In Praise of Pets

Pets as ministers of good cheer.

Roberto Gonzalez

As you read through our 2015 Pet Guide, you’ll discover that all of the animals have important jobs. In some cases their contributions are easy to see. Bashi the Great Pyrenees, our cover winner, travels to various pet rescue events, serving as a representative of his breed. Tori, the St. Bernard/Golden Retriever mix profiled in our “Story of a…’’ feature, is a therapy dog who ministers to patients at Orlando Health hospitals and clinics. 

Then there are those who serve as inspirations in other ways. Cheeto the cat, a pet cover finalist, is a fixture at Freedom Ride, which offers therapeutic horseback riding for individuals with disabilities such as muscular dystrophy and brain injuries. So whom do the kids search out when they arrive for a session? You guessed it. Meanwhile, Milfred the rooster’s unintended journey outside his enclosure has provided inspiration for a children’s book about learning life lessons. And at numerous workplaces in Orlando, as writer Cheri Henderson discovers, dogs (and even a sloth) brought from home act as stress relievers and allow workers to take a break from the grind. 

What about your pet? Well, love and companionship is likely job one. Whether it’s a black lab named Huck or a rabbit called Finn (yep, they’re both in this issue).

On a side note: All of our pet cover finalists took their jobs as celebrities quite seriously, posing for their pics like champs, with the help of their owners (and an occasional treat or shot of catnip spray).

Also in our pet guide, Susan Jenks looks at cancer treatments and tells the stories of some tough four-legged survivors; we explore the concept of being foster parents to animals; local veterinarians provide answers to questions on pet health; and we offer a lineup of products for the pampered pet, including a giant cat tree house made right here in Central Florida.

Elsewhere check out the hairstylist who comes up with winning concepts for pageant contestants; a getaway to Parrot Cay in Turks and Caicos; Joseph Hayes’ overview of Plant Street Market; Greg Dawson’s take on the effusive “welcomes’’ he receives when entering a store; and the tasty deals that abound with Magical Dining Month.

Finally, Michael McLeod dives into the new arts and entertainment season and finds 14 best bets in theater, art, music and dance—many off the beaten path. And be sure to check out McLeod’s “Arts Beat,’’ a new addition to our website’s Metropoly blog, where the veteran columnist and reporter offers reviews, previews, insights and insider info on the visual and performing arts in Central Florida and beyond.

Barry Glenn

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