I've written about Cooper, the Golden Retriever, in my book, and my last blog post. Cooper belongs to my friend who used to live next door to where I worked. Cooper also has a feline family member. His name is Oscar.
Looks can be deceiving. Don't let the cute picture above fool you. He looks sweet, cuddly, and mellow. He can be at times, but not most times. He has personality plus, which is why I grudgingly like him a lot.
I'm not a cat person. (Ssshhh...don't tell Oscar. He thinks I am.) I like them, as I like all living creatures. I don't have much experience with them, and as a result, I don't understand them. Dogs, I get. Cats are a mystery to me.
After Toby died, I would occasionally apartment and pet sit for my friend on weekends. She usually took Cooper with her, so most of the time it was Oscar and me. Once he got used to me and stopped hissing at me when I first arrived, we got along quite well. He started to run to greet me at the door. In this way, he acted more like a dog which endeared him to me.
On this particular weekend, my friend was going away for a girls' weekend. She and some friends were getting together for a camping trip. She hadn't seen some of them for a while, and she was looking forward to their time together. I was looking forward to Cooper staying with me. It was going to be great going for long walks with him. Since Toby had passed away, I missed having a canine companion in my life.
I had packed so that I could go straight from work to the apartment. This meant backing my car up and moving it to the other side of the parking lot. The side door of the apartment was right next to the parking lot. I put all my stuff inside and then fed the boys, Cooper and Oscar. Then Cooper and I went for a nice, long walk.
The next day went well. Coop and I had our morning, afternoon and early evening walks. I'd cooked meals to freeze for my lunches during the workweek. And the rest of the time, I spent researching and writing, with Oscar mostly sleeping beside me on the couch, and Coop sleeping near us on the floor.
In the afternoon, I witnessed an interaction between them that I had never seen before. It was peaceful and quiet, and I happened to look up from my laptop. Cooper was sleeping soundly on the floor between the living room and kitchen. Oscar was poking Cooper's belly with his right front paw. I said, "Oscar, you're being a jerk. Leave him alone."
He slowly turned his head to look at me and stared directly into my eyes for a few seconds. Then he looked back at Cooper and poked him again. Cooper went from being in a deep, sound sleep to jumping up to a fully dazed stance. I could tell by the sleepy look on his face that he wasn't quite with it. He looked around a few times, and then looked at Oscar, who of course was staring at him. It was more like taunting him.
Oscar turned his head to look at me again and stared into my eyes. Then he turned and casually walked into the kitchen with cattitude. I said, "Oscar, I stand corrected. You are the king of the jerks." The little bully was a fraction of the size of the dog. I learned it's true, that cats rule and dogs drool.
At seven o'clock at night, I remembered that I had forgotten to bring some things in from the car. I had them in two shopping bags. I opened the door, came in with a bag in each hand, and saw Oscar running toward the door. He had never done this before. I used my right foot to block him. He paused for a second, crouched down, and jumped. I raised my foot higher to block him, but he sailed over top and out the door.
I was shocked. I didn't know he could jump that high. (I just did a google search and found a National Geographic video, from the Science of Stupid, about cats versus gravity. They can jump six times their height. I wish I'd known about that video before the escape.) I stood there for a second, with my foot in the air and a bag in each hand. Then my brain kicked in. I dropped the bags and ran out the door, yelling, "Oscar, get back here!" A few steps out the door, I had the presence of mind to go back and close the door so the dog didn't get out, too.
I ran to the backyard because that was the direction that Oscar had headed to. I looked everywhere, calling his name. There was no sign of him. He had high-tailed it out of there. No pausing to sniff things, no rolling around on the grass, no coming to me when I called his name. This cat was so not like a dog.
Then I had an idea. I thought that maybe Oscar and Cooper were a bonded pair, so I put the leash on Cooper and took him to the backyard. I was hoping that the sight and scent of him would attract Oscar back to us. Nothing. No sign of the cat. And then my mind flashed back to the king of the jerks incident. They were not a bonded pair. Cooper wasn't even looking for Oscar. He was too busy rolling on his back on the grass.
Finally, I took the dog back into the apartment. He had no interest in my search and rescue mission. He didn't seem to be concerned in the least about Oscar's absence. I had the feeling Cooper was a little relieved and more relaxed. He put himself to bed early and slept soundly through the night.
I didn't know what to do. My friend had told me that in the twelve years she had Oscar, he had only escaped one other time, and that was when she first moved into the apartment. He was gone for a night and came back. I was hoping the same was true this time.
I was beside myself with worry. He was not an outside cat. Could he fend for himself? He had his claws, so he might fare well if he was in a scrap with another cat. I thought about the coyotes I had heard the locals talk about. I hoped he didn't run into them.
I wasn't sure if I should let my friend know then that Oscar had escaped, or wait until the next morning before she came home. I decided to go with the adage, no new is good news. I didn't want to ruin the rest of her weekend with bad news. This way, only one of us had to worry.
And it was a long, worry-filled night. Periodically, I would go to the back yard to see if he was there. After it got dark, I used the flashlight on my cell phone to look for him. Through the night, I kept getting up. I would turn on the outside lights and check at both doors, in the hope that Oscar was there.
I got up at five o'clock in the morning, after a sleepless night. I decided to go outside, in the faint hope that Oscar came back. I closed the door, took a few steps, and stopped dead in my tracks. Mr. Oscar had sauntered around the corner from the back yard, looked at me, meowed, and walked towards the door.
I opened the door, he walked inside, and I closed the door. Then he wouldn't stop meowing, loudly, over and over. He was either annoyed at me for not letting him in at the precise moment he decided to return home, or he was telling me about all of his adventures over the past ten hours. Perhaps it was a combination of the two. I gave him some wet cat food to make him stop talking. After that, he was quite affectionate, and then went to bed.
Thank goodness, the cat came back. My friend thanked me for not telling her the night before. And the dog seemed to have had the best night's sleep of his life. All's well that ends well.
© Debra J. Bilton. All rights reserved.