I met Phoenix at the Denver Pound in 1998, but they wouldn’t let him be rescued. When I asked a 3rd time and brought my vet into it, they finally released him. When he was freed, I named him Phoenix after the mythological bird rising from ashes of destruction.
Phoenix Erin was so gentle that he let a three-year-old walk him around on his back legs while she held his front feet up high. He was like that with other cats, too. When Teagan came to live with us, Phoenix immediately licked Teagan’s head – instant friendship.
Once when Teagan wouldn’t come in from playing in a field, I asked Phoenix to get him. Phoenix walked around the trees to where he and Teagan could see each other, and then Teagan left the field and followed Phoenix right to the bench where I was. I was amazed, and curious about how they communicated without making a sound.
Phoenix loved people, and his greatest passion was to go for walks to meet them. He would meow to them from 25 feet away. He saved meows for greeting people, and would sit up with his front paws raised like he was begging to ask for a door to be opened.
Once, he got outside alone for three hours. I later met a couple who said he had befriended them that day, and spent an hour sleeping on their bed. Another stranger he introduced me to on our morning walks would open her office before other employees arrived so he could lie on the desks. He accompanied me on walks in three towns, and would walk for miles. Once when Canada geese crossed the sidewalk in front of us, he politely sat down and waited for them.
His other passion was climbing. He was too heavy to climb trees well, but he climbed every ladder he could find – stepladders, 12-foot tripod ladders, and extension ladders. He would get stuck on ladders stored vertically, but that didn’t reduce his enthusiasm.
Weighing 20 pounds, pure white with blue eyes, he was very striking. He was never interested in stuffed toy animals, until I bought a large, white teddy bear. That was his bear from the moment he saw it; he really loved it.
He always made eye contact, and would quietly stare when he wanted something. I was constantly becoming aware of his gaze without him moving or making a sound. Once I realized he was staring at me in a mirror when he was out-of-sight inside a closet. He was making eye contact through our reflections in the mirror.
Phoenix gave me 12 years of shared walks and that “hmmm” sound he made when his head was caressed. He introduced me to countless neighbors with his friendly, outgoing love of people. His example of how to spread happiness to everyone he met enriched my life with laughter and friendship. He was a teacher by example of how we should all care about each other. I’m thankful he escaped the Pound to share his kindness with others so I philosophically gave him the name of “Justice.”