In Memoriam

If you’ve read very long you’ve probably noticed several memorials posted for dogs that have passed away this summer.  That’s because I raised a greyhound and then found a coonhound along the interstate in 2001 and brought her home to find she was pregnant.  I (I, meaning my wife and I) then raised her nine puppies to adulthood.  The last of these passed away this summer, Jade–who died a few weeks after her 16th birthday and Jasmine about two months ago.  I challenge anyone to find anything more fulfilling and rewarding than raising dogs or cats as family members (and no, I am not recommending eleven at once, but I had the space and time and could afford it).  Like every worthwhile pursuit, good things come with trade-offs.  If you raise your dogs or cats well they grow old.  With old age comes loss and grief since animals don’t live as long as humans.  But you do it anyway.

My wife and I were incredibly lucky that a little stray kitten walked up my driveway a little more than two years ago on a stormy rain-soaked evening.   The prospect of bringing a stray kitten into a house where we had five dogs at the time was not really in the cards.  But she kept coming back and became a wonderful friend.  I found her sleeping in my irises every day and she’d greet me when I came home from work, audibly, cheerily.  We’d sit on the porch together.  It wasn’t until this neighborhood cat was sleeping out in a neighbor’s driveway, behind a car on a 103 degree humid summer day in 2016 that I decided I had to bring her in to get her into some air conditioning, at least for the daytime hours.  Someone had her front claws removed (never do this) and I saw her one night being bullied by another stray cat.  One too many nights outside and after getting used to her inside with the dogs more and more, we just kept her inside, for good, got her check-ups, vaccines, etc.  Surprisingly she helped our old dogs Flint, Jade, and Jasmine in their final months, providing an immense presence of youth, vitality, and sheer joy to what had become a hospice home for elder dogs.  Our new cat–Sophie–became Jadie’s kitty, and Jade showed her the ropes.  And Sophie did more, helping my wife and me move forward when our last dog passed away.  Sophie completely saved us.  And the last two months were extraordinary.


As the emergency room doctor said last night, “Sometimes you’re dealt a bad deck of cards medical science doesn’t even understand.”  After a routine procedure Saturday morning turned into complications, Sophie passed away last night.  She will be missed by this house that has seen far too much despair in the past several years.  Sophie was social and talked cheerily like no other cat I have ever seen.  She became our best friend, someone who chatted us awake every day, and was a great playmate, and partner in everything.  Growing up primarily with dogs, I never figured I’d ever have my own cat–I just never considered it–and she made me a believer, sitting on my lap as I watched TV, being the bright point of every day.  But she only got 70 days of exclusive focus and attention after Jasmine left us.  She was only about four years old.  I find myself down twelve kids and scratching my head asking, “how is it I am supposed to stay positive?”  So in an effort to turn the worst day I ever had into something positive: please use this moment as a reminder to go love on your cat and/or dog or other kid or friend or spouse.  Don’t squander time.  I thought I’d have at least another 10-15 years with Sophie.  And if you don’t have a cat or dog, several thousand were abandoned in the floods and fires across America this year and need homes.  If you can afford it and you’re willing to provide the attention and time every day that any other family member would need–and deserves–then please check out hurricane and flood rescues and Western fire rescues–and remember any other animals in your local animal rescues that you save will clear rooms for more waiting to be placed into a good home.  The world around us is often bleak and dreary.  So consider making your life brighter and make their lives brighter at the same time by bringing someone new into your home.

Several charities are out there in need of your help, too.   Like these:


Alley Cat Allies

Animal Rescue League

Best Friends Animal Society Sanctuary

Frankie’s Friends

Great Plains SPCA

Humane Society

Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary


Wayside Waifs

Thanks, as always for reading.

C.J. Bunce


  1. So sorry to hear about the loss of your kitty. They are like family members and when they pass on, we feel loss and sorrow. You and your family are in my prayers.
    (Bonnie L. Schaeffer)

  2. I am heartbroken for you both. She was awesome. I loved when you called how I’d hear her talking louder than you like you were interrupting her trying to talk to me. She was awesome and your story just now made me cry. Bless you both for all the love to our four-legged furry friends over the years. Sophie got more love from you both in the short amount of time you got to know her than some get in a lifetime. I’m so glad she found your house and found you to spend these last years with. Debbie and family

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