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Central Iowa's most famous pets

We scoured the metro to find some of the coolest pets in Des Moines. A few you may have heard of like Tank the Drake Bulldog — but some might be new to you — like Zoom the cat fashionista or Romeo the horse who has already made his Des Moines Opera debut.


Fact: Tank is the cutest bulldog in town. And no, we're not just saying that. The two-year-old pup was crowned Most Beautiful Bulldog at the 106th Drake Relays this spring, where he won judges over with his homemade army costume and million dollar grin. But don't worry, it hasn't gone to his ego. Owners Duane and Adora, of Des Moines, who found Tank on Craigslist last year, say he's like any other bulldog.

Favorite things to do:

Play tug of war and fetch with the football. Also snoring and turtle-watching.

Three words to describe him:

Friendly. Funny. Loving.

Favorite foods:

Purina dog food. And bacon.

Grooming routine:

We brush him and clean his wrinkles out once a day, and he gets bathed every two weeks.

Ideal date:

He loves to eat. In fact, I've never seen him turn down food, ever. So he'd probably grab a bite to eat with a cute, female bulldog.

Where you can find him:

We took him to Drake Day at the Iowa State Fair, and he was also at one of the Jazz in July events that Drake sponsored. You can find him around campus during the school year, events and days still TBD.

Words of encouragement for next year's Beautiful Bulldog contestants:

Anybody can win. And don't give up if you don't win the first time. If Tank hadn't won, we would've put him in again. Just keep trying.

- Andrea Crowley

RELATED: Iowa puppies rule on 'Puppy Bowl' | Four pet-friendly bars


Dogs may drool, but they also rule at events in Des Moines. Walk around the Downtown Farmers' Market or any park and you'll see countless pooches dragging their owners around by the leash.

But cats? Zoom seems to have that market cornered.

You may have seen Zoom leading owner Candy Haney around the farmers' market or spotted the duo walking around Union Park. Haney said it takes a little longer than it would to walk a dog because, well, you've heard the expression "like herding cats," right?

"He wanted to go out out with me everywhere I went, so I started taking a leash," Haney said. "First thing in the morning he goes to the door and starts crying to go for a walk, just like a dog."

In addition to events, Haney said Zoom also enjoys walks to the grocery store and Quik Trip. Crowds can make him feel a little overwhelmed, so Haney tends to take Zoom for an early walk when they're headed someplace like the farmers' market.

But even if he's overwhelmed, Zoom loves the attention.

"He'll fall down and start rubbing his back on the ground while people pet him or start rubbing their leg," Haney said. "He's a silly cat."

— Joe Lawler

RELATED: Iowa puppies rule on 'Puppy Bowl' | Four pet-friendly bars


Romeo, an 11-year-old horse from northwestern Warren County, made his operatic debut this summer in the Des Moines Metro Opera's staging of "The Girl of the Golden West." But it was hardly his first rodeo.

For years, the white-maned, copper-splotched gelding has been the go-to horse in the area for parades, barrel courses and other spectacles. He once performed with a drill team in a dark stadium, wearing a costume of LED lights.

"He's used to fireworks," said Alexandra Lobianco, the soprano who rode him onstage in the opera, singing at full blast. Her voice barely fazed him.

His owner, Brittany Abernathy, fed him a few apple slices to help him focus before he walked out on stage. (Romeo had a little "accident" during his first rehearsal but performed admirably during the actual performances.)

"By the end of the run, he knew when it was ready to go on and he was so excited," Abernathy's mother, Laurie, said. "I think he kind of misses it."

The horse moved to Oklahoma on Saturday to join Brittany at college, but both will return home in December for the holiday break. Meantime, he'll perform in October with another drill team at the Future Farmers of America national convention in Kentucky and then in November at the Color Breed Congress back in Oklahoma.

Until then, "he's still working out but he's got some time off," Laurie Abernathy said.

— Michael Morain

RELATED: Iowa puppies rule on 'Puppy Bowl' | Four pet-friendly bars

Should you adopt a dog?

Summer is winding down, fall is upon us and winter is coming. (Sorry, guys.)

If you're like me, the first sign of sweater weather means it's time to start nesting.

And, if you're like me, this also brings up the idea of adopting a dog. Wouldn't a puppy make the chill of Des Moines' winter so much easier to withstand? (Yes, yes it will.)

But wanting a couch friend is not a good enough reason to adopt a dog. Here are some questions to ask yourself before you adopt any pet, courtesy of the Humane Society of the United States.

  • Why do you want a pet?  "Don't forget that pets may be with you 10, 15, even 20 years."
  • Do you have time for a pet? "Dogs, cats, and other animal companions cannot be ignored just because you're tired or busy."
  • Can you afford a pet? "Licenses, training classes, spaying and neutering, veterinary care, grooming, toys, food, kitty litter and other expenses add up quickly."
  • Are you prepared to deal with the challenges a pet can present? "Flea infestations, scratched furniture, accidents from animals who aren't house-trained and unexpected medical emergencies are more common than you think."
  • Can you have a pet where you live?
  • Is it a good time for you to adopt a pet?  "Should you wait for your life to calm down a bit?"
  • Are your living arrangements suitable for the animal you have in mind?
  • Will you be a responsible pet owner? "Having your pet spayed or neutered, obeying community leash and licensing laws, and keeping identification tags on your pets are all part of being a responsible owner."
  • Do you know who will care for your pet while you're away on vacation?
  • Are you prepared to keep and care for your pet for the long haul?

Adopt local

Still think you can handle the responsibility of adopting a pet? Check out some of these local agencies:

Furry Friends Refuge: 1211 Grand Ave., West Des Moines,

Animal Lifeline of Iowa: 4521 S.E. 14th St.,

AHeinz57 Pet Rescue & Transport, Inc: 109 Guthrie (Hwy 169), De Soto,

Second Chance Dog Rescue: 4803 Lisbon St., Prole,