We picked him up from a no-kill shelter in October of 2010. He was giant, orange, front declawed, and listed as very gentle. I think the listing said his age was 2+ - meaning that he had arrived at the shelter as an adult, and they had no idea how old he was. They said that he had been found wandering near a barn in the middle of the winter and been surrendered by the family that discovered him because he made a terrible barn cat, but they couldn't keep him in the house due to allergies.
Based on that information, Dorian sat at the shelter for six months waiting for a family. The woman who helped us said that in that time, no one but us had come to see him. I think a part of him always knew that we were his special family and that he waited at that shelter so long because he belonged with us.
He hid under the bed for the first couple days, but as he adjusted, he took up snuggling us while we sat on the couch. He was never happier than when he could sit between Rebecca and me.
The first time it snowed, he sat in the window, stared outside, and cried. We knew that he must have spent too much time out in the cold after he was abandoned. We closed the blinds and tucked him into a blanket.
The first time we moved him, we didn't consider his abandonment issues because he was doing so well. But as the furniture moved out of our apartment, his anxiety grew. I ended up sitting on the floor with him in an empty bedroom, trying to convince him that he was, indeed, going with us. He was inconsolable.
Each time we moved, we got a little bit better at moving him - and he grew a bit more trusting that we were his forever family. By the time we moved to #fixerupperdetroit, he clearly knew that his home was with us, wherever that was.
And though he was initially very skeptical when we brought home another cat - he had enjoyed undivided attention for three years at that point - the fact that he preferred to be transported in the same carrier as Cesar was proof that he loved having another cat around.
The house feels very empty now, without him. He followed our work crews around and was often a little trip hazard as he stood behind people. He greeted us at the door whenever possible, and even tried to learn Rebecca's erratic schedule so that he'd be ready when she came home. His affection toward strangers seemed so characteristic of him that it wasn't until after he passed that I realized that he hadn't been nearly so outgoing when we first brought him home.
And I wondered what changed. Is it that he became the host with the most? Was it that he drew so much courage from belonging to a family? Was it that he was trying to protect us?
Some people would say that he was just a cat, but those people don't understand. Rebecca and I often spent more time with Dorian than we did with each other these last few years due to our conflicting work schedules. He was a constant to come home to. He was unconditionally loving and comforting. A few months after we got him, I realized that one of my anxiety management techniques was to pretend I was holding him (or to hold him if he was around). He always purred when I picked him up.
In the last few months, he lost a lot of weight and his health declined. He insisted on doing the stairs at #fixerupperdetroit in spite of his clearly aching joints. We took him to the veterinarian, who told us that he was likely much older than we originally thought and that there was probably little we could do. Late a few Sundays ago, his condition worsened, and on the following Monday, it became apparent that he was suffering. He still tried to follow me around the house, but he could only take a few steps at a time. Rebecca and I did the only thing we had left to do for him, which was to take him to the veterinarian to be euthanized.
|This was Dorian's "stay with me" move: putting his paw over my hand so that I wouldn't get up. Here he is doing it on the last day with us, when he couldn't really walk anymore and just wanted me to sit on the floor with him.|
It was the first time Rebecca and I have ever had to make such a decision, either individually or separately. I know it was the right decision, but that doesn't make it easier to live without him. His presence in our home made me safe and brave all at once. While we love our other cat, he has a very different personality, and in his own grief can't really comfort us.
We got a kitten a few weeks ago who has many of the qualities we loved so much about Dorian. I'm sure, though, no matter how hard we look, that we won't find another cat who will both tuck us in at night and greet us at the door.
They broke the mold after Dorian.