Q&A: Teachers and their Pets

Woodbridge High staff share the highs and lows of being pet owners

Will Buckley 

Q: What kind of pet  do you have? 

A:“I have a cat. She is two and a half years old. She is a calico cat, of her litter, she was the most black and orange one. [The others] were all white and orange, so we picked her… her name is Autumn.” 

Q: What was the adoption process like?
A:“We actually were planning to adopt a cat, [my fiance and I] just weren’t ready for it. She went to [University of California, Irvine]  at the time and saw on Facebook that someone had found a litter of kittens on the side of the freeway and was trying to find them a home.”

Q: How would you describe your cat?

A: “When you get home, she will either run or she will come right up to you. She is very friendly, but she likes to sit exactly arm’s length; she is very good at spacing, so if she wants a pet she will make you get up and pet her. She is extremely shy: if you knock on the door, she’ll hide; if you stomp around, she’ll hide; if your cell phone vibrates on the table too loud, she’ll hide. She’s very timid around people, but I’d say if you’re over and you’re trying to play with her, after half an hour of her hiding she’ll come back out and say ‘Hi.’ She just needs to know that she’s not going to die, and then she’ll come out and play.” 

Q: Is there anything you wish you knew before becoming a pet owner? 

A:“I would say, your pet isn’t going to be something you want, it’s going to be something you need. For example, I wish I had a cat that would cuddle with me when I watch a movie, but Autumn’s not that person. Autumn is the kind of cat who forces me to get up, forces me to do my chores, forces me to do things and then rewards me with being adorable.”

Q: What’s your favorite activity to do with your cat?

A:“Her favorite toy is a string, which kind of makes me angry because I’ve literally bought her super expensive toys and very expensive things to play with, but boxes and string are her favorite. If your shoe is untied or you’re trying your shoe, your shoe is going to get messed up. She’ll pounce on you, she will not let you tie your shoes, so I try to tie my shoes when she’s not looking. She’s so playful sometimes, and it’s for the stupidest things.”

Alicia Foulk

Photo courtesy of Alicia Foulk

Q: What kind of pet do you have? 

A: “I have a dog, and her name is Sophie. I really don’t know what kind of dog she is because she is a rescue. I got her from the animal shelter.” 

Q: What was the adoption process like? 

A: “I’ve only ever adopted, I’ve never bought a dog from a breeder or anything. I’ve had dogs my whole life. I’ve had Sophie for a long time actually, almost 10 years now. I was looking for a pet, so I went to the local animal shelter. I was walking around looking at different dogs, but none of them really stood out to me. They had a separate area with small dogs, so I went over there, and I saw her kind of hiding in the back. I asked  the volunteers if I could see her and so they brought her out into the play area. She got super excited and was running around and jumping… I always joke that she was my discount dog because she had been there for about a month and no one had adopted her.” 

Q: How would you describe your dog? 

A: “She has lots of different nicknames and little monikers that I call her. The one that I use the most to describe her is that she is a ‘tiny tank.’ She’s little, but she is super solid. We go on really long walks on the weekend and people are always really surprised by that; she is only 15 pounds and she can walk eight miles with me easily. She doesn’t necessarily enjoy it as much as I do but she’ll walk it with me… when we walk and stuff she’s pretty calm around other dogs; she doesn’t really get excited and is pretty docile. She’ll let other dogs  sniff her or come up to her, and she’s not aggressive at other dogs.”

Q: Is there anything you wish you knew before becoming a pet owner?

A: “I would say being mindful of the responsibility. Definitely know that no matter the pet, they need the attention, whatever that attention might be. She’s not a super active dog, but I still take her on walks because I want to be mindful of her health and her weight so that she can live a long time. She eats what I feed her; she does the exercise that I make her do. Unlike a person that can manage themselves, pets can’t manage that stuff themselves. When I was growing up, part of us having a dog was the agreement that my brother and I would take responsibility for feeding the dog, making sure she had water and that sort of stuff.”

Q: Why did you choose dogs as opposed to another pet? 

A: “I grew up with dogs always being a family pet. I actually grew up on a farm in Ohio, and so we always had dogs. They were never inside dogs, but when I first bought a home in California, one of the first things I wanted to do was have a dog. We had cats on our farm, but they weren’t necessarily a pet like a dog is a pet. We’re definitely a dog family.” 

Cassandra Gaona 

Q: What kind of pet do you have? 

A: “I have a white boxer, her name is Layla. One of my first students said, ‘name her Layla’ because Muhammad Ali is a boxer and his daughter is named Layla, so that’s how her name stuck. Last year was a tough year, we found out she had cancer but she’s been doing really good. I have two sons that play with her all the time.”

Q: What was the adoption process like? 

A: “It was crazy.[My sister] at one point worked at a shelter in Orange County. I saw [Layla] and decided I wanted her, and so I got there and there was this guy that wanted to get my dog for dog fighting. He was in front of me in line, but when they processed him, he was red tagged. So this guy in front of me is yelling and screaming at me because he knew I was going to get the dog. They had to arrest him and it was very intense. This dog is so gentle, she would never even be able to fight anyways, so I don’t know why the guy wanted her. She was all skin and bones; she had been abandoned in a house for two weeks, so we did a lot to get her back on track.”

Q: How would you describe your dog?

A: “She has changed now that she is older. She’s a lot more mellow, but she is very loving and very protective. She’s not a fan of the mailman, but my boys can climb all over her and she’s totally fine. Boxers have to have agility, they have to have a physical part of their day. She’s 12 and she still does a lap everyday in our yard.” 

Q: Is there anything you wish you knew before becoming a pet owner? 

A: “I think everyone needs to have a pet in their life. If you have kids I think it’s an amazing opportunity for them to learn and love and care. It’s kind of funny, it’s never been an option to be a pet owner because of how I grew up. My life would be boring without pets; I think things are more lonely without a pet.” 

Q: What inspired you to be a pet owner? 

A: “We grew up with a lot of animals. When my sister was eight years old, in Yorba Linda there was a raffle every year for a pony. You put in a dollar and you could literally win a pony. My sister took money out of my Dad’s wallet without my Dad knowing, put five bucks in the raffle and won a pony. We walked the pony home and had that pony for 10 years. That’s been my sister’s entire life, she studied horse management, she’s going to be a horse vet; her whole life has been horses. Along my sister’s journey she worked at Disneyland as a horse trainer. She also oversaw the swans in Cinderella’s Castle; the swans had babies, so when I was in college we actually took the babies home and we raised them. When they were big enough we brought them back to Disneyland… I have a lot of animal stories.”