NEWPORT NEWS — Fawkes takes a few steps on a grassy patch at Christopher Newport University, stops, raises his head toward the sun and flicks his ears to catch any sounds.
The 6-month-old kitten with no eyes listens for his owner’s voice, knowing he can follow that.
He turns toward passing bikes, falling acorns and buzzing insects but only occasionally looks startled or hesitant. When students approach, Zoë Churchill, his owner, tells them to talk to him as they approach him slowly.
Fawkes then gladly nudges his pink nose into their hands.
“He was so immediately brave,” said Churchill, who adopted Fawkes in August from Symbiotic, a Suffolk-based nonprofit rescue group. “I would love for him to teach people how much he can do despite his disability. It doesn’t make him any less perfect.”
Since losing his eyes to a life-threatening infection in July, Fawkes has dared to climb on and off logs, high-step through tall grass and dip his paws in the ocean. Churchill and her boyfriend, Bruce Sheppard, also have helped him learn to navigate their one-bedroom apartment in Newport News with treats, voice commands and patience.
Fawkes now goes on regular excursions to CNU, Newport News Park, Willoughby Beach and Barnes & Noble, and Churchill chronicles their outings on her rapidly growing Instagram account, fawkes/”“Fantastic Mr. Fawkes.” As his story spread, the account sometimes logged hundreds of new fans each day. As of Wednesday, Fawkes had more than 23,000 followers.
For rescuers at Symbiotic, Fawkes’ new life is miraculous. He and his sister were found in