February 28, 2020

What's the story behind your pets? (A writing prompt)

I'm so glad it's Friday! Even though the kids had two days off for snow days (Wednesday and Thursday) I am totally ready for the weekend.

I don't have much to say, so I'll do a writing prompt today. I know I've written about my pets a trillion times, but I love to write about them, so I'll do an in-depth post of my pets :)

We have three pets right now: Phoebe, Estelle, and Joey. Phoebe and Estelle are cats, and Joey is a dog. Jerry and I have always named our pets after "Friends" characters--we loved the tv series!

I'll write a little about Chandler, too, because he was our first pet (cat) that we got together. He passed away a few years ago.


We adopted Chandler from the animal shelter when he was just a kitten. He had a sister, Monica, who adopted as well. I hate talking about Monica, because it makes me really sad--but she died just a year or so after we got them.

At the time Chandler died, he was the fattest cat you've ever seen. He weighed 26 pounds at one point! Chandler was the most loyal and chill pet we've ever had. When Noah and Eli were born, he loved them and stayed right by their sides. Most cats avoid little kids, but Chandler let the boys play with him and he was just very chill.

Chandler was the BEST at killing catching birds! For being a fat cat, I have no idea how he was able to grab a full-size robin out of the air and leave it on the porch for us. I eventually decided he needed to be a house cat, because I felt bad for the birds.

I wrote a post when Chandler crossed the rainbow bridge, which you can read here. 

I miss Chandler so much sometimes! Telling the kids (especially Eli) was one of the hardest things I've ever done.

Now, for our current pets...


Phoebe is a female orange tabby, which is actually very rare. Most orange tabbies are male. I didn't know this until several years after we adopted her. When we got Phoebe, she was a stray that a friend-of-a-friend had taken in. Someone in a Mom's Club that I belonged to asked if anyone was interested in taking in a stray cat that her sister had, and Jerry convinced me that we should. I always want to take in animals! But I'm the practical one when it comes to that.

When we picked her up, I remember thinking how soft she was. Her fur feels like rabbit fur. And she's very petite--she only weights about 7-8 pounds. She was missing half of her tail and we could feel a lump under her skin that I was SURE was a bb (from a bb gun). Eventually, we learned that it actually was a bb, meaning someone had shot her!

Phoebe is special. There is something about her that is very human-like. She's extremely sympathetic--whenever someone in our family is upset, crying, she comes and loves on us. When I broke my jaw, she was all over me all the time. When I go through depressive episodes, it's the same. I'm convinced that she has some sort of sixth sense for sadness/depression and she tries to help.

Phoebe didn't always love on us like she does now. She was very skittish and generally avoided people. One day, we noticed that she was hiding in a closet a lot. It was odd. When I took her out, I noticed a wound on her back near her tail that looked very infected. I don't know how it happened, but I'm assuming she got in a fight with another animal (at the time, we let her go outdoors).

(I love this picture! It's funny because now it's the squirrels that are looking in our windows, hahaha)

I took her to the vet, and he said she would need surgery. The wound was very infected and he'd have to cut away the dead skin and sew it up; but he said that he wasn't sure she'd have enough skin left to sew up. I said I wanted him to try doing the surgery anyway.

After surgery (it went well!) she had to wear a cone on her neck for two weeks. We had to keep her away from the other pets to make sure that she didn't somehow get the cone off or something like that. So, Jerry and I kept her in our bedroom and bathroom. We put a litter box in the bathroom and we didn't let her leave the bedroom/bathroom for two weeks.

At that time, I think she learned that we were kind, and we were doing what was best for her. She became more and more friendly toward us. By the end of the two weeks, it was like we had a different cat! She was so cuddly and loving. And she's been like that ever since. She is still wary of strangers, especially young kids. When Luke and Riley come over, she hides out in my bedroom, but she adores Jerry, me, and the kids.

Phoebe LOVES peppermint. Whenever I even put on Burt's Bees lip balm, she comes running in to try to lick my lips (yes, I let her, haha). She even climbs the Christmas tree to get candy canes!

We had a very interesting scare with Phoebe, in which I was SURE she was dead and never coming back. Ever since then, we've done our best to keep her inside. She is super sneaky and tries to get out whenever she can, but we try not to let her out. It was so scary when she was gone! Cats like her are the reason behind "Cats have 9 lives". She's used up 8 of hers, I'm sure.

I adore Phoebe. She's now about 13 years old (we don't know for sure, because she was a stray--but the vet estimated about two years old when we got her in 2009). I hope she's one of those cats that will live until she's 25!


Most people don't know exactly who Estelle was on the show Friends. She was Joey's agent--she was rarely on the show, but when she was, she certainly had a smoker's voice and her personality was... large.

My friend Andrea called me (in 2009) and said that there was a stray cat in her neighborhood who was getting food from all the neighbors, and she was a "beautiful!!!" cat. Andrea is allergic to cats, otherwise she certainly would have taken Estelle in. I really didn't want a third cat (at the time, we had Chandler and Phoebe); Jerry said we should at least go look at her.

Since I'm a total sucker, I agreed to go check her out. When I got to Andrea's, Estelle was in her garage eating food that Andrea had given her. She was the ugliest cat I'd ever seen! 😂

I don't know if I'd ever seen a tortoiseshell cat before, but I definitely didn't think she was "beautiful!!!" like Andrea claimed. She looked like a stereotypical "alley cat" and that if she were human, she'd be a chain-smoker with a chain-smoker's voice and have a big personality. We both knew immediately that we'd name her Estelle.

Since we got her, I've learned so much about tortoiseshell cats! Firstly, tortoiseshell cats are almost always female (unlike the orange tabbies).

From the day we brought her home, I was unsure about Estelle attitude--she was constantly flicking her tail when we would pet her, and having had cats my entire life, I was sure that meant she was mad. Cats (in my experience) would only move their tails like that when they were about to bite. To this day, 11 years later, she's still flicking her tail constantly!

I also learned that tortoiseshell ("torties") are very vocal. And Estelle will tell you just how vocal she is, haha. The second we walk in the door, she meows at us. And if you call her name or pet her or give her attention in any way, she "talks" to us. I've never had a cat like her before!

From going to Purina events, I learned about "tortitude"--which is "tortie attitude"--and Estelle definitely has attitude. She is very much "in charge" all the time and she lets us know by voicing her opinion (literally). She completely ignores us sometimes, and other times, she adores us.

I'm her favorite--probably because I'm around her the most--and she follows me around like a dog. When I sit down, she's on my lap in seconds. If I have my feet up and my computer on my lap (like right now), she curls up and sleeps on my shins.

Estelle is the most curious cat I've ever seen. Curiosity is also a typical trait of torties.

She certainly has tortitude, and she makes us laugh every day. Some days, she's totally interested in "the red dot"; others, she looks at us like we're complete idiots for thinking she'll fall for it. She knows how to play "fetch", too. She loves the wires that have the plastic covers over them (whenever I strip a wire for whatever reason, I cut the rest of it into pieces that are about 4-5 inches long just for spoiled Estelle). We can throw one, and then she'll go fetch it and bring it back to us to throw again.

When she wants to, of course! ;)


We adopted Joey in 2015, long after I had established my Runs for Cookies blog in 2011. Jerry and I had been talking for a long time about getting a dog for the boys--I feel like boys should grow up with a dog--and I read SO much about different breeds. Everything was so conflicting, and I hated the internet for giving me TOO MUCH information about everything.

I told Eli that morning that we were thinking about getting a dog. His request was that we get a "black dog". I kind of didn't want a black dog--I'm not sure why, but I just didn't think black dogs were as cute as other colors.

Jerry and I went to the animal shelter and check out some dogs. I wanted to be able to spend some time with the dogs to see their temperament, and the shelter allowed us to do that. We were even able to take dogs into the room where they had cats, so we could see their reactions.

We walked through the rows of kennels, letting the animal control officer know of any that we'd want to spend some time with. I walked right past Joey's kennel, but Jerry saw something in him and he told the officer we wanted to see him. Jerry is usually very "go with the flow" and I was surprised that he said that. Anyway, we continued through the rows until we'd chosen 3-4 different dogs to see.

The first dog that we had brought into the room with us was a mixed breed (I can't remember what breeds). I loved that dog! He was very sweet, and I loved that he didn't jump up on us or get too crazy when we petted him. I was sure that's the dog I wanted. But Jerry really wanted to see Joey (who the shelter had named "Louie").

When Louie came in, he went right to Jerry. He didn't jump--he just rolled right onto his back and let us rub his belly. Jerry immediately wanted him. He was SO sure that I didn't even argue.

And he couldn't have made a better decision.

Louie--who we renamed Joey--was the best dog we could have gotten! And it just so happened that he was black, which was what Eli requested. (I later learned that black dogs are much less likely to get adopted... so sad!)

From the very start, we knew that Joey was perfect for our family. He's a black lab/chow chow mix (also called a "chabrador" or a "chowbrador"). He loves humans, and thinks he is one. We don't have a fenced in yard, but we don't need one--he sticks right by us, and has never wandered off.

This is a before and after photo--before and after we adopted him:

The cats completely own him--he knows that Estelle is the boss of everybody, and he listens to her. However, we call him "The Sheriff" sometimes, because when we say, "ES-TELLE!" (when she's mean to Phoebe or she looks like she's about to claw the furniture or something like that), Joey rushes over to put his face right in her face and stop her from doing whatever it is she's going to do. It's hilarious!

Phoebe and Joey are buddies, in a way. Since Estelle is the boss, Phoebe and Joey are on their own. And they are each jealous of each other. If I call Joey, then Phoebe comes, too. If I call Phoebe, then Joey is there instantly. The two of them sleep with Eli every night (Estelle sleeps with me).

Joey would be "the perfect dog" if he could just learn to walk with a leash. Whenever I put a leash on him, he pulls on it. I wish he would learn that he could walk the same speed if he would just step a couple of inches backward to stop choking himself! We've had him for five years now (I can't believe it's been that long!) and he still hasn't gotten used to the leash.

But he's such a great dog in every other way that the leash thing is no big deal. And I love that the boys have a great dog to grow up with.

I really can't stress this enough...

PLEASE, if you are thinking of getting a pet, go to a shelter! There are so many fantastic cats and dogs at shelters and it breaks my heart to think that they may spend the rest of their lives there. My kids know that we'll never get a kitten or a puppy--and it's because I have told them that the kittens and puppies are the first to get adopted. There are adult cats and dogs at the shelter that are SO great--like Joey!--and they just need a little love. They will be your best friend for choosing them.

You can find just about any breed at a shelter. And my favorite breed is "mutt" ;)  So it doesn't hurt to check them out at least.

Phoebe, Estelle, and Joey are the best pets ever--I love their different personalities! From Phoebe's sixth sense of sympathy to Estelle's tortitude to Joey's "big dumb puppy love", we have the most amazing and entertaining pets.


  1. This post made my heart happy! What sweet animals...I love their different personalities. I especially love those photos of Joey and Phoebe...so cute!

  2. I love hearing other people talk about their pets! This post was great :)

  3. Love this!! All of our pets have come to us the same way - through a shelter or a family member. They are the best!


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