…the black and white cat in the picture up there. His name was Tripper, not because of a kinship with the Gore family. No, his favorite way of getting one’s attention was to amble between that person’s ankles. I’d say that his strategy could be effective from Tripper’s point of view or annoying and hazardous from my perspective. It came as a total surprise the first time he tried to trip me because we hadn’t been formally introduced. For some reason, my back yard duties brought me outside on a sunny afternoon. Tripper, a regal, that is magnificent and king-sized feline crossed the property line and made right for me. He immediately began his stagger-inducing shin slalom.
My first impression was that his beautiful and healthy appearance suggested he had a home and could never be a stray. It seemed that he must belong to a neighbor. As the weeks and then months ticked away, he still tripped his way through the back yards. The neighbors thought he was mine and I thought he was theirs. We were all mistaken. This became apparent as September rolled around. Tripper had lost weight and was frequently found inside my garbage can. A bald spot formed on his spine just above the base of his tail. Decision time had arrived. Should my wife and I take him in or call animal control. While discussing this weighty issue with Nancy Ann, Tripper joined us. Nancy Ann sat on the top step leading to our deck. Tripper climbed the several steps, snuggled next to Nancy Ann and put his head on her lap. We had a pet. He adopted us.
The photo shows Tripper sitting in a flower pot. Note the leaves: catnip. I grew it for him. I guess he liked it. Note the gaze. No, he wasn’t under the influence. He’d look you straight in the eye. There was nothing shifty about this guy. Tripper rarely raised his voice. He was into non-verbal communication. In other words, he had us well trained. He stayed with us for about ten years, a well behaved, quiet, affectionate member of the family. As time went by, he stopped climbing trees, not because he lacked claws. It seemed to be too much for him. He had a bit of hip dysplasia early on, but this condition faded away after a few days in an animal hospital. Toward the end, the classic signs of diabetes suddenly and forcefully appeared. The hip dysplasia returned with a vengeance. He lost control of his bowel and bladder and wouldn’t come into the house. Nancy Ann remembers opening the kitchen door for Tripper. He put his chin on the threshold, but would not enter. We knew it was time for him to go. I kept looking into his eyes as the vet administered the final anesthetic. Tripper was buried just beneath the spot where his catnip grew. He can never be replaced.
This piece is dedicated to my Sensei: Leslie Lynch.