Just this morning she had been chasing Roman trying to steal his cheese and playing happily in the yard.
But this afternoon she started breathing heavily and was very lethargic. Helen and Roman rushed her to the vet, who told us that a tumor in her spleen had burst, and that we would need to put her to sleep. The vet was very sensitive in the way he explained her condition so as not to upset Roman.
Rich hurried home from work to say goodbye, and our friends Mari and JoAnn also came to give her a kiss (they looked after her when we were in Russia, and loved her very much).
Roman gave Missy a goodbye kiss, then Rich took him out to the waiting room, and Helen stayed with Missy while the vet put her to sleep. It was very peaceful and everyone at West Seattle Animal Hospital was so kind to us.
Roman doesn't really understand what happened. We've explained that Missy has gone to heaven (in fact, we're sure she is right now slobbering all over Helen's dad), and that we won't see her again. Roman has been his usual happy self but he has seen us both cry tonight and he knows how upset we are. He said "Mama upset...Missy gone," he's a very perceptive little guy.
The vet recommended a children's book to us that might help explain it to him. We're not quite sure if he realizes that she won't be coming back.
Missy joined our family in May 2007. We were cat people, who had never owned a dog. But then this beautiful old basset ambled into the studio at Helen's work to be "Pet of the Week." Their eyes met and something in her expression said "please be my mom." Before Missy had even appeared on TV, the woman from Pierce County Animal Shelter had promised her to Helen. Now all Helen had to do was convince Rich!
Needless to say, the next day we drove down to Tacoma to pick her up. We had no idea what the cats would think of her, or what she might make of the cats. But Helen's instincts were right, she was perfect for us ... within half-an-hour everyone was getting along famously. The cats accepted her just as long as she knew her place - and Missy happily accepted her role at the bottom of the totem pole.
The rules in our household were as follows:
1. If a cat wants to sleep in Missy's bed he can, and Missy must try to squeeze into a cat bed instead.
2. Sally gets first dibs on all scraps. If Missy tries to butt in she will be swatted several times on the nose.
3. Missy is not allowed to eat cat food.
4. The cats are allowed to eat Missy's food.
5. Cats rool, dogs drool!
Over time, Missy even started behaving like a cat. She would circle her bed several times and kneed it before going to sleep, she sat on our laps (she couldn't see why she shouldn't sit on us, all the cats did ... she was 62 lbs), and she even "purred" (a mysterious rhythmic snoring that sounded very purr-like).
We spent a wonderful 22 months with Missy. We knew we might not have much time with her, but we wanted to give her a good retirement. She taught us all about dogs...and now we can proudly say we are "cat AND dog people."
We already miss her so much. As I write this, the house is so quiet and I realize that what is missing is Missy's snoring. This time last night she was asleep on Rich's lap, her head resting contentedly on his shoulder. Although Missy was Helen's dog, she adored Rich, and she secretly loved her feline companions and the young human she thought of as a puppy!