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Dear Chunky, my cat of 14 years,

Dear Chunky,

    During the summer of 2007 you came home with me.  Then, I was working as an Animal Care Specialist at Louisville Metro Animal Services.  One of my functions was to clean the cat rooms and feed the cats.  There was a kitten room and a cat room.

A Young Chunky!

    You were in the free roam kitten room.  The only problem was, with each passing day you were looking less and less like a kitten!  You were twice, or even 3 times the size of the kittens in that room, and had pretty much grown up in there.  One day I told myself, 'if he's still here tomorrow, I'm adopting him.'  I told myself that a few days in a row, and every day at the beginning of my shift, upon seeing you, I'd feel a mixture of pena for you and silliness for me and us (like I'd chuckle to myself 'ok, you're still here!').  

    I really didn't 'want' or plan to take a cat home at this time.  Back then I was still married to my first husband, hadn't been working at the shelter for long, and had already taken home a second dog, Thalia, without consulting him on it, which sincerely pissed him off.  -We all know how that marriage turned out! 

In My 1st Home with Llorón and Thalia, R.I.P.

    But I knew I 'wanted' even less for you to be: transferred to the adult, free-roam cat room, or worse yet, euthanized.  Cats in free roam rooms were typically safe from euthanasia, but back then, when we were still euthanizing more than 60% of incoming shelter pets for lack of time/space, no pet could be considered 'safe.'  
    That was a hard lesson I had to learn over and over again in the months that would follow.  -Thankfully, LMAS and shelters nationwide have made such progress since then.  -Although the work is not finished.

Chunky and Thalia #beachlife #SoBe

    So, you came home with me!  You were gorgeous, cool and semi-aloof from the get-go.  I'd only known and had indoor-outdoor cats growing up, so instinctively, without much thought, I let you be such a cat... going outdoors at your leisure. 

    Chunky:  driving home from your euthanasia 2 nights ago, 14 years later, I thought back on how many places you'd lived with me.  

You lived in 9 different homes with me sweet boy! 

    And that is significant because as my mom always said about you, 'you truly had 9 lives.'  -You were so smart and tough.  

    You lived in my 1st home in the south end of Louisville, in a doggy daycare I started (and lived in), at Derick's condo with me after I was robbed at the doggy daycare by my only employee (I've wised up since then!), then in a neighborhood in Miami that the DISH satellite installer warned me about, saying, 'you know this is a pretty bad neighborhood, right?' as he giggled.  I told him I wasn't scared, I had my dogs, and was 10 minutes from the beach!  -Then you endured South Beach living with me! 
Chunky in SoBe, Miami, my guardian
-Then back to another bad neighborhood in Miami (both of the rough hoods in Miami had a lot of street dogs too, but thankfully they were no match for your expertise).  Then, back to South Beach, and a year later back to Louisville, Ky., Sherry Rd.  -And finally, you spent the last 3 years of your life here, in our current home.  

Chunky at our doggy daycare

    I told that DISH guy back then that 'I didn't feel scared because, I had 2 dogs.'  Little did I know, you protected me and my pet family as much as, if not more than, my sweet dogs did.  You were always nearby, watching us.  You went with us on walks nightly (except for when u couldn't due to street dogs in rough MIA neighborhoods).  

    And a few months ago a psychic told Fab, Sam and I that, 'you were like a protector for our family.  You watched out for us, and kept our home safe.'  I had never thought about you as a 'protector' until he said that, so glad he opened my eyes to this. 
    He also said he could see you like an 'older, semi-grumpy man with a cigar in his mouth.' hahaha!  -On this note, when I was robbed by my roommate/only employee at the doggy daycare, you weren't there.  This was the only time in your life you were lost.  You were gone for a month.  It was horrible, and I missed you everyday.  Thank God you were found by a cat-loving, cat owner, several miles away.  Your microchip and its tag got you back to me- HomeAgain called.  I was AMAZED! They had the lady that had you on the line,  she said you were crying, weak, and that you perked up when you heard my voice on the phone.  -We weren't ever meant to have a 'doggy daycare' in the first place, right Chunky?! All in all, looking back I know it was a good thing I was robbed of my life savings, and hence forced to live out my dream... moving to Miami.  

    I'll miss you.  I'll miss you walking with us, watching you train all of our foster dogs with just a dart of the eye (you were so strong, and the best dog trainer in the house... as you know I told all of my adopters with cats about you and your skills!).  I had a puppy in the house this morning, and missed your presence so much.  I know you'll miss that job too. ;)

    I'll miss hugging you, telling you that, 'you're the rey of the casa,' hearing you purr, seeing your gorgeousness every day, hearing you meow, having you wake me up at 5 am to be let out (yes, even that I'll miss), and seeing you watch us as we walked away sometimes... there were times you didn't feel like walking with us towards the end... or perhaps you knew you needed to stay behind to protect the house ;)

    Your illness came on so suddenly, tan de repente.  Literally you seemed fine one day, and debilitated, unable to walk more than a few steps, unable to eat or drink, or even hold your head up for long, the next.  It was never an option to leave you in that state, or to chase medical interventions only to make myself feel better.  You were in age-related kidney failure, and I let you go in peace... after 24 hours of your illness having shown itself.

     You had labs just 7 months ago to undergo a dental procedure.  You were fine then.  

    Thank you for waiting for us to get home.  You fell ill 2 nights after our return from vacation.  -I love you forever.  

    May the gates of heaven open wide to you if that's the path you choose... to wait for me there.  Or may you be able to return as whatever your sweet heart desires... if that's what you wish Chunky.  I love you.


Note to Readers: Anytime I lose a pet, I write them a letter, usually it's on paper, and kept in a pet photo album.  This time I typed the letter since I have this blog, and knowing it could bring solace to someone else... and I guess also to let more ppl know about Chunky's awesomeness!
To the curious, yes he ate canned food wetted with water (at least for the past several years). 

Chunky and Cheech, both RIP




  1. Jessica, what a magnificent tribute to Chunky! Thank you. You are truly an animal lover, a fur baby devotee and just a good person in general.

  2. Such heartfelt sentiments and a beautiful story.


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