Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Guardian angel: how Truffle - and my stress levels - went through the (curate's garage) roof (twice!)

Source: Ebay
Back in January, at the height of the bathroom leaks and 'Crack-ageddon', I distinctly remember avoiding any further testing of the samples Mandy Aftel had sent me, including Vanilla Smoke and Amber Tapestry, for fear of imprinting them with bad memories. In an exchange after the event, Mandy agreed that "aromas get tinged with memory in both good and bad ways and are almost impossible to disentangle", adding that she appreciated my careful approach.

Now that is all very well if you happen to know in advance that you are going to have a bad day, but sometimes the crises - like my cracks when they first kicked off - come at you out of nowhere. By this time you may already be wearing your chosen SOTD, which, perforce, becomes caught up in the 'horror and terror of the first water' (to borrow my father's phrase) that subsequently unfolds.

Which is something that so easily could have happened with a bunch of Puredistance scents the other day. I was testing four of them at once to determine my favourite, progressively narrowing the field over the course of the weekend to WHITE and SHEIDUNA. (I am still struggling with the whole capitalisation issue, though writing the word 'capitalisation' in lower case is helping a bit.) And in a final wrist-to-wrist play off, my overall favourite emerged, as...but I will save that titbit for later. ;)

So yes, last Thursday I was engrossed in the fairly thankless business of cleaning windows. Oh my word, what a rich seam for a blog post window cleaning techniques that actually work would be. In my desperation, I tried Mr Muscle, vinegar, and an E-cloth and water - sometimes all on the same window, endlessly rotated until the smears looked marginally less noticeable through half closed eyes and with the roller blind pulled down a few inches - and am now that sad soldier who is actually lusting after a Karcher Vac. But the point about the window cleaning is that I was somewhat distracted, though on and off during the day I had wondered why Truffle had not come back in since breakfast...It was mild weather, so I tried to convince myself she had just wandered a bit further and was enjoying herself in the uncharacteristic sunshine, even though I knew deep down that that wasn't her usual MO.

Truffle on the roof of the shed next to the garage....

First thing the next morning, 24 hours after Truffle had been gone, and following a completely sleepless night, I could no longer think of her as merely being 'out', and reported her as missing to the vet, an animal search charity that also had some useful online tips, and the insurance company - just in case you have to notify a missing pet the way I had to get a crime reference number off the police that time my luggage was stolen(!).

I also downloaded a 'lost cat' poster template, and was faffing about trying to resize photos when a friend messaged me from a train - having seen my Facebook status about Truffle's disappearance - and kindly offered to do the artwork for a poster. I explained that I was in fact nearly there with that, but he was able to combine two photos and make them fit the template, so his intervention was most timely. Not that I needed the posters in the end, as you will see!

Next up, I did some reading on the Interwebs, and learnt that for an 'outdoor access' cat like Truffle, the most likely outcome was that she had become trapped, probably within a short distance from home. The site recommended conducting an 'aggressive physical search' of her primary territory, comprising a five-house radius. It so happens that I am adjacent not only to five houses, but also to 33 lock up garages(!). I had already been round these a couple of times, calling Truffle's name and trying to listen out for any sound, which was tricky, given the ambient traffic noise.

View from the neighbour's garden

Then on a third circuit later that morning, I was passing the garage nearest to my house, which belongs to people in the next street, when I heard a cat crying. I also felt a paw underneath the garage door, though a short while after, the crying stopped and the paw was withdrawn. I still had proof that a cat was in there, even if it didn't turn out to be mine....

BUT I didn't know who the owners of the house were, so I loitered in that street for a few minutes and chanced upon a man unloading his shopping. I asked him if he knew the names / jobs / routines of the home owners. He told me that the wife was a part-time curate at the local church, so I jogged over there at the double, disturbed the vicar's wife, who was in bed, ill!, but gamely staggered downstairs because I had kept knocking. She texted the curate, asking her to ring me, and staggered back to bed, though not before letting slip that the curate's husband was a GP in the next county. And that the couple mostly lived there, only occasionally coming to Stafford.

Well ventilated garage of doom

There was no response from the curate, and of course I was frantic by now, as Truffle had been shut in the garage for nearly 30 hours already with no food and water. I know animals can survive for much longer, but obviously you don't want your pet to suffer for a moment, never mind a day and a half. So I promptly googled all the GP surgeries in and around the town the vicar's wife had mentioned, and found a doctor with a surname matching the curate's. Bingo! I rang the surgery, only to be told it was his day off. I asked the receptionist to try to reach him on his mobile and explain the urgency of the situation.

And thus it was that two hours later, the husband duly arrived and opened up the garage. Even on those odd times the couple come to Stafford, they hardly ever use it apparently! Moments before, my friend, Jim - he of the fine quips in my shortlisted entry for the 2015 Jasmine Awards - had turned up unprompted with a length of rope and a general air of reassurance. I stood outside to catch the cat if she ran out, and it was Jim who found Truffle cowering in a corner - collarless, filthy, frightened, and smelling of 'old stuff in garages' and p*ss. And no, that isn't 'puss', though she was back to her normal smell after a few (self-administered) washes. ;)

This is so going on her next collar...

That evening, I went round to thank the vicar's wife and the man who had been unloading his shopping, both of whom had given me such crucial pieces of information that led to Truffle's successful release. Well, I put a card through the door of The Rectory, knowing the wife was poorly, and the following morning, had a hand delivered letter back from her!

"I'm so pleased that you got your cat back. You wouldn't know how much your thank you card meant. I was feeling low after being in bed for the majority of the day. My husband came and gave me your card. It made me smile."

Oh, I don't feel so bad for getting her out of bed now. ;) Plus it sounds as though she is on her feet again. Unless the vicar played postman?

Then on the vet's advice I kept Truffle more or less indoors over the weekend, just letting her out briefly and under my watchful eye, but by Sunday she was feeling a lot more adventurous and events took another disastrous turn.

Source: Pixabay appears that while dogs have a short term memory span of five minutes, cats have a whopping 16 hours! But I am afraid that is nowhere near enough. For notwithstanding her earlier ordeal, Truffle managed to fall in the hole all over again! Even though I had already spent an hour supervising her outdoor access without incident, suddenly she leapt up onto the garden wall, and from there it was a mere hop, skip and a jump to the garage with the holey roof. Down which she promptly fell. The roof is made of full asbestos(!) and is really friable and crumbly as you will see, but I am running ahead of myself.

As the hideous and distinctly Groundhog Day-ish news sank in, one of the lodgers who lives next door (I'll call him 'L' - not his real initial  ;) ), and who happened to be loitering in the service road, offered to take a look at the hole. 'I'm only small', he said, 'I could probably get down there' - which despite his slight physique I privately thought unlikely. In a flash, L had shinned up the ladder like a rat up a drainpipe, and before he could get anywhere near the hole, he suddenly created a much bigger one of his own...' I've done that, I might as well go and get the cat?' he volunteered, with an uneasy smile. A second later there was a sickening thud as L jumped to the concrete floor some six foot or so below. He promptly opened the garage door before I could tell him not to and Truffle shot under it like the proverbial bat out of hell! Luckily, she darted back home while the pair of us set about clearing up the bits of asbestos on the floor.

Sun glinting on the polythene sheet

In vain did I try to persuade L to use gloves like me. 'I'm 45, I've had a good innings', he said phlegmatically. Well, I for one would like to live long enough to see Truffle wear out / lose the three replacement collars I had just bought her. ;) Oh, make that four, as I later found the one she lost under a tree. Anyway, after sweeping up the debris, L and I managed to do our own rather nifty roofing job, though I say it myself, involving 'found' things from my own garage - two bits of board from picture frames, a huge piece of plastic groundsheet folded in half, and my old airing cupboard door to weight the whole lot down! I had kept it because it was too big to fit in my car to take to the tip - never thinking it might actually come in handy one day.

Our improvised roof covering in place, I rang the owners to confess what we had done, lump in throat. Luckily they weren't at all mad at us for technically trespassing and damaging their property, and have said that this second incident - which is fast turning into that lost parent business in The Importance of Being Earnest(!) - will galvanise them to get the roof fixed properly as a priority.

So there you have it. In the space of four days, Truffle and I lost at least two lives apiece, and I also learnt that herding cats is an utterly doomed venture. And was also touched by the tremendous support I received on- and offline from concerned friends, as well as the community spirit on the ground that led to both the happy outcomes.

Home Sweet Home

Now I had carried on testing the Puredistance samples meanwhile - well, applying them at least, and occasionally remembering to sniff them. I figured that if they had been tainted by Truffle's first fall through the roof, that feeling wasn't going to get any worse from this point on, besides which, she had been repeatedly rescued!, neatly cancelling out the bad associations from before.

And unexpectedly, Truffle and I seem to have a much closer bond now, I would say - or I do to her at least. Presumably she has no memory of either incident by now, hehe. She has slept on my bed for a total of five nights so far, without spending half of it jumping on my head, as happened the last few times we attempted - and quickly aborted - a 'co-sleeping' arrangement. If she continues to be so well behaved, we might even be able to entertain this cosy regime on a more regular footing.

Then Monday was happily uneventful...Truffle went in and out of the garden unsupervised numerous times, and I have almost stopped worrying that she won't come back...

Oh, and the favourite Puredistance? - the one that really 'went the distance' during this strange r*****coaster of a long weekend, and which not only came out the other side unscathed, but had the power to subliminally comfort and shore up my fragile mood? It was that creamy, fruity, at times discordant, yet mesmerisingly fizzy amber and myrrh-fest that is - SHEIDUNA.

PS Proper perfume posting resumes shortly...


angie Cox said...

Oh mercy what a day .Still there were some kind people for you !! I tested Warsawa by Puredistance and it's a copy of Joy. xx

Mals86 said...

I'm so glad Truffle (and you) are fine.

Anonymous said...

I had no idea that Truffle repeated her escapade. Perhaps they need to do it a couple of times before it sinks in. When Meep fell off the roof (the back part) the first time, and went missing for three days before we found her, I thought she would have learned her lesson. But less than 48 hours on she hurled herself off the roof again, albeit it the roof at the front of our building. So dumb. And both time she did a face plant which caused a bloody nose and bleeding mouth.
I must add at this is one of your best posts ever ......... CQ xxxx

Vanessa said...

Yes, I am very grateful for everyone's support.

That's interesting about Warsawa. Not a fan of the original Joy myself - too civet-y - but will keep an open mind till I catch up with the new Puredistance!

Vanessa said...

Thanks, Mals. She brought a dead butterfly in today, and instead of being cross as I normally would, I was just so pleased to see her keep coming back to the house. ;)

Vanessa said...

Hi Val,

I was too mortified to go public on it at the time - felt I had failed to stop her repeating the same stunt. It has been suggested by several people that Truffle went back to the scene of the crime to take a look at how that could have happened, and lost her footing again! The roof was very fragile.

Oh my goodness, Meeps is so intrepid / foolhardy. That photo of her tiptoeing along your gutter made my stomach do somersaults, and I knew she had form for daft and dangerous behaviour. She must have shed a few lives down the years herself.

Glad you enjoyed the post! xxx

Tara said...

Great post V. It was quite a saga as well as an ordeal. Well done for doing your usual thorough research online which proved so useful. How lovely of you to send a thank you card to the vicar's wife and how nice that it cheered her up so much.

Hamamelis said...

Oh Vanessa, what a days they have been for you. I have my share of lost (and returned) 4 leggeds, but it has taken years of my allotted life span. I am so happy you persisted in finding Truffle, twice. Medals of honour presented from the Netherlands! Some time ago my German Shepherd ran off after a bike (we think) and my husband missed it, only for us to frantically search the woods near our home. In the end, after the longest morning, she was found quite close to our home by kind strangers who found us through her chip. She returned home in the animal ambulance (wonderful service!), which looked like a taxi from which she jumped happily after such an exciting outing. Pfff. I did not wear any perfume. Hope Truffle has learned her lesson.

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

The vicar's wife and the man unloading his shopping were real heroes in said saga. I am not sure I would have got anywhere very fast otherwise, short of making the hole a bit bigger sooner than we accidentally did, hehe.

Vanessa said...

Hi Hamamelis,

I can relate to the truncated life span, and was gripped by the story of your lost dog. How public spirited of the people who found her to have her chip scanned. Love the sound of the animal ambulance - not sure we have such things here. ;)

Whether Truffle has learnt her lesson, only time will tell...

hayley said...

Thank goodness Truffle is well and safe I was skim reading this post to make sure everything was ok!
They break your hearts pets but despite that I would never be without them, they are lights in our lives, extra cuddles for Truffle.

Anonymous said...

After learning this with previous moggies, our moggy is a house-cat. This saves everyone's nerves and lives.

Vanessa said...

Hi Hayley,

Thanks so much for your concern. They do break your hearts, pets, but as you say they are worth it. I don't have children myself, but gather it is much the same with them - or worse!

Vanessa said...

I think it is fine to have a house cat if that is all they have known, but I would struggle to stuff Truffle's 'outdoor access' genie back in the bottle now, hehe. It is bad enough when I go away for a few days, and she is confined to barracks. And it may well also depend on the temperament of the cat. Truffle is very much a wild child and is itching to get out and explore even in bad weather!

Anonymous said...

What a harrowing tale (tail?). I am very glad it turned out well twice. And made a classic Bonkers post, although not one to be repeated.
I think Truffle's return to the scene of the crime was actually an attempt to thoroughly explore now that she knew she could count on being rescued.

As for being cranky when you get a gift as nice as a dead butterfly, count your blessings. It's better than a worm or a not quite dead mouse that scurries under a cupboard never to be seen again. And of course the cat won't try to to catch it again. "I only bring the gifts, I don't have to take care of them too."
I would be unhappy if the offering were a dead bird or worse a not quite dead one.

-- Lindaloo

Anonymous said...

Truly a nightmare - a double nightmare. I am so very glad that you got Truffle back (twice) and that she is none the worse for her escapade. Fingers crossed that she will continue to behave well at night and that the cosy sleeping arrangement will be permanent! Thank heaven (!) for those kind people and the lovely - foolhardy - L.

The Scented Hound said...

If I were you I wouldn't have a hair left on my head. Wait... I don't. See stress is not good for the body. It seems that Truffle needs to start being an indoor cat for the sake of both or your nine lives! Glad she is OK. xoxoxox

Vanessa said...

Hi Lindaloo,

LOL at 'tail'...You could be right at that as to why Truffle thought nothing of venturing onto the roof again.

A dead butterfly is much preferable to a worm, it's true, most of which are still writhing in their death throes - or the death throes at that end, say. You never can tell with worms. So true about the extent of her gift giving being limited to their admission to the house. And I dread the day when we have birds of any kind - dead ones are bad, flying or flapping ones arguably even harder to cope with!

Vanessa said...

Hi Jillie,

Thanks for your good wishes - it was a horrible few days - this time last week indeed. Have just placed a new collar on Truffle, so we will see how that goes...

I am quite enjoying the co-sleeping, as long as she doesn't get up to her nocturnal antics again, the possibility of which cannot be excluded.

Vanessa said...

Haha, Steve, sorry for your stress-related loss! I sense there is no way Truffle could go back to being an indoor cat - her adventurous nature just wouldn't stand for it. ;)

Undina said...

You know, how people often start on something like that one of three ways: "I can't even imagine...", "I can only imagine..." or "I know exactly how you felt..." - and today, of all days, I'm not sure, which one of these I should choose: this morning I woke up from the dream (nightmare) that Rusty got lost, I couldn't find him, found some cat kind of hoping that it was Rusty - and slowly realizing that it wasn't... More than 12 hours later I still cannot completely shake off that dream.

I'm sorry: I wasn't anywhere online in the last several days so I had no idea you went through that horror. Any chance you could find a collar that Truffle wouldn't be able to get off? If yes, you could try putting something like a tile or other track-able thing-y. Or, at least, you'll be finding the lost collar :))

I'm glad she's back.

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

Thanks a lot for your concern, and don't worry about being late to find out. It is good to stay offline from time to time.

And ooh, what a spooky coincidence that you should have a scary dream about Rusty going missing. You would be distraught if he went off, I know. This whole RL experience was like a nightmare, indeed! A week ago today I was in full manic search mode...

Truffle had kept that collar on for months and months and if she is caught on something I am glad that it does come off. They are only about £8 a time, so I don't mind getting her more. And as I found the one she lost, she has four now!

Asali said...

My thoughts were with you and Truffle through that dreadful time. What a relieve that she's now safely back home.
( capitalisation, hehe, though not my only problem with that brand, seriously, they should consider hiring a PR consultant to avoid silly names, capitalisations and motherhood strategies...) rant OVER 😉

Vanessa said...

Thanks, Asali!

Motherhood strategies? The thing with Antonia, do you mean? I only really take issue with the capitalisations, though I have noticed the disproportionate number of blondes who have worked at the company down the years compared to the distribution of that hair colour in the general population. Albeit possibly not the Dutch population.