By Teri Errico
Photo by Tamera Parrish
Dwight is no ordinary feline. Dubbed “The Cat Who Thinks He’s a Dog” for a reason, he fears no pups, chats when he wants something and loves going for walks alongside his owners. One of the most special traits of Dwight is that he also walks his 7-year-old owner, Hugh Hollinger, to school.
“Hugh’s school is right across the street so sometimes Dwight’ll walk over with us,” says Hugh’s mom Amanda Hollinger. Occasionally, Dwight will even be waiting when Hugh’s day ends at North Charleston’s The School of the Creative Arts. The proud mom notes her cat is very protective of Hugh, and vice versus of her son and his pet. “Hugh absolutely loves him. Whenever we’re out of town he’s eager to go back and see Dwight and Dwight won’t leave his side. They’re very attached to each other.”
Eleven years ago, Dwight—named after the quirky The Office character—entered Hollinger’s life as a birthday present from her stepson. “We went together to pick him out and there were other kittens that I wanted to pick that were younger. Dwight was kind of big and he wasn’t what I was going to pick, but my stepson held them all and said, ‘This is the cat that likes me,’” Hollinger recalls with a laugh. “Dwight was really mellow. All the others were crazy and climbed everything all over the place, but he was very chill from the beginning. He’s an old soul cat.”
Dwight’s also a very popular indoor/outdoor cat. Though he sticks close to home, he roams the neighborhood daily, always ending up back on his own porch by nightfall. “All the neighbors know who he is. He’s always interacting with everyone in the neighborhood,” Hollinger says. Even the children at school know Dwight when he walks up to the front doors with Hugh. “They all shout, ‘Hi, Dwight!’ and come over and pet him. He’s just so spoiled.”
Nicknamed Dwighter Boy and Dwigter-man, the beloved cat seems to have no clue he’s a cat either. “He’s not intimidated by any dogs, he’s very talkative and likes to walk with us around the neighborhood,” Hollinger says of the phenomenon, noting Dwight is especially chatty in the morning. “When you say something to him, he’ll seem to reply to you! He’s very dog-like in terms of being so engaged with people.”
Seemingly enough, Hollinger notes that Dwight has even taken on the role of welcoming committee for new cats in the neighborhood. A lover, not a fighter, Dwight gets along with all other animals and always approaches the newbies, showing them around the block.
But of course it’s the way he follows his owners that is Dwight’s most interesting trait. About two years ago, he started accompanying Hugh to school, but he’ll also stroll with Hollinger and her family around the block or to Hollinger’s parents’ house down the street. When they take walks, Dwight trails right behind them—a dream pet for anyone who’s ever struggled with a dog on a leash. “We were playing Pokemon Go the other night, and he just followed right along with us!” Hollinger said.
Looking back to the day she adopted Dwight, Hollinger had no idea what a quirky cat she’d come to love someday. She is so thankful she rescued him, for endless reasons. Not only has the cat entertained her family and their friends, but Dwight is affectionate and sweet. He’s especially helped Hugh learn a strong sense of responsibility. “I think because our child who’s 7 doesn’t have any other siblings in the house that Dwight is like his younger brother,” Hollinger notes. “So it’s given him a sense of empathy to be able to take care of him.”
And a cat has been the perfect addition to the Hollingers’ lifestyle. With no fenced in yard and Hollinger and her wife working all day, they knew a cat was the right pet for their life. “We wanted a pet and there are so many that need homes, so we felt the best way to add onto the family was to rescue a cat,” she says. “And Dwight is a part of our family.”
With his walks about town, Dwight is part of a much bigger family too. He’s a part of a neighborhood. A school. A community where everyone knows his name and loves petting him. The happiest ending for all rescued pets.