Vietnam veteran's missing cat unites strangers
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa —
"I'm a crazy cat lady trapped in a man's body!" That's what Vietnam veteran Steve Black Wolf says about his love of cats. Wolf grew up in Vermont, but chose to make Cedar Rapids his home. Black Wolf lives with his wife and a trio of furry friends, Arlo, the shy one. Ginger, the female. And Arlo's brother, Pete. But last month, Pete slipped out an open door and vanished. "If I had known he was safe, okay. If I had known he was dead, I'd at least know and I could deal with it, but it was just, I don't know where he is", said Wolf.
Pete's disappearance set off a chain of events that gave Black Wolf new faith in his fellow Iowans. Neighbors organized search parties. Flyers went up on street lights. Strangers posted reward money. A Facebook page chronicled the frantic search for Pete, drawing interest from as far away as England and Australia. Wolf said, "It really restored my faith in that, at heart, basically people are good, and compassionate, and they care."
Weeks passed and passed, and Black Wolf began to lose hope of finding Pete alive, or even at all. Then, last week Steve heard a noise in the garage. He thought it was his neighbor's cat. "I was down there, 'kitty kitty', and his head popped up from under a piece of furniture in the back of the garage. I hit my knees and just started bawling", he says.
Six pounds lighter, and a little worse for the wear, Pete found his way home. Wolf said, "He lost a third of his body weight while he was gone. I lost almost 12-pounds. I wasn't eating. I was sleeping in two hour shots. I'd get up and look again. It was a lot of stress." It was stress that Steve could ill-afford. You see, Pete is more than a family pet to Black Wolf. Pete has stayed by his side since his diagnosis of lung cancer and the chemo and radiation that followed. By finding Pete, Black Wolf found peace from pain. He said, "He is quite literally, the best friend that I have on the planet. He is. So, there was no way i was giving up on him."
Pete's journey continues. Because Pete's story was followed on Facebook by so many people, Black Wolf entered Pete into a Cutest Cat Contest. Pete has been maintaining his lead as the number one choice in the U.S. If you would like to vote for Pete, click here.