By Lanier Laney
When I was in an East Hampton, N.Y., coffee shop last summer, I struck up a conversation with a couple from Manhattan at the table next to me. After telling them where I was from they replied, “Oh we’ve been to Beaufort. How’s Bob the cat?”
In a town filled to the brim with cats, Bob is clearly Beaufort’s most famous cat. His other title includes “Ambassador of Craven Street” because Bob loves tourists and walks up and greets the incoming groups to the historic Point neighborhood downtown. Or sometimes he lies down and rolls over, adorably inviting them to scratch his tummy.
This big orange tabby has got quite the personality and has numerous local fans and caregivers. When he recently went missing for 48 hours, Bob’s owners Dale and Phil Fairbanks got dozens and dozens of emails of concern from as far away as Vermont and Florida.
Bob turned up at a vet’s office in Bluffton where the microchip in his neck got him back home.
How he got there is anybody’s guess. He’s been known to hop in cars and even the backs of worker’s trucks before. Or maybe somebody thought he was lost. Dale puts collars with bells on Bob, but he manages to take them off and discard them in a few days.
You might see Bob at any number of his hangouts — City Java, the parking lot of Breakwater at night, on the porch of Twenge and Twombley Law Firm, behind Griffin Market being fed Italian tuna or as far north as USCB.
Says Dale Friedman, “Two years ago I stepped outside one June night and up drove a minivan which stopped in front of the house. I had no idea who the driver was, but she hopped out of the car and said ‘I saw Bob on the other side of Carteret Street so I brought him home’. He jumped out of the car and off she went.
We have also gotten calls from Breakwater after 10 p.m. telling us he is in the parking lot holding court with customers.
Finally, our dilemma now is that he is known to get in strange cars and also to cross Carteret Street, both of which are potentially dangerous for him. But if we confine him to the house, he will be miserable because he loves to be outside flirting with the locals and tourists. I think we have to let him out and trust that he can take care of himself — at least during the day.”
Bob showed up at Town and Country Real Estate 10 years ago. He was fixed and seemed well taken care of. After countless Facebook pleas and flyers, no one showed up to claim him so Dale, reluctantly at first, took him home.
“I didn’t need a cat or want one but he had such a wonderful personality,” Dale recalls.
These days, over half a dozen people feed and look after him.
“Oftentimes he ignores his food here,” says Phil Fairbanks. “We have a neighbor who goes to Sea Eagle and buys him fresh shrimp when she is in town.”
A family from Laurel Bay visits him every week. Adds Dale, “As kind as people are, I would ask that his friends not feed him anything because he had pancreatitis last year and almost died from something he ate. So when he doesn’t eat his dinner here we fear he has gotten sick again and worry if we should take him to the vet.”
Bob’s pet peeve? Small, yappy dogs. He hates them. Seems someone once came to Craven Street from Hilton Head Island. She opened her car door and out bounded two vicious little dogs that attacked Bob from both ends. It was a fight he lost and ended up badly hurt with a torn tongue. Bob is furious about what happened to him and has this “thing” now about small dogs and will go out of his way to attack them. Dog walkers, with small dogs, know to stay clear of Craven Street as a result.
Bob summers in Vermont with the Fairbanks and enjoys the two-day ride there. He insists on sitting on a pillow in the highest part of the car to give him an uninterrupted view.
Dale and Phil credit HomeAgain microchip for Bob’s safe return. The vet in Bluffton told them that 90 percent of people who have microchipped their animals do not keep up with the yearly payment, so they can’t read the information off them. HomeAgain charges $20 a year and notifies owners via email when payment is due. Luckily, Bob was up to date with his microchip.
We at the Island News join with all of Bob’s Facebook friends and neighbors in welcoming him home. Long may Ambassador Bob reign as Beaufort’s friendliest and most famous cat!
For more information about HomeAgain microchips for your pet, go to http://public.homeagain.com.