Jim Furlong: No Flowers By Request

Ernest Hemingway said that “all stories end in death and he is no true storyteller who would keep that from you.” So it is I had to come to terms with putting our aged cat Boots “to sleep.” About a quarter of the world’s cats are called Boots. Another quarter go by Mittens. The rest are either Patches, Snowball, Puss Puss or Fluffy.

The way of the world

Anyway, the Great Timekeeper was getting ready to count 10 over our Boots, who was 20 years old. It is the way of the world. 

Now these things are never easy emotionally and I make light of it probably as a defence mechanism, but in the end there is no doubt that the ‘best before date’ on Boots was long gone and it was time for mercy. I made an appointment at the vet clinic in St. John’s and took Boots out for her final appointment. It got really interesting. 

The receptionist at the clinic led me and the caged Boots to a room. She said the doctor would be there shortly and it would be a short procedure. My initial reaction was shock. I told her I wasn’t staying around for the end. The simple reason is that I had no interest in watching a family pet die. It sounded weird to me but perhaps the fault is mine. 

Ever curious, I inquired if many people accompanied their pet to ‘the finish line.’ She said lots of people did but not all. I told her I wasn’t staying but I would return in a day or so to pick up the cat carrier (cage). 

Then the receptionist asked me strange questions. She asked about taxidermy services, which never entered my mind, and then asked whether I would like the body of the cat. Geez Louise!!

She said some people liked to bury their pets in the backyard or some other special place and I could have Boots to bring home if I wanted to do a burial. I didn’t want that. My backyard is for lilac trees; not dead cats.

Opted for the group plan

The next question was that, since I wanted them to dispose of the body, would I like a private cremation for Boots and would I like the ashes or would I prefer that she become part of some larger cremation with other animals.

There were no details whether it was a ‘cats only’ cremation or if there might be a cremation of cats, dogs, birds, and who knows what else. There was a cost issue in this so I opted for the group plan. 

Finally there was one final option where the price was right. She asked if I would like a paw print in plaster. There was no charge for that so, as strange as it seemed, I asked for a paw print of Boots.

There was a limit to all of this. I asked if they had ever had a request for a religious service for an animal. The answer, mercifully, was that they had not but that all things are possible. 

I learned a lot. I miss Boots.

NTV’s Jim Furlong can be reached by emailing: [email protected]

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