Friday, January 23, 2009

Dewey

I did not have a pet growing up. I never felt deprived. We just weren't a pet family. About 5 years ago I had a friend who was getting ready to move to Mexico. We were out at dinner and his girlfriend mentioned that she needed someone to watch her two Russian Blue cats for a few weeks. A company would be coming to pick them up to ship them Mexico but that would be after the move. For some reason I piped up and said that P. and I could take them. Not sure what I was thinking - I had never had a cat, let alone two.

Those two cats were crazy. They were beautiful Russian Blues with the thick silver fur. They were so inbred. I don't even remember their names - we called them Mange and Drooly. They would take turns sitting on my lap. This was when P. worked a lot of long hours so they were my buddies. I was hooked. When the company came to pick them up I was so sad. I began lobbying to adopt a cat. I started lurking on Pet Finder. I knew I wanted to go to a shelter. We visited Treehouse, a no kill shelter in Chicago, and had our interview to make sure we were ok to adopt and then got to visit with the cats.

We wanted a male kitten but it was not the right time of year to get a kitten and the shelter had older cats. I don't even remember this one scrawny female when we were looking at the cats but she bit and scratched P. a few times and he said "I think this cat wants to come home with us". So that is how we ended up with Candy. She got her name because she was dropped off in a Brach's box at the shelter. They have no idea how long she was homeless, but she lived at this shelter for 4 years. No one wanted this kind of mean, skinny, little cat. She hid for about 5 minutes when we brought her home and she has had the run of the house since that day.

A long introduction to say I understand this book. I understand why the author would write it. It is a touching tribute to a cat adopted by a small town library in Iowa. I was a little jealous reading about Dewey as a kitten because we never got to see Candy's crazy kitten antics. She still has some moves but she's not kitty active. And what goes better together than cats and books? Not much! Any cat lover will recognize all of Dewey's behaviors such as sitting on the exact piece of paper you need.

The author had a pretty tough life. I could not believe some of the events she had to endure. She and Dewey needed each other. In addition to her health and family struggles, she also faces the challenge of most librarians. How do you convince people that what you are offering is valuable? Especially now if people think they can find everything on the Internet. I liked the way she tied the farm crisis into the need for library services and the town's growing love of a Dewey.

Trust me - this is one you need to finish in private. Don't finish it on the bus or train. Dewey has a great life but it ends. I think a little too abruptly. If you love cats, books and libraries this is a must read. If you don't you may not buy into the romanticism that is tied to those places and objects.

On a final note, here's photographic proof that Candy enjoys reading as well. There are times when she is on your lap before you even sit down. The best reading companion in the world!

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