Two cats and a dog. That’s what we have — always. When a pet sadly passes, we are the family that sooner, rather than later (the next day, actually), visits a shelter and leaves with a new pet. We’ve sometimes broken this rule. During the COVID-19 pandemic, our elder son, Maxwell, brought home his cat, and his girlfriend’s cat, from Indianapolis for an extended stay. And occasionally, these cats visit overnight. Recently, we have again broken this rule, but for good reason.
Our motley crew of adopted pets — Jed, our 11-year-old male mountain cur; Sunny, a young female tuxedo cat; and Rosie, a younger-still female lilac point Siamese — is suddenly sharing quarters with a 10-pound blonde and white mop of a dog. She has huge, expressive green-gray eyes (now that we can see them, thanks to her first grooming) and a pedigree that includes the fact her breed was the favored house pet of Chinese emperors. Tootsie, a 5-month-old Shih Tzu, is under our care because her owner, my husband Todd’s mother, was unexpectedly hospitalized last month. Janice now is recovering, and her puppy Tootsie soon should return to the home she shares with my mother-in-law and a cat.
Our home life has changed just a bit since we’ve been keeping Tootsie. She immediately strongly bonded with Todd. That is not a surprise; all pets bond with Todd. (He likes to joke that kids and animals like him best.) As she was so young and still being trained, she had not spent time roaming a large home, as she now does. At first, she clung to Todd’s ankles; now she races up and down the stairs, stealing towels, clothing, and shoes — including basketball shoes as large as she is — while dragging them around. If she is left out when Todd leaves the house, she sits by the door until he returns. She also waits for him outside the shower.
Our other pets exist for her enjoyment — all she wants to do is play. Jed, sometimes described as a gentleman by people meeting him, is tolerating Tootsie but not exactly playing with her. Tootsie chases the cats, and they take turns chasing her, stopping to smack her a few times. Both cats are quick with the punches. Tootsie is unfazed and comes back for more.
Since we’ve never had a small dog, particularly one bred to be a lap dog, we were at first surprised at how much help she required. Our younger son, Jackson, is home this summer for an internship; his girlfriend Katherine, whose family owns small dogs, thankfully helps with Tootsie. Todd refuses to call her “Tootsie,” and his mother will learn of her nickname soon enough.
Like many of you, we’re pet people. So, what are we to do if our normal “two cats and a dog” household becomes “two cats and two dogs” for a period this summer? The addition has been a bit of a handful at times, but it sure has been fun having a puppy around. No doubt Tootsie will still have plenty of puppy in her when she returns to her Newburgh home. I like to think we have helped positively socialize her in our busy household. Tootsie will be great therapy, too, as Jan- ice’s health continues to improve. Prior to being hospitalized, Janice was taking pickleball lessons and playing golf, so she plans to be active as she recovers.
Inside this issue, you will find ample good summer reading, including the perennially popular pet feature, “People and Their Pets.” Of course, the Evansville Living staff had a lot of fun producing the feature story. Teddy, photographed for our cover, first visited the Tucker Publishing Group offices back in February at the invitation of Managing Editor Jodi Keen. The wildly popular pig and his compassionate owners, Toni and J.J. Howley, made such an impression on us that they were the first pet family selected for our story.
I hope you have a great summer. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
Kristen K. Tucker
Publisher & Editor
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