I was a bachelor in the early 90’s when I decided to get a pet. I did not have the time to care for a dog, so I decided to adopt a cat. Coincidentally, one of my employees had adopted a pregnant stray and she had just given birth. The day of the Kentucky Derby, my employee and his wife held a party and I was invited to come over, with the dual purpose of possibly selecting one of the kittens. There were four in the litter and I had my eye on one of the female tabbies. Then, the runt of the litter came over to me and plopped himself in my lap and stayed. I decided that I had been selected instead and decided to adopt him — I named him Jesse (after the then professional wrestling announcer Jesse Ventura — who would guess he would go on to become governor of MN?). My mother told me, “You’ll never keep that cat”. Jesse was very “dog like”. He would play fetch, follow me around the house, wait by the door until I came home from work, and even made sure he would be in the room when he heard someone praying! He would give head butts and sit on my chest at night when I was in bed. He adjusted to me getting married and then to the big change that occurred when we had our first and only child. He was just always a big (17 pounds at his largest), loyal and beloved friend. He developed a skin cancer, had surgery and pulled through it. At the end, I called the vet’s office to have him assessed for letting him go, but he went out on his own terms in my arms on January 21, 2009. I will never forget it — he looked at my wife, my son, and me. He put his paw on my chin, looked straight up and died seconds later. We buried him in the yard the next day and he probably had the best cat funeral ever. It is a wonderful thing to love one of God’s special creatures and they take the love you give them and magnify it many times over. I will always love and remember my special and beloved friend and hope to see him on the Rainbow Bridge. He was the best pet I ever had – he was special.

– Donald from Bethesda, MD