Last summer, I decided to adopt a new cat from a local shelter.
Named Oscar, part of the agreement that I signed to take my new housemate home was that I would never allow him to go outside. “Not unreasonable,” I thought at the time given the dangers lurking about in the wooded area in which we live.
What I didn’t realize when I signed this contract was that Oscar LOVED the outdoors. Having spent considerable time on his own, the idea of not roaming the land till his heart’s content became increasingly difficult for him. Romps in the backyard between my dogs became torture for Oscar to watch — so much so, in fact, that I was forced to buy a Petsafe indoor security system coupled with a Tile to keep the little guy from escaping to go with. Eventually, however, he became used to the limited shock of it – using it instead to massage his neck rather than keep him inside. I had to turn up the volume as a result. Even so, the system didn’t keep him from escaping.
One afternoon, while relaxing on the couch, I was alerted by the dogs that Oscar had flown the coup. Apparently he had balanced like a Wallenda on the tiny table in my bathroom, wedged the slightly cracked window to a reasonable opening, pushed out the screen and left. My dogs as well as the Tile hanging from Oscar’s neck led me to his location and I spent the next hour jumping through hoops to finally catch him and bring him back inside. It took another hour for me to place my heart back into my chest as I went about re-securing every window screen in the house.
Frankly, I understand Oscar and his desire to go outside better than ever after being ‘locked down’ as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic for more than a month. I too am an outdoors person, not to mention “quite social.” This temporary inconvenience has made me keenly aware of Oscar’s plight, placing it in a whole new light. As I continue to be called to “come out and play” by the world around me, so is Oscar but his reality is much more grave than my own as his is to be endured “for the rest of his life.” Mine, nothing near that dramatic (or so I pray).
“Not on my watch anymore,” I’ve come to decide. “Oscar deserves to LIVE as his maker intended him to!”
Suffice-it-to-say, I just ordered him a harness and leash. Oscar will be captive no more. Backyard walks are now on the agenda. My time, hopefully, will soon come as well.
Sometimes – many times – the most unusual and dower of circumstances teach us the most. Coronavirus initiated one of those times for me. Now the only question left for me to ask is, “How do I explain my change of heart to the dogs?”