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I have been distracted from my endeavours to promote The Last, The Least, The Lonely and The Lost by a dramatic event. Ten days ago, while taking our beloved 11-year-old British Blue cat, Monty, for a walk through our local churchyard, he was spooked by the sudden appearance of a large Lurcher. He wrestled free from his harness and rocketed into the nearby bush. He failed to return by nightfall, precipitating anguish and a full-scale search operation. We printed flyers, distributed them to local households and attached them to lampposts and public noticeboards. Appeals for help were posted on Facebook and Neighbourly, and we contacted the SPCA, local veterinarians, LostPet and PetFinder. We searched the bush several times a day. I was worried that concerned local residents might contact the police about sightings of an elderly man roaming the streets, rattling a tin and uttering deprecations morning and night.

Our daily routine was completely disrupted, and our sleep disturbed. As each day dragged by, our apprehension grew. After a week, we reluctantly began to prepare ourselves for life without Monty. Our hopes were buoyed on day eight, when a Good Samaritan telephoned to offer assistance with yet another sweep of the neighbourhood, churchyard and adjacent bush. After two hours' fruitless searching, as dusk gathered, we glimpsed a flash of grey fur beside one of the gravestones. Name-calling and tin-rattling coaxed the wraith to emerge from the bush. It was Monty! However, he was hypervigilant and jumpy, and any advance towards him resulted in his backing towards the nearby undergrowth. As I flipped some of his favourite biscuits towards him, he cautiously edged his way forward until I was able to reach out and grab him. What joy! Engulfed in waves of exhilaration and relief, clutching our treasured pet, we headed for home. Monty had lost half a kilogram but fortunately showed no signs of injury. He is still jittery but gradually settling back into his sybaritic indoor life. He won't be going for a walk for a long time!

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