It’s hard to believe only a year has gone by since I had the chance to meet and photograph a very special rescue couple—Frankencat and Old Grand Dad. I’d posted this photo a few days before the article because I just couldn’t wait to share it, and that alone received a few thousand views. When I posted the article about them a few days later it went viral within days, receiving nearly 9,000 views here plus about 5,000 shares and nearly 20,000 likes on Facebook, the half-blind semi-feral black cat leading the blind and deaf pit bull around the room and comforting him when he had seizures, and learning to trust the human through his connection with the dog.
The original story and successive versions of it and the photo are still viewed every day and have each won numerous awards. I’m very proud of that, but I’m more pleased that awards actually mean that more and more people are able to see and read and understand not only the mutually healing bond between these two and the importance of recognizing relationships between species but also the importance of rescuing animals regardless of their appearance or condition or demeanor. Whether a blind and deaf and ailing 15-year-old pit bull or an unfriendly stray black cat with an atrophied eye, broken jaw and necrotic face wound who tested positive for FeLV, they all deserve a chance to prove who they are behind what we may see as imperfections or insurmountable odds.
We lost Old Grand Dad at the end of May, and even then, after he had passed, Frankencat sat with him, rode with him in the car and and spent meditative time atop his grave with NeNe, another of Heather’s rescued pit bulls.
Apparently Frankencat’s pit bull healing days were not over as he moved on to purr his magic onto Pappy, another geriatric pit bull Heather had rescued, and then to slowly befriend all the dogs in the house. And now…Doc the mini pig, but that’s a whole other story! Heather’s nurturing personality set the stage for all these wonderful stories to happen.
From the time Heather had first begun posting photos of their developing mutual assistance and friendship I knew it was a unique story, and when it seemed the two were fully comfortable not only with each other but also with people, and Old Grand Dad’s condition seemed to be deteriorating, I went to visit, and the story held more than I had even thought at the time.
Here are the awards and honors the story has won:
- A Certificate of Excellence and the Adoptashelter.com “Adopt a Homeless Dog” award in the Dog Writer’s Association of America’s 2014 writing contest.
- Frankencat and Old Grand Dad were featured on Cheezburger’s Animal Rescue blog and Frankencat was named “2014 Black Friday Kitteh of the Year” by Cheezburger’s Black Friday group.
- The photo of Frankencat and Old Grand Dad won a Certificate of Excellence in the Cat Writers’ Association 2014 Communications Contest.
- The follow-up story, “Devoted to the End”, won the 2014 Petties Award for Best Blog Post.
The $1,000 from the Petties award helped sponsor the recent free for ferals TNR clinic on March 15 so that we might have fewer cats on the streets this year needing rescue.
I will continue to share this story to share their special bond and hope to inspire others to rescue and foster in the same way. I’m so glad I got to meet Frankencat and Old Grand Dad. It was a thrill to hold Frankencat that day for just a little bit.
OGD ended up having a good nap, but Franken still isn’t sure what species I am.
And if anyone wondered how I got the photo of the two of them from that angle, this is it below—Michelle Elgersma photographed me photographing them. They were relaxed and happy when we were visiting and I got plenty of photos, but I wanted one good iconic photo of the two together. OGD had settled down for his nap and Heather set Frankencat down next to him and petted him until he found a comfortable spot next to OGD. That was the moment—I was already kneeling and wanted to get the best shot I could get from where I was before I started moving around for other angles, crawling around on all fours or on my knees, possibly making Franken a little anxious with such strange activity that he might get up and leave. I got several photos from sitting and leaning, but only doing a mini headstand and looking at them upside down to focus got the photo, and in the end that angle was the best.
The two articles that tell the story are:
And you can also see more photos and read more articles about Frankencat as he went on to charm the vicious pit bulls and just be an outstanding feline.
Help reduce the numbers of cats like Frankencat living on the streets. Make a donation to the Homeless Cat Management Team, the organization that rescued Frankencat.
Read more Essays on The Creative Cat.
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!