Fifteen years ago, toward the end of my first marriage, I saw an ad posted on the bulletin board at work for a kitten that needed a good home. The kitten’s name was Dabé. He didn’t look like a Dabé to me. He had huge ears for his little body and reminded me of Dobby the house-elf in the Harry Potter stories, so I named him Dobby.
As my marriage wound down toward separation and things were tense in the house, Dobby peed on my ex-husband’s side of the bed one morning. After my divorce, I got into another abusive relationship and Dobby peed on his clothes. I came to think of Dobby as my guardian angel. He had a purr you could hear from across the room!
I met Mark just before I graduated from library school. I knew I was going to spend a year volunteering in Mexico after graduation (or so I thought, but Montezuma’s Revenge brought be back a few months later), so I asked Mark to keep Dobby while I was gone. I was convinced that Mark was a cat whisperer. He seemed to be able to herd cats and he was able to explain Dobby’s behavior to me. Mark had a big dog named Dolly who was old and calm. At first, Dobby jumped up on top of Mark’s kitchen cabinets and refused to come down. We had to put his food on top of the refrigerator. Eventually, Dobby and Dolly made their peace, and Dobby came down. When Dolly had to be put down, Mark found a notice on the same bulletin board at work for a kitten named Kimba, and he brought her home to be a companion for Dobby.
Mark and I got married in 2008, which was the year of the Great Recession, and Mark lost his job and went to college to finish his AA degree. After two more years of unemployment, Mark got a job as a long-haul truck driver. He loved driving and seeing the country, but being on the road for weeks at a time and only being able to spend a few days at home before heading out again was beginning to take a toll. That’s when I heard about Workamping. I was freelancing as an editor at the time and was available to travel, so we took the cats and began a nomadic lifestyle. Dobby has been in every state except Hawaii, and in British Columbia, the Yukon, and Ontario. He even went to Mexico with us once. He was a well-traveled cat!
It was a couple of years ago, I think, when Dobby was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and kidney disease. We had to start giving him pills for the hyperthyroidism and putting water in his food for his kidneys. He was getting a little bit crotchety in his old age, but he still seemed to have a lot of life in him. This last year while we were on the road, we began to notice that he was losing weight.
At his first vet appointment after we got home, the vet said that he had lost weight and that he was probably feeling nauseated when he tried to eat, so she had us give him subcutaneous infusions.
I had another vet appointment for Dobby this afternoon. Due to COVID-19, the clinic was doing curbside service. They came out and got Dobby and weighed him and the vet came out to tell me he had lost another pound just in this last month. He was down to six pounds, two ounces. I told her he was barely eating anymore and that there were days when he seemed really weak. We had given him subcutaneous fluids on Wednesday and yesterday he still threw up. She asked me if I would like to have him put to sleep and I said, through my tears, “I just wish I could be in there with him.” She said, “I think we can let you in for this.”
When the vet put the needle in Dobby’s leg, he flinched a little, but he didn’t hiss at her the way he normally did. It only took a few seconds and he went peacefully. I, on the other hand, was a mess.
A friend of mine had sent me some iris tubers a month or so ago and I was saving them for the inevitable. Mark planted them around the stone.
I’ve been really depressed this afternoon and evening. Mark was going to take me out to a restaurant tonight, but one of the restaurants in Sister Bay had a case of COVID-19 today and shut down. Several other restaurants in the area were serving food outside only and I was cold, so we went to the deli at Piggly Wiggly to buy something for dinner. We saw Kader and Aleyna working in the deli and they saw me with tears in my eyes. A little while later, Kader told Merih what was going on and they brought four pieces of cheesecake over and tried to cheer me up. It did help. Mark is going to be out of town this weekend for a BACA (Bikers Against Child Abuse) run and conference. He’s leaving in the morning and will be gone until sometime on Sunday. The run is mandatory for his membership. Merih said that one of his jobs doesn’t need him back until Wednesday because of the COVID-19 case today. He said he’ll come and see me tomorrow after he gets off work at his other job.
I’ll end with a chant that I always used to say in a kind of sing-song voice to Dobby as I was petting him:
Dobby’s a good boy,
Dobby’s a good kitty,
Dobby’s my purr kitty,
Dobby’s my guardian angel.
I love you, Dobby!
I love you!