Good morning to you all,
What joy we are feeling here in Nashville in our home with all 3 of our pets. Adam is currently asleep in his crate in the kitchen. He went to the vet today (we went with him) for a check up. I was concerned because he has not been drinking as much as I'd like and did not have the energy I'd like to see for day 3. We tracked down our favorite vet here in Nashville. She moved from a prior location. She's not usually in on Monday's but she was today! Parker's Paws worked us in. Adam's blood was drawn to check for a specific disease contracted by ticks. It's know as the bobcat tick and is bad news. Dr. Abby Stevens wants to be sure Adam has not been infected by this tick. He is not exhibiting signs of it other than being anemic. He has no fever and he has an appetite. The anemia could simply be the result of being on his own in the woods for 8 weeks. Since he has been home, he has been primarily eating "Temptations". No wet food and very little of the dry food he normally eats. I expressed this to Dr. Stevens and she suggested oven roasted chicken. While Erin stayed with Adam at the vet, I drove down the street to Kroger to get some chicken. I put some in a small cup from the deli and took it into the exam room to try it out. He ate it...all of it. So we may be onto something.
We were told Adam might be disoriented and take time to adjust to being home. Adam knows exactly where he is. His personality is intact and he is on the mend, although we are still awaiting results of liver and kidney tests; both organs can be damaged by malnutrition.
Here's a summary of what happened....
After 8 weeks of searching here...
Bonnieville KY, I65 near exit 71.
...and a lot farther away ...we finally got Adam back.
The center of the orange circle is the sight of our accident on March 13, the day we were rear ended in a construction zone. After having been in a 2 hour traffic jam, our Honda Pilot key would not start the truck (icon on dash means, key has been immobilized.??? It's never been explained by Honda and they don't seem interested in investigating....No more Honda for us) and we were sitting ducks as traffic got up to normal speed. After getting hit by a small truck traveling from 50-70 mph, Adam was either thrown from our truck or jumped. Bruising on his body indicates being thrown. You cannot see it in this photo, but our side (southbound) of the highway was divided into two lanes barricaded by concrete walls. We were in the inside lane (Never choose the inside lane. Go to the outside even if traffic is slower. At least then you are closer to the shoulder and can more easily escape from your car if you need to) headed south.
This means that Adam did one of three things.
1. He was thrown from our vehicle, jumped over a 4 foot barricade into 2 lanes of oncoming (northbound) traffic (mostly semis going 70mph) and into the woods on the east side (the side with barns and houses that you can see circled in green) of the highway.
2. He went west, jumping over 5 foot high barricades, one lane of oncoming (southbound) traffic and one lane not being traveled due to being under construction. There was a dog in the truck that hit us and it was outside running around its owners car. That could have scared his as well. We never saw Adam after being hit. He was just gone.
3. Adam jumped down into one of two sewers butted up against the concrete barriers next to our truck and traveled through pipes running under and to either side of the highway and into the woods. He may have just stayed in the pipes for a bit. One of my fears was that he went down into a sewer but could not get through the pipes because they may be small and could not get back out. I was afraid he may have been trapped and starved to death. This went through my head occasionally.
So for 8 weeks we searched both sides of the highway. Luckily, there is a tunnel that runs under I65 near the sight of our accident...built in 1963 as the engraving on the concrete entrance says. It was built well so hats off to those builders. It's about 4 1/2 feet high and plenty wide. So we wore rubber boots and walked through some water from one side of the highway to the other. It's quiet and cool under there and when spring really hit we'd see our friends the frogs at the start of each trip under the highway. We were careful not to step on them. I couldn't help but think that my nephew Noah would LOVE this!
If you look at the top of orange circle on the map above and can see it intersect the highway, you are looking at the spot wear that tunnel is.
Initially we thought Adam could be in this tunnel. But it most often has some water in it and he would not like that. Also it is wide and tall enough that I think he wouldn't feel so well hidden. There were other culverts that were smaller and we explored those too.
Because Adam could be on either side of the highway, we set out feeding stations, then humane traps with the feeding stations, then aimed field cameras at the feeding stations hoping that we would capture Adam's photo and know where he was. And we searched with flashlights to try to catch his eyes glowing back at us. We stayed overnight a few times in one spot where we had seen cat prints and a spot we thought was a likely place for Adam to hide (thank you Jo) ...and once in a barn. We set up a camera/searched in every shelter that you see circled here. Many locations we searched several times. We leaned toward the east side because we thought he would seek shelter and the west side did not provide much of that. The west side always seemed scarier to me, just a gut feeling.
We were taught fast, clearly and sometimes repeatedly, how to do a proper search, from three awesome women. We are grateful to Kim Freeman, the Lost Cat Finder, Sam Connely Pet Detective at Pure Gold Pet Trackers and Sherry Webb, intake coordinator and Home by Phone Specialist with Dogs Finding Dogs (they help find cats too) for their expertise and for sharing it with us over the phone, online and in texts. Kim drew the map above and several others for us so we could see clearly, the best places to search. I called Sam and Sherry many many times. They were always available, patient, kind, expert and empathetic. Every time just before I would hang up with Sam, she would say "call me any time". She meant it and I did. All three woman walked us through exactly what to do. It is a multi faceted approach. You do the physical search in the area of the accident, you knock on doors to give people flyers with your pets name, description, photo and your contact info. You ask local businesses if you can hang flyers. You post huge neon posters with "REWARD" at the top and all the details that are on your flyer. You go online and tell everyone you know that you are looking and ask them to share the story with family and friends. You call shelters, visit shelters, go online and look at photos of found animals and pray you see yours. You follow up on every phone call, text, email or message you receive telling you someone thinks they may have your cat. You post on Craigslist and keep updating that post weekly (thank you Spann). You pray your animal has found a place to hide and some food. I'm sure I'm forgetting something. We have a wonderful support system. That was proven time and time again. We were helped with so much on this long list of things to do. There are so many of you to thank and we will specifically but for now, let me get on with the story.
The first ever place we went was Cottrell's, Verna and Garland Cottrell. They own a farm located closest to the highway and closest to the accident. They are south of the sight of the accident a little under 1/2 mile from it I would say. It's circled in green on the map above across from the rectangle that says "71". So that was our first choice of where we thought Adam might go to for shelter. Remember it was early March when we had our accident so nights were cold (first two nights 19 degrees). We figured Adam would look for a warm spot to tuck into. It is also very peaceful there. The woods absorb much of the traffic sound. This looked like a prime spot for him to go.
We spoke with Verna Cottrell initially and told her about Adam. Verna is a lovely lady. We felt comfortable with her immediately. She was concerned for Adam and very warm to us. We gave her a flyer with Adam's photo and description and our phone numbers should she spot a cat on her and her husband property. She also welcomed us to look around.
We returned several times after our initial visit to Cottrell's to set traps, cameras, hang out, search their garage, property and barn. No Adam. Lots of mild mannered, curious cows.
But our search extended to the entire area you see on the map above and way beyond, as we thought he may have traveled to a neighborhood and community on the west side of the highway. He would have had to travel about a mile to get to that but that is entirely possible.
Herb and Wanda Key own property near Cottrell's and they graciously let us drive across their property toward the highway so that we did not have to walk so far or park on the shoulder of the highway.
Our walk from highway back to car.
The night before Adam was found, we had taken our usual path from Key's toward the highway. We set food stations with cameras aimed at them on both the west and east side. 3 cameras on each side. Then we decided to visit Cottrell's again and ask if we could set up a trail camera on their property near their barn. There barn is inside the second largest green circle on the right side of the highway on the 1st map above. Mr. Cottrell said sure. He was thinking about getting one of those cameras. We stood in his drive right in front of his garage for a while talking about Adam, our search, the rain and how farmers are behind right now because of it...too muddy to plow, his mending fences that day. At one point he said, "I sure hope you find your kitty." We left after thanking him and asking him to say hello to Mrs. Cottrell. We went right to the barn, said hello to the courteous cows and set up two cameras and drove home. We got home around 11:30pm and went to bed. Every night we would discuss the possibilities, what was on our minds and review the latest steps we had taken. Around 8:30 the next morning, this was the message left on my phone....
I had my phone on mute. Luckily both numbers were listed on our flyers so Verna Cottrell called Erin. Her phone was on. Mrs. Cottrell explained that Mr. Cottrell had come upstairs to find her and said, "Come and see this. I believe I have seen that cat." Garland Cottrell was in his garage when he heard crying. He peered over the windowsill and there was "that cat". Mrs. Cottrell concurred she called Erin and explained and added that the cat looked malnourished. Although distressing, we thought this was a good sign as Adam had been gone 8 weeks and was most likely malnourished. We were on the road in less than 1/2 an hour. We had a feeling about this one. Remember, Cottrells are the first people we visited. They had had the photo flyer the longest and I've no doubt that Verna Cottrell had looked at the photo of Adam and thought about him many times.
It's an hour and 40 minute drive from Nashville TN to Bonnieville KY. We were so hopeful. Before we left home I said, "I'm putting on make up because I want to look good for him." and we told Guffman and Eve, "We'll be right back. We're going to get Adam."
We walked into Cottrell's living room and Verna said, "I believe we have your kitty." She and Garland told us he was in the garage. We all ventured down the stairs into their basement on on to the garage. Erin went first. There he was....there he was!!!! "IT'S HIM!" Erin said. Adam walked right to Erin. And then tears of joy, relief, thanks, Dear God thank you!
Adam is tiny, losing over half his normal weight. Today he weighed in at 4.8 lbs. from 4.6. This brave little boy who we love so so much is back home. Adam, Erin and I are now on the back porch and he just tried to jump up on the chair. I helped him. He's so beautiful and Erin and I just keep staring at him. Sometimes we say, "He's here. It's really him, It's Adam. We got him. It's Adam."
God Bless each and every one of you who bore this burden with us. You gave your time, your prayers, your money, your hope, your support, your love. We will never ever forget it. We will always be grateful for the love that has been shared with us. If you ever need our help, please ask. We know a thing or two about finding a loved one now. The women mentioned above know much more. Take the time to record their information and take the time to send them your thanks. God Bless the towns of Bonnieville and Munfordville KY. God Bless all of you.
And now we celebrate together.
Erin and Adam, Friday May 12, 2017
Anne E. and Adam at vet, May 15, 2017
A miracle, May 13, 2017
There is a quote that I found while on the road when we were about 5 weeks into this journey. I repeated it daily.
"The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart places its trust in Him and I am helped. My heart exalts and I will sing my songs of thanksgiving to Him"
I will sing my songs of thanks beginning tonight at Family Wash in Nashville at 8pm for Short Sets hosted by Cole Slivka, at my first show back home in Cleveland on June 17 at Music Box Supper Club and forever more.
All of you on my mailing list enjoy your discounted tickets to Music Box here.
Thank you for your patience. I wanted to send sooner but our first priority is getting Adam well.
When next you see Erin and me, you will see some of the happiest people in the world!
Have a wonderful day!