Guest Blogger: Darren from Life and Latitudes

Hey Readers! Because I am still recovering from yet another road trip (this is getting ridiculous), I had my good friend, Darren, scare up a post to keep you company.  Remember when I guest-posted on his blog?  Who doesn’t remember?  It was an epic moment (and also just last post).  Well, Darren was kind enough to return the favor… so without further ado, I present his words on Dogs, Cats, and Other Critters.

Hi folks, my name is Darren Rayborn and I get to guest post here on The Stubby Thumb.  It is an honor and a pleasure to write a little something for Stubbs.  I have known her for several years now and I think she is a wonderful, insightful and beautiful friend.

I usually talk and write more about finding one’s passion and building something with that knowledge than get personal about animals.  I have a longing to write something a little different, possibly thought provoking and how important animals are to us humankind.  I think I will jump in this different direction and chat about our dogs, cats and dragon along with my opinion on these critters.  There might even be a reason for taking this direction if you read far enough down.

I think an introduction to our non-human portion of the family is in order.  Lets start out with whom we have currently, animal-wise.  A black, female, Labrador Retriever, TaKy who is about 11 years old.  Then we have two cats, the female is a Tortoise Shell named Nala.  She is around 12 or so years old and the other is a male Maine Coon named Happy, who is about 3 years old.   To be fair, we do have a Bearded Dragon named Leo.  When we inherited him, we were told he was a she, Cleo, poor thing didn’t have a clue.  He was very sick and still is a bit sickly, but the kids love him.  No, he is not a dog or cat, but he is part of the family.  We also keep in mind our first non-human family member, Andrew; he is not with us anymore, but I will address him in a bit.

Something that seems obvious to most folks who have pets is that their furry (or non-furry in Leo’s sake) family members have personalities.  A family bond is created quite quickly on both sides of this special relationship.  Now there are some people who don’t know and there are others that don’t care.  I can tell you Stubbs knows and cares.


TaKy is our only dog currently and was named after a lady’s grandkids, Taylor and Kyle. So the “y” is a long “I” sound. I saw her on a bulletin board and was listed at about four months old.  We figured out after we got her home, she was probably closer to eight or ten months and she had a mind of her own, for good or bad.  At the time though, I thought my wife would love having a Lab.  She mentioned it to me long ago.  Their bond has not really materialized after these many years.  Thank goodness I have some genetic quality of connecting with animals, usually.  TaKy is now getting a bit of gray and silver on her chin.  Kind of reminds me of a Grateful Dead song.  She still bounces around like she is a pup.  She is quite excitable, but now is starting to show her age a bit and has become slower with the telltale signs of hip displacia.  TaKy is always there for someone to throw her favorite blue ring or rub her belly.  She will give her all for you.  She is getting older, not quite as excitable but still likes to jump up on and around people, and still loves everyone.

Nala and Happy

We have had Nala probably about a year or two longer than TaKy.  My wife found her years ago at her “then” office.  Nala was hiding under her van and some of her co-workers told my wife to “throw the kitten in the grove, the dogs will get rid of it soon enough”.  My wife could not do that so we happened to have this fur-ball of a kitten join our family. The family’s reason for us keeping her is that I gave her a name, lesson learned.  Nala is the queen of the house and can’t wait for me to sit somewhere, anywhere to then take her royal place on my lap or beside me.  As soon as I do, she usually lays there until the kids make too much noise or she has found it past her official human-contact time and must lay and observe her queen-dom from another location.  She also is called my “girlfriend” since she sleeps right next to me most of the night.  There are just so many times you can push an animal off of you or the bed, before you just accept it or sleep right through it.  I guess I sleep pretty well since this is her habit which began when she was quite little.

Happy Thoughts

Then there is Happy, officially “Happy Thoughts”, named by our oldest.  He was brought home by her just a few years ago.  He was a ball of fur then that would take up less room than your palm, but now he looks huge.  Don’t be fooled, its just hair.  If you wet him down or give him a bath, there is not much to him.  Our youngest kiddo, Gabriel thinks Happy is his best friend.  They actually have played cars together.  Kind of different for a cat, but hey, why not?  He was a bit more of a wildcat and has had the tips of his fingers removed or as they call it, “declawed”. This was due to the fact he liked to use anything to sharpen his claws on, which decimated our furniture. Also, he lost his “manhood” at the same time, so not sure why we still call him Happy.  Hmmm….

Leo, formerly known as Cleo

Our non-furry entry to the family, Leo, is a Bearded Dragon. He is quite an interesting lizard actually.  A family friend, who was in college at the time, asked if we would care for his dragon.  My wife and kids could not say no.   Since the family knows that I love lizards, it was a no-brainer apparently.  I used to hunt the chameleons here in
Florida and have them hang from my ears like ear-rings.  I let them go of course.  We took him to the special veterinarian who works on exotic pets and she told us Leo probably would not make the next week or two, but we tried.  We had to feed and medicate him by syringe.  Leo even got baths with special medicine, crazy lizard.  He is alive and doing quite well by the standard of expected death, but he does not have much gumption.  We do take him out, but he is not well, compared to other dragons.  He probably will be this way the rest of his natural life, but we do take care of him as best as we can.  He also thinks he is part of royalty as he expects to be hand fed.  Silly Beardy.  Yes, he and the cats do get along.  Happy likes to lay next to Leo on the floor and Nala likes to just check him out to make sure he is okay.  Strange animals.


This furry family member was our first many years ago.  My wife’s dad had picked up this little loving, personality Christmas Eve and brought him over around 4 am, Christmas Day for our oldest.  She was four at the time I believe.  We put this puppy on the bed with her, to allow him to wake her with puppy kisses.  She woke up and instantly called him “Andrew”.  So, our newest addition to the family, a Dalmation puppy would be called Andrew, or Andy for short.  This was Christmas 1998 if memory serves me correctly.

Andrew was loved by our family and also pretty much anyone who knew him.  He even smiled.  By his sixth month, he had pretty much all of his spots.  He chewed our dining room table’s legs to nubs.  Our old house had a wooden door to the side porch, which he loved chewing on.  Andy finally grew out of the puppy phase and more or less became my little buddy.  He would walk along our two-acre property with me or lay with me on the floor watching TV or when I worked on the computer.  He enjoyed playing a bit but he was more of a chilled out soul.  He was special to the family and I tried to teach the kids he was their real, yet adopted, brother.  That didn’t work for some odd reason.  Our second child new this was not true, she was way too smart for that.  Oh, well.  I tried.

Several years later, we found that Andrew was not feeling well.  We took him to the veterinarians but they figured he had probably injured his back playing around.  That did not fit him, but then again, we were not doctors.  Later we found out that he had Bloat.  It is a condition in some dogs and even horses, where the stomach turns over.  If surgery is not performed quickly, the animal will die in a not very nice way. He was not doing better and had epileptic-like episodes, tremors and convulsions and off we went to the vets’ office again.  Andrew was finally diagnosed correctly, but too late for surgery.  This was probably one of the top, few worst days of my life.  We had to put Andrew down. I was asked if I wanted to stay or leave while he received the wicked injections.  I had to stay as he was my boy and my buddy.  I have never seen a person die, and hope not to anytime soon, but I watched Andrew’s eyes’ light fade away as he slowly stopped breathing.  This was a very difficult time for all of us as you could imagine.  As my family would attest, I probably have not gotten over him and probably never will.  It has been four years as of this writing of that dreadful day.  This is the power and bond of a furry member of the family.

We buried him in my in-laws’ back yard.  He is there with some of their animals, like a family graveyard or pet cemetery.  We still talk about him and how wonderful a personality he had.  Andrew loved everyone and would protect the family, as he should.  I think that someday I would like another Dalmation, but not for a while longer since we have enough animals, at least that’s what I tell everyone.

Why did I write such a post?  It is to say that animals of all kinds have personality and as far as I am concerned, a soul.  Each of our animals have such colorful souls and even different viewpoints, that they enhance our lives.  They have become a part of our family, which allows our souls and faith to grow as human beings.  We take care of our animals as they take care of us.  There is a love and bond that many people may not understand, but for those of us who do, we live a better and more fulfilled life, in my opinion.  This is the reason that there are organizations and of course family and friends, who bring together special people with special animals.  There is a lifelong bond that is created; it can be stronger than some human friendships.  It gives life to both the human and the furry person.

Stubbs has a passion for her dogs and especially Afghan dogs.  Please keep up with her and her posts, as her dogged passion grows.  Stubbs loves her boys and she stays involved in various ways to help organizations bring these dogs home to the USA and their new families.

Thank you and God bless.

Darren Rayborn

Check out Darren’s blog at!

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2 Responses to Guest Blogger: Darren from Life and Latitudes

  1. Pingback: Dogs, Cats and other Critters (My first guest post) @ Life and Latitudes

  2. Stubbs,

    I am so stoked!! Thank you very much for allowing me such a cool opportunity to post on The Stubby Thumb.

    Have a fantastic day.


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