Story of Oak Harbor's smallest dictator began as a blog
By REBECCA OLSON
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
November 9, 2012 · Updated 2:48 PM
Total world domination. Making minions of every two-legger on Earth. Becoming the supreme ruler. These are the goals of an Oak Harbor resident, and he will attain them — but only once he has sufficiently basked in the heat of his favorite “fire box thingy.”
This is the life of Cujo, the benevolent dictator disguised as a house cat.
His scheming and one-of-a-kind views of the world come to life through the words of his greatest minion, Doug Dunn, in two books: “The Cujo Cat Chronicles” and “The Cujo Cat Chronicles 2: The Chaos Continues.”
Dunn moved to Oak Harbor from Texas in 1998 and became the goldsmith at Gerald’s Jewelry. About five years ago, Dunn’s and his wife, Kathy’s, lives changed forever when kitten Cujo chose Dunn as his first minion.
“I walked into her (the vet’s) office and she had this crate full of kittens,” Dunn said. “As soon as I walked in, he (Cujo) climbed to the top of the cage and reached out and slapped me.”
Dunn said he knew he had been chosen. Dunn took Cujo, then known as Raspittin, home and worried that their mammoth cat Ivan the Terrible — now known as Ivan the Tolerable — might harm the new kitten. Instead, he should have worried about Ivan. When Dunn opened the carrier to release Cujo, the kitten popped Ivan in the nose “and has been boss cat ever since,” Dunn laughed.
An empire is born
“The Cujo Cat Chronicles” began as a blog more than two years ago. Dunn experienced the power of online communities through a site that monitored a nest of owls. He talked about Cujo with friends he met on the site, “and pretty soon I started posting as the cat,” Dunn said. His friends encouraged him to start a blog and Dunn declined. Finally, a friend told Dunn that if he taught Dunn how to do a blog, Dunn had to do it.
Before long, the humorous tales told through the eyes of Cujo infiltrated the nation and then the world. Cujo procured followers in Germany, New Zealand, Africa, Scotland, France and more.
“It’s kind of blown my mind how this whole thing has snowballed,” Dunn said. He spends two to three hours a night answering Cujo’s fan emails, some of which even come from dog people.
As to Cujo’s reaction to his worldwide fame, “it doesn’t seem to affect him much. He expects it,” Dunn said.
While Dunn plans to hold book signings for the newly released “Cujo Cat Chronicles 2,” Cujo won’t deign to attend.
“It’s a matter of public safety,” Dunn laughed. Since the addition of Cujo’s name to the federal no-fly list, it’s been impossible for Cujo to visit his fans, despite the annual cookouts held in his honor and the Cujo fan cruise the Dunns are planning, Dunn added.
“The Cujo Cat Chronicles” and its sequel are written toward adults.
“It’s all humor. I steer away from politics and religion,” Dunn said. Since Cujo knows he’s the benevolent dictator, “the whole diplomatic process never comes into play.”
“There are thousands of cat sites and blogs, and almost invariably they use almost baby language. Looking at this cat, I wanted him to be very well-spoken,” Dunn continued. While writing, Dunn hears the voice of actor Alan Rickman as Cujo — a problem when Dunn is asked to do readings of his books.
Dunn said he has always loved writing “and humor’s always been a huge part of my life.”
Growing up on a farm, he was taught not to attribute human emotions to animals.
“So through writing this and getting to know this cat, I’ve gone over to the dark side and said screw it, they have human emotions; sometimes, there’s no other explanation,” Dunn said.
The books consist of a series of humorous vignettes, making the books easy to pick up and read anytime. From diabolical schemes involving Cujo’s nemesis, the overly-cheerful squirrel, to putting the bathroom spider on trial, Cujo’s fiendish humor and huge personality don’t fail to amuse.
“We’ve done take offs of Shakespeare, he rewrote ‘A Christmas Carol’ last year,” Dunn said, adding that he finds it “cathartic” to speak as a cat. He’s planning a third book in the series in which Cujo will take on classic literature.
Living at the beck and call of the world’s smallest dictator has changed Dunn’s life. He joked that he no longer has free evenings thanks to the fan mail. But the heartfelt change in Dunn’s life has been the people he has met along the way.
“It’s opened my eyes to the power of the internet,” Dunn said. When the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake hit New Zealand, the Cujo community began talking about it and helping each other before it even hit the news. Now, people are checking in with each other to see how they are faring after Hurricane Sandy.
“We give each other a lot of support,” Dunn said.
And of course, Cujo supports his two-leggers.
“He’s got to supervise everything. If I’m vacuuming, he follows me around to make sure I’m getting everything,” Kathy Dunn laughed.
The supreme ruler may spend his days bird-watching and toasting himself in front of the “fire box thingy,” but that shouldn’t fool anyone; when the opportunity to irritate arrises, Cujo is on it. Dunn’s favorite example happened during the World Series last year.
Dunn bought a laser pointer to entertain the cat so he could watch the games and congratulated himself when his ploy worked the first couple of times. Only too quickly, Cujo realized what Dunn was up to and promptly plunked down so he was blocking part of the TV. By the fifth game, Cujo was so irate at being ignored that he moved to the table so Dunn could see nothing but Cujo’s face.
“I’ve never seen such a troublemaker in my life,” Dunn laughed.
Both “Cujo Cat Chronicles” books, which are published by Xlibris, are available at Wind and Tide Bookshop and the Book Rack in Oak Harbor, from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and as an ebook.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Rebecca Olson at email@example.com or 360-675-6611 ext. 5052.