I think I’m about to be called to Kevorkian another pet. That seems to be one of my roles in the family. It started with the dog of my mother-in-law’s special friend. Cricket was an old Irish setter, and honestly, not my favorite dog. He smelled pretty bad, didn’t come when he was called, barked at all the wrong times, and, because he could not be contained in the yard, had free range to poo all over the neighborhood.
As Cricket got older, his owner would frequently announce that he would be unable to take him for his final vet visit. I think I got tired of hearing it and offered to do the deed when the time came. After several false alarms, I finally got the call from my mother-in-law that Cricket’s time was near. We made plans to meet at her house after I got off work. I arrived to find Cricket had been, with the help of her gardener, loaded into the back of her Jaguar. I would have preferred to take my car, but since the dog appeared to be entirely incontinent, her car seemed like a better alternative. Cricket lay atop an old sleeping bag in the back seat. My mother-in-law handed me the keys and announced “You drive. I’m drunk.” Wait. Was she coming with me? That was not how I envisioned this going down.
We made the short drive to the Vet and decided to leave the dog, who had now pooped all over the sleeping bag, in the car while we got some vet techs to give us a hand. My mother-in-law bust into the reception area, sobbing loudly and with wine-induced drama “We have a dying dog in the car.” Several young techs started heading out with a stretcher. I caught them and suggested that they use the sleeping bag to carry Cricket in. And then burn it. I was able to convince my mother-in-law to wait in the waiting room while I headed back with the vet. Lest you think me completely heartless, I want it on record that Cricket went to the doctor-assisted great beyond while being cooed at and petted by yours truly.
Six months ago, my mother-in-law’s cat started showing the signs of kidney failure. Let me be completely clear – this cat used to belong to us years ago, but after she began peeing and pooping all over our house, we decided to take her to the animal shelter. My mother-in-law immediately took her in, and Genevieve has been peeing and pooping all over her house for years. I have felt a little guilt about this over the years, but it’s not as though she wasn’t forewarned.
Last year, shortly after Genevieve’s diagnosis, the whole family went on a cruise. Not wanting to leave her with an ordinary pet sitter, my mother-in-law decided to board her at the vet’s. One night, in the cruise ship dining room, my mother-in-law was very out of sorts and teary-eyed. We assumed this was because she was having trouble hearing the conversation, so my husband and his sister sat on either side of her and yelled throughout the meal, translating what others at the table were saying. But the next day, when we were in port, my mother-in-law admitted that she was convinced that the cat had died while we were at dinner. She handed me her cell phone, the vet’s number already entered in, and asked me to call. I relayed everything I was being told. The cat was eating. They were giving her fluids. She was being medicated. My mother-in-law grabbed the phone and sobbed “Is..is she alive?”
Upon returning home, the gardener was once again called upon. This time to dig a grave for Genevieve in the front yard. I hope the cat was not aware of it. She did not seem quite ready to leave this world. Still there was the kidney failure to deal with, so my dear, patient husband and his mother attended a briefing at the vet on how to administer subcutaneous fluids. And my dear, patient husband has been going over to juice the cat every other day for the past five months.
But lately, Genevieve, an indoor cat, has been trying desperately to get out the front door. My mother-in-law thinks it’s because the spring weather gives the cat wanderlust. But we all know that Genevieve is planning her exit strategy. Though she doesn’t like to talk about it, I think my mother-in-law is nearly ready to give Genevieve a dignified exit. There is only one $40 bag of saline solution left, and she says she won’t be getting any more. So I know that after my husband makes a few more visits to juice the cat, I’ll be getting the phone call. I’d like to do this one alone as I know my mother-in-law will be even more despondent this time. But I already have a good idea about how this is going to go down and it won’t be pretty. It’s been really hard for an elderly lady to live with a dying animal. I’m pretty sure this brings to mind her own demise. We plan to wait about five minutes before getting her another cat. We hope it will bring new life to her house.