Friday, August 01, 2008

Ernest Hemingway "Ernie"

Because of the grass in this picture, you
can't really see how awful he looked; it's hard
to tell how dire his situation really was.
It's not something I'll ever forget.

Ernie chose to join our family this past summer, just before we got the doggies. I found him when I was out for a walk (getting in shape for the wedding!). The poor little kitty was completely emaciated and crying on the side of the road. My heart cracked open when I first saw him.

There was no other option, I had to get him home. He came to me when I called, "Here, kitty, kitty, kitty," but we were about a quarter of a mile away from the house. I could see fleas and goodness-knows-what other vermin crawling around on him, especially when he started rolling around on his back (the way cats and dogs do to get you to pet their tummies). What I also saw when he started rolling around playfully forced the crack in my heart apart and tore it into two pieces: through his thinning fur (probably from malnutrition) I could see that his stomach was bleeding from the flea bites.

It took me about two hours to get him home. I didn't want to pick him up . . . I was worried about what diseases he could have, and I didn't want the fleas to ride on me and get into our house. He wanted to follow me, but every time a car drove past it frightened him and he'd backtrack to the safety of a deep ditch at the end of our road.  It was frustrating, but every time I got a little ahead of him, he'd start crying.  I couldn't leave him.

I think he knew he was supposed to follow me, but he didn't know where we were going or why, so every time a car came by he lost his wits.

I did leave him for a little bit.  He was keeping pace with me, more or less, from the cornfield (about halfway home) when I realized I could possibly be out all night.  I would have done whatever was necessary, but I was hoping an all-nighter wouldn't be necessary.  So I called Dan and confessed what I was doing and asked him to leave some cat food out on the porch for me so I wouldn't have to go inside.  Then hoofed it up to the house and back, where Ernie was waiting forlornly.

I think he was a ghost.

At last! The safety of our barn. I got him set up with some food and a bed, and hoped we'd see him the next day (that is to say, that he wouldn't be dead of starvation). I wasn't as worried about him wandering off!  Where would he go?

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