Rachel Pryzby, 28, and Oscar
Bearded dragons are really social compared to other lizards. If I let him out of his terrarium, he’ll run over and climb into my lap. He loves being held. He can be a little grouchy, though, which is why I named him Oscar. Once I tried buying him cat toys, but he just gave me this look, like please.
Kieran Krishna, 7, and Wyatt
Wyatt’s a mini Australian Labradoodle, so I think his mommy and daddy were probably from Australia, but he was born here. He loves to play and I give him lots of hugs. But sometimes he steals toilet paper and takes my toys and runs under the bed. Then my grandma and I have to surround him and make him surrender.
Wendy Gajadharsingh, 32, and Rumi
I have cystic fibrosis, and I have to do two breathing treatments a day. Each one takes an hour, and Rumi will sit with me the whole time. It makes it a little more tolerable. I can’t have children, so he’s our little furbaby. When we get home from work, he loses his mind. My husband, Adam, is not a big dog fan—he’s never even had another pet—but he loves Rumi.
Julie Jones, 51, and Rocco
We have four Neapolitan Mastiffs, two boys and two girls. That’s 800 pounds of dog. People are sometimes intimidated by their size, but they’re 200 pounds of pure mush. Rocco is my baby. His greatest joy in life is to stand up on his hind legs, put his paws on my shoulders, and lick my face all over. He looks at me with those eyes, and I just melt.
Jyll Thomas, 46, and Vanner
We got our first Afghan hound 10 years ago. Now we have Vanner plus two others. The grooming is an undertaking. It takes two hours to bathe him, and then we blow-dry his coat afterward. He actually uses Pantene, plus a product called ShowSheen. My husband and I both have long hair, so when we’re walking them, we all look alike. It’s kind of ridiculous.
Justin Q. Williams, 27, and Alon
I used to beg my parents to let me get a dog; that’s why I wanted this guy so bad. He loves being snuggled. If I’m in my office working on the computer, he puts his head under my hands and lifts them off the keyboard so that I’m petting him.
Warren Johnson, 26, and Perry Mason
He’s a very dog-like cat. He plays fetch. He’s incredibly outgoing; he’ll come and sit with strangers. People refer to him as the Welcome Wagon. The name came from my partner, Brian, who’s kind of an old soul. He always wanted a dog named Matlock, and Perry’s really inquisitive. So when he suggested Perry Mason, it just fit perfectly.
Bailey Valverde, 23, and August
August attacks life with such gusto. Every toy is his favorite toy—including my husband’s really expensive aerospace engineering PhD textbooks. We thought they were out of reach, then we came home and found August chewing on them. So now we say he wants to be
an engineer just like his dad.
Allyson Brown, 25, and Keke
When I was little, my babysitters raised lovebirds, and I just had to have one. I’ve had Keke for 13 years. He has so much personality. He loves to dance and listen to music, especially Elton John. I actually named him after Kiki Dee. When I get ready in the morning, he’ll sit next to me and fluff his feathers in the mirror. He can’t talk like some other birds, but I taught him to make a little kissy noise. Before bed, we give each other good-night “kisses.”
Elaine Walker, 38, and Titan
North Druid Hills
She likes to hide in funny places. One time I was going to get something out of a drawer, and her face popped out. People always think she’s this really fancy breed, but I joke that she’s just an around the way cat.
Lindsay Hunt, 27, and Murphy
We received 413 entries in our pet issue cover contest. Meet the winner:
One day last January, my friend dragged me into Atlanta Pet Rescue, and I just fell in love. I was so eager to bring him home—I didn’t want anyone else to claim him—that I had no pet supplies in the house when he came in. I had to make an emergency run to Target. The rescue told me he was three, but the vet thinks he could be younger because he’s so puppy-like. He gets so excited about every little thing. But on the rare occasion when he calms down, usually at night, he’ll curl up in a ball and snuggle with me.
Photographs by Ryan Hayslip
This article originally appeared in our August 2015 issue.