Goodbye, dear friends

I swore to myself when I started this website that I wouldn’t post about personal things, because, well, it didn’t seem right. But my wife and I have lost two good friends in the last three weeks, our beloved cat Xander (age at least twenty) and the imp of the perverse, our youngest cat Spike, age 12. We still are blessed with the middle cat, Buffy, who’s about 16 or so, and of course, our devil dog, our Rottweiler baby Jenny, age 5. My wife is in tears as I type this, heartbroken over the sudden death of Spike from cancer and hyperthyroid only three weeks after his big brother, whose passing was slow and dignified as befits an old man. She swears, “No more pets. I can’t do this again.”

Yesterday, with the fear that Spike had only days or hours left, I dragged her to the pet store, where we adopted a 1-year-old male tabby, Mr. Giles. He’s now accustoming himself to our home, which is suddenly bereft of the little white cat Spike whom he met only the day before.

Why do we plunge into these relationships? We have children–five of them, ages 36-48, all wonderful–and grandchildren, six delightful and promising young people, ages 4 to 16. So it’s not scratching the parenting itch–we did that, with all its ups and downs, all of its aches, pains, and joys. It’s something else, I think–only pets can give us 100% unconditional love, 24/7, year-in, year-out. Only pets are there every minute, never talking back, always ready to be petted and stroked and hugged. Children move out. Grandchildren get older.

But of course there is a price. Pets’ lifespans are not human lifespans, and we have to say goodbye when the time comes. Jenny is our fourth dog, and you would think that we would know how to deal with the passings by now. But Xander was our first cat, and then there was Buffy, and then there was Spike, and it seemed like we’d have all of them–forever.

And so this month has been a painful reminder that things change. I know Mr. Giles will bring us much pleasure. He will never replace our other two guys. But–as I’ve said many times about my mother and father, who died more than 15 years ago–they are never gone. They will always be in our hearts.


  1. Susan on December 19, 2016 at 1:33 am

    I sorry about Xander. I remember him and the old house, when Max was still alive. As Holmes didn’t say, wonderful people have wonderful pets. Please hug Sharon for me.

  2. Bonnie MacBird on December 19, 2016 at 4:32 am

    Sorry to hear of your Los, Les and Sharon. I do know what that’s like. My dog Watson lives on in my heart. As does Blackberry, our much loved Maine Coon cat. Your sweet Mr. Giles has an adorable face!

  3. Jyoti on December 19, 2016 at 11:48 am

    Sorry to hear of your losses Les and Sharon! Oh, I am so sorry to hear that Spike and Xany are not with us any longer. Spike brought forth in us so many laughs and smiles through the years in our yoga sessions together. And I look forward to meeting Mr. Giles next time I am in LA. Many blessings~

  4. Carol Senf on December 19, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    What a wonderful tribute. Glad you adopted a new kitty though, as we just adopted two (Frida and Whitby), having lost our BFF.

    Fortunately, the new babies (feline) tolerate our human grandbaby. Spent last Sunday with a lapful of babies. Yesterday, though, was a bit wilder with two kittens and an almost toddler chasing one another. Unlike Ben, the kittens don’t allow Saxon to suck on their tails.

  5. Ken Ross on December 19, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    Les, your blog posting was beautiful. Sandy and I are in the same boat. We got a new dog 30 minutes after putting down our old dog. We know this dog and our 3 cats will not live forever. So the best we can do is enjoy them while we can and give them a good home.

    George Carlin once referred to pets as “walking tragedies.” How insightful, except they are a joy during their lives.

    Best wishes to you and Sharon and all of your brood.

  6. Mary Platt on January 4, 2017 at 3:59 am

    So sorry to hear of your two losses, Les. My cats are the loves of my daily life, and over the years I’ve lost five beloved Abyssinians. After losing my baby Leilani at the age of just seven in December 2013, to amyloidosis, I suddenly had no feline presence in the house, no warm little pal to welcome me home. I’d always had at least two cats, but she was an “only child.” After only a week or so of no kitty at all, I decided I couldn’t stand it, and went on the Southern California Abyssinian Rescue site to see if I could at least help by fostering a rescue. NOT intending to adopt so soon, of course. But – not surprisingly – the big calm 8-year-old male, Simba, and his friend, Raj, a semi-feral female who came with him as a package deal, are still
    with me and will be for the rest of their lives. Leilani will always in my heart, as you say – but the heart has room for many pets in the course of a lifetime, and all are our loves. Condolences on the loss of Spike and Xander, and may Mr. Giles bring many years of joy.

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