Pet honored for keeping eye at Richland school crossing

Rain, snow or shine, feline stands guard at school every day

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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-high 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.

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 goes out to watch the school's students wearing a neon orange safety vest Tamara bought for him at a pet store, she said.

Sable typically arrives at the corner about five minutes before the children -- and he stays in on the weekend when children won't be in school.

"The cat's got this built-in clock. He just knows," said Monti Franckowiak, the school's safety patrol adviser.

For his diligence, Franckowiak and the school's principal awarded Sable with an "Honorary Safety Patrol Member" certificate.

Brooklyn Morrison, 11, a student at the school, said many of the teachers have Sable's picture as the background wallpaper on their computers, and was shown on a big screen at a recent school assembly.

"He just brightens up the kids' days," Tamara said.