Friday, May 5, 2017








Tiger, Pinky, the Lady Acupuncturists,
and the Belly Rub Heard Around the Block.

I realized today Tiger must truly miss the people who were caring for him and feeding him when he was homeless. He lived by Shoal Creek and Pease Park in downtown Austin next to a small acupuncture clinic in an old home that now housed a complement of four female practitioners. He loved them. Really! Like only a cat can do. They made soothing salves from Chinese herbs and would repeatedly treat his serial streetfighting wounds, some of which were serious and one of which on a back paw was threatening to become gangrenous when we adopted him one freezing winter afternoon. A long gash on the side of his neck was healing well thanks to Chinese herbs at that time also.  They fed him morning and evening and kept fresh water for him. At dinnertime, he'd be waiting at the glass front door and all his lady doctor friends would gather and eagerly pour out the door to see him. He'd immediately flip onto his back exposing his big soft orange furry belly, and they'd start rubbing him and talking sweetly to their Pinky, which is what they called him. We love you, Pinky!  You're my Pinky!  Pinky!  You sweet, sweet boy!  We love you, Pinky!  By then Tiger would be squealing loudly with excited delight and pleasurable abandon.  The lady acupuncturists loved when he did that and they'd laugh and laugh with wide beaming smiles. This made Tiger all the happier and he'd squeal with delight some more, and they all would become exhilarated and delirious with joy.  Once his belly rub had ended and mutual peak happiness tapered into bliss, he would gratefully and energetically eat his dinner before any cat or raccoon competitors could appear, and he likely enjoyed excellent digestion after all that squealing and laughing. Then he'd find his place for the night, probably close to the creek near the bamboo so he could hide and hunt insects, frogs and lizards, and dream his dreams of survival. To his lady acupuncturists, Tiger will always be their darling sweet happy happy Pinky.  For months after we brought Tiger home, I'd show the lady acupuncturists pictures of Pinky-Tiger at home in the cabin and in the woods.  They'd missed him so!  They looked forward to seeing the photos.  The photos helped make their day.  They reminded them how much they loved him and he loved them. Now Pinky is Tiger of the Mount Bonnell woods, of course, and that's because a cat psychic told us he'd rather be called Tiger, that he preferred something more dignified and adventurous.  After all, he survived the urban primeval almost all by his lonesome.  His full name now, by the way, is Happy Lucky Rocky Tiger, which is what I further named him.  If you're going to lose a great name like Pinky, you deserve a world-class new one.  But he's still Pinky at heart and by any other name, especially when he rolls onto his back and offers up his soft drum of a furry tummy to his new humans.  He doesn't squeal like he used to, but that's probably because he's found a home and is now a Tiger of many names and speaks with the soft urgency of first-world needs.  We here with him in the woods are exceedingly grateful for that and become deliriously joyful at times just seeing him lying on his back on his counter or when he jumps down, runs and slides inside the overturned paper grocery bag on the floor waiting for playtime to begin, at which time we become the ones squealing with inner delight and outer laughter as Tiger begins swatting at the wand toy through the paper bag until his big paw breaks through and his claws grab his prize.  I have to tell you, he's not the only one around here who has won a prize.

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