Gallery | No, that's not a dog at the end of that leash.

pvidela@bradenton.comApril 28, 2014 

Staff Photographer

At first glance, the sight of 89-year-old Norm Braune taking his pet for an evening walk along the grounds of the Sara Bay Country Club could be easily passed over. But that's no pooch at the end of the leash. Sure, there's four furry paws, and a flopsy tail, but they're all attached to 12 lean pounds of domestic shorthair house cat named Pepsi. Braune and Pepsi began their daily ritual last year. It began out of concern for the cat -- Sara Bay has an abundance of would-be predators -- foxes, hawks and the occasional eagle. Braune said he couldn't bear the thought of Pepsi getting snatched while dashing over the fairways. He figured if he could keep him on a leash, then at least he could protect him while he was out. It didn't take long for Braune to figure out the ground rules. Stay away from sandtraps (duh!). Dogs are bad -- very, very bad. Squirrels are a cause for concern and further investigation. Fish are delicious but nigh unattainable. And then there are lizards. Like a scene lifted straight out of a dusty copy of National Geographic -- here is the house cat in all its primal glory -- slinking low and slow through the long grass, waiting for the perfect moment to... pounce. There's a lot of pouncing. And then relaxing, preferably in a waning shaft of sunlight. These are the private moments enjoyed but rarely shared by house cats everywhere. Indeed, few things force patience and nurture the skill of heightened observation like, well, walking a cat. Braune admits it's brought them closer together. On days when he gets home from working the aisles of the plumbing department at the local Home Depot, Pepsi's always pitching a fuss to get outside. What's one or two more miles at the end of a long day? After all, there's nothing like a shared hunt to strengthen the bond between friends.

PAUL VIDELA — pvidela@bradenton.com Buy Photo

At first glance, the sight of 89-year-old Norm Braune taking his pet for an evening walk along the grounds of the Sara Bay Country Club could be easily passed over. But that's no pooch at the end of the leash. Sure, there's four furry paws, and a flopsy tail, but they're all attached to 12 lean pounds of domestic shorthair house cat named Pepsi. Braune and Pepsi began their daily ritual last year. It began out of concern for the cat -- Sara Bay has an abundance of would-be predators -- foxes, hawks and the occasional eagle. Braune said he couldn't bear the thought of Pepsi getting snatched while dashing over the fairways. He figured if he could keep him on a leash, then at least he could protect him while he was out.

It didn't take long for Braune to figure out the ground rules. Stay away from sandtraps (duh!). Dogs are bad -- very, very bad. Squirrels are a cause for concern and further investigation. Fish are delicious but nigh unattainable. And then there are lizards. Like a scene lifted straight out of a dusty copy of National Geographic -- here is the house cat in all its primal glory -- slinking low and slow through the long grass, waiting for the perfect moment to... pounce. There's a lot of pouncing.

And then relaxing, preferably in a waning shaft of sunlight. These are the private moments enjoyed but rarely shared by house cats everywhere. Indeed, few things force patience and nurture the skill of heightened observation like, well, walking a cat.

Braune admits it's brought them closer together. On days when he gets home from working the aisles of the plumbing department at the local Home Depot, Pepsi's always pitching a fuss to get outside. What's one or two more miles at the end of a long day? After all, there's nothing like a shared hunt to strengthen the bond between friends.

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