Dennis was born in a barn, or if maybe not exactly in a barn, born barn-adjacent on someone’s horse farm. But if he had put his elbows on the Sunday dinner table and his mother had said “were you born in a barn?” he would have said yes actually, I was born in a barn. And this might explain a lot. He was a complete asshole. Our motto was ask yourself, what would Dennis do? – then just don’t do it. All of this to say, he was the most adorable orange cat you could ever want to have been part of your life.
Despite his rural roots, Dennis adapted well to city life, mostly because it presented a never-ending stream of people to admire him. At precisely 3 p.m. every week day during the school year, he could be found sitting on the top of the steps leading to the sidewalk, waiting to be admired and scratched on the head by the many passersby.
He also managed to amass many accomplishments. He effortlessly achieved the status of “frequent fighter” at the vet, along with the prestigious discount associated with it. We’re pretty sure he single-handedly paid for the snazzy new chairs in the waiting room and the vet’s daughter’s destination wedding.
I remember one Saturday morning when I returned from an early yoga class to find Dennis sitting on the kitchen window sill, his chest covered in blood. I immediately phoned the vet to get him in the queue before they closed at noon, so I wouldn’t have to shell out for the emergency clinic. I let him in the door and apprehensively began to examine the wound, dabbing at it with some wet paper towel. And dabbed. And dabbed. Until all the blood was gone. Turns out, it wasn’t his.
Another area at which he excelled was destroying upholstery of all kinds, even a leather couch that we were assured would never appeal to a cat. Nor did he shy away from the challenge of marring the expensive B.C. cedar trim surrounding the doorway leading from the screen porch to the kitchen at the cottage. It did take several years, but he eventually wore it down to a nub at cat height.
Dennis was also a vagabond cat-about-town. His preferred method was to jump in to any car or truck with an open door and see where the wind took him. If you live in the Riverdale neighbourhood of Toronto, you would likely have seen one of many missing posters plastered with his handsome visage. I have never done a fully accounting, but I believe the reward money paid out topped four figures. The joke was on us though, since whomever was harbouring this particular fugitive would have paid us to take him back after about a week.
He finally retired from fighting and reached the stage where rodents weren’t in as much mortal danger. Last year, he spent one final stint of six months at the cottage, enjoying his patch of sun on the porch, going down to the dock for a drink or two of lake water at the end of the day, and still maintaining his rigorous schedule of getting up to go out at 4 a.m. to meticulously inspect his domain.
His final selfless act was to require us to buy a freezer where he can chill out until he’s buried at the cottage in the spring. RIP Dennis the Menace.