CAMDEN — It was a sad day, June 16, for the numerous friends of Dennis, the Warner Graphics shop cat, when they read a post written by Stacey Warner on his personal Facebook page.
“Dennis gave up his fight today while we stroked and petted him. He even managed a small purr – one of his final gifts to us. Dennis has been a special cat from the moment he showed up on our back porch to his nominating himself as the official greeter. The shop will not be the same without him manning the counter. Dennis gave us so much more than we could ever give him back. We know you’re lounging on a counter somewhere. Sweet dreams our big orange boy we will never forget you.”
Warner said that Dennis was about 14 years old when he died.
Other friends heard the news around town, customers when they came to the shop for printing or graphic needs, or those who slipped in the front door for their regular “Dennis fix.”
Some had a chance to say goodbye to Dennis and bring him a bag of his favorite treats when Warner posted on his Facebook page that he was diagnosed with cancer.
But, some of Dennis’s friends from far away are still learning about this death. Just last week, Warner said that two ladies came into the shop looking for Dennis.
“They had been here six years ago and taken pictures of him in his basket and had not been back to Maine since, but came in as soon as they returned this time and were so disappointed to not see him.”
It has been a very emotional few weeks for Stacey and her husband, Richard, but they realize that everyone is needing the time to grieve Dennis and they appreciate the outpouring of love and support.
The story began in 2009 when Dennis, a stray, just appeared on the Warner’s back porch in Rockland. He appeared to be a friendly cat and when they discovered he had been exposed to feline AIDs from some feral cats, they decided to take him to the shop as his new home. It first was an experiment since they never had a shop cat before.
It worked right from the start. It was a simple equation: Dennis loved everyone and they loved him right back.
Warner said Dennis was especially intuitive. She hosts a knitting group every Wednesday night at the shop, which he always attended. She recalled one woman in the group who had just lost her cat and Dennis reached out to her and touched her cheek.
Amy Fischer, of Camden, was another special friend of Dennis.
“When my beloved cat, Angel, passed away five years ago, I adopted Dennis as my ‘go-to’ cat pal. We seemed to have a special bond, being fellow ‘Gingers’, along with his mom, Stacey. Of course he loved everyone as did they him, but I came to believe, according to Stacey, that he knew my voice when I arrived at the shop and always jumped up to come to me. Or maybe it was the canned tuna juice I brought him from time to time. He was a remarkably sweet and loving being.”
Dennis’s popularity and friendships included more than humans. He also loved dogs and had many canine friends who came to visit him at the shop. Snuffles, a miniature pig, was also a favorite companion of his.
Warner said that sometimes there were surprises when someone whom you thought wouldn’t gravitate to Dennis did.
One day, a “stiff looking” and well groomed salesman in a three piece suit came into the shop. Warner went in the back to retrieve something and when she returned, Dennis was in the arms of the salesman who left with orange cat hair all over his dark blue suit.
Dennis enjoyed some celebrity status with his own Facebook page, two calendars and his portrait. But hey, when you were so photogenic, you had to show it off somehow. Warner made him special holiday outfits and she said he especially loved Christmas.
“It is always a busy time at the shop and Dennis lived for his public. He would hear the front door open and would immediately head to the front. And of course, the holidays meant gifts of treats.”
The long wrap around counter at the shop was where he conducted his business. If you didn’t respond to giving him a treat, he would push the bag off the counter as a reminder.
It was also the spot for snoozing on or inside the purses or computer bags of customers. If a woman left her purse open, especially a soft Vera Bradley bag, then Dennis wouldn’t hesitate to crawl inside and indulge in an afternoon nap.
Warner summed it all up perfectly.
“Dennis taught us how to love and we loved him back. He brought out the best in people, not necessarily all animal folks. He was just such a special cat with so many friends.”
And yes, your friends sure do miss you Dennis. You were one darn cat.
Reach Sarah Shepherd at email@example.com