Last September, hundreds of Tallahassee pet owners submitted snaps of their favorite fur babies and submitted them to our annual Tally Top Pet Photo Contest, benefitting Be The Solution. Through the process of elimination, the bracketed, NCAA March Madness-style competition ultimately arrives at one lucky contestant who is awarded a Tallahassee Magazine cover spot.
Readers’ votes determined the Sweet 16, the Elite Eight and finally the four fine felines and canines you see here. And, those votes, cast for $1 apiece, helped advance Be The Solution’s mission to combat pet overpopulation by making available low-cost spay and neuter vouchers in our community.
Our champion, Alice, at one time owned by people unprepared to care for her, represents well Be The Solution’s animal welfare efforts.
Check out her story, as well as those of the other members of the Final Fur who, of course, are all winners in our hearts.
You’d never guess from looking at our Top Pet cover girl, with her wide smile and sparkly brown eyes, that she had a rough start in life.
But one year ago, Alice, a pitbull, spent her days and nights chained to a cinder block beneath a tree. By the time Jane Holmes-Cain and her daughter rescued Alice from her abusive owners, she was covered in fleas, suffering skin problems and had not been spayed.
Things quickly turned around, said Holmes-Cain.
Today, Alice (formerly) in chains is a spirited, happy-go-lucky pup who loves nothing more than cuddles and chasing birds and squirrels in her backyard. She is like a younger sister to Holmes-Cain’s elderly Boston terrier and French bulldog and frequently delights in (lovingly) terrorizing them.
“Alice doesn’t realize she’s this big pitbull,” Holmes-Cain said. “If you sit down, she’ll want to sit right on top of you. If you lay down in bed, she’ll want to come snuggle.”
Often, Alice will deliver her toy rope to a human, looking for a round of her favorite game, tug-of-war. For her, there’s nothing better than chewing on Nylabones or licking the peanut butter out of a stuffed Kong toy.
To watch her go from the product of an abusive home to the happiest girl in the world has been inspiring.
“She is my best friend and favorite fur child,” said Holmes-Cain, adding,
“maybe my favorite out
of all of my children,
including my real ones!”
When Shannon Nee contacted It’s Meow or Never for Ferals (IMON) in Tallahassee, she was looking for a cat with two things: long hair and a couch-potato personality. While Nee’s match, Pidge, was a long-haired calico, she was full of puppy-like energy and playfulness.
IMON president Jo Ann Hulls gave Nee a 10-day trial period with Pidge, and by then it was clear the rambunctious, chin-scratch-loving kitten was the companion for her.
“My favorite thing about Pidge is how goofy she is,” said Nee. “Her favorite thing in the world is eating potato chips. If she so much as hears a bag crinkling in our house, she’ll come running in from the other room.”
Initially shy with strangers, Pidge is most easily won over by an
offer of her favorite Hint of Lime Tostitos or a good toe tickle.
But, Pidge is not shy about letting you know when it’s time to play. Beneath Nee’s bed is where Pidge hoards her treasures, the most prized of which seems to be her obnoxious crinkle toys and mouse on a stick.
“She’s just the sweetest,” said Nee. “Sometimes, when you’re scratching her face, she’ll reach up and stroke my chin to show me where she actually wants to be petted.”
And, of course, Pidge gets her way.
For Mairym Castro, rescuing Andy from the Tallahassee Animal Shelter was the best decision she’s ever made.
Castro, a volunteer for the shelter, first spotted Andy in a kennel. “He immediately came up and started wagging his tail,” she recalled. “I volunteered to take him out and he was so excited, he knocked me off my feet. I knew then he was my dog.”
Andy, a chocolate Labrador mix, is a big ’Noles fan. He can often be found lazing on the couch with his dad while watching an FSU game or traveling to Poor Paul’s to catch happy hour.
Visiting restaurants, Castro said, is one of Andy’s favorite pastimes. A bigger fan of the destination than the journey (Andy experiences carsickness,) Andy knows he will inevitably get some chicken tenders.
The food-oriented fella also loves a plain cheese pie from Blaze Pizza, followed by a much-needed cuddle session back home.
“My favorite thing about Andy is he always knows what kind of day you’re having,” said Castro. “There have been times when I’ve felt down, and he’d just come up and lay his head on me. He’s such a good boy.
“Coming home to him
is the best thing in the world because he’s always so happy to see you. It’s hard to get mad at him about anything.”
When Holly Meuth lost the dog she’d had for the last 14 years, Tank the Bulldog entered her life
to heal her heart.
Turns out Tank, the heartworm-positive pup adopted from the Tallahassee Animal Service Center, has a knack for that.
Tank participated in the HART program, a Wakulla Correctional Institution inmate-led obedience course that helps dogs recover from heartworm treatment. Inmates loved the bully so much, they even painted him into one of the institution’s murals.
Too, he is a certified Animal Therapy pet through Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare’s animal therapy program. He has visited patients of the Children’s Home Society and has greeted young students at Woodville School.
For a big dog, he is serene. Meuth can count on one hand the times she’s heard Tank bark in the past 3½ years he’s lived with her.
“Tank is also the best big brother to the puppies we foster,” said Meuth. “He’ll just roll over on his back and let them climb all over him.”
When off duty, Tank is as carefree and content a dog as any other. He loves playtime and chowing down on cheese and peanut butter.
“When I look at Tank, I swear he has human eyes,” said Meuth. “He just wants to be anywhere I am, and I love how loving he is.”