Dear Max,
I’ll never forget how we met.
My husband and I were students, working part-time, living in a cozy one bedroom upstairs apartment. I had applied to veterinary school, and spent time volunteering with local organizations like riding for the handicapped and shadowing Dr. House (not that Dr. House) at a local veterinary clinic.We decided it was time to get a kitten.
We did what we thought people should do. We went to the local humane society, visited their cat ward and picked out the cutest orange tabby kitten on the planet. His name was Archie and he was sweet and cuddly and how he purred! After a nice conversation with the lady at the shelter, we filled out the adoption paperwork and went home to wait for ‘the call’.
When we received our call a few days later, the news was not good. The name we wrote down as our landlord, our neighbor who looked after the building and to whom we wrote our cheques, didn’t own the building. It was implied that we’d lied.
Also, and this only came out after my husband went to the shelter to give the correct contact information, one of the administrators at the shelter had a firm belief that all students were irresponsible and not suitable as pet owners. We would not be approved to adopt Archie.
I was heartbroken because I had fallen in love with that little orange and white bundle of fur, but I was also offended.I thought we could give a great home to a kitten. We were married. We were finished undergrad degrees and getting further education. One of us was home almost all the time. Archie would never be alone long enough to be lonely.
The next time I visited the veterinary clinic to shadow the vet, I told them my sad story. I’d been rejected as a kitten owner. The technician smiled and said, “We’ve got a couple of kittens living under the grooming tub that need homes.”
And there you were: eyes shining from under the tub. Now there were two kittens there, but only one for me. You were jet black, with yellow eyes and a tiny white patch on your chest. Best of all, you had extra toes! Polydactyly is a genetic condition in cats where they have extra toes on at least one foot. And, my Max, you had two giant front mittens.
I took you home that day. We called you Max after Mad Max (the original). We shared adventures, you and my husband and I, through veterinary school, two kids, two more cats and a puppy named Charlie, until your death at the ripe old age of seventeen.
I still think of Archie sometimes, and I hope he found a wonderful home. Max, you enriched my life and taught me so much and I can never thank you enough for the time we shared.
Lessons learned before I even met you:

  • Sometimes the person who looks like a poor candidate to get a pet will make a wonderful pet owner
  • When you open your heart to a new pet, one will come along, but sometimes you have to be patient
  • Be generous: it was through my volunteer experience that I found this wonderful cat who enriched seventeen years of my life