Dave Richards AA7EE

August 21, 2012

Rest In Peace My Dear, Sweet Chloe-Rug

Our sweet little kitty passed away on Sunday morning and the place feels terribly quiet without her.

I took her in as a stray a year and a half ago. We didn’t know anything about her – where she came from, who her previous owners were, or whether she even had previous owners, though she wasn’t feral so I think that she did at some point.  I still remember how fast Ruggie would run towards us when she saw us. She came at us like a bullet, lay down at our feet and rolled around, showing us her tummy, just crying out to be picked up and petted, which of course, we did. She was so desperate to get inside the house. The first night we let her stay inside, she curled up on a cushion and purred all night long. I think she might have slept, but I do know that every time anyone entered the room, she was purring loudly. She was just so happy to have a safe place indoors to sleep. How could we not take her in?

My sister-in-law is a cat lover, but she already had 2 cats that weren’t exactly friends with each other. Adding this particular kitty to the mix would have created a problem. I volunteered to let her stay with me but firmly stated that I would only keep her until we found her a new owner. She knew some people that might be looking for a new kitty and I was hopeful that one of them would want this little furry bundle of purring and friendliness. They didn’t.  I took her to the local SPCA thinking of giving her up for adoption, but it was obvious that she’d be one of a sea of animals all waiting to be adopted. I wanted to know who her new owners would be, and I actually wanted some say in the matter but was told that once I surrendered her, I would not know anything more about her.  Even though I kept telling myself that I didn’t want to be a cat owner, I certainly wasn’t going to leave her there, and walk away never knowing her fate. I guess at that point I was already falling in love, but didn’t yet know it.

There were other local adoption agencies that would allow me to at least know who she was going to, but I didn’t pursue that option. Deep inside, I wanted to keep her but hadn’t yet admitted it to myself. Slowly, the little annoyances became part of her appeal. I had to cover my bed with towels and my nice leather sofa with an old comforter to protect them from scratching and the occasional throwing-up incident. My room didn’t look quite as nice as it had before, but what I began to realize was that it was beginning to feel more like a home with this adorable little creature as resident. My partner Antoinette, who lives just a mile away, wanted to call her Chloe, and I wanted to call her Rug, so we called her Chloe-Rug.  On an everyday basis we called her Rug, Ruggie, Rugster, Rugsto and other variants on her name. Occasionally we’d call her Chloe, but most of the time it was simply Rug – and boy, did that little Rugster work her way into our hearts.

Every morning she would do her best to wake me up for her breakfast. She was a mainly wet-food kitty, so I didn’t have the luxury of leaving dry food out for her at all times and leaving her to take care of herself. Nope – just before first light every morning, she would jump onto the bed, meow, then sit next to me purring and waiting patiently for me to get up and feed her. If I didn’t do that, her next move was to jump on the desk and start punching away at the computer keyboard keys. I guess she must have seen me do that all day, and figured that the computer was something that was important to me, so if she messed about with something that obviously was an object of my attention, she knew that she could get my attention too.  Most mornings it worked but on the days that I really didn’t want to get out of bed at around 6 to feed her, she moved to part 3 of her plan, which was to start knocking parts from my latest home-brew project off the shelves above my desk. She was smart and just KNEW that once she started knocking radio parts off the shelf, I would be up and out of bed within seconds. Smart little kitty! I could never get mad at her. If you’ve ever watched a little cat clatter away at keys on a keyboard, or knock things off a shelf just to get your attention, even if it happens before you’re fully awake, it’s just one of many things about pet ownership that will open your heart. Many a morning I was shuffling around, barely conscious and feeling slightly grumpy, but with my heart open and full of love for that little creature.

After her breakfast, she would sit patiently next to me while I ate my yogurt, knowing that I would leave a small amount in the dish and then place it by her side. Some mornings, we’d have our yogurt together on the balcony. If I sat at the desk with a bowl of cold cereal, she’d smell the milk, jump onto the desk and sit down patiently right next to the bowl while I ate. I knew what she was waiting for, of course, and would leave just a couple of teaspoonfuls of milk in the bowl. She was so good – she’d wait until I backed away from the bowl before taking that as a cue to move in and have her milk. She never wanted much – barely more than a taste, before she jumped back on the bed and curled up for another nap.

I spoiled her in a way that some pet owners wouldn’t agree with, but it was just her and I living together, so no harm was done to anyone else (unlike the outcome if you spoil your children when raising them). After eating her food on the kitchen floor, she would invariably leave her dish after a few minutes and jump onto the bed or sofa, waiting for me to move the dish up there so she could finish her meal in the ambience of those more exalted surroundings. She had a lifelong problem with her digestion and quite frankly, I was happy to do anything that would encourage her to eat. Even first thing in the morning after dragging my weary carcass out of bed to put a dish of food on the floor, after 5 minutes, she’d jump on the bed and start meowing again, just as I was going back to sleep. This was my cue to get out of bed again and move her dish onto the bed so she could finish her breakfast at my feet while I attempted, usually without success, to get a few more winks.

She had many little quirks of behavior that made it all the easier to love her and since she’s been gone, I’m realizing more and more how very much I did love her. It will seem a bit silly to many people who have never owned a pet, but little Ruggie was very important to Ant and I. When Ant woke up in the morning and called me, one of her first questions would be “How’s little miss Ruggie?” to which I’d reply with an update of her activities so far on that particular day. Sometimes there was a funny story to tell, like the morning that I walked to the bathroom in bare feet and stepped in a little Ruggie dingle-berry while still half-conscious.  It took me a few seconds to realize what the squishy feeling between my toes was. More often, I’d simply tell Ant whether Rug had yet had her breakfast, how well she had eaten, whether she was now lying on the bed giving me her famous “I’m the queen of this territory so please keep a respectful distance” look,  or perhaps sitting at my feet meowing for food. She had many little behaviors, all of which were very, very endearing.


I hope you don’t think this is too much information, but The Rugster’s bathroom habits were quite comic at times.  When performing a number 2, at the very moment of finishing, she’d leap out of her litter box and fly down the corridor, turning the corner into the main room at high speed, whereupon she would race around the room with her tail high, executing a kind of “victory lap”.  Unfortunately, being a long-haired cat, she didn’t always successfully complete her mission in the litter box, and while turning that corner at much velocity, a dingle-berry would fly from her rear end, only to be discovered by my feet at some later time.  We loved her all the more for these little mishaps.

She was a good radio ham too. She was my assistant op in the 2011 Zombie Shuffle:

We never got very high scores in contests though, despite her valiant attempts to dig the weak ones out of the noise:

We don’t want to say goodbye to you Chloe-Rug, but we have to.  We’re both finding this hard to deal with, but I’m hoping that time (and it has only been 2 days so far) will make things better. Our lives were so much the richer for knowing you, and I wish so much that we’d had a lot more than 18 months together.  From my initial conviction that I didn’t want a cat,  I changed to thinking of my future life with her and knowing that wherever I went and whatever I did, Ruggie was going to go on that journey with me. It hurts to know that she won’t be able to do that now. She left us far too soon.

Rest in peace my sweetie, and thank you for opening my heart.

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18 Comments »

  1. Losing a loved pet is difficult, and you sure have my condolences. I’ve been through it myself. Our pets are part of the family. 73 de KB9BVN

    Comment by Brian — August 21, 2012 @ 7:57 pm | Reply

  2. Thanks for sharing your story. Try to focus on the good memories. Pets can be very close to us, and stay with us longer than wives. Last year I had to put down a cat I had for 14 years after it got the feline equivalent of Alzheimer’s so bad he could not function. He trusted me as always as I took him to the vet one last time and afterwards I just sobbed my heart out.

    Comment by Elwood Downey, WB0OEW — August 21, 2012 @ 8:37 pm | Reply

    • Elwood – I had a very similar experience with a kitty I had about 15 years ago. I had to take her to the vet to be put to sleep. She clung to me the entire way to the vet. She was scared of the traffic (we were walking) but she trusted me. The fact that she trusted me was ripping my heart in two. I know exactly how you felt. I’ve cried so many times in the last two days, and just when I think I’m beginning to feel better, it comes back to me in waves.

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Comment by AA7EE — August 21, 2012 @ 11:48 pm | Reply

  3. Wow. Your story is SO much in line with how my Kittney came to me and my best friend. Literally running out from the bushes and sprawling at our feet. I would swear you were writing about us! I also thought ours was the only one to. One flying out of the pan after a number 2. Lol. The attention getting techniques are classic and do indeed have a 1 2 3 approach! Getting up on the project areas will always get a response indeed. I just know you have to be totally crushed without her. I know things would never be the same here. She picked you out to live with and when they do that you have that much more of an attachment. Ive had a few cats in my lifetime and they are all special but sometimes they can just capture your heart. Just know that she had a happy life in your company and that experience is forever in your memory.

    Comment by Ryan Kruspe — August 21, 2012 @ 9:12 pm | Reply

    • I just knew there had to be another kitty out there somewhere who did the victory dance after doing a number 2 Ryan! I’m already thinking about the possibility of getting another furry companion and I agree with your comments about a kitty picking you out. I want to wait until one comes along that seems really right, or who really seems to need me. It will happen one day :-)

      Comment by AA7EE — August 22, 2012 @ 5:47 pm | Reply

  4. I felt so sad when I read of your loss. Cats are amazing creatures. You will always have your memories of Chloe-Rug.

    Comment by Sam Wallace, K9OIC — August 21, 2012 @ 9:33 pm | Reply

    • Thank you Sam. This morning I woke up and didn’t feel quite so bad, so I think things will slowly start getting better. I think that the bad memories (the guilt, the loss etc) will fade and I’ll be left with the good memories. That’s what I’m hoping.

      Comment by AA7EE — August 22, 2012 @ 5:49 pm | Reply

  5. Hi Dave, Dar, W9HZC here.
    I showed your article about Ruggie and she teared up right away. You see, she has 7 cats! – I Know! Yikes
    Each one is special (of course) – Like Rusty who one night jumped up on the kitchen counter and ate up all the corn left on the plates. Now, it seems that cats do not digest corn any better than people do because the next evening as he was working his way accross the living room, going where I do not know, when all of a sudden, he stopped, lifted his orange tail stright in the air, let out a little toot but this one was loaded! A single corn kernal fired accross the room. Ginger’s head snapped around as if to say ‘what the heck was that?’ I’m thinking it might have hurt! It took several minutes for My spouse and I to get up off the floor.
    We are both sad for your loss and completly understand.

    Darwin W9HZC..
    (Tricia and Dar) and Ginger, CoCo, Ivan, Yakkie, Puff, Spunkie, and Mollie

    Comment by Darwin — August 22, 2012 @ 1:18 am | Reply

    • Dar – I hooted when I read this! You gave me my first proper laugh since losing Ruggie. I read your story to Antoinette and she laughed too! Thanks for the humour – it was much needed.
      To quote Sam’s comment above, cats really are amazing little creatures and sources of much life, love and fun!

      Comment by AA7EE — August 22, 2012 @ 5:58 pm | Reply

  6. Sorry for your loss Dave. You are in mine (and my family of a wife, 3 kids, 4 cats, and a mutt) prayers. 73 de AC8JO

    Comment by Andrew Rohne, AC8JO (@AC8JO) — August 22, 2012 @ 3:56 am | Reply

    • Thank you Andrew. It’s very much appreciated.

      Comment by AA7EE — August 22, 2012 @ 5:59 pm | Reply

  7. Dave – so sorry for your loss, I know it all to well and I still remember when you offered me comfort when my Sadie passed last February. I can only ask you to take solace in the knowledge that she had a good life while she was with you and she knew that she was loved. Hopefully she and Sadie are somewhere together chasing a big ball of yarn. And keep your heart open, my friend, Somewhere there’s another kitty who will find a home with you when the time is right. 73 de Larry W2LJ

    Comment by w2lj — August 23, 2012 @ 1:39 am | Reply

    • Thank you Larry. The mixture of emotions that I am feeling are hard to handle at times but even after only 3 days, it is getting better. It’s too early for me to consider adopting another kitty, but I talked to a local adoption agency this morning about fostering cats in my home while they wait for permanent owners. That way I would get kitty companionship and the knowledge that I am helping out, without the permanent commitment that I am not yet capable of making. The kind words from you and others on this blog, in person, and on my Facebook account have been so helpful and are helping me to get through this faster than I otherwise would have done.

      Comment by AA7EE — August 23, 2012 @ 2:35 am | Reply

      • So sorry your kitty died. I’m a cat person and still miss my cat, Pretzel. 73, Dave, Frank

        Comment by Frank — August 23, 2012 @ 3:19 am

      • Thank you Frank. It’s amazing me how many people – especially guys, are cat lovers. It’s heartwarming!

        Comment by AA7EE — August 23, 2012 @ 3:27 am

  8. Well…. no cat here, 2 dogs make that a match NOT made in heaven.
    Its a universal ache.

    We’ve been lucky to be the host/foster family for 4 ‘seeing eye’ leader dogs in training. But one could not pass despite two tries, as he had been badly attacked by some other dogs at the kennel when in for assessments while young, and was just too shy of unknown dogs.
    So while we were in France, he unknowingly came back to us via my wife’s family, who was looking after our other dog and our current leader dog pup.
    Aslan was with us for 14 loving years. That dog loved me 100%.. similarly to your Chloe he would have breakfast and his yard time on Saturday and Sunday mornings typically and then jump back into bed with me.
    We clocked many days canoeing in wilderness parks and he must have run every carry portage six times – I’d be carrying the canoe or packs and he’d run ahead and then back and then ahead and back… never leaving each other’s sight but just that bit ahead to check out the path.
    About 18 months before he left us he had some issues… some sort of brain thing. He staggered a bit sometimes and would fall down, but always picked up and went on. The last summer we had him I went on a wilderness historic fur-trade route river running south of the Arctic water divide. This was Canadian Crown Land.. .out of the way and very quiet. We had the whole river to ourselves.
    We hiked in a very challenging park.. climbs and vistas galore. Even though he was basically deaf and pretty much diminished in vision, he still did the hike in less than normal time.
    He was not going to be defeated.

    Finally the day came, long feared, that he finally could not stand up anymore. We knew the end was near, the vet had tried steroids and other things to keep him going, but all to nought by then.
    I had a heavy heart, but at least I could be with him to the end. Yes, the last breath after the drugs went into the PIC line was hard to bear, but I knew that we both knew we had had a wonderful time together and denied each other no possible pleasure nor love.
    (I do regret a bit that I put him in the stockade at Colonial Williamsburg when he was 7 months old…he didn’t look happy but it is a funny photo, sorry fella)

    We’ve had 5 retrievers in total now, past and present, 2 or 3 at a time, plus 3 guide dogs. I don’t know what life could have been if they had not been there or were not there now. A far emptier and less loving home for sure.
    I do know that no television show or movie of any length does not begin with a retriever curled up beside me on the couch, which then slowly moves alongside and on top of my leg and then gradually moves up, and by 10 or 11 pm there are 2 dark brown eyes looking up at me with nothing less than total devotion.
    Which means of course a cookie is due – sucker!

    Comment by Rob Darling — September 7, 2012 @ 7:47 pm | Reply

    • Rob –

      Great stories that show the bond you have with your dogs. Although I grew up with 3 cats, I have spent the majority of my adult life without pets and this little cat of mine was a reminder of how strong the bond can be between us and our animals. People who have never owned pets often don’t understand it, and even some who have owned them (but who probably shouldn’t), but that bond is very real.

      Thanks for sharing and it really helps to know how many others value their pets as much as I did mine – and will do again.

      Comment by AA7EE — September 9, 2012 @ 6:10 am | Reply

      • PS – Yes, you are a sucker for giving him a cookie but we are suckers for our pets and hey – they deserve to be spoiled from time to time!

        Comment by AA7EE — September 9, 2012 @ 6:11 am


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