For many years, I faithfully walked my dog, Buster, every day.

I could recite to you the postal worker’s motto about snow, rain, heat and gloom of night, but even they got Sundays off.

During those walks, we made many friends who wanted to meet my sweet boy. It was a good way to meet a wide variety of people and their dogs. Surprisingly, it was also a great way to meet cats, which seemed to be fascinated, not by me, but rather by Buster. I remember knocking on doors to try to find the home of two kittens that had tried to follow us on a walk. Bad boy Ollie, who is laying across my knees as I type, fell in love with Buster long before he fell in love with me.

Buster usually didn’t go looking for cats.

It was cold and rainy, and I was hoping to get home before I was completely soaked to the skin. Buster began pulling me across an empty lot near my home, determined to have me follow. At the edge of the lot, we found a kitten, wet and shivering. At first, he was frightened, but eventually he allowed Buster, and then me, to approach. I was able to pick him up and put him under my jacket to take him home. There, I dried him off and gave him what appeared to be his first meal in quite a while.

Because he was a bobtail, I named him Bob. I already had a dog and three cats, so I had no intention of keeping him, as I explained the next day to my veterinarian. I said I would either find his owner or get him healthy so a new family could be found. My vet responded to Bob by saying, “Congratulations on your new home.”

And so, Bob became part of the family.

Bob immediately began using the litter box, but he had loose stools. When the condition persisted, I took him back to the doctor. Over the next month, Bob was treated for a variety of issues, but none of these treatments cured the problem. The vet diagnosed him with the feline version of Crohn’s disease, a condition we would manage fairly successfully through steroids and probiotics for the next nine years.

For another year, the episodes came more frequently. For the last six months, nothing we did provided relief for very long. Bob ate voraciously but continued to lose weight, a sign he was no longer absorbing the nutrients he needed from the food he ate.

I told the doctor I thought it was time, but he could talk me out of the decision if he had anything new we could try. My family’s trusted veterinarian for more than 40 years confirmed what I already knew. For Bob’s sake, it was time to say goodbye.

Bob was a special-needs cat and probably cost me three times what my healthy cats cost in vet visits and medication, not to mention the time and worry of dealing with a frequently health-challenged animal. However, I will always be glad Bob came into my life. He gave me unconditional love and taught me patience, perseverance and compassion. I’d call that a fair trade. Rest in peace, Bob.

— To adopt a dog or cat, come to the shelter at 1701 U.S. 72 (in Athens (behind Limestone Veterinary Clinic), visit our Facebook page or call us at 256-771-7889.

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