Where Are They Now Pet Edition: the Headline-Grabbing Animals of 2014

Cats and dogs ruled the headlines this year. Among them were Bentley the quarantined Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Tara the hero cat and a rescued dog who made it to the big leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers — just to name a few.

We checked in on these famous animals to find out what they've been up to since we last saw them.

Tara the Hero Cat Parade
Tara the hero cat was honored as the grand marshal of her hometown's Christmas parade.

Tara the Hero Cat

We hear about lots of hero dogs, but a feline in California captured the world’s attention in May when she ran off a dog who was attacking her family’s 4-year-old, Jeremy Triantafilo. His mom, Erika, was watering a nearby tree when the neighbor’s dog escaped a gated driveway and attacked the boy. The whole thing was caught on surveillance video, and Tara the cat was hailed as a hero for saving the boy.

Since then, Tara has had lots of honors, including an official recognition from the California State Senate, an award from The Cat Fanciers' Association and the chance to “throw” the first pitch at a minor league baseball game. This month, Tara was the grand marshal of the Christmas parade in her hometown of Bakersfield, California.

Aside from her awards, day-to-day life has returned to normal for the famous feline, but her family will never forget her bravery. “We've had some opportunities to meet amazing people and visit some great places throughout the last six months. They are lifelong memories that we'll cherish,” the family told us in an email. “Every chance we have to show how much we appreciate her, she is loved on. She is very happy in our home.”

Hank the Brewers Dog

This little dog’s story sounds like it’s right out of Hollywood. Last spring, when the Milwaukee Brewers were training in Phoenix, a lost Bichon Frise mix wandered onto the field while the team was practicing. The whole club fell head over heels for the pup they named Hank (after Hank Aaron), and they made him a member of the team. After he was cleaned up and had a trip to the vet, Hank headed to Milwaukee to live with the Brewers’ chief legal counsel and her family. That’s when the fans fell for Hank, too.  

"Santa Hank," the Brewers' rescue dog, donned a Santa suit for a recent event at the Wisconsin Humane Society.
"Santa Hank," the Brewers' rescue dog, donned a Santa suit for a recent event at the Wisconsin Humane Society.

“He’s become a very popular fixture with the organization,” says Tyler Barnes, the Brewers’ vice president of communications. “All around town, there are Hank T-shirts and dog sweaters and Hank dog bowls.” Hank merchandise also includes stuffed versions of the pup, who’s about 2 years old, and ornaments.

Hank attended about 15 games last season, but the team is careful not to push him too far. “The experience sometimes can be a little overwhelming, because wherever he goes, he’s recognized,” Barnes says. The Brewers have worked closely with The Humane Society to ensure Hank is comfortable with his schedule.

Hank is making a few off-season appearances, including wearing a Santa suit to deliver toys and treats to animals at the Wisconsin Humane Society this month. And Barnes says a vacation to Phoenix for spring training isn’t out of the question. “We’re kicking it around. I think it’s possible he’ll make a trip down there.”

Grumpy Cat Becomes a Movie Star

Everyone’s favorite sourpuss reached new levels of stardom this year. Over the summer, Grumpy Cat made a cameo on the finale of The Bachelorette with Andi Dorfman, who was known on the show for making her own frowny face. She also came out with a book, The Grumpy Guide to Life, which was featured on an Associated Press list of cat books that make perfect Christmas gifts.

But so far the crowning achievement for her growing empire might be the debut of her Lifetime movie, Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever, which aired in late November. After that, a British tabloid reported that the feline phenomenon was worth $100 million — but Grumpy’s owner, Tabatha Bundesen, quickly refuted that figure, calling it “completely inaccurate.”

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