We Are Family...
Like It or Not!
When i moved to Sweden i became part of a family of people and pets. I love animals and have always considered pets family members. So, adjusting to new family can always be tough. I like cats and dogs... but it depends on the particular cat and/or dog. They are a lot like people... and not all of them are cool.
Meet Betty in the image above. Her full name is Lisbeth... but i call her Betty for short. I also had a pet name (pun fully intended) for her... FlicKatta. Flicka is Swedish for girl and of course, i had to add some Texan flare on there.
It was strange that she would always answer and acknowledge when i would call her that name.
Anyhow, being that she is a naked Chinese Crested variety of dog... i wasn't real keen on becoming best friends with her. She was very spoiled and i prefer larger dogs... much larger dogs. But, family is family and to be honest she grew on me in a short amount of time.
I would often get Dog Doodie Duty and end up taking her on her Bijsa walks. I think that is how and where we really bonded. I would have to take her into the forest which was close by... and come winter time... it was definitely not always the thing i wanted to do. You had to put her sweater and jacket on because she didn't have much fur. SMH
Enter the Castro
On more than one occasion, when taking Betty for a Bisja walk the cats would follow along. It was always funny to see the cats trailing not so far behind. Betty would lead the way dragging me out to her favorite places to smell on our way to the woods. Castro, the younger and more adventurous cat would generally stalk us. The orange ball of fat and fur is a vicious and mighty hunter. He is the size of a small tiger or a regular Garfield. You can see him above.
I was able to capture Castro and his mother Rachel following me and Betty one time with my camera. You can see Rachel down below. That's her looking at Castro crossing the sandbox in the image above. Usually, they are both sneaky... but Rachel was more like a ghost. Castro will pounce and race and stalk. Rachel, she would just silently follow from way behind. With her age came much wisdom.
Usually, after a good walk, the animals take a rest. You can see Betty resting and covering her eyes with a treat in mouth's reach. If you have ever seen a Chinese Crested... you can tell that my FlicKata is a bit more rotund than the usual specimen of her breed. If she wasn't a big enough dog for my liking... then we would grow her into one that is, one treat at a time!
Even when Castro takes a rest he is active in a lazy way. Here, i always thought looked like he was flying. Someday, i may photoshop him out of this image and make his SuperCat dreams come true.
Castro isn't shy like his mother. I think he likes selfies and the picture below almost proves it. Being here in Texas makes me miss my family and pets. I knew i would enjoy Castro and his mom, Rachel.
I knew me and Betty would get along... but if you asked me 5 or more years ago... i would've said, "You would find me dead before you find me wiping a dog's ass." I didn't expect to get attached to her as much as i did. And yes, the Bajs had to go and bonds were solidified.
Max, You Say GoodBye - I Say Hello
Before i moved to Sweden to be with my lady... and her
pets... family, i had left my own pets and family behind. A few weeks before my departure my cat, who ironically looked like a female version of Castro, named Pumpkin disappeared. It was almost as if she knew i was leaving. It's also possible that she was eaten by a large Hawk or Coyote. I don't think we will ever know.
Max, my Black Lab of almost 18 years or more was still kicking when it was time for me to leave.
The image above was taken on his 16th birthday. I used to call him Old Man. He was very lively even as an old beast. My sister made my mom adopt him so he wouldn't have been put to sleep when he was young at a shelter. They showed up on the day of his scheduled death super early as not to miss the opportunity to save him.
There ended up being a long line behind them before the shelter opened. As it turns out... they were all there to 'save' Max. So Max started out as my sister's dog... but that didn't last long. He singled out and targeted eating off of her dresser at two different times two rare and collectible limited edition Nightmare Before Christmas watches.
Needless to say, my mom took over Max as her dog since he preferred the ladies. Later on in his life he ended up with an inoperable external tumor on his head. It protruded from his temple and was absolutely disgusting. He used to itch it and scratch it open until it leaked. I had to keep a constant vigil on him at all times to assure he wouldn't damage himself.
As i was my dad's caregiver in the final years of my dad's life... i was simultaneously doing the same with my dog. I was privileged to take care of both of my Old Men. I cleaned his tumor twice a day or more and it smelled horrible. He was never suffering or in pain (unless he would scratch it) and so with proper care... his life was extended a few more years. I knew he wouldn't be around forever so to appreciate our relationship... sometimes i would smell the paper towels i used to clean his tumor. It smelled rancid... but something was comforting to me about that stench, in that it reminded me of the beauty and cruelty of life and it's obligations and responsibilities.
I can smell that smell now just thinking on this. Be glad that you don't!
Anyways, to wrap things up here, when i moved out to Sweden my mother and i had decided that my she couldn't administer the proper care and be vigilant for him the way that Max needed. She had work and other obligations. We knew we were going to put him down so he could go peacefully into the long dark night.
I didn't expect that she would do it the next day after i left. I met a horrible experience traveling overseas and was stuck in an airport when i got the news Max wasn't with us anymore. I was pretty devastated and wished i hadn't been under so much stress upon hearing the heartbreaking news. My dad had already been gone for a couple of years and this hit me in a similar way, even though it was expected.
I lost two pets in a short time and while i was gone, which is a helpless kind of feeling. I gained 3 when i finally made it home to Växjö. I even put Betty on the cover of Vogue since she was so Fancy Foo Foo! After an overextended stay in Sweden i came back to Texas, which is where i am now writing this up for my weekend post. I came back to get my residence permit in order to immigrate legally.
Ironically, or not, Betty also had a tumor in one of her glands where one of her titties was. It was on the inside though unlike Max's. It dangled down and got bigger and bigger over the course of time i had been there. It wasn't a malevolent tumor... and how to go about treating it was quite a conundrum. So, almost immediately after i left Sweden, they decided to put her down. She was up in years as well... but it saddened me to not be able to say goodbye truly.
The idea that leaving Texas and losing my Max and then leaving Sweden losing my FlicKatta seemed almost like some kind of twist of fate or some cruel joke. I don't dwell on the negatives or the sense of loss that anyone would feel. I remember the good times and am thankful i got to share a few of them here with you all. Castro and Rachel are doing well and i can't wait to get back to them and the rest of my family in Sweden.
I think for my next pet i am going to acquire an Orangutan! Not really, but i did take a few pictures of one from the Zoo here in Ft. Worth, Texas. I felt a special bond with this dude. He was just chilling and biting his fingernails. He really seemed to Ponder Deeply.
I don't think it can be expressed in words how much animals make the world a better place or how much pets enrich a family. Of course, with all the joy and life they bring and add to a family... there will be sickness, death, and loss. I believe that the great memories and amazing experiences more than makeup for the tragedy and voids left behind. They do live on in our hearts and memories... and I for one believe that we will see them again outside of time.
If you have pets... love them now. Try your best not to take the time you have to share for granted. Do your best to not be frustrated or annoyed with or by them. Appreciate and value the life and joy that are left and make as many of those wonderful memories as possible before that opportunity will no longer be there!
I love you all and hope y'all have a wonderful rest of the weekend. It's been really nice to revisit and ponder over some of my pets. Maybe one day in the future i will tell you all about Gizmo, Gadget, and Puppy.