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.
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.
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.
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.
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.