Saturday, April 8, 2017

For those who love cats and know the truth of life. (FREE STORY.)

Children are an inigma to me, and this tale proves it. I can never predict what a child will do in any given situation.

This isn't a fiction story; I was there, and I tell it in the first person for that reason. Sadly, I've seen puppies killed for the mere reason that the owner didn't want that many, and by the simple method of bashing their tiny brains out against a white oak's immense trunk. That was cruel enough, but it was honest.

Yes, I lied to this child, and I will not deny it, nor do I regret it even now.  There is a time for honesty, and a time for lies, as for everything else in our world.  We have to have the strength to bear with our own choices.  That's a part of life and a thing no animal would understand. When they love, they love without reserve, without judgement, and without lies.
Why then is it so hard for certain folks to understand when someone mourns the loss of such a selfless companion, regardless of species? That's a question I'd really like to have an answer for!


      One of the hardest jobs that a veterinarian has to do is give final peace to those creatures without hope. There are times that there is no other recourse that is even remotely humane.
      We went one day to see Dr. Elaine Painter, D.V.M., at her former Clay City clinic. This was something we often did, and usually we enjoyed it more by getting to lend a hand. Her place was never boring. This time, shortly after we arrived, a car pulled up behind our old truck. A worn-looking couple with a little girl -- perhaps 8 years old -- got out and came into the clinic. They were holding a small towel-wrapped package in tender hands. When they placed this on the exam table, and unwrapped it, a tragic sight was revealed.
      It was a tiny, frail kitten, the torn and ragged little gray and white body just barely breathing. It was mangled so very badly that "Doc" (as everyone calls her) gasped when she saw it. The little creature was mercifully unaware, in shock from its massive injuries, inflicted by a neighbor's dog. The tale was a familiar one, and not pretty.
      The couple just said, "Help us, please, however you can." They had tears in their eyes and awareness of the reality swam in a pool of dread in their voices.
      The little girl was crying and holding to her mother with one hand and gently touching the kitten's tiny white foot with the other. "Can you please help my kitty? She's hurt." She whimpered softly. 

      Doc looked up into the parents's faces after a brief examination. She shook her head a little, "Its ribs are crushed, the lungs are damaged, and I have no idea how many internal injuries there are. From the swelling, I'd have to say there are a lot. The back is broken. She's in deep shock." Clearly there was nothing to be done to help the kitten live, so mercy was the only option.
      The parents glanced at each other, then nodded together for Doc to do what had to be done to release the tiny victim from its pain and suffering. They watched as Doc prepared a syringe, allowing the child a few more minutes with a beloved pet.
Tiny fingers stretched high over the edge of the stainless steel exam table and gently stroked the matted fur of the mangled little animal. It didn't move.
      Finally Doc said, "If you could please wait outside for a few minutes...?" Her voice shook a bit.
      They nodded, and took the child's hand to lead her away from the scene. Ronnie went with them, staying to kindly occupy them a little by talking about other things. He closed the door behind him.
      I turned around from watching the door close just in time to see the tears break over Doc's cheeks, falling onto the stainless steel table and the limp bit of tangled fur lying on a dirty, stained towel there. She still had the needle in her hand.
      She muttered, "I had to go straight to the heart. It was so very tiny. There was no other way to be sure that it would be fast and clean." The tears flowed unchecked as she quickly reached for a stack of newspaper and deftly wrapped the body of the kitten in it, tucking the edges carefully, smoothing it sadly with one last pat. She placed the newspaper shrouded packet on top of a nearby shelf, not noticeable among the boxes of recently received medical supplies. "I'm not going to charge them."
      While I stood there dully staring in the converted garage clinic, she folded the old towel into a neat square in angry jerks, and started to viciously clean the table. When she set down the bottle of disinfectant hard, and broke into sobs, I looked up just in time to see her run for the sanctuary of the house. Taking up the cleaning materials in silence, I cleaned the table thoroughly. She had to be alone, a fact I understood all too well. It was a tragedy, the kind you hope never to have to see.
      After a few more minutes passed, Ronnie led the way for everyone to come back inside. The girl immediately peered around, looking for the kitten she hoped that Doc had "fixed up", and the mother pressed a hand to her mouth to stifle a sob as she watched. The father continued carefully talking to try to avoid the issue.
      "Where is my kitty?" The youngster asked in a high, tearful voice.

      Tears ran, and the woman looked at me with desperation, her eyes asking how she was ever going to handle this one. The man, cleared his throat, and went to look out the window of the door, still mumbling something about the weather.
      Ronnie kept his mouth shut, but looked at me and cocked an eyebrow meaningfully. What a situation.
      "Doc said there was no charge, " I noted, trying to let things settle on their own, not quite knowing what to say or do. Fumbling with the towel, I abruptly handed it to the mother, who took it gingerly, as if perhaps it were on fire.
      The clients watched as the child explored the room with her eyes, not seeing the significance of one small packet among the many on a shelf well above her line of sight. Ronnie fidgeted and I squirmed.

      Finally, inspiration struck, and I glanced at the mother, who wore a necklace with a small gold cross on it, "Religious?" I asked, touching my own neck in illustration. Not being religious myself, I was being cautious.
      She blew her nose noisily, and nodded vigorously, hope starting to show in her reddened eyes.
      Kneeling on the floor to get nearer to her eye-level, I beckoned the girl over. She came hesitantly, still looking for the kitten as if expecting it to pop out of some hiding place as easily as before the dog attacked it.
      "It isn't here, honey. Your kitten is gone." Groping for words that would not come easily as the child began to sob, I went on, "The angels wanted to play with her, so they came and took her with them." I peeked at the woman for approval; she nodded.
      "A-a-angels?" The child sobbed, swiping a small hand across her wet face. "They were here? An angel came and took my kitty?" She snuffled.
      Remembering the sight of Doc's ravaged face just before she left the room, I nodded a bit grimly. "The angels won't let little animals hurt that badly live still hurting like that. They take them to a place where there is no pain. That's part of their job. Your kitty is not ever going to hurt again. I can promise you that." I crossed my heart in the universal childish sign of honesty.
      "P-promise?" She wiped her face again, looking at me sidelong to gauge my sincerity.
      "Yes, I promise. Your kitten like a memory now, no more hurting ever again. The angels will care for it at last. They'll do all that has to be done. It was a pretty baby, your kitten. Gray stripe-y and white... I like that color. It's beautiful." The mother came over and got her little daughter to blow her nose, and sneaked me a look of gratitude as she did so.
      The man came over, smiled at me, then lovingly picked up his child without a word. He sat down on the bench and just held her in his lap.
      "Thank you, " The woman said quietly, touching her cross lightly. "That's what we believe too. The angels always take care of those who suffer." She looked toward Doc's kitchen door. "Tell Dr. Painter that we thank her very much, and she is most kind for not charging us." She shoved a piece of paper money into my hand as I got up. "Ask her to accept this much anyway; we can't afford a lot, unfortunately. I insist." She waved away my protests.
      "Are you ready to go now, baby?" The little girl nodded at her mother from her daddy's secure lap. Getting down, she took each parent by a hand and playfully swung her weight a little on their grip.
      Ronnie helpfully opened the door.
      As they walked out, I overheard the little girl talking to them, the tears already gone from her resilient young voice.
      "Next time, can I have a yellow kitten?"
~  *  ~

The End
Copyright by Rhonda L. M. Tipton