I’ve often heard that people can be divided into two distinct categories ­— cat lovers and dog lovers. I’ve never been quite certain what distinguishes one from another, but I can objectively say that I’m definitely a dog lover at heart. It’s been that way since I was a youngster when I was a proud member of the “Dog Spotters Club” where you tried to identify the breed of every dog you saw and kept track in your dog spotters field guide.

One of my oldest and dearest friends, Professor Dick Stafford, I’m certain is a cat person. Just recently he published in a journal in Georgia where he lives an endearing article about his extraordinary cat, Maverick, and the life lessons that lovable feline has taught him and his family.

“Maverick was clearly a courageous cat. For over a dozen years he entertained us with his ability to zoom up trees, chase squirrels and survive freezing temperatures in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He had what it took to be a cat fearless of failure. I admired him — we all did. But what were the secret cat traits of our beloved Maverick, traits that made him a neighborhood hero, a cat of boundless energy and a balanced risk taker?

The fact is the great Maverick taught us so many valuable lessons of life. To begin the brave cat of Featherwood (the street where Dick lives) shared his uncanny spirit to NEVER GIVE UP. He meowed relentlessly to be let out to roam at night, to refill his bowl, to clean his litter box. He never stopped. Once Maverick was fixed on a mission, he was persistent until the problem was solved. He knew in some uncanny way that persistence was the solution to seemingly unsolvable roadblocks…

Maverick also had a unquenchable desire for compassion — a trait he conveyed to all who knew him. Maverick sought human contact from everyone. He sought affection, gave affection and accepted affection. Not many humans, cats or dogs could outdo his compassion.

Last but not least, Maverick was a player. Not for other cats, but for himself. He would climb trees like an angry squirrel...maybe even chasing an angry squirrel. He would tackle the Texas Water Fountain splashing water across the yard. He would terrorize pinecones, devastate black beetles and panic the local dogs. An amazing playful cat, he was.

Maverick has so much to offer us all. He reminds us to be persistent. He taught us to be compassionate for others — others above our pay grade, and below.

And he taught us to play religiously. He instructed by his own action to never take oneself too seriously and to make for fun at work and at home.

No, there was never a better teacher than Maverick the Cat of Featherwood.

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(2) comments

John BERTELSEN

I once watched a mockingbird attack a turkey vulture that was attacking a badly injured (still alive) squirrel and despite the vast difference in size of the two birds, the mockingbird was successful in preventing the turkey vulture's attack. If only more humans would learn to accept others and work together such as these animals did.

Richard Johnson

I believe that those that say "there are dog lovers, and there are cat lovers" are just plain wrong. I for one love both types of pets, and even other types (like a rat). They all teach us lessons, both in life and relationships. Just as each human has a different personallity, so do pets. You need to pay attention to them and they will teach you to communicate with them, you just need to give that as much patience as they do with you.

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