Late one Wednesday night Jim opened the front door to let Vimy in, not realizing that I was crouched down right behind him. In a flash I rushed passed him and escaped into the night.
Everything was exciting. I wandered across neighbours’ lawns and through backyards where there were many strange smells. I climbed over lawn furniture, and wandered into open sheds. All of a sudden I realized that I was lost. Although I sensed that I was not far from home I just could not find my bearings. Too exhausted to search any longer, I crept under some shrubs close to the cement wall of a small house and went to sleep. Around dawn I woke to the loud barking of a huge dog that had been released into the yard from the back door. Fear gripped me as I crouched low against the wall. I hid there all day.
Nights for me during this frightening time were the longest that I had ever experienced. I couldn’t sleep much l as I kept hearing noises in the underbrush. Even the rustling of the tree branches above my head kept me on edge. The barking dog that periodically raced into the yard freaked me out. One night, just as I was dozing off, a chubby animal, followed by three young ones, sauntered by. I held my breath. Not two feet away, these wild animals, eyes masked, either ignored me or failed to pick up my scent. I stayed put for the rest of the night. What a relief it was to see daybreak streaking through the trees and the sun lighting my strange surroundings. At least I could now see clearly everything around me. But I still didn’t know where I was.
All that day I listened for Jim’s familiar whistle –five short bursts-that I’d heard every day of my life. But I listened in vain.
Jim later told me about his efforts to find me. He posted about a dozen photos of me around our neighbourhood, and waited, hoping for a response. Two nights later the phone rang. It was a stranger, a concerned neighbour, who had seen the poster. She lived one street south of mine, and about four blocks east. She said that she had seen a lovely black and white cat closely resembling me, in her back yard sunning itself on the patio. I guess it must have been me. Being afraid of people as well as loud noises did not help my cause. Even if the woman had tried to befriend me she would not have succeeded.
Jim, determined to follow any lead, hurried over to her house with Vimy. He searched her back yard for a long time in the dark with a flashlight.
There was no sign of me. Feeling very discouraged he went home.
One night I was sleeping, safe in a cozy spot under a porch, when I smelled that stinky dog, Vimy. I heard the familiar whistle but the wind was blowing and I was scared. I stayed put. The sound of unfamiliar voices of strangers strolling along the sidewalk for hours at a time made me feel uneasy. Large trucks rumbling along the patchy pavement hurt my ears and made me shiver. Nosy dogs, walking late at night with their owners, sniffed around the lawn close to my hiding place. I crouched low to the ground in behind the broken slats of the old porch and hoped that I would not be seen.