They say whoever crosses our path is meant to be a lesson or a blessing; thus, we can safely conclude that when a stray cat joins a man cycling trip and changes his life for the better, it is indeed a blessing. Dean Nicholson had never cared much for cats nor traveling, but one cat that refused to be left behind has changed his life in ways that Dean never thought possible. He is now more open to loving animals, while people who were once intimidated by his appearance have become more drawn to him. Read on to see how the two met and developed an instant bond.
Finding Love in an Odd Place
Dean had had enough of the 9-5 lifestyle, so when a friend brought up the idea of traveling the world, Dean was more than ready to go on the adventure. Most of his friends were having families while he had so much to live for in his bachelorhood. So in September 2018, he and his friend left Scotland on their bikes and traveled from Amsterdam. By December, Dean had been to Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, and Greece. He was on his way to Montenegro from Bosnia when he heard a faint meow behind him as he cycled up a hill.
As he told BBC News, he turned to see a cat chasing him up the hill. So he stopped, patted her, and hopped back on his bike to leave. However, the cat was determined to be with him, so she tagged along, which prompted Dean to feed her. Dean put her on the bike and took her to the next town to check if she was microchipped. She was not, and the cat climbed onto Dean’s shoulder and slept. At that point, Dean decided he would keep her; thus, he named her Nala after “The Lion King” character. Dean even made up his mind to go with her on the world tour.
Changes in Dean’s Life Thanks to Nala, the Feline Companion
We are advised that regardless of how hectic life gets, we should always stop and smell the roses. Dean had barely taken time to enjoy what life had to offer until he met Nala. So he had to cancel his original plan of traveling to Thailand and instead opted to stay where they were and have a blast. He confessed that having her on the bike made him slow down because her needs came first; they had to set aside time to play in the woods and run on the beaches.
Besides, Dean had gotten used to people being afraid of him. Since he is a big guy with tattoos and a beard, he understood they might have been intimidated, but with Nala by his side, he has seen people warm up to him. Old men have invited him for drinks by the roadside while children have requested pictures. The kindness was overwhelming as the people they met while on tour even offered them a place to stay.
Dean has also seen first-hand how plastic is affecting sea life during his visit to the beaches. Therefore, whenever he goes to the beach, he collects plastics and bags and posts them on Instagram, where he has garnered lots of followers who are eager to be updated about him and Nala. Therefore, Dean uses the massive following to enlighten people about the environmental degradation that pollution is causing, and he hopes they will be proactive in curbing the problem.
The Tour is Yet to Come to a Stop
Dean’s and Nala’s love for adventure almost cost the feline her life. According to Bored Panda, she at one point caught a chest infection after traveling in the cold and rain. Therefore, they had to stop and stay in a hostel where Dean nursed his companion back to health. They stayed for a few weeks before embarking on their journey, this time with a little bit more caution. By the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the two best friends were in Hungary, stuck due to the lockdown restricting movement. All this while, Dean’s grandmother could not wait to have Nala home, and since her eyesight and hearing are fading, as soon as the lockdown order was lifted, Dean took Nala back to Scotland in August. However, with the traveling bug already having bitten them, they did not stay for long in Dean’s home country, and by October 2020, they were in Austria. They hope to be in Russia by spring 2021, but Dean does not mind that the pandemic could mess up their plans. He said that for as long as the two are together, nothing else makes him happier.
Nala Has not Been Dean’s Only Companion During the World Tour
Explorers Web informs us that Dean has become a “collector of stray animals.” However, of the two puppies and three more cats he took in, none of them chose to stick by his side as Nala did. While in Santorini, Dean fostered two kittens; he ensured they were dewormed and looked for a permanent home for them. Once they were old enough, the Scottish world traveler facilitated their travel to their permanent home in Germany. Dean also showed concern to a cat he found by the roadside but later informed his social media fans that other cyclists had taken the feline to a vet.
While in Azerbaijan, Dean adopted a puppy whom he named Ghost. Unfortunately, the puppy suffered from parvovirus and died from the infection six weeks later. Still, while in Albania, the tourist could not help himself from caring for another puppy called Balou. Dean could not keep the dog, so besides paying the vet bills, he had an Albanian vet foster him while waiting for adoption. Luckily, Balou got his forever home in London and was flown to the new human parents a few months later.