Saturday, 6 February 2016


Ciao raGatti. Tutto bene? Spero di sì. I am really excited to introduce this post which features the story of three very special friends, two of them human, and one, a tabby cat like me. The tabby cat is my neighbour Dennis, and the two humans are my very good friends Helen and Ritchie Dakin.


If you have been following this blog, you have already read about Helen and Ritchie. These amazing humans have been living in Casperia for almost as long as I have and they look after me from time to time when my humans are away. They also introduced me to Dreamies!

As far as I know, they are from a place near Cambridge in England. I am sad to say that I don't know exactly where that is. I know that it is not anywhere near Vancouver. I am told it is closer to Italy where we live, but on a big island, perhaps in the Mediterranean. That might not be right. The only thing I know is that wherever Cambridge, England is, that it must be a wonderful place because really nice people come from there. That is my experience anyway. Come to think of it, another good friend who lives here in Casperia, Maria, was born in England too... but I don't think she is from Cambridge.

Anyway, before they moved here permanently, Ritchie and Helen had been coming to this hill town for a number of years. Apparently their first visit to Casperia was on a yoga retreat, which I understand is a special holiday where humans try to become as flexible as felines, perhaps to help them keep themselves clean as a cat can...

Whatever the reason—it might have been the stringozzi—Helen and Ritchie, like my humans, fell in love with this part of Italy, and have been permanent residents here from November of 2014. Dennis came into their lives a number of weeks later.

Smokey: Helen, this wasn't the first time you have shared your home with a cat, was it?

Helen: You are right Smokey. Before we came to live here in Casperia we shared our house with a female cat named Molly. She turned up one day when we were out BBQing in the back yard and slowly she adopted us, and we her.

Molly, a.k.a. Mollie moo

Smokey: I understand that you had originally planned to bring Molly with you, but somehow that did not work out. What happened?

Ritchie: Well Smokey, when you came over on that long flight from Canada, you were lucky to be able to come over in the cabin with Richard and James. Unfortunately, we were not allowed that option. The airline we were flying on promised that Molly would be safe at the airport in England and in the hold on the much shorter flight that she would make from London to Rome but they told us that they could not guarantee how she would be handled in Rome... We loved Molly and did not want to leave here in England but we also did not want to risk her being mishandled or injured upon arrival. We decided that it would be best to put her up for adoption. So we came without her. 

Smokey: That must have been very hard on you both... 

Helen: Yes, it was, but luckily Molly found a wonderful new home with a very nice lady who loves and cares for her. Molly even has her own room. We are in contact with Molly's new human from time to time and get reports and pictures. 

Smokey: That is wonderful to hear.

Helen: Yes, she seems very well situated. She even has her own room and own bed.

Smokey: Miaow! That's great! So... how long was it after you came here to Casperia that Dennis came into your life?

Ritchie: We arrived in early November and we first heard about Dennis through our mutual friend Maria in the week leading up to Christmas of 2014, so we had only been moved here about a month and a half.

Helen: As you know, Smokey, Maria shares her house with a number of cats, most of them who are former strays or who had been abandoned: Lupa, Giorgio, Sleepy, Marzia, Romulo and Chicco. Six cats is a lot for one house and when Dennis turned up, wanting in too, poor Maria was very torn. Her heart went out to this handsome friendly tabby... 

Ritchie: But I think she didn't feel it would be the ideal situation for all concerned if she took him in.

Smokey: I remember this... Right... It was just before Christmas and things were getting cold here in Casperia... I remember Richard and James talking to Maria and her asking them to put the word out about this handsome tabby who had turned up a her door needing a home. 

Helen: We went down for a visit. Maria was feeding the new pussycat but he was sleeping outside her house in a clay igloo-like shelter.

Smokey: How did you feel when you first met him?  

Helen: Well of course we loved him the first moment we set eyes on him. Poor lad... He was a handsome tabby indeed but he was doing poorly. He was thin and starving. His coat was full of burrs and he sure had fleas... We had to have a talk, Ritchie and I, but it didn't take us long to decide to take him home. That was Christmas Eve 2014. People say that giving Dennis a home was his Christmas present but it felt to us that he was our Christmas present.

Ritchie: The funny thing Smokey was that despite Dennis being thrilled at having a proper forever home, he still was very much an outdoor cat. We tried hard to keep him inside the house for the first while to get used to living with us, but he escaped a number of times...

Helen: Yes, bless him. He found a way to actually open a window and escaped through the window a couple of times. Of course, the first time this happened we were very worried, but the funny thing is that he would always end up back at Maria's place. He would miaow at her door in the morning, she would let him, feed him something, and give us a call. "Come and get your little man. He's here," she'd say and we would trot down to get him. 

Smokey: But he obviously settled down...

Ritchie: Yes, but he still likes to roam...

Helen: And wake me up very early in the morning to ask to be let out.

Smokey: You mentioned that Dennis was in poor health at the beginning. I have a great Vet, Doctor Rob Spooner, back in Vancouver, but I remember that I did not like being put in a carry case, nor did I like the car ride.

Ritchie: Sort of ironic Smokey, given the distance you had to travel in that carry case to come to your new life here in Italy.

Smokey: Miao, Ritchie!

Ritchie: Ha ha! But no, you are right, Smokey. We had to take Dennis to the vet a number of times. The way he was gorging when we took him in, we suspected he had worms.

Helen: That was soon confirmed when we checked his box, poor thing. And it took a while, but he has a clean bill of health now, and doesn't seem to mind the trips in the car.

Smokey: So Dennis, it has been a little more than a year that you have been living here with Helen and Ritchie. How is life with the Dakins?

Dennis: Well Smokey, you know Ritchie and Helen almost as well as I do, so you know what type of people they are. 

Smokey: Are you blushing Helen?

Dennis: Seriously! I remember very little of my life before Helen and Ritchie.  I know I had a home and food but somehow that was all taken away from me. I remember being on my own, struggling to find food and a warm place to sleep and finding Maria's house and her cats... At first I really wanted to stay there. Maria is such a nice lady... But being invited to share Helen and Ritchie's wonderful home with its big fireplace and comfy, dry, warm places to sleep, and a window and balcony to watch the birds, a huge cantina to play in and a back door onto the stone town walls... But that is just the home. Helen and Ritchie are my angels. They literally saved my life. Being invited into their house with all their love and care... Did you see my toys? It was like being rescued from a horrible nightmare. My life right now is a beautiful dream.

I get wonderful food pretty well any time I want it. I don't gobble like I used to now... I know there will always be food in my bowl and a treat or two when I get home from my walks outside.

Smokey: A treat or two or three, all the way to ten... I hear you taught Ritchie how to count.

Ritchie: Ha ha, Smokey.

Dennis: This thing is Smokey, Ritchie, and Helen taught me how to count... But not just from one to ten when I get my Dreamies. I mean I have learned that I can count on people... I mean these two people. You know what I am talking about. I know that this is my forever home and that Ritchie and Helen are my forever people... and that if they have to go away for some reason that there are other kind people, dependable people, who will come and feed me and brush me, look after my lettiere, and keep me company. People like Maria and your humans. 

No, I have to say that life here is very very good. I am a very lucky cat. We should all be so lucky.

Smokey: Well that really sums it all up nicely. Anything anyone else would like to add?

Ritchie: About England being in the Mediterranean, Smokey... and that thing about Yoga...

Smokey: I got that wrong, didn't I? 

Ritchie: Yes, Smokey, but we can discuss that some other time.

Smokey: Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed, everyone. Ciao for now!

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