Nothing reminds me of spring more than Cricket doing her best pogo stick impression as she hops up and down, paws grasping at the door handle she so desperately wishes she could open. For a mostly indoor cat, little Cricket is fearless outdoors, ambushing her large and savvy feline foes. Her brother Tabor, on the other hand, is a strong muscular boy who communicates in high pitched soft chirps and holds a permanently alarmed look in his big round eyes. Tabor is a true innocent; a sweetheart of a cat that loves to hug.
About this time last year, I gave in on a sunny spring morning and let Cricket and Tabor tour the backyard. Tabor commenced on his intense task of the double front paw pounce and capture of tiny creatures hiding in the grass. He has a very focused and active imagination, which is probably what sent him trotting down the sidewalk and not looking back. By the time I returned from warming up my coffee, he had disappeared. As the sun set that day and the cold rain returned, I had walked and talked to people for hours, holding my picture of Tabor and asking for their help.
Living in FoPo means being surrounded by Foster, Powell and 82nd; streets that in this scenario, you just let a trusted friend monitor for your lost pet and refuse to let your mind go there. My job was a crash course in how to find Tabor and a rekindling of the connections with my nearest neighbors as they let me crawl through bushes, search their garages, and listen to my “kitty, kitty, kitty” call outs morning and night.
We are a close bunch of regulars living in the area, brought together by unexpected events and warm summer evenings. Once, the whole block had communal coffee at 6:00 am while a police man took down damage reports and returned stolen items from the drunk teenager who had ransacked our cars and yards. Lucky for us, a neighbor’s dog was alarmed by the brazen display of criminal mischief and called out the alert that led to his arrest. During the holiday blizzard of 2008, we left our cars buried and dug snow tunnels to each other’s front doors, sharing cocktails, food, board games and company. As it turns out, one of the best holidays I’ve had was the one I shared with neighbors, the same ones whose determination to find Tabor was beyond heart warming.
After days passed without even a Tabor sighting, I contacted International K9 Search and Rescue Services. Harry Oaks arrived and introduced Tabor’s scent to his search dog Willow who led us 4 blocks away to where the trail ended suddenly on a street corner surrounded by 3 apartment buildings. Willow, showing no fear or death display, left us with the theory that Tabor had been picked up and either carried or driven away. Harry suggested hanging more lost pet posters, talking to residents, and leaving a scent trail home, all of which I did for the remainder of the day.
That night, I woke up to Cricket’s meowing and pawing at the window and the wave of relief of seeing Tabor gazing back at us. He had returned healthy and strangely smelling like grandmother’s rose perfume. Although only Tabor knows the true story, I can’t help but think a well wishing person picked up the cat with the startled expression, and let him go when it was realized he had a home and was missed. I also believe the scent trail helped him find his way home. I’d love to share the details of the technique with you here, but it would involve a 4 block public apology to my neighbors and their confused dogs.
That morning I printed and posted Cat Found flyers, feeling it was the right thing to do after receiving so much help in my search. I also started a FoPo Lost Pet Alert page on Facebook for posting notices that includes tips and resources for finding lost pets. Tabor’s secret adventure taught me a lesson too. The bonds we share with those that live in our close proximity are truly unique. They are a living and growing system of smiles, waves, and impromptu get togethers that strengthen into the interconnected support we need during life’s unexpected events.
Maybe it is this block of neighbors that inspired me to take on community wide events, such as coordinating the annual garden tour, joining the neighborhood association, or even now, writing and sharing photographs for Foster United. It is in this same spirit that I wish to support and celebrate the organizations, small businesses, and people that call our corner of Portland home. It feels healthy and natural to start small and expand outwards, and in the journey, to learn more about the diverse communities that create their home and businesses here. If these bonds can be strengthened with honest conversations and awareness, our area will become stronger as our roots interconnect and grow. With this strength, pride and shared sense of community, we can both celebrate the good and tackle the challenges together.