Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Fond and Loving Farewell in the Midst of Chaos and Fear

My beloved cat, Rudy, is no longer by my side. He was a true and valiant companion whom I loved and admired deeply. I cared for him for ten years. The kidney disease that began mid-2009 could not be cured and caused him to literally waste away. He put up a good fight and so did his vet and I. I am grateful that he was able to die with the dignity that marked his life. For this was a very dignified, intelligent, affectionate, and talented creature. The very best of cats.

I could write volumes about Rudy and my life with him on two continents and in various settings. His aerobatic exploits were known to many visiting academics and distinguished guests. He was my first real pet for me alone. As he comes from Berlin, his formal name was Prinz Rüdiger von Fleischfresser ab und zu Mausenjägerberg. (I sometimes got it wrong and he was kind to allow me to shorten it...)

I will say here that with regard to Brindi, it is a shame that the two did not have the last year and a half together. They were on their way from polite tolerance and acceptance to being fast friends when she was taken. Rudy was not a big fan of dogs but he was not a violent sort. He understood without rejoicing in it when I adopted Brindi. He was not quite as pleased about Howard, her predecessor, but he was not the kind of cat to either agitate or run away and hide.  He was not afraid to stand his ground against strange dogs if needed, nevertheless. (Last night, I was miraculously able to immediately locate exactly the photos I wanted of him to scan and one of them illustrates this perfectly-I will post them, if only I could find the red envelope I put them in!)

Rudy sometimes accompanied us on walks. Amelia, my other cat and currently my only animal companion at home, did that more often, but Rudy was no stranger either. All of us enjoyed a snooze together on many a night. I considered it a key milestone when three months after I adopted Brindi - who hadn't been around cats at all in the shelter or probably before that - joined us in the family sleep.

I knew that Rudy would not last much longer, after his last full checkup in November, and January's visit showed it was rapidly winding down to a matter of months if not weeks. Meds, special food, and more could not stop him from shrinking him down beyond half his normal weight. My vet was so kind to spend the time with us in his last hours. I want to thank her here, but I will never be able to thank her enough. She gave him wonderful relief and comfort when he most needed it, and above all, respect for his needs. And the same for me, I must add. She patiently listened to a host of Rudy stories all Friday afternoon and then again on Saturday morning in her clinic. She is one of those rare individuals who understand and believe in the human-animal bond and views it on a par with human bonds when it comes to moments like this.

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Rudy's last days were the chief focus of my attention and energy since the court ruling was announced last Tuesday, Feb. 23, and I am still working out the "final arrangements" as they say.

I still cannot write about the court; it was a terrible day and another followed and another since then, and though I form blog posts in my head several times a day, including about that, I have not been able to write one. And then something else would happen to supercede what came before. Anyway, observant friends were most surprised about the verdict on the charge of "owning a dog that attacks", as it had been established in court that there was no evidence for it. But now is not the time I can discuss it. I am also not able or willing to discuss the dismaying "discoveries" and comments that have erupted once again on Joan Sinden's blog. I have been attacked before and it won't be the last time, I'm sure. I also cannot afford the time and energy, not to mention the emotional cost, of dealing with it.

Many kind people are mounting a massive internet campaign directed at contacting the mayor and the council. I am grateful to them, and anyone responding to their calls to action. I get requests for information all the time and I cannot keep up with it  - I have not kept up with it especially this week. I have taken the risk of posting videos taken of Brindi at the pound, to allow people the chance to see for themselves. But I regret to say that I do not entertain a lot of hope that the calls and letters will change anything, as the mayor has been fairly deluged for some time already. However, it goes without saying that I would be the first to sing their praises and never stop, should I be wrong about this latest campaign. May it work!! If anything, it would be nice if the council and mayor learned some key information about the case when there is still time to drop - if not the charges - the euthanization request. (Since HRM counsel forbade the politicians from publicly discussing the case, how can anybody keep them informed, let alone exercise their right to democratic participation?)

I have received about five calls from new strangers, one each day since Tuesday, each one concerned, upset for me and Brindi, and determined to help. Some with amazing information. I wish I could instantly write about them each time it happens.

But I do not have a lot of time to prepare for when the judge hears evidence about Brindi being dangerous or not - which take place on March 9. My growing list of calls to make and other things to do must come before all else. I am told that a very good lawyer is waiting to talk to me, as is a woman in New Brunswick who just got her dog's life spared even after it attacked and injured an elderly lady in her town. Maybe you heard of her dog - Sophie?

So I am not willing to use my time and energy by engaging with people inclined toward negativity of any kind.

What I can do is assure everyone, as I have from the start, that Brindi being returned to me will mean that she will be protected from harm and prevented from harm equally, with the help and guidance of a good trainer, a fence, keeping to the muzzle order as required, and anything else humanly possible. I will not hesitate to repeat that as often as I can.

I can also thank all those who have been working so hard to help me. I do know that the vast majority of people here and around the world are good-willed and understanding, and willing to help as much as they are able. A foremost example is Olive Pastor, whose letter was published today in the Chronicle-Herald:

Brindi case a travesty

I suppose today that Peter Kelly and his council are smug in the wake of winning the court case against Francesca Rogier. I am angry because this court case was won for the mayor using my tax dollars.

I do not support the animal control laws as they stand, and I want them changed with input from pet owners and animal lovers. As far as I am concerned, this case is not about a crime committed by Francesca or her dog. Instead, it’s about the fact she challenged somebody’s authority.

And unfortunately, she depended on the justice system for help. I hope Nova Scotians will take notice that this could happen to you and your pet. We should have given Francesca more support in this terrible time as she tried to save her dog.

It is not too late. Protest this move and demand that Brindi be given back to Francesca. Brindi was kennelled for 19 months, Francesca has been financially devastated. This is abuse. What kind of society are we running anyway?

People of HRM, I beg you to vote this mayor and council out as quickly as possible and demand new laws to protect animals and pet owners, and select animal control officers with a stringent new hiring policy.

Olive Pastor, Caribou

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Tonight is a great Olympic victory for Canada's hockey lovers, and the country has won more gold than any other country. I congratulate them!

I wish Brindi and I could have some gold too - the golden love we share and the golden moments we enjoy together.