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A Very Merry UnBirthday

I’ve talked a lot here and on social media about our dogs but there’s another member of our family that isn’t mentioned much. Our crazy, black cat, Collins.


Collins, February 2007.

Collins, February 2007.


So why an unbirthday? That’s because we don’t know exactly when his birthday is, or even how old he actually is.

Here’s the story: It was ten years ago, in 2006, about a week before we were supposed to leave for Christmas in New York City. I was putting garland and bows up on the fence around our property and I happened to glance down and see this black cat watching me. I spoke to him and he meowed back at me. It was the beginning of a conversation that hasn’t stopped.

The next thing I knew, he was purring and rubbing against my leg. I petted him and told him to go home but he proceeded to follow and talk to me. This went on for a couple of hours. He followed me completely around the fence and then into the yard.

Over the years, we’ve seen many feral cats in our neighborhood and not one has ever approached us– let alone let us pet them. He obviously belonged to someone and must have either gotten out or was abandoned.

I finished what I was doing, told him to go home again and went in the house. I checked again later, before letting the dogs out but he was no where to be seen. I just figured he wandered home. Actually, he was still there but he was smart enough to hide. He was here and he wasn’t leaving.

A little later I went out and he came running down our back stairs, purring and meowing for attention. Concerned he hadn’t eaten recently, I put out some wet cat food for him but he wasn’t interested. So I still figured he was just visiting. (He must be eating somewhere!)

This became a pattern over several days. He was always there. He’d see us coming or going and as long as the dogs weren’t around, he’d follow us. If we went in the house, he’d sit in the driveway and wait.

I tried not to give him too much attention because I get attached too easily and he was just too friendly to be a stray. Still– worried he hadn’t eaten, I tried putting out some dry food and he devoured it in minutes. (He’s a finicky eater! He will not eat wet cat food.)

We felt like we had to do something. He wasn’t leaving…. and we couldn’t stop worrying about him.

Michael happened to mention the situation to our friend Tony, at work. Tony happened to be considering the idea of getting a cat but he thought he have might have allergy issues. Michael told Tony we hated that we were leaving town– and worried about leaving him all that time in the snow and the cold. (Nasty weather was in the forecast.) Tony said he’d take him (on a trial basis) and at least he’d be safe.

For us, that was a relief. While we were gone, Tony took him to the vet and had him checked out. The vet guessed he was probably about three years old and was perfectly healthy. He also suggested that he should be neutered. So Tony took care of it all but his allergies were bothering him and he didn’t feel like he was going to be able to keep him.

That’s the story. When we got home, Tony brought him back to us and we had a new member of the family.

We had been adopted.

We named Collins after the character Tom Collins in the musical RENT.


Collins, December 2008.

Collins, December 2008.


For anyone wondering, we did check the available resources at the time to make sure whether anyone was looking for him or not.

Collins always seems to get along with the other kids just find. Except, dogs play a little too rough so Collins always knows when to make himself scarce.


Collins got Chia grass for Christmas (2011) and it was the first (and only) time he jumped up on the kitchen counter.

Collins got Chia grass for Christmas (2011) and it was the first (and only) time he jumped up on the kitchen counter.


Some Collins facts/highlights from the past ten years:

  • Collins goes crazy over cheeseburgers and melted cheese from pizza. He smells it and come running and begging!
  • Like many cats, Collins is nocturnal. He sleeps most of the day and plays at night.
  • We tried letting him sleep with us but after one broken lamp– he’s pretty much banned from the bedroom.
  • If we happen to leave the bedroom door open, no matter if it’s day or night, Collins will be found sleeping on the bed.
  • After Roxie died and after years of pretty much ignoring each other, Cash and Collins became regular snuggle buddies.
  • Since I keep crazy hours and I’m always up way before the dogs– Collins is my constant companion in the wee hours of the morning– until Belle and Dudley get up. Then he disappears. Belle likes to tackle and lay on top of Collins if she can catch him. Collins does not appreciate this!
  • Collins and Belle will frequently sit in the stairwell and have a stare down. This can go on for hours.
  • Collins loves to talk! He will meow at you nonstop until he gets sufficient attention.
  • Collins’ purr is quite loud and he loves to give kisses and lick your face like a dog.
  • Collins does not like to have his picture taken and absolutely WILL NOT wear clothes, costumes or hats!


Collins, December 2016.

Collins, December 2016.


So Happy UnBirthday Collins! He’s probably the sweetest, friendliest, most docile cat I’ve ever met.

I better finish this up– he’s on my lap and pawing my face because I’m not looking at him enough. That, and he keeps covering my computer keys with his paws and tail.

Crazy cat!


The Long Road Home

Roxie as a puppy. 2003.

Roxie as a puppy. 2003.

When I saw her– I knew it was time.

I told her it was okay.

She looked at me and took her last breath

and she was gone.

I covered her with a blanket, up to her chin and I laid on the floor with her, waiting for Michael to come home to say his goodbyes. Cash sat beside me. Then laid down resting his head on Roxie’s paws. It was breaking my heart. His sister is gone and I’m not sure if he understands that. They’ve spent nearly every moment of their lives at each others sides, other than vet visits. What must he be thinking now?

Collins, our cat was back and forth, through the house meowing. Though I didn’t see him pay any particular attention to Roxie, it was clear he knew something was different.

The morning started out like any other. I woke up early, made coffee and was working on another blog post. Michael got up at the usual time, let the dogs out, gave Roxie her pills and fed them breakfast. Michael told me later, that when he got up and was getting dressed, he told Roxie how exceptionally pretty she looked this morning- sitting up, posed on the bed.

When Michael left for work, I opened and closed the gate for him. Soon, after I went inside, the babies wanted to go out again.

Our normal routine.

As I was putting on my shoes and coat, dogs underfoot, I noticed Roxie’s legs kind of buckle (and immediately thought she was having a stroke), I grabbed her– but she steadied herself and she seemed to quickly recover– dancing around again, wanting to go out… not to potty… but to eat snow.

We came in, I gave them a treat and they settled down for their first nap of the day. Because I was up and down between the first floor and the basement, they settled on the landing, between floors– so they would be close and not miss anything. Everything seemed pretty normal– until I went to see if they wanted to go out again and Cash came but Roxie didn’t get up.

In October, Roxie was diagnosed with diabetes insipidus causing non-stop drinking and urination. Luckily, I was able to be home with her, drive her to Aurora to be properly diagnosed and begin the process of finding the right dose of medication to counteract her chemical imbalance. Those actions gave us three more months of life… three more months of love… and three more months of utter joy.

We don’t have pets… they are our children. We loveĀ and care for them like human children. I’ve found as I get older, the deeper and more intense that love is. I think if you’ve ever raised and lost a furry child, then decided to have another– you love them even more. You truly appreciate each moment with them more. Those precious moments are little heavenly gifts.

Even when you think you’re prepared– when the time comes, the grief is still devastating.

On our way home from the Vet, Michael said he just wanted to eat something and take a nap. Both of our heads hurt– we were probably dehydrated from all the tears. So we got burgers and an extra fry for Cash.

I don’t think either one of us really slept. Drifted in and out maybe. It’s hard to escape the emptiness. I couldn’t get comfortable because I didn’t have Roxie pressed up against me. There was a hole in the bed. A hole only dwarfed by the one in my heart.


I’m not sure how I’m going to sleep tonight. Nap time and bed time were always your two favorite times of day.

Tonight there will be no endless face-licking… no digging in the blankets… no big, fuzzy, teddy bear butt in my face. No big sigh letting us know you’re finally ready to fall asleep.

Tonight there will just be silence… and big empty spot in the bed that I’ll try to fill with memories of all the warmth and love and companionship you’ve given us for almost eleven years.

You’ll always be our princess.

Goodnight Sweet Baby Girl.


Roxie. Spring 2013.