The Pets of Chesapeake Country

The infamous Joe Cat and CBM Editorial Director Meg Walburn Viviano.

By Meg Walburn Viviano 

There are dog people and there are cat people. I grew up in a family of cat people. The reasons were mostly practical: cats are much easier to leave with a pet sitter than dogs are, when you spend summertime taking weekend sailing trips around the Bay. 

Plus, my mom and I, both bookworms, agreed there could be nothing better than curling up with a good story and a purring cat to keep your lap warm. 

But, my dog-people friends argued, cats are aloof: they don’t come when you call, and they only play when they feel like it. Dogs offer their owners instantaneous love and appreciation.  

I felt I’d hit the jackpot when General Joe came into my life. Joe Cat, as I called him, was a dog-cat—a cat who loves people and behaves like a dog, but with the lower-maintenance qualities of a cat. Joe arrived by way of a military foster pet program. When his owner, a U.S. Army servicemember, was deployed to Iraq, the handsome  Siamese ended up at my house. 

General Joe would greet all my visitors at the door, purring madly. When I threw a cocktail party, he didn’t slink under the bed to hide like most cats would. He plunked himself in the middle of the kitchen island where people were socializing. And for a good party trick, he launched himself from the island to the top of the refrigerator in a single bound—sailing like a flying squirrel over my guests’ heads. 

Even people who claimed not to like cats liked Joe, including the man I’d one day marry. We simply liked having General Joe around: snuggling on the couch or stretched out on the warm deck while we enjoyed a summer evening. 

That’s the endearing nature of pets. Without saying a word, they can win over even the least enthusiastic family member. They bring comfort, companionship, and appreciation. As pet owners, we’ll do just about anything for them.  

Whether you’re a dog person, a cat person, or even a pony person, this issue of CBM Bay Weekly is for you. If you like to bring Fido along on all your adventures, see our list of dog beaches and food spots offering treats just for pups. And if you want nothing but the best for your pet’s health, there are rich resources available for specialists in Chesapeake Country (think kitty dental experts and sports medicine docs for dogs).

Plus, we couldn’t resist a few charming Chesapeake animal stories—the pandemic puppy, the classic tale of a kitten rescued from a tree

Yes, we love our pets no matter the mischief they make. Take this reflection from our Moviegoer, Diana Beechener: 

We were always small-dog people. We had terriers, which could be picked up and carried away when they inevitably get into trouble. Then we adopted Maddox, a 70+ lb. Airedale/American fox hound mix. We bought a big crate. We filled the house with big chew toys. We bought giant dog beds. What we should have done is raise the counters.  

Maddox was excited to see that we kept bread on easily accessible counters. It turns out he was a gold-medal counter surfer, jumping up and knocking all food items to the floor.  

Moviegoer Diana Beechener’s Airedale mix Maddox.

The first few days were quite the learning curve for all of us. We hid all edible items in cupboards and Maddox eventually learned that his humans were happier when there weren’t shredded cookie wrappers on the floor. Two years later, Maddox has retired from counter surfing—unless we get doughnuts. 

Whether you have a Maddox the dog, a Joe Cat or another beloved pet in the family, please enjoy this issue dedicated to our furry friends.