Cutting to the Core

Good-bye old friend

Sept. 1 was supposed to be a good day for my wife and I. It was our anniversary, a Friday, the start of a three-day weekend and the beginning of high school football.

Instead, Sept. 1 was a horrible day. A day that will always be with Tanya and me because it's our anniversary.

This last Friday our cat, our friend, our buddy Franklin was killed by two dogs in my neighborhood. Brutally killed and then dragged and tossed around until the beasts were tired of him.

I came home from work at 6:30 p.m. and was looking forward to the Grandview/Sunnyside football game. My wife had a frantic look on her face when I pulled up. She had been looking for Franklin for more than an hour and could not find him. She told me she had checked on him around 3 p.m. and he was lying in the garden. She took a nap and after, when she had gone to check on him again, she noticed the garden was tore apart and Franklin was nowhere in sight.

I wasn't too worried. He had been known to disappear for a few hours before so I thought maybe he had ran off to hide if there was trouble. There were dog paw prints in our garden and I thought Franklin must be hiding somewhere and he would come home soon.

Like I say, he had done this before.

He was always a little turd. That's why Tanya and I loved him so much. When I first got him, more than 11 years ago, that's one of the reasons I chose him.

At the time my favorite song was the Grateful Dead's Franklin's Tower. I had decided I wanted to get a male cat and name him Franklin. I was then going to get a nice cat tower and call it Franklin's Tower.

I went to a place called Noah's Little Ark at the mall in the Tri-Cities. There were five kittens available. I had wanted a black or a gray cat but the two available were females. That wouldn't work for me. It turned out Franklin was the only male in the litter.

He was a brown, white and black tabby and just full of energy. There were two of his sisters sleeping and Franklin was going around terrorizing his other two sisters that were awake. I decided to check out the mall and think about it.

When I came back to the pet store, the two siblings Franklin had been terrorizing were asleep and he was now doing his best to terrorize his other two sisters who were awake by then. I still needed some more time so I went home.

I was at home for a while when I decided to get Franklin. I came back and this time all four of Franklin's sisters were sleeping and he was walking around occasionally batting one of his sisters with his paws. That was the icing on the cake.

I don't think Franklin was a pure bred. He only cost $20 and that came with his first shot, but he was the spitting image of a Maine Coon. They are the largest breed of domestic cat there is. They have long, soft hair, big feet, a long tail and are known to be very gentle.

I enjoyed taking him to the vet for his check-ups once a year because the vet would always remark how beautiful he was and I would somehow take credit for this.

All my friends liked him. He wasn't a lap kitty. He liked to be around people but he always wanted a few feet of space. Unless you were wearing patchouli oil or a suit of catnip, he was usually untouchable. I have a friend who used to get so mad at him because Franklin would walk by and my friend Bob would lower his hand to pet Franklin and he would move lower to the ground as he walked by so Bob couldn't touch him. Man, that made Bob mad, but it made me laugh.

Franklin moved with me everywhere I went. To Bellingham, back to the Tri-Cities and then to three houses there. He moved with me to Pullman and would have gone to Bangkok with me when I moved there, but I waited.

I wanted to make sure I had everything set up for him before I moved him over. I had planned to stay there for some time but I ended up moving back to the states within a year and a half. He stayed with some friends while I was gone with the understanding they were just taking care of him for me. I would be back to get him.

Over the years he's been a good friend to have around. When Tanya moved here Franklin kept her company when I was working nights as a bartender. After about two weeks of knowing him, she said to me one day that she didn't think Franklin was a cat, or at least Franklin didn't think of himself as a cat. He would wake her up in the morning after he felt she had slept long enough. She would say something to him and he would answer her with a certain meow that let you know he knew what you had just said to him.

Franklin had personally caused me to start smoking again several times. I love him with all my heart, but he could be ornery sometimes.

He loved to get high and his drug of choice was catnip. Tanya or I would spread a newspaper on the floor, sprinkle it will catnip and watch him go to work.

He would start by rolling all over the stuff, getting it in his fur. He would then start cleaning himself and eating the catnip. Soon he was on his back, feet in the air, fast asleep.

His favorite food was Iams canned cat food. Other canned food wouldn't do for Franklin. I could bring home a can of some other brand of food and open it, which would cause mass excitement in him. I would dish it out and he would be all over it until he actually smelled the food. He would realize it wasn't Iams and then refused to touch it.

Recently he developed kidney problems and Tanya and I invested a lot of time and money making him well. We had to give him fluids under the skin twice a day and anti-nausea pills three times a day. He was doing better, too. Franklin had started to gain back some of the weight he lost when he got sick. He went from a healthy 24 pounds to just eight pounds in a matter of months, but he was doing better.

I came home from the football game last Friday night and he still hadn't shown up. Before I went to the game I noticed two dogs I had never seen before. There were trotting down the street and then the two dogs started picking on my neighbor's dog. I got some rocks and drove them off, hitting one of them. I followed them to their home and talked to one of the dog's owners.

She was just a small girl but I asked her if she'd seen a cat around. She said no and then asked her parents if they had seen a cat. Her dad said no, but if he did see the cat, he would tell me.

Saturday morning Tanya and I checked around and called for Franklin. No answer. I thought coyotes or a cougar might have got him. Don't ask me why I thought about a cougar.

There are fields of weeds all around my house and I started walking through them towards the houses of the dogs I had seen the day before. About 200 yards from my house I came upon his body. Twisted and bent in the shape he was dropped and made permanent with rigor mortis.

When Franklin didn't come home the night before I knew something had happened to him. My wife shed some tears but I didn't. I didn't know why, I guess I thought maybe he would still come back. With no body, there isn't any proof.

But when I saw him lying in the weeds the tears flowed freely. "The bastards," I thought as I picked his body up. I knew it was those dogs.

When I got him back to the house Tanya came outside to help me and saw his body. She came apart. She still blamed herself, even though it wasn't her fault. Franklin had gone out to the garden hundreds of times.

I thought to myself, "what if I hadn't worked late that night?" I would have been home by 3:30 p.m. Plenty of time to rescue Franklin from the dogs. What if I had never took this job in Sunnyside and moved here? What if I would have moved into the house in Grandview instead of the house on S. Emerald Rd. with the water that smells like rotten eggs? Lots of questions and none of them matter anymore.

We spent the weekend mourning. I know some people won't or can't understand that. Some will say, "Get over it Corey, it was just a cat."

Well, that's just not true and only other animal lovers will really understand what Tanya and I went through this weekend. What was going to be a great time celebrating our anniversary took a back seat when we lost a member of our family.

So, good-bye old friend. You will be missed by many. Thank you for everything. I'm sorry I couldn't have prevented this. You deserved better.

My only comfort is knowing, as Tanya said, you are home now.


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