March 14, 2021

Most of you are probably thinking as you read the title of this post, “Who is Smokey Joe?”

That’s what I would be thinking too if I saw a title like that and would wonder if the piece is worth me taking the time to read it.

Smokey Joe was our 19-year-old bob-tailed cat.  His name being Smokey you would probably guess that he was gray. You would be correct. Our granddaughter, Summer, named him along with 5 other cats born in the litter when she was 5 years old.  All the other cats from that litter are now deceased except for Angel. They were together all their lives until last Monday when I had to take Smokey to our vet. He was so ill, mostly from old age, that Dr. Jody agreed with me when I found out he was suffering, that he needed to be “put to sleep.”

Smokey’s death was not an unusual event especially considering his age.

This is where you come in identifying with me as one who has probably lost many pets in your life too. Most pet-lovers agree that we never get ready to give up a member of our family. And Smokey was a member of our family from his birth until his death.  He and his sister, Angel, always slept in bed with Sandra and me.

I took Smokey to Dr. Jody’s clinic as he recommended that Monday when I called him early and told him Smokey’s symptoms. When I got Smokey to the clinic, Dr. Jody said it looked as though Smokey’s body was shutting down.  He told me to leave him at the clinic and he would call me just before he closed that day and that he may need to keep Smokey overnight.

I had spent all of Monday worrying about that call. When Dr. Jody called, it was what I expected. I told Dr. Jody that I thought the best thing we could do for Smokey was to “put him to sleep” to prevent any more suffering.  I told him I would be at his clinic in 10 to 15 minutes. He said he would go ahead immediately and give Smokey a shot of a tranquilizer to relax him and make him go to sleep before giving him that final shot in his veins.

When I arrived at the clinic, Dr. Jody came out to my car. I asked him if he would bring Smokey to my car and place him in my lap. So he went back inside his clinic and brought Smokey out and laid him in my lap. Smokey was still breathing well when Dr. Jody laid him in my lap. But I could tell he was very sleepy and about to doze off soon. While waiting on Smokey to go into a sound sleep, I kept petting him and stroking his fur, and told him how much we loved him.

A note: Sandra was not with me because she had just been released from the hospital the previous Saturday afternoon after having a complete knee replacement.

After Smokey had been in my lap for about five minutes I could tell he was in a very deep sleep. Dr. Jody said he wanted to wait a few more minutes before giving him that final shot. While we were waiting, I told Dr. Jody, “I’m 72 years old and have no idea how many pets I’ve owned, but every time one of them dies, I can’t help but cry a little.”

Dr. Jody felt of Smokey’s stomach and examined him before giving him that final shot. He said to me that Smokey was already dead. There would not have to be a final shot. That’s when I teared up for a few minutes. Once regaining my composure, I asked Dr. Jody how much I owed him? He said, “You owe me nothing. You’ve been so good to me and I’ve learned so much from you, I couldn’t take anything from you.”

There’s a long story behind Dr. Jody’s statement that I don’t need to discuss in this post, except to say that we are good friends besides his being our vet.

I told Dr. Jody that I would make a memorial in his honor at the church I attend. He said that would be fine. But the next day I changed my mind about a memorial and decided to do something different. Since Dr. Jody is in the process of building a new clinic, I decided I would have a picture of a dedication of his clinic made and framed.

I called a graphic artist I know here in Longview and told her what I wanted. She said she could do that.  I told her I would send her a dummy of the dedication. I emailed it to her and a few hours later she sent me a proof to look at. I printed off a copy of the proof to show to Sandra. We both loved it. So I emailed my friend and told her to get it ready so I could take it and have it framed. I will pick it up this Monday morning.

In case you wonder what the dedication certificate said, I’ll quote it to you. It says, “ THIS CLINIC IS DEDICATED TO/ GOD/ The CREATOR of all animals./ And GOD said it was good. (Gen. 1: 24-25).

Under the above is then pictured a series of seven different animals. In front of the animals is a likeness of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron Saint of animals. Saint Francis believed that all animals are brothers and sisters with us humans.

Then beneath that is written in bold print: Dr. Jody H. Syring, D.V.M.

Now to you animal lovers, we know that not all animals are small enough to live in our home with us and that our pets are not limited to dogs and cats. I know people personally that have had anything from squirrels, raccoons, snakes, and birds live with them in their homes.

One lady owned a canary that was given to her and her husband. They had never owned a bird and did not know how to name one, so they named him Rover. After about a year of owning the canary, the lady thought it was bad keeping a bird in a cage all the time. So she took a big chance and took the cage outside one morning and purposely left the door open. She then left and came back about an hour later and found the canary gone. But late that afternoon, the canary came back home and was perched on the doorknob. He didn’t come home for food. He got plenty of food in the wild.  Rover had come home because he knew he would get lots of love.

Back when I was raising cattle, I bought a red Brahma bull that was about a year old. He had spots on his rump and Spencer and John Paul wanted to name him Spot, which we did. When I would go to my pasture to check on my cattle, especially to feed them and see that the water trough was full, Spot always led the herd to see me. He would not leave me alone until I took a few minutes to pet him on his neck. Yes, 1600 hundred pound bulls crave loving too.

I could continue about our pets but I’m already long in my word count. But I want to close with a final thought.

“Our pets mean a lot to us, but we mean everything to them.”

Did you ever notice how your pets are at the door waiting for you to get home? Have you ever wondered just how long they may have been anticipating your return? That’s something to think about.

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God bless,
Spencer and Sandra Plumley