Tucker The Life Saving Cat: Part Three
In honor of today being FIVE YEARS since my beloved Tucker left the shelter life for good, here is part three of a multi-part series of blogs celebrating all things Tuck-Man.
Originally published on my blogger blog in April of 2017:
Thursday, March 2nd.
Today was the day! Tucker was coming home! I was brimming with anticipation. I wanted the day to fly by! I had planned to leave work at 4 to head straight to the shelter to bring Tucker home.
Finally, 4pm rolled around and I rushed out of work. I simply had to stop at the same pet supply store I had stopped at in 2000 to get some extra cat food and a special toy (just as I had done for Tyler) for my new boy.
He needed a welcome home present after all.
In I walked into the main entrance of Little Shelter promptly at 5pm.
“Hi, I’m here to take Ronald home” I proudly exclaimed, feeling on top of the world.
Everyone at the front desk lit up and beamed right back at me.
“Go right on back to the cattery and THANK YOU!”
“Oh, you’re welcome. I adopted Tyler from here in 2000” I repeated, thinking that this time they’d remember the old man.
“Oh, that’s nice. We love repeat adopters.” They still had no idea who Tyler was. Their loss.
A moment later I re-entered the cattery. Lauren, the shelter employee who approved my application (like I had any chance at being rejected!) met us pretty much as I walked in.
“Welcome back! Let’s find Ronald.”
“Actually,” I interrupted her “We’ve decided to name him…..Tucker.”
Lauren shot me a “oh you asshole, you are changing his name huh?” look. Or at least that’s how I interpreted her look. I’m sure I wasn’t the only adopters to change a name.
“Oh, I like that name” she replied to me.
I walked into general population again, back to the spot I had left Tucker to find……a different cat.
Where was my boy?
For the next 10 minutes I searched and searched and could not find him anywhere. Plenty of tabby cats were about, of course, but none had his tiny, pointed face and bright green eyes I had already grown to love.
I was trying not to panic. Has someone taken him?
Fortunately, technology came to the rescue. In the years since I adopted Tyler, all of the cats at Little Shelter had been chipped, so it was actually easy to find him thanks to that. Lauren appeared with something that looked like a cross between a wand and a magnifying glass and started waving it at the necks of several tabby cats.
“Found him!” Lauren yelled out two minutes later.
Sure enough, she had. Tucker was relaxing on a shelf in the corner room at the end of the main general population room:
He looked……annoyed. Tired. Maybe even……a little sad?
“Hi little man, you’re coming home with me today!”
Tucker looked up at me with a “really?” look on his face. I gently pet his head and back, and he perked up. A paw touched my arm.
It was then that I finally remembered to ask Lauren the question I had been meaning to ask her all week.
“What’s his background? How long has he been at the shelter?”
“Let’s see….” she replied. After reading his file she gave me an answer that floored me.
“Ronald…sorry….Tucker has been here since August, 2013. He was brought in as a little kitten by one of our volunteers.”
“You mean he’s been in this shelter his WHOLE LIFE?????” I asked, incredulous.
“Yes.” Lauren replied. “He’s never had a home until today.”
That stopped me dead in our tracks. I wanted to cry, I wanted to pick him up and hold him.
My little boy has known nothing but shelter life. This shelter, well run, well meaning though it was, was the only world he’s ever known. I couldn’t believe it. His quiet demeanor, his unassuming nature was obviously a detriment as he must have been overlooked time and time again.
How could anyone not want to take this cat home? How could he have been overlooked for SO LONG??????
Don’t answer that. I am still baffled by that one.
Lauren next ran through the contract with me. No, I wasn’t going to declaw him. No, I wasn’t going to do ANYTHING to cause harm to this cat. I was already in love. Trust me, Tucker just hit the jackpot. He just doesn’t fully realize it yet.
A few signatures and $75 later, Lauren snapped the picture you see above. I always look like I’m suppressing a fart when I take pictures. I also look like Diana in “V: The Final Battle” when she ate the hamster, but I digress.
Tucker was officially MY CAT. His life in the shelter system had officially ended.
A different “I’ve had 8,000 cats, I know more about cats than you” type of volunteer helped to get Tucker into the same red carrier I brought Tyler home in and off we went to his new life.
During the ride home I noticed something rather peculiar about Tucker. Or, rather, a lack of…..something.
Tucker did not utter a sound.
Does this cat know how to meow? Did he miss meow class?
Tyler meowed on and off the whole way home. As I already blogged, Tiger made a “kazoo-meow” constantly when I brought him home.
While Tucker did not speak, he certainly did not just sit quietly. Every now and then, when I looked back, I saw a front paw jutting out from the entrance of the carrier.
Tucker was trying to join us in the front seat.
After what seemed like an eternity, I finally arrived home.
I was truly an old hand at this next part. This part happens to be my favorite: the moment a cat exits their carrier and realizes they have a new home, with plenty of new things to explore. No better feeling in the world. For the human that is. To the cat, I’m sure it’s fucking scary as all hell.
I opened the front door to find Sophie….sitting on the kitchen counter, expecting us to come in alone. As usual when I first walk in, she ran over to us, demanding, in the song of her people, her dinner.
“Sophie, meet your new friend. Tucker!”
Keeping Sophie’s less than stellar relationship with Jackson in mind, I carefully showed her the front of the carrier. Tucker sat, silent, nervous but overwhelmed with curiosity.
Sophie, to my utter shock, did not hiss back, but stared intently at the carrier. I expect her first reaction was: is that Jackson?
Leaving Sophie in the kitchen, I entered the bedroom. Food was already placed in a bowl, a brand new litter box was clean, and a water fountain was already bubbling away. All was ready.
“Ok, Tucker, welcome to your new home! This is all for you, little man. I am SO HAPPY you’re here with me.”
I opened the carrier.
For the first time since Tyler, a cat I introduced to my bedroom did NOT immediately bolt under the bed.
After about a half hour, Tucker finally realized he needed to be scared of everything and pissed at me and bolted under the bed. The shelter had given me a nice little red knitted blanket, so I placed that and one of Tiger and Jackson’s old beds under our bed, right under my side.
Tucker planted himself there, and there he stayed.
After leaving him alone for a few hours, I peeked in on him before going to bed. He was still under the bed, pissed and terrified, but curious at the same time.
“Welcome home, little man. You take all the time you need to get used to me. I understand what a HUGE change this is for you, but you’re home now. You will always know nothing but love and home from now on. Sleep well little man. There’s food and toys if you want them.”
He looked back at me and squinted, calmly.
Tucker was home.