It was a 4-door car and there were six of us in it. We’d been dragging State Street that summer evening. Like a lot of summer evenings in a small town it was really boring. I was fifteen at the time and don’t remember who I was with. Whoever was driving headed out to Garvin Park and the Augusta City Lake. We went through the gate into the park and the driver jogged a little to the right and picked up the single lane road that ran across the top of the earthen dam.

It was a beautiful evening with a full moon and when we got about to the middle of the dam we stopped and everyone got out. There was a concrete structure out in the water that rose up from the bottom of the lake. It was possibly 8 feet by 8 feet or maybe even 10 by 10. I guess it contained pipes and valves and was the place that the lake water entered the municipal water system and started its journey to the water treatment plant. You couldn’t help but think that it sure would be fun to swim out to that thing and jump off it a few times.

Apparently, “great minds” were thinking in unison that night for we all started stripping off our clothes and jumping into the lake. We had a fantastic time for 20 or 30 minutes and then, the local police car pulls up behind us on the dam. Out, step two of our city’s policemen, Harold Edwards and Billy Joe Davis. As I recall, at this time, the Augusta police force had a police chief, 3 cops, a car for patrol, and a car for the chief.

The cops yelled and motioned for us to get in a group and then started lecturing us. “You can’t swim in there! That’s our drinking water! It’s against the law, etc.” We all knew that swimming in the lake wouldn’t hurt the quality of the drinking water for that water went straight from the lake to the treatment plant where it would be purified. The harangue lasted a few minutes and then they ordered us to get dressed, get in the car, and drive straight to the police station. There wasn’t any question of getting away. Harold and Billy Joe knew every one of us, our parents, and where we lived. We had no choice but to do as we were told. 

The Police Station was located in the City Building along with the Fire Department, the City Library, the Mayor’s office, and a few other things. I was familiar with the place because I grew up visiting the library at least once a week and made regular visits to the Fire Station to slide down the brass pole.

When we arrived at the station we were immediately escorted to the back and shoved into one of the two cells. Tom Irwin, the Justice of the Peace had been called at home and he arrived in just a few minutes. Like the cops, Tom knew all of us and our folks and said they were calling them down to the station. We didn’t have a phone, so I had to tell the Judge to call our neighbors, the Pennington’s, and they would go over and tell Mom or Dad to come to the phone. By this time, we were all starting to sweat a little. We didn’t really think the Judge would do anything to us but we didn’t want our folks to hear about it.

It probably took 30 minutes for all of our parents to get there and the Judge and the cops spent the time barking at us for swimming in the drinking water and probably peeing in it, too.

The cops started off by telling our assembled parents how rotten we were. We had trespassed on city property, swam in the municipal water supply, caused a disturbance, wasted the time of the city’s police force, and I forget what else they had dreamed up. The Judge took over then, and discussed the gravity of the situation and that being a scofflaw at this young age could lead to a life of crime later. By this time, we were all sick to death of the whole thing and were ready to promise anything if they would just shut up and leave us alone. They sent us home and we couldn’t have been more thankful. Our parents were smart enough to realize that the Judge and the cops had definitely done a good job of grinding us and we certainly wouldn’t be doing this one again so nobody got punished.

Dave Thomas

October 19, 2014


Izzie-6a: The Games

Two or three years ago I wrote some stories about our cat, Isabella, and mentioned that cats have the intelligence of a 2 or 3 year old child. Izzie had made up 2 games, “Chase” and “Hide and Seek”, back then, and she still enjoys playing both. Now, don’t be rolling your eyes. I know that pet owners are just like parents in that they think their “little one” is the cutest and smartest on the block. Don’t worry, this is not a challenge and I’m not trying to start a competition. I just want to share some of the things that Izzie comes up with because I think it’s interesting to see what a cat is capable of.

Games seem to take place at our house anytime between 6:00 AM and 10:00 PM. Whenever Izzie (or Pat) gets bored, we may have a game. Izzie might be lying on the living room floor and suddenly jump straight up, spin around 180 degrees in the air, and then take off running down the hall. That means that Pat is supposed to jump up and run after her. Izzie might just take off down the hall and leave us to figure out that its play time.

Sometimes, Pat kicks off the action. She’s good at it and gets Izzie’s attention right away. Picture a classy-looking 77 year old woman, down on her hands and knees and facing off with a cat. Their eyes are locked and she begins stalking by moving forward a few inches at a time. Izzie’s eyes are unwavering as her nemesis moves closer and closer. Pat closes the gap and gets to the place where one more move would make it possible to reach out and grab Izzie. Izzie is ready and when she detects the slightest motion she springs aside and goes thundering down the hall. The chase is on! Pat jumps up and whoops and goes charging after her, yelling “Get that cat! Get that cat!” I do my part by clapping my hands and yelling “Git ‘er! Git ‘er!” Izzie will wait just inside one of the bedroom doors and when Pat gets close she will come barreling out and race back the other way. Sometimes as she runs past Pat she will reach out and slap her ankle as if to say, “I’m too quick for you, sister!” It’s funny to think that when Izzie is outside she can walk across a lawn covered with dry leaves and never make a sound but when she is playing on the carpet in the house, she can stomp her feet and sound like a herd of wild horses. 

Izzie has also come up with a “safe haven” scheme when they are playing Chase. If she thinks Pat is getting too close and might catch her, she jumps in her litter box. She stands there in it, with her mouth open in what we believe to be a grin and is pretty proud of herself for getting to the “no touch” zone. Pat always honors it and turns around and goes back the other way.

When Izzie first takes off running, it’s not clear which game she is going to play. That’s determined when Pat runs after her and they get to the end of the hall. If Izzie is in plain sight and charges back in the opposite direction then they are playing “Chase”. If Izzie has decided to play “Hide and Seek” this time, then she will be hiding. Pat starts yelling “Where’s that cat? where’s that cat?” It’s obvious where she is, because she will be behind a door, a stuffed chair, or under a bed and in all cases, her long, silky tail will be hanging out. Pat will pretend she doesn’t see her and wander around the room asking “Where’s that cat?” If Izzie is ready to be “found”, sometimes she will let out a little, squeaky meow to announce her location. Most of the time, she lets Pat start walking back up the hall and dashes out and wraps her arms around Pat’s ankle. Then she runs to the living room and prances around with that little “grin” on her face and acts real proud about being so clever.

Izzie and her ways provide us with a lot of fun and laughter. Each day with her is a pleasure.

Dave Thomas
January 13, 2015


Izzie-6: Chase and Hide and Seek

Izzie-6 Chase and Hide and Seek

Pat and Izzie play two games that Pat refers to as “Chase” and “Hide and Seek” and they can happen at any time during the day or evening. If Pat wants to play, she’ll signal Izzie by walking up to her and “growling” and stomping her feet and yelling “where’s that cat?” Izzie will jump to her feet and race across the room and down the hall with Pat running after her. If Izzie wants to start a game she has several ways of signaling. To make noise, Izzie extends her claws and hooks them in the carpet. Then, she jerks her paw back and causes a popping noise. When she races down the hall, popping her claws at every step, it sounds like a herd of wild horses. Another way she’ll get your attention is to stand in one spot and pop her claws and then, all of a sudden, jump straight up in the air, do a 180 degree turn, and come down ready to be chased. If none of that works, she’ll go pop her claws in the end of the couch because that’s forbidden and she knows that will get some attention real quick.

The course for the races is from the living, down the hall to the bedrooms, back up the hall, into the kitchen, across the kitchen, and out into the living room. If I’m watching TV I have a great view of the whole spectacle. Izzie will take off down the hall with all the noise and speed she can muster while Pat races along behind her yelling “Where’s that cat? Where’s that Cat?” and stomps her feet to make as much noise as she can! When Izzie gets into the bedroom sh’ll stop snd wait. Then, as Pat gets to the door she’ll burst past her and reach out and swat her on the ankle as she goes by. Then Izzie will race on up the hall and be waiting in the middle of the living room for Pat. Izzie looks like a toddler at this point. She is all excited and bright –eyed and Pat and I would both swear she is laughing. She won the race and with that swat on the ankle, put something over on us!

Dave Thomas
July 18, 2012



Thanksgiving Dinner

Like most families, we’ve got many great memories of past holidays and vacations. Most of the memories are linked to family and friends who have joined us for these occasions. We will never forget those Thanksgivings in Keller, Texas when most of the kids and grand-kids flew in. The differences in where we lived in Texas versus their lives in California were substantial and that alone made the trips exciting and added to the fun and joy for them and we felt it too.

I’ve got a little story here about a Thanksgiving when there was no family with us and it was just Pat and I. The three kids were grown and out of the house. They had all made commitments to spouses, future spouses, out–of-town hosts and others.

Pat and I hadn’t made any firm plans but Thanksgiving morning was so beautiful we decided to go to Mission Beach and ride our bikes for a couple of hours and then go find some restaurant that was serving turkey dinners.

We started our bike ride in south Mission Beach where man-made Mission Bay is only a couple of blocks east of the Pacific Ocean. Riding north on Bayside Walk, the bay and its adjoining beach are on your right, while on your left you have the beautifully landscaped residences and vacation homes. It is always a stimulating ride due to the interesting beach-type homes and if you keep your eyes open you will spot some beautiful flowers like those of the plumeria plant that Hawaiians use to make leis. I don’t know the exact distance, possibly a mile and a half, and Bayside Walk takes you north until you get to the Catamaran Village Hotel. Just before getting to the Catamaran, you turn left onto San Raphael Street and go west about 2 blocks to the Boardwalk and the ocean. At the Boardwalk, we always turned north and continued to Crystal Pier, at the foot of Garnet Avenue.

It’s a great bike ride from Crystal Pier, south, to the Mission Beach jetty. It’s more than 2 ¾ miles and the Boardwalk is smooth concrete and probably 14 to 18 feet wide. There is plenty of room for walkers, joggers, skaters, and bicyclists.

Getting back to the story, Pat and I took off down the Boardwalk and were surprised at how few people were out and about. It was a pleasant ride down to South Mission Beach and we soon arrived at the parking lot south of the roller coaster where we had left our car. We were both getting hungry and as we loaded the bikes into the car couldn’t help noticing the large number of people around Doña Maria’s Restaurant about a block down and on the other side of the street. We decided to go check it out.

When we got to Doña Maria’s there was a line of people extending out through the front door. We got in line, figuring they must be serving up some excellent turkey dinners. The line moved right along and we were soon in the foyer and smelling turkey and stuffing and all the other wonderful things they were cooking. However, as we stepped into the main area of the restaurant we were shocked to see what was going on! There were a lot of people seated and eating and there were also bright lights and TV cameras. We were able to hear a reporter as he extolled the virtues of the local charity responsible for this Thanksgiving Dinner for the homeless people of San Diego. As we heard that, we ducked our heads and tried to make ourselves invisible as we headed for the door. We had unintentionally tried to score a dinner as homeless people!

We got to the car and laughed at each other’s red faces and sheepish looks. We drove over to Old Town, San Diego and found an Italian restaurant that was serving turkey dinners. As we enjoyed the turkey and all the trimmings it almost became a religious experience. We were giving thanks that we had escaped Doña Maria’s without humiliation and were praying that we wouldn’t show up on the 6 O’clock News.

Dave Thomas
November 25, 2014


There Are Bonuses And Then There’s Bonuses!

I was discharged from the Navy March 3, 1961. We took a couple of week’s vacation and went back to Kansas to see our folks and show off the kids. Russ and Doug were 2 ½ at the time but Terri wouldn’t be making an entrance until November of that year..

As soon as we got back to California I started looking for a job. I interviewed at a number of good electronic manufacturing companies. A few days after I interviewed and took the tests with IBM they called me back in and made an offer. If I went with them, I would spend six months in training in Oklahoma City and would return to California to be stationed at El Centro. They gave me a day to consider the offer so Pat and I discussed it that night. Though it is a super company we had no interest in living in El Centro and didn’t care for the way IBM moved their employees around the country so I declined the offer.

A few days later, I interviewed with Electro Instruments and got hired. I started at Electro Instruments on April 12, 1961 as a Test Technician making $2.20 per hour. This was the place I had been looking for.

When I hired in, Electro Instruments had about 250 employees including the national sales force that was based around the country. This was the dawn of digital technology, transistors, integrated circuits, and the like. There were two powerhouses in the digital voltmeter field. First, was Non-Linear Systems of Del Mar, California and second was Electro Instruments (EI) of San Diego. The founders of EI, Jonathan Edwards and Walter East, both M.I.T. graduates, had worked for Andy Kay, the inventor of the digital voltmeter, at Non-Linear.

There was talent in every department at EI. Jonathan Edwards and Walt East were Chairman and President respectively. Corporate Vice President was Edward T. Butler, an attorney, who later became a Superior Court Judge in San Diego. The Vice President of Sales was Jim Sutter, a class act. Dick Kloster was Personnel Manager (this was before the title “Human Resources Director” had been invented). There was talent at every level and the creativeness and enthusiasm was infectious. Just being around these people made you want to do your best.

The plant pretty much took care of all its own needs except for fabricating sheet metal and printed circuit boards. The departments were: Administration, Sales, Engineering, Systems Engineering, Purchasing, Material, Machine Shop, Precision Resistor Manufacturing, Electronic Assembly, Test, Technical Writing, Printing, Shipping, and Quality Control.

The Cold War was still going strong and the Space Race was underway. Our customer base was very large and included everyone at the forefront of technology. We sold our products to the Department of Defense and all of its contractors, NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Redstone Arsenal, Boeing, and just about any other large corporation you can name.

Our company was doing well and the upper echelon shared the largess through a generous bonus system. Goals were set for each quarter and Sales and Manufacturing both had to be innovative and hard-charging to meet them. The amount of each employee’s bonus was computed as a percentage of their earnings for the quarter. If you worked a lot of overtime, your contribution to the goal was deemed to be greater so you received a larger bonus.

The bonus I remember best was a tough one to earn. As I recall, it was the first quarter of a new year and that’s a tough quarter anyhow. The whole world practically comes to a screeching halt over the holidays and it takes until February to get things going again. We entered the quarter without enough sales booked to justify keeping the doors open, let alone paying a bonus. Jim Sutter and his sales force got into high gear and the purchase orders and contracts started rolling in. The Material people fought lead times and got the components in house. Manufacturing geared up and got things rolling and burned some overtime to get the flow going. Everyone did a superb job and in the final week we met the goal and then surpassed it. What a relief! For the next couple of days it felt good just to work at a normal pace.

One morning, a few days after the end of the quarter, we suddenly heard a lot of racket coming from the front of the building and a New Orleans style jazz band playing “When the Saints Go Marching In”! I opened the door of the Test Department and looked up the main hall to see what was happening. Here comes a parade! In the lead, was a full-grown cheetah wearing a collar with a leash attached. Holding the leash was a long-legged blonde wearing a leopard skin bathing suit. Behind her, were Ed Butler, Jim Sutter, and Dick Kloster. Behind these men was a New Orleans jazz band, from Mickey Finn’s, a popular San Diego night spot, strutting their stuff and blaring out the “Saints”. Ed Butler was carrying an armload of white envelopes that had to contain bonus checks. The checks were divided up by department and as the procession passed each area, Ed handed the checks to the manager or supervisor at each door. What a sight! What a memory!

Dave Thomas
February 2, 2015 

Thanks For Dropping In!


It was a rare thing for us to decide that we wanted a pet and then went out and acquired it. Usually, they were dumped on us or we rescued them or we did someone a favor by taking the pet they could no longer care for. The time period I’m thinking of, we were up to our ears in cats. We had a couple of cats and then two more were dumped on us and then they had kittens and through no fault of our own we had a herd of a dozen or more.

The problem came to a head one Saturday morning when we were both home. I’m sure that the kids remember this. We had already received our mail that morning but Pat had come up with something else she wanted to send off. It was no big deal as there was a mail box on the corner a half a block away. As Pat came out of the house and started down the sidewalk, the cats and kittens started falling in behind her. I was working in the yard and saw the whole thing. There goes Pat with 10 or 12 cats marching along behind her! She looked like the Pied Piper or a mother duck with all her little ducklings following along. That pretty much did it for me! It was time to thin the herd!

That afternoon we called some shelters in an effort to find homes for some of these kitties. Some of them were already at capacity so we knew that it was going to take some work to get these cats headed to good homes.

That evening we were all watching TV and started hearing a kitten cry. The cats were supposed to be in the garage so we couldn’t imagine where this baby was. We started looking around and the kids soon discovered that the crying was coming from the fireplace. Somehow, a kitten had gotten into our chimney. I sat down on the hearth and used one hand to open the flue while using the other hand to locate the kitten. There wasn’t much room there and I was afraid that opening the flue too fast wouldn’t give the kitten time to move safely out of the way. In just a few seconds, I had a little, soot covered, male kitten in my hand. Pat grabbed a towel and started cleaning him up. We were amazed to discover that the little guy had no injuries. Rather than falling to the bottom of the chimney he must have climbed down the inside. And, as Pat got him cleaned up, we realized that he wasn’t one of our kittens. Someone must have dumped him and in trying to find a home with food and companionship he followed his nose and ended up on our roof. We got him cleaned up and gave him some food and water and put him in the garage. The back door of the garage was open so the cats could go out in the back yard and do their business.

After we had gone to bed that night, we again heard a kitten crying. The kids jumped up and started looking for the source of the noise. They soon traced it to the hood above the range. This time, the little devil had gotten into the galvanized vent above the kitchen stove! I got up under the hood and removed the screen and fan motor assembly and got the kitten out of there. Pat cleaned him up while I put the range hood back together. Sure enough, it was the same cat. We figured he must be desperate for a home and family if he went to these lengths twice.

The next day, Pat was talking to Joan, our neighbor across the street. She told Joan about this handsome little boy cat who was trying so hard to find a home that he risked coming down our chimney and a ceiling vent. Joan said she would like to have a cat with that kind of determination and adopted him on the spot. It turned out to be a perfect match. The kitten grew up to be a fine-looking guy and was devoted to Joan and Woody from the beginning.

Dave Thomas
October 30, 2014


Surprise, Surprise!

We were in the 8th grade. It had been a long, gloomy winter and we were all sick of it. Here it was, the first day of February, and there was a Teacher’s Conference and we were discharged from school, early. Several of us boys decided that we would hike out to Elm Creek, about 1 ½ miles west, and go skinny-dipping. The temperature was probably in the 40’s but that was deemed to be “close enough” as we were ready for summer and swimming. We also thought it would be pretty cool to be able to brag that we had gone swimming on February 1st.

We got to the creek in short order, stripped off our clothes, and jumped in the water. Needless to say, that water was cold! We swam across the creek and back as fast as we possibly could and climbed out and headed for our clothes. We had left our clothes on a downed tree on the bank and thought they would be safe. There were some small vines attached to the tree trunk but since there were no leaves on them we didn’t give it a thought. We sat on the tree trunk and leaned on it as we got our clothes and shoes and socks on. We went on home and did the things we normally did. By bed-time my rear end and everything in the vicinity was on fire. I yelled for my folks and after explaining the problem and describing what I had done that day, they diagnosed it as a case of poison oak. Of course, they laughed at me and Mom went and got the bottle of Calamine lotion and told me to get busy applying it.

It never occurred to us that even though it was winter and there were no leaves, the vines themselves were toxic. Oh well, a few days and a bottle of Calamine lotion took care of the problem.

Dave Thomas
December 3, 2013


Izzie-4: Hey…It’s Water!

It’s hard to adapt to things and circumstances you have not witnessed before. Imagine the wonder of a native from the jungles of the Amazon being dropped off in the middle of one of our large cities. It would be overwhelming. Those same feelings must also apply to dogs, cats, and other animals when they are abruptly removed from their homes and placed in new surroundings. They must be terror-stricken and have no idea of what to do, what to eat, or how to react to the objects or circumstances they encounter.

Our kitty, Isabella, was given to us when she was five years old. She had been an “inside” cat all her life and had no idea of how to protect herself from traffic or coyotes or a myriad of other things she might meet up with. We could see that she was dying to get outside and experience the world so we bought a harness and a leash and started walking her outside.

We thought it was funny when we would bring Izzie in from the outdoors and as soon as the harness was off she would run for her litter box. She didn’t know that she could go potty outdoors! As I became more sensitive to these kinds of knowledge I began to realize how much she had to learn and that I had better get tuned in so that I could help her.

The lawn sprinklers go off at daybreak three times a week and always make a couple of puddles on the sidewalk. When we are out for our walks Izzie always walks right through them with no concern. The other morning we came upon a puddle and she stopped and stared at it. I thought perhaps she didn’t want to get her feet wet so I just waited for her to make up her mind. After looking at the water for a few seconds, she performed the classic “wipe on, wipe off” maneuver from the Karate Kid movie. She stirred the water with her right front paw and then did the same with her left. Then she lapped up a couple of drops of water and licked her lips. I guess everything was satisfactory because she then bent down and drank her fill. I realized that I had just witnessed an “aha” or “Eureka” moment. “The stuff in that puddle is the same as the stuff in my bowl in the house!” After getting her drink, she sat back on her haunches and licked her lips, then got up and walked through the puddle and has never again had a drink outside.

Dave Thomas
May 17, 2012


My Brief Career As A Waker-upper

World War II was hard on families. All of the young able-bodied men went into the service. In our little town of 5,000 people every block was affected. There were little flag-like things you could hang in your living room window that indicated you had someone in the service. These “flags” were rectangular and just guessing, I’d say they were about 6″ x 12‘’ and were white with a red border and had a blue star in the center. There would be a blue star for every person from your family that was in the service. If the person was killed, the blue star would be covered with a gold star. I remember riding my bike down the street and seeing one flag after another in the living room windows.

Two doors south of us lived Harold and Martha “Mattie” Guest. We called them Uncle Harold and Aunt Mattie though we weren’t really related. Mattie was the sister of my great aunt, Rachel Peebler. Harold and Mattie had a flag in the window with 3 stars in it. Their oldest son, Ed, was in the Army and fighting in Europe. As I recall, he was over there for 2 or 3 years before he got to come home on furlough. The middle son, Bill, was in the Navy and I believe he served in the South Pacific. I think the youngest son, Jack, was in the Navy also but I’m not sure. The Guests had 2 daughters who had loved ones in the war. Jean, the oldest, was waiting for Wayne Porter and I’m not sure if they married before, during, or after the war. Mattie and Harold’s other daughter, Jane, was waiting for Charlie Fennell and I think they married after the war. As you can see, the Guest family was putting a lot on the line for the war effort.

Young men who were 17 could enlist in the service with their parents’ permission. In late 1945 and 1946, the high schools were full of young men that had skipped their senior year and joined the service. Now, these returning veterans wanted to earn their high school diploma and resume their lives. It wasn’t easy for them to return to such a mundane environment after life in the military and in many cases, in combat.

The war was over and I was a 9 year old when Mom told me to go over and talk to Harold and Mattie because they might have a job for me. I went to their house and they re-affirmed what I knew about Jack being home from the service and going back to school to get his degree. They were happy that he had gone back to school but said that he was having trouble because he was bored. Jack was out every night drinking beer with his friends or chasing girls and staying out late. As a result, he was late to school every day and was in trouble for it. They proposed that I become Jack’s official “waker-upper” and get him up for school every day. Mattie and Harold both had to leave early for work but if Jack could sleep in until 7:30, he could still make it to school on time. They warned me that I couldn’t just wake him and leave for he would say he was getting up but would go back to sleep. I was supposed to hang around until he was on his feet. For my services, I believe they agreed to pay me a quarter per week.

It turned out that getting Jack out of bed was a lot harder than I had anticipated. I would talk and talk and sometimes pull the covers back but he still tried to ignore me. After I got his eyes open once, I would go out and sit on the front porch for a few minutes before checking on him. Jack was a really nice guy and I liked him a lot but when I was trying to wake him I stayed out of reach. He was a fair-sized man and I was just a 9 year old twerp.

I don’t remember how long I was an official “waker-upper”. I don’t know if Jack got in the habit of waking up or if his folks just gave up.

Dave Thomas
August 15, 2015



IZZIE-9 Tucker-Inner

Cats like to have order in their lives. They establish routines that are meaningful to them and they expect the rest of us to honor them as well. To keep their routines running smoothly they assign tasks to each of us and expect us to execute these jobs on demand. For instance, Pat and I have jobs that were assigned to us by our cat, Isabella. We can both feed her and take her for walks outside and share in some of the other mundane responsibilities but we do have our primary chores. Pat is responsible for combing Izzie 2 or 3 times a day and is also the designated player in games like Hide and Seek and Chase. I’ll discuss these items another time. Right now, I’d like to tell you about my job as “tucker-inner” and how that developed and how it works today.

Izzie was more than 5 years old when we got her. Before she came to us, she had been living in a in a pet motel which is basically just a bunch of cages. She only weighed 2 pounds. We figured that after being in that place for 3 months without love or stimulation she was no longer cared about eating and would soon pass away. As you can imagine, her psyche was in bad shape when she came to us.

We didn’t know where Izzie was going to sleep and until she became familiar with the house, she didn’t either. We made it a habit, every night, to find her and know where she was sleeping so we wouldn’t step on her in the dark. When we found her, she would usually raise her head so we would scratch her ears and rub the bridge of her nose and tell her “good night.” Quite often, Pat would be busy doing chores so I was the one petting her at bed-time. If I wasn’t paying attention she would meow or attract my attention some way and let me know it was time for bed.

To be a good cat person, you have to be alert because their signals are usually pretty subtle. Cats normally become scared if you look them in the eye so they avoid staring at you. They only look directly at you if they want something.

It has become my responsibility to see that Izzie is “tucked in” every night. She has established the routine that we pretty much adhere to. During the period of Daylight Savings Time, Izzie goes to bed about 8:30 in the evening. After we “fall back” to Pacific Standard Time, she goes at 7:30. She starts the routine by going to the kitchen for a light snack. Then, after a drink of water, she sets in the kitchen doorway and looks out into the living room while she washes up. Next, there is a trip to the litter box to take care of business and then a return to the living room where she sits back on her haunches and stares at me. I have to be on the ball and recognize that she is telling me it is her bed time. If I ignore her because I’m interested in the TV or something, she’ll wait for a while and then go on to bed.

If I’m alert, I’ll get “the look” and jump up and start toward her. As soon as she sees me coming she’ll turn around and start down the hall for whatever sleeping place she has chosen. She will usually walk 5 or 6 feet and then look back over her shoulder to see if I’m coming. She normally does this a couple of times until we get to our destination. (She probably thinks that having limited intelligence, I’ll wander off and get lost.)

When we arrive at the designated sleeping place, she stops and looks up at me. Then, I scratch her ears and forehead and rub the bridge of her nose. Then, she turns 180 degrees and takes a step so she is in position to have her back stroked. After 3 or 4 strokes, she reverses and we do the ears and nose again. Usually we repeat this 3 times and then she lies down. At this point, I pet her a couple more times and say “good night”. She’s tucked in.

This sounds complicated, doesn’t it? It’s what Izzie has worked out over the years and I just do whatever makes her happy.

Dave Thomas
December 20, 2014