Tuesday Animal Owner Spotlight – Katie Schirmer

*Your Name?

Katie Schirmer

*Where are you from?
Belleville, IL, USA

*Animals(s) (Age, Breed & Name)?

Duke, Beagle, about 6
Tori, Beagle, about 7
Cindy, Beagle, about 7
Kiki, Miniature Pinscher/Chihuahua, about 6
Rosie, unsure – she looks like a small Rottweiler, about 10
Kahlua, Calico, about 15
Cassie, DSH Tabby, about 5
Bella, DSH Tabby, almost 4
Gia, DSH White w/tabby, almost 4
Sasha, Maine Coon mix, about 3
Georgia, DSH Tuxedo, 16 months
Leonard , DSH Tabby, 11 months
Cindy Lou, Shetland Pony, about 14
Little Robert, Red-eared slider, 11
Leonard 2

*Interesting Facts About Your Animal(s)?
As their mama, I think everything my babies do is adorable and interesting, but I’m a bit biased. So I’ll share their background stories instead.

I’ll start with the first – Cindy Lou. Cindy Lou was adopted in 2004. The other horses at her stable were constantly being mean to her and biting her. She was given to me as sort of Christmas present. My dad’s childhood pony had passed away a few years before, so we already had the perfect setup.

Little Robert – My aunt found Little Robert in 2002 when he was just a baby – only about the size of a half-dollar. He was outside her work, flipped over on his back.

Kahlua – My mom is in the Air Force, and when she was stationed in Texas she cat-sat for her brother and sister-in-law. Well, she fell in love and brought Kahlua back to Illinois. She and my dog at the time became best friends, so I insisted she stay with me when my parents divorced.

Bella – Bella was one of those “free kittens to a good home” deals. Her ‘owners’ at the time (we found out later) never bothered to get their kitty fixed, so they always had kittens. My parents were out doing Christmas shopping and decided to stop and “look”. They came home with 5 week old kitten. She was a snuggly little baby who turned into a very sassy adult. J

Gia – Gia’s story is one of my favorites. She was a little fighter. We live on about 7 acres, and we have a lot of coyotes and chicken hawks around. We don’t get a lot of stray cats around our house. I was outside with our dog at the time, when I heard meowing and saw the dog take off towards the house after a cat. Well, the cat ran under our shed (this was in February, so it was pretty cold out). My dad and I put some food and water out for her and he stayed out to see if she came out. It didn’t take too long before she came out, and went right up to my dad and started crawling all over him purring. That was it. She was home. We took her to the vet first thing in the morning. She was absolutely skin and bones. She had a swollen little kink in her tail, flea dirt all over her, ear mites and tape worms. The vet examined her and suspected she had very recently had a little of kittens – either miscarried or stillborn. When she got spayed, the vet discovered she also had a uterine infection likely caused by her uterus failing to shrink back down after she delivered. When she finally got to a good weight a little bit after her spay, she developed what we expect was a false pregnancy caused by her inability to nurse the kittens she lost. Her mammary glands were swollen to the size of quarters, at least. I’m happy to say everything has since resolved, even the kink in her tail can’t be seen anymore. It just feels like a healed break where the vertebrae fused.

Tori & Cindy – these two girls both came from a puppy mill situation. I’m not certain on the the details, but the person was done breeding them, and had about 20 left over after an auction and planned to shoot them. After some negotiating, a rescue worker managed to save them all. Hope Rescues in Alton, IL took Tori and Cindy and two other Beagles. They were fostered separately, but somehow the two became really attached and were always looking out for each other, so they became a “two-for-one” situation and had to go home together. I was hooked. I adopted them in September 2011, and I’ve been a sucker for Beagles ever since.

Duke – Duke was also adopted from Hope Rescues. In April 2012, I made the mistake of “just looking” at the adoptable dogs on their website. I fell for this boy hook, line and sinker. I couldn’t stop thinking about him. So I took Tori and Cindy out to meet him, and they got along like they’d been together forever. He was home.

Sasha – Sasha is another good story. My dad works about 2.5 hours north at a school near Springfield, IL. In September of 2012, he noticed a little cat who would sit outside the doors to school, but never went in. She belonged to the house next door. She was left outside all the time, and the kids at the house were really rough with her. The janitor at the school cut wire off her on one occasion. The family left her behind when they moved, so after it was clear they weren’t coming back for her, my dad brought her home to live with us. She very rarely meows – instead she peeps.

Cassie – Cassie is the only one of the cats officially adopted from a shelter. My mom adopted her after she and my dad divorced. The family who had her before left her in a carrier outside the Humane Society in the middle of winter. My mom is in the Air Force and was transferred overseas for a couple years, so I insisted that I keep Cassie (I didn’t trust anyone else with my cat sister) temporarily until she returned. Well, once again I failed at fostering. It’s only been one year of the estimated three she’ll be here and she’s already a permanent member of the family.

Georgia – Georgia is another special case. I came across a post in the ‘Free and For Sale’ group for my university on Facebook. Someone posted about a 3-week old kitten needing a home. Intrigued, and a bit disgusted (at first) that someone would be rehoming a kitten so young, I asked how he came to have the kitten. Turns out, he found her wandering the streets alone in Atlanta, GA and he and his brother drove her all the way to St. Louis, MO to try to find her a home. Since I didn’t want another college student who would likely find it too much work to care for a kitten that young, I offered to take her until I could find her a home. Well, a friend at the time agreed to take her, so I offered to foster her until she was eating solid food. But….I kind of failed as a foster. Said “friend” turned out to be a pretty lame pet parent and my dad was head over heels for this little girl, so we kept her. I’m very glad we did too – I haven’t spoken to said friend in almost a year.

Kiki & Rosie – if you hadn’t noticed, I’m a sucker for bonded pairs. Our oldest dog at the time had two different types of cancer, so we knew she didn’t have much time left. I knew once she passed and we’d given her the proper time, I wanted to adopt again. I am Facebook friends with the rescue, so I see new dogs coming in. I saw these two and knew I wanted to adopt them if they were still available when I was ready to adopt again. Their owner passed away and her family was unable to care for them, so they were signed over to the rescue. They had all strikes against them – two dogs, black dogs, senior and older adult, and Rosie was heartworm positive, mostly deaf, and had limited vision. Somehow that seemed perfect to me. Kiki is a little lap dog, and Rosie is the most carefree, easygoing girl I’ve ever met.

Leonard – Another kitty my dad found. This rotten little boy was sitting outside my dad’s school screaming at the door wanting in. My dad shared some mini-corndogs with him at lunch, and brought him home. Leonard rode on the seat beside him all the way home. He looked for owners, but found none. So Leonard became the final member of the family. He’s the typical little brother – always tormenting his kitty siblings.

*Animal(s) Favorite Treat?
Duke – anything edible
Tori – anything edible
Cindy – anything edible
Kiki – meaty treats
Rosie – Cheese-Its
Kahlua – Fancy Feast Ocean Whitefish & Tuna ORIGINAL, not grilled, and not flaked (we’ve made that mistake before)
Cassie – cheese
Bella – freeze-dried chicken, meat baby food
Gia – Friskies Crispies Cheese
Sasha – plain Pringles (only little bites)
Georgia – Temptations Mix-ups Surfers Delight
Leonard – anything you’ll give him
Cindy Lou – apples or grass

*Animal(s) Favorite Trick?
Duke – Duke, Tori and Cindy are baby-gated in the front room during the day to keep them out of the cats’ food and litter boxes. The gate has a lever on top that moves the “block” in front the other part of the gate. If you don’t latch the gate all, Duke can jump up and lift the lever with his nose. Then he busts the gate open and goes and grabs a mouthful of cat food.

Tori – Tori likes to dance. She stands up and walks/spins around for a few steps.

Cindy – Cindy likes to wave (more like swat at you), but only when you’re sitting by her and not completely focused on her.

Kiki – Kiki doesn’t really do any ‘tricks’, but she likes when we make her dance. She especially likes the riff-off in Pitch Perfect. She really gets into it and starts bobbing her head.

Rosie – Rosie is a gate-buster (who is also hard of hearing with limited vision). Her favorite way of getting out of the front room is scratching at the pressure mounted gate until the bottom mounts come off the walls and she can wiggle under. She’s also fond of climbing up onto my nightstand at 3am and knocking my glasses under my bed.

Cindy Lou – Cindy Lou is mostly blind in at least one eye, if not both. But somehow she manages to let herself out of her pasture on occasion. She backs up and leans all her weight on a corner post (it’s the split rail fence) until the top rail is loose enough to lift up with her nose and move out of the way so she can step over the bottom rail and go graze in the neighbor’s yard.

Little Robert – Little Robert likes to swim sideways along the front of his tank like a belly-dancer.

Kahlua – Kahlua’s favorite pastime is hissing at the dogs or other cats when they invade “her” basement.

Cassie – Cassie likes to groom her people. She is quite fond of chewing on your hair while she lays on you.

Bella – Bella likes to “spider cat”. You hold her on her side and let her ‘walk’ along the wall J She’s also very good with her hands. She steals pins while I’m sewing and tries to swat your plate on the floor.

Gia – Gia is our bug hunter. She catches any flies, mosquitoes or moths that get in. She is an excellent climber, and we’ve had to tell her more than once to not rewire the television while she’s crawling around behind it.

Sasha – Sasha’s favorite trick is giving bear hugs. She’ll peep at you to be picked up then wrap her arms around your neck and give you a great big hug.

Georgia & Leonard – Georgia and Leonard are our soccer players in the house. Give them a ball and they’re entertained for a long while. They both like to pick the ball up in their mouth and carry it around.

*Where is your pet(s) favorite place to go?
Tori, Cindy, Kiki & Duke love to go to Petsmart or Petco or anywhere they can tag along. They especially love it if they get treats!

Rosie’s favorite place is the front yard where she can run and play for about 5 minutes then she’s ready to come back inside.

*Perspective on Adopting a Rescue?
I’d never have it any other way. They have so much love to give, despite everything they’ve been through. Any breed, any age, any mix you could possibly want can be found at a rescue if you’re willing to travel or wait so you can save a life. With the rescue I adopted my dogs from,
Cassie 3_2

*What’s your favorite thing to do with your animal (walks, going to a park, playing games etc.)?
Tori, Cindy, Kiki and Duke love to get dressed up. I’m pretty sure their wardrobes are bigger than mine at this point. Kiki is a little too sassy to go to big events, but Tori, Cindy & Duke go to costume contests at local pet expos and rescue events. Who can resist Beagles in costume?

*Favorite Quote?
“Saving one dog won’t change the world, but surely, for that one dog the world will change forever.”

*Favorite website to get pet information?
dogfoodadvisor.com is my go-to for anything nutrition-related.

*Do your animal(s) love to go for car rides?
Tori, Cindy, Duke & Kiki love to ride in the car. Rosie just tolerates it – she’s more of a homebody.

*What’s your favorite animal product?
 So many to choose from… Kongs are a favorite at my house among the dogs, and the cats love their catnip toys. Tori’s favorite thing to do is gut stuffed toys – Cindy likes to help. Kyjen Invincibles toys are great, because even if the squeaker is popped, it still squeaks.

*Why do you think volunteering at an animal rescue/shelter is important?
Without volunteers, shelters wouldn’t be able to operate and do the wonderful things they do. Volunteers help mold the dogs into the wonderful pets you see at adoption events.

*Anything extra you would like to add?
Kiss your pets every chance you get, make time to snuggle with them – even if you’re in the middle of something. Their time with us is short, make the best of it.

Also – check your girls for breast lumps like you do yourself. Any lump along the mammary chain should be checked by a vet ASAP, as it has up to a 50% chance of being cancerous. I was lucky, I found Kiki’s breast lump very early, and it was able to be removed before it spread (which it was very likely to do).

*Do I have permission to copy this to my blog?: Of course
*Do I have permission to use the photos you provided me with?: Always

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