Saturday, November 10, 2012

Rescuerama: A Mystery in Progress – Part 4

Note: As I wrote earlier, Djuna wasn’t crazy about having her photo taken. What’s more, her true color never showed in the pics. So instead of reusing the few photographs of her I have, I’m relying on famed (and unknown) artists to illustrate my tale. In case you missed a previous installment of this series, here they are:
Part 1            Part 2            Part 3

The next morning I searched the Lost/Found category on Craigslist. It doesn’t make for cheerful reading. I wanted to run out and search for every dog and cat listed—especially Abby, the old Great Dane whose family placed a new ad every few days, begging for sightings of her. How does anyone see a Great Dane on the loose and NOT do something? Or not even think it odd?

As for Djuna, one ad was hopeful—the photo looked like her—and I wrote to the family. If they weren’t the right match, I’d post an ad of my own.

But it was time to return to the vet—with the cat in case we had to start the whole scanning process over again. Once more, Djuna took it in stride—no wiggling, no whimpering, no howling. I held her in my arms, swaddled in a bath towel, and she watched out the window, taking everything in and enjoying the ride.

Indeed, Djuna had to be scanned again, but we left the vet’s office with the name of the last known guardian (a phrase I will be using repeatedly, so going forward, I will refer to the last known guardian as “LKG”). We were on our way, I thought. I’d just search out all the people in Lexington with that name, then contact those who lived within a couple of miles from us. Surely we’d be able to find out whom Djuna belonged to.

Of course, things are never as simple as we want them to be. Though the guardian’s name wasn’t exotic or even unusual, it wasn’t common either. At least not to me. In Lexington, however, it’s a popular name and can be spelled a variety of ways. I tried them all and came up with a short list of addresses to visit.

We left Djuna at home for this mission. Instead, I took a flyer that had her picture and description on it and the name of the LKG. I explained the situation and asked residents to call or e-mail me if they even recognized the name of the person I was looking for. Oddly enough, I didn’t have to leave the flyer on any doors because everyone was home! But no one got me closer to Djuna’s family.

When we returned to our apartment, there was a message from the family I’d e-mailed earlier. I was so excited I could hardly comprehend what was written. I had to read it again: Their cat wasn’t microchipped and hadn’t come from a shelter. Djuna wasn’t theirs, for both were true of her, and now I had to write back saying as much. I felt awful for them.

At this point, another day had passed and we were no closer to getting Djuna home. I’d created some flyers on her behalf, which we got out before being stymied by the weather, but they were by no means enough to get the job done. The shelter was closed on Sundays, so Djuna would stay with us through the weekend. (Yay!)

When I finally accepted that the microchip was getting us nowhere, I changed course. I made a list of a handful of Web sites on which to advertise Djuna’s story and, after searching on each of them for a report of her disappearance and finding nothing (Why? Didn’t anyone miss this little jewel?), I posted a FOUND CAT report on each.

Then I reworked my flyers to include the name of the LKG. I hoped someone might recognize her name and let her know that Djuna, whether still the woman’s or not, was homeless once again. If nothing else, I hoped that I would get a lead on the person who last had Djuna.

Djuna enchanted me every time she sat up on her back legs like the
cat in this photo. And like this cat, she wanted to be part of everything.
Whenever food or drink was involved, she insisted on “deep sniffing.”
Never tasting, just breathing in the aroma with her nose a hair’s breadth
away from the fare.
Meanwhile, little Djuna was swiftly taking charge of our home.

She still didn’t talk. Except during that moment when I first introduced her to the windowsill. No sooner had her paws touched wood than she raised her back and hissed. And growled—tiny, nearly inaudible growls. I assumed she was intimidated by the pumpkin outside. “It’s okay, Little One,” I assured her. “It’s just a pumpkin—it won’t hurt you” and WHAM! The pumpkin flew off the ledge and in its place, after slamming into the window, stood the very tomcat I’d rescued her from the night before. Djuna had not been afraid of a silly little pumpkin; she was upset about the lurker outside! I promptly closed the blinds and scooped her up. The neighborhood cat didn’t bother her again and she didn’t utter another word.

We did whatever her stare demanded. If she wanted the blinds open for bird-watching, open they were. If she preferred tuna to the new kibble I’d bought her, so be it. If she wasn’t following us around, she was luxuriating on the shearling (it had belonged to our pooch once upon a time) we’d placed under the coffee table for her—which became her “fort.” If we were on the couch, she was between us for belly rubs. If we were in bed, she cuddled up beside us (but NOT—no no no!—under the covers; her choice, not ours). And if someone dared to shut the bathroom door, she made quick work of getting it back open.

As she relaxed in her surroundings, we caught her playing with an acorn a few times; otherwise, she wasn’t interested in interacting with toys. Who needed toys when you had an overactive imagination? Djuna held sudden bouts of play with imaginary friends—chasing, stalking, pouncing, twirling, and flying across the room. These bursts ended as suddenly as they began and they cracked me up every time. I’d forgotten what great entertainment furballs are.

Oh dear. The very thought of precious Djuna ending up in a cage disturbed me. I didn’t have the heart to turn her over to the shelter, and I couldn’t keep her. I HAD to find her family. I couldn’t let her distract me from that goal.

On Monday, with a list of stores and intersections in hand, we posted our new-and-improved flyers around.

On Tuesday afternoon, as I headed to a friend’s house for a previously scheduled get-together, I stopped at another neighborhood clutch of stores to post more flyers. When I returned home later, I found a voicemail waiting for me.

to be continued…

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