RICHLAND — Twice a day, every weekday, a large black cat named Sable trots from the garage where he lives to a nearby street corner in West Richland.
He plops down in a patch of grass and watches as children cross the street to and from Enterprise Middle School, earning him the nickname “the crossing guard cat.”
Sable’s daily habit also has earned the domestic shorthair a bit of Internet fame. In the past several days, his story has appeared on Yahoo, Huffington Post, ABC’s news blogs and in the New York Daily News.
“It has been amusing how it’s just taken off,” said Lance Morrison, patriarch of Sable’s adopted human family.
Sable has lived with the family for several years — they couldn’t quite remember how many — ever since leaping over the 6-foot fence at their former west Pasco home into their back yard.
They gave him some food and he never left.
The family moved to a house on Eagle Street in West Richland about a year ago, and that’s when Sable took over crossing-guard duties, she said.
Their house is right across the street from Enterprise, and something about the throngs of children passing by each day caught Sable’s attention.
Tamara Morrison said the family has lived near a school in the past, and had a school bus stop in front of their former home, but Sable never paid much attention to the children’s comings and goings.
“He never went out to greet kids,” she said.
But Sable has found his calling at that particular crosswalk since moving to West Richland.
Each morning and afternoon — in rain, snow or sunshine — the 15-year-old cat, wearing a neon orange safety vest Tamara bought for him at a pet store, goes out to watch the school’s students, Tamara said.
Sable typically arrives at the corner about five minutes before the children — and he stays in on the weekend when children aren’t in school.
“The cat’s got this built-in clock. He just knows,” said Monti Franckowiak, the school’s safety patrol advisor.
For his diligence, Franckowiak and the school’s principal awarded Sable with an “Honorary Safety Patrol Member” certificate.