More Than Just a Pet

By Wellness360 Magazine

PHOTOS BY TANYA CONSAUL PHOTOGRAPHY AND ANNA MORERA PHOTOGRAPHY

In 2020, our furry and four-legged friends became more than just pets. As our world came to a screeching halt, adjustments had to be made. For many of us, these adjustments meant more time at home with our animals! They became a source of therapy and provided comfort in unusual times. They made us laugh when it was too hard to smile and they brought routine and structure during the chaos. For these Gainesville families and individuals, their furry (and not so furry) family members bring love and fun each and every day!

ASHLEY FINNEGAN
with Augie, Angel, Reba and Betsy

We had been talking about a farm for some time. The advent of COVID allowed us to slow down a little and focus on this new enterprise. It was something that all of the family could participate in and enjoy. We fenced off quite a bit of our property and decided to start the farm that we had been dreaming about. We began with one Scottish Highland bull, three Nigerian dwarf goats and two donkeys. There are now 32 animals on the farm. All of our Highlands are fairly easy going and well tempered. It’s fun to watch them interact—our baby bulls are always going head-to-head with each other (our kids say it’s like the bulls in the movie Ferdinand). The Highlands make really amazing pets, especially if you bottle-feed them starting at a few days old. Auggie and Angel are now four months old and will follow you around like puppies. It’s really sweet. They will also try to eat your boots once the bottles are empty! We have multiple Highlands that are pregnant right now and are looking forward to having our first babies born on our farm in the coming months.

DELLA AND EMMA TUTEN
with Nora

Nora, born March 15, 2020, is a Havashu which is a combination of a Havanese and a shih tzu. We did a lot of research on breeds and we chose Nora because we loved their size and the fact that she is hypoallergenic, doesn’t shed and that she is good with kids. It’s also reported that these types of dogs have less health problems than you find in other little dogs.

We had actually thought about getting a dog for a long time but during non-pandemic times we tend to travel quite a bit and had always felt that having a dog would slow us down. Once Covid happened, our travel came to a halt so we thought now is the time. We know that once we are able to travel again we will pick destinations that we are able to include her in our plans. I kind of feel like it’s how people think about having kids, you just make the adjustments and make it work.

Nora is happy, playful, loyal and loving but she has a streak of stubbornness. She doesn’t know a stranger and you can almost feel her happiness when people are around. She has been such a wonderful addition to our family. She currently weighs 12 pounds and we’ve been told that the max weight should be between 12 and 14 pounds. Nora loves to play fetch, hide and go seek and tug-of-war. She is as fast as the wind and you can see her smile when she’s running. She is snuggly and affectionate. We are so happy she is with us!

MIKE DAMIANO
with Ally Pecia

I got Ally Pecia, a Canadian Sphynx cat, three years ago from a friend who was ironically allergic to her. I was looking for a low maintenance companion and happened to see a video of her playing with Ally and I jokingly said “I want her!” And, later that day I was headed to pick her up. The rest is history!

Ally is super playful and loves ignoring all the toys I get her to play with paper balls or knocking everything off the counter. But, she can’t resist chasing a laser pointer. We will go on walks outside, and if we are feeling adventurous, she will go into her cat backpack (which got dubbed the Ally Pod by my neighbor) and I’ll take her out on a bike ride. Now, when she is ready for a ride, she will sit and wait in the backpack. She loves having visitors over, especially those who bring their dogs. She also loves stealing all the attention in the room. She is perhaps one of the most cuddliest cats I’ve ever met, and there isn’t a night when she’s not cuddled up under my arm or against me. My favorite thing about her is how she runs to the door when I get home to greet me and give some cat love.

Follow me on Instagram! @ALLYPECIA

GREG, TANYA, ALYSSA AND LIAM BANKS
with Otie and Bear

Otie and Bear were 8-week-old littermates and joined our family in July of 2020.

We already had an English mastiff before these boys. Her name was Lola and she was such an awesome dog. Mastiffs are great family dogs, they love kids and are gentle and patient. The breed is known for being loyal, happy and loving.

We enjoy snuggling on the couch and going for walks. They also like to go on adventures and walk around Tioga and Celebration Pointe. Otie and Bear enjoy stealing toys from each other which eventually turns into a friendly game of tug of war! Snuggling in their bed, running in the backyard and just being around each other constantly is what they enjoy the most! They literally love each other and play very nicely together. If one goes outside, the other has to go outside too.

They also love us just as much as we love them! When we get home from work and school they will always greet us and show their excitement by chattering their teeth, smiling or crying and howling. It’s adorable!

MALOY MEYER
with Zuko

I got Zuko, who is a German shepherd, at the beginning of 2020. I have another German shepherd, his older brother Sirius. I love German shepherds and think they are an amazing breed. They are smart, loyal and silly.

We love to go to the dog park and play with his friends. We also like to go on trail walks and get puppachinos from Starbucks.

Zuko is a very sweet, loving, giant baby bear. He loves getting belly rubs and kisses from everyone he meets.

LINDSEY AND COLBIE JOHNSON
with Kodak

Kodak, a pomsky, joined our family on January 9, 2021. I love huskies but wanted a smaller dog that would fit in well with my other dogs (Wiley – Chihuahua mix and Luke – fox terrier mix). Also, I wanted a dog that we could take everywhere with us and pomskys have a reputation of being good family dogs that are both protective as well as cuddly. They are also relatively open to strangers and other dogs.

With Kodak, we play a lot with toys and go for walks. He has made friends with all of our neighbors and their dogs! We enjoy taking him with us to restaurants, the kids’ sporting events and just about anywhere dogs are allowed.

Kodak is a very sweet dog and he loves to play with all dogs (even those that are not interested in playing with him!). He likes to play and snuggle with his humans. He’s still a young puppy so he’s very inquisitive and loves to check out everything (usually with his mouth!)

While it’s been a big adjustment to having a puppy at home (hello, toddlerhood!), he has brought a lot of liveliness, fun and love to our home.

MELISSA AND BRIAN FURLOW, CADE AND COLBY BALOGH
with Otis and Duke

When we got Otis on November 14, 2015, we had Dozer (a bullmastiff) and needed to get a breed that we thought would get along well with him. I really wanted a French bulldog but thought that breed might be too small to bring home to a bullmastiff. An English bulldog had a little more size and weight. Little did we know, Otis would totally “bully” Dozer! When Dozer passed away unexpectedly to cancer in September in 2018, we were devastated! We knew we wanted another large breed. Being one of the largest breeds, Great Danes have the reputation of being a great family dog that doesn’t require a ridiculous amount of exercise. We thought this would be a great fit for bossy Otis and our super busy lifestyle. We got Duke, our Great Dane, on November 4, 2018.

We laugh that Otis is my shadow and Duke is Brian’s. Since I’m working from home now, Otis pretty much sleeps all day in my office. Duke is happy just being in the room with anyone. He LOVES attention…even if that attention is Otis barking at him to just leave him alone and let him sleep! Duke takes daily walks around the neighborhood and loves a good tug toy. They both love to go on walks, but Otis spends the time trying to get Duke to leave him alone and JUST WALK DOWN THE ROAD! They act like typical siblings, the older sibling acts annoyed by the younger, but deep down they’d miss them terribly if they weren’t there. Otis acts thoroughly annoyed by Duke’s antics, but we know he likes having the company.

Otis is a total bully. He will absolutely run Duke out of the room if he’s over his games. He wants to be wherever I am and he loves any treats the boys might throw his way (even though they’re not supposed to feed him people food!). He sleeps and SNORES the vast majority of the day, but he comes to life every night around 8:30 pm for a good tug of war game with Duke…and he never lets go! Duke is the sweetest dog we’ve ever owned. He just wants someone to play attention to him and love on him constantly. He likes to lean on you and try to block you from going wherever you’re wanting to go. He would never grow tired of playing tug or harassing Otis to join in the game.

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