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RIP (Rule in Peace), Sparky
We had to have our cat Sparky put down recently. I say our cat, but Sparky was really our son Ryan's cat -- and had been for 15 years, since Ryan was eight. Sparky and his pre-deceased "brother" Shadow came into our home as Christmas presents for the kids; when we let the kittens out of the basement on Christmas morning, Sparky ran right into Ryan's arms and Shadow, well, aptly named Shadow eventually snuck over to our daughter Meghan. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship that saw Ryan grow from boy into manhood and Sparky from cute kitty (with a flash of white on his chest, hence Ryan's choice of moniker) into King Kat of the neighbourhood.
Everyone knew and loved Sparky. He'd meet one elderly lady at the bus stop every Tuesday and Thursday and escort her to her home a few doors down from ours; he'd sit with another on her back gallery for hours, purring contently in the sun (he had the absolute best purr); and he'd always have a selection of meals waiting for him at various houses situated within his domain. Neighbouring cats would come to bask in his glory on our front stoop or admire his prowess as he'd stalk and flush birds from the bushes into the waiting maw, paws and claws of brother Sparky. He was also widely admired for his grace and calm demeanor during family walks with the dog, when Sparky, unleashed, would either lead the procession or saunter along at the rear, accepting accolades from all who glanced his way.
Of course, those were the glory days when Sparky was full of vigour and vim, or piss and vinegar, depending on His Majesty's mood. The last two years or so, however, Sparky's health began to decline. In fact, we thought he had died after he suffered a brain seizure that left him completely comatose. The vet ruled out any chance of survival without emergency exploratory brain surgery to determine the exact cause of the seizure. Our entire family loved Sparky dearly (and still do), but there was no way my wife Aurora, who was the only one home when the seizure occurred, was going to have him shipped off to some high-tech vet facility in St. Hyacinthe to have his brain probed, poked and prodded. Instead, she brought him home so the rest of the family could say their goodbyes and then we'd have him put down...all the way down. But Sparky had something else in mind -- a good, long rest on the blankets covering Aurora's newly preserved tomatoes. The jars were still warm under the blankets when Aurora placed his inert body on top of the pile, and he stayed curled up there for the better part of three days, with everyone checking in periodically to see if he was breathing. On the third day, he rose from the blankets, went to his dish, drank, and demanded to be let out...as though nothing had happened.
By and large, even though he did suffer mini-seizures periodically, Sparky recovered from that near-death experience, and, somewhat humbled but not deterred, returned to ruling the roost from the front porch. He was not, however, quite the same. For one thing, he went totally deaf and tended to SCREAM instead of meow, because he couldn't hear himself. And he became ever-so-slightly demented-- staring off into space, SCREAMING at nothing, rambling around aimlessly -- one neighbour described him as "the same old Sparky, but with Alzheimers."
Nevertheless, we were graced with two bonus years of Sparky's presence among us. More recently, he began to lose weight at a tremendous rate and had little control over his his bodily functions. When Aurora got a call from a neighbour a block down, who had spotted Sparky struggling for breathe and barely able to walk, we knew the time had finally come.
The end was quite peaceful, with Sparky sleeping in Ryan's arms.