Pets often a reflection of their owners
Our children are a reflection of ourselves.
And so it is with our animals.
Their personalities and our relationships with them say something about us.
“Someone has to be their advocate,” said Ann-Marie Soderstrom, speaking of her house rabbits. “I’m glad that someone is me.”
Committed to their care
In high school, Soderstrom raised a Californian rabbit named Cloudy into a 4-H champion in the Winnebago County Fair. Now 29, Soderstrom knows that she didn’t understand the basics of raising a rabbit, such as to avoid outdoor cages.
Today, in addition to handling public relations for the Girl Scouts Rock River Valley Council, Soderstrom belongs to the House Rabbit Society (rabbit.org). She and her husband, Brett, are committed to proper care of Payton Manning, a brown/black mini-lop; Hannah, a chinchilla lop; and Hector, a multi-colored mini-rex.
The rabbits had been mistreated or abandoned before being rescued by a Chicago group. The Soderstroms’ investment — an open-door indoor cage, hay, litter boxes and daily fresh veggies — has been worth it, Soderstrom said.
“They have distinct personalities and are unbelievably cuddly and loving,” she said. “I am proud to be a bunny mom. It helps me to be a better person as I’m committed to being a pet owner who makes life easier for these tiny furry animals people often mistreat.”
Sharing a home and personalities
Renea Hunter’s first experience with a cat, when she was a teenager, wasn’t good.
“It was crying and whining all the time,” said Hunter, a 37-year-old counselor in Rockford. “It wanted to be out and wanted all this attention.”
Her current cat, Angel, is more Hunter’s speed.
“When I come home, she’s like, ‘Hey, I’m here,’ and then she’s off to take care of her business,” Hunter said.
Angel can be moody and a little self-centered, but Hunter loves the fact that her tabby is independent and low-maintenance.
“I just make sure the litter box is clean, she has food and water, throw a couple cat toys on the floor, and I’m out the door.”
That’s not to say that Angel doesn’t show some love.
“She does follow me throughout the apartment and enjoys sitting on my lap when I am working on the computer,” she said. “At night, she’ll come to me, look at me with these big eyes and just meow and meow and meow. That means it’s time to go to bed.”
They have the same personality, Hunter said.
“I am laid-back and easygoing, and I pretty much do my own thing also.”
Three dogs like part of the family
Pat Schroder’s three collies are full-bred, highly trained show dogs.
Schroder’s attraction to the breed stems from TV’s most famous collie.
“I grew up in the ‘Lassie’ period. There was just something about the collie and its devotion,” said Schroder, 67, publicity chair for the Forest City Dog Training Club. “For me, they are just so beautiful to look at.”
Schroder also has owned Shetland sheepdogs, a golden retriever and a mixed breed. She has been into the dog sport for more than 30 years; despite the trial entry fees and expenses for travel, food and hotel, she calls it a hobby.
Her “family members and best companions” are 7-year-old Dodger, 2-year-old Miss Moo and 5-year-old Rivah (The Di-vah).
Each dog has its own personality, such as Rivah’s “it’s-all-about-me” attitude.
“My husband would probably say I’m a bit like Rivah,” Schroder said, reflecting on what she and the dogs have in common. “But the dogs have one up on us in one very important regard. They don’t care whether we are rich, poor, what clothes we wear and such. Their love is unconditional.”
Edith C. Webster may be contacted at 815-987-1394 or email@example.com.