Many thanks to Laura Too, who has given us the story of her travels with Merlin, who was a good boy all the way. [I have taken the liberty of paragraphing her comment.]
It started out a bit rocky. My car died on my way home from work Tuesday night and I was too nervous to attempt to pick Merlin up at the vet. I figured no big deal, bestie could take me. Nope, she was busy. What to do?
Schlamazel’s wife lives in that neighborhood so I sent her a message. Back and forth for a bit but she was on board with the scheme. An instant sense of peace came over me, which is very unusual when it comes to travel. I’m usually a wreck. I slept well & caught the train to the airport and waited for my Aunt to arrive. All good, waited in special services with the special guy and got our boarding passes.
Now for TSA. Everyone said don’t open the kennel and that was what the agent was insisting I do. Nope, I dug in, there has to be another way. He reluctantly said a hand search and called the supervisor. Very nice supervisor and agent took me to a private room, letting me know I made a good call. Last week they spent 2 ½ hours searching for a cat whose owner said he’d be fine out of his kennel. Yeah, not so much! So on we went to the small room where they asked me to take him out so they could put the kennel through x-ray.
I didn’t want to admit I had no idea how he would behave because I was worried they would deny boarding if he wasn’t mine. So I opened the door and peered in. Come on dude, out you go. He wasn’t having it so I had to tip him out. He hid in a corner and didn’t try to run but I wasn’t sure how putting him back in would go-visions of my arms being shredded. He was a perfect gentleman returning to his safe space.
We continued towards the gate and as I’m walking I got the giggles thinking of John Cole’s trips to the vet and praying I didn’t get THAT smell! I needed breakfast so we stopped at a juice bar and I thought karma had come to bite me as I thought I heard the tell tales signs of a cat winding up to vomit but got lucky. It was only the bass on a really bad country song. Whew!
We did pre-boarding and of course I put him in wrong but that’s okay I was also in the wrong seat. So we move again and this time with help the kennel is safely under the seat in front of me. (Why would you put velcro on the bottom of a kennel???) Two hours passed and he was a perfect sweetheart.
We got off at Reagan international and the hunt for Steeplejack began. I of course chose the wrong side of the terminal but I was standing in glorious sunshine so I was good with it. Steep? Not so much. I stressed my highway angel out a bit but we finally connected. It was determined that I didn’t have enough time to get Merlin to Tomato Queen and make my return from Dulles airport so I got a wonderful animated tour of DC from one airport to another and the most awesome Steeplejack got to delver Merlin to his forever home.
I found a great pizza place, had a beer and a 15 minute massage and was home by 7:00. I want to thank Red Dirt Girl for being such a kind souls as to care for this kitty, Tomato Queen for opening heart and home, Steeplejack for the kindness of an amazing taxi service , Anne Laurie the amazing pet saver, John Cole for being John Cole and everyone who contributed to making this a success! It is supposed to be -5 tonight and we can all sleep well knowing the beautiful black cat is safe and warm.
Update: An update from TomatoQueen is at comment 51.
Also, kidney infections suck.
:: sniff sniff ::
Not exactly sure where in the story tears came to my eyes, but they surely did. Happy endings are good, and no, I am not referring to the massage parlor ones. Merlin, welcome to your new life; a lot of humans worked to make it so.
J R in WV
Yes, we love the puppy kitty rescue missions undertaken by Balloon Juice and our fellow Jackals!! What a cute kitty, what an adventure Laura Two and Steep had to get our little guy home!
I’ve been informed that those are good too.
We have some really good people here on this blog.
What a heartwarming story. He is a magical kitty.
Major Major Major Major
Awwww, glad he made it ❤️
Samwise and I made a little trip of our own for a routine checkup this morning.
@WaterGirl: I know. Allergies I presume.
Tomato girl did post at least once that I saw talking about Merlin’s adjustment which is more of a peek and run at that time.
@Major Major Major Major:
Wow, they arranged for the floor to match his coat.
It sounds as if things are proceeding as might be expected. I’m sure he’s going to settle in beautifully. Black cats rule.
LOL, I am honored to make the front page, and thanks for the tl;dr for those with short attention span! I do tend to go on ’til the eyes glaze over. Someone had requested video coverage but I wasn’t able to accommodate so this was the next best thing. I truly do love you all! You are good people.
Now, that there, is positively Cole- or Cracker-esque. And a higher compliment I cannot pay!
Your report was not too long at all! Even knowing the ending I enjoyed hearing how the journey went.
@Miss Bianca: Oooh, my, that is high praise! Thank you!
@JeanneT: Thank you, best of both worlds with an editor like Cheryl.
Dorothy A. Winsor
I love this story. Jackals cooperating to do a good thing.
Great job! It was so good of all of you to capture, vet, transport, and adopt Merlin. It took a village, for sure.
And Laura Too, I just know Schlemazel would be so pleased and proud of you!
@Miss Bianca: Ironically, really bad country songs make me want to vomit.
This is such a heartwarming story. I think there must be a lot of dust in my house – my eyes are sooo watery.
@WereBear: For all we know, it could have the same effect on cats!
A perfect holiday season story :)
@satby: Thank you, I felt his presence in the whole thing, He was very much a cat person and it was so fitting his wonderful wife got to be a part of it as well.
I’m afraid I missed Adam in the list of thanks! He was an integral part of keeping it all together. It was such a team effort. And, yes, a wonderful holiday time story, Maybe one of the BJ writers can make a Merlin kitty book. (Might leave out the poop and vomit references so as not to offend the parents)
It’s beyond awesome Merlin aka ‘Black Kitty’ found a home. Edith and I didn’t think we’d miss him as much as we are. Muscle memory even kicked in last night when I almost went out to feed him. Last winter was brutal here. This is when he lost the very tips of his ears, so we’re extra happy this all worked out before we got too far long in this one. Thank you to everyone involved, especially TomatoQueen. I think my wife Edith is meeting up with Laura this weekend to give her the money for the plane ticket she bought, which you all donated for. There was money left over from the donations which is going to be donated to the organization… I think it’s the one the calendar proceeds go to. We’ll need to reach and figure that out. Edith has been getting updates from TomatoQueen and it sounds like Merlin is slowly but surely acclimating to the indoors. I’m going to bring in his little shelter I built tonight. I haven’t been ready to do it yet. And, try and remember to stop looking out the back windows to see if I can see him. Good luck little fella, congrats on your new digs, take care of yourself, and if I’m VA way I’ll try to stop in and see ‘ya. I’m sure Edith will post later to give thank yous as well.
@Laura Too: It wouldn’t be a kitty book without poop and puke!
I have been looking for Merlin news?
Can’t wait to see pictures of him in his new home ?
And THIS is why I lurk and LOVE the Jackals on BJ… and now to find some tissues for the wet eyes and nose… You all are amazing.
Joy in FL
I love the account of Merlin going to his new home. Good news is so welcome : )
Thank you so much for taking him! I was so worried that he’d be a terror on the flight or scream the whole time, and you’d be sitting there pretending you had nothing to do with him for 2 hours ?. So glad it went well. And thank you so much to all the Juicers who helped and contributed. You were so generous, and it really touched my heart.
Also, many thanks to TQ for taking him in, and being so kind to provide enough updateson how he’s doing to sooth my anxious soul. My other big fear was that we’d go through all this work and donations from you fine folks, and then he wouldn’t adjust well to being inside. We don’t think he’s ever spent a night inside four walls prior to his night in the garage before his neuter, so this has been a huge adjustment for him. It seems to be going about as well as can be expected, so hopefully he’ll soon feel settled into his new life.
Also, as an aside, if that many cats end up lost in the terminal, wouldn’t it make sense to offer private screening up front?
@Major Major Major Major:
Samwise is such a handsome devil ????
Party of law and order.
@AndoChronic: I should have added thanks to you as well-I know you did much for his care & feeding and support in all of this. SO hard with all the wonderful people involved!
@Edith: Truly my fear as well. I have a Burmese and he can raise the dead at 3:00 am.
As far as the pets it is a lot more labor intensive to do hand searches, at least in their mind. They actually hoped that it would take care of some of the mice that run rampant through the place.
@WaterGirl: LOL, I know but think of the children! Or some such nonsense.
My only issues are A and B under commenting. It happens both on my iPhone and my desktop (Firefox). Not every time but more often than not. Probably 80% of the time. Otherwise, kudos to all!
Chacal Charles Calthrop
so glad to hear Merlin made it to his new home! Post pics please!
What the hell?!?!?!? I was in the other thread and this is where my comment ended up?!?!?!? Oh well, I’ll cut and paste it.
When we took in three kittens from our backyard, we thought they would constantly be trying to escape. But nope — they liked the warmth and the three squares a day and never came near the door when we opened it. I hope Merlin adjusts as well as they did.
I have had “Pettin’ in the Park” as an earworm since Thursday night. ? I blame you, since I have to blame someone.
@Laura Too: I have a black and white tuxedo with a lot of siamese. The three a.m. yowling is why my stepson re-named him Starscream.
Our grey shorthair girl (Shadow, formerly known as Meankitty) also yowls, but never at night.
My dad’s domestic shorthair brown tabby yowls at night, but I think that is because he is now completely blind. When the cats pick on him at night, all the people who could help are asleep. So he yowls for rescue. I used to let him sleep in my bed, until he peed on all my pillows.
Cats are not nice about disabilities. Dogs are very supportive towards physically sub-par packmates. Cats are pretty much assholes. Even nice cats. My genial tuxedo cannot resist playing with the blind cat’s tail.
No, these people aren’t deranged, why do you ask?
You are an angel of grace.
You just flew down and flew back? We could have sprung for some fun, an Air B’nB in DC, something.
Thank you for taking on the task. And giving such an excellent report.
That was a great story and wonderful group effort. I’m glad Merlin has a new home.
Traveling with pets can be so stressful. I’ve only done it once, taking my sister’s cat on a plane trip across the country to Portland, Oregon.
@Laura Too: Nope, never tl;dr, we’re jackals — we like a good yarn!
Congrats to everyone for a successful kitty move! I’m with rikyrah, can’t wait to see pix of the sweet boy.
Also, love the added thread bonus of Samwise pix – always welcome, @Major Major Major Major, always welcome!
More tears. We miss him.
@Sab:Cats are not nice
about disabilities. Fixed for you. :)
Big thanks to Cheryl for front-paging Travels with Merlin!
@MazeDancer: I just got back from visiting my sister in Australia. She has been begging us for 8 years. The timing was such that I had to be back to work. I will be back to DC, I try to do the women’s march if they have it. Unless something catastrophic happens & I fly out at the last minute I will let everyone know so we can have a meet up. I would love that. It would be nice to meet Tomato Queen and hopefully see Steeplejack again. And I know there are lots of other BJ people there.
@MomSense: Yes, me too! It is such a comfort to come here and be surrounded by the people he loved. I hear his voice in all of you. He is kept alive in our memories that we share.
RIP Sir Peter Snell
He moved to Texas to further his education, getting a degree in sports medicine, and lived there for years. He and his wife were active in orienteering; I think I may have met him and I’m sure I met his wife at one point. He is remembered as a very nice and humble man.
@Laura Too: What a good deed done LauraToo! You’re carrying on a fine family tradition and you’re a swell reminder of one who was such an important presence at this blog.
Can’t wait for reports about Merlin from Tomato Queen. Black cats rule!
At Merlin’s House: to pick up from the delivery point, Merlin stayed in his soft-sided carrier for the rest of the afternoon and early evening, dozing and allowing me to pat him. Around 11 pm he came out of the carrier, stretched out on the sofa for a bit, and then noticed the Horrible Flickering TV, and freaked. Every cat in a new place can find the Secret Entrance to the Alternate Universe, which he did immediately, and so we saw no sign of him at all for about a full day. This was worrisome as the food remained untouched, but then we checked the litter box–he had found it at some point. I spent most of yesterday calling and chirping to him, and eventually he sneaked out to find food and explore. Around 2 a.m. this morning there were some plaintive meows. I meowed back, but decided further action on my part was a bad idea. So we went to sleep, and he went to Alternate Universe and stayed there up until about a half hour ago. Since 11 he has been zooming across the apartment, from the kitchen to the bedrooms and back, with regular detours to the main windowsill. Also there have been some noises in the kitchen which I hope mean something other than knocking over the water dispenser. For the last few minutes he was across the room, stretched out and resting. JUST NOW HE GOT UP, CAME OVER TO ME, AND LET ME PET HIM BRIEFLY. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY, a la Kermit. He is now pacing around again. At this juncture it is impossible to get a pic of him because he can’t sit still for more than a few seconds. A source of frustration for everyone, but I’m sure he’ll calm down eventually.
Thank you all so very much for your part in Project Merlin. Each of you has played a vital role in making this adventure a complete success, from words of encouragement to financial support and preparation and flight parenting and getting him here to me–all those things had to mesh together across time and space and they did, amazingly so. Juicers are the BEST. And now Merlin and I are meowing at each other.
We have just concluded a full head and ears scritch and roll session. I think it’s safe to go to bed.
@Origuy:”Miki was getting ready, and Peter nodded off, as is not unusual for him. But he didn’t wake up.” We should all be so lucky! Sounds like a really nice man.
@TomatoQueen: He has found the perfect home, you are patient enough to give him the space he needs to get comfortable. He will be awesome!
@laura: I have only learned to cook for two in the last few years, despite never having more than that for dinner usually. Schlemazel and my Mom grew up in a house that had 10 and you always made extra for whoever was around because no matter how poor you are there is always a way to stretch things. (add more hamburger, sauce, pasta, milk or if really desperate water) I am grateful for all the lessons I learned from them about how to treat people and animals. It comes easier for me to say yes to adventures such as these. I’m glad I could be there for him.
@TomatoQueen: This summer he was very comfortable with me and would often nap on my lap when I sat on the porch. He also never refused to be picked up and held. He never really wanted to move or get down which was a signal to us that he was finally ready to be an inside kitty. He also liked very heavy pets to the point it was overstimulating for him where he would nip at you. He also got comfortable telling me he was hungry by nipping at my calves or try and snag them with his claw, in a playful way, as I walked by. This was not the case when he first arrived around us 2 1/2 years ago. He was very skittish and wouldn’t let anyone get near him. Always having food, water, shelter, and having a friendly presence towards him helped him adjust to being around humans. Merlin is the 5th out of 7 neighborhood strays/ferals that we found a home for in ten years. We took in 3 to give us a total of 4 cats, Edith’s mother took in 1, 2 had to be put down when we took them into the vet after rescue due to advanced illness and starvation, and you have 1. I’m confident he’ll be a squishy marshmallow for you in no time. How could he not, you’re awesome!
@AndoChronic: Ohhh and special thanks to you for making him into the Perfect Gentleman. I noticed that bit about overstim last night, and stopped the scritching just as he looked to be getting a leetle crazy. He’s gone again to the Alternate Universe today & I think his circadian rhythm is full-on Night at least for now. I am so fortunate to have him. Thank you.
@TomatoQueen: yea to Merlin’s settling in.