Friday, January 16, 2015

A Family of Five

This post has been long overdue (almost a year to be exact). Hank could never bring himself to write about Marley's passing (she was, after all, his favorite girl), and our recent loss of our dear cat Bailey prompted me to finally write a tribute to them.

Just one short year ago, we were a family of 2 humans, 3 dogs, and 2 cats. When Hank and I first combined our animal households, I think we just assumed that Bailey the cat would be the first animal we would have to say goodbye to. She was the oldest (around 15 at the time) and it just seemed logical.

Little did we know that we would receive the unexpected news at the end of last February that Marley the Beagle (age 12) had a bleeding tumor, and was beyond repair. There was literally nothing that could be done to save her. We could recognize that she was slowing down and not eating as much, but when we took her in to the vet, we were not expecting the news that we got. Hank called me in tears, and we went to pick her up so that we could have some more time with her.

We made a stop at McDonald's to get her a burger and fries, and headed to the nearest dog park. She gobbled up her food, soaked in the sun, and enjoyed all of the attention we gave her. Looking back at these pictures, I can see just how frail she had gotten. But it's hard to recognize in real time, and even harder to say goodbye. We stayed with her until the very end, and shed many tears over our sweet Marley girl.

The Holland House: Marley Girl

The Holland House: Hank and Marley
Just a couple of weeks before we had to say goodbye to Marley, we were fortunate enough to have family pictures taken. I can't tell you how much these mean to us- seeing our canine family all together. (Now if only I could get around to having them put on canvas so we can hang in our house.)

The Holland House: The Holland Family

Over this past year, Bailey stayed strong until just a few months ago. She has had a thyroid issue for the past several years, but we have been able to manage it with medication. She was no longer the "full figured" girl of her youth, but she still had plenty of spunk! (See picture of her on the kitchen counter- we still don't know exactly how she did that.)

The Holland House: Bailey the Cat

You can read more about how Bailey and I first met here, but the short story is that she was abandoned at an apartment complex, and meowed on my doorstep one night until I finally let her in. She's been with me for almost my entire adult life! She snuggled with me through every heartbreak, never fussed when we moved (12 times!), and adapted to just about everything I threw her way (including plenty of foster dogs and kittens).

For about the past month, we could really see her health start to decline. She was losing more weight, had an eye scratch that just wouldn't heal, and wasn't getting around as easily as she had been. We've seen the vet multiple times, and on her recent visit on Monday, he felt that it was time. It's likely that her thyroid issue had been masking some kidney decline, and she was severely dehydrated. Given her age (18+), we wanted to avoid her having to suffer any pain. So we took her home for one last night of snuggling, and said a tearful goodbye on Tuesday evening. She was MY girl, but had somehow made a cat lover out of Hank, too. We both miss her a ton.

The Holland House: Bailey and Katie
Bailey's last night at home

Rather than remember her scruffy looks of recent times, I have this picture out to remind me of the beautiful, kind, and sometimes quirky cat that she was. We've been through a lot together, and I hope I did right by her in the end.

The Holland House: Bailey the Cat

So now we're a family of five. 2 humans, 2 dogs, and 1 cat. It feels weird, and a little quiet at times (even though Maddie and Brees keep us entertained). Given our upcoming fertility treatment, I'm not sure if now is the time to add another family member. But something tells me when the time is right, something will find its way to us.


  1. Whew. In tears over here. As someone who loves my furbabies like real babies, I cannot even imagine. If you catch me in an "off" moment, I will still shed tears over a family dog we lost when I was in middle school.

    It certainly seems as though all of your pets have had incredible fortune by finding their way into your home. These little furry friends sure get hold of our hearts, don't they? I'm thinking of you guys.

  2. The tears keep falling... I'm sending you positive energy. I know you must miss your furry friends. I still miss my family dog whom I lost over 10 years ago. There is a hole in my heart that will always be vacant but at least she is no longer suffering. Peace & Love and a virtual hug


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