In Memorium

Today I had to do one of the hardest things ever in my life and have my cat Blaze put to sleep. We made it down to San Marcos, California to see her primary vet and after discussion and a lot of thought and tears I had to let her go.

View All Vicious Attack cat pics

Blaze was born in Vancouver, Washington in the fall of 1990. I met her in the spring of 1991 at the local SPCA shelter when I went to adopt a second cat to keep my first cat, Mala, company.

The shelter there kept animals for seven days before putting them down; I was introduced to Blaze on her seventh day and put down a deposit, then waited 24 hours to adopt. I brought her home and she met Mala for the first time. Mala was a people person: she loved to be held, brushed and even slept under the covers in bed most nights. Blaze had been abused by whoever had her before me. She was afraid of any unanticipated noise like a knock at the door or a toilet flushing. This is one of the few pictures I have of both my cats. It was taken in Mexico when I lived there in 2000-2001.

Blaze was exactly the opposite around other animals. She would chase poor Mala around at will and even attacked a poodle once when we lived in Georgia, when it made the mistake of crossing “her” yard.

Before I became a truck driver I moved around a lot and the cats came with me, naturally. Blaze had racked up something on the order of 20,000 miles with me out on the road before she came on to the truck earlier this year, and 60,000 miles or so since. As with the other moves, she took it all in stride.

About a year ago she had a growth removed from under her left eye. The tissue was tested and the results came back positive as a Mast Cell tumor. In dogs this form of cancer is very aggressive, whereas in cats it generally progresses slower.

After she recovered from the operation I flew her down to Mexico during the summer while I worked my last IT job remotely. Here she is trying to cope with the jet lag:

Then in the back yard keeping a lid on things:

Of course, she always kept an eye out for interlopers:

Blaze was spayed before I adopted her so she has no progeny. Unfortunately, feline and canine pet overpopulation requires the killing of approximately 16 million cats and dogs each year here in the US alone. Today, along with Blaze, roughly 40,000 other cats and dogs had to be put down. If you truly consider yourself a cat (or dog) fancier please adopt them from a shelter, have them spayed or neutered, and avoid subsidizing commercial puppy farms.

Buena Park, they said…

Here I thought the load was going to Buena Vista… now it turns out I’m going to be taking it all the way to Buena Park (Los Angeles suburb) myself for delivery tomorrow at noon. I’m stopped for the evening in Eloy, AZ where the mercury hovers at, I kid you not, 123 degrees.

When it rains… its slick

I made it to Laredo this afternoon around 2 PM. Was able to bypass the inspection bay entirely since I had no trailer to inspect! The weather from the Dallas area and south was very rainy in spots.

Blaze isn’t doing so well so we paid a visit to a vet in Memphis on Sunday morning. My vet in California had suggested that I be taught how to give Blaze subcutaneous fluids and Dr. Williams in Memphis was more than happy to oblige. He has 17 (!) cats of his own so he knows a thing or two about the species.

I left the animal hospital with a box of medications, two large bags of Lactated Ringer IV fluid plus various other things. Tonight I made the first try at giving her 150cc of fluid. About 100 left the bag and about a third of that sprayed everywhere as she made her getaway from the cold liquid. Will try to do better tomorrow.

In the morning I’m off to El Paso with a very heavy load that is heading out to Buena Vista, CA with another driver.

The bell tolls for… tolls!

On my run this morning from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area to Ohio I had to pay a whopping $65.05 in tolls! Yes, I’ll be reimbursed, but the amount of money our public servants get for us to use our own roads is simply outrageous.

The trailer I picked up at oh-dark-thirty this morning was interesting… one of our older ones, and its landing gear was balky. Even though my tractor was backed under it to take off some of the pressure it took a lot of elbow grease to work the gear up and into the ready-to-roll position. Score one for my genes and resulting 6’4″ frame.

I messaged ahead to let the driver picking up the relay know that I would arrive about 90 minutes early. He was ready to go when I rolled in and the switch happened quickly… he left me his empty trailer and got the loaded one to take out to the Port of Newark.

Blaze doesn’t think much of her new proscription. I have to fight her and pin her down (well, best two out of three at least; sometimes I have to tap out) to give her the liquid. She’s received five doses so far and has puked up four of them. The fifth may be bubbling up as I type…

After three or four hours of waiting my satellite unit went off with a curious sequence of dispatch messages. As best I could read it, I was told to take my empty trailer down to just south of Louisville, Kentucky to a Linens n Things distribution center and pick up a full one to take to Laredo. Yes, my very favoritist destination!

The dispatch looked weird and I wanted to ask for a couple more hours to arrive, seeing as I was just doing a drop and hook so I called my fleet manager. It turns out I’m not picking up a trailer! They are deadheading me there to drop my trailer then sending me bobtail (sans trailer) to Laredo! This is about 400 miles deadhead with my trailer and another 1,200 or so bobtail. All paid of course.

The reason for this is that there is an enormous number of full trailers waiting in Laredo for tractors to move them and they don’t need any more empties. This will make for some extremely high MPG figures for me this month: I wasn’t doing bad with real loads, either.

The downsides are the ride and the weather. Class 8 tractors are designed to haul trailers and the suspensions are set up for the extra weight on the drive tires. No trailer and the suspension is extremely “firm” with lots of bounce on some kinds of pavement. In rain, ice or snow a driver has to be extremely cautious about following distance and sudden application of brakes or steering. Which I will be, of course.

Out of Wisconsin to Ohio on a Conway load

After several hours of down time after I dropped my load this morning, the Mobile Max went off telling me to move south to Franklin, WI to take a Conway load to Ohio tomorrow morning at 4:30 AM. Since I like getting up around 4 AM this could be a very nice one-day run for me, though Chicago may be a problem even at that early hour.

I spoke with my Vet in California this morning and we hashed out a plan where I found a pharmacy and he phoned in an order for some anti-nausea medication for Blaze in liquid form. Apparently, it is the same exact stuff that humans use, just a smaller dose. She wasn’t all that impressed when I went to shoot it down her throat but with cats one never really knows.