Or-The Tale of Briar Rabbit and how she rescued the 2 Hairy Houdini's!!
We had planned this move for months. And especially any details that were involving our kitties, Jack and Lexi. I researched on-line and found the best harnesses and made them start wearing them months in advance. I got tags made to put on them with our cell phone #, just in case. I even took them out in the yard with the leashes on to get them acclimated to being on a lead. Right before we were due to leave I took them to the vet to have a healthy check up and get sedatives to give them for the road.
So on the morning we were leaving we got up very early and right away gave them their "sleepy" pills. A bit later we stuck them in their kennels and secured them into the car. I was not impressed at how well the sleepy medicine had worked but I figured maybe it just needed more time to kick in.
They seemed to settle in fairly well for the first 45 minutes or so. But a bit of rowdyness kicked in right about Oklahoma City. I thought it was doubtful that they had used the litter box since the night before, so I wondered if they just needed to be able to "potty" before they finally quieted down.
So I let Ken know we needed to stop for the cats. He picked the only rest stop in Oklahoma with bathrooms-Thank Goodness. It was about 15 miles east of Shawnee on Interstate 40.
We stopped and since Lexi was closest to the car door she was chosen to be let out first. I reached into her carrier, snapped on the leash and put her out on the ground next to her travelling box. She freaked, ignored the box and headed for the grass. But even then she wild and showed no interest in her bladder at all. So I handed her to Ken and went back for Jack. This is where things start to go down hill........
First of all I could not get the lease snapped on Jack's harness easily like I had for Lexi. But finally I got it on and tried to pull him out of his carrier. He absolutely spazzed and on the way out managing to scratch me across the outer eyebrow on the left and also my left thumb. But as soon as we got him out he laid on the ground and seemed fairly calm. Meanwhile I am pouring blood out of the eyebrow wound. So Ken tells me to go wash up and he will hold the cats. So I hand over the leash and head up to the restrooms. I didn't take long but when I got back to Ken, he was in possession of fairly calm Jack and just a harness and lead that used to be worn by Lexi. The little Houdini had slipped out and had headed for the woods at the back of the rest area. Ken throws Jack back in his carrier in the car and runs to help me catch Lexi. At first she acts like she will come to us easily but at the last second she runs again into the wooded area. Now at this point it is barely light outside and we could not see the chainlink fence separating the woods from the rest stop. When we realized it was there we thought-wonderful-she would have to be somewhere along the fence. But the little skinny thing slipped right thru into the thicket. Meanwhile Ken sees a streak out the corner of his eye and yells-There she is!! I look way to my right and the streak I see does not seem black enough. It takes about a second for it to click that it is not Lexi-but JACK!! Ken had not zipped up Jack's soft sided carrier nearly well enough. AND left the car door open!! So now Jack is also on the loose and has slipped thru the fence as well. The fence that is 7 foot high, with barbed wire along the top and many NO Tresspassing signs along the top.
Well-For about 45 minutes we walk up and down the fence line calling for our missing furbabies. We took their jar of evening treats and shook them which normally would have brought them running. We started talking about how long we could keep this up before we would have to give up and go on. Our hearts were breaking and it was all we both could do to keep from breaking down and bawling. But we kept up the fence vigil hoping they would both finally give up and come back to us.
We both kept thinking, if we could just get thru the fence we might have more success. I finally spyed a place where the barbed wire didn't stick up above the chain link. And the fence post seemed good and strong. So in flip-flops I climbed the fence. Remember I told you it was a good 6-7 feet high. I got to the top and swung my first leg over. I quickly got stabbed in the thigh by the barbed wire. I dug the barb out of my thigh and put that leg back. Then tried going the other way with the other leg. Same thing-stuck. I ripped a big hole in my brand new pants. But eventually I got both legs over and had to just jump to the ground. My 54 year old body didn't care for that much at all. But I was over, better get to the search and not focus on my booboos.
I was at the Jack end of the fence so I called and called for him to no avail. He was the one still wearing his lease and harness so I looked for flashes of red in the underbrush. Nothing. I kept carefully working my way back, futher and further from the fence. Then I ended up crossing a dry stream bed, then another, then another. I kept calling and then listening for anything that sounded like kitty. It seemed like forever and by this time I was more at the Lexi end of the woods. I called out and miraculously I heard her crying. She was above me on a rock outcropping and with just a little bit of coaxing, she ran to me. I stuffed her into my hoodie jacket and ran back to the fence. She never budged or tried to jump free. At this point Ken does not know I am behind the fence. He is still out front calling for the kitties. With the kennels. So I called for him to quick bring me a cage. He follows my voice, throws the cage over, I scoop her up and throw her in. I hand her back over the fence and Ken takes her to the car and this time makes sure the car door is shut. He comes back to the fence and tells me that he found a place to get thru, under the fence.
So now we both are in the woods, calling for Jack. It was a long while before I finally think I hear a tiny kitty voice. But a darned noisy crow kept making a similar sound so I had my doubts that I had really heard Jack. Ken headed my way and I told him to keep quiet cause I might have heard our boy. Again we did hear him and between the 2 of us we triangulated and closed in on our little houdini. Ken found him first and kept him til I could get there and scoop him up. But just when I was trying to put him in the kennel he got away again. But by then he must have been getting tired out and I was able to get ahold of him by stepping on his trailing leash. We just stuffed him in the kennel and headed for the place in the fence where we could get back out. Now my husband spent 20 years in the army and had to negotiate many obstacle courses, and simulated battles. So this place he found didn't seem skinny to him but beleive me he had to suck in his breath to skim under this fence. I just held my breath, closed my eyes and went under. It was then and only then that I looked down at my legs and saw all the damage I had suffered from the briars, osage orange trees and prickly underbrush. Plus I was covered with mud and sweat. I could only clean up a bit in the restroom before we hit the road. We of course had no antiseptic with us so hopefully my strong immune system will help me heal up in no time. It is a bit painful and my clothes keep sticking to some of the worst scratches. The gouges on my upper thighs are pretty deep and those came from the fence, so I am glad my tetenus shot is up to date.
The rest of the trip the kitties stayed pretty quiet. Until about 30 miles outside of Chattanooga when Lexi came back to life big time. As long as she was in her kennel I could live with the noise. Since arriving they have been closed into our bedroom and have mostly stayed under the bed. They did get up and sleep with us last night. I know they are still spooked by the smell of all the other animals in the house, the dogs barking, the birds talking and there many kitties moving about. But slowly they are coming back to life and I am sure they will be fine. Well until the other relatives show up on Tuesday!!