MANITOWANING – It has been just over one year since Dobby the fire-rescued kitten found a home with Manitowaning’s Rob Maguire and the frisky feline feller has continued to grow and thrive in his new palace despite the injuries he sustained as a weeks-old kitten last spring.
“Today marks one year from the first day I met Dobby in person. He captured my heart relative to his plight, which was what prompted me to contact (the vet clinic),” said Dobby’s keeper Rob Maguire in a May 28 conversation with The Expositor.
Last May, Dobby was rescued from a garage fire in the Sudbury area. He received extensive care at Walden Animal Hospital and received sock-like bandages for each of his burnt paws as well as the name Dobby—an homage to the Harry Potter universe in which Dobby the House Elf is freed from captivity when he is given a sock.
Dobby’s health was challenged by third-degree burns, bad scarring and losing a bit of an ear. The vets at the clinic took him home every night to ensure he was always within good care until his condition stabilized.
On June 5, Mr. Maguire began to foster Dobby and he was approved as his forever home just two days later.
Dobby still has some scarring in spots under his fur, he is missing toes, has a bald spot under his chin and is missing several claws. Last year, the vets were concerned that he may have a hernia but this issue did not ultimately materialize, a relief to Mr. Maguire.
Dobby has also grown to a healthy weight on the smaller size range of average and he hasn’t needed a vet visit since October.
Mr. Maguire described Dobby as always being in a good mood and a ball of energy. On the day Dobby was neutered, Mr. Maguire couldn’t keep the cat’s protective cone on, nor could he keep Dobby in a resting state (though vets assured Mr. Maguire that Dobby would likely not hurt himself).
“This is why people are really interested by his story. Besides all the hardships he’s occurred and being near-death and going through surgeries, he’s just so happy and so good-natured all the time,” said Mr. Maguire. “He’s got lots of character and he has a real sense of humour.”
That is perhaps the real shining star in Dobby’s tough life story: the impact he has had on people across the globe.
“Since I got him, I’ve been putting up photos and captions on my (personal) Facebook page. From that, he’s been building this following,” said Mr. Maguire.
Enough people had shown an interest in following Dobby on Mr. Maguire’s Facebook that he began receiving friend requests from across Ontario and beyond. Three months ago he started a public Instagram page for Dobby, @DobbyTheFireCat. In that short time Dobby has amassed more than 1,100 followers.
A story about Dobby and an edited compilation of clips from Mr. Maguire were posted by cat-loving community Love Meow. The video has been viewed more than 81,000 times.
“Ever since then I’ve had people contact me from New Zealand, England, Scotland, India, China, Japan, the US and Canada, all with people telling me they’re inspired by his story, his strength and his love. And that’s inspired me,” said Mr. Maguire.
Some of the commenters have suggested that Dobby’s story should be told in a children’s book, something Mr. Maguire said may be an interesting future project.
“I also find if I don’t share any photos of him, if a week goes by, I start to get messages from people I don’t even know asking if everything is okay,” said Mr. Maguire.
Some of the comments have been particularly touching. One woman said she was going through a rough patch and Dobby’s story of persistence gave her the will to continue living.
The stories of resilience, comfort and companionship afforded by pets is something perhaps more important than ever in the uncertain world, said Mr. Maguire.
He credited the Walden Animal Hospital team for saving Dobby’s life despite the odds. The vet team still refers to the kitty as their superstar.
“This story wouldn’t have been told had they not done what they did. That’s something for us all to think about, the repercussions of our daily actions,” he said.
Dobby’s growing fame has not outshone the other cats in the Maguire household—cat-castle-mates Swif and Little Norisle have taken to the newcomer and each bring their own personality to the mix.
Whether it’s taking his medication without a fuss, getting into the potatoes or zipping around the house but always coming back to Mr. Maguire’s side, Dobby has a big personality that fits well in the world of social media.
It’s also a match made in heaven for the two who were inseparable on the day they first met. Mr. Maguire said he believes in creating the best possible life for his cats considering the horrible things that others have done to animals, and he doles out all the love and support they could ever want, even building a cat castle in his home.
“Dobby is a little treasure in a lot of ways. It’s funny, I’ve gone places and people say ‘hey, you’re Dobby’s dad!’ These are people I’ve never met before so they’ve obviously been reading the posts and scoping him out,” Mr. Maguire said with a laugh.