When we began Eli Sports we wanted to be a leader in covering High School sports and with our partnership with the NFHS and the WIAA we believe we are one of the media companies that focuses on High School sports with the best of them. The coverage of course begins with the live streaming of games. But our website has always been for the additional coverage, game re-caps, stories on players, WIAA news, pictures, podcasts and interviews.

We then began to add additional content and we wanted to focus on sports that don’t get daily headlines and are pretty much forgotten by the traditional media. We added coverage of sports such as Soccer from the Sounders to the very minorist of leagues, Horse Racing and college’s other than D-1s.

We also wanted to have some fun with columns and off-beat venues of thought. This is where Larry the SportsCat came to be. Larry’s column was deemed “The Litter Box” because it would be about everything, no subject out of reach. Of course the column was created as a satirical look at different aspects of the sports world.

My favorite piece was when we had Larry compete with the Emerald Downs track announcer at the time Matt Dinerman in a “throwdown, showdown” every Sunday. Larry and Matt would make bets with a pretend bankroll and Matt played it up so brilliantly. Who would take on a cat in a wagering contest? Matt did and had fun with it and when Matt left for one of his dream job locations at Golden Gate in San Francisco I missed that little interaction the most.

Larry also had a following with his own Twitter and Facebook accounts where he had amassed at one point more than 500 followers. It was on those platforms that the “throwdown, showdown” would be revealed along with regular handicapping and racing features.

The idea of Larry the SportsCat came from our real live cat named Larry. Larry is one of those animals that simply demands your attention and has such a big heart loves everyone. We got him from the Lewis County Animal Shelter 10 years ago he was probably a year old. He was declawed when we got him, had a stubby tail was white with big burnt orange patches of fur, we called him Texas Kitty as his coloring matched the University of Texas. 

It was almost 2 cats we brought home that day, Larry had a brother and my girls and my husband Tony had me talked into taking both as Tony held Larry. I was already hesitant and the thought of 2 cats but I was ganged up on 3-1 so a I gave in. We turned to get his brother and a little girl was holding him. Her mother told her that she thought we were taking both cats when I quickly said she clearly picked him out so please you can take him much to my relief. We picked up Larry first and he simply wouldn’t let any of us let him go, he chose us in the end. 

When we first brought him home of course he was a bit skiddish and hid from us but after about 2 days he began to trust and his personality blossomed. He was especially fond of Tony. He would literally wrap his arms around his neck and hug him. He carved out “his” spot on the bed and no it was not at the foot of the bed.

He is very social and would make friends with other neighborhood cats to the point it was like he was having slumber parties. We would come home and there would be 3 or 4 cats with Larry hanging out on the patio. Several of his friends would come over daily. Then we moved. Of course a new house and setting took him and our other cat Liza some time to settle in but it didn’t take long and more cats would be hanging out. It was this engaging personality coming from a cat that fed the idea of Larry the SportsCat.

Most everyone has had a pet before and they live with you and you love them and enjoy them and they age and they die. You are sad they are gone but move on rather quickly. At least that was my experience with the many animals that came in and out of my life over the years.

I always thought that some people totally over-reacted when they lost a pet after all what did they expect? They don’t live forever and we all know their lifespan is much shorter than a human. Plus we all have Moms, Dads, Grandparents, siblings, kids and extended family and it’s already devastating enough to lose one of them, so when a pet leaves us it’s dang, sure miss this guy but we’ll get another one kind of mindset for many.

Then it happens. When you least expect it and you are not thinking it could happen, you likely don’t believe it could happen but just when your defenses are down one of these little guys storms your heart like nothing ever before. He gets you. You look at each other and you feel there is something there. Oh I know there will be many doubters and many that think I am too sensitive, believe me I have not been accused of that much in my life.

But this little ball of white and orange fur just would not allow me to consider him just another pet or another cat. He knew when you weren’t having a good day and would simply come sit on my lap, rub his head against my chin and reach up with both paws for a hug. He would do things that would make you giggle to laugh out loud as he attacked a fierce rubber band. He would communicate with you, when his dry food bowl was too empty somehow from somewhere a bread twist tie would be in the bowl indicating it needed to be filled up. The ONLY time a twist tie was ever in his bowl is when it was nearly empty.

We walked in one day and smelled cat poop and said uh-oh Larry must have had an accident. Larry oddly never liked using a litter box but went outside 90% of time settling for the nasty box when it was raining too hard for the most part. But on this night it appeared he went elsewhere and we looked and looked and could not find his accident. Then we found it. In the toilet! He had apparently balanced on the rim as the seat was up and pooped in the toilet.

He did this for awhile at our old house but stopped after we moved. We thought there was too much loose dirt for him to resist around the new house. But we noticed a new habit at the new house. There was water on the floor near his water dish and this happened several times. We were wondering why he was spilling water when we walked in one day and saw him literally washing his big man hands in the bowl of water. We called him man hands because he has an extra digit on his front paws that look like thumbs and he grips like a human.

He loved to wear collars or bandana’s. His favorite of course a Seahawks bandana. He would wear a flea collar like it was a string of pearls ready to show off his bling to his friends. He had a holiday sweater and a formal sweater for those special occasions. 

These are just a few of the endearing qualities that this little guy has and worked his way into our hearts. There are many other anecdotes and I could write for days about how Larry looked after not only us but his adopted sister Liza and others.

He got his name Larry simply by us when we were bringing him home with the help of my two daughters just tossing out names. We wanted something familiar yet strange for a cat. No Buttons or Socks something unique. Someone said Larry, I think it was Tony and boom that was the name and yes it was well before Larry the cat on the hit show Modern Family, they copied us somehow.

So this is the final column of the Litter Box and that is because Larry went missing . He wanted outside on a particularly cold night on February 23rd as was his usual routine. It was a little different though that night one of the older neighborhood cats, Skipper, had been visiting us lately and we fed him and Tony had made a bed in a crate outside. During the summer when it was warm outside he would come into the house get a few bites to eat, drink some water and then walk back outside.

On this night he was at our door and we opened it and let him in from the cold. He stayed inside with us for a couple of hours and we made up a bed for him as he was really struggling with his balance and you could tell he was hurting. But after a while he wanted back outside clawing at the door so we obliged. Larry had been near him and was watching him the whole time. Shortly afterward is when he wanted out and this was also his usual time to go out before it was bed time.

With it being so cold we figured 15-20 minutes and he would be ready to come back in. But he wasn’t. We looked again 15 minutes later and nope, not on the porch. We continued to look and call him figuring maybe he went with Skipper for a little bit and would be back. But that never happened and he is still gone.

There was an ominous feeling in my gut that night. I was hoping it was wrong but I don’t think it is. We put up flyers, word has spread on social media, we called the shelter and filed a missing cat report with them and visited on Monday and no he is not there. The messages on social media we know have spread because the lady at the shelter had seen them and knew who we were asking about, saying “are you asking about Larry?”

This all happened at our busiest time at ESN as we did more than 250 live broadcasts from regional and state basketball tournaments over an 8 day period. In between, we have walked the neighborhood multiple times, driven around, call out his name daily and check the porch regularly to see if he has made it back.

Skipper also went missing at the same time. He has not been seen since. My remaining glimmer of hope is that Larry got into someone’s garage or outbuilding and they closed the door trapping him. This actually happened to him when we first had him and we thought we lost him then but 5 days later he was back and he never did that again.

I am trying to be realistic about my little furry buddy who is the most unique and loving animal I have ever been around. He stole my heart. I asked Tony if I should feel guilty because I am actually feeling more grief than when my Dad passed. I know many folks won’t understand this but when my Dad passed it was known, we were there, he was ready there was no mystery and of course I was sad and still miss him but I knew and he knew and most of all I got to say good-bye.

I lost my Mom in 2006 and it was a complete shock, they were on vacation and she had a heart attack. That was devastating I did not get to say good-bye. But at least I have her ashes with me at all times. I feel a similar grief with Larry but without the knowledge of what has happened to him. I know if I knew he was gone that I wouldn’t be feeling this way but a different kind of grief. I also know I wouldn’t be feeling this way with any of the other animals I have ever had or our family has ever had, yes I would be sad but not this blanket of sadness that has wrapped my soul.

Maybe it’s much worse this time as well because as President of my Senior High School class I keep up a Facebook page for my classmates and lately it has been nothing but tragic news including the disappearance of a friend last Fall who is still missing followed by 2 unexpected deaths of friends in their mid-50’s and now the husband of a dear friend just passed recently to add to it all.

Maybe the negativity of our human existence over the past few years combined with these personal losses have all collected with my little furry friend now also out of my life. Whatever it is it began with him and his spirit. Larry was as important to my mental health and overall well being as anything in my life. That is a big statement and not meant to be hurtful to my loving husband, my daughters, the rest of my family and friends.

But just when all you ever wanted at certain times was to sit quiet with the soft purring noise as he nuzzled into the crook of my neck and you just know you will get through. You will be fine and you will get back on track. I can’t count the times that I sat in my chair holding him and thinking what he is giving to me is incredible and all he asks for is a little food, water and attention.

His sister Liza is a very sweet little kitty and she is constantly in my lap or Tony’s. She constantly is looking out and looking around for him and we had to leave her home alone for 5 days while we covered the state tournaments. Yes, my daughter came over and fed her and spent a little time with her but she and Larry were on my mind constantly while working literally from 7am to midnight for 4 straight days.

The tournaments did give me a little time away from being home hoping to hear his meow at the door that is about the only thing I got from being gone. But I find myself right back where I left, looking for him constantly, calling his name, listening for a meow and checking our front porch every night before I turn off the light for the night.

I know this is long and I don’t care, frankly I don’t care if anyone reads this, it is a very selfish piece it is for me. It is the only way I know how to say good-bye to my Larry who worked his way into my heart to the point I am finishing this piece with tears in my eyes and an ache in my heart.

Here is a video tribute to our special little guy…

I know my life was better for a decade because I had Larry. He was simply the best animal I ever had and he made me smile and still does just thinking of him. I miss him dearly. Larry I love you and thank you for your loyalty, personality and unconditional love. I remain hopeful of a miracle and that you will come home but if that miracle does not happen I hope there is another chance that our two spirits and souls get to be together.

Larry represents to me that special little thing that we humans all have, whether it’s a pet, a place or a thing. That time you crave and need where you can spill out your guts and don’t want to hear suggestions, other people’s thoughts or ways of doing things. You want 100% agreement, unconditional love and that peace that, for me, Larry gave me when I needed my alone time.

For all that think this is just a strange “cat man” with an obsession over cats, it’s not that at all. Larry turned into my security blanket, my place. I could feel the days tension or pressures that are mostly self induced but simply melt away. Again, this probably is the ultimate selfish response but frankly I don’t care. I don’t care what anyone thinks, I don’t care how anyone judges me what I care about is what happened to my friend. Larry will always be with me and in my heart. I never imagined what a decision like going to the Lewis County Animal Shelter on a rainy Saturday would ultimately mean to me. We miss you Larry, you were and always will be loved.

That is our last edition of  “The Litter Box”, as Larry would always end each column; “Remember, Hugs not Drugs.”



By paulb

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