I know very little about either of their backgrounds, but I suspect Moura was a semi-feral kitten. We adopted her from the local animal shelter in Providence, Rhode Island, when she was older than six months old, but we were never able to determine her age. Like many cats adopted from shelters, she is very timid – except with Magnus. Sudden noises and movements send her into hiding. To this day when we have guests, they don’t know we have a cat. She is no lap kitty; she is a no fuss kind of gal!
We adopted Moura for my birthday a year after we lost our beloved boxer, Major. My husband wasn’t ready for a dog yet. My mom and beloved aunt had passed away the previous year too. We have a tradition to name each of our fur kids with the letter “M.” Since my mom and aunt’s maiden name was Moura, we decided that would be her name. (ALSO READ: Spunky’s Story: Cancer Didn’t Stop My Cat From Living a Fulfilled Life)
Then came Magnus. A year after we adopted Moura, my husband was ready to get another dog. Instead of going back to our previous breeders, we decided to find a smaller dog. I was fortunate to have a retired cousin who volunteered at another shelter right across the state border in Seekonk, Massachusetts. I was skimming through Petfinder when I first saw Magnus. Lo and behold, he was housed at the shelter where my cousin volunteered! At that time, the shelter had named him Buddha. The best way to describe him was a mini boxer. He had the same fawn color and the same black mask as our other dogs. It was truly love at first sight
The shelter told me that he was found on a very busy road. A passerby had stopped, rescued him from the traffic and brought him to the shelter. They suspected he was a pug mix, but they had no idea about what else was in his DNA. I originally thought maybe he was a beagle, since puggles were everywhere. However, it didn’t explain his short tail; he was in every way a miniature boxer. After a couple of stressful weeks of competition, we adopted Buddha, now known as Magnus. We later had his DNA tested and now know that he is 49% pug, 48% English bulldog (hence the short tail), and 3% Dogue de Bordeaux. I’ve nicknamed him 3M because he’s like Velcro tape. In typical pug fashion, he’ll eat anything that he is given or that drops in front of him.
The importance of animal research for improved health of both cats and dogs can’t be overstated. It needs to be recognized by everyone who shares their lives with a cat or a dog. Every medical treatment from common veterinary prescriptions to technological advances in imaging and advanced surgical procedures and chemotherapies was first tested with laboratory animals. Laboratory animal research has extended not only human lives but also that of our beloved companions.
The lifespan of both cats and dogs has been extended based on medical discoveries made possible by laboratory animals. It’s now known that, just like humans, diet plays a major role in the extended lifespan of our companion cats and dogs. We no longer feed table scraps to our dogs. We are moving steadily toward not leaving cats outside to fend for themselves. These and many other wonderful discoveries about both the physical and psychological health and well-being of our pets were achieved thanks to animal research. This vital research needs to continue.
Regina Correa-Murphy is a research program coordinator at West Palm Beach VA Medical Center in Florida.
**Photos of Moura and Magnus are courtesy of Regina**