Dear Readers, This arrived in our inbox and immediately we were taken back through the years. … Bless the folks who saved and loved Ivy Joy -- and took many more photos of her. This is how Lezli expressed the love for the cat who loved and inspired love. It began exactly like this:

Tribute from Ivy Joy’s mom, Lezli Ragland
Charles Dickens said it so well:
“What greater gift than the love of a cat.”

In Loving memory of our  beautiful, beautiful Ivy Joy Ragland… 
August 29, 2011 to March 25, 2024

412 ivy kitchen tableOur hearts are better because of you, Sweet Ivy Joy. Thank you for teaching us about love, strength, courage, tenacity, feistiness, tolerance, and loving acceptance… Thank you for loving us and picking us as your family. You are my soul kitty and will remain  forever in all our hearts.

As I work in my office every day and look towards the window, I miss seeing you there and how you shared the desk with me. You were always so tolerant of my work and my colleagues got used to seeing you on the WebEx meetings swishing your tail and demanding attention…as  you usually joined the conference calls, especially when you wanted a treat!
 You could be pretty demanding when it came to food! 

As I reflect back on your life journey with us, I realize just how amazing it was …My precious angel, Jazzi Sunshine kitty Ragland, had earned her
wings and my heart was not the same after that. Then some time later, we lost our special-needs kitty, CK aka Cuddles Kitty Ragland. Our 412 ivy paper baghome  was Cat-less for the first time in over 25 years. We still had all our ferals but no feline family inside our house!  

Don’t get me wrong, our ferals were very important to us….We did 63 TNRs over the years and provided, food, water, shelter, love and vet care to them. Our oldest feral, Big Blackie, was with us almost 20 years. After CK earned his wings, my heart was not ready for another cat…I was still able to get my kitty cuddle fix from my parents’ (Joy and Frank Ragland) cats, Chloe and Louie Blue Ragland. They, too,  were pretty awesome. What cat is not!?

I remember when Larry Powell (wonderful animal advocate, author, editor, columnist and downright amazing human-being) wrote about Ivy Joy and introduced her to the animal network. Then my phone rang one day and super animal hero, Johnnie England (former President of Operation Kindness and an incredible human-being), called to tell me about 412 ivy  withcard gameIvy stating she thought she would do well with us. Johnnie and I were connected through all our animal rescues and she supported my efforts to help those animals who needed help. Johnnie connected me to Edna and Frank Taylor of Houston Tx in August 2011. I was  told about this young cat they had who needed a home.
She was a special needs kitty who was not tolerant of other kitties and needed to go to a special family! Before I knew it, Edna and Frank were driving her to our home in Dallas Tx and when precious Ivy arrived on August 29th 2011 she made herself at home and our hearts have never been the same. Ivy checked us out and picked us for her family. We are so thankful of that! Ivy learned how to integrate with our family so well! She was the Queen of all of us, but more so of our hearts. She helped me heal from the other losses. 

Ivy had a lot of lifetime special needs such as fear anxiety, extreme vet aggression, teeth grinding, irritable bowel, inflammatory bladder syndrome… and lastly cancer which started in fall of 2020. Ivy was very appreciative of all the care she received and if she didn’t agree with it…she 412 ivy  people nap timewould let you know! 

Ivy Joy had the most beautiful long white whiskers, and she loved to sit on your chest while you slept and stick them up your nose !! That tickle was intense! The thought of her doing that makes me giggle! I miss it….

I miss her sitting on the DVR and blocking part of the TV….she loved the warmth and watching her favorite shows…upfront and  center!

I miss her rubbing up against my legs and bathing my hands….she was good at caring for me….she took care of all of us! 

I miss her laying in the middle of our table games….she made sure she got to play!

I miss her everything…I miss her presence in our lives….

I had the honor of being Ivy’s mom and  special person for 13 plus years. It will never be long enough, but it is what we had. We had a very strong bond that only we shared! Her dad, Michael Ragland, was so incredibly special to her, as well!  He was an amazing cat dad to her! She purred with joy when he was home! She loved to sleep on him, too! He ran a very close second to me!

412 ivy pink rosesIvy lived life on her terms and she loved her family so much! There was a mutual love and a mutual respect for who we were and for who she was….I feel pretty lost without her. She was my strength and her love will remain forever strong in all of our hearts.

In 2021, when my mom, Ivy’s namesake—Joy Ragland — moved in with us, Ivy  bonded with her in an amazing way….she loved her cuddle times with her. It was really cool to see the way she had grown and evolved to loving her humans. Ivy really knew she was loved and worshipped as every cat should be….but she showed unconditional love to us, as well.

Ivy was very tolerant and loving of all of her dog siblings, but always let them know she was the princess of the house! Ivy had a very special bond with our wonderful Boston, Luna Rose Ragland. Sweet Luna earned her wings on June  2, 2021. Ivy really grieved that loss (as we all did )….and now, they have been reunited at the Rainbow Bridge.

Ivy enjoyed her morning milk, and her cuddles before I left  for work each day. That had been a ritual since 2011. I’m so grateful I started working from home in 2018 so I could care for my mom after my incredibly special father, Frank Ragland, earned his wings. My parents shared a once in a lifetime love of 60 years. So Amazing. 

In taking a job from home, I got to spend  so much more time with my furs and bond even more with my precious Ivy Joy. 

412 ivy  with dog palAfter joining our family, Ivy went on vacations with us! She loved the weeks we spent at the cabins in Oklahoma and getting extra family time! Ivy was a wonderful traveler and always made herself at home!

When Ivy was diagnosed with feline mammary cancer in the fall of 2021, our hearts sank….literally sank….cancer has had and still does have such a huge presence in our lives….an unwelcome presence. 

Knowing she was facing the cancer journey, too, made us so sad. Ivy  was a true cancer warrior! We have lots of loving CCLs (Crazy Cat Ladies) who walk in support of breast cancer and feline mammary  cancer. In doing so, they honor Ivy Joy and  all those furry ones affected by the disease.  Thank you,  CCLs!
One night early in her cancer diagnosis when Ivy was cuddling with me…she and I had a long talk….I let her know she would never be alone. I thought it was OK for her to have the surgery and she seemed to agree. As long as there wasn’t much follow up….Ivy had to be gassed down every time she went to the vet, as she became like a lion on steroids and they couldn’t treat her.  Ivy suffered from extreme fear aggression at the vet! Phew! 

After her first cancer surgery to remove her tumor, it was not a surprise that
412 ivy  lounging chairshe did wonderfully and healed without complications. This surgery gifted all of us 18 more months of time together. Her cancer reappeared and she had surgery again in December 2023. The new tumor was removed and appeared to be gone but the vets were not feeling as optimistic this go round. The vets were right. Unfortunately,  the cancer spread to her lungs in January 2024. 

During one of our many chats, I always let Ivy know I would do everything to make her life special and I promised her the best passing when it was her time….Ivy let me know when she was ready to fly and we helped her earn her wings March 25, 2024. [NOTE TO HER RESCUER: Edna, her little pink bed you brought her to our home with in 2011 was her final resting place. She loved that bed!]

In my mind’s eye, I still look for her and hear her meow….It broke our hearts to let her go but she was ready to fly and leave her cancer behind. It 412 ivy wtching birdwas her time and she earned her angel wings the same way she lived her life… on her terms. She has joined all those who have gone before us and she’s watching over all of us now! Our sweet Elderly Chi, Honey Bun Ragland, is grieving the loss and so is our little Chi, Amelia Rae Ragland. When Amelia joined our family in December of 2021, She was not happy to have a cat in the household.  It took some time and patience, but Ivy Joy and Amelia learned to love each other. 

A very special thank you to  my wonderful husband,  Michael, my Mom, Joy, and many family and friends for loving her, caring for her and being in her life! Thank you to Larry Powell for making her famous through his stories and columns…Such a wonderful animal advocate and person…and  thank you to Jonnie  England for connecting her to me…you were right, it was a purrfect match! Thank you Edna and Frank Taylor for rescuing her and giving her the best chance on life….thank you for connecting us with Ivy and for picking us for her family. 

I will always love you, Ivy Joy….princess of my heart…our hearts are connected by Paws. 
Fly Free sweet girl and keep shining brightly.  2011-2024
Ivy’s mom, Lezli Ragland 

Myrtle’s Story  (2/14/2008 - 2/14/2024)

By Diane Combs, Dallas
    In February 2008, before I ever started looking for her, a Dapple Mini Dachshund was born. 
    It was the beginning of a charming life, but she had to go through a little rough spot first.  And she and I met by chance — it was, indeed, “good luck” for both of us.
2-15 myrtle  2    When she was just a few months old, she was found as a stray in Kansas City, Kansas, across the state line from Kansas City, Mo. 
    Whoever found her took her to a shelter. But that shelter was full. Personnel there called a Dachshund rescue group in Oklahoma and arranged this little dog’s transfer.
    But that Oklahoma group was filling up quickly, too, so those folks contacted Kathleen Coleman of the DFW Dachshund Rescue Foundation in Colleyville, in the northeastern corner of Tarrant County. Kathleen agreed to foster this little girl and vowed to find her a good home.
    It turns out that I had recently lost one of my darling Mini Doxie boys and was open to adopting another. I adore the Minis— that’s an emotion based on my experience of living with them and enjoying their presence in my home and life.
    So, hoping to find a candidate to fill that open spot in the house, I looked on the DFW Dachshund Rescue website.  There, I found a listing for just one, a black and tan female.
    I got in touch with Kathleen who already knew me because a few years earlier, I’d adopted my young fellow Fred from the organization. 
    I told her that this time I did not want a puppy, but would prefer a dog that was 2 to 5 years old.
Kathleen said the dog on the website was available and we set up a pre-adoption meeting. Normally I go by my gut in adopting dogs, and it’s usually worked out for me.  However, when I met this one, my gut told me ‘NO’ right off the bat.  She seemed very hesitant to get close to me.  I knew it wasn’t a good match because we just didn’t “click,” so I was about to leave.
    But just then, all of a sudden, a little Dapple Doxie ran out from the other room and came right up to me.  
    “Who’s this?” I asked Kathleen.
    “Her name is Reece, but she’s only 7 months old and you said you didn’t want a puppy.”
2-15 myrtle 1    But this dog seemed very sweet and did not bark at all — plus, she seemed to love me! I told myself, “Well, 7 months is almost 12 months, so she won’t officially be a puppy for long!”
    Kathleen told me this young girl’s story of being “well-traveled” before she got to DFW Dachshund Rescue
    And in this chance meeting, I got to know her better and my gut started talking to me again. But this time it was telling me “YES!”
    I did adopt “Reece” and changed her name to Myrtle (after my grandmother on my dad’s side).  I live next door to my sister, Cindy, and our great aunt gave us a plant called “Sweet Myrtle” to plant between our houses. Unfortunately it did not survive last year’s winter, but Cindy plans to put in a new Sweet Myrtle plant in the same spot in honor of my adorable Myrtle.
    It's now 16 years since I adopted her. How big a place did she have in her human’s life? Every night she slept on the pillow next to my pillow, next to my face — and that's one of the many things that made Myrtle so sweet.
    Because of the frailties and challenges of aging, it all too-soon became time to put her to sleep. We did this on the day we’ve always celebrated as her birthday — Valentine’s Day, February 14. I feel that was appropriate because Dear Myrtle was such a love. 
    Sweet Dreams sweet Myrtle. It was such a privilege to share your very long and happy life. 
[Photos of Myrtle by Teresa Berg of Teresa Berg Photography]

ALEX -- “Made himself something the people who discarded him never imagined.”

We celebrated this family cat, Alex, as a "Contemplation" in our July 18, 2023, edition of readlarrypowell.com. His story came to us from our writer friend Sarah Hays in Lubbock.
[LARRY ASIDE: For Prayers & Passages, we have prepared this commemoration for a  cat who …. well, that headline is the foundation of the story as told by Sarah.]

7-18 ALEXSarah also sent this picture. It is an “early-in-his-grown-up-cat career” photo of the adored and adoring Alex. And the photo captures a revelation in the life of a cat who was abandoned, then had enough faith in humans left to take up a significant role in the hearts of a family.
In our July 18 edition of readlarrypowell.com, the first headline on this great cat’s story read “Contemplating A Cat Named Alex.”
From opening remarks in that July 18 edition, we borrow this opinion: “The reality of animal rescue and adoption is this: It’s personal.”
We dedicated the story of Alex “to humans who took a longshot that turned out to be a sure thing.” You may have one or more longshots who have blessed your lives.

Part of the story of this beloved cat was headlined “LEARNING FROM ALEX.” Sarah began:
 “Alex has left us. That's such a simple sentence, but it means so much of a change for us.”
That opening by Sarah was sent to readlarrypowell.com on the evening of Monday, July 17, the day Alex’s earthly ailments couldn’t be conquered. 
Sarah wrote of Alex, the family member. I’m repeating her opening — it’s spare and to the point, reaching right into the heart of any human who ever loved an animal.  
Sarah wrote: “Alex has left us. That’s such a simple sentence but it means so much of a change for us.”
She continued, “We don't know how old Alex was. We know we first took him to our vet’s in 2000. Before 11 Sept. 01.

“Before the veterinarian who retired last year had been with our vet six months. Before Son1 got his first solo home. Before Son2 started high school. Alex came to us as a grown cat, maybe three, maybe five. Maybe somewhere in between.

We know that when he came to us he'd been abandoned in a KMart parking lot. 
“We know we couldn't tell if Alex was a brown cat or a grey cat when he arrived. Turns out he was a white cat.

“My son, who found him, is sad today. My husband, who took him to the vet for the last time today, is sad.
“I am sad.
“Alex is resting better. Wobbie, K'Wan, Mischief and Samantha don't quite know what to think, for Alex, who's been here since long before any of them were born, has left us. Alex has no more trouble breathing, or arthritis, or difficulty getting to the litter box in time. He can hear again. He isn't suffering from diabetes
any more. But we all miss him.”

In a later note exchanged about this loss, Sarah wrote of the abandoned cat, “Alex made himself something the people who discarded him never imagined.

“It's just so ... odd ... that he's not here now. He's been here so long.”

And, she wrote, “I didn't realize one other thing about Alex. Because he came to us just a few years after we moved here, he is the last link to our ‘original’ cats, Kymba and Rushlight, and Kymba's kittens, and Tribble. I knew he had helped mentor our current generation, as well as Alastair and Bandit (aka Toes) because Lt Cdr McKitten, our silver-tux polydactyl, and Fiendy, our long-time silver-tuxedo indoor master-of-all mischief, spent their entire lives with Alex. 
“Kymba and Rushlight and the kittens were here first; Tribble and Alex came to us in the same year. I've written you about those folks before, I know. Bear, and TwoCat, and RedCat ... It feels as if something precious ended today. A bit of history, perhaps. Certainly, a generation of companions we cherished as delights.”

Later that first day without him, Sarah wrote of trying to “figure out how much I need to remember, and how many memories I owe to Alex.”

[LARRY ASIDE: “Memories I owe to Alex” — more powerful phrasing inspired by a rescued cat who, as Sarah wrote, “made himself something the people who discarded him never imagined.”

[Offer understanding and appreciation for Alex by emailing [email protected] — put ‘BLESS THE CATS’ in the subject line.]


A cat like no other.
That's what The Senator was.
Age and ailments brought his Earthly trip to an end on Monday afternoon, March 14, 2022. 

3- 15 sen 2014This is being written on March 15. The Ides of March, a significant day in literary history, as fans of William Shakespeare’s drama Julius Caesar may recall.
To borrow from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and twist it to fit the situation, “His life was gentle…Nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘THIS WAS ONE WONDERFUL CAT!’.” 
The Senator was, however, beyond Shakespeare, beyond Earth. He was — and is again — one Heavenly Cat.

We'd been working with The Senator's vet to try to get the little guy to rebound, but it just wasn't to be. The decline began 3- 15 sen watcha couple of months ago. Lost weight, was not quite so active, became disoriented — appeared to be a kidney problem. Though his “numbers” were good, his fate was sealed by whatever we could not discover inside. He lost weight, lost his ability to smoothly navigate the climb to his dinner table. But he never lost his ability to respond with a loving gesture. [That's the photo I posted when I wrote that he was working on a dance routine for the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes' holiday show after the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.]
3- 15 sen first used photoWe made adjustments. He made adjustments. He never complained (not even years ago when I put a watch on his head and shot a photograph to illustrate a time change story!).
Of all the beings in the house — animal and human — he was the one who never complained.
That was his style from the day we met him in 2008. He was already an adult cat. Five, maybe six years old. When he left, he was around 20.
We had a feral cat colony living around our southern Oak Cliff neighborhood in Dallas. It took us 20 years to trap, neuter, release or adopt the adults and get as many kittens as possible into no-kill shelters.

One morning, among the crowd of diners, there was a cat sitting alone, waiting his turn at a dish of cat food. 
Polite fellow. Sort of black and gray 3- 15 sen 2016 back of sen's headpatches of assorted sizes on white and with a hairline that looked as if he’d had hairplugs inserted. 
I opened the door onto the front porch. The “regulars” scattered, leaping through the protective bars the previous owner had installed to make a large “cage.” 
But this lone cat didn’t run. He looked up at me with his big dark eyes. [LARRY NOTE: From behind, he looked like he was wearing the face of another cat!]
This was no street cat whose destiny should be scrabbling for meals the rest of his life.

So, I asked, “Want to come in?” and he answered by rising slowly and taking very deliberate steps through the door and into the front hall. I bent down and petted his head and said, “Welcome.”
3- 15 narsenatorWe already had a few indoor cats -- all our cats are indoor cats. At mealtime, those rescued cats sometimes had the manners of hungry teenagers around a hot pizza after soccer practice. 
The Senator waited until I showed him where he could eat and drink. Then, with the casual, steady, slow movements he used his entire life, this cat made his way to the food dish and slowly, quietly ate. 

Because of his “hair plug hairline” — and because he didn’t carry any ID papers — I began calling him “The Senator.” Lots of guys in the Upper House had he same hairline way back then. The photo with Martha, taken last week, shows his magnificent hairline.

Back to his style of moving. Martha explains his way of moving this way: “The Senator had a unique way of moving. Slow moving. If you have ever seen an animatronic creature at a museum or Six Flags – that kind of moving. No whipping around of the head to follow squirrel or a fly or a toy. Just sitting, stolid and dignified, and slowly moving his head until the object he wanted to see was in view.
When he’d walk across a room, conversations would stop so speakers and listeners could marvel at the scene.

Clearly he’d been someone’s cat at some point. Our old Dallas Zip Code is famous or the lack of attention paid to spaying and neutering and 3- 15 fsenator porche earlthe results.

We called The Senator “The Miracle Cat of Tarryall Drive” — he was the rare “Dallas rescue” who’d already been “fixed.”
The Senator loved sitting in a lap and being petted. My theory has always been that someone moved away and left him behind. People do that.
I figured, perhaps, he’d been some nice old lady’s cat and been cherished by her. But the surviving relatives were dumb enough to think “He’s only a damned cat. Who cares? Besides, he’ll love to be outdoors.”
Their idiocy paid off at our house. 
[LARRY NOTE: I snapped that photo several years ago when I caught Earl, aka Texas Earl the Cheeseman, my rescued Rottie, trying to relax in the recliner while Porche Noel flopped on top of him as The Senator held on for the ride while the rockin' recliner coped with the movements of about 80 pounds of dog! The Senator did not protest!]
When he showed up at our house, The Senator was probably about five or six, our vet said during The Senator’s first visit on our watch. Beloved Dr. Vladi de Jong (rest his soul!)  could not resist picking up The Senator and cuddling him — The Senator cuddled back.

The Senator quickly accepted the routines in our house -- it wasn't the Senate but it was where he could be comfortable and meditate on the nation's future, I guess. And he loved to be picked up by Martha for an exchange of pets and purrs.
Martha recalls, “When guests came to our house, he would wait for them to settle down, then slowly make his way, one by one, to their laps. He would allow them to pet him, gently head-butt his ‘thanks for coming’ and move on to the next person.”

She also remembers one more very interesting “style” of The Senator:
"He didn’t meow. He had a unique, piercing, baritone cross between a yowl and a moo. It meant, ‘Hey, where is everyone?’ or ‘Alert! The dog is in my spot on the sofa’.”

And Martha wrote, “This unique sound was familiar to us but hard to explain, for instance, to startled Zoom participants who heard it in the background as I worked at home the past couple of years.”

The Senator and I shared many quiet moments together. We also experienced hours and hours of working together. 
He’d wait until I was at my 3- 15 snew years hedbutcomputer and ready to start tapping the keys. Then, he’d get into my lap, turn to face me and purr.
And, in his first day as trusted advisor and office cat, he head-bonked me, shoving his face and forehead into my beard as a way to say, “I’m on your side. Now, let’s get busy typin’ for money.” [LARRY NOTE: I managed to snap that selfie one morming a couple of years ago as he head-bonked my big nose to the side -- I was watching the news and he was interested in setting an affectionate tone for the day.]
3- 15tUSE THIS PLATFORMNow and then something would inspire him to suddenly move onto the desk and walk across my keyboard.
 Sometimes he’d flop onto my desk and sleep next to the mousepad — or on my mouse.

But what he really liked was “The Office Cat Platform” I created for him. It was a wooden TV tray with magazines or maybe a comfy blanket folded onto it like a thin mattress. Whatever was on it, he could find comfort. He loved to sit on that thing and watch me type. As I typed, sometimes he’d slide down into a curl-up-and-sleep position and nod off, waking now and then to get a bit of cuddling and head-bonking. 
He especially loved being held. My rescuespouse Martha, a veteran at bringing dogs and cats home from the streets, adored this cat. He adored her.

We were both with him Monday when he left us., petting him, telling him how much we loved him. 
Yeah, if you’d been there, you might have seen some discreet tears from two people who love our cat The Senator.

And today, March 15, is the first time since 2008 that we have awakened without getting and opportunity to say the words, “Where is The Senator?” and having him look up at us as if we were worthy of his glance, his headbonks, his purrs ... If only humanity could follow, his example of living with other beings without spats and conflict.

3- 15 hannah at christmasThe Senator was such a peaceful cat. 
When we had visitors, the dogs would bark madly and the other cats would vanish. The Senator was a gentleman. He enjoyed meeting new people. He enjoyed being with the grandkids, Hannah Rose, Emily Grace and Connor. He particularly loved being held by our animal-fan granddaughter Hannah Rose.  That's them at Christmas. Hannah Rose, "the family artist," was intrigued by his slow-moving, peaceful deliberate nature and gentle soul. Our daughter-in-law, animal fan Erinn, loved him. Her husband (our baby boy Bart) and Bart’s twin Bret (older by 2 minutes) — both animal lovers — found The Senator to be a fascinating fellow.

I probably spent more time with The Senator than anyone else in the family. After all, he was my advisor, my editor, my inspiration for some sentences and some deletions — i.e., my calming influence.

What if I happened to be out of sorts? I’d pick him up and pet him, hold him, let him shove his face into my beard and purr.
3- 15 sen 2016sen at work 3- 15 sen 2016sen at ed commentHe appeared to know there wasn’t anything going on with me that couldn’t be squelched by a big ol’ calm cat purring peace throughout the soul!

In his service as “Office Cat,” The Senator oversaw writing of many, many dog and cat and “other” animal stories. He endured the typing and recitation of unpublishable poetry. [He was reading one of my short stories and solemnly (left) explained (right) that my opening paragraphs were making him drowsy. i rewrote the story.
The Senator came along after my quarter-century career as a columnist with The Big Paper Downtown, but he did help shape columns I wrote for a decade for the great Bob Walton’s Urban Animal Magazine. 
And he’s been beside me and helping with inspiration in tales and yarns for 3- 15 relectreadlarrypowell.com which began before he joined the staff. 

In addition, he helped me write a couple of books and many short stories and writing many other projects still waiting for completion. He also helped me edit my friend and former Dallas Morning News colleague Bob St. John’s final book, House No. 5 (Paradise on Paros), a delightful story of Bob and his artist wife Sandy (an animal fan, too) and romance and history on the delightful Greek Island. [LARRY ASIDE: I’m not sure The Senator never visited Paros. He had the demeanor of someone who’d traveled with the Diplomatic Corps. I did help with one of his successful political campaigns years ago.]

3- 15 senator mestevierayHere’s a reality: Spend such a load of time at a typewritin’ keyboard and you going to need a friend you can turn to and receive affection and an understanding of the simple joy of existence without trying to advise you.
The Senator is that joy.
While waiting at home for the clock to move on Monday, I spent a lot of time cuddling The Senator. I managed to take this photo of him as he lay on my arm and gently, sweetly purred. To the right of my bearded chin, you see the face of the next generation -- Stevie Ray Treeboy, the cat I pulled out of a mimosa tree about 10 feet from the porch where I first met The Senator. Perhaps Stevie Ray will have learned something from his elder advisor.  My relationshp with The Senator raised my appreciation of life's events.
As a person of faith — a flawed person of faith — I know that The Senator hasn’t gone to Heaven, I know for a fact that he has GONE BACK TO HEAVEN. 
He’s one of the many guardian angels sent to try to keep me from taking the bad steps I’ve had a tendency to take. I’m sure some of you know this sensation of feeling as if you have an unexpected protector. I refer to it as "the theology of following the examples of peaceful beings."
And here, as I reach the end of this written tribute to a cat who made a difference in my life, I simply, tearfully, sincerely type this:
To my friend, The Senator: Thank you from my heart. You are a cat like no other.


I was driving along in my car on a freeway when I looked over and saw our vet’s office and thought “That’s the last place 827 earl from sept 2009we saw Earl.” 

Then, tears suddenly appeared in my eyes. I must have been holding them back since March, I think.
“Maybe I’d better pull over for a minute,” I said to myself. 

Traffic didn’t allow for that; I blinked my eyes clear. And I drove on home.

That photo is one of the first I took of my friend Texas Earl The Cheeseman back in September, 2009.

But that freeway “teardrop spell” was just one more moment when I realized how 8-30 earl on thecouchmuch I miss our big ol’ Rottweiler friend Earl. Usually it hits me in the house when I realize there’s a dog dish I don’t have to prepare, there’s a place to sit on the couch, there’s an open path across the living room rug. No big ol’ Rottie snuggling with small dogs or cats!

Honestly, it has taken me a real while to get this tribute together.
8-30 earl in the feb snow 2My dearspouse Martha and I, with Earl’s best interests at heart, held him as he went on — I think he was ready. That was on March 10.
He’d had a chance to play in the snow.

You remember that snow? Earl enjoyed it more than anyone — well, anyone who hadn’t lost power or had their roof cave in. He romped! 

Here’s the deal on my delay: I simply did not have a way to say in a couple of sentences just how much he meant to me. I encountered the emotions while driving past the last place I petted his big ol’ velvet head, hugged his neck and told him I loved him. He means a lot to me. To Martha, too. And, yeah, to his ol’ friends in the House of Formerly Unwanted Animals.

Here’s some more about Earl, a dog I gave the “show name” Texas Earl The Cheeseman for no particular reason other than it seemed to fit him.

Each time I come home from an errand — half-hour or half-a-day — I am met at the door by our wonderful dogs.

For about a week in March they were not looking at me when the door opened. No, they were looking at an area around 827 earl i[side4my knees where their friend Earl used to stand politely and wait for them to clear the way when he’d come back from the vet’s.
That is about the grandest tribute I have seen for a big ol’ dog who was a fixture in our home. His friends kept hoping he’s coming through the door when it opens. Didn’t we all. And, yeah, I’m tearing up right now.
Porche, Wendy and Dudley all appear to live with faith that their friend Earl is going to be coming back through that door some day and lead them on another bark-filled, nose-sniffin’ romp in the yard.

I wish that such a thing could happen as much as all three dogs added together 8-30 earl chick and duckand a few of the cats, too. Earl charmed the cats. The younger ones, born into a feral situation, somehow loved rubbing their heads on Big Earl’s chin and chest. He took it as a compliment.
His assorted ailments finally made life too rough for him to go on and Martha and I, our dear vet and one of Earl’s loving techs sat on a rug on the floor of the vet’s office with Earl. 
We all petted him, talked to him and, ultimately, helped him avoid some hellish suffering. Don’t think for a second that we didn’t need to dab our eyes and hate the ache in our hearts.

Earl was already having big problems with his “insides” and we knew this was coming. But it still hurts to look at his usual spot on the living room floor, one ear listening for snacks in the kitchen, and see a giant vacancy.
What kind of dog was Earl? The best. [LARRY NOTE: That's Earl lounging on our back deck while having a conversation 8-30 earl dudley chick and duckwith our two outdoor fowl residents, Chicken and Duck. The next photo? That's Earl and the Yard Pals relaxing with Dudley The Angel, a wander-up dog dumped in our old neighborhood in Dallas.]
Dear Readers may recall the circumstances that led to Earl joining our household in the long-ago year of 2009.
 I have, sometimes, introduced him as “our free Rottweiler.” That’s what he was. [LARRY NOTE: He was also thought by our vet to be "5 to 7 years old" in 2009. So, yeah, he was ancient for a dog when we lost him in March. Every year since 2009 was a great year for us and Earl.]

One afternoon, I drove into Oak Cliff’s Kiest Park to do my 
walking exercise” and as I pulled into the parking area, I saw a grown Rottie rise from the shade of a tree. His head held high in happy anticipation, he walked over to a car that had just arrived, paused to look into the driver’s window, then, head now drooping, walked slowly back to the shade and lay down. 
I watched him for about 15 minutes as other cars arrived and he repeated this routine. 

Finally, I’d had all I could stand. I got out of my pickup and walked toward him. He got up and walked toward me. I had some treats and offered them. He took them happily. It was clear this slightly slim, fully adult black and tan classic Rottie with a docked tail was homeless.

Nobody was coming back to get him. 

827 earls faceHe wasn’t the first dog I’d invited home after he was dumped in Kiest Park. I had Inky the Cocker Spaniel (a mange-stricken puppy with no hair on his body except on one long ear); Rosie, a mange-tortured Chihuahua who smelled so bad kids were throwing rocks at her to keep her away from them; and Hambone Jack (“Hammy), “The Canine King of the Blues,” a Great Dane/Lab mix who had a metal collar growing into his neck, a belly that needed a steady diet and a nature so happy that a circus clown would be envious.

And, so, here was one more: the great Earl, “Texas Earl the Cheeseman.” I loved hugging him. Look at those bright eyes in that couch photo!
He would sometimes rise from his spot on the floor, walk over to the couch and insist that I grab his big ol’ face in both hands and kiss his muzzle like it was my funspouse Martha’s cheek.
We love Earl. Love him. 
He had become ill in January and he’d gotten one of those “could be soon” diagnoses. But he was so happy when he was feeling good. He was just so darned happy.

We set a date for helping him, but then, as the day approached, he was like the healthy Earl — good appetite, no 8-30 earl in the feb snowkproblem with his bodily functions, loved to be petted, liked being with us. We gambled that we could enjoy him another week or so.
Then came the winter storm.
Our yard — like the roads — was covered with snow. Nobody was going anywhere. Offices were closed, Highways were largely empty. 
On one of those sunless mornings when the snow reflects what little light is getting through the clouds, Martha opened the door for the dogs to go out and the first one out the door was Earl. After weeks of slow and certain movements in the yard, Earl was suddenly inspired and he led the other dogs on a merry chase through the snow. He romped. He jumped. He shoved his muzzle into the snow. He was happy. His “inner puppy” was at work.
Happy! He frolicked in the snow for as long as it was in the yard. [He was happy riding in the car, too, before it got to hard for him to get into it. Martha took that shot of me and Earl riding around for fun back in 2016.]
One morning he went out with the other dogs and he spotted a squirrel on the ground about 20 yards away from him. Suddenly, he was like a rocket across the snow and the grass. That squirrel was stunned that a dog he’d come to ignore might now be in the mood to give chase! 
The squirrel ran up a tree and for a moment, I thought Earl might, too.
827 larry and earl 2016But, he decided to walk through the snow at the back fence. Every now and then, he’d stop and look up at the fence and I could swear you could almost see this guy contemplating trying to get one more good leap out of his arthritic legs and run off into the nature preserve next to us.

A few days later, he had a bad night and a bad morning and we made the call.

Now, Earl is romping with his young legs, he’s probably leading other once-homeless pups on a joyous jog through Heaven. Now and then a cat will walk up and say, “I’ve heard it’s enjoyable to headbutt your chin and rub my forehead on your cheek. That right?” And our boy Early will give off one of his big ol’ Rottie smiles and lean down just a bit to be accommodating to the much shorter kitty. 
“He’ll think back to Stevie Ray the kitten and maybe even the humans who loved feeling the top of his velvet head and marveling at the sweetness of this formerly 509-10earlharp1unwanted dog. 
He was so gentle on Earth — evidence that, as I’ve frequently noted, all dogs don’t go to Heaven, those angels are all going BACK to Heaven. [That may explain why he liked to sleep next to one of Martha's harps, the big ol' angel. That lower photo is of Earl and Porche Noel snoozing on Porche's Retro-Hippie Trancendental Carpet of Meditation. They were pals for more than a decade...]

You know what I could never teach Earl to do? I could never teach him to catch a treat in mid-air. I’d toss one toward the other dogs and they’d snare it out of the air like a Hall of Fame shortstop handling a line drive.
1-01-2021earlporchcontemplationaWhen I’d gently toss a treat toward Earl, he’d let it hit his face, his chin, his chest — and he’d pick it up and eat it just the same. I finally stopped trying, except every now and then, because I stubbornly believed that I’d eventually teach him to catch a treat with his big, sweet ol’ mouth. 
If I play my cards right, some day I’ll get to see the new trick my great family member Earl has learned since I last saw him. I’m sure there are treats in Heaven and Earl is enjoying them.
But, for now, here is the genuine thought I have every morning, every evening and now and then during the daytime and nighttime. “I want my dog back.” Maybe some day….Not too soon, of course, but some day. “I want my dog back.”

— Offer a thought by clicking on comment below or by emailing [email protected]. —-


This tribute honoring the great loveable Pittie boy Lac comes from the heart of is “mom” Tomi Ortiz.
We featured Lac 6-16 lac #1several years ago at readlarrypowell.com — it was clear that he was adored and, in turn, adored his humans.

Thanks to Tomi, we were able to tell the story of how she and her husband found the right name for this puppy. She told us that when they got the puppy, Frank owned a silver Cadillac and “the dog got the ‘Lac’ part of the name rather than the ‘Cad’ part.”

6-16 lac #2When they lost their Lac more than a month ago, the family felt it.

Tomi explains in this tribute: “I finally got my emotions in check long enough to write a small tribute to Lac. It’s been a month since our Lac crossed the Rainbow Bridge. A day hasn’t gone by that we don’t miss our ‘Old Man.’

“He was the first dog in our home after my husband and I got together. He was with us for 14 years, since he was 3 weeks old and was rejected by his mother.
“We bottle-fed him and cared for him through some tough times as a puppy and a few as an adult. 

“He was the most wonderful Pitbull I had ever met! Before he came into my life I had been terrified of Pitbulls. I would believe all the bad things said on the news about that breed. Those people couldn’t have been more wrong!

“We would often joke that Lac was not a Pitbull but a cat reincarnated. All he ever wanted to do was lay around 6-16 lac #3the house and lay outside in the sun. If someone would’ve broken into our home they could’ve walked right over him and he’d be fine with that.
“People would look at him and back-up because he was a Pitbull, he’d look up at us like ‘Mom and Dad, what’s wrong with them?’

“We’d just say, ‘Come on boy, they don’t deserve to meet you anyway.’
“I remember when we would take him to PetSmart for training as a puppy there was a mixed breed puppy who was a little bigger named Keeper. He would grab Lac by one leg and drag him from one side of the pen to the other. I would look at my husband and laugh, 6-16 lac #4‘Yep! That’s our dangerous Pitbull alright!’

“All I can say is Our Boy is missed dearly, not only by us, but by our kids and his brother Boss and sister Angel. They have not been the same since he left us.
“Lac made us all better people and 100% Pitbull advocates. We will always feel blessed we had him his whole life. I know he’s in a better place now and I know we will see him again one day.”
The photographs show Lac through the years, from his puppy picture to, as Tomi writes, ”the very last one of him the day he left us.”

—- In honor of Lac —-


On the morning of Tuesday, June 8, this news of a loss arrived in our inbox. It came from our longtime pals Deana Hanson, hubby Jim and their son Lee out in Weatherford.
6-10kylie twoThe focus was on “Esther (Kylie) Ann Hanson,” known in home and hearts as “Ky.”
Deana wrote, “We took Ky to the vet last week and they said her kidneys were failing. She was about 15 years old.
“This morning (Tuesday) at 5 a.m. I checked on her. She was quiet from the meds they gave her. At 6:15 a.m. I woke up and checked on her and she had gone back to Heaven. 

“I think she was a dog you wrote about on your site (readlarrypowell.com) years ago in Irving’s shelter. Her name was Esther there.
“She had been surrendered with a broken leg and they needed someone to take her. She was so sweet. Jim drove to Irving and picked her up. He worked two days over time to get the extra money and Dr. Turner fixed her leg.
6-10kylie ONE“She chased tennis balls out here in the country for years on that leg. So Dr. Turner did a really good thing. 
“Ky knew how to play peek-a-boo and she loved her stuffed monkey to play with. She was a loving little mix of a dog. … We've got that hollowed feeling again. The living room where she chose to lay is so empty.

Deana sent one more note about the “family” aspect of Ky. It involves another family dog and the legendary rescuer and Fairy Dogmother of Dallas Angie Manriquez.

Deana wrote, “Whitney Cookie-girl has always stayed in our kitchen at night. Last night (the evening after Kylie left), she went straight into the living room and slept where Kylie had always slept. Angie Manriquez once told me the passed dog will tell the new dog what to do. When I got up last night, Whitney was still sleeping there. It helped us.”

After all, Deana wrote, “Really, Ky is out of all her pain and is her happy-go-lucky self.” 

[LARRY NOTE: These photos are two Polaroid pictures that Lee scanned for his mom. There’s a thumb-drive “somewhere,” Deana says, with more photos of Kylie. We’ll proudly add them when they’re available. After all, Kylie is “family.”]


616Money1stfotodec2017The beautiful Monet -- I thought we'd have her forever -- a sweet, living reminder at readlarrypowell.com that "feral kittens" aren't always so feral and they don't always hiss at humans.
We never heard her hiss at us. During her treatment, though, on days when she was doing well, she'd hiss at the vet who was about to take her temp. Who wouldn't? Right?
 But then sweet Monet would purr, accept some loving petting and cuddling from the vet and get on with her day of trying to recuperate. [On the right, that’s my first photo of Monet in December 2017. She came to visit me as I 616Monetstretch2018was working in the front yard flowerbox. She was among the kittens born in the feral colony we tended to for nearly 20 years — we finally got every tabby fixed. You know how they can keep showing up. [Her stripes, vivid in that March 2018 photo on the left,  faded as she left kittenhood and were replaced by muted black and gray strips with yellow accents, like the flowers insinuated by Monet's brush in a scene of water lillies. Almost matched her eyes. It was just after that when Monet decided to come into the house -- I opened the front door and she walked in. No fear, no alarm. The dogs said, "Oh, ANOTHER cat?" The cats said, "Here's the food, let's take a nap."]

Bless those folks at Bridge Street Clinic for taking care of our girl as she faced what became a really challenging situation. And, you know, they nursed us along, too. Very comforting as we all endured this mystery illness.
I'd have written this tribute a lot sooner but it was the surprise ending that knocked me over. Never happened before like this. Fate is mean. Our cats always make it well into their teens and one 616Monettmarch23018-- Cyril, a tuxedo fellow Martha got before we married, was a documentable 26, having begun life in Lampasas in the 20th Century.

My rescuespouse Martha and I were with Monet at the end, both petting her gently as the relief from pain arrived via a silver needle. This time "euthanasia" lived up to its name, saving our girl from needless suffering. Monet had been at the vet's for several days this time -- her second extended visit.
She was only a little over 4 years old. We've never lost a cat that young. [Our cats always make it well into their teens and one -- Cyril, a tuxedo fellow Martha got before we married, was a documentable 26, having begun life in Lampasas in the 20th Century.]
Monet's challenge began this way: There was evidence that she'd been -- when no humans were around -- eating thread from Martha's sewing room. We took her to the vet. Tests were run, behavior monitored, medicines applied. She seemed to rebound with acceptable "movements" and a return of appetite. Her "labs" were good. 616Monetbc2017And, after several  days we brought her home where she gave us firm signs of the "ol' Monet" returning.
But suddenly she was not herself. Not interested in being with anyone. We immediately took her to the vet. This time, she underwent abdominal surgery to clear out the intestines and look for unexpected damages (none found) -- she'd continued eating things she shouldn't eat.
Post-surgery, there was evidence that she was perking up. 
She always had an uplifting personality. As you can see from her photos, she might have some Tabby tendencies. But her eyes, in the right light, are golden. And her coat is an accumulation of artistic brushwork -- as if the namesake artist had said from Above, "Hey, St. Pete 'n' Y'all,.." [I like to think Monet could have been a Texan] ... "Let me take the brush to the coat on this one -- people will admire her beauty." And we did admire it.

She shared Martha's office with another former feral, Esme, who has been in the family for maybe 10 years. They got along -- today, you'll catch Esme looking toward Monet's old sleeping spots as if she's trying to find her friend.
616Monettthepenisusal20191I know how she feels. I still see the shadow of my Cocker Spaniel Inky in dark rooms and I'll check before I sit in an easy chair to make sure the big spirit of my Great Dane/Lab mix Hammy hasn't claimed it first. But Monet, well, missing her is different. [That's her on the right, greeting the household insomniac at about 3 a.m. with a reminder that cat treats are served at all hours!]
She was steady. She had a special joy at being picked up and cuddled. She didn't complain when I turned her over and rubbed her tummy. She simply looked up with those fantastic eyes and knew she was going to get extra treats and a hug.

If a human was in the kitchen, Monet's place was on the "peninsula" dividing the cooking area from the breakfast nook.

We thought she was going to make it. But, suddenly, she was hiding under chairs and couches and in bathroom closets. She quit meowing for treats. She'd get her 616Monettthegang2019food, pull out some with a paw and nibble the bits off her toes. But that was it. She wouldn’t eat.
Surgery had cleared out obstructions and during post-op-recovery she seemed to head toward being the "Old Monet" but it was a brief illusion.
As it turned out, our beautiful little girl was the victim of an ugly ailment -- some kind of lymphoma. She'd been responding to pain and misery by eating things she should not eat.
[In that group shot, you see Monet at her station on the kitchen peninsula, in the upper left corner, the young boy Simon, then the big guy Texas Earl the Cheeseman (our Rottie), drinking water is Wendy and sitting  below Monet on the floor is her roommate, Esme. I'm so glad we have this image of these pals in one photo.]

On June 5, Martha and I were with her, holding her and petting her and talking to her as the "medicine" did its business. Her magnificent purr was powered by despair and, we could see, 616Monettthepenisusal2019appreciation that familiar hands were holding her. Maybe we gave her some comfort; maybe she trusted us to help her.

Yeah, you had two tearful people saying goodbye to a beautiful cat who was everything you'd expect from a feline companion -- purrs, happy greetings, comforting moments — a serene presence as you read a book or watched TV or marveled at nature’s miraculous souls. [That's Monet during an insomnia session in the 2019 Christmas season -- wide awake in caseI needed to rub the tummy of a kittycat.]

A week later, I went back to the clinic to get her ashes. The beautiful box -- one of many we have -- came in a white paper 616Monetbox1bag with handles. I put it on the car seat next to me and drove toward home. At the first red light I thought, "Better check and make sure the name is spelled right." 
I pulled the bag open and looked in to see the wooden box with the silver inscription "Monet" and I had to pull over until I 616Money1stfotodec2017could see well enough to drive. That little cat with the fabulous coat and the beautiful eyes and the gentle heart was still with me.
 We simply did not expect to lose that girl when she was so very young. And I wanted to post that beautiful kitten's photo one more time as we address the purpose of her life.
Maybe Monet's life -- from unwanted feral colony kitten to beloved housecat -- will remind people to give these little beings a place in their hearts. 
For the benefit of mankind, learning to be loving to all species is a good thing.
—- Leave ‘comments’ by clicking below or by emailing [email protected]. —-


Such a beautiful face, such a beautiful soul. And, Becky Dodge, the veteran animal advocate, in this tribute, tells us the wonderful story of Meli. Becky’s words, written this week:

Meli, the Honey Lady, left very suddenly a week ago today, on the morning of the 16th. The vet said it could have been Screen Shot 2019-09-24 at 9.51.54 AMeither a sudden massive stroke or perhaps a brain tumor which grew extremely fast. In either case her temperature and respiration couldn’t be controlled and she was completely unresponsive even to pain and it was best to let her go on her last journey.

She was 14, a Shepherd mix, with perhaps a little Chow in there someplace. When I met her in 2014 she was about 9 or so and her kennel name was Reba. To me that just did not fit but I kept thinking that she looked like all the gold/amber shades of honey, everything from very pale to medium. So that is where her name came from - ‘Meli’ is a Hawaiian word meaning honey. And she was like honey in temperament as well, gentle and patient with other dogs in my home who were a bit more on the anxious side. She even allowed the annoying one, an 8-month-old Min Pin who was dumped at my door to cuddle with her.
 She LOVED to run, she and a dog next door spent lots of time pacing each other up and down the fence line. She pranced she was so happy when running. It was a real treat watching them since neither ever tried to outrun the other. If one was leading he or she slowed down to keep pace with the other. They both took obvious delight in the ‘races’ until age caught up with them but even as they slowed and the run became a trot it didn’t stop until their legs couldn’t support it any longer  I think that it was after her adoption that she discovered squeaky toys and she carried a yellow one with her often around the house. …

Screen Shot 2019-09-24 at 9.52.11 AMThat picture is one of my favorites. Because of the big age difference Zoe could be a bit annoying to the older dogs in her energy level, etc. Meli was about 10 years old and Callie was 11 when Zoe came to live with us.
Zoe was only 8 months old then so you can see that a high energy little dog could occasionally become annoying when the older ones wanted to sleep.
However Meli, even though she did get annoyed some at Zoe's energy, she was also extremely patient as Zoe wanted to cuddle with someone at nap time.
I have a blurry photo which I didn't send of Zoe licking at Meli's mouth the way puppies do with older dogs. So in some ways their relationship was as if Zoe was a young puppy with her mother.

There was also this dignity about Meli that gave her a special air in her meetings with people and other dogs. Even age and increasing health problems couldn’t take that dignity away from her.
It was as if she saw it as her job to make sure strangers were comfortable before she approached to greet them. It was as if she were saying, "Hello, come in, be comfortable, I’ll formally greet you later." However she couldn’t tolerate the neighbor’s cat coming into HER yard and as long as she was able she gave chase. I miss her way of putting her head on my lap when she wanted affection and even her way of backing off after she had enough loving for one session.  I also miss how she would come into the bedroom every night to say goodnight before going back into the living room to sleep (I never could convince her that sleeping in the bedroom was a good thing). I’m going to miss that gentleness and patience and her love of being here with me and the other dogs for a very long time.

— Leave a comment or condolences by emailing [email protected]. —-


Screen Shot 2019-08-21 at 8.31.03 PMDeborah Lynn Verner, the veteran rescuer, has been pulling animals out of tough spots for many years.
This girl Gretchen was one of her triumphs — the sweet momma dog of years ago has now gone on, having fallen victim this week to constantly painful arthritis in her hips.
On Wednesday, Deborah wrote, “Gretchen, 10 yrs and 2 weeks ago I rescued you from that property in Seagoville. That was 1 week before you had 11 beautiful puppies.

“I felt so bad for you then, because you would see me leave with 1 or 2 puppies at a time Screen Shot 2019-08-21 at 7.02.16 PMas they got sick from distemper — only for you to never see them again.” 
[LARRY ASIDE: That mugshot is of one of her surviving pups, Chester, who turned 10 on August 12. Deborah continues…]

“Now, Chester pup has to go through that — being without you, his Mom. I know Cheyenne will be looking for you too. She knew you were in pain, always giving you kisses.
Screen Shot 2019-08-21 at 7.00.50 PM“It is estimated that you are 12-13 years old, given that Chester Pup came from your second litter of pups.
“You were the sweetest girl, and I'll miss you!! I love you!! Run free without pain now. You are reunited with those 9 puppies that died.”
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