Marlowe, I had to have my Callie-cat (she's my baby girl who sleeps cuddled up with me) and my Widget (she's the adorable fluff ball of equal parts sweetness and rage.) So into the car they went.

And now that I'm sitting here in PA typing this, glad to be away from KY, from work, from being alone in isolated rural appalachia, I'm so glad to have my fuzzies with me. Widget was asking for love (always a delightful surprise, since she's the most catlike of my cats) and is now curled up on a novel beside me. Marlowe was wedged beside me for a while, purring up a storm, 'til he got bored. Callie is at my feet, curled up on a blankie, and she spent the night beside me. They are a comfort.

I feel guilty about Mia and Jessie, though.

I need this feline comfort, at the moment. On top of the other Big Bads of this year (the illness and death of Shelby-turtle, the election and its aftermath, the loss of Abby, which still hurts like a punch to the gut), my family's beloved labrador passed away Tuesday night. She was a dog with personality-- with a capital P. She was wonderful. In her later years, she was a stately matriarch, watching the world spin, but always ready for a belly scratch. She howled at the train passes our house, and taught the younger dogs to do it, too (including a doberman -- not a breed known for howling.) When she had surgery to fix her throat (so she could breathe) she could no longer howl (or bark) and she went deaf so she didn't hear the train anymore, but she still let her needs be known. Since puppyhood, she'd clap her jaws-- not bark, just a clapping sound-- and you'd known she needed something. When younger, this was accompanied by a jump, which was adorbale, although disconcerting if you weren't familiar with it. She liked ice cubes in her water, and even if there was already water in her bowl, she preferred it to be freshly poured, so there was always a pitcher of water for the dogs in the fridge. She loved walks. I took her for one on Thanksgiving, and it was very short because she limped and tired very easily, but it was a joy to see how happy the walk made her. She loved chewing on coke bottles (the 20 oz kind), but would lose interest as soon as she got the cap chewed off. She'd roll on her back for tummy scratches, but inevitably she'd start to sneeze  after a bit and you'd have to get out of the way of her flailing limbs. Every night after dinner, she'd dash into the dining room and rub her face and back on the carpet. She loved ear rubs, and would just leeeeaaaan into them in a way that you felt you were doing something good and proper. She won fans everywhere she went-- even at the acupunturist, where she'd placidly let them stick her. (The acupuncture genuinely helped her keep going and mobile the last 2 years.)

I didn't get home to say goodbye to Miss Murphy. Last week she stopped being able to keep food down. A vet diagnosed her with mega-esophagus and aspirated bronchitis and sent her home. The next day, my parents had her back at the vet and she was hospitalized. Tests were run and more were planned. By Monday, it was clear that things were bad. Tuesday night they had to let her go. I think it was one of the hardest choices my parents have ever made, because Murphy was that special of a dog. I didn't get home until last night. The house still has two large dogs, and in the past years Murphy was a quieter presence than she'd been before, but it's still a palpable, painful loss. I look at the bed she usually slept on, and it's either empty or Katie is in it, and it's just wrong.

Hug your loved ones, both human and pets, a little closer today, okay?

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