Location: Severna Park, MD
Lisa Gyory gets the prize for posting the pics on Facebook that are guaranteed to make me smile. Her pet sitting business (she says she is “finally doing what I wanted to do for my whole working life!”) and her freelance work with Chesapeake Dog Training where she serves as a playgroup supervisor (yes, that is a thing!) ensures many, many fabulous dog pics. Lisa says getting to watch dogs play is heaven, but the fact that she photographs their antics is heaven for anyone who follows her on facebook. Dogs cavorting with each other, grinning, panting, chasing, and just loving life with an abandon that is contagious… even from afar.
A few weeks ago, Lisa switched gears and posted about her cat. Pearl is a 9 year-old stray cat that Lisa and her husband, Jim, adopted when Lisa was working as the adoption manager at the Anne Arundel County SPCA. Pearl had been found on the streets of Baltimore, pregnant and ill. She was placed in a foster home and nursed back to health. All of the kittens were adopted but Pearl remained at the shelter, where Lisa fell in love with her. “She was very outgoing and would put her paw through her kennel to say hi to everybody,” Lisa says. It was also clear that Pearl had suffered before being rescued. She was scarred and had some chemical burns. Lisa and Jim decided to adopt her. “She needed love and a nice home to undo the bad stuff that was done to her,” Lisa says.
Pearl immediately bonded with the two senior dogs in her new home, Mabel and Murray, and was unfazed by the parade of foster dogs that come through the house. “She is always amazing with all of the dogs,” Lisa says. “We call her a dog in a cat suit.” Pearl is particularly close with Mabel, a 17-year old mixed breed. “They are buddies,” Lisa says, noting that they can often be found cuddling, playing or sleeping together.
Lisa’s post about Pearl did not have to do with how great a cat she was or how well she got along with all the dogs In her life. It was about how Pearl was missing. One night about a month ago, Lisa and Jim got home from a night out and couldn’t find Pearl anywhere. She is now an indoor cat so there would be no reason or way for her to be outside, but she was nowhere to be found inside the house. Their hearts sank when they found a small hole in the screen of one of the windows they had left open, realizing that was Pearl’s escape route. They searched the neighborhood for hours along with their friends, calling out her name and enticing her with treats, but Pearl did not return.
For the next few days, Lisa and Jim left litter boxes and a scratching post outside to try to lure Pearl back. They took to leaving their back door ajar in case she came home when they were not at the house. They made fliers with a picture of her and posted them all around the neighborhood, asking folks to text Lisa with any Pearl sightings. “We put on there that she was scared and doesn’t know where she is, so please don’t chase her,” Lisa says.
A few days later, Lisa got a text from a number she did not recognize. It was from a woman named Karen who said she lives behind her. She sent a ring doorbell video of a cat at their front door. “Is this your cat?” she asked. It was! Lisa ran over to Karen’s house and was given free reign to look through their back yard and shed and do whatever she needed to get Pearl back. It was incredibly fortuitous that Karen had even spotted Pearl. She had been away for the weekend and was looking through the ring footage to check up on the house in her absence. When she saw Pearl, she remembered the flier but couldn’t find it. She finally got Lisa’s number and texted her. She also assured Lisa she would tell all her neighbors so that they could be on the lookout for Pearl as well.
Lisa had never met Karen before getting her text, but she took full advantage of Karen’s offer to do whatever she needed to do. She set up traps in her backyard and came over every day and night to try to spot Pearl. Pearl kept showing up on the ring video, but it was always between 1 am and 3 am. Karen put out food for her, to ensure she’d keep coming back. Weeks went by. Lisa dressed up in ninja black and camped out in Karen’s driveway during the Pearl hours only to learn the next day that Pearl had shown up at 11:30 pm that particular night. The traps did not seem to be working, except one of Karen’s small dogs ended up getting trapped and Lisa was summoned to free him. Lisa and Jim concluded that Pearl was too smart for the traps so they covered them up and hid the wire inside with a catnip-laced towel to make it more comfortable and enticing. It finally worked.
Early on a Sunday morning, almost a month after Pearl went missing, Lisa got a text from Karen. “The cat is in the trap!” Lisa ran over and sure enough Pearl was there. She is now safely back home, in a house where the windows will remain permanently shut from now on. She is happily reunited with her family, especially her best buddy, Mabel, and does not seem to have suffered any lasting hardship from her time on the run. Lisa is beyond relieved to have her home.
And Lisa is so grateful that this neighbor she had never met went above and beyond to help her get Pearl back. “I thought a lot about it during the time Pearl was missing,” Lisa says. “What if Karen hadn’t taken the time to look for the flier.” She is blown away by how gracious and generous Karen was about letting Lisa come over at any time of day or night (“She never seemed irritated or impatient,” Lisa says) and how much she took it upon herself to help in the Pearl search and rescue process. “People really do have empathy,” Lisa says. “It meant the world to me that she went the extra mile to help someone she didn’t know.”
Lisa and Jim have no children other than their furry ones. “Our animals are our kids,” Lisa says.
She and Jim gave Karen a gift card to their favorite local restaurant and a heartfelt thank you note. It read, in part, “What you did may have seemed trivial and small to you but you brought our family back together.”
Here’s to kind neighbors and people going out of their way to help each other. And here’s to karma paying back Lisa for all the kindnesses she has shown animals in need over the years. I don’t know which of Pearl’s nine lives she is on right now, but I think she gets how lucky she is to have landed where she is and will stay put for the rest of it.