My buddy Tommy called her CatDog because when I would cut her hair really short she looked like a big fat cat. He’d come for BBQ and save his scraps, and everybody elses, “for CatDog.” I used to call her Viejuca – little old lady. I think she liked the way that word sounded. My wife called her Caty Mama as Maggie never really liked the name Caty.

See, Maggie was never really supposed to have had Caty. Caty was one from the last litter of pups that her dog Laika had. Caty was given her name by the young couple that had adopted her. They had, against my wife’s wishes and advice, taken Caty as their pet to live with them in an apartment. Maggie warned them that Chows need yards and that if she was anything like her mother she would do anything to get outside. They took her anyway.

A few months later, my wife went out to the yard and found her there with a note attached. “Her name is Caty. We could not keep her.” Apparently, they had thrown Caty over the fence.

So my wife kept her.

Caty was a unique dog. If she knew you, she was sweet as syrup. If she didnt, you knew instinctively to stay away. My step son Carlos grew up with her. She was more his dog than anyone else’s. She loved him despite the fact that as a kid Carlos would dress her up in his Spiderman pajamas and underwear. She would walk around the house with her tail sticking out from the Spiderman underwear’s “peepee hole.”

I’m told that Caty would “escape” for weeks at a time and then one day just show up at their house all dishevelled and tired. She would then sleep for days. She was, as all pure bred Chows are, an excellent guard dog and hunter. At that time my wife had a neighbor with lots of cats and Caty left quite a few of them on my wife’s doorsteps. Maggie and Carlos buried alot of cats.

Caty was a fierce guard dog. She was dauntless. When my wife and I first moved in together I had to fix up her apartment before turning it back over. Caty had chewed through parts of the moldings, door frame and front door of her apartment, possibly trying to get at someone trying to break in or after the hated Mailman. There’s a picture of her and Carlos by a chain link gate at their old home. The grid on the steel chain link is rounded from her chewing on them in order to get at the cats.

She was my dog Othello’s mother. Apparently, during one of her week long escapades out on the streets of Miami, she had hooked up with a black Labrador. This produced a litter of beautiful mutts. I used to joke that Othello, being part Black Lab and part Chow, was “smart, with an attitude.” With the exception of his first 7 months or so, Caty lived with Othello his whole life. When he was killed in traffic, having taken after his mother and escaping (he swam across a 50 foot canal), Caty moped for weeks. She would not eat, she would not nap. She would just spend the entire day looking around the yard for her son. She would pee around the yard, take a few steps and then look around, waiting for Othello to come and pee in the exact same spot as he always did. I feared we would lose her if she didnt get some company soon.

Along comes Babalu, the big, clumsy, playful and untiring Golden Retriever puppy. He brought back new life into Caty. Of course, she was never really able to play with him as she did with Othello, but he kept her company. Babalu would lie on his back and she would lick his face and rub his belly with her nose. I think she thought he was her own son. Every moring Caty was greeted by Babalu slobbering on her face. As I write this, Babalu is frantically running around the yard and barking. He is looking for her. It is heartbreaking.

Saturday morning at around 2 A.M. I got up for a glass of water. When I got to the kitchen I heard Caty crying, almost like a moapy yelping. I went outside to check on her but the minute I opened the door, I saw some deliquent kid breaking into my wife’s car. I screamed at him, he took off. I gave chase. When I got back to the house, I petted Caty, told her “Good girl mi Viejuca.” Old as she was, I figured, she was still on guard. Still dutiful. Still alert. Caty was the only dog I knew that when you petted her, she would tremble. It was almost like she was purring.

In the morning, when I went outside to check out the damage to the car in daylight, she was lying by the door. I stepped lighty as usual so as not to wake her. She always stood up when awoken suddenly and seeing an old dog like her trying to get up is heartbreaking.

I came back inside, the wife and I had breakfast and the she went to feed the dogs after letting Babalu out. (Thats another thing about Caty, she hated being inside. Hated it.)

I heard Maggie saying “Caty. Caty. Ven Mama, a comer.” She repeated it a few times, and then I heard her screaming for me. Caty was dead. Died in her sleep right by our backdoor.

I know now that the maoning I heard was not her trying to chase away a burglar. It was her saying that it was her time, that even though she loved us and lived in a big beautiful yard and had thiss big beautiful adopted puppy, it was her time to go. Maybe she didnt want to die alone. Maybe she was moaning so that I would be by her side when she closed her eyes for the last time.

Im sorry, Caty. I wish I would have understood. I wish I would have been there to rub your back and that little spot on the top ofyour head that always made you purr.

If there is a doggie heaven, Caty will be its favorite angel.

Descansa and paz Viejuca.

26 thoughts on “CatDog”

  1. Sounds to me like Caty was doing her job one last time before she passed on, IMHO. I’m sorry she’s passed away, but it sounds like she lived a long and fulfilling life and I know she’ll still be guarding your family in spirit. Death just gave her a larger space to do her job in.


  2. I know some people who believe we will see our beloved pets in heaven. I certainly don’t know, but I know I’ve had some that were definitely angels on earth. What do people who don’t like pets do?

  3. Sorry to hear about Caty, and it does sound like she was both saying goodbye and performing one final act of a best friend 🙁

    We lost our sixteen year old siamese cat last week. Her name was “Sheba”, but was affectionately known as “Bitch Cat” due to her attitude. Siamese are often one-person cats, and I was her person.

    One night last week, she wouldn’t come inside for dinner. Periodically, she came to the back door and howled. When I went to the door, though, she’d run off. She wasn’t in the habit of doing that … she’d much rather come in, be warm, and get a nice bowl of food. About 2am, she came to the back door, and howled. I opened it. She was sitting in the patio, looked at me, and walked off. We never saw her again … she just had to say goodbye, I guess.

    The other cat was very attached to her, and moped around for a few days. One of the dogs really liked her as well, and looked for her off and on for a couple of days.

    Sometimes, I think they know they’re going, and just want to say goodbye.


  4. Val: Beautifully written eulogy to a wonderful friend. Of course I’m sitting here crying, thanks for sharing with us. Descansa en paz, Caty.

  5. Had a cat, who once sat in ambush as someone was trying to jimmy the front door. One night couldn’t get comfortable, finally jumped off the bed and yowled three times. When I got up and turned on the light, he was gone.

    Know how you feel.

  6. I am so sorry, but am so glad you did get to pet her one last time, and gave her words of favor and praise to carry her on her journey. May her memory fill your hearts with joy, and time heal the sorrow of your loss.

  7. Its rough when you don’t get it, and don’t let them in that last time or whatever they wanted. I did that once with a cat. But I don’t think they think of it in the same way we would. They just carry on until they’re gone.

  8. Those of us who were blessed to know Caty, know that she was a wonderful dog. We’re sad to see her go, but we’re glad to know that she’s up in puppy heaven with her son, looking down at her family with that big smile of hers!
    Rest in Peace, Mama.

  9. Sorry to hear about your loss. Lost my 14-year-old last year. Miss her, but she’s in a better place, waiting for her people to come.

    Imperial Keeper

  10. I am so sorry for your loss. I’ve lost two cats suddenly in the past two months and I know how you feel. It’s amazing how ensconced our pets are in our hearts. My sympathies.

  11. My sympathies.
    I have a 16 year old cat who’s definitely starting to show his age, and I’ve had him since he was maybe six weeks old. i know his time is drawing close, and I dread the void I’ll feel when it finally does happen.

  12. heya val
    kidney stone got the best of me had to undergo laser surgery…anyone know how to avoid them..
    not fun…..still very sore….aarrrgghhhhh!

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