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Beautiful Baby Beau Brummel Bennett of Bedford Street

HAIKU CONTEST NOTICE: The winner of the haiku contest for a year's free blog at Typepad was planned to be announced today. It is being delayed due to vote cheating that will be addressed here on Monday 5 October.

category_bug_journal2.gif Thirty-three years ago, while on my usual rounds in my Greenwich Village neighborhood, I stopped at the window of a pet shop. There was a pile of sleeping gray kittens and one different-looking kitten who was a bit older bouncing off the window and walls apparently so overjoyed with life that he could not contain himself.

I walked in. The clerk handed me that kitten. He – the kitten - attached himself to my chest as though we were born for each other and, nuzzling my neck as he purred loudly enough to be heard in Hoboken, wouldn't let go. It was love at first sight for him and for me. Then I asked his price.

It broke my heart to unhook his baby claws from my sweater and replace him in the window. But I was unemployed at the time and he was expensive - an Abyssinian back in the days before they had become overbred.

During the month, as I passed the shop (I'll admit, more frequently than before), the pile of gray kittens grew smaller, the Abyssinian grew larger and his joy in life did not diminish an iota. Or – could it be so? - it was his pleasure at seeing me again that had him bounding around the enclosure.

After four weeks of almost daily visits to the pet store window, I said to hell with the checkbook – I would somehow figure out how to feed us. We went home together that day.

Thus began 20 years of a remarkable friendship. He knew he was a beauty and within a day or so, he made it known that his human name was Beau Brummel – because he wore such fancy clothes. In a moment of whimsy, I added “beautiful baby,” “Bennett” and to complete the alliteration, “of Bedford Street,” where we lived.

In those early days, we had some disagreements on the arrangements of daily life. I learned to awaken earlier – dawn was a good time for that according to Beau – and to reinforce his edict, if I tried to sleep in, he soon discovered that grabbing a mouthful of my hair and pulling produced his intended result.

On the other hand, he never objected when I had an overnight guest and shut him out of the bedroom.

After several weeks of what must have seemed an almost futile attempt, Beau taught me to play fetch (humans are hard to train; they learn so slowly). And he was an intrepid stalker of flies; I would return home from work to find several in one little pile where he collected the carcasses for me. But I drew the line when he brought me dead birds and expectantly plopped them on the counter in front of the microwave. That far I would not go.

Beau adapted immediately when I taught him to use the toilet so I could do away with the litter box. It was disconcerting, however, to come rushing home with an immediate need to pee only to find Beau perched on the throne being very serious about what he was doing. When I mentioned this talent to an acquaintance who was a producer at the television show, Those Amazing Animals, she scoffed. “Oh, Ronni, we already featured a cat who uses the toilet and that one flushes when he's finished.”

Beau thought all humans were invented for his enjoyment. He loved them all, including the robbers who broke into our home on several occasions. He was equally happy to see friends, greeting them at the door and curiously inspected their clothes, picking up clues with his nose to where they had come from and what they had been doing.

But he was particular about bedtime. If guests had not left by 11PM, he sat down in the middle of the group and yelled. Repeatedly. Even those who were visiting for the first time understood he was telling them to leave. Now. When they gathered up their belongings, he politely escorted them to the door for a cordial, “Good evening, thank you for coming” and a sigh of relief, when the door was closed, that we were alone, just the two of us, again.

Beau loved books; an open one was irresistible and he pawed at the pages for many long minutes. He came “this close” to being the next Morris the Cat on television when a friend, who was directing a series of pet food commercials, saw Beau with a book and said he could easily edit it took look like Beau was turning the pages.

Unfortunately, the cat food company's advertising people, although they liked the idea, wanted an unrecognizable breed. Too bad; Beau might otherwise have made us rich.

After two decades together, Beau was slowing down, gray fur multiplying on his face and head. The doctor said he was wasn't sick, he was just old.

One day his hind legs stopped working and he didn't want to eat anymore. When I left for work each morning, I placed him on a thickness of towels to soak up urine, with a bowl of water he could reach with just a turn of his head.

On the fourth morning, when I left him on his towel on the bed to go shower, he yelled. I returned and he stopped. I tried again, he yelled. Okay, okay, Beau, I told him. I'll stay home today. And this time, as I left the room to shower, he did not yell.

I arranged Beau on a fresh towel with his water bowl on a low table next to my desk and we were quietly happy together that day. He was weak, but he lifted his head to lick my hand when I petted him. Early that evening, I moved us onto the bed to watch the evening news together, as was our habit.

A few minutes later, a low, guttural moan erupted from Beau. It went on and on and on while his legs stiffened, each pointing in a different direction. The moan got louder. I didn't know what to do. I was crying and holding him and the moan continued, on and on.

Until it stopped. And Beau was dead. That was 13 years ago yesterday.

I was reminded of Beau, our life together and his death this weekend when friends visited and Ollie, my current cat, objected to Rufus the dog and refused to come out from under the bed until they left on Sunday. Even without a dog, other people don't interest Ollie. He would prefer they didn't come 'round at all.

Ollie has other charms, when we are alone together, and we love each other. He makes me laugh and we have long chats back and forth and he has taught me several games. My friend Steve, who was here with Kathy last weekend, said he believes that although all our pets are important to us, many people have had one that is the most special of all.


Beautiful Baby Beau Brummel Bennett of Bedford Street was my bestest best friend for 20 years. I will never stop missing him.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: Oldest Blogger - Not


He sounds just wonderful.

Such a long and loyal relationship always is a treasure. It really doesn't matter if it is one with another human or a pet. You have are lucky that way.

Sorry, to hear that something went askew with the voting. Does not sound like something your readers would normally do. I do hope the cheating was just out of stupidity and not malice.

When I can stop sobbing, I'll look at his picture. What a beautiful story and how fortunate you both were to have found each other. Thank you for sharing that lovely story, Ronni.

I loved every word of this truest story of all. PLEASE turn it into a book for children. Adults can borrow their copies. It is a delightful; gripping love story and I want it between two covers of dead trees (or recycled versions). Bx6 might yet make you (and his memory) rich.

Beautiful heart story. The best.

I dread the day my cat dies. Got her for free from a student in the 80's. Saved her from the SPCA.

She follows me everywhere, sleeps beside me at night. Time to time she finds a big cricket in the basement, plays hockey with the thing until it's on one leg,(like a scene from the movie "Life of Brian," Monty Python...

"I can still fight you, you simple minded bastard...(bug thinks she's a he) on one leg..")croaks bug, staggering forth like a drunk cowboy...

But no one can knock out my fur ball.. Fight goes one round, TKO, then my powercat carefully lifts the gross thing, like a fancy escargot, in her grinning mouth and drops it into her steel water bowl.

It's not about eating the bug, it's about owning the house.

Disgusting sight to see that bug swimming around first thing in the morning when I go to feed and water her. But what a huntress!

Cat stands by proudly displaying her trapped prey...if she could high five me and bow, she would...

bug still thinks it has a chance...pivoting around in circles, car wreck. Call 911.

But nobody answers the phone.

I grab the whole water bowl, bug inside, run upstairs, open front door in my bathrobe, and fire the thing straight into the bushes.

Damn. My cat is good.

I thought I heard the "Rocky" theme coming from downstairs....

Great story, and what a great cat. It's a tribute that you remember Beau so faithfully.

I’ve never stopped missing any of my animals who have died and each time I’m determined never to go through losing another, but simply can’t feel complete without either a cat or dog in the house. Presently, there is Cassie our cat. She’s very different from the other two cats we’ve had. She’s overweight, never learned to play, and after five years has become affectionate toward us.

So true, Ronnie. We,ve had cats always and usually two at a time. We're on our fifth dog now with two cats.
Sigh. But there was Jenny. My most wonderful cat. Jenny Cakes. I still get teary when I think of her. The goodbye is so painful.

Oh how wonderful you had this grand friendship. I'm sniveling...what a wonderful portrait. Thank you. I really miss Frazier, my wild cat who considered domesticity, and sort of miss Sterling, our domestic who was really wild at heart.

Whether your furry friend is a cat or a dog they rapidly become family. I wish God had given them longer life spans to match ours. It's so painful to say goodbye.

Beau was beautiful and he was very smart to have picked you out of all the people who must have gazed at him through the window. He knew what he was doing as he bounded around the other side of the window when you stopped to look.

Beautiful tribute to Beau, Ronnie. He is quite the handsome cat.

I am revelling in whatever time is left with my 17 year old cat, who, like Beau, seems to be simply fading into old age.

Oh my yes, tears this morning. What a wonderful story and a wonderful and long friendship. I'm so envious of folks who have their animals until a ripe old age. My cats have all seemed to succumb to one thing or another between 12-15 years old. I'm currently worrying about my 10 year old Sweet Pea, whose weight loss and bleeding is a mystery to my vet despite numerous blood and other tests.

Ah, yes, that one very special pet. That was my Butterball. He had to be put down last year at the age of 15. You can copy and paste the link to read my tribute if you have any interest.

Not a week goes by that I still don't look at a photo of him and tell him how much I miss him.

Beautiful cat and what a personality, what a connection the two of you had. I agree that there are some pets that are special to us. We might have many of them that we love but a few go beyond that to something more. He had a wonderful life with you

God rest Beautiful Baby Beau Brummel Bennett of Bedford Street.

What a beautiful tribute to your friend. I bet if Beau could write he would have written about you, Ronni, in just such glowing terms.

And yes. We each have one special pet in our lifetimes. Mine was a English Springer Spaniel named Mollie. She was so intuitive and intelligent. I could take all day to praise Mollie but I will just say she was my one "special pet"

Cheating in a haiku contest? That's a capital crime, isn't it?

all the time I was reading this I knew how it would end. I have experienced just such a cat too, my best friend during a sad and lonely time.
I am glad you ended your tribute on an upbeat note about Ollie, I could stop snivelling!

I'm not terribly convinced there's a heaven, but I sure hope there's a cat heaven, 'cause that's where I wanta go. I know I'd meet all my beloved cat (& dog) pets and Beau Brummel too. Nice story.

Oh, Ronnie. what a gorgeous creature he was and how lovely you described him. You made me cry and remember every cat I've ever loved.

I loved your story. It made me feel more normal for still grieving the loss of my best friend. Snow Tiger was a beautiful long-haired tabby siamese cross that was my son's 2nd birthday present from his grandmother. They grew up together. She would climb into bed with him every night, get under the covers with him and listen to the nightly bedtime book. She would sit with him as he did his homework, and insisted on being included in everything that he did. As he grew up and started spending more time with friends, she became more attached to me, though they continued to be best buddies. She was my constant companion and best friend. Our family consisted of the three of us for many years, as his dad "flew the coop" about two weeks after his 2nd birthday. Fast forward nearly 20 years: in a tragic twist of timing, my ex-husband was killed in a car accident, and two-weeks later our beloved 19-year old Snow Tiger died. I didn't want to get another cat, but ours was the house of grief. We adopted an all-black kitten, as sometimes they are the least likely to find a home. She's a funny little cat, and helped to lift our spirits in those dark days. This summer I finally made myself sprinkle Snow Tiger's ashes in the backyard. I realized hanging on to them didn't make her or the last 20 years any less gone. It still made me cry. Sorry to run on so . . .

Wow, what a gorgeous boy. The way you two found and couldn't let go of one another in the beginning is legendary, but then everything you wrote about Beau and the way you were with one another right up to the end was legendary. It's fitting to remember this day, and to miss him every day. As I do Bleecker, who I have mentioned to you before. Oh how I loved the others and do love the ones with me now. But each night I say good night to his picture on my dresser. It was the cruelest separation; we belonged together.

Truly a beautiful regal cat and a delightful love story you relate. My pets have always meant a great deal to me from when I was a child. I felt then they offered unconditional love which I felt safe returning unlike with that of too many humans.

I've encountered a number of people who have had to move into different living arrangements where they can receive more assistance, but they've had to give up their pet to do so. This can be just one more consequence of aging requiring a major adjustment for some. I think I'm as delighted as they are when having been able to place their pet with others they know, the pet is brought to visit them.

I expect your cats have undertaken the challenge of training you with great dedication and glad to know they've been able to do such a good job.

As for using the commode, I had heard some cats could do that. Family member wanted to train her cat to do so, but though the sweet thing wore me out playing fetchit when it came time to use the vessel, all she ever wanted to do was play in the clean water with her foot.

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