Monday, January 27, 2014

The Short,, Happy Life of Travelin' Jack

My neighbors lost their cat, probably not quite a year old, yesterday. Hit by a car  and by the time he got to the emergency vet, there was no way to save him. Jack may have had a short life, but it was colorful.
He wandered up my driveway one summer night when several of us were on the deck--a teenager of a cat, long legs, skinny. Sophie immediately had a barking, growling fit, and this stranger of a cat retreated. But the next day he showed up on Susan and Jay's front porch and spent the day sunning himself. Susan put out food and water and for a while we all thought he was content.
But then he traveled on. Susan was fearful that something happened to him but she also knew the travelin' nature of cats. One day we heard about a cat that had been hanging around the school across the street, so Susan and Elizabeth went to look for him. The teacher who found him had taken him home but could not keep him. Arrangements ensued, and Travelin' Jack was delivered back to Susan and Jay.
Susan began an intensive campaign to semi-civilize him and introduce him to the dogs. She kept him in luxurious quarters in the basement and went down often to visit and play, leaving two frustrated dogs behind a closed door at the top of the stairs. Jack began to get venturesome and would meow at the door at the top of the steps. And then there was the day he swished his tail under the door--and one of the dogs bit off the tip. Susan expected blood all over the basement but Jack seem none the worse for the experience--except his tail was shorter.
Gradually introductions were made, slowly and carefully, and the dogs were more curious than hostile. Jack began to have the freedom of the house, and eventually he and one dog began to sleep on the bed together. After several weeks, Susan felt he was acclimated enough that he could wander around and would probably stay on the property. Apparently, yesterday, he wandered just far enough off to meet a car, but, injured, he made his way home and back to his basement security place, which is where Susan was drawn by his painful meowing.
I have long believed that we don't choose our pets--they choose us. And Travelin' Jack knew right where he wanted to be--with Susan and Jay. I think, similarly, Sophie chose me. Over the years of raising four children, I've had countless dogs and a few cats choose me--or one of the kids. And each time we lost one, it left a great, gaping hole that is slow to fill.
So all we can say is what Susan said: Travel safe and happy, Travelin' Jack. See you on the Rainbow Bridge.

No comments: