Apr. 8, 2022

YOU NEVER KNOW WHO MIGHT BE HIDING UNDER YOUR BED...

THIS PHOTO IS BEYOND "DEAR TO MY HEART." THE REAL ESTATE PHOTOGRAPHER DIDN'T SEE MY PRECIOUS CAT--COOKIE--PEEKING OUT FROM UNDER THE BED---UNTIL HE SAW THE FINAL PRINT. OF COURSE, EVERYONE WHO SAW THE PHOTO LOVED COOKIE'S SURPRISE APPEARANCE!

I ADOPTED COOKIE WHILE I WAS TEACHING IN PINE BLUFF, ARKANSAS. HE WAS A BLONDE--WITH LONG HAIR-- BEAUTIFUL BLUE EYES--AND THE MOST AFFECTIONATE BABY I'D EVER KNOWN. HE WAS A "LOVE" CAT WHO SNUGGLED CLOSE, EVERY NIGHT, AND GREETED ME EVERY MORNING WITH HUGS AND KISSES.

THE VETS ESTIMATED COOKIE WAS SIX OR SEVEN YEARS OLD WHEN I FOUND HIM IN A KILL SHELTER AND IMMEDIATELY-BROUGHT HIM HOME.

MONTHS LATER, WHEN I FOUND A LARGE DOG-- WRAPPED IN BARBED WIRE--- ON THE OLD HIGHWAY, COOKIE GREETED HIM AS IF HE WAS A LONG-LOST FAMILY MEMBER. COOKIE AND CUBBY BEAR QUICKLY BECAME "BEST BUDDIES."

COOKIE'S FRIENDLY AND AMAZING PERSONALITY-- PLUS HIS BEAUTIFUL LOOK--ATTRACTED PEOPLE LIKE A MAGNET.

WE'D ONLY BEEN IN OUR HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE HOME SEVERAL WEEKS WHEN---ONE NIGHT, WE EXPERIENCED A SUDDEN--- SCARY STORM--- WITH HEAVY RAIN AND ENDLESS THUNDER/LIGHTNING. REALIZING SEVERAL UNPACKED BOXES WERE STILL ON THE OPEN DECK---I OPENED THE DOOR TO PULL THEM INSIDE WHEN-- COOKIE RAN PAST ME. COOKIE WAS AN INDOOR CAT WHO FAITHFULLY-USED THE LITTER BOX BUT APPARENTLY THE STRANGE HOUSE AND LOUD STORM HAD HIM CONFUSED, DISORIENTED, AND, SUDDENLY, HE DISAPPEARED INTO THE NIGHT-- THE STORM-- THE DARKNESS. I CALLED AND CALLED HIM BUT HE WAS NOWHERE TO BE FOUND. THE NEXT MORNING, STILL FRANTIC TO FIND COOKIE, I MADE COPIES OF HIS PHOTO AND DROPPED THEM IN MAIL BOXES NEARBY. BUT---NO ONE RESPONDED.

ON THE THIRD MORNING, DETERMINED TO FIND COOKIE, I BEGAN DRESSING WHEN--SOMETHING INSIDE-- DIRECTED ME TO LOOK OUT MY BEDROOM WINDOW. AS MY EYES DESPERATELY-SEARCHED THE CREEK BELOW--I SAW HIM. YES, IT WAS BEAUTIFUL COOKIE, LYING ON HIS LITTLE SIDE WITH BOTH PAWS OUTSTRETCHED---AS THE FAST-MOVING FLOOD WATERS POURED OVER HIS HELPLESS BODY.

I WASN'T CAPABLE OF CLIMBING DOWN THE CREEK'S STEEP EMBANKMENT---BUT I HAD TO REACH COOKIE-- IMMEDIATELY! REALIZING I NEEDED HELP, I CALLED THE VILLAGE POLICE DEPARTMENT. WITHIN MINUTES, A FEMALE OFFICER CAME TO MY DOOR--TO HELP. SHE WAS, TRULY, AN ANGEL.

THERE'S NO REASON TO DESCRIBE MY OVERWHELMING SADNESS. ANYONE WITH PETS KNOWS---WE ARE NEVER PREPARED TO LOSS OUR PETS--OUR BABIES. THANK GOODNESS, THE POLICE OFFICER WHO RESCUED COOKIE"S LIFELESS BODY---UNDERSTOOD MY GRIEF---AND SHE TOOK CARE OF THE EMOTIONAL DETAILS.

TODAY, COOKIE'S ASHES ARE LOVINGLY-SECURED IN A PRETTY BOX -- RESTING BESIDE ANOTHER CLASSIC BOX-- CONTAINING THE ASHES OF MISS STARR-- MY MOST-ADORED AND UNFORGETTABLE-- STANDARD POODLE.

I'M AT PEACE BECAUSE I KNOW-- WHEN I DIE---MY ASHES WILL BE "JOINED TOGETHER" WITH MY FOUR-LEGGED FAMILY---FOREVER. YES, WE WILL ALL "REST-IN-PEACE" TOGETHER ---NEXT TO--- MY OLD FRIEND--- THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA.