Another Woogie Tail

Another Woogie Tail

by Chuck RitenouR

When Woogie arrived at the Ritenour home on Dixie Bell Drive, Winchester, Virginia, he was about six months old. The ride from Ashburn in a cat-carrier must have been very scarey for the young neutered male. As soon as we got Woogie savely inside the house, we let him out. He hid behind our couch for a few hours. My daughter Savanna (nicknamed "Boogie") was about four years old and very eager to pet the kittie. It took some explaining to allow Woogie his adjustment time. My youngest daughter Megan was a year old toddler wear pampers and speaking with a limited vocabulary. She was on him like a duck on a junebug.

I had been a fulltime road music for six years and it had taken its toll on me. I put my guitars under my bed and decided it may be good to get a regular job and stay put for awhile. My wife and I both worked at Lansdowne Conference Resort in Ashburn, Virginia. I was a security guard and she worked both five star restaurants and the pub. She was friends with a couple that worked as chef's and Woogie had been their pet. They took a job at another of Benchmark's properties in Woodlands, Texas. Unfortunately they were going to have to save on property for a long time and pets were not allowed. My wife volunteered to give Woogie a home. So, I met Woogie when he arrived at the house.

After his initial shyness, Woogie proved to be a great pet. He allowed Megan to drag him through the house and never once drew blood, though he would swat her and run. Some nights he'd sleep in Savanna's bed with her. I had several pictures of Woogie sleeping with me on the couch. I had many long conversations with Woogie discussing my job, my lack of musical direction, the Redskins, problems of the heart and of course he listened patiently and purred reassuringly.

My marriage broke up in 1996 and Woogie stayed with the children. They moved to Florida, then to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, moved again to Stephens City, Virginia. My ex-wife finally bought a house in Shenandoah Shores just outside of Front Royal, Virginia. I saw the girls and Woogie often. During the many moves, Woogie had become more of an outdoor cat. He hunted rabbits and other small critters. Another cat was added to the family. A small gray male they named O'Malley. Their house lot was backed by tangled overgrowth and the river was very close. Snakes were always a threat. Woogie was fearless whenever it came to a strange animal entering his yard. He and O'Malley kept the yard free of intruders.

As fearless as Woogie was, he met his match one summer day. A copperhead had ventured into the yard and Woogie was having none of that. Woogie was now fourteen years old and had started suffering from arthritis. A neighbor saw him bound off the deck and attacked the snake from behind. It was a small one and very quick. Woogie suffered two bites but continued the battle until the snake was lifeless. Woogie went inside through the "cat door" and rested under my ex-wifes bed while the life spark left his body. No one in the family knew where he was and indeed none of us knew about the snake until a few days later.

Woogie was buried in the back yard and a wooden cross still marks his grave. If I can ever get one of my pictures back of Woogie, I'll post it under this.....he was a great cat and I still miss him.


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