Cover Story: Citizens Canine


They might smell funny, terrorize the mailman, or harbor peculiar habits, but they are our (furry and four-footed) neighbors nonetheless.

Advocate readers were asked to send in photos of their pets. We received droves of darling doggie pics — pointy-eared Dobies, droopy-eyed hounds, mussed-up mutts and dogs wearing clothes (which never gets old). The following is but a sampling of the sundry submissions that drew from our editors the most emphatic, “aww”s.

Name: Luther

Breed: schnauzer mix

Age: 4

Skills/tricks: plays fetch

People’s names: Geoff and Rebekah Brown

The Brown family skips the sweets every Halloween and instead serves some 900 hotdogs to their Winnetka Heights neighbors. Last year, they got a dog in return. “My husband was out there in the yard picking up trash at the end of the night,” Rebekah Brown says. “And when he came back in, he was like, ‘I probably shouldn’t even tell you this, but there’s a really cute dog following me around outside.’ ” It was 2 a.m., and the black-and-gray schnauzer mix wanted to come in, Brown says. So they gave him a bath, a meal and a home for the night. A search for the scruffy dog’s owners turned up no one. Soon, the little guy was bossing around their lab mix, Dusty, and otherwise making himself at home.

So they gave him a name: Luther, after Martin Luther (Oct. 31 is also Reformation Day). “We tried to find a home for him, and he just ended up with us,” Brown says. They found his quirks endearing. The formerly homeless Luther is a packrat. He has a habit of taking items — socks and shoes, for example — and hiding them under the couch. And he puts Dusty’s toys where he knows she can’t reach them. Ornery, sure. But this mutt is so darn cute. “Our next-door neighbor calls him ‘Buddy’ because he pretty much makes friends with anyone,” Brown says. “He immediately rolls over so you’ll rub his belly.”

Name: Magnum Bliss

Breed: mutt

Age: 6

Skills/tricks: congeniality

People’s names: Mark Hupert and Mark Lombard

Magnum is the coolest dog. He’s all black with a ridge down his back, and his people think it would be funny to paint the ridge white for a skunk costume. Not that they would really do it, but Magnum is just the kind of canine who would love nothing more than to lie there and let someone paint his fur. “He’s well-known in the neighborhood,” Lombard says. “He’s very sweet and gentle, and he never gets into trouble.” Hupert and Lombard have three dogs and two cats. Magnum came from Stephanie Pippenger, a veterinary technician in Little Elm who, in her spare time, likes to find homes for dogs. She delivered Magnum, all vaccinated, sterilized, housebroken and trained, with a 10-pound bag of dog food, all for free. “It’s amazing to me that there are people who will do things like that,” Lombard says. Another dog, Liberty, came from the SPCA. Her previous owners had failed to adjust her collar while she was growing, and it had to be surgically removed. She was a nervous little ball of anxiety when Hupert and Lombard first got her, but a Buddhist friend trained her, and now she’s happy and social. A few weeks ago, a landscaper knocked on the door and said, “Hey, there’s a puppy hiding in your bushes, do you want him?” And that’s how they adopted Oscar, also known as “That Little Dog”, who is still learning to behave. The dogs are a constant reminder that life is good, Lombard says. “They don’t carry around the troubles of the day,” he says. “I think they’re good therapy, and they remind us to count our blessings.”

Name: Tootsie and Dottie

Breed: French bulldogs

Age: 6 and 2, respectively

Skills/tricks: being adorable

People’s names: Ellen Parrill and Linda Judd

The life of Ellen Parrill and Linda Judd has a soundtrack. It’s not Vivaldi or the Rolling Stones. The owners of two Frenchies, their soundtrack consists of snorts and wheezes. “They make all kinds of snorts, and they purr when you pet them,” Parrill says. “I never knew a dog could purr.” Bulldogs aren’t known for their tricks and talents so much as their companionship, and these two are a howl. Everywhere they go, they draw a crowd of admirers. Their favorite activity is looking for frogs on their walks. When they catch one, it gives them frothy mouth, but that doesn’t deter them from frog hunting. “Tootsie is all about love,” Parrill says. “She wants nothing more than to be next to you and get attention. She is the sweetest, most well-mannered dog.” Dottie is the adolescent, and she likes to chew things. She ruined a brand-new leather sofa, for example. But she’s finally starting to grow out of that, Parrill says. “The funniest thing to watch is when they wrestle and chase each other,” she says.

Name: Barkley

Breed: shih tzu-poodle mix

Age: 2

Skills/tricks: plays fetch

People’s names: Holli and Garrick Elrod

Barkley the shih tzu-poodle mix loves people. He visits neighbors on daily walks, he loves going to the groomer, and he often hangs out on the patio at Beckley BrewHouse and other dog-friendly spots. “He’s real social,” Holli Elrod says. “He’s one of those that’s not afraid of the vet or the groomer.” He’s a squirrel-chaser, a bird-stalker, and likes to chew on sticks. But Barkley doesn’t know or care that he’s a little guy, so he often drags around sticks and branches that are much bigger than him. One of his favorite indoor hobbies is barking at dogs on television, so he sits and watches the box until one appears. And when he’s ready for a walk, he takes his tags in his mouth and marches around the house. “It’s just a little neurotic,” Elrod says.


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  • Lindsay Leggett

    Oh my gosh! That little shih tzu-poodle mix is the funniest thing ever … I want to hear more about the life of Barkley. He sounds histerical 🙂

  • Robin Alvarado

    I think Barkley is the best! What a cute dog with so much character!