Friday, February 19, 2010
Goodbye, sweet Allegro...
It was because of those eyes that Allegro ended up with me in the first place. It was 1992, and I had just moved from my parents' house in New Jersey down to Austin. I was living on my own for the first time ever, although I did have a roommate named Lori. Lori, however, had a habit of spending nearly every weekend in either Houston or College Station, and would often be gone even longer. When I was by myself, every little sound in that apartment would rattle my nerves, and I decided if I was going to live alone half the time, I needed a companion of some sort. Enter the Austin Humane Society. Rick and I drove down to their location near Town Lake (or Lady Bird Lake as it's called now...) and asked to see the cats who were up for adoption.
I can't remember why I decided on a "musical" theme when I was choosing a name, but eventually "Allegro" (which means "lively" or "cheerful" in Italian and is used in music to dictate tempo) came to mind. Over the next few months, Allegro grew into her name quite nicely, tearing around the apartment at high speeds, lively and cheerful indeed. She kept me company when I was alone, and slept at the end of my bed every night. She wasn't much of a "lap cat," and would never let me hold her for more than a few seconds before protesting with loud meows -- but she always wanted to be NEAR me. She may not have wanted to sleep on my lap, but she wanted to sleep on the couch cushion next to me. If I walked to another room, she would follow, just to see what I was up to.
About five years after she became a part of our family, Allegro suddenly stopped eating. It seemed like one day she was fine, and the next she'd dropped from her usual seven pounds (which is already a pretty small cat) to five pounds. The vet was totally stumped... she had some liver damage, but he said that could be caused by not eating -- so which came first? Did the damaged liver cause her to stop eating, or did the lack of eating cause the liver damage? She was still drinking water, but I had to take her to the vet to be force-fed at least every other day. It was horrible to hear her crying in the vet's office as they fed her -- I knew I couldn't keep that up for very long. I remember Rick bringing up the possibility that we might have to already say good-bye to her at her young age. I definitely wasn't ready for that. So as a last resort, I decided to switch to a different vet to see if another doctor had different ideas...
I know a lot of people don't have pets, and probably don't understand how these furry little creatures can work their way into your heart until you're totally in love with them... but I can't imagine not knowing what that's like. Pets love unconditionally, don't care who you are or what you look like, and have an amazing ability to gauge your feelings. I can't even count how many times I was feeling sad or upset, when Allegro instinctively KNEW that I could use a furry friend next to me to keep me company. She was a part of the family, a companion, a source of happiness and joy, someone who could always bring a smile to my face.
Allegro purred contentedly until the last day of her life. And I know it's because I made the perfect decision 18 years ago, when I brought home someone else's "reject" cat -- their loss was my gain.