The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


October 29, 2008

An unlikely friendship in Snyder County

Feline named Cat of the Year for loyalty to blind, deaf dog

MIDDLEBURG -- A local cat has been getting a lot of attention lately.

Libby, owned by Terry and Deb Burns, is being honored by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as Cat of the Year for her loyalty to the Burns' now-deceased dog, Cashew.

Cashew, a yellow Labrador/Shar Pei mix who died in 2005 at 14, gradually went blind and deaf due to old age, Terry said.

As the dog found it harder and harder to get around, Libby stepped in, leading her canine friend to her food bowl, waiting for Cashew's return from inside the Burns' home and watching over the dog while the two slept side-by-side.

"Before that, we had noticed that on walks we took down in the woods below the house, I always had Cashew on a leash and Libby was always trailing behind to make sure she was coming back," Terry said. "I just couldn't believe she would tag along like that."

For Libby, an outside cat that still lives with the Burns, her friendship with Cashew was a one-time deal. Deb says Libby has no interest in their other dogs.

"Libby really only made friends with Cashew, and maybe that's because Cashew wasn't free to roam around as much," Terry said.

The ASPCA caught wind of the heartwarming story after it appeared in several magazines, including Ranger Rick, National Geographic for Kids, Science World, Reader's Digest and Fortean Times Magazine of England.

"I don't know why they bonded like that," Terry said. "We just encouraged it."

The Burns and Libby will be honored Thursday during the ASPCA's annual Humane Awards Luncheon in New York City.

Libby will accept her award at home, Terry said.

Now that Cashew has been gone for several years, Libby has adjusted to her absence, Terry said, but it took some time.

"She would kind of hang out at their favorite spot," he said, "and of course, it would only be her."

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