If only they could speak ... This is what New Hampshire's famous pets would say ... er, maybe.There isn't an animal lover who doesn't consider his or her pet a celebrity. But in New Hampshire we have more than our fair share of creatures whose fame extends beyond the boundary of their back yards. These pets have avid fans who snap their photos, rub their tummies and even follow them on Facebook. From the top of Mount Washington to the shores of Squam Lake, some are noted for their beauty, some for their lack of it. Here's a primer to the Granite State's feathered, furry and finned glitterati.Accommodating Cat
Fletcher the cat at Common Man Inn and Spa in Plymouth is more than just a cat. He's a symbol of the establishment's welcoming attitude to traveling pets and, yes, is also a chick magnet. At any given time of day the cream-colored feline can be seen - sometimes reluctantly - being squeezed into the embrace of an admirer while a camera-wielding husband takes a photo. But workers there say the cat, who wandered over while the former mill was being renovated and pretty much just stayed on, has the run of the place. The spa workers say after a particularly stressful day of napping and posing, Fletcher's been known to lie down on the table in the staff's breakroom and get a kitty massage.Party Animal
Dickens Baker, the resident black Cocker Spaniel at the Country Bookseller in Wolfeboro, has such a big following that when she turned 10 years old on 10/10/10, she was thrown a well-attended party by owner Karen Baker. She even has her own Facebook site with 123 friends. She lists her job as "official greeter, schmoozer and mooch" at the bookstore and a 2001 graduate of puppy training in Ossipee as her formal education."The Art of Racing in the Rain" and "Seduced by Bacon" are among her favorite books. And Dickens has an altruistic streak. She donated 10 percent of the sales for the weekend of her birthday to the Lakes Region Humane Society.
Teeny Weeny Stallion
Einstein the horse is small in stature, but he looms large on any list of celebrity pets. When the Lilliputian stallion was born in New Hampshire in April 2010 he weighed in at 6 pounds, less than many cats, and was reputed to be the world's smallest horse. The rambunctious little guy soon garnered international headlines and appeared on the Oprah Winfrey and "Good Morning America" shows. But now the celebrity stallion is trying to stay out of the limelight and frolics on a farm with a four-legged posse that includes two 20-pound pigmy goats, an African tortoise and Hannah, the Saint Bernard. "He's too small to play with horses," says his co-owner Rachel Wagner. "He thinks he's a dog." His owners would rather not reveal where the little fellow is living, but you can check out his progress at www.smalleststallion.com.Mixing Master
You wouldn't expect people who are shopping for a new mixer or omelet pan to bring their dogs with them. But at Your Kitchen Store on Main Street in Keene, Beulah, the three-year-old English bulldog, has come to work Monday through Friday as the official store mascot since she was four months old. "Everybody adores her," says shop owner Dean Eaton. "She sits in the front window on the sidewalk and brings in more customers. During the holidays she pushed aside the fake snow and made a place for herself near the Christmas tree. People see her in the window and start to bring their dogs with them. Now she has regular play dates. She's probably the most-photographed dog I know."Bat Ugly
For anyone - beast or human - the name "Ugly" would seem, well, a bit mean-spirited. Not so with Ugly Bat Boy, which "Animal Planet" named "the world's ugliest cat." Ugg, as he's called by his devoted fans at his home - Exeter Veterinary Hospital - is skin-colored with the exception of a few tufts of orange fur on his chest and belly.
"He's fun. He's a nice kitty. He really made it big," says one hospital worker. Now age 10, Ugly is still photographed and loved by a lot of clients. A flier in the office reminds those first shocked by his appearance that Ugly is a normal cat in every way possible. "He's just ugly."Video: Fletcher from the Common Man Inn and Spa in Plymouth.Frog Prince
"Sesame Street" might have Kermit, but the White Mountain Highway has Spunky, our own celebrity frog. OK, he doesn't have a girlfriend who's a flamboyant pig, but the 23-year-old adorable amphibian has his share of smitten fans at the Toy Chest in North Conway where he's lived since he was just a wee tadpole.Spunky came to the shop, which specializes in educational and creative toys, in a tadpole kit and has been a fixture ever since. The secret to his long life? According to those in the shop, "good old White Mountain air." Oh, and by the way, the store still sells the kits that have the potential to bring generations of Spunkys to New Hampshire children for generations to come.Queen of Cature
She may have been six pounds soaking wet and infested with vermin when someone found Contessa abandoned in the woods and brought her to America's Pets in Hudson. But it was the luckiest day of the cat's life. Two years later she is a healthy 14 pounds with a luxurious black coat and the perfect blend of Zen-like cool and diva beauty for this holistic pet store and grooming house. As her name suggests, she is treated like royalty from her "boudoir" digs on the counter that includes a wide variety of catnip and a poster of her "teen idol" Karate Cat. She has been seen in outfits ranging from beachwear to wedding regalia. Workers at the store said Contessa has a penchant for women's purses and lollipops. "We used to keep Dum Dums out on the counter for the kids that come into the store," says one of Contessa's co-workers. "But we'd come to the store in the morning and they'd be all over the place." People come into the store just to see the cat and sometimes don't even buy anything. That's OK, says the staff. "She's irresistible."Frosty Feline
Marty is top cat at the Mount Washington Weather Observatory. He was elected to his post during the famous Cat Primary of 2008 when more than 8,000 feline fanciers cast their votes for one of three candidates in an election held by the Observatory and Conway Area Humane Society. Marty won by a landslide 53 percent. As a coon cat he is particularly well suited to brave the rigors of the summit of the highest mountain in New Hampshire. He replaced Nin, who patrolled the mountaintop for 17 years before retiring to the valley. She liked fiction and curling up in a cozy guitar case until her death two years ago.Beauty and the Books
Freyja, the 3-year-old Siamese-ish mix has lived at MindFull Books and Ephemera in Jaffrey since she was a kitty and, according to her biased owner, John Sepe, "She's a local celebrity. She's the most beautiful cat in the world." The owners live upstairs from the shop, but they say Freyja (named for the Norse goddess of beauty) can go up and down at will but chooses to live in the store. She likes to hang out with the musicians who perform on the weekends and has a tendency to crawl into their cases.R.I.P. Dog Gone ArtSaint Trucker"Trucker truly has become famous," says artist Gloria Najecki. "Legendary almost."It all began when he still belonged to the Concord SPCA.
Najecki, a volunteer, was taken by the white bulldog with the big personality, but she was troubled by his limp. Turns out he had a serious knee condition that would require surgery. Najecki decided to draw a simple sketch of Trucker, print it on a pin and sell them. Five hundred pins for $5 each would pay for the operation.Soon, she says, people were buying extra buttons for friends or just slipping her a $50 bill and the knee operation was covered.When someone who just liked the buttons asked her to make one for another dog, Najecki decided there might be a career in this. Now she earns a living painting fine-art portraits of people's animals and selling her own prints - mostly of Trucker. (gloriapaintsdogs.com)Her painting of him titled "Creature Comfort" appeared on the cover of the Journal of the American Veterinarian Medical Association and prints of "The Dream" (above) hang in many veterinary waiting rooms and at the Concord Cooperative Market. It will soon grace the wall of the new Concord SPCA building, carrying Trucker full circle.Sadly, he won't be there for the unveiling. Trucker contracted cancer and died in 2007, but only after enchanting the city with his presence. Najecki says that on walks she was constantly being stopped by his admirers, some still wearing their pins. But the people he was most attracted to, she notes, were the homeless and those with mental problems. One well-known Concord street person, a man named Richard who constantly talked to himself or scribbled cryptic equations in a cluttered journal, was a regular target."Trucker decided he had some relation with this guy," says Najecki. "Once Rich looked down and said, 'Oh, hi, Trucker.'" Then he looked up at me and said, 'We're old friends.'"
- RBPet-Friendly New HampshireOur intrepid "insiders" took a trip to discover just how pet-friendly our state is. Naturally, they brought along a pet.Kiki the Mutt is no celebrity, at least not outside of our house. As a rescue dog from Alabama who is not apt to win any beauty contests, she's got some issues. One should never get between her and a hamburger, she likes to bark at strangers and every time she gets into a car she's not sure whether or not she's going back to the gulag.Every trip out of the house is an adventure, so we tried to be ready for anything. We brought along a raggedy blanket that would make any couch dog friendly, dishes for the dog's water, kibble and Red Ball. Kiki never goes anywhere without Red Ball.We found out that while there are a fair share of hotels, motels, inns and B&Bs that will take your pet, that doesn't necessarily mean they're welcome with open arms. Some have weight limits, preferring lap dogs to labs. Kiki weighs 45 pounds now. Some don't welcome barkers and some would prefer your pooch never be left alone in the room. And a lot charge extra for dogs.We get it. It's a pain to clean up all that fur. But this was as much a vacation for Kiki, who was recuperating from a transition to her fourth home in three years, as it was for us so we wanted a place that wasn't just pet-tolerant but pet-indulgent. We started with what we thought was an obvious indication of the aforementioned, lodging with a resident mascot.At the Common Man Inn & Spa in Plymouth, Fletcher the cat is a permanent resident in the lobby and is treated like a king - chances are Kiki would be treated like a princess. Not only are there pet-friendly rooms but also a stand-alone pet-friendly cottage three miles down the road from the main inn. At the inn there is a separate entrance for pet guests. Your pet gets its own bed (you tell them what size you need when you make your reservation) as well as food bowls, poop bags and a treat. Kiki got a biscuit with her name written in pink frosting, which she ate while the human princess in the group was pampered in the spa.There were even a few copies of Fido Friendly - The Travel and Lifestyle Magazine for You and Your Dog on the coffee table. Rooms have French doors that open up to a back deck where your pet can take in the scenery and there is a special walking trail set aside for you and your pet. You can also walk over to Frost Scoops, next door, where dogs are given a free bowl of Common Man-made ice cream.If you prefer eating a full meal with your dog while on the road, you might want to stop in at T-Bones in Bedford, which just launched its Tails on the Terrace dining option. What began as a weekly opportunity is now available daily. Owners get to dine with their dogs al fresco on the deck and there is even a doggie menu that includes goodies like bacon wrap bites and a quarter-pound sirloin burger with American cheese and rice pilaf.There are plenty of other pet-embracing lodgings in the Granite State. Among them are the Lazy Dog Inn with canine hosts Molly and Meghan, aka "Golden Girls," who welcome guests to the 19th-century farmhouse in Tamworth. There is in-house climate-controlled doggie day care, a fenced-in exercise play area and after a day of play, your dogs get to stay with you in the room.The Glynn House Inn in Ashland also welcomes pooches with a water bowl, treats, clean-up bags and canine beds in different sizes. On arrival at the Stonehurst Manor in North Conway you're greeted by Blitzen, the house dog, and Mrs. Bigelow, the resident feline, and receive information on local dog walking routes, area pet care professionals, pet shops and groomers. There are also raised food and water bowls and treats in the room.To find an inn or B&B where pets are welcome, pick up the books "On the Road Again with Man's Best Friend New England" or "Pets Welcome: New England Edition" or log onto takeyourpet.com. It only costs $1.95 to become a member and it's well worth the price.
- Stacy Milbouer
This article appears in the August 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine