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Q & A With Carrie Ann Inaba

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My boxer, Cookie, recently passed away. She had a heart condition and had been in a cage for so long when I adopted her. My cat Taz has had three surgeries and has only one kidney. He has a feeding tube, and he is one of the happiest, healthiest cats I have ever seen. Loving all my special-needs animals is so rewarding.

What’s the routine when you get home?

I walk through the door, get attacked by [the Chihuahua] Peanut and play with her on her big bed. I give Taz 50 mL of water in his neck through a syringe. Squeaker gets dinner. Taz gets dinner. Peanut is the pickiest -- I usually give her three choices for dinner, because I never know what she’ll want to eat. I wash more animal dishes than human dishes.

You’ve lived all over the world. How is the attitude about pets different in places like Hawaii or Japan?

In Hawaii everyone loves their animals, but dogs are treated more like outside dogs. In L.A., people have them indoors and carry them around all the time. Once in a while I take Peanut out to socialize her, but it makes her nervous, and I try not to stress out my animals. In Japan, there’s a high aesthetic, and it’s the same with pets: They treat them a little bit like toys, dressing them up and grooming them beautifully.

You’ve been through a few really difficult things in the last year -- ending an engagement, the death of one of your dogs, and the death of your father. Have your pets picked up on your sadness?

Yes. My fiancé and I broke up, then after I moved, Cookie passed away and then my dad. Peanut sensed it. I feel like dogs mirror your emotions. Cats are pretty mellow and steadfast, but that helps me. I’m very emotional. They help me come back to the status quo.

That’s kind of the deal, right? You save them, then they save you.

Absolutely. It goes both ways. When I was in my early 20s, my cat and my grandmother died. I felt so much more sad about my cat, and I felt really guilty about it. Human relationships are much more complicated, and the relationship with an animal is just love. So when you lose an animal, the grief is tremendous. Cookie passed away in my arms. It was heart-wrenching and beautiful at the same time. Two weeks later, my father died, and he died in his sleep. I think Cookie’s death prepared me for that, because I saw how peaceful it was. There’s so much magic in the world. And I think I’m more open to it now because of my animals.

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