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
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.
“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.”
Bentley, the Ebola Nurse’s Pup
Animal lovers from around the world held their collective breath and waited while Bentley, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, was held in quarantine for 21 days in Dallas to ensure he hadn’t contracted Ebola. His owner, nurse Nina Pham, fought off the disease after becoming infected while caring for an Ebola patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. The Dallas Animal Services staff who cared for Bentley — and well wishers who followed his story — quickly fell for the dog. Luckily, Bentley remained Ebola free and was reunited with Pham on November 1, after she recovered from the virus.
The city of Dallas revealed an expense list this month that caring for Bentley cost the city $27,000 — but $19,000 of that was offset by private donations and grants. Just a few weeks after Bentley went home, Pham celebrated the dog’s second birthday with lots of treats, and birthday messages poured in from all over when Dallas Animal Services posted about it on its Facebook page.
Sochi Dogs Make Themselves at Home
When Olympic freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy met a stray dog and her four puppies in Sochi, Russia, during the Winter Games in February, he promised to bring the whole family back to the United States. Kenworthy says the credit for saving the dogs really goes to his good friend, photographer Robin Macdonald, who stayed in Sochi for a month after Kenworthy returned home, and then flew back with the dogs.
Sadly, two of the puppies died during the monthlong process of preparing them to leave Russia. But the mom and her two surviving puppies made it safely to the United States in March. Mama lives happily with Kenworthy’s parents in Telluride, Colorado. Kenworthy and Macdonald have “joint custody” of her two pups, Jake and Mishka, whom everyone agreed should remain together. So they spent most of the summer with Kenworthy in Denver, and they’re wintering in Vancouver with Macdonald while Kenworthy gets ready for the ski season.
Last month, Kenworthy was named this year’s Inspirational Honoree by The Humane Society of the United States for his efforts to save the canine family. "It’s very flattering, and I’m happy that I was able to sort of be the face of that cause for a little while because of the Olympics and everything," he said. "But as far as the actual hard work that went into bringing them back, Robin dealt with it, and The Humane Society helped him out a ton."
More on Vetstreet.com: