11.13.2020 | First Farmers Financial Corp.

Meet Joe Chapter Seven

We’re back with Joe as we’re finally getting closer to his very favorite holiday—Thanksgiving! This year, Joe has a lot to be thankful for…a new family, a new home, and a new partner in crime, Tadpole, the little kitten who is quickly growing into a cat burglar of epic proportions. The heist? Thanksgiving gravy, turkey, and all the trimmings!

At First Farmers, we have a lot to be thankful for too, and right at the top is our customers. Together, we’ve been able to get through a year that was full of challenges, surprises, and opportunities. Thank you!

Joe’s story follows a dog rescued from his local shelter and is part of our Furever Home campaign. So far, we’ve raised over $4,000 to donate to local shelters and will continue to grow those dollars over the next few weeks! 
It all started out innocently enough. I was snoozing in the kitchen, not really asleep but enjoying the warm air, listening to Ethan’s dad working on his spaghetti sauce, and soaking up the smells. Don’t get me started! Most cooking smells are fantastic, right up there at the top of my favorite scents list, but Italian food? The best! Even humans with their itty bitty, mostly decorative noses are clued into that!

So, all in all, I was in heaven. It was evening, and Ethan was outside with Bella, raking leaves. He’d sort them into a pile, and she’d run right through it, scattering them all over the place. Whoa! Sounds like fun, right? If Dad had been cooking enchiladas or something, I’d probably have been out there with them—but no respectable dog would miss a chance to bask in the aroma of simmering spaghetti sauce. Take my word for it.

Things were quiet. Mom was outside with the kids, Dad was cooking away and staring at his phone, and I was stretched out, just taking it all in. What a life!

It was right at that moment that Tadpole came strolling in. She’s not as small anymore, but still plenty of room to grow, don’t get me wrong. And thankfully, she’s not as cute either! It’s not that I was jealous or anything, but now that things are starting to level out in the cuteness category, I’m back to getting my fair share of attention.

She’s also a cat. Take that for what you will.

So she saunters in, tail up, casual. I get a good look at her, because she always walks by me real slow, looking me right in the eye, that silly cat smile on her face. Sometimes she’ll rub up against me, and I don’t mind. I’m a friendly guy! But today, she just stared me down on her way by, and then, just like that, she jumped up on the counter! 

I know I said I wasn’t jealous, and I’m not. Not of her cuteness anyways. But have you seen a cat jump before? A thing of beauty! And the possibilities! I can jump too, don’t ever doubt it, but I tend to be noisier. And need a bit of a running start. Tadpole just sort of floated up onto the countertop and suddenly—what was this??—she was looking down at me!

Ethan’s dad was staring at his phone, completely oblivious to this sudden topsy turvy world gone awry, so I did the only thing I could do. I barked.

“Tadpole! Get down from there!” he shouted, helping out a little by giving Tadpole a shove. She landed beside me with barely a thud, graceful (again!), and launched into another one of those staring contests. For some reason, I felt guilty. And that’s how it started.

Now, I can’t talk to Tadpole the way people are always talking, but we have our own sort of communication. Body language is big with the four-legged set, let me tell you! And over the next few days, that shift that had started when Tadpole was perched up on the counter, looking down at me, continued, until suddenly, I started to follow her lead. It was almost like being hypnotized, I think. Ethan and I watched a hypnotist on one of those talent shows on TV, and I felt kind of like that.

Tadpole would do something wrong. And I know wrong! Dogs have a finer tune on their conscience than cats, and sometimes even people! So I knew it was wrong. Like scratching the back of the recliner, knocking over a vase (on purpose!), or shredding toilet paper. She’d just get started, and there I was, ready to sound the warning, when she’d stop. And she’d turn her head and stare at me. Have I mentioned how big her eyes are? I’d be trying to figure out what her eyes reminded me of, and she’d go back to whatever mischief she was up to. And instead of barking, my normal go-to move, I’d just stand there, watching.

One night, she floated up on the counter again and knocked over the salad dressing and was inches away from toppling the entire salad bowl before Ethan’s mom spotted her and put an end to that nonsense. I was watching the whole thing from the kitchen door. Silently. Mom gave me a look, eyebrows raises, and I felt properly chastised. That’s when I knew it had to stop—I had to get back control from Tadpole!

But the final straw came a short week later. Thanksgiving. Awww, Thanksgiving! Let me take just a short break here to say, no doubt about it, Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite day of the entire year! Usually you don’t have a ton of Italian dishes on the table, but the sheer volume and variety of food! It’s AMAZING! So when I saw Tadpole, the little trouble maker, eyeballing the Thanksgiving table, I rallied. Not this time, cat! I kept close tabs on her from that second forward, and believe me, she knew it.

Mom brought the sweet potatoes to the table. Tadpole watched her. I watched Tadpole. So far, so good.

Then the green beans. No problem. Mashed potatoes, rolls, fruit salad—all of them made their way to the table, a parade of edible delights. Tadpole’s tail twitched when the meatballs came out. Her eyes, once firmly fixed on Ethan’s mom, slowly turned towards me, and I’m ashamed to admit it, but I fell for it. Again!

The crowning achievement of Thanksgiving was next—the turkey. Smelling like heaven, that gorgeous shade of golden brown, Ethan’s mom brought it to the table. She smiled as she set it down in the place of honor, center stage.

With that smile still in place, she turned and left the dining room, and I thought, oh no! Tadpole was crouched now, looking up at the table, probably plotting as much disaster as possible, and there I stood, hypnotized. But then, like magic, she sat again and started bathing her tail. Typical cat. Ethan’s mom brought in the gravy boat, then left to gather the family for this, the most delightful meal of the entire year. My tail started to wag, and I began to think about Bella and Ethan, certain to slip me some food under the table, thinking they were sneaky. Mom and dad both did the same thing. I love this family.

While I was daydreaming, eagerly anticipating the feast about the begin, Tadpole made her move. It was the gravy boat, of course. It smelled so good, and cats, while no dogs mind you, still have a decent enough nose. I almost couldn’t blame her.

But Tadpole, for all of her slyness, had made a mistake. She didn’t establish control before she leaped, and I found myself standing up, barking, finally able to do my job and keep that cat in line! Boy, I was ecstatic!

The family, fearing the worse I’m sure, rushed into the dining room. “What’s wrong, Joe?” Ethan asked, giving me a quick scratch behind the ears. I dialed it down a notch, looking around, ready to point out the culprit!

But what was this? Somehow, Tadpole had pulled a vanishing act. I scanned the entire room, but no cat.

“He’s just excited for dinner,” said Ethan’s dad, and he wasn’t wrong. “Let’s eat!”

Well, since that night, I’ve kept a closer eye on Tadpole. She’s still pretty devious, and she’s tried the eye trick on me a few more times, but I haven’t fallen for it again. I’m proud to say that I saved Thanksgiving this year! Tadpole showed up around dessert time, and the family let her lick up some cream, which I thought was pretty classy of them, all things considered. I, of course, had a wonderful meal, and I’ve been trying my best to teach Tadpole a thing or two about manners. After all, Christmas is right around the corner, and I don’t want coal in my stocking!

Make sure to join us next time for the final installment of Joe’s story! Thank you for following along and Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at First Farmers Bank & Trust!