2006-12-06 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

by Joanne Anderson

Pluto, Russell Terrier, Pluto, Russell Terrier, Editor's Note: The column entitled "No Candy for Kitty " about a feline genetic defect that makes cats unable to taste sweets was awarded the Muse Medallion for the "Best Newspaper Article" in this year's Cat Writers Association (CWA) competition held in San Francisco last month. Joanne Anderson said that a bonus of the trip to California was meeting Cathy Conheim. Read on...

Never underestimate the reach of one determined cat, and his more determined guardian. Their dream to raise a million dollars for needy souls, like Henry once was himself, is becoming reality. A lot has happened since Beacon readers were first introduced to Henry the 3- legged pheline philanthropist last August. The Energizer Bunny has met his match. Henry the Healer keeps going and going....

Henry has won national book awards. Sales from his books, without the use of stores or Amazon, have generated thousands of dollars for various charities. In addition, Henry and his cat scribe spend up to 8 hours a day counseling strangers. Since Henry discovered his voice as a "therapet", he has answered over 12,000 letters and emails, many ongoing correspondences. His crusade of kindness has traveled around the world. Henry's tale, including my 8/31 Beacon version, is even featured on a South African websitewww. kittycat.co.za/articles/henry.asp.

Mercury, Tabby Mercury, Tabby You may recall that Henry as an injured California kitten 2 years ago had the good sense to wander into the home of Cathy Conheim, a psychotherapist, and Donna Brooks, a retired doctor- diehard dog lovers with hearts of gold. Henry's positive attitude, plus a little prodding from their Standard Poodle, won them over. They paid for his costly leg amputation and wound up adopting him. Little did they know that he was yet to spark a new mission.

Cathy turned Henry's life lessons into a pair of non- profit books that inspire us while supporting grass root organizations too. Henry's World chronicled their email odyssey, and What's the Matter with Henry**? showcased the power of resiliency and overcoming prejudice. The beautifully photographed children-of- all ages book, What's the Matter with Henry?, won both the ASPCA Humane Issues award and the gift book Muse Medallion at the Cat Writers Association honors in San Francisco last month. Henry gave his $500 prize to Friends of Cats in El Cajon, California. They rescued some feral kittens he knew.

Henry was recently voted mascot and honorary board member of the Miracle League of southwest Washington. The Miracle League builds ball fields for physically challenged kids. Now Henry can sell his books to raise money for these customized fields of dreams. He is working on a deal with a major league pitcher to help him with fundraising efforts. Ironically, the southpaw cat, who shares a name with St. Henry II, patron of the disabled, was born near his namesake's feast day. When he was christened, his owners had no idea of the canonized coincidence.

Henry is quite the celeb. He's been on CNN, done 2 book signings at the San Diego Zoo, been featured in many magazines and newspapers including Tufts' Catnip and a Japanese cat journal that call him "Henry, Sensei" (master teacher). An article

about Henry will appear

in Cat Fancy in

February. Any day

now his saga will be

posted on

DarynKagan.com, the

positive outlook

website of the former CNN anchorwoman. Last week a piece in The San Diego Union-Tribune brought the "Dear Tabby Abby" 130 letters the next day, and orders for many more books. Cathy ghostwrites Henry's in depth responses faster than you can say: "litterbox". Henry has received thank you notes for his books from former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and author Joseph Wambaugh. His cat scribe welcomes publicity. Each venue is spreading Henry's message of triumph over tragedy and bias barriers.

Katrina displaced pets; terminally ill patients; shelter animals; folks who have lost their homes to fire or medical bills; wounded veterans; big groups like Alley Cat Allies; small groups like LI's Last Hope...all and more have benefited from Henry's ability to pay back the kindness extended toward him. "Peace on earth good will toward men (and beast)". Henry embodies the meaning of Christmas. Henry has the gift that gives twice. Order his book online at www.henrysworld.org, and you can designate the charity where Cathy will send the check.

Now to answer that question posed in the title- What's the Matter with Henry? Absolutely nothing. May we all play the "paw" that is dealt us as well as this spunky feline tripod has.

Our Oyster Bay Shelter poster pets this week need families and some goodwill. This "Pluto" #1161- an adorable Jack Russell- got kicked out of a home, not a solar system, when a new baby arrived. "Mercury" #1087 is a cute 7 week old tabby with a quick silver stripe down his nose. The shelter (677-5784) is located on Miller Pl. in Syosset, right off the LIE.

More Dogs: "Powder" #1129- the white female Boxer shown last week; a small black Lab; "Bob"- the big, lovable tabby in the lobby window cage.

Last Hope Pet Photos with Santa- Bring your pets (or kids) to PETSMART on Rt. 110 in Huntington Sta. on Dec. 9, 10. 16, 17 from 11 am to 4 pm. It's a great deal because $5 of each $9 package goes to Last Hope. I get to be the photographer again on 12/10.

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