For cat colum­nist Boat Dock, there’s no life No. 10

Fe­line scribe says farewell af­ter years of wis­dom, laughs

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NWA OUTDOORS - FLIP PUTTHOFF

You know there’s a sad day com­ing when you sign on to keep a pet. If all goes well, you will out­live your crit­ter.

That tough day came for me on Fri­day, June 23 when my tom­cat, Boat Dock, left the planet. He was about 10 when he died.

Boat Dock was the North­west Arkansas DemocratGazette fe­line out­doors colum­nist for years and served as chief judge of the news­pa­per’s fish story con­test.

He’d been deal­ing with a med­i­cal is­sue for about a year that even­tu­ally used up all of his lives. Boat Dock was a trooper through the whole thing. Two surg­eries try­ing to shake it didn’t faze him. He took them like the tough tom­cat he was, neutered, of course. That fig­ures be­cause he got ex­tra treats af­ter his trips to the vet.

Boat Dock’s “I’m the cat, I’m the boss and you’re not” at­ti­tude made it easy for me to slip into cat colum­nist mode from time to time to write things from his per­spec­tive eight inches above the liv­ing room car­pet.

A big kick for me was when a reader would chat me up about the news­pa­per and say, “Your col­umns are OK, but we al­ways en­joy Boat Dock.” I was proud to be his cat but­ler.

Cats don’t do dead­lines, so his col­umns “ap­pear when he feels like writ­ing one,” as the note said at the end of each one.

Around the house, our shack-ri-la, he was a con­stant source of en­ter­tain­ment and a great buddy. I al­ways scan the news­pa­per in the morn­ing, but like to read it care­fully in the evening. Boat Dock would al­ways jump up on the counter and lounge right there be­side me while I read. I knew the end was near when he got too weak to make the leap.

About a month later he was off to kitty heaven, as they say. He’s been good, mostly.

Cats can be aloof, but Boat Dock was Mr. Friendly. When friends would visit the shackri-la, Boat Dock would hide, for about one minute. Then he was out nuz­zling who­ever came knock­ing, quick to make friends.

One night some pals came over and a mu­sic jam broke out. It was win­ter, and we were sit­ting around the liv­ing room play­ing. Our singing would send any other cat sprint­ing to the next county, but not Boat Dock. He sat right there among us, like he was one of the guys. I swear I saw his lit­tle or­ange head bob­bing along to the mu­sic a cou­ple of times.

Morn­ing was his time. He was a ball of fire, the Tas­ma­nian Devil of tom­cats, from 4 a.m. un­til about 7. Then it was snooze time in his rocker.

Boat Dock is ac­tu­ally Boat Dock III. The first Boat Dock wasn’t a writer. That started with Boat Dock II, then Boat Dock III car­ried on those col­umns when he showed some cat at­ti­tude. All were or­ange tabby males, bossy ones.

Some folks won­der how he got his un­usual name. When the first Boat Dock was a kit­ten, his name started out to be Bois d’arc (BO­dark), like the tree. Didn’t take long un­til it mor­phed into Boat Dock, mainly be­cause he lived at Beaver Lake, which he claimed as his fed­eral wa­ter dish.

Boat Dock III was the first Boat Dock to have his own Face­book page. I kid you not when I tell you the lit­tle guy has 268 Face­book friends. That’s more friends than I’ve had my whole life.

We’d post some oc­ca­sional pho­tos of Mr. Hand­some him­self pos­ing nicely or do­ing some­thing goofy. It was a chal­lenge af­ter his surg­eries to show his good side, since he had more stitches than a pair of over­alls and a quar­ter of his fur was shaved off.

If Boat Dock could, I know he’d tell each of you read­ers, “Thanks for read­ing my fine col­umns.” I hope he brought some joy and smiles to each of you. He sure did me. I’ll never for­get my buddy. I loved Boat Dock so much.

Flip Putthoff can be reached at fput­ or on Twit­ter @NWAFlip

Boat Dock

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