Ellie the Cat, 2004(?)-2014


Well, our little Ellie passed away last night, the poor dear. Cancer wins again, and while I keep telling myself there wasn't anything I could have done to prevent that, I am beating myself up a little bit over the fact that she died on her own, likely suffocating to death. We knew from the chest x-rays a couple weeks ago that Ellie had metastatic mammary cancer. The Inguinal and Caudial Abdominal glands on her right side were sporting serious tumors, and there was fluid buildup around her lungs. Our excellent Veterinarian was totally straight with me when we reviewed everything last month; surgery was off the table, and chemo was largely pointless--the enemy had simply advanced too far, and…

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Thank You, Contributors!


Thanks to all who contributed to my fundraising efforts for the 2010 Cause for Paws, benefiting the Humane Society of Boulder Valley. About 500 people (plus dogs!) participated in either the run or the walk, and together we raised $50K to help the shelter help animals and their owners alike. Team Hooper (Hooper, Rob & Brenda) did the walk, and it was fairly hysterical to see what amounted to a giant dog walk unfold on the paths around Boulder on a beautiful day. After the walking, there was food, music, dog massage, and Hoop even got to refresh his chops on the agility course, which led to the funniest event of the day. Hooper tried the "chute" obstacle, which is…

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Cause for Paws 2010 Pledge Request


Hi folks; asking for money. It's not for me, it's for the animals. I am raising pledges for A Cause for Paws Doggie Dash on September 11th. Your support will help the Humane Society of Boulder Valley provide food, shelter, medical treatment and behavioral rehabilitation to animals in need. I'm not gonna pull a Sarah McLachlan on you and show you a bunch of doggie and kitty sad-eyes here, I'm just going to appeal to your greater sense of kindness and throw on a heaping dose of guilt. I was baptized as a Catholic, after all. That shit works. Some of you may know that my beloved dog Hooper was sprung out of the Boulder Humane Society a few years…

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Emma: One Year


Emma was Brenda's pet cat. Well, that's what she started out as. Brenda got her shortly after the two of us got together, and Emma immediately spent much of her time showing her displeasure at having to share Brenda with me (especially the first year, when I was finishing school and Brenda often left Emma alone in her apartment while visiting me at school). But in those first few years after Brenda got her, I also took care of Emma during the summers when Brenda was off doing summer theatre gigs. I quickly became very attached to her, as, I believe, Emma got attached to me. We sorted each other out. In total, the three of us went through almost…

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News: Heartless Bitches can Raise Children and Pets (or, why I want to be a vet)


This shit makes me crazy. The local paper ran an article today about the booming pet care business, especially in dog-crazy Boulder. Here in Boulder, there is a "law" that encourages Boulder pet owners to refer to themselves as their pet's "guardians", not "owners". You know how I feel about this one; I have a receipt. But it gives you an idea of the mentality Boulder residents have towards their pets, and in general I think it's great. Here, our dogs are our kids. They hike (off-leash) with us, they frolic in the many dog parks, they are welcome in many businesses, not just the multitude of pet stores and pet bakeries (yes, pet bakeries), and they are everywhere. In…

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Update in Photos


Life goes on around here, the main story being the cat and dog, who continue to work through their issues. The gate remains, but Ellie is definitely interested in coming down and joining us. If only that damned dog wasn't down here: When one of us does take Hooper out for a walk, Ellie is quick to come down, hurdle the gate, and start exploring the lower levels. Of course, she likes to do this from up high, like on top of the kitchen cabinets: Hooper finally got his own bed, but currently he believes it to be a giant expensive chew toy. Deep down, he knows what he's supposed to do on it, and eventually he settles down and…

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Meet Noelle (We Call her Ellie)


Say hello to Ellie: Yes, we got another cat. On December 23rd. And we named her Noelle, a play on the season. But this was not an impulse buy. Brenda & I have talked about getting another cat since the dawn of discussions about life after Emma. We actually had a kitten on hold the same time we had Hooper on hold, but we decided one thing at a time. But as time wore on, we thought we should add a cat to the mix sooner than later, lest Hooper get too used to the idea of being the sole recipient of our attention. And so, Noelle, a.k.a. Ellie. She's three years old, and recently gave birth to…

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Sign


After our heartbreaking experience at the shelter on Sunday, I woke up Monday to an email from my friend Elissa who works at the Humane Society; Emma's ashes were ready to be picked up. So yesterday after work I headed back to the shelter, to pick up what was left of Emma in a little cardboard box. I instantly felt guilty about having been there the day before, to look for new animals while Emma still hadn't been returned to us. It sounds exceedingly corny, but I think we needed to wait for Emma to come home, to lead us to the next animal to care for. I say this because with the little cardboard box cradled in my left…

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The Rough Road Ahead is Paved With Love


Emma is gone, and there isn't a damned thing we can do about it. I miss her; there are a hundred things a day that remind me she's gone: the ingrained look-down before I take a step, for fear of stepping on her; the look to the bathroom to make sure she's there, before I close the closet door; the corner of the wall rubbed raw from her little chin. The howling emptiness of the spaces where her litter box was, and where her food and water bowls were. It sucks. We are working our way back. A week and a half after putting Emma to sleep, Brenda & I find ourselves brimming over with energy, an unclaimed love that…

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A Life, in Photographs


I have so, so many things to say about Emma, but for now I just wanted to share all the photos we've been looking at the past couple weeks. I've scanned a bunch of photos from the pre-digital years, and compiled a few other ditties from Emma's "modern era". I've uploaded them all to my Flickr site and created a photo album -- or "set", in Flickr parlance -- for you to enjoy. It's pretty amazing to watch the evolution of this cat -- and her owners -- as she moved through her life. All told, Emma had nine different permanent addresses in three U.S. states, wore two different collars (both short-lived), endured and survived two apartment building fires,…

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Emma the Cat -- 1990-2007


She was loved, she was our child; she will be missed.…

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Decline


You spend sixteen years with someone, you learn to read signs. The funny thing is, your optimism also gets the better of you. And so, we're playing that game now. Good moments are blown way out of proportion, bad moments are horrifyingly painful to watch--and quickly pushed back to the cobwebs of the brain. Spent half the day at the vet today. It's the same old shit, same conversations I had three years ago regarding my father. The word "disease" being said far too frequently. Emma's not doing so well.…

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Irony


From the information sheet on Emma's latest cancer medication: WARNING: Although this is a cancer medication, chlorambucil can cause another type of cancer... Greaaaat. I wonder if the medication for the cancer that chlorambucil causes, causes cancer too? Round and round we go, Roche, Pfizer, Merck-Medco! Sheesh.…

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Plan


So, the harsh reality is that Emma's cancer is so progressed, she's not ever gonna beat this. We discussed our various options with the vet today, and have decided to continue with the Prednisone and she got a shot of something else today too, some Elspar-something-or-other. IV fluids and "Pred" are the plan of attack. We're essentially opting for the junior varsity squad; the other, more aggressive options carried too many negatives for us. Heart risks with one protocol, bone marrow issues with another, and all of them would require Emma to take a ride to the vet on a weekly basis for shots and probing and general unpleasantness. And, all of them end with Emma dying anyway. Lymphoma in…

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Diagnosis


It's Lymphoma; both the mediastinal kind and the alimentary kind. Stage IVb. And as we all know from Johnny Sack, there really is no Stage V. Emma's in serious trouble. Emma gets oral prednisone and IV fluids for the weekend, to hopefully keep her comfortable. Monday we see the vet in person to talk about the strategy going forward. Chemo is the only real treatment option. We're probably gonna try it and see how she does on the crap, but survival rates with this cancer are fair to partly cloudy, even with good response to the chemotherapy. My head is in a fog.…

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The Big Casino


Welp, it looks like Emma's probably got cancer. Fluids were drained, things were biopsied. More tests underway; expecting results tomorrow or Saturday. Nothing to do between now and then but pet the cat. Shit.…

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Emma Update


Well, we just returned from the vet, and our fears have been confirmed. Emma is at least in the beginning stages of kidney disease, and she may have cancer to boot. We've heard this crap before, and Emma's always dodged the bullets, but white blood cell counts and BUN values don't lie. The immediate order is for hydration, and so--armed with a large bag of lactated ringers and a fistful of syringes--I get to do my very best John Gage impersonation on Emma tonight as we try to gradually re-hydrate her in time for tomorrow's scheduled ultrasound test. Hopefully the ultrasound will allow the vet to get a better look at both the kidneys as well as the mass the…

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Emma Alert


Our beloved cat Emma is just not herself lately. She's eating less, and as a result, activity at the other end has dropped off sharply as well. She's lost weight, quite a bit. She's also broken her last remaining fang, and at 17 years old the vet doesn't want to operate to remove the root because they're afraid she won't survive the surgery (she broke her other fang about ten years ago, and that one's remains were extracted; she was born without her upper ones -- swear to god). Being totally in love with Emma, we've decided to take Emma to see another vet in Longmont for a second opinion and really just a second set of eyes on the…

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Emma's a Star


Our beloved cat Emma has had a bout with celebrity of late, appearing in the latest issue of Delicious Living Magazine. Emma was one of two test subjects for an organic pet treats article for the mag. My buddy Lauren occasionaly freelances for this magazine, and while their dog Begbie was more than ready for the challenge on the dog treat side, Lauren needed another tester for the feline side. Enter Emma. (Lauren and her boyfriend Bill were both roommates of mine while in college at various times, have lived out here in Boulder for six years or so, and were great tour guides when Brenda & I were here last May for my job interview.) The very scientific test…

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