When I first saw the home that I currently rent, I knew that the roof over the enclosed front porch would become a perch for my three felines: Joan, Jack and Forest.
I’d remove one screen from two windows above the porch, place an ottoman under the one window and voilà – an instant playground safe above the ground with tree limbs shading it and the window close by for a quick retreat.
Sure enough, in the early mornings my cats sit on the roof and watch possums that wobble up from along the riverbank next door. Midday my cats lie on the warm shingles and unsuspectingly watch neighbors. After rain, they lap water from the gutter.
My desk is near the window and I always make sure that I’m close by when the rooftop playground is open.
The one pet that I didn’t expect to explore the porch roof is Trucker. My agile, 60-pound, leggy, mixed-breed pooch loves his feline siblings. He follows them and they follow him, mimicking each other’s habits. He watched them exploring the roof and wanted to join in the fun.
The ottoman beneath the porch roof window became Trucker’s post – a watchtower to observe the world. My cats leap up to the sill and hop outside while Trucker watches with his nose sticking out of the window and his long tail pointed straight down to the floor like an anchor.
One warm afternoon I lifted the window wide. The cats hopped out to their posts and Trucker sat on the ottoman. I sat at my desk working and turned around to find that he was missing.
Trucker was on the porch roof. The cats were looking at him with questioning eyes and I was torn between laughing and panicking.
Trucker was calm, standing tall at each corner of the roof looking up and down the road. I spoke to him and he came back to the window, stepped over the sill onto his ottoman and into the room without worry.
I wondered if the neighbors saw him and what they’d say if they did.
Time and again while I work, Trucker sits on the ottoman post with his body consuming the top of the cube form. He barks now and then at dog walkers below. When I leave the house his face can be seen behind the closed window at his second-floor perch watching me.
Sometimes he steps onto the roof so quietly that I do not know he’s there. I turn around from my desk and see only his head and shoulders. He sits peacefully just outside of the window looking up and down the block.
One spring day his private roof time became a public display.
I heard a lady’s voice and rushed to the window. She was walking a Yorkshire Terrier below and said to Trucker, “Do they know you are out there?”
I looked out instantly saying, “Yes, he’s ok – I’m right here. He just wanted to explore.”
She laughed uncontrollably and said, “That’s so funny! I’ve never seen anything like that in my life!”
That’s my Trucker.
After that event, I told my next door neighbors – all dog lovers – that not only would they occasionally see my cats on the porch roof, but Trucker.
There are times when a mail carrier comes by or a utility company worker and Trucker dashes onto the roof to bark, startling them. Never has he shown a desire to jump.
In this small town, Trucker’s black-and-white body is a fixture on our porch roof, like Snoopy on the roof of his doghouse watching the world go by. Snoopy loves to sit on his doghouse roof and write with his typewriter. Trucker loves to sit on our roof while I compose stories with my keyboard nearby.
In Trucker’s honor, I display a decorative welcome flag near the main sidewalk that features Snoopy lying on his back on his doghouse roof under the summer sun.