This is the story of a plain, little black cat, with a round face and huge eyes, that looked a lot like the cartoon character, Betty Boop, a cat I loved more than any cat Ive ever known and she wasnt even mine.
I met Dodus the first time I visited my new friends, Chuck Rosenthal and Gail Wronsky, at their home in Topanga. I was in the living room being introduced to all their animalsa very important ritual in both their home and minewhen a small, black cat walked in, sat down across the room and stared at me. I asked Chuck who this was and walked over to say, Hello.
Chuck, who was sitting in his great leather Chuck Chair, said, Thats Yoko Dodus . She wont let anyone except Gail, me or Marlena (their daughter) get close. I hadnt really heard what hed said and turning around with Doedus in my arms, said, What?
Chucks jaw dropped. She never lets anyone do that, said Gail.
And so began a great love affair between Dodie and me. Or, as I soon came to call her, The Boopinator. If she was outside when I came over, I would call her and she would show up within twenty seconds. If she was inside, as soon as she heard my voice, shed find me. Ive known hundreds of animals in my life, and had somewhere around fifty that shared my home. Of all those, it was with only two dogs and one horse that I had that kind of connection, and only one cat that came close.
The thing about Dodie was, because of the shape of her head, you could look her straight in the eye. The first time I did this, I had a slightly eerie and startling realizationthere was someone in there. Chuck and Gail agreed with me; Dodie had the ability to let you see who she was. It was remarkable. And no one else but us had ever noticed.
Time passed. Dodus got older and so did I. I just loved her more. But time really was passing. I made both Chuck and Gail promise to let me know if something happened. If Dodie became ill or if the time came to let her go, I had to be there.
On March 7, with Gail out of town, Chuck called to tell me that he felt Dodie was on her way out and that I should come over. I did and she was. She had stopped eating and was barely moving. Yet, when I picked her up and held her, she purred for the entire half-hour I had her in my arms. The next morning Chuck took her to Doc Holly who found two tumors in her stomach; and that afternoon, I went with Chuck and held her in my arms on the table, with one hand on her wonderful heart and sang her the Dodus Song. She was purring when Doc Holly gave her the shot and her wonderful little heart stopped forever. There was no more pain and she was at peace.
Someone once asked me: if losing them makes you so sad, why have them?
My answer is: because the joy and the love and all the amazing things that Ive learned from animals over the years that have made me a better person in so many ways, by far outweigh any sadness that Ive experienced. How much less might my life have been, if Id never met a small, black cat named Yoko Dodus?
THE DODUS SONG (to the tune of You Are My Sunshine)
You are my Dodus, my only Dodus.
I hope you notice, how I love you.
If you were POTUS, then they would vote us,
The First Couple would be me and you.
You are my Yoko, it aint no joko,
And you know Ill always be true.
You are so charming, that its alarming.
You know that Ill always love you.
I will love you Dodie, as long as I draw breath. Oh, my girl. My Girl.
YOKO DODUS, THE PSYCHIC CAT
People who know about these things used to say that Dodus was a psychic cat. They could see it in her eyes; they could feel her communicating with them. I was never sure about that, but one time I went to a psychic healer in Sedona, Arizona, and the first thing she asked me was if I had a black cat. I said yes, and she said that my cat was worried about me and wanted her to tell me that I needed to sit down more--I needed to spend more time doing nothing. And that's absolutely true. I'm one of those people who never sit down for more than five minutes--I'm too nervous or something. Anyway, when I got home I did try sitting more, and Dodus was always there ready to jump on my lap and help me relax. Maybe she wasn't really worried about meshe just wanted a warm place to sitbut maybe she did have some psychic ability.