So part of the morning ritual of running dogs here is to round up the cats and put them in the house. That way should any dogs slip out of our grip as we are harnessing and hooking up there is no fear. Besides, Bait has a rather annoying habit of wandering over to check with the dog team about how the run was when we get back into the yard. I don't like living on the edge as much as he does.
Anyway, the cats pretty much know the routine and as soon as the yard realizes they are going on a run and starts the 'PICK ME, PICK ME' bark the cats run to the sliding door to be let in.
This morning, however, only Tic showed up. As my niece Corrine and her brother, Cooper (Corrine's family is now up for a 'family function' and to pick her up) were gathering the dogs we were running that morning, Colleen (also visiting for a few days) and I took turns looking Bait.
I wasn't really concerned until Colleen pointed out that he had been absent from our evening walk last night. My stomach took a bit of a flip when I realized he had been MIA for over 10 hours. That is very unlike Bait.
On a hunch, as we were hooking dogs into the gangline, I asked Colleen to check her car and my van for Bait. Sure enough when Colleen peered in the window of the van, there was Bait peering back. The story turned out to be that Corrine had gotten a bag of dog food out of the van at feeding time (8 pm) last night and Bait must have snuck into the van unnoticed. Eleven hours later he was impatiently waiting to be let out.
We went to open the van door, only to find it locked. It seems in his attempts to get out of the van during the night, Bait must have stepped on the door lock button.
Unfortunately, as many 'country folks' do, we leave our keys in our vehicles in the yard. Bait was locked in!
Corrine, Cooper and the dogs were all waiting, so I gave Colleen a few ideas of where to look for spare keys, fired a quick email off to Mark at work ("We need spare keys for the van to rescue your cat (long story). Do you know where they are???") and off we headed on a run.
A beautiful cool, misty morning run
The run was great and when we pulled back into the yard I inquired about the whereabouts of Bait. "Still in the van". Apparently the spare keys were not in any of the possible locations. I had a sick feeling I knew where they were - in Mark's car which was an hour away with him at work.
We put the team away, ran some dogs on the scooter, free ran and fed the pups before heading back to the house. I whipped up Saskatoon (a berry similar to, but alittle different then a blueberry) waffles for everyone while trying to track Mark down at work to get confirmation on whether he had the spare keys.
Corrine scootering with her lab, Sunny and Spider.
Colleen and the kids tried in vain to lure Bait into stepping on the unlock switch for the doors. My little animal loving, vegetarian niece even waved a dead mouse she found on the driveway in front of Bait to try and get his toes where they needed to be. Very creative, but no luck.
As we were finishing up the last of breakfast word came from Mark that he had the spare van keys. So after seeing off the relatives, Colleen and I jumped in her car and headed on a road trip to the Mill.
Close to 2 hours later we pulled back in the yard.
I unlocked and opened the drivers door expecting a hero's welcome from the fat, white footed cat - but he stretched and waited for me to open the big sliding door before moseying to freedom.
He rolled on the ground a bit before grabbing a drink and then jumping on the roof of the van to sun himself and watch the world go by. Apparently the stress of his 17 1/2 hour imprisonment was not particularly overwhelming.
Ah, but the adventures of Mark's Stupid Cat were not over for the day. Not an hour later young Sobe managed to spring her stake out snap. Bait was (surprise, surprise) hanging out by the edge of the dog yard and the chase was on in seconds.
I was on the phone when Colleen ran up to the door and reported a loose dog. "Where's the cats?" is always my first concern. Colleen made a face that made it clear the answer to that question may not be a pleasant one.
Sobe was located by the garage, thankfully without any 'playthings' in her mouth. I handed her off to Colleen and went looking for the cat - yet again. I located him well up a tree, not far from the garage. Apparently he had run by about 50 trees with a yearling Siberian hot on his heels before finding the one he wished to climb to safety.
Bait is right now in the house. He is not permitted outside until his Dad comes home tonight. I'm so done with the Guardian Angel thing.