There are no bad owners, only bad dogs


Is this what Harper Lee meant?

Did you know that the cinematic cheese-fest known as "Homeward Bound" is based upon a true story? Yup. Through a wacky misunderstanding, two dogs and a cat are left behind and manage to walk from Canada to California. Or something like that. Good thing they didn't call the movie "Left Behind" or we wouldn't have gotten that thrilling series of adventure tales about the rapture.

Anyway, my cat Comet lived through her own Homeward Bound adventure. Except that she didn't go from Canada to California. She hopped over the fence into the neighbors' back yard. And she didn't come home. She's still there.

Friday night, Greg yelled "Come here!" from the kitchen because he had once again seen my cat, missing for months, on the roof of the converted garage behind my house. There she was! Yay! I called and called her, but she wouldn't come down, so I got the ladder out and climbed onto the roof. She remained elusive and jumped into the yard of the neighbor diagonally behind me. Here, kitty, kitty! Blink. Come on, Comet! Blink. Blink. Could it be that she doesn't want to come back over the fence into the smelly chaos that is my home?

I ran around the block and pounded on the door of the house of the yard that Comet was in. A woman came to the door and I introduced myself and explained that my cats have been missing for months and that I just saw one of them in her yard. She turned to her husband and said, "Dear, I think this is Fluffy's owner." Fluffy? Wha...?

Here's what we figured out: Around the end of last November, these neighbors started noticing a cat hanging around in their back yard. They didn't want to start feeding it, because they assumed it belonged to someone, but they began seeing her often enough that they thought she might have been abandoned. During this time, she was also spending time at my house, showing up often enough that the house sitter didn't notice any difference in her habits. The neighbors began feeding the cat and befriending her. She was skittish at first, and it took them a while to gain her trust. They put notes on all of the doors on my street asking if anyone was missing a cat. The house sitter found the note but didn't think anything of it because none of the cats was missing.

The neigbors took the cat to the vet, had her vaccinated and got her some steroid injections for her flea allergy. She had ditched her collar at some point, so no tag was on her.

Friday night, I saw a cat who was loved, healthy, and very well cared for.

For two and a half months, I've been calling and calling for a cat who was on the other side of the fence. She's been ignoring me because she was happy where she was.

I told the neighbors about how I bottle-raised Comet from when she was 2 weeks old. We laughed about how she pees in suitcases when she's miffed. Then E, the wife, brought up the "What's next?" question.

She felt that if they kept Fluffy, they would be keeping my cat. She wanted very much to try to transition Fluffy back to being Comet. Away from being an only cat to being chased around by retarded dogs.

I thought about it all weekend. If I tried to bring Comet back here, she'd just go out the dog door and over the fence to the people who love her and take good care of her. Then I'd bring her back and she'd leave, and... It seemed like it would be painful for E and just annoying to Comet. So I told E I thought that Comet was better off there. She was so happy to hear it. They thought they were doing the right thing by giving her back to me, but I know that they're doing the right thing by keeping her. I love Comet, but their home is the best place for her to be. So I get to visit Fluffy whenever I want to and take care of her when they're out of town. Such a happy ending, even though I am crying while I'm typing. I don't even know why I'm crying. Maybe just because it's such a relief that at least one of them is better than OK, and maybe the others are OK, too.

On the other hand, it is pretty hilarious that she's been 50 feet away, that her new owner put a note on my door and never saw the flyers I put up. All of this time, I'm calling "Comet! Comet!" and she's holding her little paws over her ears, humming and thinking "I'm Fluffy! I don't know anyone named Comet!"

Friday was a busy day. Also on Friday: We had to go out for cocktails with the new woman in my department who will be known henceforth as The Shouter. There's no way to describe HOW. THIS. WERMAN. TALKS. She's from the South and doesn't want anyone to forget it. She turns one syllable words into three syllables. And she talks VERY loudly. And she talks to people as though they are slow-witted and hard of hearing, making her a joy and delight to be around. Or not.

She slowly and loudly explained to Greg what a real estate agent does and why she retained the services of an exclusive buyer's agent instead. It took her 5 minutes to explain this because of. the. dramatic. pauses. between. each. and. every. word. and. the. need. for. many. many. words.

All the while, he's nodding his head and saying "Yeah, I know. I know that. Right. I'm buying a house now. I get it." But she didn't really seem to care. Because it was all about hearing the sound (SAY-und) of her voice (Vawce). And all about claiming to have been traumatized by balloons as a child. During school field day. She sits right next to me. I foresee a lot of wearing of headphones for the foreseeable future.

On Friday, it also occurred that we found a baby bird at lunchtime who had fallen from its nest. The nest was about 40 feet up in a tree. The bird had already been out of the nest for a while. I have raised baby birds before, and it has never turned out well. Besides which, I have two cats who eat birds. Besides which, I already have too many pets and too many responsibilities. The bird was not salvageable, so we euthanized it with the car. It was horrible, but it seemed more humane that letting it die of exposure on the sidewalk for several hours. I really really really hope it was a young Texas State Bird because I'm tired of being dive bombed.

And this was all before the TinyTown Volunteer Fire Department annual fundraiser and auction. And slutty fashion show, although that part of the event was unofficial. But I don't have the energy right now to describe the mounds of flabby midriff and distorted tatoos that were on display. That will have to wait.

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birth & death