Kathy Kavanaugh called her Mother, Ginny Whalen, “…about an announcement I heard on the radio. Helen Sproat’s Art Gallery in Springboro is having a ‘Cheeta’ Party on Wednesday afternoon… Catherine Hilker is bringing two cats from the Cincinnati Zoo…you and Phyll had better go!” (Right there were three names of the founding members of the Miami Valley Hunt…so off to Springboro on Wednesday.)
When ‘The African Cheeta Ambasssador’ spotted her old, old friends, a whoop went up and ‘hunting stories from the old days’ began to the puzzlement of the other innocent spectators!
“We remember when you and Nonnie Rich invited everyone to “The Cat House” as a fundraiser for the Cincinnati Zoo Cheeta program. Nonnie and her committee were all dressed as…’employees of the cat house’, and ‘Angel’ (your first Cheeta) was holding court on a large table in the front hall. Indian Hill (a suburb of Cincy) has never been the same!
Catherine returned to her ‘Cheeta Lecture’: “Cheetas are the ‘fastest’ of all the big cats. They can go from zero to sixty miles per hour – in thirty seconds! (The Miami Valley Hunters have seen this demonstrated at ‘Peterloon’ and Camargo’s events many times.) Cheetas have straight legs…and are the only cat that does not have retractable claws…so they ‘run’ as they cannot ‘climb’.
Sitting beside the Cheeta was a very large, yellow, sorta-Labrador-looking dog. “He’s an Anatolian Sheepdog….Tell us what you do when you see a Cheeta approaching your herd?” An Art Gallery shaking ‘WHOOF’ was the reply! As Cheetas have been poached, and shot, and trapped by the West African herders and were in danger of extinction. Catherine and the Cincinnati Zoo have developed a working solution. The zoo, and Catherine and her husband, have each bought huge tracks of land in Namibia. They have raised these Anatolian Sheepdog and given puppies to local farmers who’ve been trained to use them to protect their livestock. “This dog and this Cheeta have been raised together so the ‘woof’ does not scare either one.”
As Catherine’s assistants took the young Cheeta female out into the yard and returned with a much larger male cat, Bonnie Geiger had joined the Daytonians. Ben Sproat was spotted in an adjacent gallery. And not long after Roseanne Allen and Sally Collins came down the busy sidewalk. It was a super afternoon of reminiscing about 1959 when two friends who’d been room-mates at the Univ. of Colorado (Catherine and Helen) heard that a fox hunt group was being organized and they came to a meeting at Honey Hill Farm. Now Catherine’s saving Cheetas in Namibia. Helen has a thriving gallery in Bellbrook, and the Miami Valley Hunt has seventy five members and kennels in Urbana!
It is hoped the work crews will note the demolition of the wooden path indicator that is now lying along the stream! These rugged and attractive barriers were built and placed by a group of volunteers several years ago. It was a big job and well done. Then wood was vandalized with graffitti by the local ‘kiddies’ and now it’s been sent to the deep six! Also, the ‘graffitti’ had been colorfully enhanced on the retaining wall of the Gardner’s old tennis courts. Perhaps the first item on the Centennial Committee’s agenda should be an attempt to control the vandals. The proposed bridge is certainly going to be ‘ripe’ for attack.