Monday, May 30, 2005

Barney Boo :: April 1, 1988 - May 28, 2005

May 28, 2005

The last few weeks were hard for Barney and us. Every week he would get sick, and then somehow get better. We knew the end was coming, but not its ultimate shape.

Early this last week he was sick again, and we made tentative plans to take him to the vet Tuesday morning. Instead, he seemed enough better that we postponed it again, though Chris and I ended up going and walking the labyrinth anyway.

The recovery wasn't very solid though, and as the week progressed, he was clearly becoming weaker, and more uncomfortable.

Instead of seeming like he was enjoying lap time or treats, it merely seemed like things weren't quite so bad then.

Instead of him enjoying us and us enjoying him, we all seemed quite sad.

By Friday, we were very concerned about whether he would have a problem on the weekend, and Jo checked on their schedule, and found out they would be closed on Monday but had emergency referrals.

Friday night we talked it over, and decided the best thing would probably be to take him in on Saturday, since it didn't seem like either he or we would benefit from dragging things out any more, and Jo and I would have the rest of the three day weekend together to grieve.

After I was in bed, Jo heard a thumping, and went to investigate, hoping Barney was just scratching sloppily and banging something, but afraid it might be some kind of seizure. It turned out Barney had captured a crane fly, and had it pinned to the floor beneath his paw. The old goofball. :)

Saturday morning, our decision still seemed right, so Jo called and got an appointment for midafternoon.

To our amazement, in the early afternoon he went out the front door, and instead of just sitting on the porch, went down into the yard. I got my camera and followed.

After wandering a little bit around the front of the house, he moved into the warm sunny garden against the south side of the house, sitting among the flowers, than lying in the sun until it got too warm for even him. He then lay in the shade along the walk be the front stairs. The picture above was taken during that move.

I went back and sat in the shade on the neighbors walk, playing games on my new cell phone and prepared to take immediate action if any dogs on overly long leashes came along.

After about at least a half an hour, he went on back inside -- total outdoor time was at least an hour -- the longest in months.

In retrospect, I think he may have been waiting near me for me to go back inside, until he finally gave up on me and went back in by himself.

Not long after that it was time to go, and we found him sitting in a small ebay box under the kitchen table -- "Barney Boat Cat" to the end.

Yes, that would have made a cute picture, but I wasn't sure I could bear to have a picture the him where I picked him up and carried him out to the car.

He rode to the vet in my arms, with Jo driving through her tears.

He was quite wide eyed and alert as we waited in the examination room. It was quite special to see his beautiful blue eyes looking at us again -- it has been so many months since he opened his eyes all the way.

The end for him came quickly, with his face buried in my hand, as so many time before.

We had a few minutes alone with him, then left in tears.

We went to the fortuitous grass labyrinth I described a few days ago, but its creator was doing maintenance with power mower and trimmer, so we went on to Golden Gardens park.

We sat and talked and cried at a secluded picnic table on the hillside for quite a while, walked the middle trail to the north viewpoint and back, then drove back to the labyrinth.

Labyrinths have become so special for me, such a wonderfully effective tool for working through mental stress or turmoil, and this one did its bit.

As I came back out of the labyrinth, a neighborhood cat came trotting across the street to meet me, and when I sat down on the grass, it found my lap quite fascinating.

Jo and I sat and enjoyed the cat and talked for a while until the labyrinth's creator appeared again, when we introduced ourselves and said how much we appreciated and enjoyed his efforts, eventually even explaining the circumstances of our immediate need.

Barney was in many ways a defacto "service animal" for me, helping me so much through the difficult passages of mental illness. I miss him so terribly terribly much.

The picture above was not just the best of Saturday's pictures, but it was also the very last picture of Barney Boo. April 1, 1988 - May 28, 2005.


Eliza said...

Poohie--that was one of Kathryn's & my favorite nicknames for Barney. I was eight years old when Mom brought Barney home as a tiny kitten. I had wanted to name him Muffin--good thing I was out voted.
I remember buddling him up in my baby blanket & playing doctor--most of which he was very tolerant of.
In his more robust years, my sister & I made up songs about how Barney was as big as China.
We also made up an African name for him, which was Zimbabwe.
Barney never ceased to inspire new nicknames, or songs, or games.
I even used to play hide-and-go-seek with him. I would come up to him & get his attention & then quickly dart away & hide. In his leisurely bored fashion, he would slowly walk directly to my hiding spot & look up at me as if to say, "Is that the best you can do?"

In his prime he would jump to the top rung of my loft bed & then pull himself the rest of the way onto the bed. He always liked to cuddle, not to mention the high vantage from which he could watch my mice in their cage.

He loved playing with colored puffballs & would chase them around on the floor & looked hilarious when he carried them around in his mouth. I especially remember a large green one that he would proudly walk off with, half hanging out of his mouth.

My middle school & high school years were great with Barney constantly there. He always knew when you were sick or feeling down & would come deposit himself on your lap for comfort.
He would watch my cheer routines while I practiced in the backyard or join my sister and me while we lay in the sun. Movie nights were never complete without a warm Barney snoozing on your lap. After rain showers, he would come in soaking wet & climb into someone's lap to dry off.
He watched as I headed off all fancied up for high school dances & he let me cry on him when my heart first broke.
For the most part he tolerated the constant bugging that my sister & I lavished upon him. He liked our walkie-talkie "hide from the cat" games, but was not fond of "nitties."

I will also always remember evenings with Barney. He was an adventuresome, if not too bright, cat & loved to stay out at night. We learned that nighttime was when he got himself into trouble, coming home torn up after a fight. So, we always tried to get him to come inside by 9pm. By the time I was a teenager, he & I had a pattern down & I was immensely proud that I could always get him to come in at night. Around 9pm, I would walk out to the front sidewalk & call his name, make kissy noises & clap my hands softly. Without fail, in a couple minutes, Barney would come trotting down the street & allow me to pick him up & carry him into the house. It was our little system & it worked very well for many years.

He was the best lap cat & loved to be scratched under his chin. He gave great nuzzles also--often nuzzling your hand so enthusiasticly that he would stand up on his hind legs.

He was Barney Boo & was very loved

Kathryn P. said...

Lots and lots of memories of Barney.
I, for one, have an enduring reminder of Pooey that I carry with me always. I must have been about twelve, and I was harassing the cat with a plastic bag left over from a camping trip. Barney showed me who was boss, and left a scratch, which later become a scar, across my right thigh. That was one lesson Eliza and I learned fast with Barney - if you were going to play, you had better be quick.
But Barney was one of those rare cats, who could engage and challenge twelve year olds, but still be the sweetest cuddle-buddy when you needed one.
Barney was also a great hunter - nightcrawlers and slugs were his most common prey. Okay, I guess the slugs really just caught a ride in his fur after an outdoor romp. But to give him his due, my sister and I did once watch him torment for hours a small mouse he had caught.
He was a great companion - fun, affectionate, rowdy, warm, sweet and tolerant.

Alan said...

Thank you, you two, for posting about Mr B's history.

I've been so caught up in his decline, pending demise, and final days, that I can hardly remember the years of his strength, rowdiness, and unbounded fun.