For the past couple of months, my cat Bootsy has been prancing around the apartment in a gloating manner after winning the Cat of the Year contest last year and the Dog of the Year contest the year before.
Poor Taco, the runner-up, has had to deal with the constant gloating and demanded that I run another contest so that he may prove he is truly the top cat in the household. I’ve decided to oblige, though Bootsy said she is just as happy to defend her title this year.
The other winners of the contest were happy, as well.
Buffy, a cocker spaniel owned by Barb Thomas, celebrated her victory in the previous Dog of the Year contest in style, cruising the lake on her first-ever boat ride on the Fourth of July. And Miracle, the heifer calf who won in the Miscellaneous category, expressed its gratitude in an email: “Thank you for selecting me as Miscellaneous Critter of the Year! I’m excited and appreciative, especially as June said there were some great and unusual entries! Although I have to say I really feel sorry for that Chupacabra; I know what it’s like to be starved, dehydrated and abandoned.”
Which brings me to the topic at hand: the start of the 2017-18 Critter of the Year contest.
We’ll kick off the contest with a heart-wrenching submission I received recently by email.
Dianne Otte and her daughter, Courtnee, were jogging on June 28, 2014, at Overbrook City Lake when they heard an animal crying in the brush. She said they found what they finally determined to be a kitten.
“After getting a bowl and cat food, I returned and the starved and oddly-shaped little animal eventually came to eat,” Otte said. “This was the beginning of a daily ritual and the story of Twiggy Meow.”
The following day, she returned to the brush with a bowl of food and a temporary shelter.
“Amazingly, every day but one, the little animal came when he heard me call,” she said. “He was so emanciated, I knew he needed better nourishment before attempting capture.”
On July 21, with the sedative from their veterinarian mixed into the food, she eventually was able to catch him and take him to the clinic.
“He came home to his cat brother, Cupid, and I on July 22nd,” she said. He weighed 7 pounds and was terrified. With the help of Cupid, we have come a long way.”
Otte says she believes she was supposed to find the kitten that day.
“Being a farm girl, I’ve had and loved many pets,” she said. “Twiggy Meow has a special place in my heart. I believe someone tried to strangle and drown him, because he is afraid of big bowls of water and his meow is raspy. The cat water foundation was too scary, so he drinks from a tiny bowl. He still startles easily, hides whenever a door open and remains afraid of people.
“However, Twiggy Meow is the sweetest, most lovable and best-behaved cat ever. He now weighs 13 pounds, plays ball, mouse on a stick, laser chaser, and is almost always with his brother. At night, he comes to bed, where I rarely wake up without him cuddled next to me. Twiggy Meow is a survivor.”
What a great submission. He reminds me a lot of my own kitten, Taco, who was found alone by my girlfriend, wandering the streets of Wichita.
To submit your dog, cat or miscellaneous animal for the Critter of the Year contest, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your animal’s name, photo, a story about it and your own name and city of residence. You may also submit your entry through snail mail at Josh Rouse, 616 S.E. Jefferson, Topeka, KS, 66607. Winners will be selected July 1, 2018, in three categories again this year: Dog of the Year, Cat of the Year and a Miscellaneous category. Submissions must be received by Friday, June 29, 2018.
PHOTOS OF BADGER SUBMITTED: You may remember a brief note in my column last week about a rare badger spotted by Mike and Karen Lietz near Meriden. This week, their daughter-in-law, Debby, submitted several photos to corroborate the story.
A Topeka man named Dennis Lane also backed up the story via the comments section on our website. Lane mows right in front of the newly dug den.
“I work for Soldier Township as a mower operator and I mow by his or her newly dug den about every two weeks and at that time it comes to the outlet to let me know its there and then as I passed it goes back into its den,” Lane wrote. “It has been at this location since May, I witnessed the digging of it, so to keep from disturbing it I mow a little further away from it.”