Challenge,  On Writing,  publishing,  Topic of the Night,  Writing in Public

Goodbye Miss Thang

Miss Thang

The very sick elderly cat we have been trying to get back to health for the last two months didn’t make it. More on all that below.


The Day

Started the day off with a visit to the vet.

Then back to WMG store for the writer’s meeting and lunch in the back area.

It feels sort of strange, actually, to have a writer’s meeting in a store I own. In my first bookstore, both the science fiction club and the writer’s workshop met in my store every week. One on Tuesday, one on Thursday.

That was in 1982-1984. Things go around and come around again in 2016.

Then I went home early to take a long nap.

Kris cooked and I did dishes, then worked on workshop assignments.

Then another nap, then I finally got to the writing around 11 p.m.

I managed 1,200 words, powering along before midnight.

Took a break to read a blog from Kris, then went downstairs to watch some television.

Back in here around 1:30 a.m. and got another 1,050 words done by 2:15 a.m.

Short break, another 1,000 words even by 3 a.m.

Short break, another 1,100 words by 4 a.m.

So 4,350 words.


July Workshop Schedule

All July workshops have room. All are limited to five writers max. But at the moment there are very few in any of the workshops. No surprise in this time of great forgetting. This way every year.

All details at

Class #1… July 5th … Author Voice
Class #2… July 5th … How to Write Thrillers
Class #3… July 5th … Adding Suspense to Your Writing
Class #4… July 5th … Plotting With Depth
Class #5… July 5th … Character Development
Class #6… July 6th … Depth in Writing
Class #7… July 6th … Advanced Character and Dialog
Class #8… July 6th … Cliffhangers
Class #9… July 6th … Pacing Your Novel
Class #10… July 6th … Teams in Fiction

Classic Workshops and Lectures are also available at any time.


Topic of the Night: Sending Miss Thang Onward

Two months ago Kris shouted to me to come help her with a cat that had appeared on our doorstep. Actually, we had both seen the cat a few times the previous few days, but now it decided it didn’t care about our powerful outdoor tomcat by the name of Toughie. The little cat needed food.

Turns out she really, really needed food. She was on the verge of dying from hunger. She wouldn’t have made it through the night.

(Picture is me holding her right after her last bath.)


We took her to the vet who told us the cat was old and likely wouldn’t make it, but we should try getting it back fed and hydrated and see what happened. She weighed four pounds and was mostly all bones.

One of the writers at the romance workshop that was going on thought about taking her home, but then, luckily, couldn’t. (The little cat would not have survived the drive.) At first we had put the cat up at WMG and the wonderful writer gave the cat a bath. The cat smelled so bad and was so dirty, it was scary.

Kris and I took the cat home a few days later, putting her in two rooms we could close off from the other cats. And we fed her constantly, all kinds of food and treats, four times a day. Kris went above and beyond the call of duty making sure Miss Thang had food.

A week later we took her back to the vet, who said she was doing better, was now hydrated, and they did tests to make sure things like kidneys were working. Again we all agreed that this little girl was very old. And she needed her teeth fixed to be really comfortable eating and have a chance at longer term survival.

As time went by, it was turning out she was a love. She purred all the time and loved to be held. And she had a voice on her that made her sound like she had smoked far too many cigarettes in her day.

Every night when I watched television, she would sit beside me in my chair and purr.

She clearly had been someone’s cat and we figure, more than likely, her person died and some jerk relative tossed her outside where she starved. Happens more than I want to think about around here.

So we bathed her again because she still smelled awful. Then we kept feeding her and two weeks later we took her back to get her teeth fixed. The doctors gave her a 50% chance of making it through the surgery. We all figured it was her best shot at a few more years of life, so we gave permission for the surgery and she made it through it with flying colors.

She was one tough little cat.

And she rallied after that, eating more and looking better and smelling better after yet another bath. (She complained about baths, but clearly loved them when done.)

But after three weeks, just after we stopped the antibiotics, she started a quick decline.

And she started smelling really bad again.

We gave her another bath and it didn’t help. Something was really going wrong with her. And she wasn’t eating much suddenly, even though she seemed to want to.

So last night she fell asleep in my arms and later, when trying to walk, she just fell over.

It was finally her time.

So this morning, after a great two-month fight, she moved on.

She was a real personality. A real love. We only had her for two months, but we will remember her always.

And I hope that the person who tossed her out or dumped her after she lost her person ends up dying of hunger and some horrid disease.

And if any of you reading this think cats should be treated that way, please go away. You aren’t worth my time.

You aren’t worth anyone’s time, actually.

Goodbye Miss Thang. It was a pleasure to get to know you for a few months.


The Writing of The Taft Ranch: A Thunder Mountain Novel

Day 1… 1,050 words.   Total words so far… 1,050 words.
Day 2… 3,300 words.   Total words so far… 4,350 words.
Day 3… 5,250 words.   Total words so far… 9,600 words.
Day 4… 5,350 words.   Total words so far… 14,950 words.
Day 5… 4,350 words.   Total words so far… 19,300 words.


Totals For Year 3, Month 11, Day 19

Writing in Public blog streak… Day 1,005

— Daily Fiction: 4,350 original words. Fiction month-to-date: 44,550 words  

— Nonfiction: 00 new words. Nonfiction month-to-date total: 00 words 

— Blog Posts: 900 new words. Blog month-to-date word count: 11,600 words

— E-mail: 21 e-mails. Approx. 1,400 original words.  E-mails month-to date: 291 e-mails. Approx. 19,700 words

— Covers Designed and Finished: 0. Covers finished month-to-date: 2 Covers


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  • Harvey

    A touching post, and I couldn’t begin to agree with you more. I’m so glad you, Kris and she had that two months together though. Odd how much one beautiful little creature can share and teach us about both her and ourselves.

  • Cora

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve been continuously owned by both cats and dogs for close to half a century now. Each loss hurts as much as the last. She’s comfortable and happy now at the bridge. And I agree with your sentiment entirely.

  • Lena

    I never met Miss Thang but I feel I knew her and loved her through your posts. Sympathy to you and Kris. You didn’t know her long but it’s obvious she took a special place in your hearts in a short time.

  • J.M. Ney-Grimm

    I’m so glad you were able to make her last two months full of care and love and food and shelter. Whoever dumped her is a real dastard. That’s an utterly sweet photo of the two of you.

  • Marsha

    Well, that started my day with tears. What a gift for Miss Thang that she found you and Kris and now has a resting place for her beautiful spirit. And what a gift for you and Kris to share a small part of this wonderful animal’s life. RIP, Miss Thang.

    BTW, Nice haircut. 🙂

  • Vera Soroka

    You and Kris can be praised for giving her the best comfort care in her final days. I agree with you on people who do these things. Animals are apart of world and need to be treated with respect. It angers me when I hear the horror stories. May she rest in peace.

  • Mark Kuhn

    That is heartbreaking, Dean. She was truly meant to be with you both so she could feel love again. She was drawn to you and Kris because she could feel it. Sending out hugs to you and Kris.

  • Bonnie

    It sounds like she was quite a love and I’m glad she found a good retirement/hospice care home. It’s hard to let go of those little fighters though.

  • Tim Tresslar

    I’m sorry for your loss, Dean. You and Kris did a wonderful thing, loving and caring for that little cat during her final couple of months.

  • Kate Pavelle

    Vivat to Ms. Thang, and to the wonderful cat she was, and to her wonderful adoptive family! I’m so happy for her to have found you, and I’m sorry she couldn’t stick around for longer.

  • Cynthia Lee

    I’m so sorry to hear that Miss Thang has passed.

    I’ve said goodbye to so many pets in the past. It never gets any easier.

    But it’s nice to know that she was happy and loved before she left.

  • Suz

    This made me cry. I’ve been following the progress of Ms Thang. I didn’t think she’d make it but you and Kris gave her comfort and her health back a little bit in the end. Such good people. ❤️

  • Kim Iverson

    That is truly sad what happened to her. But she got to understand what love really was like in her last days so I don’t think she could’ve asked for more. I’d imagine it was why she was drawn to you and Kris.

  • Gnondpom

    I’m really sad to read that, but at least she was lucky to have found you and Kris. You may only have had her for two months but at least during these two months she was well taken care off, with loads of love. Thank you for everything you did for her!

    • dwsmith

      Thanks, everyone, for the kind comments. For me and Kris, our only thought all the way through was what was best for Miss Thang. The last thing we ever would want is a cat suffering because we were afraid to take an action. So right from the very first visit with the vet, who was wonderful, the topic of sending her onward was on the table. But we all wanted to see how she would do once not starving. Our hope was that she would return to a healthy, older cat. And she got close after her teeth were fixed. But clearly the timing was bad on something else going wrong, maybe triggered by the starvation, maybe just triggered by old age.

      Miss Thang is one of the reasons Kris and I support and donate to charities designed to take care of animals that are either stray or who have owners who can’t afford certain procedures. We could afford and didn’t even think about the money we spent on her, but many others around our fair town and around the world couldn’t have done this without financial help.

      So if you have a charity that helps support medical procedures for animals in your town, support it. Even five or ten bucks here and there helps out. Your vet will know about them if you don’t. It helps with spay and neutering as well as life-saving operations that are expensive and owners can’t afford.

      And the writers who come to coast workshops here on the coast did a wonderful cookbook one year supporting the local charity for animal medical help here. Also in our county Meals on Wheels has vouchers they give to owners for free spaying and neutering through our local animal shelter.

      So thanks, everyone for the kind words. There are lots of humans out there who don’t treat their animal companions well. It’s up to the rest of us to do a little extra to make up for the bastards in the world.

      • Cora

        And just to remind people who can afford it, adopting a pet from the SPCA or your local humane society isn’t really supporting them (although it’s a life saver for the furbabies). They charge you less than what it costs to get them to the point of adoptability. So when you can, donate some cash, free and clear. Or whatever else they have a call-out for. They always have lists.

        • dwsmith

          Really good point, Cora. Every time I get near a shelter, I stop, look at the cats and give them twenty bucks for the viewing pleasure. Just a fun hobby.

  • Kristi N.

    Bless you, Dean and Kris, for giving Miss Thang a place of comfort and security before she passed. And thank you on behalf of the cats you\’ve helped support through your donations. It\’s hard to make health and life decisions based on the bank account, and I\’ve been fortunate with my little colony that the local vet clinic was both compassionate and understanding while the majority of them were passing from this life.

  • David Alastair Hayden

    I commend your efforts. And glad she had some love and comfort for a few months before the end. We have three rescues and an adopted. I rescued a malnourished, oil-covered kitten once when I was a young teen and had no resources to get her medical help. I did everything I could for her. She improved greatly and did well for a few weeks then faded away suddenly.

  • Amber

    I have been thinking a lot about Pusskin/Miss Thang and this made me tear up this morning but more than anything it made me glad that she made her way to you and Chris for a good goodbye and some final love, warmth, kindness and damn fine looking after before she had to go. I appreciate you and Chris as much for your generosity and sharing of your writing lives as I do for your love and care and rescue of the cats. Thank you both for doing you.

  • ed ryan

    A billion years ago when I had hair, I had a cat show up on my door step all scrawny and smelly and took him in. We named his Stash because he had a white face with a black streak that made a mustache. Cat was ugly as hell. We must have had him 10 years. At one point he got so fat that he would sleep on top of the cable TV box and you had to lift his fat rolls to change the channels.

    As it turned out he had a Thyroid problem that made him gain weight. Like Thang we never knew exactly how old he was. I’d like to think his complete and utter lack of desire to do anything outside of eat, sleep and swat at the dog meant he was a happy old bugger in his last few years.

  • Mary Jo Rabe

    It is wonderful that you and Kris gave this poor cat love and care for the last few months of her life. Probably at this point she had given up hope. Your kindness probably helped her forget the suffering she had experienced before meeting you.

  • Michelle

    So sorry for your loss, Dean and Kris. I have a firm belief that cats find their way to people who will help them, even if it’s only to ease their last few years or months or weeks. We’ve had our share, and we too have an understanding vet when needed.
    Be at peace, Miss Thang. You’ve touched more hearts than you know.

  • Lisa

    I am so sorry for your loss. One thing is certain: she was surrounded by a lot of love the last two months of her life. RIP, Miss Thang.

  • Colleen

    Family is family, whatever shell they wear. Each loss is a hole in the heart that never really mends, but I like to think it “glasses over” so the beauty shines out for all the world to see. And that shine becomes a beacon for other lonely critters to find a refuge. You and Kris are pretty special people to attract such special families. Hugs…