The neighborhood amblings of Happy the cat
Edward Lear’s 1871 poem, “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat,” details a fond relationship between bird and feline. For one local cat, that fantastical relationship is a daily reality.
Happy the Happy Wanderer “just wandered into my house one day,” said Gardnerville Ranchos resident Amy Jackson. “He walked up the driveway and into the house and made it clear he was staying.”
That was about six years ago. Since choosing Jackson’s home as his own, Happy has made it his mission to befriend all who cross his path. This year, he’s added a juvenile bluejay to his long list of buddies.
This past spring, Jackson started to notice the bird calling for Happy every morning between 6:30-7 a.m.
“I put Happy outside, and he sits in the middle of the driveway and lets the bluejay dive bomb him,” said Jackson. “Happy rolls over and the bluejay squawks at him, and then they go off to do their rounds.”
Jackson said it’s quite a sight to see Happy stroll around with the bluejay flitting closely behind. If he stops, the bluejay loudly prompts Happy to keep it moving. Sometimes, a couple of small brown finches join in the parade.
Happy’s friendships aren’t limited to just the furred or feathered. He regularly visits several neighbors to sit a spell, take a nap, or peek inside from an outdoor window flower box. If he secures an invitation into one particular nearby house, Happy allows a young resident who lives there to dress him in her doll’s clothing.
Each afternoon, Happy ambles home for a snack then heads back out again with his noisy friend. If Happy isn’t home by 3 p.m., Jackson goes out looking; the bluejay’s persistent calls always let her know where to find him.
Happy is often content to find a cool spot beneath a bush and watch the world go by. Jackson’s friend Janis Heim recalled a time she was relaxing on the front porch while house sitting and saw Happy saunter toward a shady spot on the side of the road. His feathered friends started swooping as soon as he lay down. Before Heim could reach Happy, several curious onlookers drove past and a police officer even stopped to make sure the motionless cat was OK. Happy remained blissfully nonchalant in the face of all the attention.
“I told him to get out of the street before he sees his ninth life!” Heim said with a laugh.
One day, Happy came home with a note tied to his collar. Apparently, he’d been paying visits to someone nearby who was recovering from a serious accident. The next day, Jackson sent Happy out with a reply attached to his collar, letting the people know his name. Happy played a willing messenger through a series of frequent back-and-forth notes, with the new friends sharing Happy’s daily adventures and Jackson reciprocating with what he was up to at home. In spite of never meeting face-to-face, a connection between neighbors was formed.
“Happy’s got such a personality,” Jackson said. “He’s like a guy at the bar who sits back watching everyone, but everyone comes up to him to talk; the guy who always has an interesting story to tell and you just know you’ll walk away (from him) smiling.”
“He really is an incredible animal; he just loves everybody,” she continued. “Everybody knows him. We have strangers come by and pick him up and tell them how much they love him.”
Jackson is grateful for the positive impact Happy has on herself and others.
“We were blessed when he came by,” she said. “Happy never met another creature he didn’t think was a friend.”
Amy Roby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.