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Norwich Bulletin - 11/25/2007

Giving Thanks is Hard This Year

I have always done a column on the things that I am thankful for throughout the year. But this year I start the holiday off very sad and angry. I find myself crying on my way home from work every day, because I know that my Milo will not be there to greet me when I walk through the door. There will be no blue eyed white cat sitting on my table smiling at me, for his journey ended and he has left us.

Yes, it was an incredible journey. I don't know of any cat who can boast of doing everything that he did, or accomplishing the things that he accomplished. I have told the story of how it started many times. When Clint brought two little white balls of fluff home to his my two daughters, he won over not just the kids, but me as well.

They were our very first rescues that we did together. They were so young, and had to drink out of little baby bottles every four hours. Milo was so cute with his big blue eyes and constant purr. Odd-eyed Dakota was much more serious though. He decided right away that he belonged to my youngest daughter who was also serious. But Milo belonged to everybody!

We started our own rescue organization called Helping Paws because of Milo. And when we got married, Milo snuck into the wedding and hid in the white flower arrangement to watch the ceremony. But he got bored and ate some of the flowers and got caught! Of course we all just laughed because it was Milo and he could do no wrong.

We started filming a weekly television show called "Pet Talk" and our most popular segment was called "Milo's musings" where Milo would help people see life through the eyes of a cat. Helping Paws started to grow and grow and Milo went to lots of fundraisers during the next ten years. He gave out the Milo Humanitarian Award every year to someone who really stood out in rescue work.

Some of the people that got his award and include the weatherman Scott Haney, Dr. John Caltabiano (the founder of T.E.A.M.), Kitty Baker from the Connecticut Humane Society, his favorite television personality, Joanne Sandano from Animal Precinct, New York City.

Milo became a show cat! He was shown in three different cat associations and became Supreme Grand Masters in all of them. He was an instant hit with the judges and became the best household pet of the year for the American Association of Cat Enthusiasts in 2002-2003, and also earned high awards in The International Cat Association and the Cat Fanciers Federation.

All the judges commented on how he kept white coat pristeen white and how beautiful his deep blue eyes were. He pranced and purred his way right into everyone's hearts and smiled every time he was on the judge's stand for all the spectators to see. He loved traveling all over with us.

Milo was invited to star in a play for the Park Road Playhouse in West Hartford, Connecticut. He was Piewacket in Bell, Book and Candle. He rehearsed for over a month and the play ran for two weeks! At the end of every show, he would come out on stage in a tuxedo. Milo always got a standing ovation because of his stellar performance.

And then to top it all off, the Playhouse started giving out the Milo Awards to the best actors and actresses of the year. Milo attended the first Awards dinner in his tux and the chef made him his own special chicken and crab dish! The Milo Awards are still given out every year.

He had always been a visiting cat for young children in their schools and as he got older, he started visiting seniors in their convalescent home. He reminded them of their kitty that they couldn't have live with them anymore. He always tried to make everyone feel special. He turned eleven years old in April of 2007. My daughter Heather always said that Milo had to live forever because no-one could imagine the house without him in it. But I really did know that nobody lives forever.

Pemphigus Foliaceus. Those are really hard words to say but that was the name of the disease that Milo developed. No-one else could get it because it was an auto immune disease and it was inside of him. His body was confused and made blisters which turned into scabs everywhere (in his ears, between his toes) which then caused hair loss. Tufts told us there was no cure, but there were medications that could help control it and keep him comfortable.

Milo took medicine three times a day and a shot once a day. Clint took really good care of him every day and never forgot those pills (even when Milo would try to hide once and awhile). But he was always so tired and kept losing weight. One night he felt too weak to get up and go to bed with us. Thatís when I told him that even though it would make me terribly sad, I knew he didn't feel good and needed to leave. I let him go that night.

On August 26, 2007, Miloís body gave up the fight. I wrapped him in his favorite blanket and put him on a soft bed. Clint and I took turns holding him and telling him how much we loved him and how proud we were for all that he had accomplished in his life. All of a sudden he looked so peaceful and we were so sad because we knew he was gone.

Of course I am thankful that we were allowed to have this incredible cat to love us. Once in a lifetime, if you are very, very lucky, a special being comes into your life and makes a difference. That was Milo. But he left us too early. And Iím angry that our time was cut short. I want him back. We miss him terribly and even though I know he hasnít gone very far, I canít see him anymore. And it makes me cry.

I love you Milo Ė Happy Thanksgiving.

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