Pet Tips 'n' Tales

Rescuing George

Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"
Look!  Up in the sky! It's a bird, a plane...errr a cat?  Worried and upset, Noe, seven years old, holds her vigil under the old oak tree.  She waits with hope in the pouring rain, under her umbrella, for George, her cat, to come down and come home. It took a village, an antiquated fire engine, and a rope rescue to make Noe's dreams come true.


On Thursday, 8-month-old, orange furred, green-eyed George, adopted from Greenhill rescue shelter last Thanksgiving, went missing.

His family called for him, but to no avail.  Then during a Saturday rain squall, acupuncturist, Dr. Darby Valley, upon the urging of his children and his own heart, ventured out again to look for George.

Finally, he heard George and realized that George had somehow become frightened and raced up a 60-foot oak tree.

For 3 days,  George had sat quietly, lodged 45 feet in the air, in the January wind and rain with his worried family not knowing his whereabouts.  George could hear and see them searching for him, but he did not know how to travel back down the slippery, moss-covered tree.
On this adventure, George neglected to take an umbrella or food, so he was very hungry and soaking wet.  Due to the constant rain, he was not in fear of dehydrating. He was witnessed washing his wet, orange fur perhaps to clean himself, or to relieve boredom, or to drink the water.

On the ground, four-year-old, Hayes, and seven-year-old, Noe, stood under an oversized
mulitcolored polka-dotted umbrella, going squirrely.  They looked up through the persistent rain drops, and through the gnarled and weathered branches at their much loved kitty. 
Noe and Hayes called up to George, encouraging him to come down from his wet perch.
Scared George could only "meow" to them 45 feet below.
After discovering their tallest ladder was 15 feet too short to reach George, their mother, Colleen, a yoga teacher, contacted her student Pet Columnist Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe." They are avid readers of her Tips 'n' Tales pet  column and knew she would have an answer to their dilemma.

Mary Ellen's daughter, Ariel Schesser, is a paramedic and firefighter volunteer with Brad Cohen, of Brad's Cottage Grove Chevrolet.  Ariel recalled that Brad loves not only cars, but fire engines and has collected four antique ones.
An emergency phone call to Brad summoned him out of a meeting 1,000 miles away, where he immediately phoned his dealership and set the wheels of rescue into motion.

That is was discovered the battery to his antique-ladder-bucket fire engine, seen in parades around town, was dead!  What a blow to the family's hope!

This is the beauty of a small town, you either know someone who can help, or someone willing to help.  Upon hearing about George's plight, Ian and Frank, two of Brad's employees, began charging the truck's battery while George waited patiently in the tree.

Hours later it was  evident that the ancient battery would not hold a charge, so the ladder with the bucket would not move.  Brad's employees ordered a new battery but it would not arrive until Monday. The 3 TV who stations that wanted to  film the rescue where phoned and appraised of the situation.
 Dr. Valley admitted, "I was looking forward to the thrill of riding up in the fire engine's bucket and rescuing George!" His wife Colleen had said to him, 'You are our family hero!'" But that rescue plan was put on hold.

So Saturday night, Noe and Hayes went to bed crying and praying that their kitty would soon be chasing invisible bugs around their home and sleeping with them again.

Torrential rains pounded Cottage Grove all day Sunday, and consequently poor George!  The family could no longer wait for the elusive battery and phoned anyone that might have a taller ladder and/or tree-climbing skills.  It is not as easy rescuing a cat as you might think, and even worse on a Sunday.

Mean while, a flock of crows who thought George was infringing on their territory flew close harassing him.

Alex Metzler, of Leif's Tree Service in Cheshire, Oregon, arrived to retrieve George.  (541 998 -7777)

As Alex put on his climbing gear rain clouds burst open drenching, 
family and neighbors gathered in anticipation of welcoming George back home!
In less than 10 minutes Alex scaled the tree, gently tucked George
into his jacket, then rappelled them both to ground.
Leif Tree Service employee, Alex, gives a dried-off George
a hug while Noe and Hayes enjoy the moment.
Once home, George purred, ate, rolled on the floor to have his stomach rubbed.  Just like a cat, he acted like nothing unusual had happened for four days.  He cuddled with his family and Alex. "What a gentle cat," said Alex.  "Not all rescues are this easy.  I do one a month and usually have to put the cats into a duffel bag to lower them."

Maybe part of George's charmed life is a result of his name.  His cat-brother's name is Bailey, so when you add George's name to the mix, you get It's a Wonderful Life's George Bailey.  Yes, that George Bailey who brought a town together. 

Maybe, Clarence the Angel is watching over our town.  We missed hearing the 'ringing of the old fire engine's "fire bell" to see if Clarence got his wings. Wings surely that George could have used a few days ago!

Is it a coincidence that George was rescued by a company based in Cheshire? A town with  the same name as the cat featured in Alice in Wonderland?!
It was a happy story book ending for Curious George! (Bailey, 18 years old, is camera shy!)

Photos of George's rescue:


Not everyone knows a friend with their own ladder fire engine. Most cat parents have to find a tree trimmer, or a logging neighbor with cleats who will go up a tree to retrieve a cat lodged in one. Fire Departments and utility companies are understaffed and stopped rescuing cats 20 years ago.

Tuna fish hoisted up in a box, by a rope, is one method to temp a hungry, treed cat to come down the tree.  The strong tuna fragrance, mixed with the cat's hunger, often encourages them to begin their decent.  Cats claws "grab" going up a tree, and the only way the claws help them climb down, is if they back down the tree. George's tree was covered in 1-1/2 inch thick moss, making his claws ineffective.

The longest I have purrsonally known of a cat to be in a tree was for 22 days. Ramses survived but was severely dehydrated.  If you know an electrical or wind storm is coming; or that neighbors are lighting off fire works; or that dogs are running loose, it is wise to keep your cats inside.
Adopt a Wonderful Cat like George!
Nymbus, the Silver Persain cat swimmingMary Ellen and Miss Wings
Mary Ellen & Miss Wings Pet Tips 'n' Tales Columnist
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