Two months after Richard and I celebrated our first anniversary, he left the U.S. Navy to study at Cornell University. After searching for an apartment in Ithaca to no avail, we moved into a new eight-foot-wide mobile home in Interlaken, New York, where I began teaching.
The first spring in our new home, our school nurse, who knew I was fond of cats, told me she had kittens to give away. We acquired Spook, a charcoal gray tiger. He was very tiny at four weeks and probably should have stayed with his mama a bit longer.
The first day after Easter vacation, I left Spook outside. When I came home, a neighbor, whose yard backed up to ours, brought Spook to me. Her dog had chased Spook into a small ditch between our properties.. She’d dried Spook off and he was fine. Spook didn’t forget that dog.
During the rest of the school year, Lena, an elderly woman who lived in a small trailer next to us, watched Spook during the day. I was home in the summer to care for him, but Spook continued to visit his friend next door. Lena had acquired a cat without the responsibility. That was fine with us. We could go away for a few days knowing Spook would be cared for. Lena gave him his own bowl, his own spot on the sofa, and a door that opened and closed at his bidding.
By fall, Spook was almost full grown. The neighbor’s dog came across the ditch, expecting Spook to run. That didn’t happen. Spook did not run. He jumped on top of the dog with his claws out digging into the dog’s hide. The dog ran home crying.
The dog was a friendly animal and liked to come see us. After Spook let him know who was boss, the dog always carefully checked to see if Spook was in sight before crossing the ditch for a visit.
Richard and Spook had a game. Richard teased Spook to the point he would to leap and wrap all four sets of claws around Richard’s arm. One winter we had a over two feet of snow on our lawn. Richard made tunnels in the tall pile snow. Spook loved to run in and out of them. When Richard walked around our home in the thigh-high snow, Spook followed. He looked like a fish jumping out of the water as he leaped from one hole to the next.
After Richard graduated from Cornell, we moved from Interlaken and sold our mobile home to a newly married couple who would move it to a new location. Spook spent a few weeks with Lena until the home was ready. Later, we learned that when the couple introduced him to the new place, Spook immediately curled up on the bed, happy to be back in his home.

The current cat in my life
The current cat in my life

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