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Caty’s Heart Walk

Posted by at 5:38 AM | Permalink | Comments (13)


Caty's Heart Walk by Kris Lecakes HaleyWith Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I wanted to take this opportunity to write a post about my extra-special valentine, one of the loves of my life: Caty.

We adopted 6-month-old Caty from an Arizona animal shelter in 1993. With undetermined heritage, she resembled a miniature husky with ice blue, marbleized eyes-one rimmed in black and the other in pink-and one ear up, one ear down. With such unique markings, Caty definitely stands out in a crowd! My husband and I volunteered in the shelter’s lost and found and were immediately enamored with Caty. She remained unclaimed, so a few days later, we took her into our family.

Caty quickly established herself as the family “peacemaker.” Over the years, this self-appointed greeter would meet new furry family members at the door with a simultaneous snarl from one side of her mouth and a lick from the other, earning the nickname “Lickosaurus.” She also stood close by when it came time for her siblings’ journey to the rainbow bridge.

Just before her 16th birthday, Caty fell ill. We discussed her condition with our vet because we knew that despite how much it might hurt us, if she was in any real pain, if her quality of life was really suffering, we would have to put her to rest. However, at this time, we were reassured that she was still OK.

One quiet, moonlit night, Caty seemed restless. She was unsteady, so we gently carried her outside, staying close in case she stumbled. When she did, we leaned over to steady her but had to refocus our eyes to see what lay in the soil at the tip of her toes. A heart-shaped rock! I’d collected heart-shaped rocks for years, but in the 18 years we’d lived in this house, I had never found a single one in our yard! Caty was determined to navigate the rest of the backyard, and it was then that I realized that it was perhaps time for her to go sooner than later. When her walk ended, unbelievably, we had collected seven heart rocks from each of her stops!

The next morning brought our first day, in over 15 years, without Caty. We have never found another heart rock in our backyard, but here is the miracle: Since the night of Caty’s “heart walk,” it seems like we see heart shapes everywhere, not just in rocks but in food, clouds, and especially in nature. Each heart sighting is a precious message from Caty that all is well and a reminder of the love we shared.

Have YOU had any heart sightings? Did your companion leave you with a lasting loving memory? If so, please share it with us this Valentine’s Day in honor of our beloved companions.

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    Alicia Vázquez says...

    February 12th, 2010, 5:10 pm

    Her spirit is everywhere, she still enjoys life with you all. Best wishes for a beautiful life. I’m glad you had her with you. Love, Alicia

    Pat says...

    February 12th, 2010, 5:10 pm

    Having had, and having, several animals through the years, and being a confirmed animal lover and animal rights advocate, this story gave me big-time goosebumps!

    Linda says...

    February 12th, 2010, 5:13 pm

    Somehow I knew before I started this would be a tear-jerker. My Cody who passed on last year left me with many lasting loving memories. Nothing quite like Caty’s hearts though. Beautiful story. Thanks for sharing!

    Amy says...

    February 12th, 2010, 5:13 pm

    What a beautiful story…it brought a tear to my eye. Its so amazing
    what these little angels do to our lives and our hearts. There is no
    love as pure as the love between a human and an animal companion.
    I speak from experience.

    sara says...

    February 12th, 2010, 5:31 pm

    How beautiful! Happy Valentine’s Day Caty <3

    Christina says...

    February 12th, 2010, 5:47 pm

    I adopted Oscar Bear, a very old Westie with heart and kidney diseases and one eye that had to be removed. After Oscar Bear died, the rescue organization brought me a young Westie whom I re-named, Piccadilly, after my first Westie. She of course has a lot of stuffed toys, among them I decided to give her was Oscar Bear’s stuffed froggie. Over the years now, all of the stuffed toys have pretty much had the stuffing knocked out of them, while Oscar Bear’s froggie remains intact, except for one thing. Just one eye is missing!

    Kathryn says...

    February 12th, 2010, 6:04 pm

    This is quite a story. Our companion animals are the personification of love so I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised in the ways that they demonstrate it. What bleak lives we would be compelled to live if it weren’t for our wonderful pets.

    L says...

    February 12th, 2010, 6:36 pm

    That was a very touching story.

    My best friends are my dogs, they ask for nothing but love and respect.

    Losing a pet is very sad, I have been through it a few times and it is heartbreaking. Even after ten years I still get tears when I think about my first dog, she was such a presence.

    All of my dogs have such different personalites and make my life so much better.

    Just treasure the time you have with them.

    Tom O'Conor says...

    February 12th, 2010, 7:23 pm

    Very touching story. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for ‘heart rocks’ :-)

    Michael says...

    February 12th, 2010, 10:18 pm

    I am very sorry for your loss. But as I am sure you already know, Caty is still and always will be with you. I completely believe that those rocks were Caty’s way of expressing her undying love for you and her beautiful way of saying goodbye for now. Caty will be the first to greet you when it is your time to return Home. What a beauty Caty is! Thank you for that special story.

    Christina – your story is very interesting too!

    Rubie Mourar says...

    February 13th, 2010, 12:23 am

    A few years ago, some friends of mine came by with a black lab that they had owned for probably 8 years and said they could no longer keep her and could I please help them find a home for her. They said their only other option was to take her to the pound. Long story short, “Jet” was left at my house, with the idea that I would “find her a home” — and that, I did do. With me! She never left. The greying muzzle and cloudy eyes told me she was MUCH older than they led me to believe, but it was just fine — she was a wonderful, wonderful girl. She was very loving and gracious, but never seemed to want to come in the house — she would lay all night out in my front yard (rain or snow, hot or cold) watching and guarding “her” home. Her favorite thing in life was to play catch — the first thing every morning, as soon as she saw me, she would bring me a ball and I’d throw and throw until she tired of the game.

    About 6 months ago, I noticed a growth about the size of a walnut on the joint of her back leg, up near her belly — she also was very swollen and hot on her belly, up under her hind legs. My first thought was, “spider bite”. Quickly to the vet and discussed whether it could be mammary cancer, or truly a bite. Vet put her on pain meds and antibiotics, and in a couple of days, all seemed to be dramatically better. Then, about a week later, it all came back . . . . with a vengeance . . . . much bigger swelling, much more angry looking belly coloration. Vet concluded that Jet did, indeed, have a very virulent cancer in her mammary glands. At that point, Jet did not seem uncomfortable at all, but seemed tired. No more ball playing for the old girl. She did decide that she very much wanted to come in the house at night to sleep by my bed.

    We decided that Jet wasn’t in pain, and to wait until she made the decision that it was time to go — and I sadly watched her every day, dreading the time I knew was fast approaching. One night, she had a VERY hard time going up the two steps into the house, yelping with pain, and I knew that the time was here. I called my vet first thing in the morning, and told them I’d be bringing her in.

    After many days of no ball playing, Jet immediately brought me her ball when we went outside. I threw it for her, and she started off after it with most of her usual enthusiasm. Then, she stopped about 15 feet from me, looked back at me, shuddered, and simply laid down. I went right to her, she licked my hand, looked at me with those melting brown eyes, and I saw the life go out of her. In the end, she did choose her own time, and her own way, and just had to get one more game of catch in before she left.

    Never could have imagined that I would have been so in love with a dog that I had for such a short time. She was truly a beautiful soul and made her mark on me forever.

    Beth says...

    February 13th, 2010, 12:38 am

    Nice story! I have always had special animals in my life. In face, I just recently lost my nearly 7 year old fantail goldfish, Chandler. Amazing guy actually, he liked to have his top fin rubbed when I cleaned his tank and loved to be talked to.
    I kind of “grew up” with a beautiful chocolate black Burmese cat named Pumpkin who passed away when she was 14 or 15 years old. I sometimes felt her hopping into bed with me late at night after she passed as if she was still visiting me–at least until i went off to college–I think she felt I didn’t need her anymore–I still think of her often and refer to her as my “first child.”

    Merilyn Phillips says...

    February 13th, 2010, 11:13 am

    Just knew I’d be crying now….just knew it….

    Animals are the best!!

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