Notice Dre squished on the left, unwilling to give up his spot!
I've been caring for Dre for my entire adult life. Dre (named after Doctor Dre, the rapper) found me the way so many strays seem to find their rightful owners. I made the difficult decision to have him put down today, so I'd like to share his story with you.
When I came home from England after a 6-month study abroad during college, I found that my dear friends had taken him in as a coming home gift - complete with his well-suited name. He was wandering around the neighborhood, apparently left behind by some college guys that moved out. He was an unexpected but welcome gift. I loved him right away.
Dre and Cha-Chi, the brothers
He was a beautiful, long-haired "Maine Coon" cat, so beautiful that people would instinctively call him a "her". His silky charcoal gray fur and light, lime-colored eyes were striking. My husband and I always wanted to stroke his softest belly fur, but that was forbidden. After all, he had his reputation to keep up.
He always had some fight in him. Plenty of feisty spirit. I loved that about him. He had been abandoned but his spirit was never broken. He was so glad to be alive. Even during the most recent blizzard, he would race out the front door to smell the snow, feel it on his paws, and let it melt into his fur.
During the warm months he would join me in the garden. He would stretch out on the walk, roll around in the dirt, and quietly stalk the birds. And the pesky grass eating, well, that was a-given.
I grew to love and respect him that much more when, in his old age, our son was born. And still, Dre was tolerant and patient. E would shake the rocker as hard as he could just to get a rise from Dre (while Dre was trying to sleep). There were wet kisses on Dre's furry belly and fluffy tail grabs, but Dre kept his cool. Since our other cat doesn't let E get near him, Dre was E's first little friend. I doubt E will remember him, but I'm glad we have photographs.
Maybe the saddest part of his passing is that Dre knew so much about me. Dre lived through my party years, the single years, the traveling years, the broke years, the years with a dog, the years with another cat, the years with the live-in boyfriend turned husband, numerous moves, and the arrival of our baby boy. He could always just roll with life.
He knew me. He witnessed many highs and lows in my life. And he loved me unconditionally. Pets are amazing like that. They forgive us and love us no matter what. I guess I should take that profound lesson for all that it's worth.
So, if there's a kitty heaven, or a heaven at all, Dre is having blast. I'm sure he's prancing in fresh snowfall and chasing the heavenly birds. We will miss you, Dre. You were (and still) are loved.