Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Story of an ECHO

The Story of an ECHO, ECHO, echo, echo, echo

echo · n. repeat: resound

I only have had two cats that I would truly call my own: Caledore and Echo. I inherited Caledore when we moved into a house where the owners moved out, however the cat didn't get the memo or managed to miss the closing date. Regardless, she decided that moving was not in her life-plan, and she hung around. I inherited the second one, Echo, when Candice moved away, but Echo did not. Life is sometimes a series of repeats.

Echo was a cat purchased purely out of guilt and desperation. My daughter Candice and I were living together in a little rented town home--just the two of us. Caledore had passed, leaving my favourite red head in quite a funk. I also wanted Candice to get a part time job. So, using the best and most cutting-edge parenting techniques, I did the upstanding thing--I bribed her: you get a job and I'll let you have a cat.

It worked. Candice got a job, and I found myself at the rescue section of Petsmart looking at all the cats. I really liked the look of a Tabby/Calico cross that was quite petite and pretty. Her name was Callie. We liked the cat but not the name.

When asked about her "story" the kind volunteer shared some information.

"This cat had been rescued and brought to the OSPCA, but was then scheduled to be taken to the headquarters in Newmarket to be destroyed."

(Probably because of her cheery disposition, no doubt)

"Furry Friends literally rescued her from the van."

"She was adopted out last week. However, she was returned the next day."

(Probably because of her cheery disposition, no doubt)

"Why?" I asked.

The volunteer had the avoidance tactics of a seasoned politician. She smiled her most charming smile and put on the best used-car saleperson voice known to mankind, "Someone in the family was...uhhh...allergic to cats."

There was a slight wince. I should have clued in, but love is blind--and apparently deaf and stupid because I believed her.


$99 and they would get her fixed to seal the deal.

When we brought her home from the operation she was quiet and lovely. Candice re-named her Echo, after the Greek nymph who first loved Narcissus, but then was loved by Pan. She spent her days sitting on Candice's bed quietly and greeting me at the door when I got home from work. She was an angel.

Until...the day I took her to the vet’s office. I was in the middle of describing what a terrific rescue she was when she morphed into the spawn of Satan. All claws, hiss and fur. I ended up being escorted out of the office as the veterinary staff began donning hazmat gear as if preparing for a nuclear holocaust.  They literally bagged Echo so only her head was sticking out, making her innocuous enough without the use of her legs or claws to administer her injections. (Probably due to her cheery disposition, no doubt).

I will never forget when Candice spent hours on a biology project about polar bears. She created this lovely presentation on bristol board that included inkjet pictures of polar bears. Unfortunately, Echo loved the taste of ink. And, due to the fact that polar bears don't require a lot of ink because they are basically white, their faces were the only appealing part to Echo. Candice woke up to a project that featured pictures of faceless polar bears. I had to write a note to the teacher explaining that the cat licked the homework, something I never imagined having to do.

The bribing incident with my daughter had made sense until it dawned on me that she might move out and go to college that fall. Candice was accepted into the vet tech program in Haileybury, hours north of Barrie, however Echo did not pass the entrance exam.

At this point I lived completely alone and worked from home in solitude. Well, I wasn't completely alone. There was always an Echo. I would take breaks and have discussions with her, or we would literally run around the house together. She slept by my knees at night and watched me work by day. She was always "there."

When Candice came back home during a break, it was apparent that Echo (from her cheery disposition, no doubt) was no longer Candice's cat. The shift had taken place, and there was no turning back. Candice acquired her own feline companion up north, which she named Pan, because in Greek mythology, you wouldn't have an Echo without a Pan.

Echo and I moved to a basement apartment together, then into my very first (and only) home that I owned all by myself.

Finally came the big move, when Echo was no longer the only child. She had to adjust to being part of the blended family of two border-collie/Australian Shepherd dogs. 

A couple of years in she became sick. However, she knew how to communicate. Always using her litter box, she changed it up and decided to show me her distress by peeing blood against the white bathtub. Upon another hazardous visit to the vet (because of her cheery disposition, no doubt), it was discovered she had stones. But, true to her name, Echo wasn't going to stop the repetition of survival. Instead, we were able to dissolve the stones.

Echo knew when Hank was sick and stayed by his side until the very end. When we brought back a collar without a dog, she edged towards it, and when within three feet of it, jumped back on all fours. I've never seen anything like it. She somehow knew.

She and Kanoock looked for a new normal. And for 3 days they fought. But, as history repeats itself, she was once again about to adjust and they became good friends.

Recently, she became sick and I took her in yesterday to be "put down." She (due to her sunny disposition, no doubt) wanted nothing to do with this procedure. She was 15 years old and hadn't eaten for nearly 5 days. She was a mere 5.5 lbs instead of her once 11 lbs. She had an 8 cm tumour crowding her organs and pressing up against her stomach. True to form, even though sedated first, she managed to growl through the whole process.

I thought that would be the tough bit, and once that was over, I would be fine. I seriously had no idea how wrong I would be.

You see Pan, the Greek god of the wild, loved Echo, who had a beautiful voice, so much that when he couldn't be with her, he put Panic into the shepherds who tore her apart and scattered her EVERYWHERE. Now, whenever you hear an echo today, you are hearing a bit of her scattered self.

That's the issue I didn't account for. Echo is EVERYWHERE: on the chair where she slept, in the boxes I use for work, by the water dish, sleeping by the fireplace, the comforting presence that was with me all those years I lived alone. And, I miss that assurance.

She certainly used up her nine lives:
  1. The OSPCA rescue
  2. Furry Friends rescue
  3. Returned adoption
  4. Our adoption
  5. Candice leaving
  6. The de-clawing incident (due to her cheery disposition, no doubt--and the dismantling of my face)
  7. Stones
  8. The treadmill incident
  9. Losing Hank

There is another version of the Greek myth, however. In this story Pan and Echo have two children: Lambe and Lynx. I am already hoping that sometime in the future there will be opportunity for this pattern to once again resound.

I have blogged about Echo quite a bit. Two entries in particular in 2011 deal extensively with her--January 21 and August 28 (if you want to look back and read a couple of funny stories about my feline). I'd like to leave you with an illustration of Echo created by Jon Larter, a Welsh artist...and a poem I wrote January 21, 2011:

There once was a flying feline from Barrie
Whose treadmill experience was hairy
The poor little cat
Almost went splat
And now of the treadmill, she’s wary.

Many people called her the name of a female dog (which shall not be repeated in this family blog--because of her cheery disposition, no doubt) more often than they called her Echo. However, she was perfect for me. And that's all that matters.

Times are shifting. My office has been clean for 2 months now and there is a much different echo in the house--the echo that comes from emptiness. I guess it is time to find my new normal.


  1. What a brilliant and beautiful tribute! Love your writing, you wit and your heart.

  2. Thank you for your kind words and taking the time to read this.

  3. A great tribute to Echo, but it sounds like the relationship was successful because of YOUR cheery disposition, no doubt.