The Rachel Hunt, Dreamer Troxell, and Hugo Treleaven Memorial Campaign

16 months, 2 weeks and 2 days ago from this writing on May 22, 2014, my heart broke wide open. I say “wide open” because when my grandmother died from Alzheimer’s, I experienced greater depths of pain than I’d known before. It was a haunting; a slow build that started years earlier when she first got sick, and crescendoed when she left the earth. A pain that made me forget it was real - the kind where you wake up from dreams and for a couple of seconds think she’s still alive; the kind where you’re out shopping and wonder if she’d like something you see - but then you remember; the kind where you refer to her in the present tense 16 months, 2 weeks, 2 days and 1 hour after she’s gone.

Then, four months to the day after her death, on September 22, my cat of 16 years, Dreamer, followed her “over the rainbow bridge.” I wondered how I would recover.

Dreamer was a silver-tipped, gray, half-persian, short and stubby chirper. When he was small he grunted. As he grew he belted out long, whiny, griping meows, as he became very spoiled and knew who really was the actual pet in our relationship. As a senior, he quacked like a disgruntled duck until the end of his life. On his last day on earth, he still perked up when he saw me, and I think he knew I was still there at the end, holding him while he safely passed through another world.

My grandmother, “Mamaw,” and Dreamer had a special relationship. At first he slept with my grandfather, but closer to the end of both of their lives, he ceaselessly slept beside or against my grandmother, sometimes all day and all night, hardly leaving her side. When she had lost the ability to read or speak, when she lost nearly all mobility, she still smiled and managed to lift an arm to pet him when I held him close to her. Before she got really sick it made her so happy that he’d whine for her to make room for him beside her on the couch. She liked to call him “her boy.”

Many people dismiss the importance of relationships they don’t understand - as people did with the devastating effect of my grandmother’s death, simply because she wasn’t my mother; as they did with my cat, simply because he wasn’t human (arguably).

But whether it’s laughable, insane or relatable, as a witness to the transformational effect animals can have on people’s lives, I’ve come to understand why they are like family to so many of us. If an animal can still comfort someone lost in the recesses of a diseased mind without even using language, that’s evidence of how life-changing their company can be.

Not long ago, my heart was stolen by a cat I only ever saw in pictures on the Internet. My friend Kelly’s cat, Hugo, an orange and white long-haired calico, had big round eyes and a face that kind of always look at you with both curiosity and an earnest innocence. It was both adorable and funny and Kelly’s photos of him always captured that essence. Whether Hugo was sitting on the window seal in such a position that he looked like a buoy floating in water, or simply wearing a bowtie, staring up at you with childlike wonder, he always looked so pleased to be the center of attention. I couldn’t get enough. Hugo died not long ago, after a very short life, of a fatal disease, leaving behind his own sweet, fluffy and comforting impact on both my friend and me.

All of these things are why I dedicate this page to their memory, as they are all reasons I believe it’s important to give to the ASPCA. Not only do I believe it’s right to help everything in nature that cannot help itself, whether person or animal, I know the impact these unconventional relationships can have on those open to what they can give. Caring for and saving animals teaches us to become a healthier society and healthier individuals. It teaches us to become more compassionate, understanding and empathic to the world around us.


After the deaths of my grandmother and Dreamer, one thing that made me feel better, and continues to, is to do things I think they would appreciate, like giving my time to help animals in need, and soon (as of this writing) volunteering at an alzheimer’s organization. It keeps their memories fresh in my heart and makes me a better person. So, I give because of my grandmother Rachel Hunt and how it would make her proud, and I give because of Dreamer and Hugo, who always provided comfort and fulfillment underneath all the fluff and whining.


If you can spare anything, please give to this fundraiser. This website is controlled by the ASPCA, so every penny goes straight to the organization.

  • Nicole

About the ASPCA: Fighting for animals is a 24/7 job, but your commitment makes it possible for our life-saving programs to create happy endings for those innocent lives touched by cruelty. Every single day of the year, we are rescuing animals from neglect and suffering. With your support, we are able to rescue animals from dog fighting, cockfighting, and puppy mills, work to end animal homelessness and farm animal cruelty, and provide medical care for countless pets in need. Please help us save even more animals and donate to this Team ASPCA campaign today.

Personal campaign progress

$ 55.00 raised to date
Personal Fundraising Goal
$ 2,000.00
Suggested Donation
$25.00

Recent Donors

Name Amount
Beth Clemons $5.00
Demetra N Melaisis $50.00

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