Hodgepodge by Charlie Hodge – I sensed he was there

Here’s a memoir gem I found in the box of ‘junk’ I’m still sorting through It’s from a column written 2007. Seems I have a long history of saving cats:

I sensed he was there.

His eyes were fixated upon the back of my head, checking out my every move, analyzing my attitude.

Slowly I turned my head and scanned the back of the woodshed; suddenly discovering him crouched on the ground behind a tall mound of weeds. Deep yellow eyes stared at me with wide-eyed awareness and I detected the flight option would supersede the fight option for the observer. Against my better judgement I gently spoke to the inquisitive cat face poking around the weeds.

My fate was sealed.

Owning a lifetime track record of being a completely easy touch stray-animal sucker, I knew I should have simply thrown a rock or at least a hissy-fit and scared the beat-up stray cat away. Yet something in this little cat’s eye stopped me.

I wandered into the back yard and a minute later he was back there as well, now calling back to me with a desperate meow. A closer look and it was clear this little kitty was starving to death and certainly in need of water on that scorching hot afternoon.

I got him some water but was determined to be a tough-guy and not feed him. I already had a half dozen pets and needed no more.

Tez soon arrived home and immediately met the little critter. Being a bigger sucker for waifs than I am she immediately asked if she could feed the cat (knowing that I was trying to be a tough-guy). To both our shock I said yes. Within five minutes the little golden coloured kitty was purring and rubbing us like a pet of 10 years.

A few minutes later I made up a little bed in the woodpile for the waif, accepting the fact that I had just been hoodwinked by yet another stray. Way to go tough guy.

His lack of hair in various parts of his body combined with his haughty sort of male attitude dictated the whimsical moniker of Sir Alfred of Mange.

Tez and I agreed that we would give Sir Alfred a few days to see how things went and then call a vet for further analysis. We both figured we were giving a sad little kitty a few days of comfort before it probably died or nature played its role. (Our neighbourhood has raccoons, dogs, and lousy drivers and so far it did not look like Alfred had survived all that well).

Two days later Alfred was hanging out in the garden patch with Tez and me when Sheila the neighbour and two of her children came over (very rare) to feed my dog. (The dog was on the leash and the kids wanted to say hi).

As she walked in the yard and spotted Alfred, Sheila’s jaw literally dropped. I started to explain that the kitty was a stray and we were just helping it out when she stopped us and said, “That’s our kitty – she’s been missing for three months.”

How Grange survived, where she went, why she did not make it home just one more yard away, we all debated while the joyful reunion continued.

Needless to say there was not a dry eye in the yard for the next 10 minutes before one very happy looking Sir Alfred of Mange went home for dinner.

Meanwhile I, thankfully and happily, dismantled the kitty bed in the woodpile.

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.


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