I am here to write today about a very dear, dear furry friend; Stu. If you have ever been a guest at the Calder House, or you are family or friends, you would have heard the story as we share it's uniqueness and beauty often.
Stu is short for "Stupide". I know what you are saying, that isn't very nice to call your pet Stupid. You are right it isn't. But if you pronounce it with a French accent it doesn't sound so harsh. Stu got his name due to the unbelievable "stupid" circumstance of how he came to be our cat in the first place.
We once had a dog name Teiga. She was a beautiful 10 year old, 135lbs Alaskan Malamute. Teiga was diagnosed with 3 tumors in her larynx. Her health had rapidly declined and she was no longer eating and barely drinking. We knew she was dying and taking medication or surgery was cost prohibitive for an end result that was not promising. We were faced with a difficult decision as to whether to euthanase her. We put the decision off as long as we could.
One day Teiga mustard up enough energy to go for a walk with Grant. They didn't walk very far, only up till the end of the driveway by the ditch . Teiga's tail started wagging and she experienced a burst of energy and excitement. Teiga ran to the ditch and out of the bull rushes she pulled out a small grey and white kitten no older than 4 - 5 weeks old. The little fellow was cute. All kittens are!
We imagined he must of belonged to someone. But first things first, the little guy must be hungry. What do you feed a kitten? Well the only "cat" food we had was tuna. So he got his first can of tuna. I have to say that he's been a fan of that stuff ever since. We decided to scout the neighborhood to find his family. Knocked on all doors and no one was missing a kitten! So where did this little guy come from? Was he abandoned in the countryside by some city slickers who did not know what to do with their kittens? Well we don't know how he became the cat from the ditch, but here he was.
In the next week to come the kitten and Teiga were inseparable. The kitten would be seen sleeping with Teiga or they would be mutually benefiting from a lick bath. They were new found buds. Unfortunately, Teiga's life was fast coming to an end, she was suffering so much that we finally made the decision to put her down. The kitten was about to loose his surrogate mother.
To be honest we had mixed emotions about this cat. We felt it was so "STUPID" to have to deal with a kitten in the midst of loosing our furry best friend. Teiga was put to rest and the kitten shortly thereafter disappeared.
In amongst my grief I was worried about the little guy. Where did he go? Was he eating and successfully hunting or was he be hunted? Teiga is gone, the cat is gone and we were left to deal with our grief and the worry of our missing new friend.
In many discussions about this cat, we decided if he came back to us we would call him "Stupide". The name although not nice was appropriate in our minds as the circumstance in which he came into our lives was stupid!
On the third day of the missing cat, I decided to go out and look for him. Maybe he was near the front of the yard where Teiga had once found him. So off I went calling for Stupide; Stu for short.
"Stu, Stu, Stu, where are you little fellow? Stu, Stu, Stuuuuuuu" I called. A few minutes later I could hear a very faint meow. A few minutes more another meow. Oh my God I think I heard him. Next thing you know he came running out of the thick poison ivy. I was sooo happy to see that he was still alive. I picked him up and gave him numerous hugs and kisses and we were off to go give Grant the great news.
So now what? Stu can't be an indoor cat as we had just opened up our bed & breakfast and I did not want to deal with cat hair and dander in the house. I knew we would lose reservations if we had cats due to people who suffer from allergies. We decided that Stu's life would be the life of a "barn" cat. This is a cat that lives outside, but has a warm place in the garage and never wanting for food. Soon fall came and that arrangement seem to be working out just fine.
You could find Stu following me outside as I worked on the yard or he'd sleep in my pocket from my overalls while I painted the windows. He was such a character and really liked people. Anytime I'd be feeling sad about the loss of my dog, Stu would take his two front paws and rub my cheeks. It was really special. The little guy had stolen my heart! There was no doubt in my mind that he was a very special kitten and I was starting to understand that the universe brought him to us to help grieve the loss of our dog. When one goes out of your heart another comes in to help fill the void. Stu was truly a gift from the ditch!
It is now winter and Stu is fairing well in his new home ; the garage. One cold winter night, Grant brought Stu in the house up to the third floor. I looked at Grant and Stu and said: "What are you doing? You can not bring that cat into the house!" Both Grant and Stu looked at me with big sad eyes and Grant said; "Carole, it's really cold outside". I looked at my husband and at this little shivering kitten and I knew we were doomed. I said; "Do you realize that once we take him in, he will think he owns this house and we WILL become his servants. There is NO going back!".
Stu slept with us that night and there was definitely no going back. There is nothing like the sound of a kitten purring who can imitate an old John Deere tractor. We were hooked having this little warm ball of fuzz with us. Stu opened up the crack in our hearts that night.
The love, the antics, the friendship grew and we are forever grateful for what he brought to us.
Six years have gone by where we have had the privilege of watching him grow into a BIG handsome cat. He has brought countless smiles and giggles to our guests who have come to the Calder House. Stu brought us many moments of cuddles, talks, sharing naps, petting, combing, purring in utter contentment. He developed the mentality of thinking like a dog, acting like a dog to the extent of being able to chase large dogs away, sitting for treats, and knocking at the front door when he wanted in. He has always shown affection even if he wasn't in the mood. He always had Friskiness and love bites for the guests. He even had his favorites; Kim I'm sure you going to miss having your toe bitten.
Life and it's experiences are a journey. I believe we are all angels having a human, animal, and plant. experience. We come to the earth to learn lessons and those lessons come in all kinds of formats. I know in my heart that Stu's purpose was to bring us the shimmering light to fill the void that Teiga's death created. I know that he was meant to bring comfort to many of our guests. I know that he helped many to heal on levels that we will never understand. I know that he truly believed he was a dog. He was full of tricks and always motivated by food. I know he loved us, Zen, Trudeau and Luna. I know he will be truly missed by many.
Stu I know you can hear me; "I MISS YOU BUDDY! You will always have a place in our hearts."
Stu died unexpectedly on August 19th, 2014 at 11:00 a.m.
God rest your soul my little furry friend,
Carole is the owner and operator of the Calder House Bed & Breakfast along with her partner Grant. Read more about the everyday happenings and events at the Calder House!