I thought this would be a fun and lighthearted topic to write about, so I’m excited for it. We almost never had animals growing up in my house. I think we had a few goldfish and I remember we had two parakeets at one point. One was blue, one was yellow, but I don’t even remember their names. But we never had a dog or a cat and that was totally fine with me and my sister because neither one of us liked dogs or cats.
My neighbor JJ had a huge mean dog name Max and when I tell you that I was scared to death of him, I’m almost underplaying it. Max was basically that dog from the movie Sandlot, atleast in my head. Mean and huge and loud and would eat me if he ever saw me. In fact I remember one time he was out front of their house and I ran inside as fast as I could. I was generally pretty skittish around any kind of animal up into my 20s. I just had no familiarity or practice with them so if a dog jumped up on me when I went to a friends house, I’d legit freak out about it.
Almost all of my appreciation for dogs and cats came as an adult and almost always came because of dating someone who had a dog or a cat. I remember one of my first girlfriends, Stephanie, had this wonderfully sweet black lab named Chamuca. Chamuca was the first pet I think I ever really got excited to see. She would play and get wound up like labs do, but she was also very sweet and would come nap with us sometimes. When I lived in Portland years later another girl I dated had a big golden retriever named Judd who was THE sweetest old boy. Judd was huge but a total softie. I’ve still never really had a pet that was my own as an adult, so getting to spend all that time with those dogs was really my first experience with having an animal around and I loved it. After Judd, I even thought about getting a dog at one point.
I just never have been willing to dedicate the time and effort that it takes to have a pet. My lifestyle with moving around for work is obviously not conducive for it. Plus being a single person, it’s not like I have a partner or someone to help take care when I have to go on the road for work. I’m very selfish with my time and freedom too and I know that it’s probably just not something I’ll do anytime soon.
But, I will say in the last few years, I became a cat person. I had almost no experience being around cats until 2018. I was dating a woman who had an old male cat named Skyler. Sky Guy as he was also known was in his golden years and he was kind of a crabby cat. But many days he’d come lay with me in bed or sit with me on the couch while I worked on my podcast. He kind of became my buddy. Later that year his mom adopted another cat, a young female cat named Woodji. Woodji is fiercely independent, loves to go outside, but her and I became fast friends. She’d always come into my room at night and lay with me and let me pet her and tell her she was the most beautiful girl in the world (she is, it’s a fact, see pic below). Victoria (Woodji’s mom) always calls Woodji ‘my cat’. She always asks me when I’m going to take her as my own. Maybe someday!
Of course the other animals in my life are horses. I’ve owned some horses and had friends who were owners and trainers and got to visit them. But I don’t spend nearly as much time around the horses as I wish I could. The backside is a really incredible place at the racetrack and every time I go back there it’s so fun to pet and visit with the horses. My friend Will who is a jockey told me the other day that when I was visiting the Graham Motion barn down at Tampa that one of the horses I got to meet was Spenderella, she just wasn’t Spenderella at the time.
But my appreciation and love for the Thoroughbred race horse is very much at the forefront of my mind quite often. Without them I don’t have a life and career that I enjoy. Getting to watch them run every day and describe their hard work to the audience is a privilege and joy. Sometimes calling race after race, it can get a bit mechanical. You focus so much on memorizing the names and giving an accurate call, that it’s easy to have it slip out of mind all of the work and training each horse and it’s team have put in just to get to this moment of a race. It’s a truly incredible thing.