“What’s the matter?” I ask.
“It’s Honey,” ‘Pat’ explains. “She’s gone.”
I’m not surprised, but I try to sound shocked and sympathetic. Honey is much loved by Pat, yet she gives Honey the freedom she believes a cat should have. Living in a wooded area, Honey slinks out of the house at all hours of the day and night, but by dawn, she always returns home with a smirk and sometimes a feather or tiny tail in her mouth.
Pat adores the aging feline, who has fattened over the years, despite her roaming adventures.
But the morning of Pat’s call, Honey is not in her customary cushioned pillow on the sunny spot in the kitchen corner. Honey is missing.
I figure she’s probably used up her nine lives.
Pat discovers a service she’s heard about, but never believed existed.
Hunting dogs that find lost, injured, or killed cats.
The dogs arrive a day and a half after Honey has disappeared. They search Honey’s home for items to smell – her ball of string, her pillow, her bowl. And then they take off with a bark, their trainer and Pat trailing behind.
They all race through the wooded paths, up the hills, down, over and around, for a mile, the dogs barking, hot on a trail, the humans puffing and stopping now and then, hands on knees, praying they find nothing, but wishing the dogs would stop.
Suddenly, all three animals lay down on a wooded path, panting hard, staring straight ahead.
“What are they doing? Why’d they stop?” Pat asks, looking around for some sign of Honey.
“The death smell,” the dogs’ trainer explains.
“What?” Pat trembles at the words.
“My dogs stop when they catch the cat’s death smell. She’s gone. Probably coyote. You might find her carcass somewhere near this spot, but most likely, there’s not much left.”
My friend trudges home, disheartened, depressed, mourning the loss of her treasured kitty cat.
Two days later, a despondent Pat answers the doorbell – a neighbor who lives down the street standing in the doorway wearing a puzzled expression.
“You missing your cat?” the man asks.
“Yes! Why?” Pat replies.
“I just heard a frantic meow – some fuzzy animal is stuck underneath my garage.”
Pat runs the 200 yards to the rather slanted garage with a dirt hole underneath it. “Honey?”
A responding meow answers back.
A shovel and shouted encouragement soon brings Honey, minus death smell and a few pounds lighter, back into Pat’s arms.
When she calls me with the good news, I want to shout out the moral to this story.
But I don’t, because I’m not sure what it is.
What do you think it might be?