Sunny and Dexie by David / Dad

Sometimes the way a pet comes to you is not so important as the way it leaves. This is how it was for me with a pair of cats who were called Sunny and Dexie…

I was married back then, very young, and my wife got herself a little black kitten. She named it “Dextra” for her uncanny ability to walk on even the tiniest ledges as if they were a sidewalk. She’d have been a tightrope walker, if she’d been born a human. Her name quickly gave way to the nickname of “Dexie” and she grew into a thin, delicate, graceful creature with deep yellow eyes.

When Dexie was only a few months old, maybe a year, she gained a little brother. I was in a pet shop, and the owner was debating what to do with a litter of kittens someone had dumped there. They were too tiny to be away from Mom, even though they were weaned, and they were all in poor health. One tiny little black kitten stood out from the rest for me… so so tiny! I immidiately fell in love, and left with my tiny little bundle of joy. He needed the vet so badly, fleas had taken so much of his blood he needed a transfusion to survive… such a tiny bit too,
that saved his little life!

This adorable little beast never was big on intelligence. Once, I was searching frantically for him- I was afraid he’d gotten out somehow… I was petrified. We found him finally, inside the closet… he was sleeping soundly inside a bag of cotton balls. The mist on the inside of the bag testified to how long he’d been there, snug and safe… well, snug anyway! He loved to torment Dexie by running past her- he was a naughty thing that way, who just couldn’t keep out of trouble… Once, I decided I wanted a second serving of hamburger helper… it was on the stove on low heat when we sat down for dinner! …but when I came in to get more, I found a perfectly clean pan, still sitting on low heat, now occupied by my naughty little kitten. (Who ME? Oh, I thought this was a bed and breakfast, Dad!) We named him “The Sundance Kit” for his daring leaps and silly tendancy to get into trouble…
but it quickly pared down to “Sunny”.

Sunny was just as bright as the name implies. A little dense of brain, his favorite pastime was to crawl UNDER a human. If you sat on him, he purred and purred…. he loved to be ‘squished’. He grew into a HUGE male, much larger than his older ‘sister’ Dexie, and they were never far from one another. I always had the feeling she felt she was his mommy as much as his companion-
she looked out for him.

The thing that I recall the most vividly, however, is how we lost them. It can still bring tears to my eyes, even more than a decade and a half later:

We’d had to move in with my parents for a short time, and my Father was adamant, no cats in the house. …they’d always BEEN housecats, in a big city… they wouldn’t know how to be safe! But no amount of arguing helped. We outfitted them each with a very bright retro-reflective collar, a bright reflective bell, and a shiny tag and license, trying to provide all the protection we could. We thought things were going well, because neither seemed inclined
to wander very far.

One day, however, Sunny didn’t come home. I knew what had happened deep in my heart, but I couldn’t find him. Finally, I called the animal control- they said they didn’t know if he had been brought in dead, but no live animal had been taken that matched that description. They swore if he’d had a license, they would have called… but I knew he DID. They offered to let us look through the barrel of dead animals before they went to rendering, so we could see if he was there…
we both cried.

When I arrived at the pound, my eyes were still wet, and I couldn’t quite shake the grief that was sneaking up on me. I was met by one of the convicts who worked there, with a very sad look on his face. He held a plastic bag, gently wrapped around a big black form. I didn’t have to ask, I knew. “It was the collar,” he said, “That made me know it was him. I’m sorry, but he didn’t have any tags attached. Maybe they were knocked off when he was hit.” I cried, but we accepted this special gift from this special person- He apologized for the cruelty of the person who expected US to look for this precious kitty amongst so many other tragedies. He gave us back our Sunny, and
he gave Sunny back his dignity.

We had Sunny’s remains cremated, and we tried to go on without too much grief, but you know how it is. He was so sweet… so simple… why did it have to be him? The darkness of the night might have hidden his dark shape when he crossed the road…
he probably never saw it coming.

The days that followed were the hardest ever, not because of the ache that left in our hearts, but because of the ache it left in Dexie’s. She MOURNED. I have never seen an animal MOURN like that… She would come in sometimes, but then demand to be let out again- day after day, she crossed the main road and wallowed in a greasy spot by the side. We knew what it was- what it must have been. She GRIEVED. I have never heard a sound so heart-wrenching… the neighbors tried to shoo her away, but then she went there late at night instead.

It wasn’t surprising when the neighbor made the call… she’d been struck and killed in the night, laying on the spot where her friend and companion had died
only a few weeks before.

We had Dexie’s remains creamated too, and they sit together again- waiting at the rainbow bridge no doubt… I imagine Dexie is looking proud, walking on narrow sunbeams, while Sunny curls up under a fluffy warm cloud. Wherever they are, I know they are together.


Until I can cuddle you both again, all my love,
Sunny and Dexie