Tigers find their spirit animals
& Sierra, Kenyan sand boa
I wanted to learn more about herpetology and purchased her as a baby from a herpetology show in Des Moines, Iowa. I like that this species doesn't get very big — 1 foot for males, 2 feet for females — so they can be kept in smaller tank. She’s a good pet to have for people who are afraid of snakes, as she spends most of her time underneath the sand with only her nose sticking out.
I have used Sierra for public outreach activities with Iowa State's vet school. We would do an event for kids in the area called "Boo with ZEW" (a club for vet students). Kids seemed to really enjoy petting all the creepy-crawly snakes on Halloween.
& Remy, rat
My landlord does not allow dogs or cats, but I knew I wanted some kind of pet, and I just fell in love with Remy — and rats in general — when I saw him. Rats are incredible pets! They are very much like a small dog, in that they love to play, be pet, cuddle. And they'll eat anything.
Remy has changed my life because he taught me the value of taking care of another being. He always knew when I needed to cuddle after a bad day, and he all-around made everyone happy when they met him.
Remy loved running around my bedroom and climbing on literally anything he could. One time he made it onto my bedside table, knocked over a glass of orange juice and then started licking it up from everything, including himself. He was always the greediest eater, and I always thought it was hilarious to watch him store his food for later. He also refused to eat from a food dish, flipping it over any time it had food in it.
Sadly, Remy died at the end of the semester. He had a massive tumor on his liver that pressed into his lungs, and he had trouble breathing. Rats are extremely susceptible to cancer and tumors, which is why they are so often researched on, and there was nothing I could do. Remy was the best first rat I could have imagined, and his death just made me want more. So I got two more rats: girls, Lucy and Clara. They're lovely but not as cuddly as Remy just yet. I miss him a lot, but it's OK. He is in a better place with all the fabrics and phone chargers to chew on.
Adam Trey Henze
& ghost shrimp
Ghost shrimp is the common name. There are too many of them to name individually, but the species is Palaemonetes. I found these little guys when I began keeping fish when I was about 10 or so. They keep them in almost every pet store as feeder animals for larger fish, but I just loved them. They are endlessly fascinating to me and constantly surprise me with how curious and intuitive such a small being can be.
I can’t exactly play with them or spend time with them. But they are fun to watch, and sometimes I'll waste hours just looking into my tanks. The shrimp are very interesting in that you keep them, feed them, care for them and love them, but they have no idea who or what you are. No matter how hard a shrimp thinks, it will never be able to understand the world outside of its tank.
They are pretty tame pets, and they don't get into too much trouble or anything. Occasionally, if they get lazy, they will ride on a snail’s shell around the tank! But other than that, they don't do much outside of swimming and eating.
& Wilbur, guinea pig
My daughters wanted a “pocket pet.” Guinea pigs are among the most gentle ones and are fun for children to interact with. We had a dog and a cat, so this guy was the logical next step. My daughters named him after the pig in Charlotte’s Web. It’s great for my kids to learn daily care. Growing up I had dogs, cats, hamsters and gerbils. The hamsters and gerbils were pretty bitey, so we were happy to find that guinea pigs don’t nibble on little fingers.
My oldest daughter, Macey, 8, loves to lie down and hold him on her chest while she’s reading at night. He falls asleep when she does this, which is really sweet! My youngest, Charlotte, 4, also loves to feed him carrots, celery, cilantro and fruits. They take him in the yard to let him eat grass and weeds as well. Macey calls him “our compost bin and a really, really slow lawnmower.”
Interestingly enough, our cat and our dog, when she was alive, like to groom the guinea pig. Due to their startle/freeze reflex, the guinea pig will just stand like a statue throughout this. My daughters also discovered (by placing him in a filled bathtub) that guinea pigs are really good swimmers and seem to enjoy running water.
& Nick’s Fury, thoroughbred horse
Nick's Fury, or Nick for short, is named after the Marvel comic book character. Nick came to me in April of 2013. I decided to get my first horse after deciding that I wanted to take my horseback riding to the next level, as well as to have a partner to compete with in shows. I had only been casually looking around at horses to buy when an opportunity arose and Nick sort of fell into my lap by chance. He was given to me by a friend I had met through an early class at MU. He ended up being the perfect first horse, as he's seen and done so much over the course of his life. This makes him very patient with me when I make mistakes yet is challenging enough to allow me to improve.
Nick has not only helped me drastically improve my riding in the one year I've had him, but he's also a wonderful companion to simply spend time with out in the pasture or woods when I need to unwind. Owning a horse is a huge responsibility that requires a lot of dedication and knowledge. I'm lucky enough to board Nick with my trainer, Colby Tinsley, who is an accomplished horsewoman and is always teaching me something new when I go out to her farm.
The first time I got on Nick to try him out, I could barely follow his movement because his trot was just so huge. I was bouncing around up on his back, probably looking like I didn't know to ride at all, when I really just wasn't used to that much suspension in a trot! Prior to Nick, I rode more average-size horses, and Nick's movement was unlike anything else I'd experienced. But he was so happy to be working again that he just trotted around like a gentleman. His cute little ears perked up as I flailed around on his back like a novice.
& Gandalf, ferret
I got Gandalf my freshman year of college at Mizzou. I always wanted a pet, but my dad never let me have one. The first time I ever saw a ferret, I was 12, at a summer-school class about different "critters." Everyone else was excited about the rabbits or the fast hamsters, but I was fascinated by this slinky and sleepy animal in the cage that I later learned was a ferret. Ferrets are just so curious (which I love because I love detectives) and playful, too. They are kind of an unusual pet, but I am kind of an unusual person at times, too.
Gandalf was the first pet I ever had. Having him in my life has definitely changed it for the better. Whenever I am lonely or sad I have this warm "living teddy bear" to snuggle with. He makes my life a little more quirky too. It's weird at first when every morning you have to check under the couch to see if your pet had "hidden" your shoes there for you. Having ferrets has also sort of made me into the "ferret girl" amongst my friends. My pets are part of who I am now and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Once, during a flood in my house, he escaped to the backyard but came running back when his name was called. I was so happy to see my little buddy again.
Gandalf's favorite activities are stealing shoes and sleeping. He is also very smart and does tricks. Gandalf and his fuzzy friend, Veronica (after Veronica Mars), love leather. Once I had a leather wallet in my purse, which was on the floor. They "hid" it under the couch and I had to go back and find it. Now I zip up my purse, and I have a much less leathery wallet, too.
& Sookah and Missy, cats
Sookah and Missy are medium-hair shelter cats. I just had Sookah at first, but after two weeks she seemed very lonely and would get anxious when I left, so I went out and bought Missy, who was named Jam. Someone at the Humane Society told me she was he, which is why I bought her — because a male and a female cat get along better than two females. But Jam was a girl, so I changed her name to Missy. They took a lot longer to tolerate each other than if it was a boy and girl, but I love them the same.
I live alone, so I love coming home to animals that are always excited to see me. Also, because they are cats, they are very easy to manage with a crazy college schedule, unlike dogs (no walking/feeding schedule).
My cats are inside/outside cats with all their claws. I noticed Missy is a bit of a weirdo in that she only plays with the dirty laundry, not the clean (which is nice) and drinks from the toilet bowl only. She also surprised me during the spring when she started to hunt; she would roll in the mud to eliminate her scent to hunt better. So I pretty much just ended up with a small dog and a normal cat rather than two cats.
& Gonzo, sun conure
Gonzo was named after Gonzo the Great from the Muppets, because he gets into just as much trouble. I've always had a fascination for parrots and even chose to earn a bachelor’s degree in avian biology. During my undergrad, I became fond of the conure species as they are exceptionally friendly, curious and loyal. I chose to get a sun conure due to their personalities and their beautiful colors.
There is a lot more laughter in my household with Gonzo. He entertains us through his hilarious antics, including rolling over on his back for a "belly rub," stalking bananas and hanging upside down in the guinea pig cage, trying to reach the piggies.
Gonzo is fearless and often times believes he is one of the dogs. He will run around on the floor with my Weimaraner, Olive, and will try to chew on the Nylabones with her. Often times I also take him bike riding on the Katy Trail with me, and we entertain the other bikers and runners by causing them to do double takes, as most people can't believe there is a bird riding on my handlebars. Often times kids will first notice him and point him out to their parents. Sometimes this can be quite funny, as the parents dismiss their kids' "preposterous" observations and then seem amazed that their kids are telling the truth.
& Mars, green iguana
He was adopted in April 2011 after being abandoned at a pet store in a Tupperware container. I have always been intrigued by reptiles, which have such unique personalities that most people overlook. Upon meeting this lizard, who was neglected by his past owners, I knew it was my job to care for him and provide him with the home he deserved.
Mars had developed metabolic bone disease, a disease that is common amongst pet reptiles due to owners not providing them with adequate ultraviolet lighting. This disease caused Mars to develop weak bones that fractured in many places, resulting in a crooked tail and spine and the inability to fully use his hind legs.
I believe most people love their pets because they are always there no matter what. They do not judge. They do not abandon you. They become something in your life that is static and that can be relied on. Even as a lizard, Mars is without a doubt my best companion. He has taught me to not give up hope even when the odds are not in your favor. He has provoked me to work exclusively with exotic animals as a future veterinarian, in hopes to educate others about the special needs of animals such as himself.
As much as I like to believe Mars is intelligent for a reptile (I have him potty-trained, and he knows where to find food in the kitchen), there are times when he confuses "green" objects for other iguanas. I bought an ornamental goldfish sculpture that is green and, from far away, resembles a male iguana. Every time Mars sees it, he has to show how big and tough he is. "There is only one dominant male in this house!" he says.
& Winston, chinchilla
My friend Kyle and I bought our chinchillas at the same time. They are brothers named Russell and Winston, and they are frequent playmates. I got a chinchilla because I knew it was an exotic and smart animal that would be pretty easy to take care of. I've always had good experience with rodents, but I didn't want to get something with a short lifespan. Chinchillas can live up to 20 years!
Winston has taught me a lot about basic responsibility, because it's a very new experience when you have to care for something whose very survival depends on you doing your job. I have loved being able to watch him change as he's gotten older, and also I love that, now that he knows me, he's very affectionate. It's encouraging to see the attachment process happen between the human soul and an animal.
Winston has escaped from his cage many, many times. Chinchillas are very smart! Once he got out of his cage and ran around my room for the entire day until I got home from class. I walked in, and he was sitting on top of my bookshelf.
& Pierre (Le Monsieur Pierre Tortu), tortoise
I lived in a non-pet friendly apartment and was lonely after a bad breakup. A sergeant I had back when I was a lowly private first class recommended getting a pet.
Before [the sergeant] left for Guatemala, he called me from the airport, and I told him about Pierre and how cool he would look in a top hat. He said, "You know what? Top hat or not, Pierre is an excellent name for a tortoise." About a week or two later, I got a call from my unit saying my sergeant was killed in Guatemala. Now my unit has kind of adopted his young son. So another soldier and I invite him to Columbia a lot for little weekend adventures, and he absolutely loves getting to play with Pierre.
Pierre is kind of a good conversation starter. He's also gotten me to try all kinds of weird vegetables. I buy and grow a wider variety of veggies for his nutritional needs, and since he can only eat so many, I eat some too. He once ate an entire lettuce plant while I was gone. He likes to push my foam roller around the room. He cuddles with me or my laptop when it's cold, and he seems to think he can type really well.
MaggIe Armstrong and Andrea SchmIdt
& Umi and Dobby, Syrian hamsters
I got her because I'm not allowed to have large pets like cats and dogs where I live, but I really wanted a pet, and she was super cute.
I get way less sleep since I have gotten her because she is nocturnal and likes to climb and run on her wheel at night.
She escapes from her cage all the time when it is completely closed, and then I have to search all over the house to find her. One time I found her sitting outside my door, and the other time I found her inside my drawer.
I got a hamster because my friend has one and she convinced me to get one also.
My life has changed because I now have the responsibility to take care of something other than myself.
Dobby escaped from her cage one day and was missing in my apartment for three days. She somehow managed to climb up my staircase and was hiding in the upstairs bathroom for days.
& Piper, bearded dragon
When Piper found me, it was after a long recovery following the loss of my parakeet, Misty. Her death had hit me hard and had lingered in my heart for a few years before I began to feel that longing for animal companionship again. At the same time, the technician who had initially adopted Piper began experiencing some severe health problems and could no longer care for her reptiles. Piper was left looking for a home — and I, a friend.
When she was a baby at the pet store, adult bearded dragons attacked Piper and her sibling, viewing them as food. Piper lost part of her arm and tail. The store found Piper and brought her to the exotics clinic where I worked. She would require surgery to close the wounds. The store did not desire to pay for treatment and instead elected for euthanasia. But the staff of our clinic had fallen in love with the little survivor and instead asked that she be signed over to the clinic. Piper fully recovered, still missing part of her arm and tail, and has been a happy, healthy dragon ever since.
As cliché as it sounds, her presence has added value to every day of my life. She has seen me at my best and at my worst. She has been my shoulder to cry on when I am upset and tolerated my incessant hugs when I am happy. She is my constant companion and my home away from home.
Shortly after I got her, I discovered she loved cartoons. When I watch them on my computer she'll curl up in my lap with her head resting on my laptop and won't move a muscle until the show is over. She also has an interesting way of getting my attention. If she wants me to pet her or play with her, she will crawl on top of my hands and lie on them until I stop what I am doing and snuggle with her.
& Divisi, degu
A friend of mine rescued her from a bad situation. As I've heard it, the original owner did not want her anymore and tried to release her into the wild. My friend heard about this, went and found her and got all the necessary supplies to support her for a short period of time. I was asked if I knew of anybody who wanted a pet rodent. I debated it, met Divisi and determined that she was going to be my pet rodent.
Divisi has added a bit of order to my life. I found that I would spend large amounts of time by myself in my room. However, I started regulating daylight in my room. She sleeps during the day, so I implemented a "bedtime" for her, which caused times for me to either work in the dark or leave my room. It actually helped me to be more social. At the same time, the little obligations (feeding her, bedtime, giving her dust baths, etc.), have forced me to come back to my room at points throughout the day, thus helping me balance working and relaxing.
Divisi is also very intelligent for a rodent. She is very aware of things. She knows my parents. More specifically, she knows my parents will give her treats. Therefore, when one of them walks into the room, she gets excited and starts squeaking loudly and running to the front of the cage to receive a treat more easily. She also recognizes her dust and treat containers when I pull them out and gets excited for those as well.
& King Louie, great Dane
When I first met Louie, he was a rack of skin and bones, but regardless it was love at first lick.
When Louie was one year old he developed bone deposits in his jaw, causing it to fuse shut and making it very difficult for him to eat. Called craniomandibular osteopathy, this rare, noncancerous excess bone growth was a serious problem and enough for his owners to elect euthanasia. My friend and fellow classmate Nicole Berlin heard about Louie, and we decided to see if we could save him.
We contacted Dr. Derek Fox and Dr. Mirae Wood, who found a way to widen the opening of the front of his mouth by taking out a part of the jaw. The surgery saved Louie’s life and made him a functional, normal dog.
Louie’s care was paid for by the Silent Partners Fund. The fund was established to assist pets that have a good chance of recovery but whose owners lack the financial resources to pay for the care needed to save their animals’ lives.
As a veterinary student, I was invited to watch the surgery as an invaluable educational experience. During the surgery I felt completely at ease because I knew he was in great hands. From this experience I learned how truly blessed I am to be a part of such an extraordinary institution. The people at the University of Missouri set it apart from other schools. They care immensely for the animals that they treat.
Louie has changed my life in a million wonderful ways. Sometimes I just look at him and have to laugh because he’s such a goofy dog with the sweetest personality. He goes everywhere with me, including coffee shops to study and patios to hang out with friends over a drink. He goes running with me and loves to ride with the top down in my convertible. He helps motivate me to study, and he is always there to lend a paw with anything veterinary-related.
I learned that as veterinarians we cannot change every animal in the world, but we can change the world for an animal. I’m forever grateful to everyone who gave Louie a second chance at life.
More than meats the eye
A small team of Mizzou students runs an on-campus butcher shop. Together, they handle all aspects of the business — from cutlets to customer relations — and they’re ready to supply your socially distanced holiday meal.
Mizzou Alumni Association names Faculty-Alumni Award winners
Former UM System president gives $2 million to NextGen Data Science and Analytics Innovation Center at UMKC
Gift supports a collaborative effort between UMKC and MU housed in Kansas City.
Little dog, big heart
Veterinary Health Center cardiologists treat puppy for rare heart defect.
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