Pete and repeat getting to be an old joke

Published 6:15 am Wednesday, July 26, 2023

By Steve Stricker

You reap what you sow and kindness toward people and animals is often taken advantage of.

I moved to Oxford in 1988 and finally into my new house down South Lamar in August 2000. It was a large lot on a quiet cul-de-sac, peaceful woods with trees behind the house that I let grow “Wild Zone” with a deer trail. It is attractive to all animals, and I see myself as a friend to nature. I was adopted in spring 2016 by a black cat named Jag.

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In my backyard there are multiple birdbaths, birdfeeders, and on the hill behind me I daily distribute black sunflower seeds for all critters, along with tossing food Jag doesn’t eat into yard. Regular visitors are Bandit the raccoon and Pete the possum. Bandit and Pete became very comfortable with me. I could open my backdoor and chat with them and they wouldn’t run.

Jag is inside-outside, leaving the garage and patio doors ajar so he can come and go. He is usually inside by dark. On June 21 early in the morning I remembered I’d forgotten to let Jag in. He came in and Pete right after him. I opened all the doors and prayed he went out. The next morning Pete was still there, and I poked and prodded him with a cane pole to get him out.

This past Monday night Jag was on the bed, and we heard clicking noises made by possums. I saw Pete in my kitchen night lights and Tuesday morning found possum droppings in my guest bedroom, I didn’t see him and shut the door.

Wednesday before church, I checked the bedroom and a precious plant from my mom’s funeral in 2008 was knocked over, and other things amiss. He was in there. I went to Mass to think and pray to St. Joseph as what to do.

I found him under the bed, prodded and poked with my cane pole for 30 minutes, but could not get him out of the room. Frustrated and in Vietnam combat mode, I grabbed him by the tail, hissing and fussing, took him outside and released him.

I previously posted on Facebook that I would shoot him – but this was my fault. Pete was simply following his nature of seeking food and water, which I gave him. Although this was perhaps my fault, I cannot continue to live anxiously with doors ajar for Jag that Pete will again enter into my house – push me once, push me twice, do not push me a third time.

Am praying that this second experience for Pete, trapped without food or water for days, poked, forcefully grabbed and removed by the tail by me will thwart any future entries into my house. If not – please don’t force me there, Pete.

Steve is an Oxford resident, received his Ph.D. in Counseling from Ole Miss, and can be reached at