Who doesn't love a sweet, inspiring love story? Who doesn't love cuddly cats and precious pups? And who doesn't love the happy surprise of inter-species friendships? Put them all together and what do you have? A new book entitled Henry and Tink: a Remarkable Romance.
Henry the three-legged cat is the feline companion of Cathy Conheim and Donna Brooks, who spend many a weekend in their mountain home in Julian, Calif. A number of years ago, Cathy and Donna rescued a badly injured kitten from the woods around their home. They rushed him to the local veterinary hospital, where they received a dismaying diagnosis: The cat's left front leg was so badly injured it couldn't be saved. Their only options were to: put the kitten to sleep, or have the leg amputated. Cathy and Donna weren't really "cat people," but their hearts went out to the tiny tyke they held in their arms. So they told the vet to do what he must to save the kitty's life and said they would find him a home once he recovered from surgery.
Over the course of his months-long recovery, this tri-pawed kitten overcame his physical limitations and learned to get around just fine without his arm. In the process, he also overcame the negative beliefs that his human caretakers had about cats. And before you could say "you're the cat's meow," this maimed kitten won over these reluctant humans.
That would be story enough for most cats -- but not for this one, who seemed destined to live unlikely adventures that other felines could only dream of!
The cat was given a name -- Henry JM (which stands for "Just Me") -- and given not one home, but two -- his day-to-day home in La Jolla, Calif., and his weekend home in Julian.
About that time, I met Henry's human companion, Cathy Conheim, and she and I struck up a friendship... partly because I also had a tri-pawed cat. After a couple years of comparing notes on our respective cat adventures, Cathy and I decided to write a book about Henry's unusual life. In 2006, our book, "What's the Matter with Henry?" was published, winning the award for "Best Gift Book of 2006" from the Cat Writers Association, as well as a "Special Award for Humane Communication" from the ASPCA.
That would be a remarkable achievement for any cat, but Henry was just getting started. A few years later, his life took another unexpected turn, when he met a little dog named Tink.
Now, dogs were nothing new to Henry, as he lives with a dog named Dolly (who also has her own book, What About Me? I'm Here Too) and Henry was familiar with the many dogs who came to visit his home with their human companions. But Tink was no ordinary dog -- she had only two legs! Henry had met other tri-pawed dogs (and cats) before, but this tiny little girl had only two legs -- she was a bi-pawed dog! She had been born without front legs -- an unusual anomaly, indeed.
Henry didn't know quite what to make of this little dog; he was intrigued with her beauty, delighted with plucky spirit, and impressed by her determination to live life fully despite her missing limbs.
Tink, in turn, was intrigued with Henry; his handsome good looks, his quiet but strong demeanor, and the ease with which he had adjusted to life without his own missing limb.
The two became friends, getting acquainted as their human companions also became good friends. Henry let Tink cat nap -- er, dog nap -- in his bed when she tired from the exertion of getting around with only two legs. Tink nuzzled and sniffed Henry approvingly, basking in the warmth of his kindness and generosity. The two played together... and soon their friendship turned to love. Henry and Tink may have limited limbs, but their love to each other is unlimited.
In the face of this remarkable development, Henry's human, Cathy (who often refers to herself as "cat scribe") and I teamed up again to document this charming -- and very unexpected -- romance. Our new book, Henry and Tink: A Remarkable Romance has been published... just in time for Valentine's Day.
But this isn't just a love story; it's a story of transcending disabilities. It's a story of courage and determination. It's a story of resourcefulness and creativity. Above all, it's a story of unconditional acceptance and appreciating the beauty in our differences.
Henry and Tink also remind us of what we all share in common: a desire for happiness, the need for friendship, a desire for freedom, and the longing to be seen, heard and appreciated for who we are as individuals.
Henry and Tink remind us that what's important in life is not what happens to you, but how you respond to what happens. These unlikely heroes remind us that even if you can't do everything, you can always do something. And this inter-species pair remind us that when we reach out to help others, it is we who are enriched beyond measure.
Henry and Tink want to share their story with the world.
All the proceeds from the sale of their books are donated to animal rescue groups, no-kill animal shelters, children of military personnel serving in the Middle East, returning veterans who have lost limbs on the battlefield, kids who've lost everything in recent natural disasters, disadvantaged kids in the U.S. and Mexico, and other groups serving animals and children.
If you'd like to learn more about Henry and Tink, please visit Henry's website: www.henrysworld.org