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Celebrity Pets Unleashed!

Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors

Celebrity Pets Unleashed!

What’s it like from a feline view?
David  Michie
David Michie More by this author
Dec 09, 2012 at 09:00 AM

Is it easy living as the anonymous companion to a global celebrity? Some people believe that the unknown companions of very famous individuals must feel constantly overlooked and undervalued, like the drab hens to glorious roosters. When the rooster gets all the attention with his lustrous plumage and magnificent dawn arpeggios, wouldn’t it be understandable if the hen sometimes yearned for her own time in the spotlight, too?

In the case of this particular hen, no.

Within my own small world of Jokhang, I am already as well known as it’s possible to be. At Café Franc I am venerated as a rinpoche! And while His Holiness may appear frequently on TV, he also has to go through life being photographed and having microphones thrust in his face morning, noon, and night. He must answer the relentless questions of journalists asking him to explain elementary Buddhism—much like a professor of applied physics being asked incessantly to recite the seven-times table. That the Dalai Lama manages to do this with genuine warmth and a sense of humor reveals something not only about his personal qualities but also about the value of Buddhist practices—most notably, the perfection of patience!

The reason I’m so categorical—if you’ll excuse the pun—about not wanting to be famous is that I’ve been on the receiving end of a great deal of media attention. This fact may surprise you. Why, you may wonder, have you not already come across the Dalai Lama’s cat in the pages of Vanity Fair, photographed perhaps by the great Patrick Demarchelier? Or preening her whiskers and folding her long, grey boots with studied insouciance, having invited Hello! magazine to survey the delights of her sumptuous Himalayan boudoir? It pains me to admit that the media attention I received wasn’t of the glossy magazine variety. Photographed? Yes. Celebrity pages? Alas, no.

It began one spring morning when His Holiness rose from his meditation an hour earlier than usual and got ready to venture outside. Changes to his routine were not unheard of—he often had trips to take or ceremonies to preside over. But that morning, even though his two executive assistants had reported early for duty, there was no sign of his driver. I realized His Holiness could not be going far. Hearing the sound of chanting across the courtyard, I also realized that he wouldn’t be attending the usual morning proceedings at the temple. As the chief of protocol began checking security, parking, and other arrangements, it became clear we were expecting visitors. Who could they be?

Cars began arriving and dropping off journalists and TV crews from a variety of international media outlets. They were ushered along a path that led from behind the temple into the forested area nearby. Next came news that the car carrying His Holiness’s visitor was approaching. His Holiness began making his way downstairs. Curious to discover what was happening, I tagged along.

Just as the Dalai Lama appeared outside, his visitor arrived. An elegant lady with blonde, shoulder-length hair and vivacious features, she was clad not in the kind of conservative or formal clothing most of His Holiness’s visitors wear but in a waxed outdoor jacket, khaki chinos, and brown hiking boots.

You know me quite well enough by now, dear reader, to realize that I never divulge the identity of His Holiness’s visitors. Let’s just say that this one was an absolutely fabulous English actress who has appeared in numerous television and stage productions and is a patron of several good causes.

After the traditional greeting, the Dalai Lama and his visitor began to walk toward the forest. I followed in their footsteps, while at a discreet distance behind me, the rest of the entourage brought up the rear.

“I’m deeply grateful to you for lending your support to our cause,” the actress said.

“The destruction of forests is a subject that should concern us all,” replied the Dalai Lama. “I am glad to help.”

The English lady spoke about the importance of forests as the “green lungs” of the planet, essential for converting carbon dioxide into oxygen. Forests are being dramatically reduced in size each day to make way for maize and palm oil plantations, she pointed out, leading to soil erosion and pollution of vital water supplies, as well as loss of  biodiversity. Many species, like the orangutan, are now threatened, she explained, because there are so few places left for them to live.

Taking her hand in his own, His Holiness said, “Together, we can combine our activities for the best result.

We had been walking along the path for some minutes—farther than I had ever ventured on my own—when we came to a place where the forest suddenly stopped, giving way to a scarred moonscape of bald rock and sandy soil, with only a few, long-dead tree stumps left of what had once been lush vegetation.

His Holiness and the actress paused for a moment. Several holes had already been dug in preparation for a tree-planting ceremony. Pine saplings stood beside the holes, along with  some wheelbarrows of soil. Journalists were assembled in readiness, cameras trained on the pair as they made their way out of the forest and across the wasteland.

As cameras whirred and members of the entourage closed in behind us, I felt a sudden need to attend to the call of nature. Being a cat of customarily high standards when it comes to such matters, I decided to look for a place that offered privacy and loose soil. A large banner bearing the logo of the actresses’ charity was stretched across the area where photos would be taken later. It seemed to provide the perfect screening.

Unnoticed, I ducked behind the banner. In the quietness back there, I discovered row upon row of fir saplings, just like the ones about to be ceremonially planted. Rising behind them was every cat’s dream—a large mound of rich, loamy potting soil.

It was calm and quiet under the forest canopy, as I sat meditatively. The early morning air—crisp, pine-scented—was bright with the mellifluous chorus of dawn birds. In the distance, I could hear a voice—the actress’s?—making an announcement, followed by a smattering of applause.

And then it happened. The banner, and all my privacy, suddenly fell away. A moment of planned drama designed to reveal the full scale of the reforestation project, instead was focused on me.

Don’t get me wrong. We cats are not prudish. But nor do we like to make an exhibition of ourselves—especially not in front of the assembled world media.
For a moment the only sound was the clicking and whirring of cameras. Then a ripple of laughter passed through the gathering. His Holiness was one of the first to chuckle. Then the actress said something about the soil now being well fertilized.

About Author
David  Michie
David Michie is the bestselling author of Buddhism for Busy People, Hurry Up and Meditate and Enlightenment to Go. All have been published internationally and are being translated into many languages. He has also written four thrillers, Continue reading