The best pets in town are of course your own pets! Which is part of why we didn’t go any farther than just down the hall to find a few profiles of why we love them so, along with information on how to maximize both that love and our pets’ health and happiness.
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You can bring a box of chocolates in to work and get a little attention. Doughnuts work pretty well, and a new baby even better.
But you want a guaranteed instant crowd, people coming from all over the building with max oohs and aahs, even from guys?
Walk into work with the new puppy in your arms.
Our president, Steve Beyer, proved that a few weeks back when his wife Linda dropped by three days in a row with new-dawgie Bear. People don’t seem as inclined these days to touch other people, but there was a line each day to put a hand on Bear’s fuzzy little head and get up-close with his honest little eyes.
Point being: People love and keep pets at levels never seen before. (The Census does not track such, and the two primary counters of pet ownership present conflicting figures, but 70-83 million dogs and 74-96 million cats is a lot of Fidos and Fluffys.)
And what age groups are most ownership-prone?
Well, the just-married-let’s-get-a-pet theory holds up well, as 58 percent of 18-24-year-olds own a pet, according to research firm Mintel.
The theory on the other end – empty nesters tend to go back to pets – doesn’t hold up as well, as ownership remains at about 50 percent through the middle-year age groups, then drops to 46 percent for 45-54 year-olds, 41 percent for 55-64 and 32 percent for 65-plus.
Our office is populated with representatives of all of those age groups, and in each there is at least one pet owner, and all have nuggets of knowledge and advice for successful ownership. A few samples:
Breed, age: Border Collie / Whippet, 7 years old
Master of: Ruth Herdman, graphic designer (25-34)
Got his vaccinations at: Botetourt Veterinary Hospital, “As soon as we pull into the parking lot Teague gets so excited. He can’t wait to see all of his friends, and he never forgets where the treat container is.”
Favorite place outside: “The trails at Greenfield. It’s beautiful with abundant wildlife and pasture area. He can run to his heart’s content.”
Food: Purina ONE Sensitive Systems. It’s a well-researched diet that recognizes the importance of appropriately proportioned ingredients and the necessary nutrients for a healthy dog. The sensitive system blend offers dermal and digestive support.
The background: Teague came from the RVSPCA at 9 weeks. It was love at first sight. He was in a litter of three and the last remaining, waiting there for me.
Best trick: He has many, but he loves his left and right turns. He knows both directions and will spin whichever way you ask.
Favorite treat: ABOUND Natural dog biscuits.
Favorite Toy: His DogZilla Red ball. He’s had it since he was two and never leaves the house (or a room in the house, for that matter) without it. It’s his job, to manage that red ball and he takes it super seriously.
He loves: A warm bath. As soon as the collar comes off he walks right into the tub, begging to be pampered.
Quirkiest Trait: He is obsessed with having his legs rubbed. Anyone with crossed legs is an easy target; he’ll go stand over top of their feet and paw at them until they are “trained” into rubbing the backs of his legs.
Random Fact: He’s got his Champion title in the competitive dog sport of Flyball
Best Doggie Advice: “Let them run. Happy dogs are good dogs and happy dogs get to run and play. Exercise is key to a well-mannered companion.”
Apple (Original name Appleonia)
Breed, age: Grey calico, about 7 years
Master of: Lauren and Jeff Wood, digital editor (25-34)
Gets her vaccinations at: Valley Animal Hospital, where “they always take care of her as if she were one of their own,” says Lauren.
Favorite spots in the house: “On top of the covers between my wife’s legs when we sleep at night, the back of the couch tickling my neck with her tail, or the storm door where she can stare intently at birds in the backyard that she’d never know what to do with if she actually caught, since she is a lifelong house cat who absolutely hates getting her paws dirty and once ran away from a field mouse that got inside,” says Jeff.
The background: Apple was adopted from Angels of Assisi when she was a little over one year old. “She chose us,” Jeff says. “Of all the cats we looked at, she was the only one who approached us on her own. The others hid under the furniture, including her sister and two brothers. Apparently she was rescued from a hotel room along with dozens of other cats. She was scrawny when we first met her.”
Best trick: “Acting like she doesn’t want attention even when she’s craving it and always knowing when her humans need a good cuddle.”
Favorite toy: “When she was younger it was either the feather on a rope or the laser pointer, but these days it’s the carpeted stairs and upstairs hallway. She’ll run faster than an Indy car in the hallway, and on the stairs dig in her claws and flop down like a slinky.”
Jeff and Lauren’s Best Cat Advice: “Consider adopting if you can. So many animals at shelters are starving for affection. If you show just a little love and kindness they’ll send it right back 1,000 times over.”