Friday, October 23, 2015

Ode to Harley

Harley Dillon

2001 - 2015

In early spring 2002, I looked out the window and noticed a lump of snow had moved in the yard.  I realized it wasn't a lump of snow, but a cat!  I went outside and coaxed the cat over (an easy job, he was very friendly), and brought him inside.  We already had a cat (Gremlin), but she was a grumpy thing and so we all fell in love with this friendly tabby, who I named Harley and we had neutered shortly after he showed up.  We searched for his owners to no avail, and so he stayed, despite Gremlin's grumbles about it.

When I moved to Calgary in fall of 2004, Harley came along with me.  We faced our first challenge on the drive: a few kms out of Swift Current, the half-way point, the alternator went on my car.  Harley and I sat together in the waiting room of the Canadian Tire, and I was glad to have company as I navigated the problem.

Harley stayed with me for 6 months until I had to find somewhere to live with roommates, when he returned to Manitoba.  He didn't like the car and would cry the entire trip, and insisted on sitting on the driver's lap.  Harley always loved going outside and didn't do well as an apartment/house cat, he once overate himself to a whopping 18 lbs out of boredom.

Harley returned to Calgary as I finished University in the spring of 2008 and lived with Jason and Sammy (a terribly behaved small dog who Harley tolerated), and then we moved to Winnipeg in January 2009 and lived with Jenn and Kahlua (a long haired sandy male cat).  Kahlua and Harley got along well and would often be found sleeping on the same windowsill or bed, or playfully chasing each other around the house.

In May 2009 I moved back to Calgary and left Harley at the farm with Mom and Dad.  We were all unsure what this obese apartment-dwelling cat would do on the farm, and were certain he would run off or be eaten by coyotes immediately.  Instead, Harley LOVED living at the farm, and brought Mom gifts of mice and other rodents regularly, and slimmed down to his ideal weight.  He and Gremlin continued to tolerate each other, and Harley developed a routine of going out during the day and coming in at night to the garage to sleep.

Harley developed a thyroid problem later in life and was on medication to control it-- Ironically his overactive thyroid caused him to lose weight uncontrollably.  He would wait patiently each evening at suppertime for his "treat" (medication mixed with wet cat food).  Mom diligently looked after this for a number of years at a big expense.

Harley hated dogs, starting with his first encounter with a chocolate lab, who chased him through the house and caused him to hide under a bed for half a day.  A few years ago, Harley encountered an aggressive Boxer on the farm and ended up in the cat hospital (the fate of the dog was worse, Thanks to Dad).  He recovered well from his injury.

There isn't a box made that Harley wouldn't jam himself into to sleep!

This summer, my husband Jon and I moved back to Manitoba to join Mom's business, and it's been awesome spending time with Harley every day.  He's become deaf in the past year and so we have great fun with that-- sticking our faces in his so he'll wake up and jump (and then start purring).  He will never pass up getting petted, and still raises a paw for attention when he wants to be petted.

Harley has been in my life for half my years, and so when he didn't come in one night this week, and then not the next day, either, it was sad to realize that he is gone when he's been such a part of our lives for so long.  At the same time, Harley's health had been declining over the past few years, and none of us thought he'd make another winter, so it was not really a surprise.  I'm glad we got to spend one last summer with Harley, enjoying his company while we work and laughing at his wretched deaf Miaows and his insistence on jamming his 9-lb frame into any box possible.

 So, Harley has left our lives, but we'll always remember him for the part of our lives he was for almost 15 years.  We have lots of cats in our lives now, with our cat Samson and Roseanne and the kittens, but he will always be remembered as a very special cat.

Harley was a big hit on YouTube, in this video I uploaded 7 years ago that got over 300,000 views:

Goodbye, Sweet Harley, you will always be remembered!

On the prowl at sunset

"Stop taking pictures of me!"

Chubby in winter

Sleepy in the shade

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