Cat missing three years comes home for the holidays

SHIRLEY GIARD OF Bridport gives a hug to her cat, Trucker, who returned home recently after going missing three years ago when the Giards’ former home burned down. Trucker was one of five cats that disappeared after the fire.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
December 20, 2007
BRIDPORT — There was a part of Shirley Giard that never gave up hope she might find her yellow cat, Trucker.
After a fire destroyed her Bridport home three years ago, Giard and her husband, Harold, assumed their five cats and yellow Amazon parrot were dead. They moved into another house on their farm property and thanked their lucky stars the fire hadn’t done more damage. After all, neither of them had been hurt and their two dogs made it out alive.
But even after settling into their new home, Shirley couldn’t stop thinking about Trucker.
Earlier this month, three years and one week after the fire, Giard saw something yellow darting off her front porch. The next day, her daughter caught a glimpse of the same thing, and went out to see what it was. It was Trucker. He had come home, just in time for Christmas.
“This is the greatest gift I could have gotten,” Giard said. “It’s a Christmas miracle.”
The yellow cat looked healthy, well-fed and a little older. Giard recognized him by the way he nuzzled his head under her chin when she picked him up. Giard’s dog, Lexi, also perked up when he saw his old pal.   
“He must have found someone like us who feeds stray cats,” she said.
In the early days after the fire, Giard would wander over to the site of the old house and call the cats’ names. None ever responded. Each summer she would mow the lawn by the old homestead, keeping her eyes peeled for cats, especially Trucker.
“I missed him badly,” she said.
He was a kitten when she first found him. He had fallen down the hay shoot when the Giard’s Blue Slate Farm was still in operation.
As he got older, Trucker would follow Shirley and Lexi on their walk to the dump each morning. From the house, Harold watched the three of them on their way down the hill, the cat’s long yellow tail the last thing to disappear.
“Every time I took that walk, the darn cat would go with us,” Shirley said, smiling. “He had this saggy belly that would flop back and forth while we walked.”
The fire broke out one morning in November. Giard and all of her animals were in the house at the time, unaware of the danger.
A passing motorist noticed the smoke and alerted the Bridport fire department. Authorities believed a gas stove triggered the fire.
“The first miracle was that we got the dogs out,” Giard said.
When smoke started filling the room, the two dogs climbed off the Giards’ waterbed where they were sleeping and hid behind the headboard. Giard suspects that thanks to a broken window, the dogs were able to breathe until the fire department arrived and rescued them.
After the fire, Shirley and Harold thought often about getting another cat, but never found one that felt quite right, until Trucker showed up at their door.
“Three years and one week, isn’t that something?” she said.
The yellow cat hasn’t gone outdoors since he came home, Giard said, but she’s been thrilled to have him around all the time.
“Now the hope is maybe another cat will show up, but I doubt it,” she said.
Then again, miracles do happen.

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