I got Dante on October 31, 2004 when he was just 8 weeks old, and fell in love immediately. He had beautiful black hair and bright gold eyes. I lived alone at the time and had no other pets, so it was just me and him. He brought so much light and laughter to my rather lonely days of living alone as a graduate student. He was the highlight of my days.
The following summer, I worked at a live in, residential facility and couldn't bring Dante with me, so I sent him to live with my grandmother. Eight weeks later, I returned back to my little apartment with Dante, who was at least 5 lbs. heavier than when I left him, and Meeko, a little gray and white cat, who had taken a liking to Dante after being rescued by my grandmother. Dante and Meeko were best buds, companions, brothers.
From that summer, Dante struggled with weight issues. Despite reducing his food intake and changing brands, I could not get him to lose weight. Yet, Dante remained full of life.
He loved to find the sunny spot on the carpet and lay in it, always belly up. He loved plastic bags and would lick them until I made him stop. He loved to hide in open paper bags or boxes and would use these as sources of entertainment for him and Meeko. He loved being scratched right on the top of his head and would often rub his head and face along the corners of the walls.
Most of all, Dante loved being with me. When he was little, I would shake a bag of treats and he would climb all the way up my body to my shoulder. Though he stopped doing that as he got bigger, he still loved to be picked up and held on my shoulder. I would often prop him up on my shoulder and walk around the house, listening to his purr of contentment in my ear and feeling his paws kneading on my shoulder. Those were our favorite times together.
Around 7:30am on May 7, just a few weeks before his 7th birthday, we found Dante laying on the bathroom floor, moaning. After only a couple of minutes and before we could get him out of the house to the animal hospital across the street, Dante passed away, his head in my hands. He died of sudden cardiac death and the vet determined that he suffered from heart disease. Dante showed no symptoms (his veterinarians did not even notice anything during our annual check-ups) until the final moments of his life and it ultimately took him from us.
He only lived a short 7 years, but I know that because of him, they were some of the best years of my life. He was my first pet as an adult and he holds a particularly special place in my heart. His absence is everywhere I look and it's heart breaking. He left me with an ache in my heart that will never subside. But he also left me with 7 wonderful years worth of memories and for that, I am eternally grateful.