For six days, Oakhurst resident Anette Poplarchick and her children were forced to listen as Pixie, their beloved 1-year-old calico cat, meowed in agony.
A recent mother of five, Pixie - spayed three weeks ago - climbed to the top of a 50-foot live oak tree in the Broadview Terrace area next to Poplarchick’s home. To her dismay, Pixie found herself trapped, unable to return to her family while they, cats included, watched mournfully below.
Poplarchick and her neighbors tried everything from attempting to coax Pixie down with treats and water or climbing with ladders, but due to the height and location of the tree, they had no luck.
But last Tuesday, that all changed as Richard Brechbuehl and Nakoma Pampaian found themselves acting as lionhearted saviors, not just tree cutters, as for no charge they rescued both Pixie and Bo, another trapped feline.
“I’m so grateful,” Poplarchick said. “My daughter is going to be so happy. (Richard and Nakoma) are God to me. There’s not many people out there who would have done what they did. I really, really appreciate it.”
“They were very professional and absolutely loving to help me save my cat,” said Taylor Sherwood, adding Bo also got stuck for six days in a bull pine at her family’s home in Indian Lakes. “We are more than certain that something chased him up there and he just couldn’t get down. We honestly thought he was dead until we heard the meowing. But he is safe and sleeping softly on my bed.”
Brechbuehl, a tree cutting operator for four decades, said he hasn’t saved a cat in years, but felt an act of kindness goes a long way.
“I figured God answered my prayers and we elected a good president this time,” Brechbuehl joked, “so I thought I should do some good things too.”
Owner of the Oakhurst tree cutting business Earthworks, Brechbuehl, and Pampaian, have been busy.
Kathleen Farmer, a friend of Poplarchick’s, said she reached out to Brechbuehl after posting updates about the fretful status of Pixie on Facebook over the last week. And she said despite his busy schedule, Brechbuehl was able to spare time to help her friend.
“I called him, he picked up, and I told him the story,” Farmer said. “At first he said that she’ll come down on her own, but when he heard it was six days, he agreed to help.”
At work in Coarsegold Tuesday morning, Brechbuehl and Pampaian stopped to save Bo at the Sherwoods’ Indian Lakes home, then made the trip back to Oakhurst.
“I figured what the heck, we had to come back anyway,” Brechbuehl chuckled. “Might as well help somebody, you know?”
The Oakhurst operation began with Pixie meowing atop a branch about 40 feet in the air.
As Poplarchick and Farmer distracted Pixie from below, Brechbuehl - using his company’s bucket truck - ascended to the skies, slowly sneaking up on her from behind.
With a blanket of Poplarchick’s son in tow, Brechbuehl held his hand up for silence, then tossed the blanket over Pixie. Weakened from lack of food or water, Pixie quickly gave in, though she added a lone deep scratch to Brechbuehl’s finger before being secured in a cat carry to cheers and applause.
In exchange for their services, Farmer handed over a plump, fresh turkey just in time for Thanksgiving, along with a lot of hugs from both herself and Poplarchick.
“Our pets are like family to us and they spared us heartache today,” Erin Sherwood added on social media. “Their ad says ‘above and beyond.’ They did just that.”
And though he said he’d go broke if he kept saving cats - the operation of the truck alone normally costs hundreds of dollars, he said - Brechbuehl said he’d do it again.
“Yeah, I will,” Brechbuehl said. “Sure.”
Both Pixie and Bo were returned healthy and safe to their loving families, though all agreed some extra food would be waiting in each of their meals.