I don’t remember the exact day we put Ringo to sleep. I didn’t save any of the paperwork from the vet’s office. It was February, I know that. Our boy got a death sentence last January and he made it relatively happy for a whole year. I know I was blessed.
I have wanted to sit down and write this ever since I held his lifeless body in my arms and kissed him. Wanted to, but it is hard. My job is very stressful and the moments I have to myself are limited. I have been struggling with my high blood pressure and anemia issues, and honey was hospitalized in February with kidney stones. It’s no fun getting old.
But now I have an Easter Sunday to myself. Honey has to work, and I’ve been diligent and finished my housework for the week, although I still need to do some cooking. So allow me to take a moment for my boy. Will anyone read this? Who knows. But if someone does, I want them to learn from my experience. This is hard to talk about, but I am determined to do it.
I have never put a beloved pet to sleep before. My mother has, several times. But not me. Why do the women always end up making the decision? Honey was there with me, but he forced me to make the decision. I understand why – Ringo was my pet first. He was my baby.
I had heard about a special “Rainbow Bridge” room at one of the local animal shelters. But I simply couldn’t afford to take a day off of work. I had to do it on the weekend. So I called my vet’s office – they were within walking distance of my apartment, and I didn’t want to take Ringo very far – he hated being in the carrier. Doctor Felz had been kind to me the previous year when Ringo was diagnosed, even calling me after hours to discuss options. I appreciated that. I called and asked if I would have to make an appointment when the time came. I also discussed payment. I was told, since I didn’t want to have the ashes saved, it would be about $150.
They say when the times comes, you’ll know. I hate that saying, just as much as I hate “Everything happens for a reason,” but sadly, they are both true. I knew. His coughing was worse. He wasn’t eating. My big boy, who used to weigh 16 pounds, was skin and bones. When I pet him, I could feel every rib. He gasped for breath sometimes. He barely pooped. But he still lay with me in bed to read on a Sunday. Right by my side, sleeping with me like always. I didn’t want to be selfish and keep him just because he brought me so much joy.
I made the appointment on a Thursday and got through work on Friday. I had to stay late, as usual, and resented my boss and my job more than usual. I had so little time left with my boy.
I took a picture and put it on Instagram on Saturday morning as I spent my last hours with him. Stroking him and he lay beside me. Did he know? I can’t say.
When I got to the vet, and I’m just going to call a spade a spade – Ibis Animal Hospital – I was shocked to find Dr. Felz wasn’t there. A new woman was, and she was big, mean plain woman who looked like a female guard in Prisoner Cell Block H. She was brusque and unfeeling. The staff seemed terrified of her and one was openly weeping. In my state I was still able to overhear things. Although one of the techs said Dr. Felz was working less now because of her children, I heard the receptionist tell someone she had sold the practice to this bitch.
Because Ringo, even though he was ill, STILL hated the vet, he was hissing and growling. So they did what they do at IBIS ANIMAL HOSPITAL. They put in in a plastic box with a hole in the top and gassed him to calm him down. I found it cruel and unnecessary.
While he was prepared, I had to pay the bill. I was charged $300, NOT the $150 I was quoted. But I was in pain, in shock and crying nonstop. How could I dispute it at a time like this?
And so they brought him back. I put him on a quilt my mother made especially for him. His eyes were open but he was still from the tranquilizer. The port was in his leg to give him the drugs that would end his suffering.
I kissed him, hugged him and told him how much I loved him. Then the shot was administered, he was pronounced dead and I stayed with him for a full ten minutes, still kissing and talking to my boy.
And then it was done.
I am angry, still angry, about the way his death went down. I BLAME MYSELF. I always do, but I know now I should have handled this differently. That going to the close, convenient place was not the answer.
My mother, my friends, anyone I told about the charge I was given for this, could not believe it. My own mother had to put her beloved Westie terrier Bonne Bell to sleep not three weeks prior to Ringo’s death. And she was not charged $300. She was so mad she wanted to call the office and demand my money back.
The thing was done, though. I would pay a million dollars to have my boy back. I was not going to make an issue out of an overcharge. But I want anyone to know that this place is bad. Though I haven’t done it yet, I plan to leave a very negative review on their Yelp page, for what it’s worth. I would hate for someone else to be suckered and cheated and treated the way I was. This was NOT how I wanted my Ringo’s life to end, and I regret that this is the last place he saw before he crossed the Rainbow Bridge.
As I approach my 49th birthday, I know I will never have children. It wasn’t a choice I wanted to make, but I didn’t marry until after 40. We have both struggled with jobs, finances, and health issues. It just never happened. And unless I adopt sometime in the future, it never will. I know it is a cliche to say our pets are our children, but I believe, especially in my case, they are.
I identified with Ringo because he was abandoned in a box on the side of the road with his siblings. As an adopted child, you feel abandoned at birth as well. Sorry, but that’s the truth of it. He was my precious angel, my best friend, my little boy. I called him many things, Ringo, silly boy, ma petite chat…He was my world and was with me through shitty boyfriends (and finally a good husband!), crap jobs, a heart attack (for me), a splenectomy (for honey) and my father’s death. His love was unwavering and gave me so much more than I could even return. And I pray that one day we are together again.
But life goes on, and I could not take the loneliness. On days like today, when honey works, I need a friend, even as I crave the time alone to refresh and revive. And so we found Tuesday.
I forced myself to go out and look at cats to ease my pain pretty quickly. I went to Peggy Adams, but I found the cattery overwhelming and my allergies couldn’t handle it. The staff weren’t exactly my cup of tea, either.
Then I went to see the kitties at Adopt-a-Cat. Every Saturday they are at a local pet store, and we’ve always gone to visit. When I saw this little girl, I fell in love. Her name was Chloe but she didn’t answer to it, and when I think Chloe, I think Khloe with a K Kardashian, and I’m sorry, but I just CAN’T with that!
I saw her on a Saturday and fell in love, but it was too soon. Then, a woman came in the room where the cats were and let me tell you – this creature was plastic surgeried within an inch of her life with fake tits and tattooed makeup. “I want that one,” she said, pointing to this sweet girl. “My son’s cat was eaten by a coyote and he doesn’t know. She looks just like his cat. I want to get her before he finds out.”
Can you believe that shit? I was so uncomfortable I didn’t know what to do. But the staff at Adopt-a-Cat are cagey, and suspicious. I left, but went back a few hours later to make sure she hadn’t been taken by the crazy. They assured me they would never give her up to one such as her. I told them I really wanted her, but my pain was too fresh, and I’d try to come back the next week. I have nine days off from work, and it was the perfect timing.
When I went back, they welcomed me and told me they were afraid I wouldn’t come, but that the creature would! Never fear. I knew I had to give this girl a forever home.
We’ve had Tuesday for a little over a month, now. She is a very different cat from Ringo – I mean, come on, she’s a girl! – but I love her already. In a different way, and maybe not as intensely as I loved Ringo. But that will come.
She is so beautiful I think you can see why I was drawn to her. She was part of a colony of ferals abandoned in a trailer park in a bad part of town. That’s why her little ear is tipped. She is a little over a year old, and had been with Adopt-a-Cat for quite some time. I am glad she is with us now. She is a bit of a drooler, and her meows are almost silent. They are sort of barks and clicks like she’s talking in Swahili!
Petting is definitely permitted. She is always waiting for us when we come him from work, and wants to be pet and loved and touched. Holding? Not so much. You can hold her for about 20 seconds and then – no mas! Even though she’s a very small eight pounds, this kid has some force and will get away. She is still a kitten and LOVES to play. Going from an old cat to a young one is quite a transition! She naps with me, but not next to me, like Ringo did. Will she ever be a close cuddler? Hard to tell. But she wants to be around you, no matter what room you are in. And she’s a counter surfer, oh laws!
I named Ringo after Mr. Starr because of a photo a friend had taken of him backstage at the Royal Albert Hall and shared with me. Mr. Starr looked so happy and carefree, I knew that had to be his name. Um, actually, that happened AFTER we realized he was a boy – because at first my sister, who was a vet tech at the time, thought he was a girl! He was originally going to be Musetta. I shit you not.
Miss Tuesday….well, honey and I talked about a lot of names and we ALMOST named her after Kim Novak, another blonde bombshell, but then I knew it. If you know me or have read any of my blog iterations over the last decade and a half, you know that I adore Tuesday Weld. And since this little one is a petite blue-eyed blonde with a will all her own, it just had to be.
If you have read this entire post, thank you. I needed to get this out and talk about it. I don’t know when I’ll blog again but it feels good to say these things, to say what happened and let someone, anyone, know. Don’t make the mistakes I did. I have forgiven myself, but I will never forget.