There are few things in life more heartwarming than someone who affirms us...
Baxter, a rather large gray tabby cat, was raised with a puppy and now lives with three dogs. He truly thinks he is part (if not all) dog too, hence his nickname "puppy-cat." He takes walks with us, plays fetch and even joins the dogs in panting, if it suits him.
He is unlike any cat I have ever had; he is an unusually social creature. He will greet anyone he comes across and knows no fear of dogs, cats or humans. I've had several calls from people saying, "Your cat is here visiting."
Though he always stays in our neighborhood, Baxter's social antics were really starting to drive me crazy! He'll help one neighbor walk his Bassett Hound and help another neighbor walk their baby stroller. Everyone knows Baxter better than they know me!
One day, I spied Baxter out our front kitchen window. He was making a beeline across the street for an elderly lady walking her older Golden Retriever.
I had seen her and her dog a few times before, but I did not know their names, or even what street they lived on. I watched open-mouthed as he ran right up to them and started rubbing around their ankles.
Baxter then proceeded to plop down on the sidewalk in front of them and roll over onto his back to have his belly scratched. This was ridiculous! I thought, "Now, he is preventing people from taking their walks!"
That was it. I dried off my hands and went outside to get my overly social cat. The lady saw me walk over and smiled warmly.
She had obliged Baxter and was scratching his fully-exposed tummy. The dignified Golden was white around the muzzle, and sat patiently, waiting to continue his walk.
"I'm so sorry," I apologized. "Baxter just really likes people and dogs."
"That's okay," she replied. "He's just saying hello. Our cat looked just like him and we lost him about a month ago. It's getting harder for us to go on our walks and seeing Baxter really makes our day."
I didn't know what to say. I told her I was sorry for the loss of her cat, and pointed out our house with an open invitation for her to visit any time. After some small talk, they left to finish their walk, and a purring Baxter and I went inside.
The incident really made me think about Baxter and his social life. I thought Baxter was being selfish. But what I was watching was Baxter sharing himself.
What I'd been rolling my eyes and complaining about was something people really enjoyed and it even made their days a little brighter.
I thought about all of the people he visited and all the calls I'd had. Everyone looked forward to their walk or visit with Baxter.
Even more, he seems to innately know which people's souls need uplifting. I am truly convinced that Baxter is an angel with fur whose mission during his lifetime is to find people who need an extra smile or an extra laugh and provide it for them.
I am in awe of the lesson I've learned from him -- take the extra second to smile and say hello to someone, regardless of who they are.
I still see the elderly lady and her dog when they take their walks. They seem to get a little slower every day and Baxter never fails to run over and greet them.
Baxter is on his mission and now I just smile and let them enjoy their visit.
Kristin L. Wilson
Chicken Soup for the Soul: What I Learned from the Cat
A cheerful disposition will leave footprints on many a heart...
Have a great day!