Creature Comforts

Susan Frikken and Debra Hanrahan talk about their adopted animal companions and why rescuing is important and fulfilling

What kinds of animals are part of your family? What are the breeds?

Indy, a chow-chow mix, will be 15 years old this summer. Lacey, a Catahoula Leopard Dog mix, is probably seven or eight. Sister cats, Maggie Mae and Sunshine, 10-or-so years old, will be joining our family when we return from vacation in late June.

Who are the other members of your family?

We have lived in Madison for seven years, having left Deb’s native Washington, D.C., area for a better (for us) quality of life. We were friends before dating, and agree that we’ve been “together” at least eleven years. We met at a music club, and wide and varied music is still an important element of our lives.

Susan is half Detroit and half Madison, a happy balance. She’s in practice as a massage therapist of many years, and now a physical therapist of just a few weeks. Additionally, she has a compulsion to introduce people and things to one another, usually to happy result!

Deb is a health-care IT manager, having spent nearly all of her adult life working and playing with computers in some capacity or another. Susan helps her meet people in real life too. As a news junkie (she is from D.C., remember), continuous learning is Deb’s thing. She finds friendly Midwesterners, bike paths, and other physical-world diversions helpful.

How did you come to have these animals in your family?

Indy was sought after. Susan took a trip to the D.C. shelter for a bold, confident female dog to join her other dog companion who was missing his mate terribly. She was adopted when she was about one-and-a-half years old, at which time she tried to eat the two cats that were part of the household! She also ran away as often as she could…and she was fast, that adorable little bundle of muscle! One day she realized that she was safe where she was. Today she will stand waiting for us at the open door. She is our sentinel, our lookout. She has always been efficient, moving only where she needs to, when she needs to. That used to be in bursts of speed, chasing squirrels. She is still efficient, lying where she can keep an eye on everyone and everything, catch every dropped crumb, and receive every loving pet. But there are no more bursts of speed.

Lacey was adopted from the Dane County Humane Society. We planned to find an old, quiet lap dog and came home with Lacey, who can turn on a dime going up or down the stairs, and do the whole flight in about two seconds flat. Her breed is a sight hound, originating in Louisiana. She is the most popular girl in the neighborhood, and we make sure she always has her “adopted” collar on so everyone knows what wonderful companions are out there, needing to be rescued.

How do the pets meet your needs?

They get us out every day, helping us to explore our neighborhood, meet neighbors, and keep moving; conversely, they also remind us to stay still and to rest. They keep us balanced. They are hysterical, sweet, silly, and engaging—they remind us of how simple a being’s needs are: companionship, touch, good food, exercise, stretching when you stand up, and rest.

How do you meet their needs?

Exercise, quality food, fresh water, and lots of doggie massages! It costs a lot less in the long run. Great preventive and maintenance health care (Whole Pet and Exceptional Care for Animals). When they need it, we make sure they have pain relief—even occasional craniosacral therapy for Indy—and therapeutic beds. Lacey also has a coat and lots of blankets for cool weather because she has short hair and no undercoat. When we leave town, we employ one of the wonderful network of professional pet sitters. Gretchen Block of Creature Comforts takes amazing care of ours, including a journal entry from every visit!

If dogs could talk, what would yours say?

Indy: I swear my other mom didn’t feed us yet. Lacey: I don’t know who got that thing [out of your bag/off of the table]. Both: There is no such thing as enough petting or treats.

If cats could talk, what would yours say?

Thank you for adopting us from Angel’s Wish—we look forward to joining your family and hope Lacey will curl up with us like she used to with Molly cat!