Letter From the Editor: Holier Than Thou
My first pet: a scowling blue Persian who attended church.
For our annual pet issue, we asked some of our staff to provide the names of their first pets, which you’ll find on the magazine's masthead on pages 6 and 8. A few had to stop and think for a minute. But most recalled their companions immediately. I mean, it’s kind of hard to forget a ball python or an ill-tempered Dachshund.
My first pet was a giant blue Persian named Ichabod. My father, a Southern Baptist minister, had been offered “Icky,’’ as we called him, during a revival trip in the early 1950s and brought the kitten back to our home in South Carolina. I was born about five years later. I have a photograph of Icky posing next to me in my baby stroller, and he wears that beautiful trademark Persian scowl. In another picture, taken when I was maybe 9, Icky is sitting in the yard with me, scowling again.
Understandably, around the time Icky turned 14, the old boy’s health began to fail, and he had frequent seizures. He also started wandering away from home. Neighbors would find him a mile or so away after a few days and return him, but he would soon head out again.
One Monday morning after yet another disappearance, a neighbor called us to report this bizarre tidbit: “Your cat was at the Holiness Church last night.’’ Yes, Icky apparently had felt moved to attend services at another denomination's house of worship down the street. It was a warm summer evening and the Holiness congregants had left their doors open. About halfway through the sermon, a large gray cat entered the sanctuary, strolled down the aisle to the front, jumped onto the offertory table, and sat there for a couple of minutes (scowling no doubt). Then he left the way he had come in. And that was the last anybody saw of Ichabod Glenn.
All I can say is, way to go, Icky.
And while I’m handing out kudos, way to go, Diego, for being selected as our cover pet for September. The laid-back French bulldog shares the page with Aibo, the Sony robot dog, and that’s no Photoshop job, folks. Diego showed great patience during the shoot, even when asked to sport a techie-looking costume. You’ll read about the pooch in our Pet Guide, along with some cool high-tech products for you and your pet—including Aibo, if you want a truly unique companion. We’ve also got stories about canine heroes who comfort crime victims so they can testify more easily in court, and we take a closer look at cats on hot tin roofs, ponies with horse sense and snakes in the grass. Plus, veterinarians answer health questions about your pets.
The other major splash in this issue is our annual Arts & Entertainment Season Preview. Michael McLeod’s overview is a must-read for his take on shows ranging from the Broadway Series to ballet to visual art. The Orlando Science Center’s exhibit, Pompeii: The Immortal City, is getting big buzz, and that inspired us to find an ancient Roman, in the form of actor Maiky Ayala, to guide you through the season’s various events. Elsewhere, dining critic Joseph Hayes reviews nine fast-casual standouts, offering everything from tamales to conveyor-belt hotpot. And columnist Laura Anders Lee writes that some family mementos still have value in this modern, disposable age.
Finally, we offer a congratulatory tip of the cowboy hat to songwriter Sharon Vaughn, who was profiled in our August issue. Shortly after we went to press, the Orlando native, whose songs include “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys,’’ was selected for induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.