Saturday, March 26, 2016


Taos Veterinary Clinic’s office called yesterday to say that George’s ashes were ready for pickup.  A jolt went through my body at the reality that our George could now be merely a box of grey ashes. If only I could rewind the two years that he lived with us, but alas, time surges on in only one direction like a powerful unrelenting wind and our will is no match for its force.  

My Desk Companion 
George was (is) a strong spirit. Of course he was a cat and yet he had many uniquely George traits that added to his charm. His intelligence and curiosity was sometimes problematic. There were many things we had to be careful about leaving unprotected because George would figure out how to get into almost anything and find what we didn’t want him to have. When he first came around our home, I called him Squeaky because he didn’t really meow he made a sound like a rusty hinge. Somehow, I don’t remember when, I began to call him Curious George because he was compelled to explore everything. He was also fascinated with running water and followed us into the bathroom if we let him, and would jump on the toilet seat or sink to watch the water rush down. Sometimes he would put a paw in the running water, shake his wet paw and put it in the water again as if trying to understand what water was about.

When we first allowed him in the house, (actually we leave the front door open in summer) he decided he would move in and put our sweet, once feral cat Shadow in her place. He would occupy all of her favorite sleeping locations and chase her around the house. This phase didn’t last very long and soon they were best buddies. Shadow still finds his absence troubling and I wish I could explain it to her. She is following me everywhere.

I’ve wondered if George might have been a hybrid because of certain traits that were unlike most domestic cats. He didn’t lift his tail high in the air as he walked in front of us the way most cats do, or lift his tail like a flag when following us. He carried his tail low like a tiger or leopard and he had a rangy shape. He was a big boy and weighed close to 20 pounds before he got sick. He loved people and his throne was the end table close to the door where he could greet people as they came in. He had no fear of dogs, which was probably not a good thing, but somehow he got away with it. Our son Corey has a boxer, lab, and something else mix that George thought he had a right to dominate. Fortunately, there was no face off, since this polite dog, Mini respects our hospitality. The closest she came to attacking George was once when Corey petted George in her presence. This was totally unacceptable; she quickly told George he was out of bounds with a deep throated woof.

I miss George very much but there is an unusual state of spirit that moved over my senses since he left his body and left an empty place in our home. It isn’t a replacement but a light form that shines where his presence was. I am somehow able to see and feel the world differently with sharper eyes and more sensitivity. Old conditioning makes me falsely cautious about giving an animal so much credit for influence but there is definitely something more than memories and grief. He has left his light form in our world.

 "..You and I shall smile together, so long as our two forms appear different in the Maya-dream of God. Finally we shall merge as one in the Cosmic Beloved…” said Paramahansa Yogananda at the passing of his master, Sri Yukteswar.

 Master George by his simple beingness renewed my awareness of unity with all who live and struggle in this time/space world and then move beyond it.

Can a four-legged creature be a spiritual master? I believe so. They are not interested in our way of organizing the world to fit ego driven concepts both personal and social. Such abstractions have no use in their lives.  If we look at them as more than a familiar pet, a warm furry possession but the window into realities that we are often exiled from due to our self-induced alienation from actualities beyond the borders of our human abstractions. I suspect that is one reason we have animal companions.  The animal being within us needs lots of backup in this mechanical, cerebral world we have created for ourselves. The salvation of the planet may depend on we humans coming back to earth, certainly our own survival does. Although we haven’t found a way to reach our neighbors in space and thus triumph over the bonds of earth just yet, it will do us no good if we carry our alienation with us. After all, we are already living in space. The desire to conquer the universe may be just another version of “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence (galaxy).”

Saturday, March 12, 2016


George Roars
Today we lost our George. He slept with us on the bed all night until I started to dress this morning. Then I found him on the bedroom windowsill panting with rapid labored breath. Not only was he not better since his visit to the veterinary yesterday, he was much worse. I gave him the two meds that the vet prescribed but I knew something was much worse than we imagined. I called the vet’s office but today they were closed for a remodeling project in the office. However, their voice mail gave me the number of another veterinary clinic for emergencies.  

We rushed him to the Taos Veterinary Clinic out past the old blinking light (it no longer blinks yet old Taosenos still call it by that name) and by the time I took him into the examining room, he was getting weaker. The Dr. took his temperature and found it much lower than it should be for a cat. His heart had a murmur, and a problem that he was probably born with that caused the heart muscle to become thicker and thicker in an attempt to compensate for an insufficient blood flow from the aorta. Eventually the thickened wall prevents enough blood from entering and exiting the heart. Apparently, his visit to the clinic the day before had been the stress that tipped him over the edge. The Doc ran an EKG and had me bring PQ in to see the problem on the screen. PQ had gone outside because he already feared the worse. The doctor recommended euthanasia to end his desperate struggle to breath in enough oxygen.  Troubled breathing is a repetitive theme in our world.
Kitty Love

I stayed with him to his last breath. It was very hard to accept that this beautiful, intelligent, high-spirited and extremely social young cat was gone and I couldn’t refrain from stroking his soft shiny coat for several minutes after he quit breathing. It didn’t seem that this was real. I numbly paid at the front desk and the receptionist mentioned that they recognized PQ and had one of his paintings hanging in the bathroom. Many years ago, he brought his Rottweiler Brute to this clinic. I took a quick look at the painting and on the way out noticed that a man in the waiting room was holding a cat with markings similar to George’s then I ran outside to find PQ.  He was obviously on the verge of tears.  

We drove home quietly. When we got home, PQ sat at the kitchen table and sobbed for several minutes. I didn’t have time to cry, but dearly wanted time to honor George with the tears he deserved, but this slave  to circumstance needed to wash my clothes and the cat carrier that poor George had peed on as he lost control of his body, take Corey to work immediately, pick the girls up from three different schools and fill an almost empty fuel tank for the next day’s back and forth deliveries.  I desperately didn’t want to do anything other than be quietly at home with PQ. Grieving George will be with me for a long time. Tonight we talked about how this loss hit us in the heart, and wondered how our other cat Shadow would react to being alone. Right now, she won’t come out of the bedroom.  We only had George two years but he had a much more powerful effect on our lives than we ever imagined. As PQ said, “he was our boy.”

George with a View
As I was driving around this afternoon, it occurred to me that certain beings come into our lives for a reason that we can’t imagine at the time, but it’s as if they are on a mission. When George was still a kitten, he parked himself in the grass near our front door day after day. We didn’t want another cat and in fact, didn’t want any animals. Shadow started us down this path. She was feral and obviously malnourished. I started feeding her outside and we gradually succumbed to her sad condition. It was fulfilling to turn her into a beautiful healthy creature. Nevertheless, we wanted to be free to travel without obligations tying us down. PQ’s health issues were quite enough to keep us challenged.

Why did George come into our lives? He was worlds of difference from shy Shadow. He loved people  and met no strangers. He was an unruffled cool cat from the first. While energetic, playful and extremely curious, thus the name Curious George, there wasn’t very much that frightened him and he was amazingly patient with grandkids. Nevertheless, he took on the yapping dogs next-door as though he was a real tiger even though he had eyes shaped like those of a lion. 

I have nothing insightful or wise to say, but I notice that the theme of heart and breath keeps surfacing as I recount this experience. Whether or not there is any insight or wisdom to be revealed by his loss, George deserves to be honored. Animals also come into this life carrying different proportions of consciousness, heart and spirit, and each one we get to know is a window into another world and I am grateful for our time with George.