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Friday, 24 April 2009

Tigger

By Lois Cochran of Guitar Grandma

I’m remembering the first time I saw him in the back yard chasing our recently adopted female dog, Charlie. I watched them as they played, taking turns chasing one another and marveled at the fact that this strange cat was not seen as an enemy by Charlie, but rather as a playmate. I was also struck by the fact that this cat looked almost identical to our beloved Tigger who died at age seventeen.

After watching the games for a bit, I went out and tried unsuccessfully to get close to the cat, who wanted no part of me. He was interested only in the dog. I brought Charlie in the house, thinking the cat would go home if Charlie was not available to play, but I was wrong. Later in the day, the cat was still there and they had another fine romp.

The next morning, the cat greeted Charlie at the door. Now it seemed clear that the cat was lost and I needed to get close enough to look at the tags he was wearing. He wasn’t cooperative, but he was hungry and greedily ate from a tin of tuna, while allowing me to read his tags.

That evening, the owner came to pick up his cat. He explained they had purchased the cat only a few months before and this was not it’s first escapade. They had a young son with Downs Syndrome who played with the cat on the lanai and often left the door open allowing the cat to escape. Their neighborhood was directly behind ours so the cat didn’t have far to travel to find our back yard and Charlie.

We watched the man drive away with his cat sitting proudly on the front seat of his truck and we felt good that he was returned safely to his family and his little boy.

The next morning the cat was back. The owner came that evening to pick him up again - with thanks for our patience and goodwill. The third or fourth time the owner came to get his cat, the cat ran off and would not be caught. He came back to us later that day. After several attempts to catch him, the owner called as asked me what I wanted to do about the cat.

"Well," I said, "it appears that this cat has decided he wants to live here. I think it’s the dog. You could try getting a dog," I suggested.

"That’s the last thing I need," he said. "Do you want to keep the cat? Because I don’t think we can keep it here and it’s getting to be a real problem."

Of course we kept the cat. How could we not? Especially when he told me that the cat’s name was Tigger! And so began the life-long friendship of Charlie and Tigger.

These two friends, who both were just about a year old when they met, were inseparable. They ran roughshod over each other and Tigger was quite verbal, constantly chastising Charlie and seemingly complaining about being mauled. Friends worried that Charlie was going to hurt Tigger, but we knew better. He was not declawed and could defend himself if necessary, but he never hurt Charlie.

It was not unusual too see Charlie chewing on Tigger’s head with Tigger loudly complaining and holding Charlie with his front paws. Tigger was not diplomatic in his clear preference for Charlie. For a very long time, Mike (my husband) and I were no more than providers of food and shelter. If we reached down to pet him, he would back off as though we were carriers of disease.

However, Tigger was quite a talker and as he grew older and we humans became more tolerable. He would talk to us as he walked through the room and if we responded, he would continue to talk as long as we were willing to continue the conversation. When Mike became ill, Tigger began to take an interest in him and would sit nearby and allow himself to be stroked and even purr on occasion.

Charlie and Tigger’s rough play was giving way to just lying alongside one another and occasionally touching each other with a paw or sometimes a tongue.

When Mike passed away, both Charlie and Tigger grieved right along with me and I was allowed to stroke Tigger and even have him in my lap occasionally. He seemed to understand my need. My primary purpose, however, continued to be provider and conversationalist.

One would logically expect Tigger at age fourteen to outlive his canine buddy, but that was not to be. Charlie and I said goodbye to Tigger last week. And so, Charlie and I grieve again but give thanks for the gift of best friends. Goodbye, dear Tigger. You were never boring, always fun and we miss you terribly!

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Very interesting and great story!
Aren't we the lucky ones who allow animals to share in our lives....
Thank you for this!

Beautiful story! I'm reminded of the comfort my pets give me. Thank you!

What a wonderful animal story. I know that animals have preferences just as we do, but cats are especially demanding in having their way. Tigger knew what he wanted and was determined to get it. Good for him and good for you in understanding his need.

My last's dog's name was Charlie also and I mourn the loss of him to this day.

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