When Dave and I got home Sunday night after a leisurely and relaxing drive up the coast, the cats were waiting for dinner, but I noticed that Foster was not in the throng around my ankles as I mixed their food. Highly unusual because he's a piglet. Searched the house from top to bottom in case he got in a cupboard or closet or something weird...but no Foster.
The likeliest explanation was that he got out through the garage when the dogwalker brought Boska back from her walk, which meant he was probably in someone's backyard. Problem in our neighborhood is that the houses in the Sunset all have landlocked backyards that butt up against each other on three sides - there's no way to get to them unless you go through someone else's house/backyard. We'd gotten in at 10:30, which is too late to go knocking on doors. So I went up and down the blocks and called him, but got no response. Went into the backyard and called for him...nothing. And it was getting too late to be hollering "FOSTER! HERE, BABY" in the backyard or wandering the streets.
Now I was already dead tired and had a meltdown. Not a tantrum, but a 'my baby is gone and he's dead and I'll never see him again and he's been eaten by wolves' type of crying jag. Couldn't sleep 'cause I kept thinking I heard him meowing for me every time I drifted off. Got up in the morning, called work (I work for the nicest, best people ever) and went outside in the backyard with the tupperware container of dry food, hoping that the sound of food would get his attention. Called and called, shook the damn container...and finally heard him meowing somewhere off in someone's backyard/shed/garage. Foster has a very distinctive meow when he's upset: "MEEEEEEE-OOOOOWWWWWWW!!!" With the accent on the 'meeee', descending on the owwwww.
Climbed a dead tree in our backyard, the branches of which kept breaking off under my feet. Called some more and heard him again. I figured he must be trapped in a shed or garage, because although he kept crying, the sound wasn't getting any closer. So I grabbed his picture and started off around the block, hoping to catch people coming out for work since it was too early to go knocking on doors. Went back home after a half hour of that, went back in the backyard, stood on the picnic table...and saw the little booger in a yard across the way about three houses over.
NO possible way to get to him from my yard, so I figured out which house it was and went hauling butt back around the other side of the block to that house. Naturally there was no one home. So I went to the houses on either side of it, got an elderly chinese man in a smoking jacket to let me in to his backyard, and found my boy on the other side of a very tall chain-link fence on one side, wooden one on the other, with no way to climb out. I tried to coax him down to a tree to see if he'd climb it over the fence, but he was too freaked out to do more than wander around crying for me. Oy...
So I thanked the guy, tried the house next door again, no luck. Decided to go back around the block and see if the people two houses down were home 'cause their yard butted up against the backside of Foster's temporary prison (which was really poorly kept, with rotting tires and all sorts of crap in it. Very Texas Chainsaw).
Rounded the corner in time to see a truck pulling out of that driveway, thought that this would blow my chance to get in there, so I started waving my arms and running after the truck. You have to picture me in baggy yoga pants, an oversized flannel shirt, my hair a flyaway mess...scary woman. I was surprised when the guy actually stopped 'cause anyone in their right mind would have probably gunned the motor and raced away from this crazy dame running pell mell up the street after them.
I explained what had happened with a little difficulty - he was Cantonese and spoke some English, but not a lot. I used Foster's picture as a visual aid and wonder of wonders, the man not only understood me, but agreed to take me into the backyard so I could try and rescue my cat. This involved cutting through a bedroom on the bottom floor of his house, where a young woman was asleep in bed. I was mortified.
We went into the backyard where there was a shed up on a platform at the end of the yard with a four foot drop down to the ground in between the platform and the fence that separated the two yards. Foster came up behind the shed in the other yard, then freaked out when the guy tried to put a wooden ramp over the fence for him to climb on. Hid under some bushes. So...he gets a ladder, puts it over the fence on very uneven ground, holds it for me as I climb over the fence, down the ladder and onto a pile of rotted tires crawling with insects. I had to go over that, under the bushes (also crawling with insects and covered in spider webs) and under a shed (did I mention spiders?) to get Foster out. Then I had to toss him over the fence onto the platform so I could climb back over on the ladder, and THEN I had to coax him out from under the deck at the other end of the yard. When I finally got him and carried him through their house, he howled loud enough to wake the woman sleeping in the bedroom.
Anyway, got him home, fed him, let him wander around the house and reassure himself that all was as it should be, then we took a nap together, his head curled up on my shoulder. He didn't stop purring the entire time. Neither did I, although in my case it would be called 'snoring.'
Dave and I took flowers over to our neighbors last night. At first there was some confusion as to why these two strange Americans were bringing them flowers, but I showed the picture of Foster and the girl who answered the door started to laugh and nod her head. I suspect she was the victim of Foster's morning serenade as I carried him out through the bedroom.
Last night while I was doing dishes, I caught Foster staring at me from the kitchen table, his blue eyes slightly crossed and at half mast. I could hear his purrs across the room. He knows that I'd go through hell and spiders to rescue him. I am Ripley to his Newt.
Get away from him, you BITCH!
I may have my shortcomings, but I am a damn fine Mommy. And a very relieved one...