By Christine Baker
Off the Trail, USA
Christine Baker and Linus
This morning when I woke up, I was blessed to have two cats in my life. Tomorrow morning when I awake, there will only be one.
Eleven years ago, after September 11, I adopted two Burmese cats that had been in two abusive homes before somehow finding their way to me. I decided to name them Linus and Lucy, after the brother and sister in Peanuts. They were the first pets I ever adopted and did not have as kittens (or puppies). They were severely malnourished and mistreated. It took Linus months to trust completely. When he finally opened his heart to me, I saw that he was an incredible cat – affectionate, smart, and playful – all the things one hopes for in a cat.
For the past year, he suffered from kidney disease. The time has finally come to make a decision to end his life. As I write this, I continually look at the clock. The vet will be at the house in three hours. Just three hours and it will all be over and he will be gone.
The decision to euthanize him was not an easy one, but it is for the best. He has no quality of life. He is suffering. And so it is my job as his friend to end his suffering even though it will break my heart.
I believe in spirit guides. I believe if we are open to it, animals can teach us a great many lessons. Linus and I shared an incredibly special bond. There is not enough room in this column to share the stories, and all he taught me about forgiveness, hope and the power of unconditional love.
Lucy and Linus
As close as Linus was to me, he loved my dog Jessie with all his heart. I have never seen a relationship between a dog and a cat be so close and so loving. And I don't care what scientists or researchers say, those animals communicated with one another and shared a bond most people don't have the chance to experience.
C.S. Lewis wrote in The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe:
"He'll be coming and going" he had said. "One day you'll see him and another you won't. He doesn't like being tied down--and of course he has other countries to attend to. It's quite all right. He'll often drop in. Only you mustn't press him. He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion."
I knew from the moment I met Linus I did not own him. Ownership is just not a word that people use for cats. Linus shared his life with me. Together we walked side-by-side. That was always enough. Although he was afraid of strangers and could be shy, I always told him he was a lion, a lion in the jungle. Linus had the heart of a lion. He was fiercely loyal. He was a good friend. Today he will be going, but I know that I'll see him again one day.