Thinking of Jamie

Today, as I went for my usual morning walk, there was fresh snow on the ground. The old man always lets me run free in the forest. There's no traffic to worry about, and he knows I'll stay close to the path. So I ran all over the place, checking all the animal tracks in the snow. There were tracks of a dozen rabbits, several jackrabbits, lots of squirrels, and a rat. There's a big old rat living under our neighbor's shed, and this morning it had ventured a long way down our path before turning back towards the houses. No shortage of wildlife in our parts, I'm happy to report. And then there were the tracks of the old male cat that patrols its territory every morning.

That made me think of Jamie. Jamie was a beautiful Persian cat that lived with my folks at the time my mistress first brought me home as a young puppy. Some cats would have made a racket, but not Jamie. He seemed positively happy to see me, and we became the best of friends. When people sometimes say kind things about my character, my folks always tell them that I was raised by a cat. It's true: Jamie became a kind of fosterfather to me, and he taught me to respect my elders when I got it in my furry head to tease him. Wow, I can still feel those claws in my snout!

When I was young, I could stand behind the big sofa and jump straight up on its back, like Jamie had taught me. Sometimes Jamie would come along on my evening walk, making the old man nervous about traffic. But he always made it home alright.

Once he wasn't so lucky. Jamie had this mistaken idea that he owned the street in front of the house we lived in then. So he'd just sit in the middle of the street, thinking or whatever cats do when they have that absent look on their faces. One day he went missing, and the next morning, Johnny, who was four at the time, heard him crying somewhere across the street. He and my mistress and I went looking for Jamie, and we found him hidden under a bush in the neighbor's front yard, terribly hurt. A car must have hit him and left him to drag himself there. His lower jaw was all broken and pushed over to one side.

My mistress put him in the red truck and drove him to the animal hospital. She ran every red light along the way, and drove on the sidewalk where the street was clogged. She made it there in 20 minutes--a trip that normally takes us 45 minutes. The vets at the hospital took good care of Jamie. They patched him up and tied his jaw together with metal wire that stuck out under his chin. The first few days, my folks gave him water to drink with an eye dropper and fed him with a baby spoon. Soon he got better, had the wire removed, and was his old self again. But from then on, he had this wry, crooked look about him, in addition to his stubby tail.

After that, they didn't let Jamie outside anymore, so he had to put up with using a litterbox. But he didn't complain. When we moved to the house we live in now, with no through traffic, Jamie was allowed to go outside again. He had a good time, but he was very old by then, and one day he left us and didn't come back. I sure loved Jamie, and sometimes, like now, I miss him.