A Tiger Tale to Remember, written by Dan Waltz


As published in Healthy Wealthy & Wise 2015


As published in the Roscommon Voice 2015

A Tiger Tale to Remember































A Tiger Tale to Remember

One week before Christmas and all wasn’t right:


“It’s freezing out there,” Mom said, wrapping her arms around herself, squeezing the chill out.


“I know, dear, it’s cold,” responded Dad.


“Poor Tiger, it’s been four cold days and three freezing cold nights, how can she survive?”
Mom’s cheeks glossed over with tears.


“She’s an animal, they find ways.” Dad hoped, while peeking around the half-decorated
Christmas tree they hadn’t the heart to finish. The tree partially blocked the view to the
front yard.


“She’s never run away like this, something’s happened. I’ll bet it was the coyotes,”
Mom’s voice cracked, trailing off at the end.




“Yeah, didn’t you hear about the neighbor’s dog?”


“No. What?”


“I heard that they saw a coyote carry it away last week, and never returned.”


“Their dog? I doubt that, hon. It had to be one of those ‘ankle biters’.”


“Pomeranian, I think.”


“Oh, well that explains it. Those little things think they can take on the world. It probably instigated it. Not Tiger, she’s a smart cat, and fast. Faster than any old coyote.” Dad tried his best to comfort Mom, but failed miserably. He wasn’t even buying it himself. He heard the noise, the loud bang from the broomstick smacking hard against the sidewalk. Something knocked it over, right before the surprise attack, he thought.


Dad wasn’t a stranger to the coyote rumors. He’d heard the stories of them moving around town, while up at the senior center where he played chess. He thought nothing of it, until now. He couldn’t help but think, though, that a coyote attack would be better than freezing and starving to death, but for some reason, that didn’t bring much comfort. Mom and Dad hung on to what little hope they had.


Day three of sleepless nights, and life goes on. Dad started the day with his same old routines, up early, subconsciously filling all the birdfeeders in the yard, but not without a watchful eye for their beloved family member to return.


While walking back to the shed to put things away, something told Dad to look under the back deck of the house again, as he passed by. It was the same deck that he’d looked under countless times the past few of days, but to no avail. This time, however, she was there—cold, hungry and scared-to-death. “Tiger? Tiger come on girl.” Dad attempted to call her out in a calm voice, but she wasn’t coming. She hunkered down where she felt safe—cold, but safe.


The afternoon was filled with failed attempts to persuade Tiger to come out. She showed no interest in doing so, not even for her favorite plate of tuna. The sun was going down, and temperatures were to drop well below zero for the fourth night in a row. If they were to save Tiger from another freezing night they had to act now. Desperate measures were about to take place.


Moments later, a loud engine noise was heard, as Dad rounded the corner of the shed with leaf blower in hand. Dad knew Tiger hated loud noises. What he didn’t know was just how much. Tiger dashed from her safe-haven the minute Dad stepped foot on the deck. She bolted across the backyard and into the woods. Tiger was gone—again.


Mom quickly sent out Facebook messages to friends and family, telling everyone that Tiger had been seen, but then lost again. I immediately responded and was up early the next morning for a two-hour drive north. I arrived before daybreak. We hoped that Tiger would, once again, make it back to her safe-hold. Sure enough, she did.


Dad and I quickly fenced the area off and set up live traps before sunrise. We then, not so patiently, waited for Tiger’s response. A few hours passed and the traps lay empty. That’s when Dad and I decided that Tiger was going to need some coaxing.


Tight spaces and frigid temps made coaxing Tiger out from under the deck a difficult task. With just 5-1/2” inches of space to work with and many obstacles to overcome, Dad and I tried maneuvering poles to push the cat out. The space was too small, the poles were too short, and the cat too stubborn. Not even the leaf blower that scared her out before would scare her out again, not into the traps.


We needed more space to work with, so we started prying up boards. About an hour later, two frozen, brittle boards splintered away piece by piece. We hoped that this gave us the space we needed.


I used my cell phone to videotape under the deck, to keep track of Tigers whereabouts, while Dad used the poles again. Tiger had other ideas. She hid behind every obstacle she could find, and eventually wrapped her body tightly around the deck post in the far, dark corner, where no one could reach.


Desperation set in once again as darkness approached. Warmth, shelter and food awaited just a few feet away, but how to get Tiger there was the question at hand.  She was spooked as bad as we were stumped. The only solution was to go in after her.


Barricades were tightened so Tiger couldn’t dart away, in her last desperate attempt for freedom. I set my circular saw blade to the depth that would barely pass through the top deck boards, and cut a path clear across the deck, right up to Tiger, shivering below. We pried the boards up overtop, which scared her out from the corner, and back to the middle of the deck. We prodded her with poles once again, this time towards the freshly cut hole in the deck, opposite of the traps. It worked all too easily, but once again Tiger wrapped herself tightly around the corner post of the deck, making it impossible to grab her.


Dad and I took a short break for a late lunch, leaving the door-wall to the house ajar, hoping she would come inside on her own.


When we retuned, Tiger was gone from the corner post. Dad hoped that she went into the house. I wasn’t so sure that she hadn’t just jumped our make shift barricades and ran for freedom. Another video from my cell phone proved that she was still under the deck. I quickly wrapped a bath towel around the corner post, filling the gap between it and the house so Tiger couldn’t wrap herself around it again. Once more we pushed her with poles. No matter what, Tiger wasn’t going near the opening, but she eventually got close enough for Dad to reach under and pull her out by the scruff of her neck.


After a long, cold nine hours of coaxing, pushing, and prodding, Tiger was now safely inside the warm house. Mission accomplished! The deck didn’t fair nearly as well.


We may never know what scared Tiger so badly to make her run away like she did. We’re just grateful she’s safe at home.


Mom and Dad finished decorating the Christmas tree that night; with Tiger sound asleep, looking as pretty as a present underneath.


Merry Christmas.


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