Weekend Roundtable: Pet Stories

In the new Key & Peele movie ‘Keanu’, a couple of cat owners go to extraordinary lengths to rescue their beloved feline when it’s taken away from them. That’s a theme I’m sure most pet owners can relate to. When we invite them into our homes, our animals become members of our families. Our Roundtable this week takes a personal turn as we tell stories about our favorite pets.

Mike Attebery

I’ve had a lot of pets over the years. There was Waggles, a terry/poodle mix who had been hit by a car when we adopted him from the pound in New Mexico. Gizmo was a fat little orange and white cat who would have given Garfield a run for his money (though he preferred cantaloupe over lasagna). Mocha and Winter were our last two ferrets. A lot of these guys were buddies (Gizmo used to ride on Waggles’ back) but none of them were ever closer than Bueller and Mimi, two ferrets we rescued separately over the course of three years and were some of the most affectionate creatures I’ve ever seen. We used to leave old sweatshirts and blankets tucked into corners around the apartment, so they could curl up and take naps if they got tired while they were out of their cages. Eventually, when they got older and pretty much had the run of the place 24 hours a day, we’d always find them curled up tightly together at the end of their playtime, one little furry ball of ferret cuteness.

M. Enois Duarte

My American Pit Bull Terrier died one year ago this month at the age of 14, only a couple months shy of turning 15. I named her after punk rock legend Nina Hagen, and she was one of the best dogs I’ve ever owned, an awesome companion to my daughter and a much-loved family member. Not only was she a loyal friend but also a well-trained and well-behaved indoor dog who was good at letting others know when she needed to go outside. On her own, she learned a really funny but also equally adorable behavior when coming back inside after doing her business. Like some spoiled princess, she waited to have her paws wiped with a towel before entering the house, almost as though she feared to accidentally track in dirt and mud. I only wiped her paws on rainy days, but she continued the practice all year round. In the last couple months, I’ve started considering perhaps adopting another dog, but for as long as I live, I’ll always remember my Nina’s funny habit of wanting her paws wiped.

Aaron Peck

Our current dog just turned 6-years-old. We’ve had her longer than both of our children. She’s a Shih Tzu. When we got her, we wanted to find a unique name for her, a name that no one else calls their dog. Thankfully, our movie obsession came in handy. We named her Ponyo. I admit to feeling a little embarrassment when I’m yelling “PONYO!” at the top of my lungs after she’s escaped the yard, but I have no regrets when it comes to her name. However, it’s quite funny whenever we go to the vet’s office and they pronounce her name “Pony-o.” She’s the kind of dog who seemingly apologizes to you after you accidentally step on her tail. She’s the kind of dog who will snuggle right up in your lap while you watch a movie. She’s the kind of dog who doesn’t even flinch when our 10-month-old son pulls on her ears as hard as he can. Ponyo is a good dog.

Brian Hoss

This week, I stumbled into a kind of online celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Michael Mann movie ‘Heat’. This led me to do all kinds of ‘Heat’ related things, like watch the earlier TV movie/pilot version ‘L.A. Takedown’. I became concerned that my wife wasn’t familiar enough with ‘Heat’ to get any jokes about the movie, so we watched the Blu-ray version. As it turns out, this particular film’s excellent audio track was cause for our cat, Dido, to get extremely excited during certain scenes in the movie. In particular, the bank shoot-out and the chopper, fire alarm, and hotel scenes completely mesmerized this 9-year-old cat. If memory serves, I recall some 15 years back that certain movies that utilized the same sounds in different channels would somewhat bother my pets when played on DVD. It just goes to show that pets are endlessly entertaining. I sure hope that ‘Keanu’ captures this affable quality.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

When I was in junior high, I was obsessed with the Yorkshire Terrier we so lovingly nicknamed Mr. Bear. My friend Alan and I made largely incoherent movies starring him. We drew stacks of Mr. Bear comic books. I even slapped together an awful computer game in which Mr. Bear was a platforming hero. The poor little guy died ten years ago, and I still carry a photo of him in my wallet.

Josh Zyber

Both my wife and I have always been cat people. I have nothing against dogs, except that they’re smelly, filthy beasts who force you to take them on walks outside even during terrible weather. No thank you to that.

Our last two cats, Sophie and Max, did not particularly like each other. Rather, Sophie specifically did not care for Max one bit. We had her first and longest. She was our baby, and just about the sweetest cat you’d ever meet. She had the run of the apartment all to herself until the young intruder Max was introduced. (My wife was adamant that poor Sophie must be lonely and needed a friend. She was very wrong about that.) The two cats fought bitterly and often. Sophie eventually grew to tolerate Max, but just barely.

Although we felt bad for Sophie, Max was impossible (for us) not to love. He was adorable, precocious, rambunctious, and frequently a giant pain in the ass, but had more personality than any other animal I’ve ever seen. We found Max as a half-starving stray, and even though we quickly fattened him up, he remained completely obsessed with food his entire life. If there was food in his vicinity, he would not stop eating it until he physically could not take any more in. We had to measure his rations and keep anything edible locked in animal-proof bins, which infuriated him. He begged for food at all hours of the day and night, and if you were 30 seconds late with his meal he’d make your life hell. No matter how much we limited his diet, he remained a very fat cat – and not the fluffy puffball kind of fat. He was built like a bulldozer, pure solidly-packed mass. At every meal, he’d quickly scarf down his own meal and immediately head for Sophie’s afterwards. Making sure that she got a chance to eat became increasingly difficult, because Max was a clever cat and would not let any barrier stop him.

Even though he was the younger of the two, Max died first. With no warning signs at all, he had a stroke and died in front of me, in great pain. I picked him up and ran to the animal hospital a few blocks away, but he was gone before I got there. That was a very traumatic day, and I hate that it’s the first thing I think about whenever I remember him.

Sophie lived on for a few more years, and moved with us out of the apartment when we bought a house. The transition may have scared an old cat, but she liked having a much larger space to roam. She was still with us when our boys were born and for another year. Unlike the introduction of Max, she wasn’t bothered by the babies’ screaming or crying, and was always sweet to them, even when the naughty boys pulled her tail. She had a good life and made it to 17-years-old before cancer took her last summer.

We miss both of our cats dearly, but will hold off on bringing any new pets into the home at least until our children are out of the tail-pulling stage.

Tell us your favorite pet stories in the Comments below.


  1. Csm101

    I have two basset hounds, Rinkles & Biscuit. Rinkles is my old boy at 14 years old. He’s extremely spoiled, cranky and cantankerous now in his old age, but I love him to death. The funniest quirk about him is how much he dislikes pretzels. He turns his nose up at them and won’t even put one in his mouth. Rinkles used to be very friendly with strangers, but has grown standoffish over the years. He use to bay at the sound of Happy Birthday to You and the Sleeping Beauty Once Upon a Dream song, but doesn’t do it any more. Maybe hearing loss? He still has a beautiful bark though. He’s a very trustworthy dog around the house and isn’t destructive and can be left alone for several hours without any accidents even at his advanced age. Now if a female goes into heat somewhere around the neighborhood he becomes insufferable.
    Biscuit is my female and is a year and a half old. She’s sweet natured and very friendly but likes to play very rough and is full of energy. Biscuit can not be left alone for very long or she’ll get into something she’s not supposed to be in. She loves to serve herself water from the refrigerator’s water dispenser and has a very strong urge to chew, much more then Rinkles ever did. Lizards and squirrels drive her crazy outside. She drives Rinkles crazy and no matter how mean he is to her, she keeps coming back for more. Biscuit loves to snuggle close to people while they’re sitting and she’ll even jump in your lap. I can watch one or two complete movies back to back and she’ll be bunched up right next to me for the whole duration. Rinkles isn’t really a snuggler, but he likes to be in the same room with people. He is known for throwing people’s hands over his head so they can pet him and loves his chin scratched. I can go on all day about my two pain in the ass spoiled brats, but I’ll leave it at that.

  2. EM

    When I was a boy, I had an adorable black-and-tan dachshund. This is a story about one of her less adorable traits. And it is a story of anguish and horror.

    If given the chance, my dear little dog would attempt to escape. It’s a little insulting, in a way; but I think that, while she did enjoy good relationships with our family and was well treated, nevertheless she thirsted for that taste of freedom. I can’t blame her, really. If she was unleashed and a front door or backyard gate was open, out she would go! And she really meant it. If my father was around, she would mind him, more or less…but not me, a kid. If I approached her while she was loose, she’d growl and bare her fangs. One time she actually bit my hand during an escape. I still have a blemish from the scar. My dog bit me! 🙁

    One day, she led me on quite a chase through the neighborhood, running from backyard to backyard, from street to street. I would try to lasso her with a leash, but every time she got close, there would be the growls and the fangs again, and I would remember the bite on my hand from that earlier break and the menacing growls when I’d even try to pick her up inside the house. (My attempts to pick her up when I was a wee lad were clumsy, and she never forgave me.) Finally she reached a certain backyard, and my anguish turned to cold terror. I knew this house; I knew this backyard; and I knew the dog who lived there. It was not a nice dog. It was all muscles and jaws and ferocity, heavily chained for the protection of all around…and my dog was approaching the hellhound’s doghouse! “No!” I cried. “Stay away from there!” But my little, unsuspecting dachshund, more out of playful curiosity than defiance, approached the dread beast.

    And then the monstrosity pounced.

    With a demoniacal snarl it leapt onto my helpless floppy-eared friend. It was a blur of savagery. I could but watch in abject horror, powerless to intervene, lest I too be rent limb from limb. Surely the attack lasted no more than half a minute, yet it seemed like years…terrible years. When it was over, my dog lay lifeless on the grass, and the behemoth stepped away as if bored. It was not after a feast, merely sport and unquestioned dominion. The deed was done.

    My dog was dead!

    I wept. I wept as never I had before…as never a boy should have to. My dog was dead. She’d been slaughtered before my eyes.

    Then suddenly, she lifted her head!

    I called to her—still terrified to enter the hellhound’s domain—and my dear little dachshund feebly made a beeline for me. I leashed her, then examined her. No blood…no scratches. The terror visited upon her had been exactly that. I gave her kisses. It was now time to take her home, and she gave no argument. She was ready. No more adventures for today. She probably would have let me carry her, but I didn’t think to try, after years of her growling. Looking at the blemish on my hand, it’s funny to think that she had proven a greater menace than her attacker did! It was a slow walk home—she was exhausted and shell-shocked—but we made it there.

    And still, it wasn’t the last time she took flight! Sigh…

  3. Scott H

    I had a cat since I was about four that had come up to my parents as the story was told, on a cold Chicago night. We already had a cat at this time and my dad was going to take the stray to the pound but if not for my sister crying and complaining, a second cat would not be had. One was named Oreo as she was white and black and the other Cup Cake as she was black with a white spot on her belly. Both never got along. Had to drug them on the move from Chi town to Colorado. Oreo kept to her self and was kind of mean but Cup Cake was a great cat as she would climb up my bunk bed ladder and lye with me at night and follow me around and sit with me on the couch, lay over the comics i was reading. She was awesome. Unfortunately she was diagnosed with kidney failure and passed away at 24 back in 2008. Oreo had passed a couple years before. I always miss Cup Cake.

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