I can always tell when something is wrong whenever any of my children suddenly dash outside to investigate something unusual going on around our home. The most recent incident happened just a week ago when my oldest daughter hastily threw on a pair of slippers and darted out the front door to investigate something that caught her eye around the living room window.
My curiosity really got piqued when my wife stopped what she was doing and joined my daughter. Knowing that nothing good could come from this, I ended up poking my head out the door only to see both of them comforting a young cat that seemed very lost or just confused.
By now, I knew we had to somehow protect this little rascal. Since we live at the intersection of two very busy streets in town, he didn't stand much of a chance if we simply let him wander around the neighborhood because the odds of not getting hit by a car were definitely stacked against him.
The one positive sign right off the bat was he wasn't afraid of being around humans (translated: he was someone's pet). This was good because I've dealt with way too many wild, feral cats in my life, and I've learned (very painfully I might add) what happens when you try to approach any animal that has never had direct human contact.
Wanting to be a good samaritan, I decided to check with my neighbor just to ensure one of their cats didn't decide to sneak out of the home and prowl around the neighborhood. When that turned out to be a negative, the next step involved calling the city animal shelter for their help.
In an effort to make things run a little smoother, I ran into the garage and grabbed one of the pet kennels we use to transport our animals to and from their vet appointments. When I opened the cage door, I fully expected the cat to turn and run or fight any effort to stuff him inside.
What happened instead still has me baffled. The cat simply looked at the kennel, got up and walked inside. No arguments. No fighting. Not even a meow of defiance.
Since my daughter already needed to run some errands, we decided to stop by the animal shelter while we were out. Call it a gut feeling, but I wanted the shelter staff to check to see if the cat had a microchip embedded beneath his skin.
The beep that chimed from the portable chip reader confirmed my suspicions.
For those who don't know, those rice-sized implants come encoded with enough information to allow authorities to track down a pet's owner. In this case, all it took was one phone call.
It turns out, the family lived just two blocks away, so my daughter and I decided to see their beloved animal make it home safely. As we chatted, it turned out that their young daughter had apparently decided to open one of the outside doors of their house, and their cat decided to reenact a classic jail break scene.
This is the one reason why my wife and I were so paranoid when we became cat people many years ago. In all the years we've welcomed cats into our house, there were just three or four times when our little stinkers got outside. In each case, those escapes were unplanned.
One happened because our "feline son" pushed up against a window screen, which then popped loose and allowed him to tumble out of a second-story window. As he struggled to figure out what had happened, we were relived that he decided to stay put until his human "parents" arrived.
It's reasons like this that convinced my wife and I to have each of our cats microchipped when they were old enough. While we do everything to encourage our cats to remain indoors at all times, that little chip gives us some piece of mind that if they ever decide to revolt and bolt out the door, we have some guarantees that we'll be able to track them down and bring them home.
Best of all, that little piece of mind won't break your wallet.
Every day, it seems that I'm always seeing something on social media where someone's family pet has gone missing. I'm wondering how many would've been found and returned if the owners had ensured their animals not only had a collar with an identification tag but also ensured they were also "chipped."
Please do yourself a favor. The next time you take your cat, dog or other beloved animal to the vet to get their vaccinations, ask to have your pets microchipped. I believe you'll agree that small inconvenience is well worth it.
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Now it's time to change gears quite drastically. To quote noted singer and songwriter Bob Dylan, "The times they are a changin'."
More specifically, those changes are coming soon to the Mountain Home News and involve our website that you can catch each day. Over the past few years, our web site -- www.mountainhomenews.com -- hasn't changed much and has also struggled to keep up with the changes in technology.
That's expected to change quite dramatically starting April 1 when our site's appearance gets a long-overdue facelift. In addition to making it easier for our readers to catch the latest headlines, the site will be fully compatible for those that prefer to read our content using a traditional desktop computer and tablets as well as smart phones. In addition, our advertisers, who help support this site, will have a larger "footprint" and visibility once these changes take effect.
Before you ask, no, this doesn't mean that you'll be able to read every story in their entirety. That would defeat the purpose of why we offer the site to begin with. We use it to offer our readers a brief glimpse of the major stories out there to encourage them to pick up a copy or take out a yearly subscription so they can get the rest of the story.
This also means that we're going to package our information a little differently, but we believe it'll make it a lot simpler for you to search for the specific stories, photos and other information that we post to the site each week.
As with all changes, we expect that we'll run into a few road bumps along the way and appreciate your patience as we adjust to this new system. After all, the times they are a changin'.
-- Brian S. Orban