Alex Dalla (2001 – 2019)
Last night at 11:15 pm, we lost our beloved cat Alex. He was 18 years old.
Alex died in our arms. He was surrounded by love. As he gasped his dying last breaths, we called out his name softly, over and over, “Alex, good boy….Alex, such a good, good boy.”
He looked up at us with those gorgeous green eyes, never peering away from his gaze. He tried to answer with a few faint “meows,” just as he’d always responded each time his name was called. But last night, he lacked the strength. He had no more meows left to give. He died restfully in peace.
It was heartbreaking. It was beautiful.
Alex was adopted from an animal shelter in Washington, D.C. Marieta and I took him into our loving home exactly one month after the tragedy that was 9/11. Over the next 18 years, Alex traveled the country with us, more like a dog than a cat. He visited a dozen states. We took him to the Grand Canyon. He stayed with us in Reno. Whenever and whenever possible, we took Alex with us because he was a part of our family.
Alex was amazing. We trained him to walk on a leash. He loved to ride in the car. Every Christmas Eve, we took Alex with us to look at the Christmas lights. Every visit to PetsMart, we took Alex along on his leash. All the dog lovers couldn’t believe how smart and sophisticated Alex was, walking inside a store.
Everyone thinks their pet is special. But Alex was truly special.
Many of you might remember Alex. Some of you came into our home and fed him when we traveled. Others may recall Alex as the only cat in Las Vegas history who actually played a hand of live poker.
In 2003, while still working at Binion’s Horseshoe, I brought Alex who stayed upstairs in the hotel. Not a cat to be couped up, Alex wanted to get out and be part of the action. So, I brought him downstairs. Alex joined a poker game and laid upon the table as the cards were dealt and the chips flew. He was dealt in a few hands and even won a few pots. Admittedly, Alex did violate the “one player to a hand” rule. Not surprising, since Alex was always looking for the angle.
Alex’s short poker career wasn’t without a bit of controversy. Gavin Smith was sitting in that game. Gavin insisted the cat “played,” meaning he was part of an all-in bet. Gavin won the pot, and my cat. So, Gavin — a devoted animal lover — cradled Alex in his arms for the next hour while playing No-Limit Hold’em. Gavin and Alex both lived for another 14 years. They died just a few months apart.
Alex loved to play with his cat toys. He loved walks. He loved riding in the car. But most of all, Alex loved to sleep and eat. He could sleep 16 hours a day and he ate like a pit bull.
We will never forget Alex nor be able to express the tremendous joy he gave us. I am so grateful he passed away in peace and was surrounded by our love.
Losing family and friends is to be expected, as death is a part of life. But that doesn’t make things easy with the inevitable happens. Alex was a part of the family. Alex was a friend.
I cry these tears now, not in pain, but in joy, grateful for the gift that was Alex.
Alex was a good boy. Alex was such a good, good boy.