Animal House: Family can't live without its 7 pets
BY NOUR HABIB World Scene Writer
Saturday, March 09, 2013
3/09/13 at 7:20 AM
Mary Waller's pets are constant sources of humor and story-telling fodder.
In fact, when Waller's daughters were young, she and her husband would make up bedtime stories for them featuring their cats as the lead characters. These stories eventually ended up being the basis for a series of illustrated adventure books made by their older daughter. One story, Waller remembers, was titled "My Cat Killed the Tooth Fairy."
The Wallers' pet family includes a hamster, Poppy; two fish, Mumford and Son; three cats, Sterling, Maggie and Tristen; and a dog, Zoey. All get along fairly well together.
"The dog and cats all hang out together, sharing roaming privileges around the house," Waller said. "The cats are pretty chill with one another and on cold days can be found in close quarters."
Here, Waller shares more with us about why her family loves animals and what it's like to take care of so many pets.
What is it about animals that you love?
I grew up with cats, big dogs and hamsters, as did my husband. I even had a cat at college. I honestly could not live without one. And, because we have never known a life without them, we miss them when they are absent, like something is missing in our family. A couple of years ago after our last dog, a Great Pyrenees mix, died from cancer, we missed having a canine around. Especially my husband. Life without a dog is truly much simpler, but it seems not to be a choice for us.
Does everyone in the family get along with the pets?
Yep, our daughters, ages 15 and 18, grew up with a dog and multiple cats. The cats sleep with them. We brought Zoey home as our first puppy in the house two winters ago. Both the girls had the chance to revel in puppydom and bond with Zoey from the start. Triss is the homework buddy with our youngest every afternoon, and all the pets get super excited when our oldest comes home from college.
Is it hard to take care of so many pets?
I think it is a big time and budget item but not hard. The critters in our home are really super well-behaved, but the potential for mayhem is elevated with so many and the herding dog/cat mix. Except for planning to be away, having them is really not hard. And, in the case that we travel, we always hire a house sitter so the furry Wallers are unstressed and in familiar surroundings. As for day-to-day, everyone pitches in on feeding, brushing, walking, poop-scooping and hugging. Though, monthly nail trimming day is a team sport at Casa Waller.
Whose job is it to take care of all of them?
Our youngest, Rowan, is the fish wrangler. She keeps that tank spotless. We have had chore charts and the like in the past when the girls were younger. For the most part today, everyone helps a little, and then Mom and Dad happily pick up the slack with the girls getting so busy.
Do you have a favorite? Why?
Uggh. That's not a fair question! I love them all for their own unique reasons. But Sterling the cat is truly the softest and most cuddly, and the one I always want to pick up. He is like a rag doll. He actually acts more like a dog, coming to the door, romping around the house and with a very laid-back personality. He shows his affection in very un-cat-like ways. And, Zoey, ohhhh, she is my new shadow, and I missed her so much when I recently went out of town.
Do you have a favorite animal organization?
No, but I really appreciate the TSPCA and Paws because that is where most of our pets, past and present, were placed and fostered.
Original Print Headline: Family can't live without its seven pets
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Poppy the hamster is one of the Walker family's seven pets. Two fish, three cats and a dog round out the family. Courtesy
Mary Waller says Sterling is the softest and most cuddly of her three cats. Courtesy