The neighborhood animals we love
Lose your job? Break up with the boyfriend? Blubbering over a sappy movie? Funny how that ever-present furry family member can fix the world with a big sloppy kiss some days. The Advocate this year received an unprecedented amount of entries into the annual Best Pet contest. Each submission, accompanied by photos and amusing anecdotes, confirmed the power of a pet’s unconditional love. Though we could highlight only a few in the magazine, the whole collection, which you can see on our facebook page, had us oohing and ahhing, laughing and crying for days.
When neighborhood resident Cori Dosset brought her rescue dog, Carley, home for the first time, the dog spent three days hiding under the kitchen table. The dog didn’t eat, play or sleep. But on the morning of the fourth day, “the real Carley emerged,” Dosset says, and she’s been a “maniac” ever since. Dosset found Carley through Lost Dog Rescue in Alexandria, Va., where she lived at the time. Dog and mistress moved to our neighborhood this past February. “She is much more than a pet. She is a companion, confidante, bedmate (against my better judgment) and bug eater,” Dosset says. She travels frequently for business, and friends tell her that Carley sits at the door and whines for hours after she leaves. “I get the same reception whether I’m gone to the grocery store or on a two-week business trip,” Dosset says.
Kaitlyn Culbertson’s standard poodle, Scout, is kind of a big deal. The 9-year-old dog once appeared in a music video by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Culbertson had sprayed a rainbow of temporary hair color into her poodle’s fur for the Marfa Film Festival. “I didn’t even know she was in the video until someone showed it to me,” Culbertson says. “She’s in there just kind of hanging out.” Culbertson says she’s not a dog person, but Scout is her second poodle. She first fell in love with the breed living in an art commune on Swiss Avenue in the ’80s. One of her roommates had a standard poodle, Delilah. “I was just so impressed with that breed, the loyalty and intelligence,” she says. When she finally bought a house in Little Forest Hills, she would have no dog but a poodle. And that was Lucy, who would often accompany her owner to sky dive festivals, where she made her own friends at the drop points. “She had all these cool personal relationships with people that I didn’t even know about until she passed away,” Culbertson says. Twenty people went on the skydive to drop Lucy’s ashes. “So when it came time to get a new puppy in my life, it was only going to be a standard poodle,” she says. Scout is trained to run alongside Culbertson’s bicycle. She also sings along to Audie Murphy while riding in the car with Culbertson and her niece and nephew.
Lucy the one-eyed chihuahua is 3 years old, and owner Marian Madsen rescued her from Metroplex Mutts this past April. No one knows for sure how Lucy lost her eye, but she’s adapted to partial blindness just fine, Madsen says. Madsen’s 16-year-old chihuahua, Stormy, died in February, and she wasn’t sure she was ready for another dog. “I was looking online, and I saw Lucy’s little one-eyed head and her little under-bite, and I fell in love,” she says. Madsen thinks Lucy had been in shelters a long time before she was adopted, and when she came home, “she was a mess,” Madsen says. But she’s had training since then, and she’s gained some weight. Lucy wasn’t sure at first whether she was really home. “I could see it in her little eye,” her owner says. More recently, she has relaxed and is one of the family.
Rachel Zajac adopted Gorda, her 19-pound cat, at the SPCA. “My other cat passed away, and we have a dog, but I decided I wanted another cat because I’m a cat person,” Zajac says. And she didn’t want a kitten. Gorda is almost 9 years old, and her owner had surrendered her twice to the SPCA. “I knew that kittens would be more likely to be chosen,” Zajac says. “Older cats have more problems, but I wanted to help out a cat that wouldn’t be chosen.” The 18-year-old also chose Gorda because of her unique face markings. The family discovered that if you scratch right above Gorda’s tail, her body stiffens and she does this funny thing with her face and tongue. “My mom calls it ‘robot cat,’ ” Zajac says. “I’ve never seen a cat do that before.”
Lucille Ball was a unique beauty as well as hilarious. Likewise, Lucy the harlequin great Dane is visually striking and a big cornball. Jaime and Tami Fowler adopted Lucy from their across-the-street neighbor Emily Barina, who fosters great Danes. “She’s the most gentle dog, and she’s so gracious. She has great manners, but she’s also so funny. She’s hysterically funny,” Tami says. Lucy loves people so much that when they’re out walking in the neighborhood, she expects all the neighbors to greet her. “If we see someone and they don’t talk to her, it’s like it hurts her feelings,” Tami says. The Fowlers had six other dogs at the time they adopted Lucy, and three have passed away since. But Lucy has always fit in. “Her favorite place to be is in the recliner. She curls up into a ball, and she sits in that recliner all day.”
Even confirmed dog people love Bernice the Birman kitty. Bernie, as her owners call her, is more like a dog than a cat sometimes. She can fetch wads of paper and little mouse toys. Jim and Beth Mothershead adopted Bernie from the SPCA about three years ago.
Elizabeth Beck did not want a dog. But she kept seeing pictures of one on Facebook, a shaggy dog with a cute face. The dog looked like Benji, and it looked so sad. “She was still there after a week, and I thought, ‘Oh, god, I have to go get her,’ ” Beck says. Turns out the dog, Mrs. Beasley, had belonged to someone previously. She knew all the important commands: sit, stay, down, come. So Beck tried teaching her other tricks, such as “bang,” where she holds her fingers like a gun and the dog is supposed to play dead. “It took me about five minutes to teach her that,” Beck says. Since Mrs. Beasley is so smart, Beck took her for certification through Therapy Dogs Inc. Now the two volunteer with hospice patients at the Veterans Administration hospital. They also visit a women’s shelter and the Dallas Advocacy Center, where Mrs. Beasley helps calm and encourage abused kids.
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