Welcome to Meet the Paupers: The Pet Edition. People have great relationships with their pets and PPP staffers are no exception. Some of our pets have been our companions for years, some are new family members, some are rescue pets, and some have recently passed away. I hope you enjoy their pictures as much as I enjoyed compiling them for this post.

Meet LaRue, who was found 1-1/2 years ago in "the street" in front of our office building. She was adopted by one of our editors, and has been living the life ever since. She shares her space with two dogs, and often seems to think they are her prey. Here she looks like she could star in a Halloween movie.







Meet Runa, daughter of one of our designers, Margaret. Runa does not look happy here, but after enduring her bath, she becomes the cute dog you see in the next picture!


Runa (old High German for "mystery") cleans up well, huh? Our designer altered the photo with Instagram to make it look old-fashioned. Cool. Runa is a Brussels Griffon.





Here is Rocky, beloved Welsh Springer Spaniel. Production assistant Jen had the pleasure of having Rocky for 12 wonderful years! Sadly, Rocky was recently laid to rest, but Jen and family have great memories to hold onto forever.







PPP designer Eleanor is owned by Paulie and Coco. Paulie is the suave gray tuxedo; he hails originally from California as is evidenced by his laid-back attitude. Coco (Puff) is the plump white and gray kitty. She is a Jersey girl (and might put one in mind of a female version of Chris Christie). Paulie and Coco were brought together at a young age by a former owner who had to give them up because of her allergic boyfriend.  Eleanor arranged to meet to find out about  possible adoption. When she arrived, Paulie jumped on her lap and looked straight at her. That was it. Now she has two of the most loving and funny critters ever!  


This is our Editorial Director Barbara's sweet dog Sophie as a pup. She was a rescue dog from a NYC kill shelter. Barbara located Sophie through and got her from Closter Animal Welfare Society Inc. (CLAWS) in New Jersey. Photo submitted by Barbara as a warm tribute to Sophie, who passed away last week after almost 13 years as chief morale officer of her family. Duties included herding cats (literally), wrestling children, cleaning plates, greeting arrivals, cheering the despondent, empathetic listening, and providing squeaky toy accompaniment to phone calls. 

Barbara's family also includes two tuxedo cats, Ruffio and Henry. They are shown sharing a cat carrier for a trip to the vet for check-ups and shots. Both were adopted from the Stamford Animal Shelter in January. Ruffio is 1-1/2 years old and Henry is 9 or so.






How could you not love these little faces? Andi in Accounting is the proud parent of Coco and Monty. Coco (on the left) is around 4 or 5 years old. She was rescued from a puppy mill in January. She loves to chew on things and follow her "brother" everywhere. Monty (right) is 14 years old and still kicking. Andi adopted Monty when he was 2 months old! Both pups are purebred Cocker Spaniels. Andi reports that they get along great. After Monty's brother Cody passed away a while back, Monty was lonely and Andi and family decided to see about another dog. When Monty spotted Coco, it was love at first sight. He actually grabbed Coco's leash and walked her to the door! Awww!

The Story of Django, aka Sugar Cat (shown above) — Django, owned by Production Director Ginny, is a six-year-old kitty who developed diabetes a year and a half ago. After the heroic efforts of the Katonah Animal Hospital, he was brought back from the brink of death and he is now a happy, almost-healthy house cat. Never far from the food trough, Django must undergo twice-daily injections of insulin, like a human, only in much smaller doses, of course. This ritual involves a body-slam by his owner and a quick fake-out with a treat as the needle goes in. Django still manages to make time for the occasional hunting expedition, and enjoys Internet cat videos, especially the Russian “No-No Cat.” Sorry, ladies, he is a confirmed bachelor, and outside interests keep him very busy. Watch for him practicing his Gangnam Style or break dancing at local charity events.

The Tail of Gus and Xena, Warrior Princess (pictured above). Xena is Django’s litter-mate, but the two could not be less alike. She is petite and ladylike. Older man Gus fell hard for her when she joined the family in 2006. Like her warrior namesake, Xena is not the retiring type and has been known to bring down prey at least as large as she is. Her goal is to bag an elk. Her doting husband's hunting days are behind him, however, and Gus is just as happy to keep the kitty bed warm while his lady brings home the . . . bacon.


The story of Kodi, the Brown Squeezle Dog. Baby Kodi was found wandering the banks of the Ohio River as a pup. A natural charmer, he won Dad’s (Ginny's hubby Jim's) good graces by licking his ear at the rescue center, and was promptly adopted. Always the fastest pooch at the dog park, he corners like a Lamborghini, and can go from zero to 60 in record time. After all that energy’s burned off, Kodi kicks back at home with a tennis ball and begs for belly rubs while catching up with Dad and NASCAR. It may surprise you (it sure surprised us) to learn that after having his DNA tested, he is one quarter dachshund. The rest is anyone’s guess, but all agree he’s a handsome fellow, always ready with a welcoming wag and wet nose.




These two playful pups are owned by our IT guy here at PPP. Maggie and Millie are sisters and were rescued and adopted together from a shelter in Tennessee when they were only eight weeks old. They are now one year, eight months. Who do you think ended up winning the toy battle?



Last but not least is our Production Assistant Carol's cute-as-a-button cat Dusty, soon to be 11 years old. His birthday is on the most romantic day of the year, Valentine's Day. I guess that is why he is so lovable.

There you have it. I really enjoyed doing this post. I got to bond with my co-workers while simply learning the stories of how their pets came into their lives. And if you are considering a pet, please think about all the rescue animals awaiting homes. You won't regret it. We didn't. I think this quote perhaps sums it all up: "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." –Anatole France



Travel Tuesdays and the Prance of the Behemoths

I can’t think of a comment that wouldn’t simply be gilding the unicorn cow, so I’ll let this speak for itself:

See the Unicorn Cow!

If you live in New England and have at least a passing interest in unicorn cows, adventurous deep-frying, squid-shaped hats, apples, and/or llamas, I recommend The Big E highly. It takes place in West Springfield, MA, and is the Northeast’s biggest multi-state fair, pulling crowds of over 150,000 on peak days. It does feel a little more commercialized than smaller fairs–one building is seemingly dedicated to as-seen-on-TV gadgets–but its size also lends it an ebullience that’s worth experiencing at least once. You’ll come away a little dazed, but happy and possibly brimming with llama-enthusiasm.

It encompasses a gallimaufry (sorry, I love that word and I never get to use it) of competitions, displays, acrobatic performances, old-style sideshows, maple cotton candy stands, crafts, circus ephemera, and the like. In short it is by turns weird, impressive, delicious, and adorable. My alma mater lies not half an hour away, but somehow I never attended in my time there or the years since. A local friend graciously offered to help remedy this.

We arrived via a flood of people that deposited us in the Labyrinth of Fried Food Adventure. (If the area had a name, that wasn’t it. But it ought to have been.) The creative souls vending there had fried everything it is possible to fry, and some things I would have thought impossible. How does one fry butter without creating a melted mess? I’m a vegetarian and a little leery of oil possibly also used to fry meat, so I didn’t try anything, but I’d love to hear a thoughtful evaluation of the fried Oreo’s merits.


We then spent a pleasant hour or so watching the Prance of the Behemoths. By which I mean the draft-horse-driving competition. Dear readers, draft horses are amazing. They are glossy, high-stepping leviathans that move with impossible grace. We watched them pull prettily-decorated buggies, lumbering in lovely synchrony around the show ring.

After a foray into the pavilions comprising the Avenue of the States (in which vendors from all six New England states sell thematically appropriate crafts and foodstuffs; interestingly, the inside of each state pavilion is considered part of that state, and sales tax adjusted accordingly), we headed to one of the petting zoos. Petting zoo verdict: sheep are jerks, alpacas are divas, goats are very cool people once you get past the whole horizontal pupil thing. They leaned against us happily when we scratched their ears.

Following an important pierogi stop, we continued to the best place on the fairground, if not in the whole of New England: The Land of the Llamas. Llamas everywhere, tufted ears flicking and shaggy fluff-pantaloons shaking gently as they walked. We made the llama rounds, then proceeded to the llama show ring, in which a novice-class llama obstacle course competition was underway. (We were unsure at first whether “novice” referred to the llamas or their handlers. After some discussion, we concluded that the llamas were probably the novices in question.) The llamas made by and large a pretty impressive showing. Even if they hadn’t, it’s tough to watch llamas and remain un-charmed.

(Okay, you caught me: I was trying to sneak the word ‘llama’ in as many times as possible. Wouldn’t you, given the chance?)

We wandered for a while after that, encountering an unexpected coup in the form of the unicorn cow enclosure. We wavered, but decided not to go inside, content with the glorious mental pictures we’d formed. Eventually exhaustion vanquished us, and home we went.

Sadly, the Big E is over for the year, its fairgrounds cleared of llamas and maple products. But I’ll be back when next September rolls around, and encourage you to check it out too!


I will conclude with this photograph of David Bowie in chicken form:

David Bowie's chicken doppelganger.

Noon of the Living Raccoon

You'd expect the areas within NYC's feasible-commute radius to be fairly well developed. And for the most part it's true. Suburbia has clobbered nature into landscaping. Yes, there are wild pockets. Sure, the boldness of the squirrels grows ever more alarming. Birds do roost in the crannies of buildings near PPP's office. But we tend to regard these parts as thoroughly bowdlerized for human habitation.

Last weekend I had cause to reconsider.

I had finished the morning's chores and was lying on my couch, engrossed in a novel. (The fabulous People of the Book, by Geraldine Brooks, if you're interested.) Because the day was on the sweltering side, I'd opened the glass door facing my apartment complex's courtyard, but left the outer screen door closed to ensure I didn't let any insects in with the breeze. I started to turn a page, and froze. A scrabbling noise emanated from somewhere distressingly close to my head.

"Perhaps a bird has chosen to alight on my patio," I thought. "Perhaps an intrepid squirrel!" Slowly, I lifted my eyes.

The raccoon gazed back at me. It had climbed the screen door, and now hung level with my face, its little claws hooked through gaps in the mesh. For some reason I fixated on this.

"Parts of your feet are in my living room," I informed it. It didn't reply, possibly too busy checking out the almonds and ginger ale on the table beside me, and determining how it might acquire them. If I got inside I could take her down, I imagined it thinking. She's got size and probably strength on her side, but I bet she's slow, and I sense fear. That will be her undoing.

I sat up, and my masked visitor startled. Noted: no sudden movements. I sank back, grabbing my phone in case I needed to call Animal Control/the local sherriff/Batman. The raccoon began to retreat toward the bottom of the screen door, and—like a true member of the internet generation faced with a crisis—I recalled my phone's other function, photography:

The raccoon completed its descent, lingered on my steps for a moment, and scarpered. I bade it farewell as best I could, being unfamiliar with standard procyon lotor parting etiquette. Then, displaying consummate courage, I slammed and locked the sliding door. And drew the curtains for good measure.