Furry kids are part of the family, too
BY BRAVETTA HASSELL World Scene Writer
Saturday, February 02, 2013
2/02/13 at 5:25 AM
The Shepard family consists of seven members: Briana - person. Brent - person. Mondo - dog. Vera - cat. Pimmy - cat. Sammie - cat. Rio - baby. And maybe 10 fish. Catch that?
And yet, during a visit to the residence all is calm. Mondo, a black lab mix, keeps watch at the front door. Pimmy, a red-haired cat, is hidden, resting around the base of a potted plant. Sammie - a Birman, which is something like a Siamese - who is ivory, black and beautiful, has darted off somewhere. And Vera, the "dog-cat" as Briana Hefley-Shepard describes her, has just arrived in the room ready for some affection.
Rio, now 4 months old, is in the next room. At the moment she is "talking" and "Alouette" plays in the background.
They all co-exist very well, says Hefley-Shepard, who sits on the board of directors of Street Cats and is a big advocate of pet adoption. All of the Shepard's pets - save the fish - are rescues.
She tells us more about the big, happy family and how mixing a new baby with a house full of pets is going.
1. So Vera is something of a celebrity. Can you explain?
A few years ago, an email came through the shelter about a production company looking for a cat for a national granite commercial (Granite Transformations). I sent out an email to them with some pictures not thinking much of it. They ended up asking for more information and more pictures and by the end of it, she was chosen for the commercial. She was such a trouper and at one point while filming, someone said, "Man, did we find the perfect cat or what?"
2. How do your pets' personalities differ from one another?
Vera is the dog-cat. People who don't necessarily like cats tend to like her. She's not your typical cat; you can take her wherever, haul her around everywhere, she's just wants to be in a lap and wants to be touched. Rough her up, she's OK with that. In hindsight, she would have been a great therapy cat.
Sammie is kind of like Vera. She likes to be in a lap. When Rio cries, Mondo is the first to see to her.
3. How old is everyone?
They are all seniors and are between 13 and 14 years old.
4. Where is Pimmy's favorite place to sleep?
On top of the fish tank light.
5. How were the pets when the baby first arrived home?
At first, the animals didn't pay too much attention to Rio, "it was like she was already there." In fact, when the couple began buying baby items, the pets were diligent in trying out everything. "Pimmy would jump in the swing. They had to sleep in the crib, one would get in the car seat."
"They are completely integrated together," Briana added. "They're all family."
She never thought of giving her pets up when the baby was born.
"In my world, how I look at things, we committed to them, we're not going to break our commitment just because we have a new member of the family. They are family and they'll always be family. And I think sadly a lot of people don't share that viewpoint."
If you'd like to have your pets featured in Animal House, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Include a high-quality digital photo, along with information about the types of pets you have.
Bravetta Hassell 918-581-8316
Briana and Brent Shepard share their home with their daughter, Rio, 4 months; three cats: Sammie (left), a 14-year-old Birman; Pimmy, 13; and Vera, 13; and a dog, Mondo, 5. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
Vera was featured in a commercial for Granite Transformations. Courtesy