|SAN CARLOS, Calif., Sept. 26, 2003
Ted, the feline Inglis named after a character in "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure," completed an amazing adventure of his own when he was reunited with his owner a decade after vanishing from his Burlingame home.
Ted "put his front paws on the dashboard," just like in the old days.-Chris Inglis
Someone found Ted last week on El Camino Real in Atherton, about 13 miles south of where he used to live. The cat was brought to the Peninsula Humane Society's animal shelter, which tracked down his owner using a microchip that Inglis had gotten implanted in Ted.
We scan every animal that comes in, said Scott Delucchi, the shelter's community relations officer. Even after 10 years, there was no doubt about Ted's identity.
"It's pretty monumental," Inglis, 44, said. "I can't get my mind around it. It's almost surreal."
When Inglis and Ted started co-habitating, Inglis was divorced, renting a one-bedroom Burlingame duplex, teaching high school in South San Francisco and driving an old Honda Civic. Now he's married, with a four-bedroom house in San Carlos, a job as a financial planner in Redwood City, two daughters at home and a son in college. And he drives a Mercedes-Benz.
And Ted? He hasn't changed much at all. "He's still a long, stringy black cat with a tail," said Inglis' wife, Carolyn, 42.
When Chris Inglis acquired Ted in 1991, he took in a litter mate as well. Their names were inspired by the 1989 movie that is still in Inglis' top 10. But they didn't get along, so Bill left, and Ted stayed on.
"We were both kind of independent," Inglis said. "He'd have his own window to come and go, but he'd sleep on my water bed every night."
One of the things they liked to do together was cruise around in Inglis' car. While Inglis was at work, Ted would frequent a dentist's waiting room a block away. When Inglis drove by and yelled for him, he'd race along a fence and jump into his car.
BACK TO THE DENTIST'S
In summer 1993, Inglis and his new wife bought a house in Burlingame, close to his old place. After a few weeks, Ted ran away. They found him at the dental office.
Inglis had the microchip with his ID info implanted between Ted's shoulder blades. But one day, Ted disappeared again through an upstairs window. And the chip didn't do any good -- at least not right away.
"I was heartbroken," Inglis said. "I spent six months looking for him."
He put up posters, called the pound, went door-to-door, checked in at the dentist's. Nothing. Finally, he gave up, though he always figured Ted was alive.
"He was too smart to get hurt," Inglis said.
Then, last week, he got two messages on his voice mail from the humane society, saying his cat had been found. Inglis assumed it was a wrong number. After all, his cat of two years, a 25-pounder named Max, was at home.
PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF
But the humane society kept trying, and at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, his assistant interrupted a business meeting to give him the news that Ted, now 12, had shown up.
Fifteen minutes later, Inglis was at the shelter's San Mateo office.
"He was curled up in a box," Inglis said. "He rubbed his face on my hand, climbed right up and started purring."
Inglis was certain Ted recognized him.
"We spent a lot of time together," he said.
And when Inglis let Ted loose in his car, "he put his front paws on the dashboard," just like the old days.
Exactly where Ted has been all these years is a mystery, but it seems clear someone was tending to him.
"Ted was happy, friendly and your basic lap cat," said Malu Trehan, outreach coordinator at the Peninsula Humane Society. "And he looked well cared for."
Kat Brown, deputy director at San Francisco's Department of Animal Care and Control, called the reunion "a testament to microchip technology," which is about a decade old.