This week I said good-bye to Tarzan – our ‘wild man’. This is a tribute to Tarzan and a huge thank you to some special people.
Tarzan crossed Rainbow Bridge this week after 19 (or 20…we don’t know for certain) extremely healthy years with us. During these 19 years he only had one health issue – an enamel issue on one tooth. He was never sick until the night before he passed. If we could all have such a good 19 or 20 years.
Tarzan grew up with my children; he patiently endured being dressed in Build a Bear clothing as a kitten. He not so patiently endured years of ‘humping’ from Kirby (my little dog that passed last year). He got along with everyone, well…except Kirby. Tarzan didn’t ‘love’ Kirby in the same way Kirby ‘loved’ him.
Tarzan was a ‘neat freak’. He loved to be groomed, and felt compelled to groom the other animals in the house. Early in his life our family included a 100 pound German Shepherd (Gunner) and a 40 pound Border Collie (Cowboy). Tarzan spent hours meticulously grooming them. Should they dare try to walk away before the grooming was complete – Tarzan would reprimand the dogs with a light bite on the leg. The dogs would comply and allow him to finish the proper grooming he required of his friends. When he was satisfied they looked good, he would curl up and nap with the dogs.
Tarzan loved everyone…except Kirby. But his #1 love was food. He lived to eat. The older he got, the more he loved his food. Every single morning…for at least the past ten years…at the slightest sign of daylight, Tarzan began his ‘WAKE UP AND FEED ME’ routine. The ‘routine’ included running across my face, crying in full blown Siamese cat language, knocking things off the dresser, and ‘cat stare’. The routine was repeated (and repeated) until I got out of bed and fed him.
He was a gentleman. A role model for our younger cats. And a role model for how dogs and cats can happily live together. Again…except with Kirby. With Kirby, he was no gentleman. In fact – he would beat up on Kirby on the same consistent basis Kirby ‘loved’ him. Every family has their problems don’t they?
As we were telling him good-bye, I asked him not to beat up on Kirby in heaven. I guess that will depend on whether heaven allows humping. We’ll miss you ‘Wild Man’. Forever in our hearts.
And now the ‘thank you’s’…
About a year and a half ago Tarzan was diagnosed with early stage kidney failure. He was 18 years old, but extremely healthy – I wasn’t concerned for the short term. The night before he passed, he vomited several times. First thing the next morning I made an appointment with our veterinarian, but while we waited for the appointment time – I called friend Dr. Cathy Alinovi for help with what we might be told. I suspected what we were seeing was kidney failure. Cathy explained what final stage kidney disease looked like for cats – helping me to prepare and make an educated decision at my vet’s office.
But as it turned out, Tarzan’s kidney function had not changed in the past year and a half. I give credit to quality ‘food’ for the health of his kidney’s. What we were dealing with was cancer and a very serious infection (likely from the cancer). Ultrasound showed a tumor just underneath his rib cage – on his back. As my wonderful veterinarian was telling me the cancer was inoperable, would likely not be a candidate for chemo…his words became white noise. All I could think about was the possibility of the ketogenic diet being a possible for Tarzan’s cancer.
Right in this horrible moment, I picked up the phone and called two dear friends – Rodney Habib and Dr. Karen Becker. I was blubbering crying, it was probably hard to understand what I was saying. But they understood. Karen talked me through what we were dealing with, helped me to understand.
I share this part of the story because I want all to know the side of these people (Rodney Habib, Dr. Karen Becker, and Dr. Cathy Alinovi) that I know. They are the very best friends a person could have. What most people see in their work is amazing enough, but when you are lucky enough to know the personal side of these people – they are even more amazing. Magnify the wonderful work they do by about 1000 – and you are getting close to just how wonderful the people behind the work really are. In the darkest moment a pet owner can have, these three immediately – without hesitation – stepped up to help a friend in need.
Words cannot express how much I appreciate them.
Mr. Wild Man…I know you are up in heaven, I know Kirby was glad to see you, and I know you’ll be helping all of us fight the pet food battles we continue to fight.