Back when I was a newspaper features editor in Madison, which seems like a lifetime ago, one of our most popular weekly items was “Look Who’s Minding the Story,” a photo and caption about a business where a pet lived or regularly visited.
Shopkeepers who sold yarn, flowers, bakery for dogs, insurance, consignments, hemp goods and more participated. Others let us know about four-legged mascots at golf courses, art galleries, service stations – you name it.
This little feature went on for two years, beginning in 2000, and I frankly didn’t expect any of these endearing greeters to still be around today, but I was wrong.
At Studio Jewelers in Madison lives Eli, now 20 years old. The brown tabby was a stray with a broken leg and ear tip nipped off by frostbite when shop owner Hanna Cook-Wallace adopted him in 1998 from the Dane County Humane Society.
Adam Bauknecht handled the paperwork and later checked up on Hanna, to make sure Eli had a good home. She encouraged the young man to pursue veterinary school, which he did, and now Adam is a veterinarian for Dane County Friends of Ferals. He also hasn’t forgotten Eli.
The mellow cat used to perch on jewelry display cases and buddy up to nervous guys as they searched for the perfect purchase. He liked getting his chin scratched and watching a video of squirrels on TV.
“Eli brings good energy to everything,” Hanna says, but now her longtime companion is most likely napping on a heated fleece blanket beneath the jewelry cases. He is mostly blind and deaf, with endstage kidney disease, getting palliative care and a daily dose of subcutaneous fluids – from Adam.
They thought Eli was dying in December and set a date for euthanasia, but he rallied. “Every time I saw him in January, I said goodbye,” Adam recalls. “Now we’re taking it three days at a time.”
Eli has his own Facebook page – facebook.com/elishopcat – and fans include jewelry maker Thomas Dailing of Stevens Point, whose work is sold at Studio Jewelers. “You have been so cool with me on every visit, and a marvel to every human who has ever paid attention in the shop,” he writes. “If you feel that it is time to get on with the greatest endeavor of your life, we all will understand. You will leave a huge hole in the hearts of so many, but that is what great souls do.”
Eli is Hanna’s third shop cat, after Ilse, then Addie. He modeled as a poster boy for a 1999 “Puttin’ on the Leash” humane society fundraiser. Unlike Addie, who wore Mardi Gras beads with pride, Hanna says Eli is “all boy” and puts up with no baubles.
Studio Jewelers, 1306 Regent St., Madison, features handmade works by two dozen artists, including the owner. Most pieces are one-of-a-kind or a limited edition. studiojewelerswi.com, 608-257-2627
Thanks for your observations about pet-friendly destinations in Wisconsin and congratulations to Ali Koestner of Appleton for her winning essay, as selected by Deb Rice, general manager of the Jefferson Street Inn in Wausau.
“Have you heard what the ‘bark’ is all about? DePawsitory in downtown Appleton is your one-stop-shop for your fur family,” Ali writes. “You’ll find fun, unique and locally made items you won’t find anywhere else, that are practical for every pet owner. Check out DePawsitory: All Your Pet Needs Under One Woof!”
Ali co-owns the business with her mother, Laurie Koestner. They opened one year ago and moved to 103 E. College Ave. last summer. depawsitory.com, 920-319-3729
For her efforts, Ali receives a one-night Pet Friendly Package (estimated value $269) from the Jefferson Street Inn, a boutique hotel that welcomes well-mannered pets and is near walking trails and parks downtown. jeffersonstreetinn.com, 715-845-6500
Frank, a young and 135-pound Great Dane, likely will benefit from owner Ali’s win. She found him online, through Craig’s List.
Thanks to all others who offered ideas about where to take pets when traveling in Wisconsin.
“Craft breweries tend to be cool dog-friendly places,” writes Jim Michener of Pleasant Prairie. “How great it is to relax with a pint of locally made, great beer with your companion at your side! And in the summer many microbreweries have outdoor seating areas. Both Kenosha microbreweries – Public Craft Brewing Co. and Rustic Road Brewery – are dog friendly.” publiccraftbrewing.com, 262-652-2739; rusticbrewing.com, 262-320-7623
Susan Hartzell of The Inn on Madeline Island, La Pointe, considers the island “a pet-friendly community. There are beaches to run, trails to sniff and fellow canines to meet. The Pub’s patio is a perfect spot to enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner with your leashed friend,” she says, via Facebook. madisland.com, 800-822-6315
Sarah Nance of Green Bay sent a photo of her petite pooch, Pico, and a shout-out for pet-friendly Graduate Hotel Madison. “The hotel is ideally located near downtown, and the staff were sure to give Pico lots of attention (plus the pillows were comfy!). The Graduate also contains a downstairs café with a great happy hour, and a full-service restaurant upstairs (The Madison Blind) for human companions. graduatemadison.com, 608-257-4391
Judith Quaintance of Little Chute says AmericInn staff, especially in Chippewa Falls, “bend over backwards and sideways to make you and your pet’s stay is great.” She was only charged an extra $10 to bring Edward – “part coon, part chocolate lab and 99 percent spoiled.” She says they got first-floor lodging in a soundproof room. americainn.com, 800-634-3444
John Breaker of Menasha says his family’s new pet, a bichon frise named Oscar, gives a five-paws rating to an overnight at Clarion Hotel, Eau Claire. clarion.choicehotels.com, 800-521-2121
When you visit a place in Wisconsin that is of interest to travelers and has a pet, let me know. I’ll try to visit or get photos to share with all of you other animal lovers.