I’m a dog person. Always have been.
I guess that changed one July morning in 2018 when I walked out the back of my house and saw a black-and-white furball disappear into the woods. My first thought was, “That’s going to be my cat.”
And Boots, a handsome tuxedo, is, although he would disagree with that characterization, insisting he is Batman and I, at best, am Robin.
After our initial encounter, I did what any caring human being would do, and that was to begin a bit of a courtship with my friend that was based on this precept: I could not allow him to starve.
For the next couple of weeks, I would put out some food, and the kitten, originally assigned the generic name “Cat,” would arrive on schedule, stuffing his stomach before retreating back into the woods, but increasingly allowing me to get a little bit closer. All of this was memorialized through the use of a cellphone, and shared on Facebook.
The people loved it, but mostly they loved Boots. They clamored for more. A star was being born.
Soon enough, Boots made his way, cautiously of course and with the video rolling, into my home. Here he remains, although he clings to the title of King of the Jungle. He is certainly king as well of the home.
Not being a cat man, I worried in early August 2018 what to do with my buddy, now named Boots because of his white feet, when headed for a three-day golf outing in South Carolina with college buddies. I was advised just to leave him inside the house, have someone drop by to make sure there was plenty of food and fresh water, and he would be fine.
And he was.
But it was then that we had our first conversation, in which Boots complained about those three days — that I had turned the AC unit up to 80, and it was hot and August, and, by the way, he had a fur coat. He was unhappy as well that the television had not been left on, so he could not watch is blood brother, Tiger Woods. There were more complaints.
I put them on Facebook in the form of a conversation. The folks announced their approval with likes and comments. They wanted more — and Boots and I obliged.
It took no more than a couple of minutes out of my day, and the template was established: Fun was had, and always at my expense.
As I went about town, again and again I was asked, often by strangers, “How is Boots?” Twenty-two years of being the editor of this newspaper did not gain me the fame that Boots did in a month. He has pointed that out more than once.
As my birthday, which is Aug. 26, approached in 2018, I saw an opportunity to use Boots to ask for donations in support of my birthday to raise money for the Robeson County Humane Society. About $1,500 was raised, much more, I am sure, than if I had made the request myself.
Boots was invited to participate in a Jail-a-Thon for the United Way, and raised a similar amount of money, the most of any of the “inmates.”
Soon enough, his fans began suggesting that Boots and I write a book, and I my response was that it was indeed being written —a vignette at a time.
A year and a half later, and with the help of several people whose expertise I needed, “Boots and Me: Life with the King of the Jungle,” a 165-page paperback, has been self-published — and that has been done with the pledge that profits from the book go to support the Robeson County Humane Society, and its mission to find comfort and homes for abandoned animals, which Boots once was.
I made that pledge because I struggled to see why anyone would otherwise buy the book. The vignettes, it seems, are good for a laugh, but they are single-note, with Boots making fun of me and my dreary existence.
More than 100 people have offered to buy about 400 books, and after I reimburse myself the costs, about $2,500, which should be done with the sale of 220 or so, all the profit will go to the Robeson County Humane Society. So today I use my position with this newspaper to invite those who are inclined to do so to buy a book or two, knowing that each purchase will mean about $10 for the Robeson County Humane Society.
Although Boots has insisted that money be used only for cats — he doesn’t like dogs — I promise you that won’t be the case. If you would like a book, give me a call at 910-374-9317 and we will make that happen. The cost is $15 each.
A 165-page book written by Donnie Douglas, editor of The Robesonian, about his adventures with a cat named Boots will be sold with all profits going to benefit the Robeson County Humane Society. The cost is $15. Call Douglas at 910-374-9317 if you are interested in purchasing one.