Truth is we might all be cozy in a vintage Oak Park condo if I had not allowed myself to be bamboozled in recent years into owning four pets. Two dogs. Two cats. We did manage to relocate the tortoise, Bella, into a new family just before the recent move to Berwyn. Thanks, Shanez! We know you and your family will be very happy with Bella — for the next 70 years.

One of our cats is Eudora. Yes, Eudora Welty is the literary reference. But we call her Dora, because face it, not even Mother and Father Welty called their kid Eudora. Dora is not my favorite cat of all time. We’ve had some wonders of cats over the years — Peanuts, Milo, Barney, Scout, and, currently, Jester, the world’s most social cat. He visits in homes, takes walks when we air the dogs. Possibly he is on Facebook or Instagram.

Dora is the opposite of social. Uncomfortable in her grey fur, she is a whiny, skitterish little number. And her accumulation of fears and dreads led to a bad outcome when movers arrived. She headed for the hills, or at least under the porches up to two or three houses away, far exceeding her normal GPS radius. When the end of the long moving day ended, Dora was not among our prized possessions. She was in hiding.

We’d stop by the old house on Humphrey with offerings of food. Now that’s awkward. Sitting on your old front steps. (Thanks, new owners. We really are moving.) Dora would sometimes turn up but when the cat crate was in view she would bolt as fast as her wobble would take her. The old neighbors watched out for her with water and food and e-mails alerting us to a Dora siting.

Finally, nine days after the move, a week ago Sunday, our daughter and a friend sat on the old front steps (they really do need a coat of paint). I held back in the car. And as the friend petted Dora gently, Mariah swooped in, grabbed that cat up, and scurried toward the car with poor, old Dora doing some flailing.

During the long drive home to Berwyn, that cat made some noises I’ve never heard from a kitty and hope never to hear again. But we made it, opened the car door, and on a dark Sunday night that damned cat pushed off Mariah’s chest and took off into the wilds of Clinton Avenue. Across the street, under cars, under porches, wanting nothing to do with her people and moving further and further from safety.

Did I mention that our new next door neighbor is named Dora? A week on the block and I’m wandering in the dark, skulking up to porches with the hoarse-whisper, “Dora. Dora. Come back, Dora.” It will make a good story at the block party. In 10 years.

Now Dora is home. And she is more snuggly and less whiny than ever before. She hasn’t gone near an outside door in eight days, and spends much of her time under our bed. 

Then there is Hugo, the newest pet, the dog who felt a need to make its escape from custody in our new backyard and went all El Chapo on me, tunneling his way under the lovely fence. We got the call while we were tooling toward Home Depot for another load of whatever else we had discovered we needed for the house.

“This is the Berwyn Police Department. Are you missing a dog?”

“Define missing,” I said. “Feeling pretty good right now. Going out to the store, maybe out to dinner.”

We were ordered to report back to Berwyn where a police officer and a community service type were standing in front of the house with feisty little Hugo ready to keep digging. Instead of a Welcome Wagon packet I was handed a citation and must report to City Hall mid-month to explain my dog’s behavior. 

If only I could.

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Dan Haley

Dan was one of the three founders of Wednesday Journal in 1980. He’s still here as its four flags – Wednesday Journal, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark – make...