I do not consider myself to be a big animal lover in the conventional sense. What I mean by that is that though I do like animals very much, I do not have my pets sit all over the furniture or be a pivotal part of my life. I recall when I was young a saint once said, “People are people and animals are animals and they should live separately.” My pets have their own world. I honor that. My relationship with them, I would describe as respectfully loving.
Our cat, Ollie, was with us for around 9 years. He was several years old when we got him. He became a great friend. When I would return home late at night from California classes, he seemed to be waiting for me… somehow knowing I would return when I did. He would escort me as I carried my bags into the house. It seemed natural enough at the time, but is now fond memories that somehow defined the nature of our friendship. I rarely called him Ollie… usually just ‘Boy’ or ‘Boy Cat.’
Over the past six months he aged rapidly… kidneys went as is typical of older cats. Toward the end he was skin and bones with a distended abdomen. Though he lived outside, the last weeks feeling he was not up to weathering the elements, I kept him in. He just sat on the bench in our foyer… all day and all night… staring off… seemed comfortable but only half there. We softly play a Ram chant in our foyer 24/7. It was good for him to hear it in those last days. I would carry him out to go to the bathroom and he would sit there for a while and then come back in the house [not his normal routine at all], get back on the bench, and sit until I took him out again. It was quite clear that he was dying with only a few days left. I know he felt like I was his old friend who spent those last weeks serving him. It was really quite touching. Finally, one day, he went outside and disappeared. I knew I would not see him again.
It is a wonder how animals seem to know when their time in the body is up. Or is that what they know? Maybe it is more just a sense of needing to go off and curl up in their secret hiding place and have a mahasleep… just as they instinctively know to eat, sleep, etc. At any rate, it was a most honorable and dignified way to go. He was like that.