There is a reason even your human significant other gets a “pet name.” We can’t help it; we love our pets. A loving pet is the ultimate companion. They’re cute, they’re cuddly, they’re non-judgmental, and they just make you feel good. Often, they are even your best friend.
Words by Jessica Devenyns Photos by Eric Morales & Matt Bradford
Austinites are no stranger to animal companionship. In fact, Austin has the third highest percentage of pet households out of major United States metro areas, according to new data from the American Housing Survey. But what is it about human-animal relationships that are so deeply satisfying? After all, we are all so different as people. How is it that all pets seem to instinctively become a part of our family? Like all good questions, this one has a complicated answer. However, here are six Eastsiders who illuminate why pets bring happiness into their households.
Alexandria, Raasin & Sage
Poodles are smart. Sage the poodle, in particular, has taken her exalted dog status a step further and managed to become a family member. “She thinks that she is human,” says Alexandria Anderson, co-owner of Sage with her partner, Raasin McIntosh. In fact, she may be. During the week, when she’s not cavorting with her friends at Eastside Dog Walkers, she’s posting Boomerangs on her Instagram page @sage_poo. Outside business hours, however, Sage lets down her prim and proper hairstyle and lies “outside on the patio or porch watching the birds, playing chase and rolling in the grass.”
Pet Friendly Eateries on the Eastside:
1. Banger’s hosts Mutt Monday every third Monday of the month from 5 to 7pm.
2. Yellow Jacket Social Club has an enjoyable Sunday brunch that’s great for puppy watching.
3. The Buzz Mill, a rustic “General Store” open 24/7 serving coffee, beer, & cider. They have a breezy, and shaded patio out back that’s pet friendly.
4. Salty Sow welcomes pets in their outdoor eating area complete with fans.
5. Cherrywood Coffeehouse provides tasty food for humans and an open space for your pups to lounge and water bowls for when they are thirsty.
6. The British-style Dog & Duck Pub has a pet friendly patio welcoming your furry friends while you sit back with a cold one enjoying a game of darts.
In general, Austin is a pet loving city. There are not many coffee shops and pubs around town that will not allow furry family members on their patio.
Matt & Hoss
With drooping ears and a loping stride, Hoss is the epitome of a hound dog. This 10-year-old canine has “figured out how to open cabinets with his paws” and teams up with the family pig to help himself to the contents. Hoss’s habits lead owner Matt Bradford to wonder if his name was a “misnomer.” “His original owners liked Bonanza, and Hoss was the big, goofy, not super smart character,” says Matt. Clearly the characterization does not apply. In fact, Hoss has one particular skill that makes the pair inseparable. “He’s my nose dog,” claims Matt.
Before you commit to being a pig parent, learn a few things about these animals from the Central Texas Pig Rescue. They not only exude cuteness but are very intelligent too, often mischievous and sometimes demanding. It is important to understand that “micro” and “teacup” pigs are a myth. Royal Dandie Miniature pigs are the smallest breed (without being malnourished). This breed of pigs stays under 40lbs.
Marie & Chuy
It’s only natural that an events manager would have a high-energy clown dog as a companion. “They’re super funny. They’re always trying to play jokes on you and psych you out when you’re playing with them,” explains Marie Vargas. In fact, according to her, bull terriers are known as the “clown of the bully breed.” Whether he’s swimming, chasing dangling objects, or skateboarding across the bed, Marie’s Frankenweenie dog, Chuy, is one of a kind. “He’s got a lot of cat tendencies,” says Marie. That says it all.
1. A group of cats is called a clowder, and a group of baby cats is called a kindle.
2. Cats spend nearly 2/3’s of their day napping.
3. North America has more cats than dogs, and over 30% of households own at least one cat.
4. Cats spend 1/3 of their awake time grooming themselves and are cleaner than most humans.
5. Kittens are born with blue eyes.
6. The primary use of cat whiskers is to determine if they can fit through an opening.
7. Cats rarely meow at one another. However, as kittens, cats meow to communicate to their mothers– so if your grown cat talks to you, it may be an indication that he or she sees you as a maternal figure.
Chelsea & Maggie
Whoever said that cats and dogs don’t get along hasn’t met Chelsea Aaron’s dog, Maggie. “She was essentially a mom to a 1 pound sickly kitten who had to be nursed back to health,” Chelsea remembers. Perhaps this instinctual drive to perform as a caretaker stems from Maggie’s own need for love and affection. Found as a stray, Maggie’s life altered dramatically. “A year and a half ago, she was run over and had to have a partial amputation,” despite this, she “never lost her excited spirit” and “can do pretty much anything a normal dog can,” including performing the function of “organic Roomba” in the household.
Dogs moving their tails strongly to the right indicates a positive interest or excited state. A tail moving to the left is a sign of more negative emotions such as anxiety or aggression, according to Psychology Today.
Buying a BIRD
1. Be sure to buy from a reputable breeder or rescue organization.
2. Make sure to have the appropriate space–the bigger the cage the better.
3. While these companions can be silly and entertaining, they do require a lot of time and attention. Make sure you’re ready for the investment they will demand.
4. Birds can be quite noisy. If you’re one to like the peace and quiet, these squawkers might not be best for you.
5. Birds are intelligent, and they live a long time. Should you decide a bird is the right pet for your family, be ready for a life-long friendship with a feathered friend.
Lindsay & the A Team
Alfred and Archie are the top dogs of Lindsay Riddick’s A-Team. Weighing in at 160-lbs and 120-lbs respectively, these Great Danes have the hearts to match their size. Lindsay declares that these two pups are almost always by her side. In fact, she says, “I often don’t show up to work alone!” Coming from a small-town, leash-free life and moving to the city has, however, required some adjustment. “I remember the first time I had to walk them on a leash,” Lindsay recounts. “They took off with me skiing (face down) behind them!” Despite a rocky start, she claims that Austin “makes for an interesting life, but with the hospitality, hamburgers and hiking trails… we wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Adopting a pet involves a lot of consideration. Are they vaccinated, spayed or neutered? Do you know their history? What about their temperament? A good shelter will be able to answer all these questions as well as give you advice on how to best introduce your new pet into your family. Austin has an ample amount of places caring for furry friends that are waiting to be a part of a family: Austin Pets Alive!, PAWS, Austin Humane Society, Austin Dog Rescue, Forgotten Friends, or Blue Dog Rescue.
Nancy & Danger
This pink pig’s name belies a sweet and incredibly smart animal. Bradford explains, “Pigs are amazing. They’re incredibly smart, they’re generally kind, and many pigs love to cuddle!” In fact, Danger regularly uses his smarts to get into mischief. “I’d often come home from being out of the house to find doors opened, food bins knocked down, and sealed containers opened.” Danger’s antics are a result of pigs’ inquisitive natures which drive them to problem solve in order to satisfy their curiosity. Nevertheless, for Nancy, all the toppled-over bins were forgivable because Danger was “incredibly cute.”