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The Boy, the Cat and the Bicycle

Here is a story from Sara Olivia Garcia about a young boy, the cat he loved, and how a decision he made long ago continues to inspire her to this day.


I once had a neighbor who was nine years old. Living next door to him, I often noticed how much he loved animals, the little people of God. He was gentle with all little animals, but one special one was his little orange tabby cat, Tiger, who received tender and constant care.

The other delight of his life was riding his bicycle with his friends. Together they would go on the bicycle trail by the Charles River and ride for hours on end.

During that past year, the boy had managed to save his allowances, birthday money and occasional extra money he earned so that he could buy a faster and newer bicycle.

Then something happened that caused him to take a position and make a difficult decision for the first time in his young life.

Tiger was gone for days. We all helped post notices on street corners while the whole neighborhood looked for Tiger. When Tiger finally surfaced, he came out from underneath the house. He had been seriously injured from what looked like the impact of an automobile. The veterinarian said that unless Tiger was operated on within twenty-four hours, he was sure to die. An option would be to put him to sleep rather than have him continue to suffer.

The boy's father said, “Son, we cannot afford to pay for this operation. We can put him to sleep and that would all right. He will not suffer.”

The boy asked his father to wait for an hour. He wanted to go off to think. He returned within the hour and said “I want to use the money that I have saved. Because, when cats are hurt, they go off by themselves. Tiger did this, but he also came out, so he must want to live really badly. Anything that wants to live that badly should be helped.”

Quite ironically, the operation cost almost exactly what the boy had saved. Tiger had the operation and lived a long life.

The memory of this young neighbor's kind and gentle wisdom has helped me to soften my heart at times when hostility and hardness rise up in me.


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