The Great Escape

I had originally intended to write about an incident I witnessed last night involving the neighbors that live on either side of me. Long story short, I’ve grown tired of repeatedly reporting this idiot neighbor to Animal Control for having his dog off-leash and seeing it go after other neighborhood dogs — and their owners on occasion. I figure for as big a nuisance as that dog is, if those involved in the fracases don’t bother to report this jackwipe* and his wild animal then I shouldn’t really give a damn, either.

Not my circus, not my monkeys. Deal with it or don’t. It’s no longer any of my business.

Now onto my life.

We have two cats: Monte and Steve. And they are extreme opposites.

At 15 pounds, Monte is one great big lump of orange-tabby love. He’s the friendliest and calmest cat you’ll probably ever meet or as Ann and I like to say, “He’s a lover, not a fighter.” He really is.

Steve, on the other hand, is much different. He’s very skittish and will often wildly jump in the air if he’s walking by me and I happen to twitch my foot. We think he drank too much coffee when he was a kitten.

And Monte will talk to you in little gurgly bursts while Steve will just meow and meow and meeeeeoooooooooooowww at the slightest mention of his name.

We sometimes let Monte roam the backyard because a) we know any plans of an escape are practically impossible considering his girth and b) he likes to roll around in the dirt. Steve? We’ve tried but given his uh…skittishness, the outdoor life is just not for him. Sometimes even the indoor life is scary for him.

Take, for example, the day we brought him home. Tommy, the name he was given at the shelter, was running all over the place trying to find a place to hide. Eventually he did but he was so well hidden that we came to the conclusion that he had escaped. Ann and Anthony walked up and down the street calling for The Cat Formerly Known as Tommy but didn’t get a response nor did they see him.

We eventually found him hidden not only underneath the couch but inside the bottom of it. Steve is funny that way.

In the past, Steve has made a few runs for the door and 99% of the time, we catch him. Given his personality, who knows how he would handle himself if he ever escaped into the wild.

Well, Monday night we sort of found out.

The patio screen door has a hole in it but it was a little warm that day so we left the sliding glass door open so get some air flowing through the house. We covered the hole with a piece of Anthony’s child safety gate that we normally put in front of the couch at night to keep Arliss off of it.

Monday night as I was nodding off, I heard a noise at the back door that woke me up. By the time I realized what was going on, Monte had slipped his chubby body between the gate and the screen door, and squeezed his way outside. Seeing this, I jumped into action and brought him back in the house.

After a minute of scolding him, it dawned on me: I need to see if Steve had gotten out.

No chance, I figured. He likes sleeping in the closet at night. Or on our bed, in the kitchen window, etc. He’s got his spots.

But I checked all of them and Steve wasn’t in any of them. I started to panic and woke up Ann.

We then grabbed flashlights and began to search the backyard — every corner of the backyard. We called for him and he never responded, something unusual for Steve. With that in mind, we went back in the house to check again.

Still not in any of his hangouts; still not speaking up.

Then we really started to panic. Remember, this skittish Steve. He doesn’t even like when any of us P-pop in his face (as when using a word such as pepperoni or anything else with more than one P in it. He’ll run away because it annoys him so much.

That’s why we were worried. If Steve can’t even handle something like a P-pop, there’s no way he would do well in the wild — especially considering the coyote population in our area. Yes, in southern California, even in a city with the word “beach” in its name, we have a coyote problem. They do and have eaten neighborhood cats.

Total panic mode. Ann even woke up Anthony to help us join the hunt. They went to search the backyard again while I got in the car to drive around the neighborhood and look for him.

None of us had any luck. At this point, after exhausting pretty much all we could do by 2:30 am and knowing that work/school alarm would be going off at 6 am, the only thing I could do was sob and think of what a great cat Steve was.

Even though he was tweaky, he was still our kitty. He loved having his belly scratched and batting LEGO pieces around the floor. Oh, and chewing on Anthony’s Nerf darts. Temptations cat treats were his favorite and at the sound of the crinkling bag, he’d come running. That didn’t happen Monday night.

We were nearly certain Steve was gone and there was nothing we could do. The thought of coyotes just gave me chills and I would have lost it if I had heard him put up a fight while…ugh. Just never mind. I was a mess enough as it was.

We decided to go to bed around 3 am and we were all upset. Then I saw Monte sitting at the patio door, looking outside as if he was expecting Steve to come back any minute.

I sat down next to him and pet him, quietly sobbing and looking out the door with him. My heart hurt. I got to bed at about 3:30 am.

The six o’clock alarm went off. I hadn’t gotten much sleep between then and 3:30, as if running on 2.5 hours of sleep would be healthy to begin with. As usual, Ann was up first. This was our first day without our tweaky Steve.

I was still in bed, obviously tired. I started to compose a Facebook post regarding Steve’s escape along with a picture of him curled up with Monte. It was almost a goodbye to him, considering his demeanor and lack of outdoor experience.

I then started to compose a flyer in my head that we would post around the neighborhood, then thought about when we should start looking at the shelter for him. Even though he’s chipped, I’m certain the phone numbers are not current.

But as I started to compose the somber Facebook post, I heard Ann calling me from the den quietly then progressively louder.

“Dave! It’s STEVE! IT’S STEVE! I found Steve! OMIGOD, he’s on the patio!”

I dropped everything and ran to the patio. Yes, it was Steve in Ann’s loving embrace, the hug that only he allows her to give. Anthony was excited. Ann cried. I was relieved.

Then I grabbed him and gave him a big hug as I cried. It was chilly that night but Steve was warm. The only thing we could figure was that he had gotten inside the shed in the backyard and found a nice little nook to sleep in. That, or he hopped the wall and curled up on our neighbor’s patio furniture. Steve’s good at curling up. Monte? Not so much.

But wherever Steve was hiding that night, it kept him safe from harm and that was a relief to all of us. For as little sleep we got that night, we were all so happy and excited to have good ol’ Steve back in our lives — even if he was only gone for a matter of hours.

Steve and Monte

Here’s Monte (background) keeping an eye on his brother from another mother the day of his return. Steve seems a little more reserved now, as if being in the wild sort of humbled him a bit.

Regardless, I’d rather have him back and meoooooooowwwwwing around the house than worrying if he is going to end up as coyote chow.

Welcome home, Steve. Now don’t ever do that again.

*Jackwipe: a phrase coined by a friend of ours, combining the words “jackass” and “ass-wipe.

Twinkie Cats



CSI (Cat Sleeping Intensely)


Monte’s been laying around Anthony’s blocks for so long that we decided to put up a makeshift chalk outline around him.

And yes, he’s one fat cat.

In Threes, Part Deux

I suppose I’ve held my tongue for as long as I could.

As I posted a few weeks ago, there were quite a few things going on in my life that sort of restricted my blogging. Not so much the physical aspect but more emotional than anything and they really took their toll. There were definitely things to talk about but my choice, I didn’t so as to sort of keep my sanity while things cooled down.

Here are the updates.

1. Mom’s Sudden Surgery: Mom was in the hospital for about a week and last time I spoke with her, she’s back home and recovering. It’ll be about a month before she can drive again so she’s probably going to get cabin fever real soon. I promised to visit with Anthony when I had the chance but being I’m helping my friend out at his restaurant for a month, time’s going to be tight. I’ll see what I can do.

2. Ozziekat: I don’t think I need to go into any more details about my beloved kitty. I miss him still, even if our remaining cat Monte has decided to take over Ozzie’s duty of lying on my chest and falling asleep. He’d never done this before so it’s kind of freaky, almost as if Ozzie sort of put a bug in his ear. And I’m not going to lie: Ozziekat is still on my mind. In fact when I fed Monte this morning, I held back on the dry food so that there was enough for Ozzie. I stopped, hung my head, sighed, and poured the reminder into Monte’s bowl.

The one thing we have decided to do was dedicate the newly remodeled backyard garden to the memories of Ozzie and Cindy. I threw this together in Photoshop and had it printed to 8×10 so that I can frame it and post it within the garden:

dedication lo-res

The image of Ozzie is one of my favorites. He was simply basking in the sunlight that shone through the kitchen window and I thought hey, he looks so peaceful. So I grabbed my camera and took the shot. Cindy, as you can see, never looked very happy in photos but she was very loving and affectionate (see the clip in this post). While we miss them both, it’s been difficult for me with Ozzie’s passing. He was my buddy and he, although sometimes quite the turd, was a big part of our lives, mine in particular. We just clicked and it’s hard to imagine he’s gone. I’m sure I’ll be fine someday but for now, it’s still not easy.

And in case you’re wondering, no, we still haven’t gone to the shelter to look at another car because I honestly won’t be happy with another. He was one of a kind so chances are I’ll be looking for a clone and we both know that it’s not going to happen.

RIP, my little buddy.

3. Possible Job: All of those calls that at once time sounded so promising turned out to be sound and fury signifying nothing. Repeated e-mails to the recruiters went unanswered so I pretty much gathered that at this point, I’m out of the running for all of them. Oh well; they were too far anyhow.

Other than that, I haven’t been doing much else. Hell, even exercising, the one thing I used to do religiously, hasn’t been done in a few weeks. That’s not entirely a bad thing since I seem to have lost 3 pounds during that time. Go figure.

But I need to start training real fast because I’ve got a whole slew of 5ks coming up, including the Del Mar Mud Run in October. That just happens to take place the same week as the Long Beach Marathon Bike Tour, which I’m also doing.

I need to get running again…

And with that, I think I’m back. Maybe not as steadily as before nor at first but back nonetheless. If anything, I may just start posting photos from wherever I go just to keep the blog alive.

I have returned. Try not to get too excited 🙂

Rainbow Bridge’s Newest Resident

young ozzie

The picture you see above is of our beloved Ozzie, one of the first pictures I took of him way back in 1998. As is obvious, he was very little when we got him and yeah, it was shot on film.

old ozzie

The picture you see here was taken just a few days ago and it will always be remembered as the last picture I took of our beloved Ozzie because earlier today, I had to take a sick day and have him euthanized after a sudden illness got the best of him. Despite all we did to try to make him get better, he never did and I had to schedule “that visit” to the vet.

I won’t go into detail with how the process of euthanization works since I already talked about it in a post I wrote last year when Cindy had to be put down. Either way, it’s all too soon to be doing this again.

The notable exception this time was that Ozzie had gotten so bad in just the last 4 days that when the nurse came in to check his vitals, she immediately took him to see the doctor. Within minutes, she returned with a verdict that wasn’t all too surprising: Ozzie was in horrible shape and very little would save him.

I immediately said he had to be put down and I had to be there.

I was called into the room to see the cat who was once so full of life now lying on the cold, stainless steel table and wrapped in a heavy blanket, an oxygen mask being held over his muzzle to provide the air his frail lungs had difficulty collecting and swallowing on his own.

I cried, just as I had been doing since last night and all throughout today.

And it was immediate, almost as if Ozzie knew that this would be the end of his suffering and he was looking forward to joining his sister. But before the process began, I laid a few of his favorite toys beside him, toys that he had since he was a kitten, one of which he lost a kitten tooth on. There’s still a tiny blood stain on it from where he bit it and lost the tooth.

Then I talked to him as he lay there, those bright, blue eyes looking off into nowhere but still seeming full of the life he shared with us. Even close to death, those eyes still had the power to hypnotize as they always had.

As the doctor administered the fluid, I sobbed and continued to talk to Ozzie while stroking his head. And it happened all too fast: Ozzie’s head drooped forward and I held it as his heart slowed to a crawl then finally playing its final beat.

He died as I held his head. I then gently placed it on one of the crinkle toys that were a part of his all-too-short 12 years of life.

No more pain or suffering. He was gone. And to say that I’ve been a wreck over it would be accurate but like Cindy, there have been telltale signs of his presence in the house today: his distinctive meow, a few random sightings, his overall aura. That gives us some comfort.

And as hard as it’s been for Ann and I to get through this ordeal, leave it to Anthony to drop something profound on us and make us feel like the stupid adults we tend to be.

After a night of saying our just-in-case goodbyes to Ozzie, this morning I explained that like Cindy, there would be a good chance that he wouldn’t come back from the vet with me.

But rather than cry about it (although he did later), Anthony simply smiled and told me he was happy.

“Why are you so happy?”

“I’m happy because I won’t be sad anymore.”

Kids. Making adults feel absolutely stupid since…forever.

Ozzie had a ton of nicknames: Ozzie D. Katt, Nozzie, Ozziekat, F*cky Fuzzer (Ann’s mistaken mix-up of “Fuzzy F*cker” when he did something bad), etc.  But in the end, he was the first cat – or pet for that matter – that Ann and I cared for together when we first ventured out on our own.

But no matter what we called him, Ozzie was definitely one of a kind. I say that for at least one reason: which other cat do you of will fetch a milk twisty thingy?

It’s hard for me to watch that video but I still can’t look away. That’s how I want to remember our little guy.

Then there all those other things he would do to and for us, like stand on the headboard of the bed and stare at (or “gargoyle”) us, sleep on my chest and nuzzle his head deep between my arm and side of my ribs while purring the whole time, lick my then-clean-shaven chin and then proceed to nibble it. I don’t think he ever forgave me for growing the goatee but even so, he did manage to give the chin a rub now and then. Purring, of course.

Although he was Ann’s cat, Ozzie sort of gravitated to me later in his life which was fine with me since Ann had Cindy to enjoy. He’d follow me around the house, come to me when I called him, and just let me know he was my buddy by rubbing against or head-butting my legs, quite often while blogging. I’m gonna miss that considering the last place he chose to sleep was the corner of the den where I do most of my blogging.

Oh, and he knew the word “hungry” like no other pet I’ve ever had. I swear one time when I asked “Who’s hungry,” he meowed “I am!” I kid you not. He had a very distinctive, guttural meow that I know I’ve heard at least twice since putting him to sleep.

On the whole, we always joked that Ozziekat was evil for the things he did and that Ann would miss him when we went to Kitty Hell. Judging by the way we cried over him last night and the family’s reaction when I came home empty-handed, it’s safe to say that I was right – at least about missing him.

Kitty Hell, if such a place even exists, is not where I know he went. Rainbow Bridge, Heaven, whatever you want to call the place of tranquility, eternal health, and unlimited supply of tasty mice is where Ozzie now resides because it’s what he truly deserves. Although I’m not really sure he’d enjoy the mice since he never caught one. Arliss and Cindy, however, caught at least one in their lives. I always told him he was slacking for that if even the dog caught two of them.

But I’ll forgive him for that, much like the way I’m sure he’s forgiven me for the goatee.

Ozzie D., you were a kick-ass cat that none could ever replace and we have no plans to replace. Thank you for making our lives more fun than most people should have owning a pet, then later being cool with Anthony as you watched him grow.

We all love you and miss you terribly, buddy. Your suffering is over. May you rest in peace.