Rams Can Be Softies With Pets
By Sarah Casey Newman
Of The Post-Dispatch
SHHHH, DON'T TELL. But some of those tough-looking Rams can be real Bears at times. Teddy bears, that is. At least when it comes to their pets. Not that they want to talk about them. Not for the record anyway. Except for offensive tackle Andy King.
King scores extra points for openly admitting that he has not one but three animal companions: an Airedale named Owen (so dubbed because "he looked like an Owen"); a cat named Mr. Bojangles ("a cute guy" who answers to the name of Cat); and a chinchilla named Buster (his "step-chinchilla," actually, because the "very interesting" little desert rodent belonged to his wife, Kristie, and "came with the package" when they wed).
As for the other Rams players with a soft spot for pets, they were too sheepish to speak out. A few left it up to Molly Higgins in the Rams' office to tackle the pet question. Others let their wives carry the ball.
Tight end Cameron Cleeland might have talked about the Cleeland critters, according to his wife, Mindy, "but he wants to talk about dogs," and they have only cats: American bobtails named Marble and Zeus.
The couple got the 3-year-old felines while they were living in Louisiana. "Cameron wanted a dog," Mindy said, but dogs weren't allowed in their rental complex. So Mindy started researching cats. When she "learned that American bobtails have personalities like a dog," she knew she had found the perfect compromise.
Shortly thereafter, the couple got Zeus. Not long after that, they decided that their "dog-cat," looked lonely. So they went back and got his sister, Marble.
Mindy expects there to be a canine Cleeland once their lives become more settled. In the meantime, she said, Cameron will continue playing fetch with Zeus and nuzzling with Marble on the sofa, all the while pretending that he "doesn't like cats because they're not tough."
Unlike the Cleelands’ cats, the dogs who belong to defensive tackle Damione Lewis project toughness without even trying. But according to Lewis' wife, Silvana, their pit bulls, Conan and BJ, are as gentle as a Ram's lamb.
"These dogs are so lovable. They love kids. They get along with other dogs. All they want to do is please you."
The only bad thing about pit bulls is their reputation, but "it's not the dogs, it's the owners, how people raise and treat them," said Silvana, who takes advantage of every opportunity to educate people about the much-maligned breed.
Both Conan and BJ have been through basic obedience training, and Conan has had advanced training as well. "Pit bulls are very powerful, but they're also very controllable," Silvana said. When she or her husband wants them to pose for a photo, for example, all they have to do is take out the camera.
Maximus is another Rams dog who looks tougher than he is. The 1-year-old boxer is supposed to protect Sarah Massey when her fullback husband, Chris, is away. "But he's a total coward," Sarah said.
Sarah surprised Chris with Max last Christmas, with the help of a friend who delivered the puppy on Christmas morning. Then about the size of Sarah's Yorkshire terrier, Ellee, Max is now more than 50 pounds. And he's still growing.
"He looks very intimidating," Sarah said. Unless he's playing with his favorite toy - a pooch pacifier, which he "sucks like a baby."
Unlike Ellee, Max doesn't have a closetful of clothes and doggy accessories. Sarah plans to get him a Rams bandanna, to match Ellee's blue-and-gold bow, but she hasn't told her husband yet. "Max gets a bandanna whenever I have him groomed, and Chris always takes it off," she said.
She also wants to have Max neutered. "Chris isn't so understanding about that either," but Sarah is full of surprises.
So is offensive tackle Kyle Turley, who surprised his wife, Stacy, with a black Labrador-retriever mix shortly after they'd moved to New Orleans.
"I was still adjusting to the move, plus I was feeling kind of puny," Stacy said. "I was lying on the couch when Kyle opened the door and this dog came running in and completely pounced on me," she said. She could not have been more delighted.
"Kyle knew how crazy I was about animals and how I've always been an advocate for no-kill shelters," she said. She had seen Smokey at a shelter in their neighborhood some days earlier and had mentioned him to Kyle.
The dog had been taken from his owners by the court system and placed in a shelter that had caught on fire. "He was named Smokey when we got him," Stacy said, but she didn't know if it was because of his fire ordeal or his ink-black color.
"His best trick is hiding in the dark," Stacy said. "Kyle will go out at night and call him, and if he doesn't want to come in, he just stands still, and Kyle can't find him."
Wide receiver Mike Furrey doesn't have that problem with Butkus, even though the English bulldog is only 4 months old. If Butkus is asleep, his snoring will lead you to him. If he's awake, he's usually anywhere Furrey's wife, Koren, happens to be.
"Butkus is like a baby," Koren said. "I got a carrier for him, and I take him to the mall, the grocery, just about everywhere. Only now he's getting too big for me to carry, which is kind of sad."
Like Smokey, Butkus came as a surprise. "I've always wanted an English bulldog, and Mike had said that if he ever made it to the NFL, he'd buy me one," Koren said. She just wasn't expecting Butkus to arrive when, and how, he did.
"He came from a breeder in Kentucky, but Mike didn't want to have him shipped. So he offered the people game tickets and said he'd pay for them to come to St. Louis if they'd bring the puppy along." They agreed, and the Saturday before the Rams played San Francisco, Koren got her bulldog.
"Everyone thinks he's named after Dick Butkus (the NFL Hall of Famer), but I named him after Sylvester Stallone's dog," said Koren, who's "a huge "Rocky" fan.
Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, who has an English mastiff named Duke, also has an English bulldog, Bruno. Cornerback Jerametrius Butler has one pitbull named Princess and another named Rocky.
Head coach Mike Martz also has a dog named Rocky, as well as one named Buddy.
A Rottweiler named Jade and an Italian greyhound named Pierre reside with safety Adam Archuleta. And defensive tackle Tyoka Jackson and his wife, Tenique, have a miniature pinscher named Tuffy and a boxer named Guma.
Higgins reports that Rams owner Georgia Frontiere "is a big animal lover and has had numerous pets. She even appeared in our Rams cookbook with a photo of a horse . . . in her kitchen, no less."
Other animal fans in the upper echelon of the Rams organization include executive vice president Bob Wallace, who has "a special dog" named Wally Wallace with a special tale to tell.
When his wife, Julie, spotted the golden-retriever mix on Heartland Humane Society's Web, she had a feeling he was meant for their 9-year-old son, Eric. "We'd been talking about getting a dog for some time, because Eric is autistic, and we'd heard that children with special needs sometimes share a special bond with dogs," Wallace said. Aside from being cute, Wally stood out because of his name - "He was already Wally when we got him," Wallace said - and because he was born on Eric's birthday.
Just as they hoped, Wally turned out to be "a wonderful, wonderful dog for Eric," and for his 10-year-old brother, Grant, as well.
Phil Thomas, vice president of marketing and sales, also has a rescue dog, a golden retriever named Billy, which he got from Gateway Golden Retriever rescue.
Then there's John Oswald, vice president of operations. He says his yellow Lab, Jack, who was born in Troy, Mo., is not only a Rams dog but also a Rams fan. "He likes all sports," Oswald said, "but when the Rams are on, he'll sit in front of the television and watch the game from start to finish."
Finally, no lineup of Rams pets would be complete without Precious, Nicoal and Becky, the three rescue pugs belonging to team president John Shaw and his wife, Lori. Lori is not only active in pug rescue, she's passionate about it. When the Shaws are in California, Lori donates endless hours to Little Angels Pug Rescue ( www.lapr.org).
She has also helped with pug rescue in St. Louis and has driven all over the country to deliver rescued pugs to people who want to adopt them.
Re: Rams Can Be Softies With Pets
It's nice to hear some bits about the players and their pets. I like the fact that some have pit bulls. I have a soft spot for this misunderstood breed since I ended up adopting a pit bull mix. Mine still has some "meet and greet" issues with strange dogs but he is truly sweet, loveable and playful.
Pets are good. :)
Re: Rams Can Be Softies With Pets
Hey! What's all this soft talk about? Save this stuff for the OFF offseason. We're about to head into training camp and the season is right on its heals. It's all TOUGH talk from here till late February. YA GOT THAT!? :tongue:
Hehehe! All in good fun!