Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gato Shepherd: 1995-2009

Oh god, not an overly sentimental online tribute to a departed pet. Really, do you think so little of me? Would I do that to you? I know your time spent dicking around online is at a premium, so you'll not find any namby-pamby, rainbow bridge crap here.

What you will find is a proper tribute to an animal that was more than a housepet, he was a force of nature. Gato literally walked into our lives 14 years ago as a flea-infested stray that we just couldn't bear to surrender to the Bucks County ASPCA. He was a sweet little kitten, and then we cut his balls off, and all hell broke loose. To this day, I'm not sure what went awry during the procedure, which should have mellowed him, but in the end I really can't blame him.

Gato was only ever about eight pounds, jet black, and had a pathetic stump of a tail which I'm convinced was the result of wild inbreeding. He was not an emotionally stable animal. Despite his small size, he took on cats, and people, exponentially larger than himself. The neighborhood kids gave him a wide berth, and he sent 250-pound men scrambling in fear. Vet visits required multiple attendants, and an impressive array of kitty jujitsu. Our first vet suggested we put him to sleep immediately, but then I think he was the sloppy ball-whacker, so maybe he was just trying to cover his tracks. Gato is also the principal force behind an episode in 2004 known as "The Very Bloody Thanksgiving," from which I still have a scar from a Mike Tyson-esque puncture wound in my right ear. Gato's antics earned him a place on back in 2002. He's bona fide. If he could talk, I always imagined he'd sound like Tony Montana in Scarface.

So why did we put up with this for so long? Because we liked the little bastard. The going rule was don't mess with Gato, Gato won't mess with you. If you let him cuddle up to you of his own accord, he was perfectly fine. The Family Shep learned to co-exist with him, and he was very much part of the family. A crazy-ass, volatile, cuddly part of the family. He spent a lot of time outside, and I was always afraid he'd wind up splattered all over Redwood Drive, or killed by an animal, or a disgruntled neighbor. As it was, he passed away peacefully at the vet's, with Mama and Dadoo Shep by his side.

Gato took quite a shine to one particular stuffed animal back when he was a kitten, and they remained in a monogamous relationship for the duration of his life. It was a toy husky named Diefenbaker, or Dief, for short (don't even ask). To our eternal shame and entertainment, Gato enjoyed being intimate with Dief constantly. Especially in front of company. He'd even make an announcement if we weren't paying attention. It was weird as hell, and absolutely hilarious. So I'd like to leave you with Gato as I'd like to remember him: screwing a stuffed animal on the living room floor while the family goes about its business. Play on, playa.