Desperately seeking Fennel, Osborne Agway’s store cat

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  • Osborne Agway assistant showroom manager Beth Taylor looks on the property on 4th Range Road in Pembroke on Thursday, January 14, 2020 in search of the house cat Fennel that escaped a car 10 days ago. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Osborne Agway assistant showroom manager Beth Taylor looks under an outbuilding on the property on 4th Range Road in Pembroke on Thursday in search of Fennel the cat. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Osborne Agway assistant showroom manager Beth Taylor looks on the property on 4th Range Road in Pembroke on Thursday, January 14, 2020 in search of the house cat Fennel that escaped a car 10 days ago. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Osborne Agway assistant showroom manager Beth Taylor looks on the property on 4th Range Road in Pembroke on Thursday, January 14, 2020 in search of the house cat Fennel that escaped a car 10 days ago. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Osborne Agway assistant showroom manager Beth Taylor looks on the property on 4th Range Road in Pembroke on Thursday, January 14, 2020 in search of the house cat Fennel that escaped a car 10 days ago. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Osborne Agway assistant showroom manager Beth Taylor looks on the property on 4th Range Road in Pembroke on Thursday, January 14, 2020 in search of the house cat Fennel that escaped a car 10 days ago. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Fennel the house cat at the Agway store COURTESY—

Monitor columnist
Published: 1/14/2021 5:12:39 PM

Beth Taylor, the assistant showroom manager at Osborne Agway in Concord, needs your help.

She’s the spokesperson for the huge support group dedicated to finding Fennel, Agway’s house cat and the smartest marketing gimmick since Ronald McDonald.

Adventurous, kind, perhaps a tad immature, Fennel – who was last seen wearing a purple collar and who’s described as all black with a whisper of white fur on her chest – bolted from her life of luxury on Jan. 5 and hasn’t returned since.

For now, Fennel’s career in public relations, which took her anywhere and everywhere in and around the building, bringing smiles to kids and adults alike, is on hold while Taylor and others search for their four-legged friend.

Witnesses say Fennel made her escape in the back of a customer’s truck, clandestinely hitching a ride to Fourth Range Road in Pembroke. The door opened and – whoosh! – Fennel was gone.

That was 10 days ago, about four miles away from Agway. To Taylor, though, it seems like 10 months ago and a million miles away.

“We’re still hopeful,” said Taylor, who lives in Epsom and who’s worked at Agway for seven years. “We’re hopeful she will be back and we love her and we miss her.”

Taylor is confident there are plenty of cat lovers like herself in and around the Suncook Valley. Cat lovers who make kissy noises, thinking their cats will respond. Cat lovers who might join the search in the Range Road sections of Pembroke.

Trail cameras in the area have photographed a pair of black cats, which have been posted online, but they’ve proven to be too dark and too fuzzy to provide positive ID.

“Fourth Range Road is three or four miles away from Agway,” Taylor said, “There’s been a sighting on Borough (Road), and that’s one mile closer, and one on Third Range, which is one mile farther away, so it’s hard to know where she might be. It’s a huge amount of area to cover.”

Taylor was driving as we spoke, a break from work that allowed her to search for Fennel. She rolls slowly through neighborhoods, shifting her eyes toward a shadow, a dog, anything that might be Fennel. Sometimes she sets out on foot.

She checks a pair of Havahart traps in the woods, near the spot from which Fennel ran, three or four times a day. There’s wet food inside the traps, Fennel’s favorite dry food outside. Nothing’s been caught.

“Both types of food are getting eaten a little at a time,” Taylor said. “We’re hoping it’s been Fennel. She eats a little at a time, she eats that way, so if a wild animal was eating the food, it might all be gone.”

Taylor’s hope drained from her voice when she said, “I think it could be gray squirrels. We drive in and they run away, but I’m not giving up hope. I’m still checking the traps.”

Taylor isn’t one to quit. Not with her track record. She grew up in Epsom “with cats my whole life,” she said.

She had a special fondness for her family cat, George, who was orange and raised by Taylor from kittenhood. George died last year at the age of 18.

“He loved to come with us on vacations to Maine,” Taylor told me.

She and her husband now have two cats, Jack, all black with a coat fluffed up from the cold, and Nimbus, so named because she’s white and fluffy like a cloud.

Jack had been Agway’s longtime house cat, but he and dogs – frequent visitors to a business known for pet food, animal feed, and gardening and farming needs – never got along. So Taylor took Jack home a couple of months ago, shifting his PR duties to three-year-old Fennel, whose job performance began with high marks.

A kid named Bo, about 5 years old, used to run inside looking for Fennel. The two would sprint toward each other, meeting half way.

Fennel had free run of the place, visiting customers in all nooks and crannies of the spacious building. On a routine walk, her paws sometimes would set off a motion detector, opening the automatic doors.

Customers drove extra miles to shop and see the black cat with the big personality.

“She runs that place,” Taylor said.

Her favorite spot, at least during regular business hours, was the corner of the counter, behind one of the cash registers.

“She can watch customers come in,” Taylor said, “and she has a bird’s-eye view from there.”

At night, Fennel retires to the storage room, complete with food and water, heat, a bed and a sparkling litter box.

At least she used to.

The search continues. Taylor said if you find her, extend your hand, slowly, make kissing noises and wait for Fennel to come to you.

“We had so much fun with her hanging out at the counter all the time,” Taylor said. “The customers love her, she loves kids and she’ll run right up to them.

“She makes this a relaxing atmosphere.”




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