saving Sir Alfred recalled

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saving Sir Alfred recalled

By Charlie Hodge.

Some suggest dogs are mankind’s best friend. While I love dogs, I have always been fascinated with furry felines, their antics, and a deep desire to understand what makes them tick.

My fixation and fondness extends since childhood, with cats always a part of my life. I have never purchased a cat – and only rescued one from the SPCA. Otherwise cats have found me – either gifted, inherited from family members and friends, or selected by the cats. At least four times stray cats have literally wandered into my life.

As I write this my current second best friend (only a fool would not state their spouse is number one) is sitting on her pillow next to my computer, her right paw stretched full out across the keyboard, threatening another typo at any second. ScaredyCat is not so scared anymore.

Four years ago she arrived one summer day in my yard (like others before her) and over a period of a few days wormed her way into our household. Because of her we also have four male indoor kittens. That’s a saga for another time.

While Scaredy slowly settled into a nice, domesticated pet she was a ferocious, terrified feral man-eater when she first arrived. Both of us have mellowed over time. I cannot imagine my world without her.

As I was petting Scaredy this morning I recalled another impromptu kitty-yard connection Tez and I will never forget.

It was eight years ago.

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 complete easy touch stray animal sucker, I sensed then that I should have simply thrown a rock or at least a hissy-fit and scared the beat-up critter away. Yet something in this little cat’s eye stopped me.

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

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

Tez arrived home and immediately met the little critter. A bigger sucker for waifs than I she immediately fed the cat (knowing I was struggling to be a tough-guy). Within five minutes the little golden coloured kitty was purring and rubbing us like a family pet.

I made up a little bed for her in the woodpile, accepting the fact that I’d 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 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 with us when Sheila the neighbour and two of her children came over (very rare) to visit. As she walked in the yard and spotted Alfred, Sheila’s jaw literally dropped. I started to explain 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.”

Needless to say there was not a dry eye in the yard for the next ten minutes and one very happy looking Alfred went home for dinner.

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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