At 9am on a mid-October Saturday, my husband had called me at our home in Denton from his cell phone. Neither of us recalls the reason for this call. Before the line went dead, he utters the equivalent of “Freaking cat” and probably more unheard expletives. Our cat Butthead had stowed away in the back of a moving truck loaded with lighting equipment bound for a wedding at the Tidewater Inn, twenty minutes away Easton, MD. It took me five minutes to grab my kid and run out the door.
This near twenty pound terrified cat charged out of the tailgate opening like a locomotive, tore across the parking lot, and bounced off M. Randall’s shop window on the opposite side of Harrison Street before he disappeared. After searching for more than an hour, we endured my kid’s soccer game, informed Talbot Humane, and headed home.
As we drove home on Matthewstown Road, a squeak escaped me as I held my tears. He must have heard me because my son wailed,” I don’t want him to be gone. I still want to play string games with him. He’s my brother”. “I know you’re sad and I’m so sorry” was all I could say. I was painfully aware I could make no promises for his return. Helplessness is hateful.
I made a flier, ran it off, and we returned to Easton to commence the ‘Bring Home Butthead’ campaign which would gain a following. As I went from door to door with my lime green fliers, I was overwhelmed by the support of so many fellow pet-owners as they acknowledged the hole I felt. Butthead bugs us as only he can. My husband says spend a day with him and you’ll know where he got his name. But he’s still family and like a dog, he waits for the school bus with us.
By Wednesday, I had done all I could. I’d even walked through Spring Hill Cemetery one night and paid for a radio ad. I didn’t know where to stand now. If I stopped my search, I would be giving up. I contemplated the inevitable lesson in letting go of control, grieving, and entertaining acceptance. I revised my promise to myself. I would have to deliver thank you notes to everyone even if I didn’t find him.
My cell phone rang the next Saturday night. Her name was Ria and she was standing in the Historical Society’s garden petting Butthead. I sped out of the house knowing the search was over. I hugged Ria and her friends after I’d shoved Butthead backwards into the carrier. My thank you note read, “7 days and 12 hours later, Butthead came home. Thank you so much, each and every one of you, for your kind words and support as we searched for our cat this past week. I am grateful for and humbled by your concern and community. Sincerely relieved, Shalagh Hogan, Butthead’s Mommy”. And there was a resounding “Yeah!”.