Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day

Our good friend, Deb Barnes, began Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day in 2015 in memory of her beloved cat, Mr. Jazz. This day is set aside for everyone to remember all of those fur children who've gone before us who've touched our hearts and lives in some way.

Cats in my lifetime - Praline, Muff, and Beignet

Even though I'm in my sixties, I've only lost three cats in my lifetime...

Growing Up With Dogs

I've shared with our readers in previous blog posts that I grew up with dogs the first 19 years of my life. 

Growing up with dogs


My first dog was a Collie named Tiny that we got from some friends of my parents who lived in the country. Don't ask me why I chose that name for a large dog, but he came to live with us when I was in Elementary school. He stayed in a smaller fence in our backyard along with my sister's Cocker Spaniel, Fussy. He had distemper when he was a puppy, but the vet found it in time and he survived. He had some scarring on his nose and we believe he'd lost some of his sense of smell. I remember going to the backyard and crying into his fur when I was upset. When we had that rare snow in SC, we'd let him pull us around on a tray (I know better now). He was very patient and loved all of the children in the neighborhood. The only time he'd get upset was when one of the parents in the neighborhood would spank (we're talking the 1960s) or fuss at their children. For some reason, my parents gave both Tiny and Fussy away when we began junior high school. They went to live on a large farm. I like to believe he was happier there with a large area to run around.


My mother adopted Chin (a Pekingese) from her hair stylist. I don't remember why the lady couldn't keep him, but we became his new forever home and for the first time, we had a dog who lived in the house. I honestly don't remember too much about him and what he liked to do. I was in high school at the time and I guess my mind was on other things because I was very active socially then. Unfortunately, we lost him when he ate a dead frog we'd removed from the swimming pool. The vet believed all of the chemicals that killed the frog also contributed to Chin dying. I can still remember sitting there watching Chin struggle that last day as he took his last breath and screaming out when he was gone. This is the first time I truly remember going through some type of depression that stayed with me for more than a day. 


My parents began searching for another Pekingese for us and we found a black one that we named Cheena. As I look back, I believe Cheena probably came from a "puppy mill" but people weren't as aware of these in the 1970s. He was a gorgeous black dog, but his coat never filled out like Chin's did, even though Cheena was registered. My parents said Cheena went through grief when I left to get married because I always spent so much time with him. My parents ended up letting someone else have Cheena because they were traveling so much and couldn't take care of him. I couldn't take him because my husband at the time didn't like dogs. A lot has changed in the last 40 years as far as traveling with our pets. I'll always treasure my early years with these dogs because they taught me about unconditional love and caring for someone other than myself.

Being Owned By Cats

For the last 40+ years, I've been owned by cats.

Being owned by cats

I loved dogs, but when I got married at 19 years of age and wanted another pet, my husband didn't want a dog (he was afraid of them). I'd never had a cat before, but loved animals so I agreed to get a cat as long as she stayed indoors.


Muff was my first cat and she came from a classmate in college who lived in the country. Her cat had a litter of kittens and we were able to visit her and see which cat we wanted. The kittens were living under a mobile home and all appeared healthy. I chose Muff because she was a beautiful soft gray color with a white ruff and toes and had the softest fur. She reminded me of those warm muffs I saw people wear  in the Winter to keep their hands warm. Unfortunately, Muff had ringworm and I caught it from her. I was the one who treated her with the medication and caught it from her because I'd push my hair out of my face before washing my hands and I ended up losing all of my eye lashes on one side of my face. The ringworm cleared up and Muff lived to be 19 years old. Muff was a smart and sneaky little cat. We had a basement in our rental home at the time and for some reason, my ex-husband would crack open the door. I remember sitting in the bedroom (only room with a window AC unit) and saw Muff walk by the door and look inside to see if we were looking and quickly scampered down the steps. We also had to leave our home in Columbia one day because we were invaded with fleas. My ex-husband was a band director and we went to the bandroom that day and he put her in one of the instrument rooms. When we went to get her to go home that evening, she was nowhere to be found. We finally found her in the ceiling of the building. She had climbed up the instrument shelves and slipped into the ceiling through a small hole in one of the tiles. When Randy was trying to get her down (of course she was in the furthest corner), he began falling through the ceiling. Thankfully, she was safely retrieved and we went back home. As she got older, she would always snuggle up next to me when I'd come home from a hard day teaching on the sofa. She died from kidney failure one month before my divorce was final. 

Sweet Praline

Many of you already know the story of Sweet Praline. As I was going through my divorce, I chose to move to Clemson, SC to pursue a Ph.D. at Clemson University. My soon-to-be ex took Muff when we separated. Muff had already been diagnosed with Chronic Renal Failure (CRF) and I remember telling him that if I was going to lose both of them, I'd rather lose them at the same time. It was a hard decision, but I still believe it was for the best. I went through a major depression during the process of our separation and ultimate divorce and I wouldn't have been able to take care of Muff like she needed to be with her diagnosis. I'd been separated almost a year when I moved 2 1/2 hours away to pursue my advanced degree. I missed having a cat and began thinking about getting another. I'd always admired Persians and started looking for Persian kittens. Every time I'd find some in the paper (Internet wasn't popular yet) and would call, the kittens were already sold. I was on a trip back to Columbia, SC to get a haircut in December that year (1995) when by chance, I stopped by a locally owned pet store where there was a sign listing Persian kittens for sale. I walked in and all of the solid kittens were already sold, but the owners had two pointed Persian kittens available - a male and a female. She put the female in my arms and she began immediately began purring and fell asleep in my arms. This was the beginning of a long love story. Praline's original name was Flower Face, but when I looked at her coloring and her sweet personality, I knew she had to be Sweet Praline. Praline helped me through earning a Ph.D., changing careers a couple of times, getting my divorce, and 13 surgeries over a 5 year period. She definitely had the Persian personality along with the attitude of a Tortie. Praline was almost 16 years old when I helped her to the Bridge because of cancer back in 2011. She was my soul kitty and I believe she still comes to visit because I've felt her fur touching my legs when I'm sitting at the computer, experienced the bounce on the bed at night, and actually saw her once. Coryelle Kramer (animal communicator) told me Praline does still visit and communicates with Truffle. I hadn't experienced her presence too much since the girls came to live with me, but she was definitely back this past Winter. This was right before Truffle had her bladder stone surgery. I was going to sleep one night and felt the familiar bounce on the mattress. I looked up to see which cat (Truffle or Brulee) had joined me and they weren't there. I knew Praline had come back to visit for some reason. I welcomed her presence that evening. She visited a few more time before Truffle's surgery. I believe she was comforting me and preparing me for what was about to happen.


I've shared the story of my precious little mancat, Beignet. He was Truffle's only littermate and was scheduled to come live with me in 2011. I was lucky to visit him and connect with him three different times in his short 11 weeks on this Earth. He developed a sarcoma from his first vaccination and died on the operating table while the vet was attempting to remove all of the cancer. He was too small to survive the anesthesia for that long period of time. His tissue was sent off for analysis because this type of cancer (suspected Vaccine-Associated Sarcoma aka VAS) is rare in cats and especially in such young kittens and as fast growing as it was. Truffle's vet has these pathology reports in her file and we discuss vaccination protocols for Truffle because of the genetic connection. Even though Beignet only lived to be 11 weeks old, he was well loved. 

Worth It?

“The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief. But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love.”  – Hilary Stanton Zunin
Truffle and Brulee - 7 years old

I admit that I sometimes wonder if all of the pain is worth it when I lose one of my fur children or they are ill. I know the tremendous emotional turmoil I went through when I lost Praline and Beignet. The pain lessens, but it's never gone. The strong emotions can come out of nowhere and hit me right in the gut sometimes. My emotions were a wreck this past year with Truffle's emergency bladder stone surgery (and subsequent infections) and Brulee's violent reaction to her vaccination which required 4 days in the emergency animal hospital. There are those little voices in the back of my mind that say, "you wouldn't go through all of this if you didn't have them." Then my heart takes over and says, "any time on Earth with these wonderful creatures is worth all of the pain when we lose them."  There's nothing like the unconditional love from a pet. Unfortunately, I never had children, even though I was married 21 years. My girls are my family and my life. I don't know how long Truffle and Brulee will stay with my physically (hopefully a long time), but I treasure each moment with them. I truly believe they make me a better person.

What are some of your favorite memories of pets you've had who are no longer with you on this physical Earth?

Would you like to comment?

  1. What a sweet tribute to all your pets who came before. I don't think I ever knew about Muff before - she sounds like a really special kitty in her own right. Purrs to you today.

  2. What a wonderful post of shared memories. I too wonder sometimes if it's worth the pain when we have to say goodbye, but like you, yes, it absolutely is. For to never have them in our lives and hearts would be the greatest sadness of all. Purrs from Deb, Mr. Jazz, and the Zee/Zoey gang.

  3. What a wonderful tribute to your pets that came before. One of the hardest things about having pets is knowing that they won't live forever. But even knowing that...having them is so worth it. Purrs...

  4. Hugs from all of us as you remember those very special sweeties.

  5. A lovely tribute to all of your Angels. When pain is described as gut wrenching, that really is what it feels like. It is hard to bear but is testament to how much love we gave and received from our loved ones.

  6. What a loving post in honor of your furry babes. I too was raised with Dogs.
    I always tell Madi to be thankful for those who came before her...they paved the way to our hearts
    Hugs mom of Madi

  7. What a beautiful post! Thanks for sharing.

    Purrs xx
    Athena and Marie

  8. Lovely post. We sure do love our furry ones!

  9. Beautiful post!! It's so nice to see those that came before.

    The Florida Furkids

  10. Thanks for sharing your memories with us. I knew that you had dogs before cats, but I never really knew much about them. It certainly is difficult to lose a pet, but I think the pain is worth the joy they bring.

  11. We just got done reading your lovely post. We were happy to read so much about all of your wonderful fur babies throughout the years. We always are happy to see when you post about Brulee and Truffle. They always put a smile on our faces. Thanks for the share. Hope you are enjoying a wonderful day.
    World of Animals

  12. Those faces show purrfection and no mistakes. I enjoyed learning the past of how you got to the prettiest Persians on the planet!

  13. Sending you hugs as you remember your beautiful angels. XO

  14. This is such a beautiful post. We're sending hugs as you remember all of your fur babies today.

  15. You are such a good momma of pussycats, Miss Paula. Your stories of your kitty's touch my heart and Mom's. Mom feels fortunate to have had pussycats in her life since even she was old enough to remember. She's had Siamese kitties and Persian kitties. She still tears up when a song comes on the radio that reminds her of the kitties before me. Like you, when the kitties that she had over the years went OTRB, she was terribly terribly sad and cried for days and months. But she says though the pain from loss is so-o heartbreaking, she will always have a pussycat in her life, 'cause we bring joy.

  16. I used to think after my Golden Retriever Winnie past that my heart couldn't take the emotional toll of losing another pet. But I soon realized that without a pet, the house was too quiet and lonely. It was then I learned that I could love another dog again and I wasn't forgetting Winnie by doing so.

  17. I have loved and lost through the years but each one has a special place in my heart and my life would not be full without a pet. Each one has taught me something and made me a better person and I am blessed to have had them in my life

  18. Aw I loved reading about your sweet pets. So funny, my mom always used to tell us about how she had a great dane named Tiny when she was younger. I think about my lost pets quite often, even some of them that have been gone for years and years now. Most of my Rainbow Bridge friends are rabbits, as I mostly kept rabbits as pets before my current dogs.

  19. I loved reading about your pets, and I understand what you're saying about wondering if it's worth sharing our lives with animals who will only break our hearts when they leave. As you know I lost the love of my life Red in May, and as much as saying goodbye is horrendous, I couldn't imagine giving up the years or months of joy to avoid the inevitable heartache.

  20. Your cats are beautiful! and how special to have those pictures of you and your pets across you life. Even though you have cats now, would you ever consider adding a dog to the mix? I have 1 cat and 2 dogs and love them!

    1. I've thought about it, but my lifestyle is still not conducive to have a dog.

  21. Wow, what an incredible life you've had with so many precious animals. You are lucky to have had the love of pets for so long and in such a wonderful way. I really enjoyed this walk down memory lane, thank you for sharing it with us Paula! You're so right, it is well worth the pain of losing our beloved pets. It's a blessing to have had the privilege of loving them.
    Love & Biscuits
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  22. What luck animals to have your care and love. You wonder about their going early and how much it hurts. We just lost Siddartha Henry and Basil is seriously ill. BUT when I look at your girls and the joy they bring, heck yes its worth it. They give us so much and teach us so much. They bring joy, and smiles and happiness. That matters.

    We need them.


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