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a belated goodbye

Juniper Grace

Born March 2007. Adopted from the Dearborn Animal Shelter in December 2008 by Julie and Darrin. Loved so very, very much for 14 years. Released from her suffering on January 11, 2023 after a short but rapid decline from pancreatic cancer.

Juniper came to us after the loss of our cat Kady as company for our remaining cat Sophie. She was the first dilute tortie either Julie or Darrin had ever seen, and her coloration reminded them of a juniper berry. Combined with the season of her adoption, “Juniper” seemed like the perfect name. She was also known as Junebug, Junie, The Bug, Panda Cheeks, and, by Julie, as My Beautiful Girl.

From the moment she arrived, Juniper was a curious explorer. In her earlier years she especially enjoyed getting on top of things. We would find her in the basement window wells, on top of bookcases, the freezer, and any high furniture. We even had to tuck boxes on top of the heating duct runs because she’d find a way to get between them and the ceiling rafters. Although she eventually climbed less, she always loved getting in boxes, baskets, bags, or sitting in any small defined space. Any open door, drawer, closet, or cabinet would be entered, explored, and often used as a hiding place. She loved chasing toys and in her youth could leap several feet straight up in the air. Even as a senior, she would run full speed through the house. Every morning, she would race up the stairs and jump onto Julie’s dresser to roll around to get pets and give head bumps, then race downstairs again for breakfast.

For months after she arrived in her forever home, she did not respond to her name or any other attempts to get her attention. Her purr was only perceptible as a subtle vibration when touching her throat. We thought she might be deaf and mute! She did not like to be brushed and was not particularly cuddly and was quite independent. No matter: we loved her bright-eyed curiosity; her goofy, happy antics; her zoomies; and her sweet, playful personality.

She warmed up to Sophie first and they would often share a bed or tower perch or groom each other. It took months before Juniper would sit on the couch or chair with us, or on our laps. After about a year, she not only recognized her name, but loved being brushed, made biscuits galore, and purred loudly.

In 2013 we lost 16-year-old Sophie. It deeply saddened all of us, including Juniper. Within a couple of months we got another cat, Libby, because we thought Juniper was lonely. Juniper and Libby never bonded, but Libby quickly bonded with Darrin, and Juniper became much more attached to Julie. Juniper slept next to Julie’s hip in the same place that Sophie did, eventually preceding her curling up to sleep by making biscuits on Julie’s chest. If Juniper didn’t receive enough cheek rubs, she would reach out and touch Julie’s face with her paw or give her chin a head-butt. The same appeal for affection was followed any time Julie laid on the couch or recliner, or even leaned back in her office chair. Although this made it inconvenient to look at or talk on the phone, type, read, or perform any task seated or prone, who could complain about this kind of devotion?

For over 10 years, Juniper had food allergies, occasional respiratory issues, and a mysterious bladder ailment that required diligent monitoring of her diet and symptoms.  Julie was grateful her retirement coincided with finding the right care routine that helped Juniper thrive, even though mornings required a rather elaborate ritual of specially-prepared treats with medication and supplements and four pieces of wheat grass hand fed one at a time — all before Julie’s morning coffee.

Without Juniper, we no longer have to make sure drawers, doors, and cabinets are closed, or that we do not leave any plant matter unattended. We no longer have boxes and cardboard scratchers strewn throughout the house. We don’t have to create spreadsheets of tummy upsets or bladder problems or food ingredients, or drive all over three counties to find her special food when it goes out of stock. We don’t have to worry about being home at scheduled feeding or medication times. So, life in many ways is more simple without Juniper.

But while our lives may be more simple, they are much less rich, and we would gladly take on all the bother again to have her back. For Julie, especially, a light has gone out and there is a hole in her heart. Juniper was very special, and we will miss our sweet, funny, inquisitive, affectionate, smart, soft, beautiful girl forever.

Filed in Cat blogging

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  • Bob January 11, 2024, 10:22 pm

    This is so very awesome. Thanks for sharing. My eyes are a little blurry after reading this. There are many similarities to my journey with my bestie, Joshie. Your last paragraph is spot-on. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do to have even a day – just one – with him again. Okay – now I can’t see :-)

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