Living With Orlando

Winter is often a challenging time for this contentment seeker.  Greyness and coldness and long hours of darkness don’t always sit easily with my need for sun and light and balmy air.  But this year something is different, I feel a mellowness, a silent waiting, a sense of gratitude for being allowed to love.  I feel these things and they are mixed with a certain irritability and impatience   – caused entirely by watching my dear old kitty age and slow down and show signs of incipient dementia.    I was concerned – I looked it up – it’s a thing.

O Hat3 sml

Orlando wearing his hat for a special Skype meeting in 2014

Orlando has always been a cat who has excellent message collecting skills.  But, being Maine Coon, he also glories in being one of those special creatures ‘the dog of the cat world’.  He comes when whistled.  He used to like going for little walks with me BP (Before Puppy).  He loves water and the seaside.   When I lived by the sea he would often be seen trotting along the sand at low tide, coming home smelling of salt and seaweed.  All my early attempts to have him be an inside cat were completely ignored by him and after a few months I gave up trying.  He would usually be home and indoors with me when I was home and indoors.

O July 8 2015

Nowhere is sacred – tables are for getting closer to his favourite person

Orlando hasn’t had a cat door for some time.  Not since his inclination to catch rats and bring them home and set them free became an issue for me.  In these later years he would knock at the door, I would open it and he would enter.

Last summer things began to change.  He stopped knocking.  So I would open the door to see if he was there and wanted to come in.  Any or all of the following messages could be the result of multiple door openings:

‘I wanted to come inside,  but you opened the door too fast, now I can’t come in’

‘I want to come inside, but the puppy looked at me, I can’t come in when he looks at me’

‘I can’t come in right now, I’m thinking’

‘I wanted to come inside, but you opened the door too slowly, I can’t possibly come in’

‘I want to come inside,  but I’m not sure – what have you got hiding in there?   No, I can’t possibly come inside now’

‘Why did you open that door?  You disturbed me.  I’m thinking, I can’t possibly move!’

‘I WANT to come inside – but is it safe?  Yes? Maybe? No, it’s not safe.  I can’t possibly come inside when there’s a shadow somewhere’

‘I want to come inside!  About time!  What’s for dinner, I’m soooo hungry mumma!’

‘I can’t possibly eat that!’

‘I have to go outside’

‘No, I want to stay inside now.  No, maybe I want to go out  ….   I don’t know – I’ll think about it’

‘I have to go outside NOW’

Of course I always knew that my lovely orange marmalade boy would have a shortish stay with me, all of us who share our lives with pets know it is not forever – but heck time flies past so quickly!   Orlando is approaching 12 years old,  which puts him up there, in the upper average life span of a Maine Coon cat which is 10 – 12 years.    I was hoping he would make it with the 25% of MC cats to really old age, which is 16 and possibly even beyond – but this in-out thing is stretching my patience somewhat and I sometimes find myself wondering if he will last past tomorrow!

Stretching my patience but also making me very aware that our time is limited.  Every moment counts in an animals life – after all, one of our years is equal to seven of theirs.   I look at him and feel that little rush of affection for all his catlike foibles and recognise how they mirror my own.  I’m more ‘cat’ than I like to admit!  But still, I feel concern at this change of ‘in-out’ behaviour.

He’s still a lovely boy, a liquid ripple of orange-blonde fur, a magnificent tail often coated in leaves gathered from the garden and a wide variety of vocalisations that include hurrunphing, gurgling, chirruping and purring at different volumes and speeds.

He is a boy who adores his mumma and loathes when the house has other people come in and look at him and disturb his peace.  He has learned over the years to ‘quite like’ or even ‘become rather fond of’  some regular visitors and even, reluctantly, a puppy who moved in to profoundly upset his kingdom three years ago.  At that time he was forced to live on top of the fridge for a whole year as being at ground level meant being at eye level with an extremely enthusiastic black and white fluff ball that just wanted to play.   But time and familiarity and a great deal of coaxing persuaded him down and into the happy orbit of his new best friend.

O family portrait Nov 15

Orlando, a person he is quite fond of and his puppy friend. Photo taken last summer

 

He’s a boy who waits for the sound of the car returning and then he trots through the front garden, gathering more leaves on his tail,  moving with that liquid flow that so identifies him to me, calling out as he approaches.  The puppy tumbles out of the car and rushes up to say ‘Hullo!’ but the cat ignores him, his eyes fixed on me, waiting.

He’s waiting for me to organise myself.  I cram as much as I can under one arm for both hands are now required.   I walk to the edge of the garden and hold out my arms, as you would to a small child.  Orlando sits up on his back legs and holds his forepaws up to me, I lift him, like a little child and I scoot him over onto my right hip and arm.  He puts a paw about my neck and cuddles in, looking satisfied, harrumphing and purring.  I stagger indoors under the weight of my golden cat and anything else I happen to be carrying.  The puppy trots along at our heels looking up at us and smiling.

Well Hello! 2016

We go inside.  I put down my paraphenalia and eventually coax the cat from my arms. He jumps to the floor and sits by the kitchen door.

‘I need to go outside now.’

I sigh.  Then I open the door and let him do whatever he wants to do.  He is my precious cat, probably my last one and I will let him do and be as he likes for whatever time we have left.  The puppy bounds up and scrambles at my knees.  “I’m here” he seems to be saying “I’ll stay with you til kitty comes back.”

O under tree Dec 15

Orlando waiting for Santa Christmas 2015

I hope kitty keeps coming back for a while longer!

O sleeping duo June

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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74 thoughts on “Living With Orlando

  1. I know I’m getting here late, just now catching up on everyone’s blogs. I’m so glad I read this, it is such a lovely tribute! Pets are such a special addition to our families, the only problem is that they leave us too soon. You just keep on spoiling them and revel in the joy they bring to you.

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  2. My heart was so full after I read this and I started to have a feeling of dread until I got to the end. If it would hurt my heart so much to have Mr. O no longer there, I can only imaging how sorrowful yours will be. He is quite princely and photogenic. I had no idea he was an indoor/outdoor cat. I actually thought he owned your home and allowed you entrance. 🙂 I miss having animals but can’t bear the heartbreak of leaving them or losing them. So I get my fuzzy loving from any I see around. My sister will bring her Lucille when her time comes to need care. Hoping to get the yard completely fenced by then. I’m praying it’s at least another year. Loss is hard even though it’s inevitable.

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  3. Just popped by for a catch-up, Pauline. I, too, have had many animals over the years and it’s as hard to say goodbye to them as it is to the people in our life. I think everyone above has said what I feel and think, but so much better. You, Orlando and Siddy are in my thoughts. I found it helpful when faced with dementia some years ago to remember that the brain is just a computer; when the messages begin getting garbled, it’s the same as if your keyboard had some wires crossed. Nothing would be wrong with YOU, but your messages might seem a bit odd . . . They are so lucky to have you in their lives, as are all of us, too. Hugs to you and warm pats for the boys.

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      • Yes, there are good days again and I’m happy for that. A few challenging ones, too, of course. I’ve been happy with the summer so far; hot in the last couple of weeks of May, so that we got the garden beds planted (for the most part; I keep seeing flowers that I know Cousin S would enjoy). Then we had a couple of weeks that were cooler and more rainy, so things are growing now and I love it when I go out in the morning and say hello to each plant, giving them water and thanking them for the great job they are doing. I make sure to thank the bees, too; for a while, we thought we might not see any, then one day there were three varieties out there, doing their thing.
        You, Orlando and Siddy will remain on my list and I was so happy to see your latest post, stating that Mr. O was doing so much better. Love and Light to you, Pauline. ~ Linne

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  4. Orlando is so precious, Pauline. I have always had cats, I understand that pets are our family. It is surely hard to near a point of separation. Cats are such regal creatures, I chuckled at the door in and out dialogue as that must be exactly how they think. Winter is not my favorite season either, but I’m wishing you and Orlando a cozy one full of warmth and snuggles.

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    • Thank you Lana, I suspect you are as dotty about your pets as I am about mine. As Mr O spends most of his time sitting outside the door waiting for it to be opened in the exactly correct manner I suspect he doesn’t mind winter so much. And, if it should be raining, he doesn’t mind sitting out in that. He quite likes water and getting wet means a towel rub down to which he is also not averse. Yes, I suspect he quite enjoys winter. Good that someone does 🙂 I trust your days are suitably warm to hot and sunny……

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      • I am rather dotty about my pets, ha ha. I certainly understand that there is a correct manner to open the door, I laugh about that one all the time. My cats love their long winter naps. We are lucky to have these little creatures. Speaking of lucky, we have been enjoying some rather mild weather for Texas thus time of year. It’s hardly been in the 90s at a time when we have been up to 100 already. Here’s to better weather 😀

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  5. Oh Pauline, the twilight part of life of our furry babies is always a sad time. Cherish the time you have with him and know that he cherishes you too. I’ve been through this so many times and still lack the words to comfort. I just know that as hard as it was, I tried very hard to be the mommy they believed I was even as my heart was breaking. I think the most important thing a human and a pet can feel is knowing they are loved. Love him with all your heart.

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    • I know right – yet every time it is just as hard as the first. I held my last kitty in my arms as she was euthanised and felt her slip away while a waterfall ran from my eyes……… I’m so glad I did that for her and for me. I’m hoping Orlando has a few more years left and I shall just get used to him becoming more dotty and eccentric as time goes by. 🙂 Thank you for your beautiful thoughts.

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  6. I was around your blog when Siddy became the baby in the house and Orlando was the big brother who was offended just by his jiggly, enthusiastic behaviors. I didn’t realize it took a whole year to adjust!
    This precious, true story had my eyes tearing up, Pauline. It has humor in the “in-out” thought processes of a cat. It has beauty in your love and appreciation for him. The being in the moments, this touched me a lot. We both know how fast our children grew up, but pets go 7× faster. . .
    On a special note to you: I loved your painting of blue rippled water and yellow water lilies, or possibly yellow flowers along the edge with reflecting colors. Beautiful and original, as you are, my dear. 💐

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    • Robin, thank you for reading and responding so carefully – so full of care 🙂 it is quite something how we tend to turn around and find decades have gone by – I am determined to be fully awake in everything given to me to experience be it easy or painful for whatever time I have left. Life is precious. How lovely that you liked that old painting behind Orlando – I think I may have painted over it now (I do that when I can’t afford to buy a new canvas) the yellow flowers are/were the yellow lupins that flower along the roadside every spring beside the estuary where I used to live. I would be delighted by that view every morning and every evening as I drove to and from my work and one winter, when the flower were long gone I painted how it made me feel – so it is a bit fanciful….. Thank you for mentioning it, that was a lovely memory ❤

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      • I am always grateful for hints on flowers and enjoy “back stories” on art pieces. You’re welcome for my helping you to enjoy a nostalgic memory. Painting is all about how we feel and not (in my opinion) to be like a photograph. It is why I love expressionism.
        Orlando on your shoulder was a special pose and his Christmas picture under the tree was serene and angelic. I’m heading off to bed now, but enjoyed this last bit of station and fellowship, dear Pauline. xo 💖

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          • I used to have a good friend who called me to say good night for a few years. I met her “future husband” in a movie video store and match made them! I overheard him saying he wasn’t a bar type and was raising two children. Jenny couldn’t have kids. . .
            Yes, they have been married for 25 years (or so.) My college friend says my “man picker” works for others but is “broken” for me! Haha! 😀

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              • They are so funny saying the “good ones” already have been found. . .
                I think it will or won’t happen and my eyes are open. I do date a nice, busy man. (For one year now. He bought me a nice art portfolio and a collection of art materials for Christmas. It was a surprise!)
                His kids are still “his” every other weekend. I’ve met them once with my own two grandsons. We’ll see. . .
                I actually like a once or twice a month date. (Not overnight either).
                Maybe I put out roadblocks since I treasure my grandchildren time. 😉 Thanks again. xo

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                • I knew you were dating someone Robin, but you hadn’t mentioned him for so long …… 🙂 That sounds like a pretty good way to do it to me too – a couple of dates a month. A nice, easy friendship growing slowly…… While the really important things like family and grand children take centre stage. Love it!

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  7. 😦 I keep reading that pets come into our lives to deliver the strongest message about unconditional love, patience and so many life lessons about being human that I couldn’t even possibly begin to list them here. A ‘pet’ seems like such a nondescript word for the relationship we share with the other animals that choose to live in our space with us. The bond between a human and an animal has a way of enveloping us and holding us like no other relationship bond and when our precious animal friends are nearing the end of their lives, nothing can hurt like their loss. I am dreading the day when our boys need our gentle assistance to move through the last act of their lives. No-one has come close to holding that place in my heart that these furry slobbering boys have. I know they have me covered and I also know that I need to give them my all whatever may come. I am with you Ms Pauline. I know what you are feeling. That dread is inevitable and devastating. Please accept a huge hug from narf across the ditch and please give that elderly old Maine Coone a big cuddle from a stranger from his mum. I feel like he is family.

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    • So well said Narf, just beautiful – thank you! That’s why I call Siddy my little happiness guru – you only have to look at him to be made to smile and realise that every moment is one to be enjoyed if we just live into it. I have already noted that I turn my mind away from his possible end whenever I am confronted with it – an act of denial or self preservation? ‘We’ll deal with that when the time comes!’

      And with my dear old Mr O I am going with the flow – there has been so much support from my dear wordpress friends and community I can’t begin to say how much this has helped clarify and sort my feelings around this particular bend in his road. I am grateful and heartened and strengthened in my knowledge that the world is full of good people – they are certainly found here on this blog’s comments! It’s lovely and I love it ❤

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      • The internet, and social media in general, has given a way to connect to so many people who would otherwise never have met. It makes up for all of the negativity and garbage that social media spawns on an hourly basis. I know that my life wouldn’t have been nearly as rich and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to afford the education I have gotten for free online. Long live the free internet and connectivity with like minded souls worldwide! 🙂

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          • Steve found how to access ALL of the emoticons for his PlayStation gaming with his N.Z. mates (he made some N.Z. friends online gaming as well 🙂 ) but you have to go to the site, copy the link for the emoticon and then paste it into your text. Not sure I have the chutzpah to be doing that every 5 minutes so I will stick with smileys methinks 🙂

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  8. Pauline, your writing evokes so many images … ones that make me smile (in, out, in, out), and marvel (trotting along the beach), and feel whistful (those sweet paws on your neck, purring into your ear). As Orlando has been a wonderful companion, YOU are an incredible writer. I read and see the three of you walking into the house together. I can SEE your story.
    I’ll be thinking of you and your liquid ripple of orange blond fur. ❤

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    • That’s so nice Laurie – thank you! I’m really glad I decided to share this part of our story, you all have helped strengthen my resolve to mellow out and let it be what it will be – and enjoy him for as long as I can. I’m truly grateful! xoxo

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  9. Hello dear Pauline et all ❤ as I read through the first bit, I panic'd, "oh, no, no, no" ! But as I continued, your 'outside please/no inside now' comments made me laugh and nod. As always, you're writing is so dearly honest, that the love shine's right through. I could totally picture you and Siddy arriving in the car to be met by O. It played in my head like a movie. I dearly hope Orlando is by your side, in you lap and around for hugs much longer than those rotten stats would suggest. I always want to feel blessed for the time I've had with pets, but it's always too short. xo Love K

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    • As usual my dear little Canadian friend – you have responded so perfectly accurately and beautifully I now have leaky eyes. You are so right, the time is too short, but we know that we we sign up with them and it’s our job to let them go when the time is right. Like all pet owners I guess I am beginning to process the fact that my boy is not an immortal and that time may be coming sooner rather than later. But I also hope, as you mention, that the stats may count for nothing and Mr O will confound us all, find his lost marbles and live to an extremely ripe old age. Whatever happens we will love him ❤ Thank you K xoxo

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  10. What a heartwarming tribute to your beautiful Orlando. We who love our kitties so much understand the special bond you share. I wish the best for you and Orlando, and many more years of going in and out of doors:)

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  11. Orlando is a beauty and seems to be a real character. The mortality of our furry companions is emotionally very difficult. You and Orlando are making the most of your time together though and have a special bond. Xxx

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  12. What’s a little memory loss among friends?? My oldest cat, at 16, is doing some of the same things–she stands in front of closed doors and cries and wants to go in, then wants to come out. Yet she eats well and purrs and cuddles, and occasionally takes a short dash up a tree. Your post did make me cry, though–I love Orlando and am sad to think of time passing . . .

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    • Well, you are right about memory loss. I myself have the odd hole where there ought to be something…….. I so wanted O to be well for longer, and am really just coming to terms with the fact that his will probably be an average life span. He is well in every other way and except for brown spots appearing on the pale skin around his eyes and mouth is as beautiful as ever he was. He still sometimes sleeps in bed with us and still purrs and harrumphs and gurgles when being cuddled – it is just less often due to the constant inning and outing. Perhaps if I just pretend 16 years have passed instead of nearly 12, it won’t be so hard to watch………..

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  13. Hi Pauline, This post is a wonderful tribute to your very special friend Orlando. How sad that he may be developing dementia. I’d never thought of it as a possibility. He is so lucky to have such a lovely, caring and patient Mumma, who knows him better than he knows himself. I wish you many more days entwined in friendship. Create those memories, Take those photos. They last forever. Best wishes to you all. xo

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    • Nor had I Norah – when I searched for information about it, it came both as a shock and a relief. None of my other pets over the years have shown this behaviour and I’m sad that this is his lot. He has been a wonderfully characterful cat and I hate the thought that he will lose that and just become – something other. But whatever it is, we will bear it together, Orlando me and Siddy 🙂

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  14. Orlando is quite splendid that us for sure. What a great expression, very regal. Our twins are pushing 17 now, your basic moggy and both very different. Hope Orlando eeks out a few more years for you all. Looks like Siddy will miss him too.

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  15. As you know, we are having similar issues with Max – he is constantly a little bewildered and, like Orlando, he does spend quite a lot of time asking to go in and out (and now sometimes forgetting to scratch the door when he wants to come back in). I’m not sure whether this makes Max more like a cat, or Orlando more like a dog!
    Your description does, however, also remind me of the story that the cat flap was invented by Isaac Newton because he got so fed up with his cats always wanting to come in and out of his office. It may not be true, but I do like the idea 😉
    I hope that you are able to keep enjoying Orland’s company for as long as he has, and that finally letting him go is peaceful and calm… I think that’s all we can hope for with our pets.

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    • I’d not heard that story about Newton – but, like you I think it ought to be true 🙂 Bewildered is a good way of thinking about the condition too – it’s a little how I feel watching Orlando going in and out. I fully agree with your final paragraph – thank you for putting it so succinctly and clearly.

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  16. Oh Pauline, such a poignant piece of writing. Orlando has the most expressive eyes and what a sweet and handsome companion he’s been all these years. I hope he’ll surprise you and continue to warm your heart and home. I didn’t realize that Maine Coons had a shorter lifespan. I hope he breaks records and remains a good long time. I really enjoyed hearing about your special greeting. What a sweet kitty. Thanks for sharing all these lovely pictures. Hugs to you both. xo

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    • Thank you Alys ❤ Your new arrival with the gorgeous face lifted my heart so much this morning and reminded me that all is well and all shall be well! MC's have such a short span don't they. But my Moofy lived just under 13 years and she was a moggy, so there is no telling. I always knew I'd be lucky for every year over 10 I got with Mr O and in the early days that seemed fine – time has passed so quickly though and I must now adapt!

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      • You really notice the passage of time with animals and children. The days can seem slow, then suddenly the years fly by. Moofy is such a sweet name. I like the name Orlando, too. You’re very good at naming your animal companions. ❤

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  17. This is a beautiful tribute to Orlando. I’d say he loves you as much as you love him too.

    We used to have a cat who thought she was a dog. When we moved to a new town, Puss beat up every dog on the street to let them know she was the boss and they all took notice. She adored Mr ET and would wait by the door in the evening for him to come home from work.

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  18. What a darling boy he is. It’s a sad moment when you realise your loved furbaby is starting to edge towards the end of their time with us. I have many good memories with my beloved cats and dogs. My latest cat is edging towards 12 too. She is a moggie and I have had her since she was only about 1. We had just said goodbye to a brother and sister cat who managed to live to 16. I was heartbroken but after 3 months I just needed another cat, the house felt empty. We got her from the Cat Haven as she was “good with dogs.” She just loved our Goldy, Ben. And she loved my boys and my husband, but she had no time what so ever for me. She snubbed me for a whole year before deciding I wasn’t so bad. Now I am her favourite :), patience is a slow game. She has started to do silly things now and I’m starting to think she might be verging on dementia. She does the door conversation too, and she has decided that she doesn’t know how to use the dog door, meowing at me pitifully until I relent and open it… I love her and really cherish the time with her, mostly.. I feel for you and hope Orlando will be a part of your life for a while yet. ❤

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    • Oh the stories we can tell 🙂 They are an integral part of our live aren’t they. The momentary sense of annoyance passes and the fond memories remain! As you say patience is a slow game! I do love my cat and so does his puppy. We also both hope he will be well for a while longer. Thank you Kym xo

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  19. I have some friends who had a Maine Coon named Russell. He brought mice into the house and would knock at the door as well. I hope you have Orlando much longer. What a lovely, expressive face he has. It is hard to think about losing a pet–and that starts when you begin watching them closely. What a lovely boy he is–for however long you get to have him.

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  20. You’ve reminded of our encounters at the life’s end of our pets … and those thoughts remain painful – so peace to you during these days. Cheers to the joys Orlando has brought you … including the rats. 😉

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