Hump Day: Best way to mourn a pet is by adopting anew

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017
Moncton Times & Transcript

If you own a cat who’s getting on in age, you’ll probably hear those dreaded two words from the veterinarian at some point: kidney disease. I heard them in 2015 about my late boy Casey.

A few months ago, I heard them about my girl Cindy. I didn’t know what to expect the first time. It was certainly a learning experience. The second time, I knew what to expect – and that it would end badly for poor Cindy.

Cindy was my first pet as an adult other than fish several years before. My son convinced me to adopt a cat in September 2003 from the Greater Moncton SPCA. I was very hesitant. I wasn’t fussy about cats but agreed that it would add a bit of life to the house.

As we visited the cats at the shelter, one got my attention – first because of her colour, a very dark orange which I would describe more as red. Actually, she was a rare female red tabby. Most are males. Every time we walked by her kennel, she would rub up against the cage trying to get our attention. We chatted about her and then went back a few days later to check out the cats again – and there she was rubbing up against the cage practically demanding that we adopt her.

It worked – and we adopted our new cat. Within a few minutes of arriving home, she was kneading the sofa cushion out of pure happiness, ecstatic at the softness and comfort of her new abode. She would look at us and meow, which freaked me out because I thought there was something wrong. Eventually, I figured out that she was just saying,“Hi! Thanks for adopting me!”

Several months later, we decided that Cindy needed a friend. In April 2004, we adopted a large male tabby named Casey from the SPCA. Cindy was not pleased, to say the least. She didn’t understand why we brought this intruder home, but she eventually warmed up to him and put up with Casey chasing and wrestling with her for the next several years.

In November 2015, Casey’s recently diagnosed kidney disease caught up with him and we said a tearful goodbye to him at the vet. We were worried that Cindy (or my dog Milane) would mourn Casey, but everything seemed to go along normally. In fact, Cindy practically held a ticker-tape parade down the hallway when Casey went to that great cat castle in the sky.

Cindy (2002-2017)

With no feline competition, she became much more affectionate and outgoing. Talk of getting another cat was silenced quickly. Clearly, Cindy really enjoyed being the only cat in the house. We owed it to her to at least give her that privilege in her final years.

Fast forward to mid-2016. Cindy wasn’t herself, so a trip to the vet was scheduled to check out what was wrong. Tests were carried out. Unfortunately, it was kidney disease. It wasn’t as bad as Casey’s was when first diagnosed, but kidney disease in cats – at least in my experience – is unpredictable. Some can live for years with proper treatment. Some don’t last long at all.

As any pet owner with an aging pet has likely experienced, what followed was months of special food, medications and vitamins to try and keep her stable and healthy. In mid-December, though, she stopped eating as much. Just before New Year’s Day, she stopped eating completely. I’d been through this before. I knew it wasn’t good.

Another trip to the vet for follow-up blood tests. This time, the news was dire. Stage-four kidney failure. There was no hope. It was time for Cindy to go to the Rainbow Bridge.

I like to say that Cindy had a ‘cat movie star’ death. I held her and rubbed her tummy. She even started to fall asleep at one point. I could tell she was very ill – and ready. My son and I were with her. It was peaceful. She passed away with two grown men crying for her while being held in my arms. It can’t get much better than that for a former shelter cat, eh?

There will be more feline companionship very soon. Milane, the dog, is now an only fur child – and we can’t have that now, can we? There are many cats waiting for adoption – and to honour the many years of love and companionship that Cindy and Casey provided, I’ll definitely be adopting again.

Rest in peace, my dear little Cindy. You’re the pet who started it all. Because of you, there were more – and there will be more. I’ll miss you forever, sweetheart. Godspeed.

Hump Day: Willpower is a decision. Decide to stick to your resolutions!

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017
Moncton Times & Transcript

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I’d banned sweets, desserts and candy from my life just before the holidays.

I’m pleased to say that I succeeded. I have to admit that the aroma of those open boxes of chocolate tempted me a few times, but I simply used some good old-fashioned willpower and soldiered through. Just because something is tempting doesn’t mean you have to give in to it. It sounds cliché, but just say no!

I’ve always been intrigued by will power. Every January, we all have a newfound sense of strength. Our will power is at full throttle.

We go to the gym. We take a pass on the desserts. We get up earlier. Go to bed earlier. We watch our spending. We eat healthier.

And then the excuses start. Oh, trust me. I’m king of excuses. I have the crown and everything. It’s pretty, too.

I don’t have time, I’ll tell myself. Just this once, I may say. Oh, that little slice of fill-in-the-blank won’t hurt me. I’ll stay up late to watch too much television just this once.

Sure, just once. Uh-huh. Two weeks later after no one’s heard from you, the paramedics find you beneath a pile of dirty clothes laughing dementedly as you try to change the channel on the dryer by clicking a handful of lint.

Well, so much for that year’s resolutions, eh? I guess we’ll just continue spiralling downhill until next year, huh? Now for an 11-month long sugar, procrastination and television binge until next New Year’s Day. Sound familiar?

I’m quite proud of myself for managing to make it through the holidays, although I’m sure my anti-sugar rants weren’t exactly appreciated by the people around me who were happily enjoying treats as I glared at them judgmentally.‘You know sugar is evil, right? Eat your poison, and Merry Christmas!’

This is why I have to pay people to be my friend.

All we can do is be responsible for ourselves. What’s good for you isn’t necessarily good for someone else. I have a cupboard full of booze. It’s been there for years. If I have one drink a year, that’s about it – and it’s usually used for cooking. Others, however, would have a real problem with that and could not resist the temptation. Personally, I couldn’t care less if my house was full of alcohol. To others, that would be a major problem.

However, you could have ice cream hidden in the back of your freezer behind a wall of bags of frozen peas and I’d sniff it out like a dog searching for drugs in luggage at the airport.

I could walk into your house not even knowing there’s ice cream in the freezer and then suddenly blurt out,‘French vanilla!’

And I’d be right, too! On a side note, is there still such a thing as grape-nut ice cream? My grandmother always bought that, varying between neapolitan and orange-pineapple. To this day, I still jokingly call those flavours ‘old-people ice cream.’

Yes, everyone’s will power does seem to fade as the days, weeks and months of a new year pass. Books get tossed aside. Lettuce rots in the refrigerator. The snooze button gets pushed on the super-early wakeup call which would have given you time to get to the gym before work. Instead, you arrive at work five minutes late with a donut crammed in your mouth, your pants on backwards and wearing your wife’s underwear. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m not here to judge).

If there’s one thing we all need to hold on to this early in the year, it’s our newfound will power. Lock it up inside you and throw away the key. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it – especially yourself! We’re often our own worst enemy.

As the old saying goes, if we were physically able to kick ourselves in our own rear-ends, we would be much wiser at a much younger age!

Anytime someone tries to snatch that willpower away, guard it with your life. Act like they’re trying to steal your wallet.

I know one thing, if someone would ever try to steal my wallet they’d better do it fast and run because I grew up watching Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling and definitely remember how to do Bulldog Bob Brown’s pile-driver, Killer Karl Krupp’s ‘the claw’ and Leo Burke’s ‘sleeper hold!’

Willpower – be it new or well established – is precious. It can get us very far and change our lives dramatically.

Will power creates self-esteem, a very powerful motivator of which many people need more. Combined, motivation and determination multiplied by will power can move mountains.

Hump Day: Go ahead! Make New Year’s resolutions!

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2016
Moncton Times & Transcript

Well, it’s hard to believe, but the Christmas music is gone from radio stations and retailers, and decorations are slowly coming down around town as the days are getting longer – finally! The year is on its last legs as it crawls toward its final hours as Baby New Year is waiting patiently outside for 12 a.m. on Jan. 1 to arrive.

The period between Christmas and New Year’s Day – what we commonly call “the holidays” – is one of the stranger times of the year. The people who don’t like Christmas are thrilled that it’s over – and those who love Christmas are depressed that it’s over. Meanwhile, everyone else is too full and broke to care.

The holidays can be exhausting, can’t they? And don’t even talk about the spending. I think I actually heard my poor little credit card scream as I pushed it into a payment terminal. ‘No! Not again! Have pity! Christmas may be fun for you, but it’s not the greatest time for me, buster! Now, buy me some lotion for all this chafing – and pay with cash!’

We spend too much. We eat too much. We drink too much. We don’t sleep enough. No wonder we’re exhausted afterwards! After the tinsel is packed away for another year and we all start eating salad again, however, January is the perfect time to sit down and start thinking about that dreaded “R” word: resolutions!

Now, many people feel that resolutions are actually bad things. We’re just setting ourselves up for failure, they say. Or we’re just making resolutions because everyone else is. Or… whatever. Some people are so negative that it’s difficult to get them to think positively about anything, let alone their future.

Here’s the thing about resolutions, at least in my humble opinion. Even if you fail at 90 per cent of them, well guess what? You succeeded at 10 per cent! That may not sound like much, but what if becoming a millionaire was that 10 per cent? I’d say that was a pretty good return.

Don't let anyone convince you that making New Year's resolutions is a bad idea. In fact, beware of those who don't want you to improve!
Don’t let anyone convince you that making New Year’s resolutions is a bad idea. In fact, beware of those who don’t want you to improve!

“Resolved to get rid of that stubborn rash on my toe. Failed. Resolved to remember to never leave the house again with the water still running in the sink. Failed. Resolved to eat more kale. Failed. Resolved to find out what kale is. Failed.” I’m sure that if most of your resolutions didn’t pan out except for one major one, then that would at least be something positive, correct? They say money doesn’t buy happiness, but it sure makes misery a lot more enjoyable, doesn’t it?

I’m all about making resolutions. Be it fall, spring or the beginning of a new year, these season and calendar changes are new beginnings. Spring is when new things come to life. Fall is when a new school year starts. January is the debut of 12 glorious months ahead of exciting opportunities. Just pick a date, make your plans and go!

Write down some dreams. Get excited. Make a plan. Get even more excited. And if someone tells you not to bother, do it anyway. Clearly, they’re not someone with your best interests at heart. Now, a little disclaimer here: if you’re planning on being the first person to jump off a 20-storey building without a parachute and survive, perhaps you should listen to the naysayers around you. Anything with consequences unrelated to possible death, though, are worthwhile pursuing as long as they don’t hurt others.

A new year is an exciting time. On Jan. 1 at 12 a.m., the pages in our book of life are wiped clean. Many of us just start from there, though, and wander along aimlessly for the next 12 months with no plan just taking what life throws at us from left and right. Now, I’m not suggesting having a plan for every second of every day – but it would be a good thing to kind of know where you’re going. Either you can sail into the wind with strength and determination, or you can be thrown onto to rocks just like any other shipwrecks in choppy waters who lost their way.

I may talk a good talk, but I can certainly use more practice in the planning department, and I will be making a number of resolutions for 2017. Some will be big. Others will be small. Some will fail. Some will succeed.

Either way, though, at the end of 2017, I want to look back at the year that has just ended and know that despite some failures, I ended the year in the plus column.

I truly hope 2017 is good to you. Happy New Year!