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Dot A. Sale

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Throwaway Pets
By Dot A. Sale   

Last edited: Tuesday, May 28, 2002
Posted: Tuesday, May 28, 2002

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The story of Twiggy


Over the years I've met a lot of pets, and made friends with most of them. Some of them have been more special than others, particularly those they now call 'throwaway pets'.
If you haven't heard of the term 'throwaway pet', I'm not surprised. Having one is like coming from a dysfunctional family - you didn't know you had one until someone told you.

Throwaway pets are those that for one reason or another have problems, but with an operation or medication, etc., they can lead a normal life.

In our family, we've had two such pets - our dog Hutch who had several problems in his lifetime including a broken leg, epilepsy and skin cancer. And Tatum, who, when still a pup, needed hip replacement surgery. I must admit, though, these were major family decisions expense-wise, but we somehow managed to find the money and had no regrets. Not everyone would have, I'm sure.

I used to housesit a beautiful bright green-eyed tabby cat named Twiggy who had epilepsy and I learned that sitting with her would be a whole different ballgame. Presumably due to the daily medication she was on, Twiggy's personality had changed from an outgoing friendly kitten to an aloof solitary cat. She liked to play by herself, she wasn't a lap cat, preferring to watch people from the other side of the room and almost never spoke.

More than one curious person asked me what I did to entertain her. Since Twiggy was totally unlike our daughter's cat Curbey, I literally had to play it by ear. She liked to follow me around while I fed the fish or plants or cleaned her litterbox and generally checked the house.

Afterwards, I'd stop and stroke her while keeping up a running conversation and if she began to purr, I knew I was doing it right. I'd read in a chair I guessed was her favourite human's - and I was right. And once, just once, she climbed up on the back of it, stretched out and submitted to a purr session.

Giving our dog Hutch his medication had usually been easier because with his ornery disposition we'd opted for the "hide the pill in the cheese slice or peanut butter on cracker" trick, which almost always worked. In Twiggy's case it was straight down, and not always successfully the first time, as she lay in my lap with her green eyes pleading and one paw touching my face.
When one pill "got away" on me, I resorted to the same trick - and not surprisingly, it worked with her too. Thankfully, Twiggy had no seizures that I knew of while I cared for her, and I was rewarded with a kiss more than once my last day.

I housesat for Twiggy several more times during her short lifetime, sadly watching her personality change as her medication grew with resulting Alzheimer's symptoms making her owners' decision to put her to sleep inevitable, but a kindness.

In times like these, when downsizing and throwaways are the norm, it is reassuring to know there are still people like Twiggy's owners who are willing to go that extra mile for their pets.

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