Guest book review by Peter J. Wolf
There’s little doubt that we Americans love our pets. According to the American Pet Products Association, we’ll spend an estimated $45.4 billion on our non-human dependents this year alone. And what do we get in return? Well, that’s not so easily put into dollars-and-cents terms. The value our pets bring to our lives is, of course—both literally and figuratively—immeasurable. Thankfully, we have authors like Ingrid King to remind us of this fact.
In Buckley’s Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher, King introduces us to Buckley, a tortoiseshell cat rescued from a farm in southwest Virginia who’d become the office cat in the veterinary hospital King managed. Despite her rough and tumble past–or perhaps because of it–Buckley took to her new life with great enthusiasm (though not without some of the expected “tortitude“). “Buckley loved everyone,” writes King. “She checked out anyone who came into the office and, with rare exceptions, she would end up in a visitor’s lap.”
When King left to start her own business (using Reiki on pets), she was astonished by how much she missed her office buddy. “While there had been animals I had come across in my years of working at veterinary hospitals who had tugged at my heart strings,” King writes, “there had not been one that I fell for as hard and as fast as I fell for Buckley.” And so, despite her misgivings about integrating a new cat into the quiet home she shared with her cat Amber, King adopted Buckley.
Amber and Buckley, it seems, knew all along that it was the right move. “I was the only obstacle,” recalls King, a self-proclaimed worrier, “in making the process go smoothly.” While King was getting settled into her new career, the cats were getting settled into their new lives together. But their easy existence was interrupted when, during a routine visit, Buckley’s vet discovered a heart murmur.
Such diagnoses–however unsettling for us humans–seldom mean much to our cats. Indeed, Buckley was thriving with her new family. “The word that probably defined Buckley more than any other,” writes King, “was ‘joy.’”
“She was a joyful being and she brought joy to everyone who came into contact with her…Her entire being was an expression of joy, and her every activity was infused with the essence of joy. She played, ate and loved with abundance…Buckley demonstrated to me how to find joy in every day. By living in the present without worrying about the future or letting thoughts of the past drag her down, this little cat showed me how to find the small joys in each moment.”
Finding those small joys proved increasingly difficult as Buckley’s health took a turn for the worse, and King began devoting more and more time to caring for her. The last few chapters of the book, in which King chronicles BuckleyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s decline, are to be savoredÃ¢â‚¬â€though not without a fresh box of tissues at the ready.
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There’s something rather magical about certain pets, the ones with which we form an immediate, intense connection. Regardless of how much time we spend with them, they leave an indelible impression. Buckley had been with King for only three years, but, writes King, “I was not prepared for the depth of my grief…it was as deep as if she had been with me my whole life. When these special animals come into our lives and then leave us much too soon, they leave us forever changed.”
Buckley’s Story is sure to resonate with animal lovers, whether they’ve suffered the loss of a beloved pet or not. King’s memoir illustrates the powerful nature of the human-animal bond, and–in sharing Buckley with the rest of us–reminds us of what we love in each of our own cats.
BONUS GIVEAWAY: Enter to win a copy of Buckley’s Story!
Ingrid is offering a copy of Buckley’s Story to one lucky Moderncat reader! To enter, please leave a comment on this post. The winner will be chosen in a random drawing on November 24. One entry per person. This giveaway is open to US addresses only.