Be warned, for this blog post, you need a good cup of joe (or tea) and a few quiet moments, I have a lot to say.. if you’re interested.
I just love orange tabbies. I lived with one for 12 years and I still miss him everyday. If you’ve had one… you’d most likely have had the most loving and comical creatures around! There’s just something about those orange tabbies.
Dewey’s face called to me from all of the blog-sites around me. I mean, look at the face! “The Face!” I know, I’m going overboard and sound just slightly insane. But, I am a total animal lover, have WAAAAY too many pets in my menagerie and couldn’t resist yet another book about how a pet affects our lives.
My cat, Mako, was a wonderful cat. I remember the day that we brought him home from the adoption site. At the time, I had my mother in my life and she went with me to pick out my kitty. I was in a rather difficult relationship at the time, and my Mom saw this as a nice way for us to spend the day together without my live-in boyfriend and two live-in step-daughters… such a long story! AND, a story for another day. But, she went with me to PetSmart for Pet Adoption Day. There were several litters of kittens that day, overwhelmingly so. And, I really liked the pretty ones… you know, the black and white ones… all black with white paws, white noses, white whiskers… and long fur that is soooo soft. Or, the Siamese kittens that were so beautiful.
I really liked this one black tabby that I had spotted. I asked my Mom what she thought. She said… “look at that little orange one in the back… he’s not so pretty… but, I think you should see him.” When the volunteer got around to bringing me the kitty, I thought he looked like a Gremlin (not after they get wet, or it’s dark, or whatever…. you know, the furry ones with big ears). He had these GYNORMOUS eyes and ears… tons of fur, but not much else. He was almost a butterscotch and white tabby vs. an orange and white. He was the runt of this litter and was very tail-challenged (super short tail).
When I held him, he clung to me with his claws and was scared to death. There was no immediate connection, nothing between he and I. But, my mother told me that the runts of a litter are the special ones and they need the most love. That, I knew I could provide…. being a live-in “wifey” and “step-mom” without the marriage certificate… it was 3 vs. 1…. and this little kitty would be just mine… for me. OK, my Mom is persuasive and I adopted scared little runt kittie. By the way, that day with my mother is my fondest memory of her and I in an adult relationship. She spent the day with me getting Mako’s bed, food, litterbox, etc. and came home with me and got him all set up. A wonderful memory for me.
Mako was, for me, the most special animal in my life, to date. And, I think he always will be. I lost him almost 2 years ago to the day. The day that we had no other option than to put him down, we knew that he was in terrible pain and about to die a painful death. I cried for hours before and days after his passing. I still miss him.
People used to tell me that he spoke English (you heard me right!). And, honestly, he did! He had many health problems in his life and one time he was poisoned by something we couldn’t identify. He became so ill and was skin and bones. We had to feed him with a syringe, both food and water. I used to ask my “ex” to go and make sure that he was still alive (in the closet on the shelf where he liked to sleep occasionally). Yes, he was alive but very ill. When we took him to the doctor, he needed intensive treatment, including extra oxygen… so they put him in this oxygen chamber thing and we called him the “Kitty in the Bubble.” He lived through this, one of his nine lives. But, as he recovered at home, getting him to eat was tough. So, I would sit with him while he ate and scratch his back towards the rear by the tail. And, he would eat. So I would say “Yum Yum Yum” to him as he ate. He never went back to eating on his own, he always insisted that somebody sit with him and scratch him. When they did, he’d meow, “yum yum yum.” It was the craziest thing ever. People told me that I should video tape it. I never did. Now, I wish I would have.
His other favorite English word was “MaMa.” When he meowed for me it was “Mmmaaaaa Mmmmaaa.” Swear to God! A girlfriend stayed once at my house with Mako while I was away. She didn’t know him well. I came home from the trip and she said to me, “Sher, I know this sounds crazy, but that cat says MaMa!” I told her that I knew that and she wasn’t crazy. She couldn’t get over it. From then on, she had several dreams about Mako and he was talking to her in English in each one. 🙂
I loved Mako very much. I even took him on vacation with me. He was my very best friend. I went through a very dark period in my life when I was alone and pregnant with the twins. I was on bed-rest from 4 months into my pregnancy until they were born. I had virtually no family left and I was broken up with my “ex.” I was in premature labor (from 4 months until those two little boogers came out) and on monitors at home. Sometimes, I’d just sit in the middle of my living room floor and cry my eyes out. I was so afraid and alone. He would walk up to me an lick a tear from my cheek. He was my bed-mate and we spooned every night, him cuddled up against my tummy and my arm around him. When I was pregnant, he got such a kick out of watching my belly just roll and toll as the twins held a wrestling match in there! I’d talk to him about the twins and what to expect. Now he’d have to share me.
He was good with the twin babies… although he’d sneak into their cribs when they weren’t in them to snuggle in the soft blankets that smelled like the babies and I. BAD KITTY! He never bit them, never scratched them… and loved them as he loved me. My grandmother used to tell me every Halloween when we passed out candy together… “Now, don’t let that cat near the cribs… the cat will steal their breath and kill them!”
When I fell in love five+ years ago with the man of my dreams… he too fell in love with Mako and Mako was good to him in return.
Like Dewey in this story, Mako had a condition called “MegaColon.” It’s a very sad illness and most kitties die young from it. Dewey, however, was lucky to live a full life, even with the disease. Mako suffered many surgeries and I did everything in the world for him that I could. In his last days, I learned to push IV fluids subdermally and help him with enemas (I know, really gross… but, to me… he was my best friend… I’d do anything for him). The end of his life was really rough. I have three (yes, count them 3) kitties now. Although Tommers is a phenomenal cat (so very smart) and Oliver is so love-able… I will never love a kitty like I loved Mako. Everybody who knew me for those 12 years of his life, knew that he and I were kindred spirits.
I realize that not everybody is a “cat person.” I understand that. I’m a dog person, too! I have two dogs and love them like MAD CRAZY. But, this relationship with this particular cat was a very special one and it meant more to me that I can describe in words.
So, to Dewey… I believe that the timing of me reading this book was destined. I finished the book last night and soon thereafter call a call from my best friend from high school. She had lost, on Sunday, her beloved kittie Stewart. Stewart was to her what Mako was to me. Stewart was her first kitty and the first in her heart. I spent the day with her today and I told her that Stewart is in a much better place now and is no longer in pain. Stewart passed from cancer of the mouth which ate away at his tongue and his ability to feed himself, drink and groom. I told her that she would see Stewart when she arrived in Heaven… that he’d be there to greet her. It’s hard to console her because I understand the pain that she is in right now. I’ve been there. I’m going to share this book with her and I want her to know that nobody will ever replace Stewart… and, that’s okay.
It’s tough to think about the fact that we are (nearly all of the time) destined to out-live our pets. And, with animals (if you are an animal lover), they are so easy to love. They don’t talk back to you. They don’t fight with their siblings. They just love you unconditionally. That provides you with a safe spirit to love without fear. You can be vulnerable with your pet and just completely be yourself. They’d never judge you…. may look at you questionably, but never judge you.
Title: Dewey – The Small town Library Cat Who Touched the World
Author: Vicki Myron with Bret Witter
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing, Hachette Book Group USA
Type: Non-Fiction… kind of a biography…
Publisher Website: www.HatchetteBookGroupUSA.com
Great Articles: USA Today
Dewey’s Website: http://spencerlibrary.com/deweybio.htm
ISBN-10 #:0-446-54516-3 (Special Scholastic Edition)
ISBN-13 #:978-0-446-54516-7 (Special Scholastic Edition)
ISBN-13 #: 978-0-446-40741-0
ISBN-10 #: 0-446-40741-0
This is a wonderfully sweet book about Vicki’s love for Dewey and Dewey’s love for the entire town of Spencer, Iowa. Dewey’s life made international headlines both during his life and when he passed away. He was a cat that was loved by many. Why did so many people love Dewey?
Dewey was dropped into the book depository slot on a cold night. The dirty, cold kitten needed food, shelter and a bath! The story is a simple one and an endearing one. Vicki decides to see if she can get the town’s approval to keep the cat as a “library cat.” She is, of course, successful. Over time, the workers at the library and patrons alike fall in love with Dewey and his amazing personality. He did fun things like riding the book cart when they put books away and climbing along the top of the bookshelves staring down at the folks. He greeted just about every patron and made his rounds when visitors were there.
Vicki does bring home Dewey during vacations and holidays, but otherwise Dewey lives in the library. When she arrives at the library in the morning, he literally waves to her! People come from all around the world (yes, the world) to meet this well publicized cat. A Japanese film crew even came to film him for a part of a documentary they were doing. This cat just had a way of taking a small town even smaller… giving them something in common to love together.
There are pieces of the book that allow the reader to understand Vicki’s life, in addition to some of the other library workers. She is a sensible lady who did much for others and her community. And, I understand what it must have been like for her when Dewey passed on in her arms. In fact, upon his passing, there were several news articles published about it, worldwide.
The book was a pleasure read… nothing profound or intricate. Just a light and easy book that any cat lover can relate to. I enjoyed it and would have no problem letting my 11 year olds read this book should they want to.
Vicki put together a website for Dewey with the following posted on it:
DEWEY’S JOB DESCRIPTION
- Reducing stress for all humans who pay attention to him.
- Sitting by the front door every morning at 9:00 am to greet the public as they enter the library.
- Sampling all boxes that enter the library for security problems and comfort level.
- Attending all meetings in the Round Room as official library ambassador.
- Providing comic relief for staff and visitors whenever possible.
- Climbing in book bags and briefcases while patrons are studying or trying to retrieve needed papers underneath him.
- Generating free national and world-wide publicity for Spencer Public Library. (This entails sitting still for photographs, smiling for the camera, and generally being cute.)
- Working toward status as world’s most finicky cat by refusing all but the most expensive, delectable foods—and even turning up his nose at those most of the time.
BASIC RULES FOR CATS WHO HAVE A LIBRARY TO RUN
(according to Dewey Readmore Books)
- STAFF: If you are feeling particularly lonely and wanting more attention from the staff, sit on whatever papers, project, or computer they happen to be working on at the time—but sit with your back to the person and act aloof, so as not to appear too needy. Also, be sure to continually rub against the leg of the staff person who is wearing dark brown, blue, or black for maximum effect.
- PATRONS: No matter how long the patron plans on staying at the library, climb into their briefcase or book bag for a long comfortable sleep until they must dump you out on the table in order to leave.
- LADDERS: Never miss an opportunity to climb on ladders. It does not matter which human is on the ladder. It only matters that you get to the top and stay there.
- CLOSING TIME: Wait until 10 minutes before closing time to get up from your nap. Just as the staff is getting ready to turn out the lights and lock the door, do all your cutest tricks in an effort to get them to stay and play with you. (Although this doesn’t work very often, sometimes they can’t resist giving in to one short game of hide & go seek.)
- BOXES: Your humans must realize that all boxes which enter the library are yours. It doesn’t matter how large, how small, or how full the box should be, it is yours! If you cannot fit your entire body into the box, then use whatever part of your body fits to assume ownership for nap time. (I have used one or two paws, my head, or even just my tail to gain entry and each works equally well for a truly restful sleep.)
- MEETINGS: No matter the group, timing, or subject matter, if there is a meeting scheduled in the meeting room—you have an obligation to attend. If they have shut you out by closing the door, cry pitifully until they let you in or until someone opens the door to use the restroom or get a drink of water. After you gain entry, be sure to go around the room and greet each attendee. If there is a film shown or slide show, climb on any table close to the screen, settle in and watch the film to conclusion. As the credits roll, feign extreme boredom and leave the meeting before it concludes.
And the library cat’s golden rule for all time….
“Never forget, nor let humans forget, that you own the joint!”
Favorite Quotes of the Book:
“…I guess my final answer to that is when everything in my life was so complex, when things were sliding in so many directions at once and it seemed at times the center wouldn’t hold, my relationship with Dewey was so simple, and so natural, and that’s what made it so right.”
“I’ll always remember the former city manager. Every time he saw me, he said with a smail, “Are you girls at the library still mooning over that cat?” Maybe he was trying to be funny, but I couldn’t help but feel offended. Girls!That word might be a term of endearment, but I go the feeling he was putting me in my place, that he was speaking for a large block of community leaders who couldn’t even conceive of making a fuss over things like books, libraries, and cats. That was girl stuff!”
“It never crossed my mind, at this point, to think of Dewey as the library’s cat. Dewey was my cat. I was the person he came to for love. I was the person he came to for comfort. And I went to him for love and comfort, too. He wasn’t a substitute husband or a substitute child. I wasn’t lonely; I had plenty of friends. I wasn’t unfulfilled; I loved my job. I wasn’t looking for someone special. It wasn’t even that I saw him every day. We lived apart. We could spend whole days in the library together and hardly see each other. But even when I didn’t see him, I knew he was there. We had chosen, I realized, to share our lives, not just tomorrow, but forever.”
“Mom’s faith came from the church, but her strength came from the inside.”
“Mom raised me to have that kind of strength. She knew there were no promises in life. Even when things went well, they never went easy.”
“That’s life. We all go through the tractor blades every now and then. We all get bruised, and we all get cut. Sometimes the blades cut deep. The lucky ones come through with a few scratches, a little blood, but even that isn’t the most important thing. The most important thing is having someone there to scoop you up, to hold you tight, and to tell you that everything is all right.”
On Sher’s “One to Ten Scale”:
The more I review, the harder it’s getting to rate them. Would I recommend it, yes, but it depends who to. For an animal lover, I’d give it an 8… and for the average reader maybe a 6.75 to a 7. Again, it was endearing and sweet, but I definitely think there’s a target audience for this read.