Sunday, November 23, 2014

Memorial to a Best Friend


Tribble


Sometimes you meet someone online who touches you in a special way. It's happened to me at various online venues. One friend who impressed me with his thoughtful posts made a special impression when he talked about his cat, Tribble, and shared pictures. Real men love cats and Frank is a real man whose best friend, Tribble, was generously shared with his friends. A long and loving relationship, they were the perfect example of The Human-Animal Bond. It truly hurt my heart when I found out that Tribble died. Frank posted a tribute to Tribble. I was moved to tears and asked his permission to share it here. I don't have Guest Bloggers so this is unusual. Frank shared some photos, as well. Here's Frank Incremona's Memorial to his beloved best friend, Tribble.

Saying Goodbye to My Best Friend

A Tribute to my cat, Tribble

When I met Tribble for the first time, he was a tiny fluff of hair… He was four months old, only weighed four pounds, and had a terrible case of ringworm. He was also malnourished and had vitamin deficiencies.

They put him down on the ground, at my request, but told me he wouldn’t come running to me. He did just did the opposite. He ran over, ran around me then climbed up onto my lap and fell asleep. All I said was, “He’s coming home with me.” They couldn’t believe what they saw, stating that it’s never happened before.

I brought him home then drove off to Petsmart to get the necessary accouterments… Water Dish, Food Bowl, Kibble Dish, Food (both wet and dry), litter box a few toys and a comfy bed to sleep in.

When I fed him the first of many cans of kitten food, he devoured the dish as if he’d not eaten in weeks… once the wet food was gone he found his kibble dish and proceeded to empty about half of it. He looked like a little Buddha, his tummy distended from the amazing amount of food he’d ingested. All that done, he climbed up my pant leg, then implanted himself on my lap for a nap. When he curled up you couldn’t tell where he started or ended. He was just a ball of hair… a little Tribble. That was October 8, 1995.

The vet checkup the next day was very eventful. My vet did the perfunctory blood panels, and examination… but there was one thing that he said looked odd…Tribble had a sticky discharge all over his ears and head. He came back in to the room with a UV Light. Plugged in the light then shined on Tribble’s fur. He lit up like a bouquet of fiber optics. It was so bad that he told me that, “to treat this systematically, he will most likely die.”  The next thing I knew, I was taking him home with a pre-surgical shampoo with instructions to bathe him every other day until the doctor said to stop. It took over 3 months to eradicate the ringworm. And Tribble was very cooperative about getting bathed. He seemed to enjoy it; probably because he felt so good after he was dry and not looking like a drowned rat.

Tribble had the run of the house, and at night he would make me carry him to bed to rest. He always chose a spot by my arm so it could be used as a pillow. I didn’t mind. At least he didn’t snore.

The following June I had accepted a position with a company in Tennessee. Everything was packed and on a truck except for some essentials; clothes, toiletries, litter box, food and food dishes, and everything else that Tribble needed.  We made the 14 hour trip, only stopping for gas, toilet stops, food and giving Tribble some treats for being so cooperative on the long trip. He slept on my lap for the entire journey.

My job in Tennessee had me doing a lot of travelling. And to be sure Tribble was well cared for while I was away, my vet recommended a lovely woman to pet sit. Since her husband had passed, Linda was using her time caring for animals. And Tribble loved her. After the first time returning from a trip, Tribble met me at the front door. Tail wagging, meowing like crazy and turning in circles!

As soon as I was in the house, and the door was closed, he ran to the bathtub then jumped in. He was running around in circles then flipped himself over so his belly was exposed. I started giving him belly scratches and he wriggled around in the tub. I looked at him and said, “you’re being silly!” After that first time, Tribble did this for me every time I returned from a trip. He’d just in the tub and get excited and I would say, “Where’s my silly kitty?” and he would flip over on his back to get scratches. As he got older and it because tougher for him to jump he stopped doing it.

As a matter of fact, Tribble traveled quite frequently with me; by car, by train, by ferry and aircraft. Any time I found myself flying back home for business Tribble always came with to visit his Mom-Mom and Pop-Pop. They loved seeing him – more than me, I’m afraid.


A few years later we moved back to PA because my dad was ill, and after he passed I accepted a job with a company in Georgia. Once again, we moved and this time into our own house! Tribble was a little apprehensive of the new surroundings, at first. But when a Red Tail Hawk landed on our deck, he sat poised for almost 30 minutes watching this great bird resting on the railing. He came back at least once per day, maybe looking for a resting spot, or more likely trying to figure out how to get the cat on the other side of the window!

Our home in Georgia had a drive under garage. As soon as the garage door started to rise he would run from the bedroom (where he usually napped) to the interior house entrance in the garage. As soon as I closed the car door I could hear him meowing, wanting me to open the door. I had a floor mat at the base of the stairs and once inside I would say, “Okay, clean your feet then we can go upstairs.” He would knead on the mat, simulating what I did with my feet, then ran up the stairs. He couldn’t wait to jump in the tub and play silly kitty with me.

A few years later we found ourselves up north, working from home and trying to figure out what we would do next. It was during this time that Mom-Mom became a frequent babysitter when I had to go out of town on business. That’s when I found out that Tribble loved to eat whatever happened to fall on the ground.. A palm leaf and twisty tie were the most notable items. The palm leaf made it to his colon… and required an enema to extract it from his rectum. The vet was impressed that he was able to pass it and placed it in a plastic bag to show me what was backing up Tribble. The nursing staff was laughing hysterically! Tribble was not amused.

A couple of years later and Tribble was experiencing the same symptoms as the palm leaf so I brought him to the vet expecting that another enema was in order. Only this time, they told me he required surgery to get it out.  The twisty tie was stuck in his stomach and irritating the lining to the point where nothing could get through. A couple of days and $1300 later, and he was back to his old self.

Tribble continued to have digestive problems that were corrected by only supplying him with small amounts of food over the course of the day; breakfast, lunch, dinner and an overnight snack of about 1.5 ounces of wet food with a constant supply of kibble. We were experiencing a pleasant time no longer worried about vomiting or diarrhea.

In 2007 I purchased a home in the Pocono Mountains. It sat on two acres and there was wildlife everywhere! It was great because there were plenty of windows for Tribble to have naps and there was plenty of deer that came to visit. He loved mornings because we would have a herd of deer in our backyard, some coming up on the back deck looking for some breakfast treats. In the fall I would give them apples and in the dead of winter I would place bales of alfalfa hay in the yard so they would have something to eat. It also kept them off the state game lands, too!

One afternoon I came downstairs to see Tribble napping in his beanbag chair, and a little field mouse, fast asleep under his front legs. He wasn’t what you call, a mouser! When he wasn’t on the beanbag chair he was on his bed in my office, napping while I worked.


Then in 2009 Tribble developed a sort of temporary paralysis of his back legs. The  vet couldn’t figure out what was wrong. His x-ray showed no break or dislocations. Yet he couldn’t seem to use his back legs. The vet sent us home with an antibiotics and prednisone to try and correct the problem.

I gave him the prednisone the slept on the floor next to him so I could assist with litter box use or to allow him to eat and drink as he wanted. About 2:30 a.m. I woke to find him missing from his bed. I turned on the lights to find him at the other end of the room. I called his name and he slowly, walked over to me! I continued the prednisone as prescribed and he made a full recovery. A little over a year later, he experienced the same situation. And once again, a course of prednisone did the trick. Crisis averted!

Over the last four years we have had an uneventful time. Tribble had his daily routine; wake me up early; have breakfast; a quick brush then a nap. He enjoyed his food, played with his toys and looked forward to bedtime when he took over most of the bed. His annual checkups were all good, and the vet was amazed as to his resiliency. His blood panels were all excellent!

Yes, Tribble liked to sleep on Frank's legs!

About two months ago, age finally caught up to my Tribble. His gait was not normal; walking seemed to be tedious and jumping up or down from the loveseat (his personal domain) was now an almost impossibility. He would walk over to the loveseat, sit down then wait for someone to pick him up then place him on the seat. This was followed by a brushing and a long nap.


About two months ago I noticed his condition worsening. His breathing was labored, his interest in eating had gone down some, be he always seemed to eat and drink, and pee and poop. He was now having little “accidents” around the house. But it was unclear if he was having problems holding his pee, or if he simply didn’t realize that he needed to pee and it just releaed.

His respiration was too high and then he started to exhibit sounds you get when there’s fluid developing in your lungs. One night he woke me from a somewhat restful sleep and simultaneously dry heaved and peed. I cleaned him up then got him back to sleep… and he seemed to be okay for the rest of the night, although his breathing wasn’t normal. The next day, Tribble’s interest in food declined immensely. I am at a point where I know I need to put him down so he doesn’t suffer, yet I find myself second guessing the timing. My vet wasn’t in today so I chose to wait for tomorrow. When tomorrow comes I will take him, or I will choose to spend a few more days with him before I have to let him go. I am struggling with this decision, partly for Tribble; if he has more time he should have it here, with me. Partly for me; this little fur ball has been my constant companion for the last 19 years, and he ahs become more than a pet; more than a possession. He’s become my child, and he’s shown me unconditional love, through good and bad times.


Before I knew I was dealing with cancer, Tribble knew I was ill and would not leave my side. After both of my surgeries he stayed with me when I took naps during recovery only leaving momentarily for a food and water break or to use his litter box. I can honestly say that I am a better man for having spent the last 19 years with my fuzzy son. As a result, I just can’t make this decision for him without giving him every chance possible for more time on earth. Even though I know I will see him one day, at the bridge. No words that I write can put an exclamation point on this precious, little life that has brought me so much joy. To look in the window to see him meowing at me, happy that I have returned home is something that is hard to describe. I was his whole world, and somehow I have to be the one to end it for him. And I’m not sure that I am strong enough to do it.

The day has finally come for me to say goodbye to my friend, Tribble. I don’t think that I have ever experienced more sadness in my life. I called the vet this morning and they asked if I wanted to do it this morning, or in the afternoon. I told them that there was no good time to get this done, so I decided that we needed one more lunch, some treats and some extra brushing before saying goodbye. What little breakfast he ate was Italian Tuna in Olive Oil, one of his favorites… Lunch will probably be some low sodium ham (another favorite) and quite possibly some ice cream.

Then I will lay low so I can grieve for him…maybe take a bike ride, albeit a cold bike ride to clear my head then solitude for at least a few days.

If you have a cat, dog, rabbit, ferret, or any other animal in your home give them a hug and kiss.  Spend some extra time with them… time is something that we get so little of with our fur kids. And before we know it, they are gone…

All pictures courtesy of
Frank Incremona



2 comments:

Gordon Brice said...

What a wonderful tribute Frank has given to his beloved Tribble. Pets give you so much unconditional love and, when the time comes to say goodbye and you are the one who has to make that heartbreaking decision, it is one of the hardest decisions that you ever have to make. Frank will miss Tribble a great deal, but the memories and the pleasure that they got from each other's company, will last forever.

James Stagg said...

Marvelous! A wonderful story. Thanks for sharing this, Frank!