Our neighborhood’s animal magnetism

They've got it all — cuteness, charisma and hilarious habits. For their ability to make us smile, we've deemed them the neighborhood's best pets.

They’ve got it all — cuteness, charisma and hilarious habits.  For their ability to make us smile, we’ve deemed them the neighborhood’s  best pets.

What makes an Advocate pet edition model?

It is not necessarily impeccable breeding or a pretty mug but, rather, a personality — a certain je ne sais quoi — that jumps off the page.

Our 2011 model pet search garnered piles of adorable photos and amusing anecdotes. These finalists are the non-human neighborhood residents that most captured our hearts.

Emmitt the affable

Photos by Benjamin Hager

Emmitt the bulldog was not named after the football player Emmitt Smith. He’s more of a defensive end-type, really.

Weighing 70 pounds and wheezing when overheated, you probably don’t want this guy on your fantasy roster anyway. He tore his ACL a few years back, and although he still likes to play ball, he mostly takes it easy.

Owner Moises Almanderiz moved from Irving to Kessler Highlands in February, and when the weather was still nice, he and Emmitt would sit on the patio at Oak Cliff restaurants. It’s an easy way to make new friends.

“He gets a lot of attention when I take him anywhere,” Almanderiz says.

Emmitt, 7, also likes to take road trips, accompanying Almanderiz on weekend trips to Austin or San Angelo, home of Almanderiz’s alma mater, Angelo State University. Like most bulldogs, he just wants to be around people. He follows Almanderiz all around the house and sits by his chair.

This isn’t the first time Emmitt has gotten media attention for his good looks. He also won the Dallas Morning News’ “Pet of the Week” contest. And he once was a feature on a TV news station.

“He snores a lot, and he makes funny faces,” Almanderiz says. “With Emmitt, what you see is what you get.”

Lisa Keith’s menagerie 

Photo by Can Türkyilmaz

Ring the bell at Lisa Keith’s house in Oak Park Estates, and the chaos begins.

It’s mostly a lot of arfing and yipping and woof-woof-woofing. But step inside, and prepare to be licked within inches of your life by, most likely, a Pomeranian named Diego, or possibly a Chihuahua named Teddy. The pointy-eared mutt named Piglet likely will sidle up in hopes she can teach you all about the art of rubbing tummies.

“All my dogs since I was 3 years old have been from the pound or rescues,” Keith says.

She sometimes fosters dogs, and though she repeats, “you can’t save them all” like a mantra, she personally saves the ones she can. And she often ropes friends and family into taking in others.

Keith and her boyfriend, Nick Jolly, also have three cats. There is Lily, the black cat Keith found as a stray kitten at Zang and Clarendon. There is Daisy, the “ghost cat”, who rolls through the house for food every morning but mostly stays out in the shed. And then there is Leo, an orange cat they noticed eating their other cats’ food and soon became part of the family.

Leo is the one with the funniest picture. He’s something of an Internet star because of a snap Keith got of him lounging in a cardboard box.

“He looks like he’s waiting for you to bring him a martini,” Keith says.

Pig is the one who came up to Keith’s house about 12 years ago with another stray dog, who later was adopted by a friend. Pig now sleeps between Keith and Jolly every night, and she snores. She’s also their camping dog, making friends with people, dogs and, once, a horse, during quarterly camping outings.

Keith found Teddy, the Chihuahua, one night at Tradewinds Social Club on Hampton. She tried for weeks to find his owner, and when no one came forward, he became part of the family, too. A few months later, he started having seizures and they found, after a trip to the veterinary neurologist (who knew?), that Teddy the Chihuahua has epilepsy. So now he takes medicine at precisely 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Missing the medication by just 15 minutes could throw him into a seizure. So, no matter what, Keith’s alarm clock goes off at about 6:20 a.m. every day. It’s an unintentional signal to all three dogs that it’s time for a treat. And the chaos begins.

Mabel the baby

Photo by Benjamin Hager

No matter how many store-bought toys Michael Christopher puts in front of his Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Mabel, she goes for the sticks.

Mabel’s favorite toys are sticks that Christopher picks up on their walks.

Christopher intentionally gave Mabel an “old lady name”, but she’s just a baby. He bought her for $50 from someone on Facebook in May, when she was just 8 weeks old. Although the 25-year-old has had adopted dogs and cats his whole life, he says Mabel “ranks up there with the best of them.”

The puppy has a lot of energy, and she gets into a lot of puppy trouble. Christopher’s mom, Robbie, sent us a picture of her bathroom, where Mabel had torn up rolls of toilet paper. But she is extremely lovable and popular.

“My girlfriend is starting to think she’s her dog,” he says. “I’m almost afraid she’s going to steal her.”

Mabel is the first dog Christopher has ever picked out himself. He had decided he wanted a working dog, and he thought he might get a border collie. But the Winnetka Heights resident thought it might be cruelly unfair to make a herding live in the city. So he chose a corgi because of “their short little legs.”

His friends wanted him to name her something cute, like “Pickle.” But Christopher was looking ahead. He didn’t want to be calling out something cutesy to a full-grown dog. So he named her Mabel after the Chuck Berry song “Maybelline” and an obscure reference from “The Simpsons.”

Although it’s not hard to see why a cute name would be appropriate. “Cute” is her dominating descriptor.

“She’s insanely cute,” Christopher says. “It almost makes you crazy.”

The shop dogs

Photo by Can Türkyilmaz

There is a note taped to the front door of Fête-ish, the Bishop Arts District gift store, reading, “Please close the door. Puppies inside.”

Puppies! Puppies?

Well, there could be puppies inside, but almost always, there is at least one dog waiting to be adopted.

This past April, the shop started a partnership with DFW Rescue Me, a nonprofit that rescues animals set to be euthanized. Since then, no fewer than nine dogs have been adopted out of the store. They average about one adoption a week.

Fête-ish also has raised more than $800 for DFW Rescue Me, just by displaying a collection jar at the register.

“It allows us to have sort of a storefront for our organization,” says Ann Mattson, a Rescue Me board member.

Mattson takes turns fostering dogs with Fête-ish owner Chad Vogel, store employee David Giersch and Vogel’s friend Kathee Crough. They bring the pups home with them at night, and when the shop opens at 11 a.m., they bring them back to charm shoppers or sleep near the register.

Crough, who lives in Oak Cliff with five dogs, likes to bring the rescue dogs to her house in the morning so they can play with her pack.

“It’s like Cesar (Millan, the “Dog Whisperer” of TV) always says,” Crough says. “The pack heals the broken one.”

Some 1,200 dogs come through Dallas Animal Services every week, Mattson says. Unwanted dogs and cats roam the streets of Oak Cliff every day. And yet there is a lack of education, or perhaps an abundance of apathy, about spaying and neutering, Giersch says. He hopes their efforts also can help raise awareness about that.

Having adoptable dogs in the store has been a “joy spot” for them, Giersch says.

“We enjoy having the pups around all day,” he says. “It’s been a lovely, joyful way to give back.”


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