On the road…again!
Afghanistan to Zambia
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek
Blue Rose of Kenya
Young Lucy Pellek was given the privilege of naming our pets. She grew up chasing Dolie around our house in Cape Verde, so was comfortable with the idea of having a dog as a playmate and protector. Dolie was from Pittsburgh and was the first pet in the family to travel on an airplane; first from Pittsburgh to Cape Verde for a three-year tour, then back to the USA for a couple of weeks before flying on American Airlines to Haiti. By the time our four-year contract period in Haiti was over and we were planning our next move to Kenya, it was back to the USA for a couple of months. Sadly, Dolie was too weak to make the next trip with us. She had been poisoned in Haiti and although she recovered somewhat, her liver was so damaged that the veterinarian had to put her to sleep.
Thus, our house in Nairobi was too quiet for Thu, perhaps why she was so keen on having another pet to keep her company. She did not have a specific plan to acquire a pet, but when she saw that ivory-mauve cat on her way to visit her friend, a plan started to evolve. The cat was a wildling that lived in a wooded area along the residential road near her friend’s house, so Thu enticed her friend’s houseboy to capture him. He became Blue Rose, the name given to him by Lucy. Blue Rose accepted being in our house, but only after staying hidden for three or four days until his fear of us melted away. Once he became comfortable and sized up the situation, he began to show his boldness. Sometimes that meant displaying the traits that often earned him the whimsical and regal epithet, Blue Rose of Kenya.
Our Cat Blue Rose
Despite his modest size as a Siamese cat, Blue Rose was bold enough to take on the neighborhood cats, regardless of their size. We often heard their fights outside, in the early morning or early evening hours. The almost daily clashes were so violent that Blue Rose landed in the vet hospital twice; first for stitches on his leg, then subsequently to save a tooth that protruded at a strange angle from the side of his mouth. One time a fight took place on top of our dining room table—in broad daylight. Our house had French doors with open grillwork for security, but the opening was wide enough for one of Blue Rose’s bigger adversaries to enter and carry on their grudge on the dining room table.
Eventually, we had to make sure that Blue Rose was kept in the house at night. Henceforth, before it got too late each day, Katherine, our maid, could be heard walking the neighborhood calling out, “Blue Lo”, “Blue Lo”. Fortunately, Blue Rose began to acquiesce and usually came back when Katherine called. He also started to settle down after the stitching; after losing one tooth; and after almost losing another one. But he never let us forget that he was the boss in the house. That is why big, friendly Brutus, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, never gave Blue Rose a hard time.
Brutus, the faithful and lovable ridgeback, came into the family more than three years later. He made no territorial claims and was always happy to play with Blue Rose on the cat’s terms. If things didn’t go a way suitable to Blue Rose, it was Brutus that backed away, but always with an amicable departure. He just sought out a human to share the moment with.
Brutus loved to lean on you, and to lean on friends who came by the house. Brutus taught us a lot about body language. In fact, leaning against us was a signature gesture that we will never forget. And when it came time to return to the United States, it was Brutus that kept Blue Rose company in the hold on the KLM airliner out of Nairobi. Brutus was in the big pet carrier, and Blue Rose was right next to him in his own, smaller carrier. Brutus and Blue Rose traveled together in the hold, for the 5,000 mile trip to New York, as the only two pieces of checked baggage of the Footloose Forester, on that last flight out of Nairobi.