Five months after being separated from his home in 150 Mile House because of the summer’s wildfires, Lego, a four-year-old cat, was reunited with his owners last week.
“It’s the best Christmas present,” Lego’s owner Matt Tremblay told the Tribune Tuesday. “My seven-year-old son is coming to visit on Boxing Day and he doesn’t know we’ve got Lego back so it’s going to be a nice surprise.”
Tremblay is a member of the 150 Mile House Volunteer Fire Department and said on Friday, July 7 at around 5 p.m., his partner Jessica Means evacuated with their two children, their two six-week-old kittens and Lego to Means’ mom’s place at Esler.
They live on Valley Road in 150 Mile and the fire at Frontier Estates was not that far away, Tremblay recalled, noting he remained behind, fighting on the front line of the fires.
When the evacuation order came down on Saturday, July 15 for Williams Lake and fringe areas, including Esler, Means evacuated with her daughters and kittens, but she could not find Lego to take him with them.
After his 15 to 18-hour days, fighting fires from July 15 until early August, Tremblay would go up to Esler to see if he could find Lego, but did not have any success.
Meanwhile, as the months unfolded, another Esler household began wondering if there was a cat living underneath their home.
“We thought there was a cat living under the house and then when it started to get cold it began tearing into our garbage,” said Mary Forbes.
Forbes’ friend, Misty Schulz, lives with Forbes and decided to trap the cat.
“I knew he wasn’t feral, but he was quiet and just stayed in the cage,” Schulz said. “I upgraded him to a larger cage and then took a photograph of him and posted it the next day on the Williams Lake Lost and Found Pets Facebook page, just in case.”
Schulz also contacted the BCSPCA to see if there were any orange cats on the reported missing file with a black spot on its ear, but there had been no reports, she was told.
All along Means had been checking various pet sites on Facebook to see if by any chance Lego had been found by someone.
One night last week as she scrolled down on the Cariboo Pet Connect Facebook site she saw that someone had shared Schulz’s photograph of Lego.
She immediately messaged Schulz and sent her a few photographs of Lego. Tremblay messaged her as well.
“I said, ‘I’m so glad he’s yours,’” Schulz said, noting she arranged to bring Lego to them that evening.
On the drive out to 150 Mile House in her truck, Lego didn’t make a sound.
“They live on a ranch and there was a long driveway with a few houses so I called Matt to figure out which house was theirs,” Schulz said.
“As soon as Lego heard his voice on my speaker phone, he started meowing quietly.”
And when they entered the house, Schulz said she saw a different cat than the one whose trust she had been trying to gain.
“As soon as we let him out of the cage he began running around and head butting everyone,” she said. “He was nudging Matt’s head and purring very loudly.”
Tremblay said Lego calmed down right away and was happy to be home.
“I was in disbelief and shock that we were all back together after all this time,” Tremblay said.
“Lego is having to adjust a little bit because the other cats in the house were kittens before the evacuation and now they are bigger, but it’s working out well.”
Tremblay adopted Lego as a rescue kitten from the Invermere Companion Animal Network shelter.
He moved to 150 Mile House two and a half years ago and has been a volunteer firefighter for seven years.
Normally Lego is an outdoor cat who loves to hunt and bring them gifts, he added.
Means’ said their daughter Amaya, 11, wrote a thank you letter for Schulz to accompany a couple bottles of wine the family is giving her to show their gratitude for reuniting them with Lego.