Death, Life, and Joy

My cat, Apple, desperately needed a claw trim. His paws were getting entangled in blankets. And his claws were dangerous. If he reached out to you in a friendly way, the scratch on your arm did not feel friendly at all. I have a claw trimmer, but gave up using it a long time ago. Apple would resist any friendly attempt to trim his claws with all the struggling and hissing of which his species is capable.

It was time to take him to the vet. As most cat owners know only too well, taking a cat to the vet can be a hit and miss operation. A cat can read your mind, so there is no way to hide your intentions as you approach him. On the first day the score was Cat 1 vs. Human 0. The cat should probably be given two points, since he was running away before I got anywhere close to him. On day two, though, I was astoundingly successful. Apple was asleep, lost in his cat dreams, and so unable at that moment to read my mind. He was caught! It was still an unearthly struggle to shove him in his cage, and it was back-breaking to carry him in his heavy cage out to the car. But now we could be on our way. To the vet!

I like my vet, or perhaps I should say Appleā€™s vet. I phoned inside for help and someone came out to carry the rascal in. He was taken behind the scenes, where some vet tech would work the trimming miracle. I waited in the lobby.

As I sat quietly, I noticed the candle on the reception counter was lit. It was a discreet sign for customers to keep their voices low. Someone was saying farewell to a beloved pet. I thought back to the time when my first cat was euthanized. I loved that cat and his brother so much, loved him more than I had realized. On the way home, I wept and wept.

A door to my left opened quietly, and out walked an elderly couple. The lady had tears in her eyes. The gentleman had a sad but stoic expression on his face. A receptionist behind the counter came over and gave the lady a big hug. As the couple then left, my heart went out to them. I have known that pain.

Less than a minute later, a vet tech came out from the back with a small, loveable and nervous little dog on a leash. She led him, or, rather, tugged him, towards the couple sitting to my left. Suddenly this couple lit up, their faces painted with joy. This veterinary office has animals for adoption. Apple was adopted from the same place, and I still remember the special joy of holding that tiny kitten to my chest.

The tech suggested they go outside with their new dog, and she accompanied them out the door.

Almost immediately they brought back Apple. He was in his cage and he was quiet. I suspect that deep down he appreciated having his pesky claws seen to.

I drove him home, thinking about the sadness of losing a pet, the joy of acquiring one, and of how Apple, in his own mysterious ways, brought frustration, laughter, joy and contentment to our lives.

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