May 25, 2014

Take a tissue first...

A long time ago I told a story about how a dog named Stoner got his people to adopt a puppy they named Tank. Stoner was an awesome dog, and he spent a couple of years teaching Tank the things he would need to know in order to be standup kind of woofy, one he would be proud of and comfortable leaving his people with.

Now, Tank was not the brightest bulb in the pack—a couple of times his Mom Lady said (in a not mean way) that he was dumber than a box of rocks—but he was very sweet and everyone loved him a lot. He was goofy and funny and sweet, and that made up for not being especially bright. So when Stoner left for the Bridge, he was content with the idea that while Tank would never really grasp a lot of the commands he had hoped, he was the dog they needed.

Tank was very happy being the family goofball. He got along with the cats, and when a new kitten came along, one the kids found outside when it was freezing cold, he didn’t even try to eat it. He just lumbered along in life, happy and content, even when his people put him through the M-Word in a major way. He didn’t have to spend days in a car to get where they were going, but he did have to ride in an airplane for a long time, and he had to behave the entire way.

In the new place, things looked different and smelled different, and even the people around them sounded different. He didn’t mind; he had his people and his cats, and a very nice garden to roll around in. He even met the cat from next door, who came into his garden every day to nap in the sun puddles and lap up water from Tank’s bowl.

Tank did not mind sharing his water, but there was something about this kitty that was not like the kitties that lived inside his house. It looked a lot like Weezer, the rescued kitten, but it was scrawny and its fur was not pretty. Its eyes were cloudy, and frequently it walked around with eyes closed, as if seeing where one goes is not very important.

It didn’t take long for the youngest of the people to notice that the neighbor’s kitty came over every day. And it didn’t take long for him to notice that there was no water in any dish in the kitty’s yard, even though the kitty was outside all day long, every day. He didn’t see a food dish, either, so he brought out some cat food, picked the kitty up—decided it was a she—and put her down in front of the dish.

She gobbled it down like she hadn’t eaten in a very long time. Tank stayed right by her while she ate, and waited while the Boy went to get the Very Tall Guy, who then stomped over to the neighbor’s front door to confront him about the lack of care he was giving his cat, but the neighbor didn’t really care. It was just a cat after all, and if it was hungry it could hunt.

But that cat can’t see, the Very Tall Guy argued. She’s blind.

Well, a blind cat isn’t much good. Nature will take care of her.

The Very Tall Guy did not like that, not one bit. So he did something he would advise against in most circumstances, because what he did is not very nice in most circumstances.

He stole the neighbor’s cat.

When he went home, Tank was still in the garden with the kitty, and he scooped her up and took her inside, where the Mom Lady snuggled her and checked her over, and declared this kitty needs to see a stabby guy. Now, Tank was alarmed, because the stabby guy is no fun, and this new one sounded funny and thought the people should let their cats play outside in the garden. But he didn’t argue, because that girl kitty really needed some help.

So he waited patiently by the door while they took her to the stabby guy, and when they came home a lot of her fur had been shaved off, and he could see just how very tiny she really was. The Very Tall Guy let Tank sniff her, but he didn’t put her down right away. He wanted to see how the other cats would react, so the kids rounded them up and brought them to the living room, where they took one look at her…and then sat back to lick themselves.

The Mom Lady told the kids they had to be gentle with her; she had not been getting nearly enough food for a very long time, so she was fragile. She was as blind as the Very Tall Guy thought she might be, and her breathing was loud. She wasn’t sick, she was just very tired, and every breath was hard work. She was also very old; the stabby guy thought she was between 18 and 20 years old.

“She sounds like Darth Vader” the youngest person said, so that’s what her name became.


She never wanted to go back out into the garden; she was happy inside, where there was always food and water and someone to pet her. A few months later the people needed to move again, and they were very worried about how she would take to a new place; she got around their house so well they were sure she had spent a lot of time in it before they moved in, and moving meant a strange, totally new house, one she wouldn’t be familiar enough with to get around.

But they moved anyway, because people have to do what people have to do.

Tank remembered the lessons Stoner taught him, and one of those lessons was to always be gentle, and to always try to help. So when they got to the new house, he made it his job to be near Vader and to help her find everything she needed.

When he thought she needed food, he walked with her to the kitchen, letting her lean on his leg as he moved slowly. When she looked for the litter box, he nudged her toward it. When she had a hard time finding her nip toys, he brought them to her.

Tank became her guide dog, and was very protective of her.

Vader’s fur grew back out to a lovely, shiny black. Her breathing became normal. She still could not see but she was so happy and content that she didn’t seem to mind having to change houses. Tank was her dog, and the other cats played with her gently when she wanted but seemed to understand she wanted to be left alone a lot of the time.

“They treat her like a queen,” their Mom Lady told the Woman.

Over the last couple of months, Tank’s people realized he was sticking very, very close to Vader, more than usual. And the other cats groomed her. She still seemed very happy and healthy, but she was very old for a kitty, especially a kitty who had been starved for a long time, and they knew that.

Still, they watched her closely, and at the first sign of trouble they intended to take her to the new stabby person.

Then on Wednesday, as they sat in their living room, reading books and newspapers, with everyone there, Vader came into the room and stood in the middle of the sun puddle that poured in through the window. She sat there with her face turned toward the sun, with her eyes closed, and it was like she was soaking in every little bit of it she could. She was practically smiling, and as the Mom Lady watched, she could see the dust motes floating above Vader’s content face, and thought it was very beautiful.

Tank was nearby, as he always was, and he lay down on the floor, watching her. He whined once, but it was not a sad whine; the Mom Lady said later it sounded more like, “Ok. It’s ok.”

Vader curled up there in the sun puddle and went to sleep, napping in the warmth of the sun, with all her people around her and her dog close by, and she stayed there as her breathing slowed, until it stopped.

When she was gone, on her way to the Bridge to meet Stoner for the first time, Tank got up and licked her head, and then went to the back door to be let out. He needed to be alone, and they let him have his space, because even a dog needs his own way to say goodbye.

“When we bring her ashes home,” their Mom Lady told the Woman, “we’ll let him sniff them. And we bought an urn big enough for him, when the time comes.”

Until that day, which everyone hopes is many years away because Tank is only six years old, Vader will share a special spot on the mantel, right next to Stoner.

And I think Stoner would be very proud of Tank, who might have never understood all the commands that he had been able to, but who was able to figure out what was really important.

And sometimes…well, sometimes getting your people to steal the neighbor’s cat is important.

RIP, Vader. I’m glad you got the happily ever after you deserved, and I’ll see you on the flipside.


Memories of Eric and Flynn said...

My mum's face is leaking all over the keyboard. It is sad that Vader has crossed the Bridge, but it is a beautiful story of how Tank made it his job to help and protect her. I send my purrs to the wonderful Tank and his family.

Connie - Tails from the Foster Kittens said...

I'm leaking all over my kitty Jack :)

I agree, sometimes you do have to steal your neighbor's cat.. Purrs to Tank and his family .. Thank you for making Vader so happy in her end time, and thank you for sharing the story with us..

Katnip Lounge said...

::crying my eyes out::

I stole a dog once--best thing I ever did.

Random Felines said...

Good job Tank. Stoner would be proud and Vader was a lucky girl in the end. And now mom has to go find a tissue.

A Tonk's Tail said...

Oh our mommy is crying buckets and buckets of tears. We're so very glad Vader found a happy forever family to spend her golden years!

Gigi said...

The Human's eyes gotted leaky, but I didn't cry because this is a story full of joy and love, where a little LadyCat came to get the furever home she deserved, with People who loved her and a woofie of her very own. Kudos to those People who recognized that sometimes stealing is no crime at all! XOXOXO and purrs all around

Sparkle said...

I wish every cat like Vader had a human to steal her.

The Island Cats said...

A sad story and a happy story all rolled into one. RIP, Vader, we're so glad you had Tank with you until the end.

Sweet Purrfections said...

You're right, our mom needed a tissue. What a beautiful story.

Lone Star Cats said...

What a sweet story.

Quinn and Angel brandi said...

brandi has some fine friends OTRB. Tank, you will have a big welcoming committee when the time comes for you to make that journey! And right there at the front will be your sweet kitty!

Mighty Kitty said...

Blessings on Tank who knew what to do for Vader and purrs for Vader who is having a sunny friend filled day at the Bridge. Max, stick around for a long time! You are a wonderful kitty and so loved!!!

Unknown said...

Wow. Just wow. Stoner would have been more than proud of Tank. Thank goodness Tank trusted his intuition and became Vader's guide dog and she got a family at the exact time she needed it most

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Sorry about deleting that last comment. Guess it needed to be said twice for some reason.

Ivan and Izzy from WMD said...

This made my mom all weepy, but I think we're all glad Vader finally got to live the life she was supposed to with Tank and the good cat thief. Why, I bet she's made a bunch of friends already.

Mark's Mews (Ayla, Marley, and Laz) said...

We guessed what was coming early in the post. But that dint stop us from reading it to the end. We (us and TBT) did have ta back away from the keyboard so we wouldnt electrocute it by our tears...

We are glad that the aged Vader had her last days in comfort, shelter, and love after some long time of neglect. The past cannot be changed, but the future as endless possibilities. Tank and his Beins gave her a future for the time she had left.

Thank you for sharing the story of Tank and Vader.

Sonny, Chare said...


Sonny & Charlie's human said...

OMG that story made me cry and cuddle my furry friends. Sound like Vadar went peacefully and on her terms, Tank was a true blue friend forever...Reminds of me of when my sweet Maxi went to the Bridge at the age of 19, she waited til I came home from a trip up north star on my lap, purred and was gone....RIP Vadar

Jans Funny Farm said...

What a creep Vader belonged to. So happy the nice people and Tank adopted her and loved her. We're all teary but glad Vader had opportunity to be happy and to leave in peace, surrounded by love.

Cobalt said...

I think I told you before . . . If you say grab tissues you mean it. Did I listen this time? Oh no, I had to read this without them. That was a wonderful, yet sad, story. Thank you Max for sharing. Cobalt's grandma lady-Vicki