Pets rule! Human queers surrender.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender folk have more pets than non-GLBT people, according to one recent study. Pet ownership was 10 percent more common among respondents to the survey—released by the Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census in 2003—than the general population. One-fifth of respondents reported spending between $300 and $432 a year on pet products. In financial terms, one might say the pets own us. And that’s just fine. Here, we introduce a few local humans and the creatures that adopted them.
Cats live by their own rules. Anna Moore and I ponder that truism after she tells me that only one of her felines, Elton the black cat, would deign to appear in the photograph for the magazine. Her other two cats just couldn’t be bothered.
Moore lives in the Heights with her three cat companions: the aforementioned Elton; Lynnde, a year-old torty (referring to her tortoiseshell, or mottled, coat); and Sammy, a three-month-old tiger. Elton is the senior of the household cats, having resided with Moore for about three years.
In a tale familiar to many people with beloved pets, Sammy ingratiated herself with her human and found a home.
“She’s a rescued cat from my neighbors,” Moore says. “They had found her and took her to SNAP [Spay and Neuter Assistance Program] and got her spayed, and they wanted me to just hold her for a while. Of course, by then we had all gotten attached. Now she’s moved in.”
Moore remembers always having pets since her childhood in upstate New York. “I grew up on a farm, so I probably had everything you could imagine, but always dogs and cats.”
Moore, a registered nurse who works for the Harris County Hospital District at Thomas Street Health Center in the women’s program, does not presently have a human companion. “Put that,” she says with a quick laugh. “Single woman, loves cats.”
— Tim Brookover • Photo by Renee Rodriguez
I trust you’ve heard of Doctor Dolittle. Well, meet Doctor Jackie Doval, the neighborhood’s advance-certified human and animal chiropractor, who bids good mornings to not only her partner and son Mario, but also a roster of furry family members: Orley the Yorkie, Dove the Schnauzer, Max the Labrador, and the caterpillar that was recently discovered in a milkweed plant in the backyard. The youngest of the bunch is Look At Me, the 4-month-old miniature horse who lives outside of Montrose in a well-maintained stable.
Doval has a connection with her pets. She usually picks them based on their eyes. They have “an old soul kind of look. There’s meaning, purpose, a sense of belonging,” she says. “We look at each other and say, ‘You’re mine.’”
The family communicates well. In fact, if it wasn’t for Max’s communication skills, Orley might not have survived getting tangled up in morning glory vines. In Lassie-like fashion, Max alerted Doval with his distinct deep barking. The vines were cut, setting Orley free.
Doval’s pets have influenced her perspective on life. Doval once had a Yorkie, Lady Odette Alexandra (Odie). She taught Doval how to persevere and that life goes on. Doval had to put her to sleep, “but she went away with dignity. She was the most arched-up little old dog.”
Speaking of backs, Doval broke hers in three places. “I was cheating on my diet with a chocolate chip cookie,” she begins. While taking out the trash, she hydroplaned and landed, “not on [her] Puerto Rican butt,” but on her back. Luckily, she wasn’t paralyzed. “I looked all through the batch for the one with the most chips,” she laments.
While she won’t be competing in a bodybuilding competition in November (another facet of the good doctor), Doval will at least be indulging in the company and unconditional love of her unique family. — Joyce Gabiola • Photo by Yvonne Feece
Parker and Zoe, the Shih Tzus that live with Robert Shelton (sitting) and John Brothers, are at least partially responsible for a career choice in the family. Upon moving to Houston from Austin, Shelton started searching for mobile pet-grooming service that would come to the house to take care of Parker and Zoe, particularly Zoe. “She’s the princess and would rather spend the whole day on the sofa,” Shelton says. “And she doesn’t like other dogs.” For that reason, a regular grooming shop was out of the question.
“I couldn’t find anyone that was good or reliable,” Shelton continues. He had already decided to leave the grind of his job in the financial world but hadn’t yet decided on his next career. His search for a dog groomer convinced him. Last year, he purchased the Houston franchise for Aussie Pet Mobile, a business that started in Australia and landed on U.S. shores in 1996, since expanding across the country.
“So it’s Parker and Zoe’s fault for getting me into the business,”
The local Aussie Pet Mobile offers full-service grooming for dogs and cats and other pets. “We have three vans completely full and one on order,” Shelton says. His goal is to have 10 to 12 vans servicing the Houston area.
Shelton and Parker and the two dogs have settled into Montrose. “They’re our children, obviously. We spend all our time with them, and they do whatever we do.”
So Zoe is the sensitive one. (“She’s definitely the girl”.) What about Parker? “Parker’s very social. He’s definitely a boy, a tough guy. He thinks he is a Lab.” — Tim Brookover • Photo by Renee Rodriguez
The baby veiled chameleon inched up on its hind legs and fruitlessly pawed at the glass, still hoping to be noticed. The faux-hawked lesbian art installer/house renovator, Rebecca Kightlinger, had just returned to town from Hawaii and was traipsing around her neighborhood Petco (where the pets go!) for food for her two pit bulls. While there, the lesbian turned a corner, coming face-to-glass with the veiled chameleon. He made an impression, but she left him behind.
Time passed and the lesbian thought of the veiled chameleon, perhaps while sipping chamomile tea or perhaps while nibbling on a steamed bun from Chinatown. Regardless, she thought of him and knew that she could be a good mother, so she headed back to the store and fell victim to the chameleon’s charms all over again. She would name him Maui and they would live harmoniously ever after with her dogs.
Three years pass and Maui thinks reptilian thoughts amongst the pothos vines and ficus trees in his outdoor cage. Perhaps while staring at Kightlinger’s faux hawk and taking note of the crown on his own head, he has thought, Mommy?
— Joyce Gabiola • Photo by Yvonne Feece
Deep into the Heights, I discover a family of animals happily getting along in a quaint cottage. Past the three cats, the excited Yorkie, and the handsome living-room furniture, I spot him, dressed in brilliant green. “Hello, Chico. You’re beautiful,” I say. Alas, he is shy and remains quiet in the corner of his cage.
The Blue-fronted Amazon is one of the most common parrots kept as a pet. Although the range of the Blue-fronted Amazon is found in South America, Chico was hatched at Wabash Antiques & Feed Store on Washington. Because parrots are very social, it is important that they are able to see people and interact with them, says Daniel Impastato, Chico’s proud owner. Although the living room is the best place for Chico’s cage, it is instead placed in the adjacent room, in clear view of any magazine reporters. “I am a neat freak like most gay men,” quips Impastato, a semi-retired teacher and owner of P.S. (Pet Sitting) in the Heights.
Chico makes his way to the front corner of his cage. “He’s comfortable now because he’s eating in front of you,” Impastato explains. I’m flattered.
Chico can speak in both English and Spanish and has picked up Impastato’s habit of ending a phone call with “Okay, okay, okay, bye.” After telling this story, Chico chimes in, “Okay.” But can he dip his head into a water bowl in order to bathe himself? Well, yes, he can, and Impastato informs me that Chico does so only on Fridays. The cleaning lady can vouch for this.
I thank Impastato for the interview and, while looking back to Chico, I mouth, “See ya, bro.” I could have sworn he mouthed, “Hello, Chico. You’re beautiful.” — Joyce Gabiola • Photo by Yvonne Feece