When you’re doing a play about how a dog changes your life, like A.R. Gurney’s Sylvia, there really isn’t any choice in the matter. You have to spend your days talking about dogs. And looking at cute dogs. And telling stories about the adorable things your dogs do. Or the NOT adorable things they do. Which leads, naturally, to talking about cats. So I’ve asked both the Geva staff and the Sylvia company to share photos of their dogs and cats, and the stories about how they came to be part of their families. Today, enjoy the Cats and Dogs of Geva – part 1.


Here’s Cooper, box office associate Emily Rhone’s six year old dog. Emily says, “Cooper was located via craigslist under the name ‘Mr.Poopie.’ As soon as we saw that, we decided that any dog named ‘Mr.Poopie’ needed to be rescued. Cooper enjoys wearing flower crowns and attending music festivals in his spare time.”

And below is institutional giving manager Nicole Milano’s cat Desmond. Less than a minute passed between my request for photos of my colleagues’ pets and this handsome guy showing up in my inbox. Desmond is three years old, and is convinced of his rightful place in this list because he thinks he’s a dog – he plays fetch and comes when he’s called. Nicole says, “I had just gone through a bad breakup and was living on my own in Rochester for the first time. I visited Lollypop Farm on a Friday afternoon with the mandate that I would adopt any cat except an orange male, because I had two of those growing up. They mentioned they’d just taken in two stray kittens who weren’t even on the shelter books yet, but that I could meet them, so I said yes. And when I met him, I dropped my mandate. He plopped himself down in my lap and wouldn’t leave. I said, ‘Hey, Desmond,’ and he looked up at me, and three years later we’re still best buddies… except when he’s destroying my Christmas tree.”

dj-taylorHere’s DJ – box office associate Taylor Walders’ “little brother.” Of his parents’ 11 year old Greyhuahua (miniature Italian Greyhound/Chihuahua), Taylor says, “We adopted DJ from a family friend who was no longer able to take care of him when he was five. After adopting him, we had noticed that he had some difficulties with long walks and breathing. Upon this discovery, we took him to the vet and discovered that he had a rare genetic heart condition causing him to have four valves rather than two. This made it difficult for him to maintain a good blood pressure to oxygenate his body. The vets who examined him were flabbergasted, stating that it was very likely that DJ should have died at birth let alone made it to five years old. DJ is now 11 and still kicking. Walking from one side of the room to another knocks the breath out of him but he still loves playing little bone games for treats and snuggling up by the warm fire place, forever maintaining a sweet and cuddly disposition. I’m not positive, but I believe scans of DJ’s heart are being used now in research and education at certain University of Rochester facilities .Funny Fact: DJ’s name stands for Dog Jack. The original owners had named him Jack but when we adopted him we already had a cat named Jack. Thus, we called him Dog Jack which eventually got shortened to DJ, which just stuck.”

veloci-welker-2-taylorThis is Taylor’s dog, Welker, “Little Dude,” a four year old Chipin – part Chihuahua, part miniature Doberman Pinscher. Taylor says, “Welker was a foster dog that my parents took in when they were fostering for Rochester Animal Services at  the Verona Street Animal Society. We took him in to help with their overflow and give him a space to decompress and come out of his shell. He had some extreme trust issues, social anxiety, and even a little fearful aggression. However, even though he was my parent’s foster, I ended up spending the most time with him and we bonded strongly and quickly, becoming fast companions. We worked consistently to promote trust and assuage anxiety and I adopted him officially several months after he came to us as a confused, anxious foster. He’s traveled with me ever since.” Here, they’re dressed for Halloween, Jurassic Park style – Welker is obviously a velociraptor.  Terrifying.

And this handsome dude below is Garth, who rules the roost at Facilities Manager Jeff Jones’ house. He’s chosen the perfect size stick for fetch, clearly. Garth’s name was inspired by a Garth Brooks concert. Wonder if he croons like his namesake?


Here’s a senior citizen – Jinxie, the fourteen and a half year old rescue dog, who owns the heart of Tim Intilli, director of ticket sales. Tim says “Someone told us that this junkyard had these greasy, dirt-covered year old pups running around, so we went there to ask if we could adopt one. When we pulled up, out of the blue one of them sprinted at our car and jumped up on the hood…Jinxie.  She is a cross between a German shepherd and an Australian cattle dog. She’s extremely prideful, hardly barks except to protect us, and smart as all get out. She used to be a speedster too: Jinxie decided one day at Ellison Park that she would test all this talk about Greyhounds being the fastest dog. So when the Greyhound owner agreed to let it play with Jinxie, I saw the owner’s smirk of ‘my dog is going to run circles around yours.’ That was the beginning of what would become the ironies of ironies. Jinxie proceeded to start the chase and with the Greyhound in its race form, they both tore across the field.. Jinxie was keeping up, as they ran widths of a football field. Although she was at her top prime speed at the time, she never got more than 15 feet close to the Greyhound. Little did the Greyhound know, or its owner of course, is that Jinxie wasn’t trying to catch up, she was simply using her cattle dog DNA to run the greyhound into ever smaller circles to finally the 15 feet became 0. At that point Jinxie declared herself the victor by a nip on the ass of the Greyhound who yelped in surprise and whined back to its owner. Who was going to run circles around whose dog? Oh the irony!”

Now, below, marketing director Kevin Sweeney has a serious backseat driver. Jelly is about twelve years old, and like all pre-teens, has some serious opinions about what her dad does. And on the way from Boston to Rochester this Thanksgiving, she shared them all. Kevin says, “Jelly came to Rochester from New Orleans via a foster family in South Carolina.  She was rescued several weeks after Katrina from the receding flood waters.  She has learned to love and trust again.”jelly-providing-input-on-my-driving-kevin

khufu-and-hope-saraHere’s Sarah Trine, kitchen supervisor, with her babies, Hope and Khufu (Hope is on the left, Khufu on the right). Khufu’s name is short for Khnum Khufu, whichi is Egyptian for ‘He will protect me.’ He’s a six year old German shepherd black lab mix. Hope is about 4 ½, a bull terrier mix. Sarah says, “I rescued Hope initially in 2012. We lived with Khufu and his second owner, and when I left that apartment in 2013 his owner abandoned him to travel. So he stayed with Hope and I from then on and the two have been inseparable since. Hope is a silly girl and Khufu is the brains! I didn’t get to name either of them but they couldn’t be more perfect. I now affectionately refer to myself as a ‘crazy dog lady.'”

And below are Pepper and Cissus, the adorable pair of doggies owned by box office shift supervisor Devone Scala. Devone says “Pepper is going to be 4 in January. She is a dachshund and yorkie terrier mix. I adopted her when she was a puppy, she was tiny, half the size of her brothers and sisters, and she wouldn’t eat. I was afraid that she wasn’t going to make it. It took some work and a little creative meal planning, but she slowly gained weight and got better. Now, she loves lettuce of all things. She loves jumping around in water and snow. She also enjoys shredding and destroying paper and cardboard, or really anything she can get a hold of. Cissus is around 7. She is an Italian grey hound and rat terrier mix. I adopted her about a year and a half ago from a friend who couldn’t take care of her. She had been kept in a crate for most of the time and was very timid and scared of people and Pepper. Slowly, she started to feel more comfortable and with Pepper and me, she opened up to us both and started to play and enjoy life. She loves curling up on the couch and snuggling under blankets.”


One more cat to taunt all the dogs – this is associate director of education Lara Rhyner’s cat, Sancho. Lara says, “I adopted him on my 21st birthday when he was 4 years old. He’s 13 now and he is still the best boy there is! I choose him because he was crouched in the very far back corner of his tiny cage at the shelter, terrified and hissing. I knew that as an adult cat (not a cute and cuddly kitten), if nobody adopted him in a matter of days, his time would be limited. I fell in love with him and couldn’t leave him there, knowing how scared he was and what his fate would be. Sancho loves chasing the laser pointer and disassembling toy mice (tail, eyes, and ears first) and his favorite treat is a spoonful of turkey baby food. His hobbies include public modesty whilst lounging in the sun, snoozing beneath a very particular plush beige blanket with his head on a pillow, and playing the blinds like a xylophone at 5:30am.”

Stay tuned for more adorable animals (including my own, of course) who are sure to steal your hearts, like they’ve stolen ours!


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