Valuable quotes

"No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow." ~~

"The minute you start talking about what you're going to do if you lose, you've already lost." ~~

Cree Prophecy - "When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money." ~~

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Six Months of Joy...the life and death of Dalton.

When you adopt a kitten - a little fellow just 2 weeks old, you never expect that you'll be saying goodbye to him in just six short months. But such was the case with our sweet little boy Dalton. It was a half year that will not erase itself very quickly from our hearts, nor will it heal soon. I'd just lost Jake and then Bailey 5 months apart and I was vulnerable, still stinging from those losses.

My friend Debra Lopez was fostering kitties. Debra is a caring, golden hearted soul who is constantly pulling kitties from the shelter to foster them in her home. Dalton, then known as Maestro, was one of her recent young charges. And oh, I fell hard! The tiny face, white snout with glowing pink nose went straight to my heart, embedded itself there and stayed.

 I spoke to Debra about adopting him and the date was set. He was to come and live with us, so we set off weathering one of falls early snow storms October 29, 2011 and brought him home. 

He fitted right in immediately. No hissy fits from the others, no spitting or wide berth...the boys at home were fascinated by their new baby brother, a miniature version of themselves. And Dalton was fascinated with everything else. 
To him the house was huge and needed to be inspected from one corner to the other. The stage was set for a long and happy life. Or so we were lulled into thinking. 

Dalton immediately became my kitty. He was on my lap, or playing on the back of my chair, stuffing his toys behind the cushions or racing up and down the cat tower that stood beside the chair. 

 And if I had to move and go somewhere in the house, he trotted right along beside me. Even the bathroom became a ritual where I had to lift him so he could see himself in the mirror and we would discuss just how amazingly gorgeous he was. He could not get enough of that! 

He quickly learned all the things the others did in the house, good and bad and attacked everything with unbridled love for life. He had a favorite little buddy he carted with him everywhere, a flat little toy we called Earl the Interstate skunk. He took Earl to bed with him like a security blanket and even tried to stuff Earl inside other toys. 

Another of his favorite things was what we called the Doormouse. Dalton and the doormouse became his morning romp as I answered emails in the den.

When Xmas was approaching we worried about what kind of impact a 12 week old kitten would have on the decorations and the tree. We needn't have worried. He was as good as we could have hoped. He loved the holiday, loved watching the fire in the fireplace and especially loved all the new toys he got from his stocking. 

 It was all so new. Discovery for him was a joy for us to watch too.  He was growing more beautiful with every day. That funny little kitten face was evolving into a beautifully structured cat face, with eyes that could hypnotize you. 
So we had character and we had beauty and we had time. No...we didn't. And mercifully, at those times, we did not know it.

 The thing that was hidden from all of us then was that Dalton had a genetic flaw. His little body, as strong and beautiful as it was, would soon stop  
producing red blood cells. And without them he would die. So we went about our days, laughing at his every antic. His vets would tell us what a special little fellow he was. He won the hearts of everyone there too. One vet who didn't sign a name even penciled in a note in his file, "The cutest kitten I've ever seen."

I had his pictures sprinkled about the internet in various albums and on You Tube where even there people fell for this little guy we were fortunate enough to share our lives with.  His previous kitty Mom, Debra and I shared him in our hearts and I would give her updates every day on how well he was doing...sending pictures to show he was growing in leaps and bounds and just generally lighting up our lives. The pain of losing Jakey, and then Bailey was diminishing day by day and it was all because of Dalton. Beautiful, sweet Dalton.

So when he became quiet, at first I thought perhaps he was moving into another phase. He was of course maturing, becoming a little man and would soon need to visit the vet and have his operation done. I thought maybe he was quieter because he was growing up. But when that quiet became listless, I grew concerned. My normally super active little guy was wanting to do nothing more than rest. He lost interest in Earl, he didn't really care if treats were being handed out. That was the first real alarm that went off. I could tell myself almost anything else but when my 'kitty kookie vacuum' stopped caring they were being handed out, I knew we were in trouble. So we made an appointment to have him checked out. And found out. 
The first tests came back saying his red blood count was critically low and Dr. Yarnall said we needed to get him over to Critical Care for blood transfusions if we wanted to save his life. This was all moving so fast - too fast! Our uber-healthy baby was going to need a blood transfusion or he would die??? No! No, no!!! Made no sense at all. This wasn't right...the doctor had made some terrible mistake. Either that or this was a nightmare and all I had to do was wake up.
So we took him over to Critical Care and they said to leave him with them and they would do the transfusion - while he was sedated they would also take a bone marrow sample to see why his blood count was so poor. And if he rallied after the first transfusion we could come and take him home. No point in him staying there while they awaited the results of the test. Things seemed to be looking up.

So the first transfusion was done and he rallied...but only for a few hours. So a second one was done with the same results. Our good feeling started to slowly erode with each passing hour.

The next morning, the hammer fell. Straight through my entire being and crushing my heart. Dalton wasn't going to make it. Even if we gave him a transfusion every day for the rest of his life, he still might not live longer than two weeks. His body wasn't able to manufacture red blood cells and he was suffering from lymphoma - cancer. How!???   WHY!???! I am not usually the kind of person to ask these questions, feeling things happen and that's that. But this time I had to. Why did a little animal that enjoyed life so much, have to be given something that was killing him? And why did we have to have him taken away from us? A little guy who delighted us every minute he was here and did not deserve the hand that was dealt him. I know religious people have answers for all this but I'm not religious and right now that is probably a good thing otherwise I'd be struck by a bolt of lighting for the things I'm thinking.

Dalton, I love you so much, baby. That will never ever go away. I hurt with my love for you and I wish with all my heart and fiber you hadn't been taken from us! I loved you more than life right now. Rarely do little ones come along that become our soul mates. I have had three of them in my life. Ben, Jakey and Dalton. All three now gone.

Dalton's ashes join the others in my sad little living room cabinet. I wish I could believe in an afterlife so that I could then picture all my sweet babies playing together for eternity, but for now, I will have to rely on my photos, videos and the millions of happy memories etched into my mind. 

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