Story: People and Their Pets: How Pets Help Their Humans Live Full Life (11/27/21)

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People love their pets and pets love their people. It is a bond built on love, service and dependence. They need us, but it seems we need them too. And as much work as they add to our lives, what they give in return is invaluable. They are loyal, loving and make us laugh. It is known that pets sit with those in pain, bring joy to loners, and bring the empty nest back to life. The relationship between animals and humans is proof that we don’t need to speak the same language to understand and hear each other. Sometimes you just need to sit down and listen. And according to some of our four-legged friends, a belly massage doesn’t hurt either.

Here, meet some locals from Southeast Missouri and their pets.

Debbie Sabella at home with her dogs Layla, far right, and Luna.

Photo by Tyler Graef

Debbie sabella

Dogs: Layla and Luna

Debbie Sabella was planning on having a dog when she retired from her full-time job at Landmark Hospital in May 2021. What she hadn’t planned on was adopting two. puppies ?? Layla, a 9 month old Pyrenean Shepherd mix, followed by Luna, a 3 month old blue heeled beagle mix ?? a few months before retirement. But looking back, she wouldn’t have done it any other way. Both adopted by the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri, these precious girls brought nothing but joy. While Sabella continued to work, the dogs went to Deer Creek Academy for daycare. Now that she’s retired, they all can’t wait to get out, go to the park and travel.

?? They love to chase each other, ?? Sabella said. ?? My house is lively again. ??

Deborah A. Drummond, FNP-C, and Michael D. Malone, MD, FACS with their dog, Lady.

Photo by Tyler Graef

Michael D. Malone, MD, FACS and Deborah A. Drummond, FNP-C

Dog: Lady

Originally from Maryland, Michael Malone and Deborah Drummond moved to Southeast Missouri in September 2020 to pursue new career opportunities ?? Michael as a vascular surgeon at Saint Francis Medical Center and Deborah as a nurse practitioner at Cape Cardiology. Their dog, Lady, a 3 year old German Shepherd, came with them, and together they explored the city and got a feel for Cape Girardeau and the surrounding towns. While Deborah admits that she hasn’t always liked pets, Lady has helped her increase her exercise habits and helps her feel safer when she walks the trail. Plus, her energetic and friendly personality draws people to her. Being new to the area, it seems like having a dog is a great way to meet new people.

?? She ?? s with us about 85% of the time ?? shopping, farmer’s market, Tunes at Twilight, ?? Malone said. ?? She goes everywhere we go. ??

Sue Ann Powell with one of her cats.

Photo by Tyler Graef

Sue Ann Powell

Cats: George, Keeva, Bea, Sora, Buffy and Conner

Sue Ann Powell has always loved cats; they were part of his life growing up and they were part of his marriage. And while she didn’t expect to have six at once, she and her husband David still manage to make it work. David is Professor of Education at Southeast Missouri State University. After retiring from a 30-year career in special education, Sue Ann spends her days volunteering at Safe Harbor Animal Rescue. Each cat they adopted has its own unique personality and history.

George was abandoned and a little wild. He is now the old man. She found Keeva in Safe Harbor, screaming from the top of a cat tower. At 20 pounds, she became the timid of the group. Bea was a stray with a super sweet personality. Sora, a blue Russian, was adopted for her grandson. Buffy was adopted for her granddaughter. And when her husband felt left out and needed his own cat, they adopted Conner. Their hearts and homes are full right now, but you never know what the future holds for them.

?? Cats are very affectionate, ??? Sue Ann said. ?? People think they are distant, but they are just waiting for you to sit down. ??

Adrian Taylor, Jr., and his son, Joshua Taylor, with their dog, Vision.

Photo by Tyler Graef

Adrian Taylor, Jr.

Dog: Vision

When Vision came into Taylor’s life, it was out of tragedy and out of necessity. Adrian and his wife, LaKenya, had just said goodbye to their daughter, who died at birth in 2006. Living in Denver at the time, their son Joshua was 7 years old and was expecting a baby sister. Hoping to find a way to help him through the grief, a friend told them about a miniature schnauzer for sale in Colorado Springs. Together they went looking for her and changed her name from Kujo to Vision, referring to Proverbs 29:18 (KJV), which states: “Where there is no vision, people perish. As a pastor, Adrian always thought names mattered, and Vision definitely lived up to his. At 15, she slows down, but continues to offer comfort, support and encouragement to the whole family. Their son, Joshua, is now 21 years old.

?? She knows when someone is not well, ?? said Adrien. If someone is sick or having a bad day, she will come and sit with you. She also likes to beg. ??

Vicki Lantz with one of her pet lemurs.

Photo by Tyler Graef

Vicki Lantz

Lemurs: Lucy, Ethel, Ruthie and Lila

Vicki Lantz has been around exotic animals all her life. Raised on the farm where she still lives today and owner of Lazy L Safari Park, Vicki makes a living raising and caring for animals. She learned a lot, loved a lot and laughed a lot. Some of his favorite animals are the ring-tailed lemurs Lucy, Ethel, Ruthie, and Lila. After having raised them by hand in his house, they are like his babies; when she talks to them, they know her voice. And although they look very similar, she is able to recognize them based on their unique personalities. As part of the safari park educational programs, lemurs are well taken care of; recently a new swing was added to their house. While Lantz considers lemurs to be part of the family, it’s important to note that lemurs aren’t everyone’s pets. Ringtail lemurs are an endangered species and require special care and training, which Lantz plans to provide for the rest of their lives.

?? There is no retirement for us, ?? Lantz said. ?? It’s just what we do. ??

Brenda Hargrave with her dog, Sophia.

Photo by Tyler Graef

Brenda Hargrave

Dog: Sophie

Cat: Kat

Brenda Hargrave was born and raised in Bloomfield, Missouri, but currently lives in Fruitland. As a retired woman in her 60s, she admits the house is getting pretty quiet, especially over the past year with social distancing and the threat of COVID-19. Having previously owned Sophia, a Havanese dog, and Kat, a cat, Hargrave sought to join the family and discovered Safe Harbor Animal Rescue, a no-kill refuge in Cape County. It is companionship, both for the animal and for the person. They take up space in an otherwise empty house and need to be taken care of. And Hargrave, taking care of them, finds a purpose and something to do.

?? It’s a bit like having children, but they don’t ask for that many, ??? said Hargrave.


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