Nfld. & Labrador

Why this guy forages for food with a feline friend

Meet Douglas Fir, a feline with a knack for finding a good chanterelle patch.

Douglas Fir, the cat with a knack for finding chanterelle mushrooms

Foraging pals Douglas Fir and Shawn Dawson show off some chanterelles. (CBC)

Douglas Fir isn't your average berry-picking buddy.

"He's my best friend, and foraging cat," said Shawn Dawson.

Dawson is a full-time forager, who spends much of his time scouring the wilds of Newfoundland for all types of edible treasures, from bakeapples to spruce tips to dandelion greens.

All with a feline in tow.

"I take him foraging wherever I go," he told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

Douglas Fir doesn't spend his foraging time off chasing songbirds, or snoozing in the sunshine while the hard work happens. He's part of the team.

"He follows me around. Every now and then he'll take off, and I'll find him sitting, waiting for me in a chanterelle patch," said Dawson.

Of course, Douglas Fir follows feline occupational health and safety rules while on the job.

He wears a snazzy, blaze orange harness Dawson calls "his safety vest," to ensure no hunter mistakes the fluffy orange tabby for supper.

Douglas Fir himself was foraged — a friend of Dawson's found him as a kitten, abandoned in the woods.

Dawson adopted him, and the two have rarely been apart ever since.

"I just raised him in my pocket. He's been to every restaurant downtown, 'til he couldn't fit in my pocket anymore. I got him on a leash now," he said.

Dawson said an artist in St. John's is now working on a children's book about Douglas Fir.

"The premise of the book is he's going to go around and sustainably forage berries and mushrooms and spring shoots and stuff like that."

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from the St. John's Morning Show