March 30, 2020
In a world where isolation is the new normal, our training program, like most everything, is temporarily disrupted. Now is certainly not the time to visit different departments and hover over shoulders to learn how other employees do their jobs, which is a big part of what we do as trainees. That gives us an opportunity to do something a little different, and since we could all use a smile these days, I thought I’d share a little about my adventurous cat!
Ruffian was given to us almost 4 years ago, when she was just old enough to start eating solid food, by an amazing lady who happens to work at WBT. She was found being tossed around by a dog (although my husband argues the dog was probably saved from her). From day one, we knew she was going to be a different kind of cat. She is feisty, with more of a dog personality.
I’d seen other people harness train their cats, and since Ruffian was so young, I was determined to try that with her. Being very outdoorsy, and living on a farm, I had to get creative with her training. She progressed quickly and seemed right at home with her harness. In fact, when I pull it out now, she immediately starts running and “talking,” pacing back and forth to the door begging me to go out. Not your normal cat behavior, for sure!
Having a harness has opened up a whole new world for Ruffian, because it’s not just something she uses at home. My husband and I have taken her on many adventures, from feed stores to drive-in movies (she only makes it through the first show before sleep wins out) to four-wheeling. But probably her favorite activity is… canoeing.
It’s entertaining to see people light up in amazement when they first spot Ruffian in a canoe. My favorite adventure with her was last year, on a canoe ride just after we bought her a life jacket (safety first, right?). In a shallow area of the river, we had taken off her vest briefly to give her a chance to move around a little. As it happened, that’s the spot where we were stopped by a game warden for a life vest check. I held ours up, and then reached down and pulled out the cat’s and showed them that one too. They chuckled and said, “But you don’t have a cat.” When my husband reached down for Ruffian and lifted her up, the looks on their faces were priceless. The wardens told us that was a first for them, and that we’d made their day.
I’ve had people ask why we’d take a cat along on these trips. All I can think is, why not? She makes us smile every day. The stories I could share about Ruffian are endless- maybe someday I’ll write a book. But for now, maybe she’ll inspire you to go out and explore nature. As I heard recently, nature is open for business while the rest of the world is on hold.