Monday, 10 July 2017

Journey's end for Blackso. Goodbye, my very dearest friend.

April 2015


This is the day I was dreading. The end came at 5.45 a.m., in my presence - leaving an irreplaceable void in my life.




I'm fully aware that some may feel I go on and on too much about the subject, writing as if nobody else has gone through a similar experience, but I have no one else in the world to talk to about it and I need somehow to relieve the pressure built up inside me. So if I indulge myself, you don't have to read any further if you'd rather not:-



There were signs last night that the end could be approaching. Two particular things changed about his condition which alarmed me (I won't go into detail). Added to which, instead of Blackso's normal croaky miaow he started a periodic kind of wail, though for nothing in particular that I could see. As I combed his rather emaciated, fur-sparse body I started noticing with some horror that fleas had already started being attracted to him, despite his regular flea drops. I could even see them darting in and out on his face. Giving him more drops, I tried to soothe him by gentle strokes and whispering that if he really wanted to let go during the night that was okay. 


I had a restless night, checking on him lying in his litter tray in the kitchen. Getting up at 4.30, I found him fast asleep and still breathing, one of his front legs rising and falling with each intake of breath. He showed no signs of moving nor indicating that he was wanting breakfast. Noodles was also there in the same room but unconcerned and he ate his breakfast as usual (which surprised me a bit as I thought he might have picked up on the situation). Blackso remained motionless until, at 5.45, he suddenly stirred and made two big soundless gulps of air. and nothing else - then rested back in repose. I immediately checked though couldn't detect any rise and fall of his breathing. I feared the inevitable had happened though I desperately didn't want it to be so. Leaving him there, I sat myself in the living room - and gushed.

With mind in a spin, I kept looking in on him and checking for signs of life without touching. Then at 9 o'clock I put some of his favourite food under his nose. No reaction. I touched him and he was cold and stiff with rigid tail. I could see also that he'd voided himself in the tray and was lying in it.

What had to be done couldn't wait so I picked him up, his entire body now as stiff as a board, and wrapped him inside a large, plastic carrier bag putting it in a shoulder bag. Rang vet at 9 who told me to bring him in at 10.

Once there in the treatment room I couldn't keep myself from blubbing as the young lady had a look at him and confirmed that he had definitely gone. I put my hand gently over him, still in the carrier bag, and wished him farewell and thanks.

(Given the choice of an individual cremation with ashes returned, which I've heard can be very expensive, or a communal cremation, I, of course, had to opt for the latter).

So that was the departure of my very best friend in the world, the only one who gave me absolute and unconditional affection, reciprocating exactly as I gave him - and not just when he wanted his eats but all the time. (Noodles only gives a soft purr when it's feeding time. Patchie can be loving but it's variable. With Blackso it was always there, guaranteed.)

Thank you for giving me so much for over 17 years, Dear Heart. Your unique place in my memory is assured for eternity. Sleep in peace with all my blessings and my most profound gratitude. 






54 comments:

  1. Dearest Ray, this is YOUR blog, so of course you should feel free to write about the passing of your beloved Blackso! And if anyone doesn't wish to read about it, I'm sure they won't.

    Meanwhile, as I said in your previous post, I am absolutely convinced that our pets are sometimes able to choose their time of leaving, and I feel sure Blackso slipped away at a time when you could see he was now at peace.

    My partner joins me in sending you cyber {{{{hugs}}}} and comfort in the days ahead.

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    1. My thanks to you for saying what you do knows no bounds, Rozzie. I'm proud to accept both hugs and comfort from you your partner - on dearest Blackso's behalf, of course.

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  2. He died at home and with you.....and . thats all a good pet owner can ever ask for.
    So sorry

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    1. Thanks so much, J.G. Emotions still raw (at 12.45 p.m.) but I'm sure that when they settle I will be able to derive some comfort from knowing that he left in my presence, knowing his best friend was by him right to the end.

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  3. Dear Raybeard, We are so sorry to hear about your loss. Your blog tribute was beautiful in a sad way, and you needed to do it for yourself. You should have no regrets about your life with Blackso. Cherish your memories of his life.

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    1. It's the memories that are now more valuable even than they were before, RTG, and that must see me through the aftermath of this event. No regrets at all about the past with him, but why, oh why, did it have to end? - but that's the question everyone asks many times in their lives about all sorts. Thank you for your generous thoughts.

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  4. I echo John above...you were there for him, this day and always. What a wonderful life you gave him, Ray, and what absolute joy Blackso gave you. I will be thinking of you.

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    1. I've been aware every single day of the pleasure Blackso has given me just by his presence, Elle, as I'd like to think he felt safe and secure with me. The most demonstrative of my three with his affection - boy, am I going to miss him!
      Thank you so very much for your kind words.

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  5. :`(

    RIP dear blackso. you were a friend to all of us, but you were your daddy's best friend. we will miss you, handsome boy.

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    1. I know how you can relate to how I feel right now, W.Q., and that alone gives me great comfort. I'm thankful to you beyond measure for your feelings in this direction. XXXXXXs

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  6. Ray, I'll unabashedly admit that this post brought tears to my eyes. I can truly understand what you're going through because I harbor the same deeply sentimental feelings.

    Mere words can't express how sorry I feel for you - it's heartbreaking. I just wanted you to know that you're in my thoughts.

    If anybody is annoyed that you're going "on and on" about this important subject, they would have to be completely cold and heartless (unfortunately,a few of these cretins exist in Blogland....I know from experience).

    Anyway, take care - - and take comfort in the fact that you provided Blackso with an enormous amount of love, and he loved you in return.

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    1. Very grateful thanks, Jon, for understanding so well where I come from and how I feel. Mind is still in turmoil. Part of me feels guilty about airing my feelings so plainly, but another part knows that if I don't let it out I'll go mad!
      Unlike your own experience, in my entire blog-life I've only ever had one negative comment on my postings (which is different from fair disagreement) so I've been lucky. If I got one now, especially on this subject, it would floor me completely. (I don't want to tempt fate)
      It's true that I couldn't have given Blackso more love than I did, and he never failed to appreciate it. I hope your pussies are not taking you for granted, though if they value you as Blackso did me it makes their departure that much harder to take.

      I really DO appreciate your sentiments, which I now accord their deserved high value.

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    2. Writing (blogging) is a catharsis, Ray, a great emotional outlet - especially for people like you and I who live alone and seldom have anyone to communicate with.

      Cats are extraordinary creatures ( and I don't use "creature" in a derogatory way). They are extremely intelligent and remarkably affectionate. Once they grace our existence and become our daily companions they can never be forgotten (or replaced).
      Treasure the memories...and do take care.

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    3. Feelings are still raw, Jon, now just over 24 hours since he 'left'. I couldn't hold myself back when I opened a cupboard this morning to find there an unopened box of his favourite food, one which the other two pussies don't care for.
      I do realise that moving on doesn't mean that I can't take him with me in my heart and mind. It was a privilege to have been respected, trusted and loved by such a lovely little being, and which I found easy to return to him in kind. His memory certainly will be treasured for all time. I'll take it with me into the 'big beyond'.
      Very kind of you to have come back here again, Jon. Its a true honour to have you as a friend. Thanks.
      You go well too - with your little ones to whom I also send my love, together with Blackso's.

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  7. You go on. Blackso wasn't a cat, he was a friend and part of your family, and a very dapper fellow.
    My heart aches for you, knowing what he meant, and knowing what you'd done for him, and what he'd done for you.
    RIP Blackso

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    1. Thanks, Bob. Blackso and I could not have been closer. We understood each other perfectly. Now I feel like a limb of mine has been lopped off. But life for those of us left behind has just got to carry on, even if what we considered as being essential elements are removed. Part of life and death, I guess - and everyone has to endure it.
      Thank you for feeling as you do, even though it's hardly a pleasant emotion. Your comment is highly valued as ever.

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  8. Oh Ray I am so sorry. I wish I could give you some hugs and just sit there with you.

    You say what ever you want and need to.

    RIP Blackso, know that you were loved.

    Much love to you Ray, Sol xxx

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    1. Dearest thanks to you also, Sol. You know precisely how I feel just as you'll know I would react if similar circumstances happen in your own world - but let's not think about that.
      Your comments are precious - and dear little Blackso himself would know it.
      Thanks greatly.

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  9. I recently lost the last of my "3-As this past February. Have been trying to make sense out of it, but I can't In this world, where we have so little control, the only thing which gives me some comfort is that they are loved and did not die alone.

    I share your grief and because of your blog, the world knows that your very special boy is loved.

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    1. Thank you, Paul. The loss of a greatly loved one is inexpressible and unfathomable, as you know yourself. I'm now experiencing trying to grasp some of the same comfort that you've had so much more reason to do, at least in numerical terms.
      Blackso was the very first pet I've had since my family had a dog over 50 years ago. When she was put to sleep, (a decision by my parents which I resisted) then I was not alone in my mourning. Now I am sole mourner in the sense of physically knowing the object of my 17-year affection - and it hurts.
      I get some measure of comfort in knowing how I can broadcast my love for him to the world at large - and everyone who loves animals as much as I do must know exactly how I feel.
      Yes, the fact that I was there when he left is some additional comfort, though how I still wish it hadn't had to happen.
      Thanks many times over for your kind words.

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  10. Dear Ray, I'm so sorry to read about Blackso this afternoon. You were with him, you stroked him and you loved each other. I know that feeling you will have right now. Rachelxx

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    1. Thanks for that, Rachel. I'm trying to keep my mind occupied today to give a chance for the sharpness of the sting to lessen, though it'll a;ways be with me.
      The locations in each room that Blackso used to use in rotation for sleeping look infinitely more empty now - and come the colder weather I shall so much miss him not sleeping beside my head on the pillow or, on much colder nights, burrowing under the duvet with me, getting extra warmth by sleeping on my arm.
      The memories will keep me going - and I must carry on for his sake, at least.
      Thanks for your kind and generous cmment again.

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  11. Allow me to echo all the other sentiments: you love and cherish your pets and you should feel make no apologies for gushing on about them or making them the focus of this blog as often as you like. The love and affection you have for your four footed family members is what I love about your blog - and you.

    I know there are no words I can say that will ease the pain and loss you're feeling right now. Just know I'm thinking about you and sending huge hugs your way. As best you can, try to focus on the love and care and affection you gave to Blackso for so long, and that you were there with him to the very end. There can be no greater act of love shown by a pet parent than to see our little friends through to their last breath of life. Embrace the memories, embrace the pain, embrace the tears. We are all crying with you.

    Wishing you peace as soon as time and circumstances will allow.

    Your friend,

    Sassybear

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    1. Overwhelmed by your beautiful and heartening words, S/b. If I didn't have blog-pals like you to support me (or, indeed, just a blog to 'let it all out') I think I would have gone mad, the pressure of the pain inside is so great.
      But you yourself are so familiar with such emotions currently ravaging my mind, and you've survived them. So I take heart that your comment comes from a dark place that you yourself know only too well.
      I willingly embrace the memories of my dear little friend, including all the worry he's given me over the years. Every time I went out, say, to the cinema, uppermost in my thoughts even as the film was playing was "Is he alright?" He was always the most trusting of the three when it came to strangers outside - the other two can fend for themselves better. But as well as that he did have the unnerving habit in the Summer of going to sleep under parked cars, a practice which put years on my life! At least he was spared a grisly fate which could have been.
      Yes, I couldn't have given him any more love. If I had any more he would have had it. I suppose it was an honour to have been there when his time came, though right now it hardly feels like it.
      The wound of his absence will never heal, but it's a scar I shall treasure forever.
      Thanks, Sean dear.

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  12. Very sorry for your loss. So many people don't realize just how loving and loyal a pet a cat can be.

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    1. Thank you so much, Kirk. If anyone says to me something like "But it was ONLY a cat" (or dog etc) I think I'd explode. So many pets are ready to give one unconditional love with no strings attached, and Blackso delivered to me exactly that every single day. I've already got a permanent shrine to him in my head.

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  13. I am so very, very sorry. I've been through the loss of beloved pets and my heart goes out to you at such a devastating time. You should never apologize for expressing your feelings at such a hard, emotional time. Your friends are here for you. Talk about it as much as you need to! Hugs to you, my friend. ❤

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    1. Grateful thanks, Jennifer, but I must keep reminding myself that such experiences are common to all. It would be hopelessly arrogant to think otherwise.
      I'll no doubt refer to the matter again but it's got to be kept in proportion or it's just not fair on my readers. Nevertheless, I am very thankful for your kind words, and am fully aware that your own similar heart-breaking experiences must resonate profoundly with you every time you read on this subject.
      Thanks once more.

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  14. So sorry to hear. We're cat people at our house, and I know what it's like to lose the smaller members of our family. So, adding my condolences with the rest here. xx

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    1. Thank you so much, Sadie. You're one of several cat-lovers among my followers - I'm pretty sure that most of them are - so with your own sad experiences you know what it's like to go through this.
      But I've got two more pussies and though they can't compensate for the loss of my favourite (I shouldn't put them in 'order', but Blackso was conspicuously the 'special' one) I'll treasure their presences even more now.
      Thanks.

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  15. I understand and am so very sorry for the loss of your very best friend. You are fortunate to have shared that friendship so many years and he is blessed to have had you by his side, caring for him with such devotion when he needed it most.

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    1. Thanks to you ever so much for your nice words, jj. I never took his friendship for granted and he seemed to sense that and gave the same feeling back, always trusting me, purring loudly and rubbing his head against my hairy chin every time I picked him up - which my remaining two cats won't let me do at all. I was indeed blessed to have had him as a friend and blessed I'll continue to feel to have him live on in my heart.

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  16. You have a lot of friends Raymondo
    Remember that x

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    1. I know, J.G., and this is being a humbling experience to show me the truth of it. The value I place on each of you is immense beyond words. Thanks especially is due to you as being one of the most fore-fronted in my exclusive 'clan'.

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  17. This is a poem about a dog lost but i think you may find it supportive to your loss
    THERE is sorrow enough in the natural way
    From men and women to fill our day;
    And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
    Why do we always arrange for more?
    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
    Buy a pup and your money will buy
    Love unflinching that cannot lie
    Perfect passion and worship fed
    By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
    Nevertheless it is hardly fair
    To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

    When the fourteen years which Nature permits
    Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
    And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
    To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
    Then you will find - it's your own affair, -
    But ... you've given your heart to a dog to tear.

    When the body that lived at your single will,
    With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!),
    When the spirit that answered your every mood
    Is gone - wherever it goes - for good,
    You will discover how much you care,
    And will give your heart to a dog to tear!

    We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
    When it comes to burying Christian clay.
    Our loves are not given, but only lent,
    At compound interest of cent per cent,
    Though it is not always the case, I believe,
    That the longer we've kept 'em, the more do we grieve;
    For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
    A short-time loan is as bad as a long -
    So why in - Heaven (before we are there)
    Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?


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    1. Thank you, J.G. This is so unbearably poignant but ever so true.

      There's an added angle to this regarding my Blackso. The three cats I've had, now diminished in number, have all left their own, separate, homes to come and live with me. Taking them back to their rightful owners has been of no avail, they INSIST on living here. But, I've got to say, that in each case before that happened , being one who can never resist passing by a cat who's sitting watching the world go by, I am forced to encourage it with a "Pssss, pssss". Some will run away while with others they'll stand, their tails will go up and they'll look at me, sometimes with a pleading "miaow". I'll offer it a crooked fore-finger to sniff and make the first physically contact with its cold nose and then (usually) they'll let me stroke their head, but only very gently so as not to alarm. That's it. I've made a friend. And it'll remember me the next time I pass.
      Thus it was shortly after I moved into this flat in 2000 that I made friends with Blackso who lived a dozen houses down the road, he being one of several cats who lived there. He started following me every time I passed - until the day I allowed him in. That was the point of no return. I'd let him follow me until he caught me in his paws. And I've never looked back. he was the first pet I've ever had since becoming an adult.
      Noodles followed in the same fashion about 5 years later, and Patchie likewise about 3 years ago.

      When I pass a dog also (nowadays always with an owner, unlike when I was growing up when they wandered everywhere freely alone) I always give it a friendly, smiley look (taking care not to show my teeth). I can tell from their eyes when they have an inner response, which is most of them. Some even try to approach me with a jaw-open friendly expression but the owner will often pull them back assuming that there's a hostility between us. If the owner knows what's really going on they may stop and let it sniff my hand. Then they'll both pass on, dog with tail wagging, pleased that it's made a new 'conquest' in me. I love it when that happens.

      So I can easily relate to what the poem means. It's like allowing oneself to be caught in a web, but what riches there are once we've allowed ourself to be trapped. Both the joy and the pain are formidable. I'd rather have both than neither.

      I'm very moved by the fact that you've come back here and gone through the trouble of loading this beautiful, yet disturbingly truthful, poem for me to read. I trust it will mean a lot to others who come here and read it too. It needs to be experienced by all animal lovers, who will instantly recognise the sentiments.

      Thanks ever so much again, J.G.

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  18. So sad to learn this. He was a special little kitty in your life.

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    1. Thanks, Walt. I'd actually been thinking of the way you so efficiently and concisely told us of the recent loss of your own beloved Callie even though we all know how deep it must have cut through you. I'd been wishing to emulate your economy, but I take it (in fact I know) you have others to talk to about your loss while I have no one other than my blog-pals. So I've let myself go big-time on these pages and am moved more than I imagined by all the consoling comments I've had.
      Yes, Blackso, was the most special of all my friends - and this posting is fully doing him justice thanks especially to the likes of my friends like you. Grateful thanks once more.

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  19. So sorry to hear it - it's heartbreaking. I hope there's some comfort in knowing that he was well cared for and at home.
    I have always opted for communal cremation rather than an individual one, and made a donation to the Cats Protection League instead when I could afford to. What's left behind isn't really Blackso - his spirit, affectionate nature and character are what made him what he was.

    It does gradually get easier, but it takes time - be kind to yourself.

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    1. Thank you, Athene. Such lovely words which come from someone who knows the feeling of loss so well. Blackso's spirit will live on no matter what the future brings me, though I must say it's disheartening to see signs of him all over - the places where he liked to sleep, still with traces of his fur on them, and his water bowl (he drank more water than milk). I can't escape the reminders, but it's these bitter-sweet memory-prods that keep him alive in my mind.
      Although I still have another two, who are both much more reserved than Blackso was in showing any affection, I'm not sure I want to get a 'replacement' to make it three again. At my age, now approaching 71, it'd be a daily concern that I could pre-decease any of them, and I can't bear the thought of them being taken over by someone who doesn't appreciate their company as much as I do. If ( I stress IF) I did get another it would have to be an aged cat from Cats Protection League, one who has never known a joyous life, but is possibly more likely to die before I do (which would give me heartbreaks all over again, but that's the way it goes). With such a cat who has never known true kindness and love I know it would be hard work but the rewards for attempting it would be immense.

      I've never been through this experience before as an adult. I'd guessed that it would get easier to bear with the passage of time, though it's much too soon to even look for detecting that as yet.
      Thanks again for your generous words.

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  20. I don't know if you'll find this helpful, but you are certainly not alone.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/9467927/Why-like-Ben-Fogle-are-we-embarrassed-to-show-grief-over-our-dead-pets.html

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    1. My cheeks are wet (not for the first time in the last thirty hours or so) after reading that, Athene, but I do genuinely thank you. It's bang on target in recognising the 'shameful' aspect of letting others know that you are grieving for an animal lost. As I say in a response above, I just cannot bear to hear the reaction "But it's ONLY a cat(dog/horse/rabbit/hedgehog/goldfish etc)!" That doesn't make the sadness any less real or less profound.
      I thought it was very brave of Roy Hattersley to say that the loss of his dog was more painful than that of his mother. I'd never bring myself to utter such words though I might feel it inside. I always get round it by maintaining that the loss of a pet is not greater or any less than that of a human relative - it's just DIFFERENT. But I still feel an envy at Hattersley being able to voice the sentiments he felt.
      I think that a lot (though not all) of the played-down value of animals comes from a religious perspective. In Genesis man is given domain over all animals as though they were there to be 'used' either as workers or as food, and often both. I've now read the Bible right through SIX times and isn't it strange how there isn't a single verse which instructs man to regard animals with any degree of kindness. But using them, sacrificing them, abusing them even, is all entirely laudable! They are patently of less worth than man (and woman, of course), so go ahead, do what you like with them and it won't be counted against you come judgment day!
      I was brought up as a strict Roman Catholic, and I remained devout until my mid-20s. But I remember the first chink in that armour of religiosity came when I was 9 years old when at school a strict, rather humourless lady teacher asked the class "What's the difference between a man and an animal?" and one ginger-haired boy put up his hand "Please Miss - an animal has no soul."
      I was devastated at hearing that, though never told anyone what I shock I felt. If an animal doesn't have a soul that means there can't be any animals in Heaven. Ever since then I've felt that if there is a paradise at all (doubtful!) one which excludes animals, ALL animals, is just not worth going to.

      Anyway, I've gone off somewhat at a tangent but the thoughts come from the same wounded place. I'll read the article again, Athene, but next time I'll be prepared of the effect it could have all over again. But I do urge others who share our feelings on this subject to also look it up. It won't be regretted.
      Thanks very much fr the trouble you took.
      best wishes - and hugs to you.

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  21. Sending you blessings and peace as you grieve for your little friend.

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    1. Your blessing thought very much appreciated, J - and I mean that from the heart. Thank you ever so much.

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  22. So sorry to hear about Blackso. You were together such a long time. As they say here ' may You live long and be comforted by all the loving memories of your beloved companion'

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    1. He'll always be a major fixture in my life story, L.A. - and I'm not in the least ashamed to say that he supercedes many - actually MOST, nearly all in fact - of the people I've ever known. I take comfort that even as I type this that he may now know exactly how much he was valued, though I suspect he already was aware of it. I can only bask in so many lovely memories of when I had him.
      Many thanks for your visit, adding yet further to all the many words of consolation I've had. Cheers, my friend.

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  23. Oh Ray, I am so sorry. Rest easy, Blackso. I have been offline for a few days so have only just caught up. John Gray has the right of it in his comments..."He died at home and with you" and he was loved and he loved you. Remember Ray that you have many friends all over the world.

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    1. Thanks, Judith. I've had so many supportive comments that I hadn't noticed that yours hadn't yet been one of them - though your reason is, naturally, fully understandable.
      Yes, of course you are right that we had a deep regard for each other, the fact that he fully trusted me makes me feel proud - though I've got the deep sense of guilt that the deterioration of his condition only started when he had an accident at the end of April, an accident that was largely due to my own negligence in not making sure that what he was to jump onto hadn't been secured down properly, and this gave him a concussion which started his rapid downward drift. I let him down and I'll never be able to forgive myself for it. If only I could have that moment back. :-(

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  24. Coming back to thank Athene for the link to the Telegraph article, which I have just read. I live alone like you and sometimes I yearn to get another cat or dog, but at 73 I worry that I am too old and could very well pre-decease them.

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    1. Yes, it's a shame for us, Judith. If I was twenty years younger I wouldn't hesitate, as you wouldn't, I guess. I'd love to give a neglected or injured animal some TLC - something they may have never known. If I ever win the National Lottery, animal charities (primarily Animal Rescue organisations) will be at the top of my list.

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  25. Hey Ray, just checking in.

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    1. Ta, Sol. Yes, I'm still here. The grief remains strong, especially every time I go into the kitchen, walking through the location where he expired with his very last view of the world. I'm still getting a little 'stab' in my heart.
      Thanks for checking, though.

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  26. My heart goes out to you, as well as my love and admiration. Blackso was so lucky to have you and you him. 17 years! What an amazing run. Sending you cyber hugs.

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    1. Your hugs gladly accepted and reciprocated, Mitch - with special loving strokes to your own lovely little D & M.
      Yes, but it was I who was the lucky one to have such a loving companion. I'd like to think that Blackso really appreciated me during his longer-than-usual kitty life, and that is what he showed, though one can never be entirely sure. What I can be certain of is that my affection-laden regard for him never dimmed once.
      You'll know yourself that when they go a wound is left which never closes up, but that's just the way life (and death) is.
      Thanks greatly for your kind words. They do help.

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