Several months ago when my co-worker Pat Pemberton was moving, we discussed how stressful it is to move animals.
The Friday before his move, I wished him luck. On Monday, I asked how the move went. He told me that one of his cats, Squiggy, had gotten loose and run away while being transported into the new house. As the months went by, I continued to ask Pat whether Squiggy had returned; he always replied with a resigned “no.” Months passed.
One day, Pat had some news:
“For more than three months, whenever I turned onto the road where I live, I would see that same Lost Cat poster and let out a little sigh,” Pat said. “Poor Squiggy.
“As one who dabbles in pessimism, I’d assume the worst: He was living in trash cans, his body a mere skeleton with fur. He’d been picked up by a crazy lady with a cat-hater husband. Or he was lying on the side of the road, the source of that death smell I’d noticed near the storage units.
“Squiggy ran away the day we moved. My wife, Candi, was holding his brother, Gooch, in a cat carrier and Squiggy in her arms when she walked into the door of our new place. Just after setting foot in the living room, the bottom dropped out of the carrier, and Gooch fell to the ground. Candi yelled something I can’t print here, and when she went to pick up Gooch, Squiggy busted loose and bolted for the open door.
“Like murders on ‘48 Hours,’ if your cat runs away, you really want to find him quickly — especially if you just moved to a new place seconds earlier. But we didn’t find him right away. And the longer it took, the less likely it seemed that we’d ever solve the mystery of his disappearance.
“That wasn’t good for his brother, and it wasn’t good for the rest of us, including our 9-year-old daughter, who –— if we’re going to be honest here — preferred Gooch had been the runaway.
“I posted fliers around town, put an ad on Craigslist and Facebooked it. But day after day, week after week and month after month, no Squiggy, the Maine coon we’d nicknamed Squigmund Freud, Squiggister and Chairman Meow.
“After three months, we’d given up hope. I stopped calling the animal shelter a few weeks earlier and stopped checking Craigslist for found pets, which, it turns out, wasn’t so wise. Not long after I quit looking, Debbie Watson, who lives down the street from us, posted a Found Pet ad with our cat’s photo.
“I never saw it.
“Squiggy had been hanging around her place, occasionally sneaking in the cat door for food. Then one day, he started sleeping in Debbie’s bed. One of her daughters, Michelle, knocked on doors to see whether anyone owned Squiggy, but she skipped our place because she assumed the previous residents — owners of a crazy dog — still lived there.
“The Watsons (including Debbie’s other daughter, Lizzie) have three cats, who aren’t generally hospitable to newcomers. But Squiggy — being the charming cat he is — fit right in, and the Watsons eventually decided to keep him, naming him Sheldon.
“Sheldon was having a good time with his new family when Debbie happened to notice one of my fliers, now faded and wrinkled, posted to a utility pole.
“She took a photo of Squiggy/Sheldon and sent a brief text: ‘I have your cat.’
“And now we have our cat. After a 3 1/2-month sojourn, the mystery of Squiggy’s disappearance was solved thanks to our helpful neighbor, who, luckily, wasn’t a crazy lady with a cat-hating husband, and who, in fact, was quite good to the lost boy.
“In fact, sometimes I wonder if Squiggy looks out the window longingly and dreams about being Sheldon again.”
Dogtoberfest will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Atascadero Lake Park.
The family-friendly event features wiener dog races; wiener-wannabe races, for any breed of dog weighing 25 pounds or less; a puppy division, for dogs younger than 1, less than 25 pounds; barbecue at $10 for adults and $5 for kids; raffles; vendors, including pet micro-chipping; and animal rescue groups.
Preregistration cost for racers is $15; $20 day of event.
For more details go to http://www.heilmanndogpark.com or call 461-5749.
Blessing of the Animals
A Blessing of the Animals will be at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at St. Barnabas Church, 301 Trinity Ave. in Arroyo Grande.
The event will take place in the courtyard and during the 10 a.m. service.
All animals and people are welcome.
Call 489-2990 for more information.
Have photos or stories to share of your furry, feathered or scaly friends? Email them to pettales@thetribune news.com or mail to Pet Tales, c/o The Tribune, P.O. Box 112, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406.