Opie by Steve / Steve

I had to put my best friend to sleep yesterday. My heart aches so deeply knowing that I will never touch him again. We bonded so closely that he became part of me and my life, and filled a place in my heart
that only he could find.

His name was Opie . . . but of course we had many nicknames including Snog, Snig, Snigford, Sgt. Snigford (when on patrol in the house), and his Indian name “Opie-sahca-wahca-wahja”. My wife to be (Michelle) and I adopted him from an animal shelter in downtown Chicago. He had been found abandoned in an empty apartment at 4 or 5 months of age. The first night home he proceeded to race across the bed throughout the night and Michelle wanted to return him to the shelter . . . a fact that I teased her about for the next 15 years.

Opie lived with us as we moved, changed jobs, and started our family. He loved to butt-heads (some kind of cat greeting I think), “milk” our necks (left side only), roll on the sidewalk, savage catnip toys, and curl-up with us in bed. He occasionally nipped someone in the hand . . . but in most cases they deserved it!

Opie loved his short and supervised visits outside. He sniffed the fresh air and chewed on grass until we carried him in. He loved to be talked to and would squint, smile, and purr back. He always wanted to be part of the action. He would sit in the middle of the bathroom forcing Michelle and I to stand in awkward positions as we got ready in the morning (earned another nickname “speed bump”). He would plop himself down on top of a board game, card game, the TV set, wherever he could join the fun. Opie also had some strange behaviors that we never understood. He was terrified of tin foil (go figure?) and doorbells, and loved to eat tape and rubber bands . . .
I guess we’re lucky that he lasted 15 years.

He started to lose some weight about 2 months ago and at first we were not alarmed. A few weeks later he shook his head after sneezing and lost his balance and fell . . . we immediately became concerned. The vet noticed abnormal weight loss as Opie’s muscles had begun to deteriorate. He suspected CRF, but the blood test came back normal. A subsequent urine test showed moderate kidney disease, but we had hoped he would live for another 6 months or so.

Sadly, he continued to lose weight for another week and then began to stop eating. There was nothing he would eat and even would gag when food was placed near him. He spent the next few days hiding under beds and in closets and we new that death was close. My heart was breaking. I sought him out before and after work for and comforted him as best I could. I grieved for him every moment of the day.

Two days before he died, he surprised us all by coming out of hiding and curling up in his favorite green chair. We butted heads, petted him, talked with him, and he squinted, smiled, purred, and curled in ball. There was a brief moment that I felt everything was going to be O.K.

The next day he again surprised us again by going through his “speed bump” routine in the bathroom. But when he attempted to walk, he staggered into the closet and I knew for sure he was in pain. I hugged, kissed, petted and spoke with him on the way to vet. I laid my head on his stomach and whispered to him in the examination room until the doctor appeared. I asked the doctor to give Opie a sedative prior to being euthanized. I couldn’t bear to watch him die, but also couldn’t let the doctor carry away my panicked friend. After a few more minutes, I was ready to give Opie away.

We’re having him cremated and he will spend some years on our mantle. When I die, I will have Opie buried with me so that he and I can curl-up together for eternity. I miss my dear friend.


You will be forever in my heart,