Hootie’s memory

Hootie
Courtesy of Ardeana Hamlin
Hootie
Posted Sept. 27, 2011, at 9:01 p.m.

DEDHAM — Sometimes, a pet owner’s worst fears are realized and a beloved pet meets its demise after dark under the wheels of a car. That is what happened to Hootie, a 21-year-old male Maine coon cat on Sept. 20. He had black fur and four white paws.

“He had his nine lives or more,” said Hootie’s owner, Deborah Bradford, 55, of Dedham, who was at work when a dog startled the 22-pound cat. Hootie ran into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

“He always went out toward the field to hunt for mice,” Bradford said. “I never saw him go toward the road.” Bradford worked as an animal control officer 1996-2006 in Dedham and has a special place in her heart for animals. She is a lifelong resident and lives far enough off busy Route 46 to make it feasible for Hootie to be an outdoor cat. “He lived a good life.”

Hootie, Bradford said, was “a talker, more human than animal, and he ruled the roost,” sleeping beside her at night. Bradford got Hootie as a kitten from a friend whose cat had a litter. “I told her I’m tossing a toy mouse into that crowd of kittens and the first one that grabs it I’m taking home.” And that was Hootie.

The driver of the car, whose name Bradford did not learn, stopped and offered apologies and condolences, talking with Lindsey Bradford, Deborah’s husband.

The next day her brother found in his roadside mailbox an envelope with the notation: To the owner of the cat that was killed last Tuesday night.

Inside the envelope were two $100 bills and a note that said, in part: “I wanted to tell you how sorry I am about your cat. I know this is very difficult for you. This is difficult for me, too. We have cats and love them very much. I don’t know why he ran in front of my truck that night. He was in a full run and came out so fast that I didn’t have time to stop. I was not going fast. … The $200 is what it usually costs when you adopt a cat at a shelter. For neutering and spaying plus shots. I know you can never replace your boy, but some day you might want another little friend. The very sorry driver”

“I want those people to know it wasn’t their fault and I am very pleased at what they did,” Bradford said. “It’s good to know there are good people in the world. I have no hard feelings and I’m glad they didn’t swerve and hurt themselves in an attempt to avoid hitting Hootie. I want to put them at their ease and thank them for what they did.”

Bradford said she plans to use the money to adopt two kittens from the Bangor Humane Society. She thinks she’d like one of the kitties to be orange in color. The new felines will be indoor cats. “I’m not going through that again,” she said, observing that losing Hootie means that two more cats will be adopted and have a good home.

The Bangor Humane Society will hold its annual Paws on Parade fundraiser 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, at the Bangor waterfront. To learn more about the event, visit http://www.bangorhumane.org/.

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