The first time I heard of Homer's Odyssey was in July 2009, when Random House contacted me to write a review on it. I had earlier blogged on Dewey - The Small Town Library Cat Who Touched The World in my previous blog, blackie007.blogspot.com.
Random House, its publisher, had come across my review and offered me a free advance copy of Homer's Odyssey, with the view that I would read and write a review on it. All I was told was that it's a true story about a remarkable blind cat. I was very glad to accept the offer, but after I gave them my address in Malaysia, Random House found that they "could not send to an international address due to distribution restriction policy" whatever that meant.
I was disappointed, but after some time, forgot all about it. Yup, I forgot entirely about Homer's Odyssey even though I promised myself that when the book is available in local bookshops, I would buy a copy and read it.
It was not until last week, when I was browsing around the Kindle ebooks that I saw Homer's Odyssey. The title rang a bell, and I was pretty sure that this was the book I had promised myself that I would read when it's made available. I immediately looked through my emails (thanks to gmail's easy search feature), and yes, it was Homer's Odyssey alright.
Homer was found and taken to a vet when he was merely two weeks old, with eye infection so bad that the vet had to remove both his eyes. The couple who found him asked Patty, the vet, to euthanize him. Unwilling to do that, Patty tried to find a home for him but no one would take a young, blind kitten, even when it was obvious that he would pull through. The author, Gwen Cooper, was the last one on Patty's list.
photo taken from Gwen Cooper's photo gallery --> http://www.gwencooper.com/photo.php
Despite his visual handicap, Homer is a furry bundle of affection and action. He's as active as 5 cats put together, and can leap as high as 5 feet in the air to catch flies in midair, and to climb and jump like a normal, seeing cat. The author attributed his skills to Scarlett, the oldest feline in the house. Homer would try to keep up with Scarlett, and however high Scarlett could jump or climb, Homer figured he could do so, too.
His antics are truly amusing, although those who met him for the first time without any warning are usually nonplussed. This was one of my favourite image.....
"Homer, in those days, was particularly enamored of playing with tampons. Having encountered one by chance, he was fascinated by the way they'd roll around, and by the string at the end. He liked them so much, he figured out where I kept them stored in the cabinet below the bathroom sink and - with unerring patience and accuracy - mastered the task of forcing open the cabinet door and raiding the tampon box.
When I walked in with my date, Homer ran to greet me at the door. And there, hanging from his mouth was a tampon. The whiteness of it stood out against his black fur in vivid, mortifying rellief. He scampered around in gleeful triumph for a moment, then promptly ran over and sat expectantly on his haunches in front of me, tampon clutched between his jaws like a dog with a rawhide bone."This passage reminds me so much of this video here, LOL!! --> http://youtu.be/aYe1d5_LS0s
But Homer is more than just pure entertainment. He saved the author from an intruder at 4am one morning, but more than that, he taught the author that she should not live her life in fear. Homer had no fear.
"Every leap from a chair back or table-top is taken on faith, a potential leap into the abyss. Every ball chased down a hallway is an act of implicit bravery. Every curtain or counter top climbed, every overture of friendship to a new person, every step forward taken without guidance into the dark void of the world around him is a miracle of courage. He has no guide dog, no cane, no language in which he can be reassured or made to understand the shape and nature of the hurdles he encounters."It is a heart-warming book that makes you laugh and cry. Every pet owner would be able to relate to the author when for a few days she was prevented from returning to her apartment near the World Trade Centre during 9/11, and how she feared for the survival and safety of her cats, especially Homer, who is blind.
The author's success is, in a large part, owed to Homer. She was a struggling 24-year-old with two cats and squatting in a friend's spare bedroom when she took Homer. Realising she can't afford to get her own place and keep Homer was what spurred her on to find a more lucrative career.
This book, like Dewey, is a must-read for all ailurophiles. It can be downloaded at Amazon UK, or purchased from MPH Online, although I would recommend downloading it from Amazon UK, as it would only cost you RM25, as opposed to downloading it at Amazon dot com, which would cost you RM33, or RM60 from MPH Online.
Random House, if you are reading this, you ought to do something about your distribution restriction policy and reward me for this post.....LOL!!!