Over the weekend, our cat Coco (or “my cat” as she was known), passed away. She had a rare tumor, and for a number of months, we knew it wouldn’t be that much longer before this happened.

I won’t get maudlin, but the story of Coco’s adoption holds a couple of solid lessons.

Cyndi had wanted a black cat for some time. While waiting for her to finish at a store in our nearby shopping center, I saw, in the car’s rear view mirror, a Humane Society volunteer carry a caged black cat toward the early Saturday morning pet adoption just down the way.

When Cyndi returned, we decided to see about adopting the black cat. She was sitting rather forlornly in her cage when we found her. In talking with the volunteer, we discovered she was a Manx kitten, i.e. she had no tail. The volunteer explained how this caused potential problems and made these cats more difficult to care for than the typical cat. She asked us whether we had other cats and if they went out doors. After answering a few more questions, we were told that we wouldn’t be able to adopt this kitten.

We were surprised but went on our way. Later, we figured that beyond the fact we told them our two cats went out in the back yard, the fact we had gone over to the shopping center before getting all spruced up in the morning may have been a factor. Granted, we probably looked pretty scruffy, but I’d never known being unshaven to be grounds for being denied the opportunity to adopt a pet.

Running errands that afternoon, we decided to go back and see if the cat were still there. Sure enough she was, and now, nicely dressed, we got none of the questions we’d received in the morning. Instead, we were welcomed and within a very short time, were headed home with Coco.

That was nearly fourteen years ago.  We talk often about how in a world where people increasingly look disheveled, the way we looked that Saturday really did matter in how we were judged. We also remind ourselves about all the joy we’d have missed in our lives if we’d have taken the first “no” as the final answer.

To close, here’s a quirky moment from Sunday night. I was looking at a video I’d shot of Coco earlier this year when Clementine, our last remaining cat, hopped up on the desk, as she so frequently does. It’s an unstaged, double video goodbye between the two of them. One in January and one today.

I’ll admit this post was kind of light on strategy and innovation. Thanks for reading it anyway though, because I just had to write it – Mike Brown

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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18 Responses to “Two Lessons and Two Goodbyes”

  1. Average Jane says:

    So sorry to hear about Coco, but happy that you had so many wonderful years together.

    • Mike Brown says:

      Thanks Celeste for the note. When the vet called Sunday morning to say she had passed away, I considered it a blessing that we didn’t have to make the decision. I was dreading that possibility more than anything. My last moment with her was late Friday morning, giving her a kiss on the head – which she frequently demanded! She knew she was VERY loved.

  2. Leslie says:

    An interesting adoption story! I’m so sorry your sweet Coco is gone, but glad you had so many good times with her and happy memories, too.

  3. Jan says:

    Thank you for sharing, and I’m so sorry. It is an interesting adoption story, and I’m glad you didn’t take “no” for an answer!

  4. Alex says:

    Sorry, Mike.

  5. Jan L. says:

    I’m sorry to hear about Coco. It’s hard to lose pets. They enrich our lives so much!

  6. Nate Riggs says:

    Mike – it’s always hard when you lose your friend. I’m sorry. She was a beautiful animal.

    It’s also difficult to break from sharing good ideas and share something about yourself as a human on your blog. Both are appreciated and valuable. 🙂

  7. Brenda Price says:

    So sorry to hear about Coco-it is always so hard to let them go. But you are right she knew how much she was loved!

  8. How lucky for Coco! So sorry for your loss. Coco is now playing on a rainbow bridge.

    Sad how we “profile”. There is a huge lesson here. Years ago, I once walked into a very famous jewelry store in Philadelphia. Honestly, I did not even look scruffy, but I was dressed casual. I was treated so poorly that I felt compelled to write a letter to the owner and predicted with the attitude of their representatives they would not be in business another 70 years. My predcition actually came true a few years later.

    A few years ago, a sales rep sighed when he saw this young couple coming in to the store and it was his “up”. I just wanted to strangle him and settled for a good scolding – not to prejudge. Turned out they were the children of wealthy parents and for a wedding gift the parents built them a 5800 sqaure foot house and all the furnishing they wanted. The sale made his year.

    There is strong business relevancy, too.

  9. Mike Brown says:

    Thank you everyone for your kind words and kitty condolences! It’s been a sad day, but we’ve gone through this every four years since 2002.

    Those are some interesting stories Lori – thanks for sharing some other “profiling” mistakes. It’s best to talk to people and understand them before making decisions about them.

    And Leslie, I do have to correct something. Not many people thought Coco was “sweet.” She was to me, but she could be very grumpy. One day at the vet, I noticed that her file was covered in red warning stickers about handling her!

    I have to add though, if you live in Kansas City and have cats, go to Cherokee Cat Clinic. Dr. Greg Starr took incredible care of Coco as we managed tumor-related diabetes and even asthma breathing treatments. The whole staff has been great the last year and a half as I was there about every two weeks for glucose tests. In a way, I’ll miss seeing them so often.

    Again, thanks to everyone for your concern and heartfelt wishes….you can’t imagine how much I appreciate them!


  10. Julia Goebel says:

    What a touching story. I’ll echo Nate – thanks for sharing something so personal. Isn’t it amazing, the bond we have with our animals? Warm wishes.

  11. Nichole says:

    A very touching scene and thoughtful post, Mike. Thanks for sharing it, and for responding to my post about my dog, http://bit.ly/bfri2q.

  12. Kelly Craft says:

    Thanks for sharing this post and Coco’s story, Mike. I’m glad that you have both of these videos of Coco & Clementine.

  13. Lydia says:

    I just read this to my husband in the car on the way back from Christmas eve with the family. You made us cry. We lost our kitty to the pet food contamination with melamine. A few months later, a coworker of my husband rescued two 3 week old kittens someone threw onto a busy street on my birthday. Even though he was still heartbroken, and didn’t think he was ready for another kitty he brought them home to me. One is inky black and my little furry soul mate. Like your wife, I have always wanted a black cat. Thank you for sharing Coco and Clementine and the story. (hugs)

    • Mike Brown says:

      How sweet Lydia, and thank you for sharing your story! I’m so happy you’ve brought new kitties into your family’s life. Coco was definitely my cat…she had little routines where she’d make it clear she wanted to snuggle with me although she was typicaly pretty standoffish to everyone else.

      Merry Christmas!



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