Timmy had Lassie, Charlie Brown had Snoopy, and Dorothy had Toto. The bond between kids and their pets is undeniably special. To a child, a pet can be a friend, a sidekick and a member of the family.
Lake Highlands is full of pint-sized neighbors who have big love for their creatures, and while we could have summed it up, we thought it best to let these kids tell you in their own words what makes their pets so special.
KID: MIMI CLOT DE BROISSIA, 2
PET: Tommy, the tabby
COPYCAT: When Mimi came home from the hospital, Tommy immediately began following her everywhere – sitting underneath her swing, curling up beside her on the floor, and (his favorite spot) lying underneath her highchair. “In the kitchen, I think it’s because he knows she’s going to drop turkey,” says Mimi’s mother, Susan.
TRILINGUAL: Mimi’s father is French, and her parents also taught her baby sign language before she learned to speak, so she can say “cat” in three languages. Chat, pronounced “shaw,” was Mimi’s first French word, and it was also one of her first baby signs. But the way she calls Tommy now is: “Kitty! Come here, kitty!”
HANDS ARE FOR PETTING: “I be gentle. We don’t hit kitties,” Mimi says, parroting what her parents used to tell her when she began playing with Tommy. The cat is patient with Mimi, Susan says, allowing her to pet him the wrong direction, kiss and love on him, and put her stuffed animals around him so they all can “be friends.” But Mimi also knows to steer clear of Tommy when he rolls onto his back and gets a little more rambunctious. “Oh no!” she warns. “Be careful!”
HEALING PRESENCE: Soon after Mimi was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis, Susan began noticing that Tommy was no longer sleeping in her and her husband’s bed. She got up one night to look for him and found Tommy sleeping in a chair next to Mimi’s crib. It may be a coincidence, she says, but she likes to think that Tommy can sense her daughter’s illness.
KIDS: KOEN STEGLICH, 8, AND KOHL STEGLICH, 10
PETS: Bevo, the Beagle; Aggie, the Dachshund mix
TALE OF TWO SONS: The Steglich family’s loyalty to Texas A&M is ingrained, so when they adopted their first dog, it was only natural that their oldest son, Kohl, named the dog Aggie. But somewhere along the way, their second son, Koen, became a University of Texas devotee. So when Koen picked out a playmate for Aggie, he named the dog Bevo before the family even left the kennel.
LIVING UP TO THEIR NAMES: Koen and Bevo made a connection the instant they locked gazes. “He started jumping up and looked at me with puppy eyes,” Koen says. “And he has Longhorn colors.” Aggie obviously isn’t maroon, but whenever one of the Steglichs calls out “Howdy, Aggie!” the dog rushes over and jumps up to greet them.
A HOUSE DIVIDED: Kohl can’t figure out how his brother became a Longhorns fan. “A long time ago when I was 5, and he was still 3,” Kohl says, his brother sided with the Aggies – but at some point changed his mind. “I think he just got jealous because A&M wasn’t so good as a football team,” Kohl declares. “No, I just like the Longhorns,” Koen retorts. “He doesn’t even have a reason for it. Your mind got confused,” Kohl tells his little brother. As for the dogs? They bark for both teams.
KID: NICHOLAS BOWEN, 7
PET: Lizardo, the bearded dragon
EL NOMBRE: When his Uncle Michael gave Nicholas a bearded dragon, he wanted to name it Razorback “because if you feel his back, it feels like a razor,” Nicholas says. But he wound up naming it Lizardo “because my mom said that was Spanish for razorback; then she said it was just a joke,” Nicholas says. “But I still call him Razorback for short.”
HIGH-PROTEIN DIET: To feed Lizardo, the Bowens buy live crickets each month in bulk – 1,000 per box. He also gets the occasional treat of mealworms, as well as anything else Nicholas catches in the yard. “The one thing he likes more than June bugs are mayflies. That’s his favorite,” Nicholas says. “He doesn’t like roly-polys, though. If I show one to him, he turns his head away.” Nicholas feeds Lizardo in the kitchen, where his cage sits. But he waits until his mother isn’t around. “If she’s in the room, then we can’t come in with the bugs,” he says.
ONE LIZARD IS ENOUGH: Nicholas loves to talk about the colorful chameleons his uncle breeds, but “Uncle Michael’s not sending me any more lizards because my mom and dad won’t let him,” he says. “Although that’s never stopped him in the past,” laughs Nicholas’ father, Doug.
KID: ELLA WENTZEL, 3
PET: Rory, the Westie
MONSTER REPELLANT: After watching Monsters, Inc. last year, Ella decided monsters were hiding in her closet and under her bed. Her mother, Lisa, tried everything to convince her it wasn’t true, even spraying an “anti-moster” mist under her bed. But Ella wouldn’t be pacified until it occurred to her that Rory could keep her safe. “She barks when someone comes over,” Ella rationalizes.
A SLUMBER PARTY EVERY NIGHT: The only way to appease Ella was to let Rory sleep with her. Rory had been banned to her crate at night since Ella’s birth, so the Westie was more than happy to oblige.”I’m afraid of monsters, so Rory sleeps with me, and she scares the monsters away because she likes to bark, and now there’s no monsters under my bed,” Ella says.
THOSE AREN’T MONSTER DROPPINGS: Since then, Ella and Rory have been separated only one night – after Rory got sick. “She almost pooped on my bed, and she did poop on my floor. And I said, ‘Mommy! Rory pooped on my floor!” Ella recalls. Before she told her mother, however, Ella tried to clean up the mess herself. Wentzel appreciated the effort, but wiping out the trashcan wasn’t so fun.
MONSTER MEAT: So far, Rory hasn’t caught any monsters, but if she did, “I think she would eat them,” Ella says. “I think that would taste yummy. I think that would taste like chicken.”