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Suburban Island

One Cat's Adventure
Monday, Jun. 30, 2003, 5:08 p.m.

QUESTION: Did you weed your garden today?

WHAT I LEARNED: Don't crawl under the house.

This is the story - and it is a true one - of a cat that got under a house and couldn't get out. I know about this cat, this house, and this story because it's my mother's cat, my parent's house, and of course, the cat's story.

This cat is yellow and fluffy in a slightly disheveled devil-may-care sort of way - somewhat like a purring dandelion. She wandered into my parent's yard many years ago - planting herself firmly in their household like any good sturdy dandelion does - and has been there yellow, cheerful and rather shy - ever since. She even has a understated voice to go along with her discreet demeanor.

A few weeks ago a large black dog bounded across the yard as my father arrived home from running a chore. He saw the cat - who is called Sundance, she saw the dog and off she went, fleeing behind the house at the sight of the unexpected and certainly uninvited canine visitor. That was the beginning of Sundance's personal wilderness adventure.

She never came home that night or the next night or the next. Everyday my parents looked for her everywhere they could think to look. They checked with the neighbors, called the shelter, and did all the things that one does when looking for a beloved lost pet. They worried a lot and I know my mom did quit a bit of praying. A few select saints were put on the case as well - specifically animal-lover, St. Francis, and St. Anthony, who is always seems to be turning up lost stuff for those who put in a special request. However, Sundance did not turn up.

One morning almost 2 1/2 weeks after Sundance had gone missing, my father took a sudden notion to do some impromtu weeding on the shady side of the house. Bending over to pull out some newly-sprouted weeds from the garden he heard a very soft little sound - like a tiny muffled meow - coming from right where he was yanking those weeds. Stopping to listen, he realize that that small plaintive noise was indeed a cat's meow and it was coming from the crawl space under the house. Undoing the little vent door, he released the prisoner. Thin, bedraggled, and ready to be sprung; Sundance emerged. That tiny meow which she must have emitted many times during those days under the house and a patch of weeds suddenly noticed were the keys to her freedom. She was delighted to be cleaned up, receive some breakfast (and lunch and dinner), loll about in her bed, get fussed over, and see the sunshine from outside the bars she had accidently put herself behind.

Sundance had run under the house when she saw the dog and the vent doors - which had been slightly open at the time - were shut many days later after calling and coaxing throughout the yard and garden did not produce a cat. Who knows why she stayed under there as long as she did before the vents got closed up. We all do strange things and a big dog may have been all that this cat needed to feel compelled to hang out under the house for longer than one of us might have done (if we were cats of course). Her soft voice has great charm but was lost under the house until my father's sudden inclination to pull weeds right beside the vent caused him to be within hearing distance of a cat who could not be seen but only heard.

It seems to me that Sundance had someone looking out for her and all those prayers my mother said did their work. God does work in mysterious ways and in this case some weeds sprouting up in a garden growing up in just the right place were the vehicle for saving the life of one little cat badly in need of a rescue.

Welcome back, Sundance. And I suggest you avoid under-house excursions from this point on.

DETAILS: Coffee: iced and delivered by daughter + Listening to: conference calls + Observing: quiet house + Thinking: How long will this last? + Weather: summertime in the burbs

Today’s Suburban Strategy: Dogs get some perks.

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