Last Wednesday was the day I had been dreading for years.
I had to say goodbye to Hooper, the older of my furry “children.”
Pets do not live forever, and at almost 18, Hooper had a good, long life.
It’s just that I wasn’t ready to let her go.
A black-and-white tuxedo cat, Hooper was born in February 1995. A friend of mine rescued her and her litter mate, Bear, after they were abandoned by their first owner.
Hooper, I am told, got her name because she would hop around like Hippity Hoppity Hooper, a frog or a bunny, depending on one’s pop culture reference.
Sadly, Bear died before he and Hooper were even 3.
By herself, Hooper was no match for my friend’s much larger Siamese cats, who would gang up on her.
Her solution was to try to find a way out. She took to hurling herself at whatever visitor would come through the door. One of those visitors was me.
Hooper’s antics, I must admit, bordered on the obnoxious. But she was desperate, and I always have had a soft spot for the bullied.
So when my friend suggested that my husband and I take Hooper, we agreed.
It also helped that Hooper decided to take a nap in my lap on the day this plan was being pitched.
Little did I know that that first nap would lead to countless others over the years.
Hooper never again tried to get another owner.
And why would she? She wound up with two doting “servants” who catered to her every whim.
Of course, when we didn’t move fast enough, Miss Mouthy would voice her displeasure.
Such traces of the feisty, attention-starved kitten remained throughout her life.
She often would walk across the computer keyboard when it was in use. Once, she even managed to add an extra “0” to an order. Imagine our surprise.
In 2003, we adopted a black-and-white kitten we named Harriet. Hooper wasn’t too happy about that, but she eventually tolerated the interloper.
Once, Hooper and Harriet even teamed up to perpetrate the Great Yarn Incident. Silly me to leave out a bunch of yarn balls where those felonious felines could get them.
For the past two years, however, Hooper had been noticeably slowing down, requiring medication twice daily.
Although I could see the end coming, it came far too soon.
On the final night of her life, Hooper gave me a remarkable gift.
For years, she had slept between my husband and me, often curling up in the crook of my arm with her head on my shoulder.
She hadn’t done that in a long time, preferring the foot of the bed or the sofa.
On Tuesday night, as her strength was ebbing, she found a way to return to my arms for what would be our final night together.
Our bond was deeper and stronger than I’ve ever had with any other pet.
And I will miss her more than words can say.
• Joan Oliver is the assistant news editor for the Northwest Herald. She can be reached at 815-526-4552 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.