Forever Plus, Mouse


King of the barn cats, Mouse, lounging around the back deck a couple of summers ago

2015 has been a difficult year to fathom on the Fyfe Farm.

I mean, we aren’t stupid. We’re both medical doctors and we knew that we had a lot of aging animal companions. We also knew that several had already passed their expiration date and some had medical issues so it was no surprise that the Year of Attrition began as soon as the New Year did.

There we were in January losing Harry, who was at least 13.


Harry Fyfe


And then Mulder surprised us in February by having cutaneous lymphoma and leaving us around the age of 17.


Special Agent Fox Mulder Fyfe

And while those two deaths tore chunks out of our hearts and they weren’t really expected we were able to rationalize them because both of them were senior citizens.

Attrition took the month of March off but hit us hard again in April when Casey finally succumbed to his laryngeal paralysis.

At least he was older. At least he was on The List.

How screwed up is it that I tell myself these things?


Dad & Casey’s last hike together

That I try to compartmentalize my grief so that it can maybe fit into nice, neat little boxes. It isn’t to minimize my grief.

Maybe its to allow myself to let it all out.

But Attrition took a break again and we Hawaii-ed, we golfed, we reunioned, we grew gardens, we laughed, I sold bling, I blogged, we made plans, we medicated pets and more of 2015 passed.

We watched Cooper lose weight and move around slower and sleep more.


Cooper… aging before our eyes earlier this year

Our noble stallion, Dash was having trouble with his breathing and he had started to look a bit rough so in the middle of summer we said goodbye to them both.

But even those losses made a bit of sense because they had both aged before our eyes.

Both of them were over 20 years old and both had lived wonderful lives on the Fyfe Farm, just like Casey, Mulder and Harry had.

So the farewells were tragic and we both cried and our hearts got torn up just a little more but it still made some sort of sense.


Mouse always followed me around the farm, helping me with whatever chore I was doing or mess I had created for myself.

And while we didn’t forget about the Year of Attrition, we were able to put it on the back burner.

We golfed some more and we helped bale hay and I finished writing and we all edited.

We ate, we drank, I slung more bling, Alistair saw patients, we Hawaii-ed once more and we knew The List was there but Boomer and Loki continued to do well.


Mornings with Mouse

And I sat almost every single morning when Alistair was in Bismarck for 15 to 20 minutes out front on our wooden bench with the barn cats, Mouse and Jockey.

We have done this for the 8 years we have lived here.

It has been one of the most special moments of my day and for 8 years I have told them that.


Mouse & his sister, Georgia in the barn

I go down to the barn and Mouse comes leaping out and we go and sit up at the house together whether its sunny, raining, frigid or hot.

I told them every day how much I loved them and how it was important to sort my day’s activities out together.

I’d tell Mouse that I would love him forever and he would me ask me in his squeaky voice, “And then what?”

Then I would laugh to myself (and maybe you’re laughing because you know damned well this actually happens up here) and tell him I’d love him “Forever Plus”.


Jockey & Mouse, our big boys this summer.

Mouse and Jockey helped me with everything around the farm. Even just last week Mouse was helping me Walk & Talk with Loki. He would head-butt her and she would sniff him and things were normal up here.

Mouse was everyone’s friend. He didn’t care if you were a dog, cat or human. I think he saw us all as spirits he lived with.


Harry & Mouse in January, just days before we lost our husky

When Harry laid down and I sedated him in the barn it was Mouse who comforted him. He head-butted his big wolf-like buddy and curled in with him throughout the rest of the sad procedure.

Mouse’s head butts could knock you off balance. At 10 1/2 years old he was at the prime of his life.

He and Georgia are 2 of the only Fyfe pets whose ages we actually know because they were born in our barn in Bismarck the summer I graduated from veterinary school.


The boy kitties, Mouse, Hissy Phitt and Dogget back in Bismarck

Hissy and Mouse were pretty close and they moved to Montana with me at first.

And we walked and we talked and we played with the dogs and they head-butted Dash and they climbed fences and killed vermin and we sat outside on that bench when Daddy was gone and life was good.

Until a resident mountain lion took Hissy and little Jinxie from us.

Mouse mourned the loss of his feline companions with me as I sat and bawled my eyes out.


Hissy Phitt a few years ago hanging around the stallion pen visiting Dash

But I could compartmentalize that particular tragedy because we chose to live in the mountains with the wildlife that had been here first. We just made adaptations and the barn cats have been in the garage every night ever since.

Mouse was just everywhere as long as we were with him.

Feeding horses. Mowing Lawns. Splitting wood. Stacking wood. Carting it over to the house.


Mouse helping me outside on the stallion fenceline

He even helped me split wood and haul it to the house just over a week ago, before Alistair got back from Bismarck.

And then he was fine after that, prancing up to the house in the snow, eager for head-butts, seeing what he could do to help and leaping up into our arms if we bent down.


Mouse telling me what a great golfer I was last summer

So when Alistair said, “Hon, Mouse has something going on. He is limping on a back leg” exactly one week ago I didn’t panic.

He was never on The List.

Sure enough he seemed a bit wobbly but he gobbled up his nightly soft food and there were no obvious swellings or scabs. His pupils were wonky, though which I tucked in my Doctor Mummy mind for later.

Like, Monday morning when he was more lethargic without a fever. One pupil was big and one was small and Georgia was on top of him, knowing he wasn’t quite right.


Last winter, a bobcat-wanna-be

Our internal medicine veterinarian friend in Missoula heard the confusion in my voice and fit us in that morning.

The ultrasound showed what couldn’t be but what was confirmed with aspirates.

Internal Lymphoma.



Enjoying the seasons with Mouse

Mouse lived until we decided he wasn’t really living and we said our last goodbye and kissed our last kisses on Wednesday with Jockey grooming his buddy’s forehead as he sedated.

I’m a bit of a mess over this because he is one of the youngest Fyfes and because he was SO healthy and vibrant and because he wasn’t on The List and because I’m so sick of Attrition.

There is no category for this one to put it into to make sense of it and I just have to suck it up and live in a world without Mouse.


Mouse & Mummy on the bench together back in 2010

On Thanksgiving I was thankful that we had a diagnosis and that Alistair was home with me.

I was thankful that Georgia and Jockey got a few more days to lay with their bestie in the hay bales as we all wrapped our minds around losing Mouse.

I am thankful that scraggly Mama Cat had her kitties in our barn and that Mouse was my outdoor shadow the 8 years we have lived here and that my heart is more full, despite the gaping hole his loss has torn from it, because he lived his life with gusto and affection and head-butts and style.

Good-bye, sweet Mouse. I’ll love you Forever Plus. xo


Alistair getting in some good bonding time late this past spring with Mouse & Jockey


Full-on head-butt action from Mouse in February


Mouse would convince me I needed to sit down and relax with him over the years


Oh, Mouse!

23 thoughts on “Forever Plus, Mouse

    • I know, Cindy. Thanks. Mouse & Jockey loved to greet everyone when they came to the house. Unconditional love to strangers and friends. How lucky we all were to have known him. Thank-you for your thoughts and concern. xo

  1. Leslie koch

    Thank you once again for sharing these moments so near and dear to your heart. Your words resonate so close to home and I find comfort in them – so thank you tanya!

    • Thanks, Leslie. You weren’t at the clinic when I brought the 4 kitties in. I remember Wilma & Alison and probably Lori, Kathy & Roxi all having a blast with the 3 neuters they got to do for us. Mouse was one of those boys. That and the trip to Missoula last Monday were his only times off our farm. Amazing how those fuzzballs can fill up so much space in our hearts.

  2. Lei

    I’m so sorry. For all your losses. It’s been so overwhelming to watch that I haven’t known what to say. Everything seems so shallow. Just want you both too know, I share your pain, it’s never easy or fair. I send my love and hugs.

    • Thanks, Lei. I know what you mean about not knowing what to say. Its why I write the blogs so I can write more and explain my thoughts and how special these crazy animal companions are and why. Your words mean so much. xo

  3. Shirley

    I can’t think of any others words to say other than, I am so sorry for yet another loss for the Fyfe Family. My heart aches for you all. You and Alistair give the gift of love and companionship to so many beautiful creatures and the gift of compassion when it is time to say good bye. Take care friends and know we share in your loss.

    • Its not the same up here without our big boy right now but we are adapting. Like you have had to, too. Mouse was always honored to share your nickname. 🙂 Unfair is the word. Lucky is another one for having the time with him.

  4. Susan Mohr

    You have experienced so much loss this year, but you have the Memories of each and everyone of your furry family! (unlike those people around us who do not bond to an animal and share all they have to give). You have both enriched their lives and they have given their spirit and heart, each and everyone. So, thinking of you guys while we are in our casa. We have had a rough patch this year, not with animals but with family members and it has taken its toll on us. We are here now restoring our energy and appreciating all that life has offered us. Thinking of you and Alistair and knowing how much these furry family members have meant to you over the years. Love, Sue and Glenn

    • I hope your Mexican time away is fabulous! We are so sad about dear Mouse but what else can we do? We know time is limited so we make the most of it… just like you two! Restoring our energy is important so we can heal ourselves and those around us. We think of you guys often. Missing you, xo

  5. Kathryn Best

    Its been a bumpy road over your way this past year that’s for sure. Sorry once again for your loss, save travels to peace for your little Mouse. May you find comfort in knowing he had a good life with you on the farm/ranch. 🐾

    • Thank-you so much, Kathy. You might have been part of the gang when we brought the 3 kittens in to be neutered back in 2005. The techs got to do the deed for Mouse, Hissy and Dogget. We had lots of laughs that day as they were just the sweetest bundles of fur. And yes, Mouse had a wonderful time here. He gave as good as he got, too. xo

    • Yes, Kathy, that word has been uttered a few times. I actually had it in my blog but removed it because it isn’t the writer in me but it sums up our feelings. Poor Jockey & Georgia are still lost right now. Thanks for reading & sharing your thoughts. xo

  6. Julie

    Awww. This post is so sad to read. Disease is one of life’s biggest heartbreaks. He was full of life right up until the end, I hope that gives you some relief. A fresh new year is in sight. Hang in there Tanya and Alistair! XX00

    • Thanks, Julie. This was an unexpected situation for sure but you are right, he was vibrant right up until the end. I am glad we were home and able to be with him throughout it all and yes, we are looking forward to 2016! xo

  7. Barbara Eidel

    Tanya, I am so sorry to read about your sweet Mouse. I am reminded of how Broderick chased him away last summer when we stopped by…Mouse didn’t seem to be too concerned. Yes indeed, this has been the annus horribilis for the Fyfes. May the new year be a time for renewal, peace, better health and just the normal everyday chaos.

    • Annus horribilis indeed, Barb. That makes me smile, at least, remembering the Queen saying that. I’ll take the normal everyday chaos, yes, please! Thank-you for your thoughts! Mouse was a special soul, that’s for sure. xo

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