Golden opportunities

Mac and Mollie are this year's Pet Stars

Mollie and Mac, photography by Neal Bruns

Mollie and Mac, photography by Neal Bruns

To say that Cathy and John Burwell are dog lovers is an understatement. But when you have such adorable brother-and-sister Goldendoodles, it’s not hard to see why. The Burwells’ Mac and Mollie are the 2014 Pet Stars. Given that 2014 marked Cathy and John’s 40th wedding anniversary as well, 2014 has been good to them.

Pet Star is a fundraiser for Fort Wayne Newspapers’ Newspaper In Education program. Newspaper in Education (NIE) is an international program that helps promote and increase children’s literacy by using the newspaper as a teaching tool in the classroom. Fort Wayne Newspapers has been part of the Newspaper in Education (NIE) program for over 30 years.

NIE is able to offer the newspaper to local teachers at no cost to them. These papers are provided as requested by local teachers in public, private, parochial and home school settings.

When Cathy Burwell saw the announcement of the Pet Star contest, she thought her two golden-haired cuties might have a chance.

“This was really a nice thing to do,” Cathy said of the contest. Thanks to the dogs’ silky, curly hair, they need grooming every four weeks. One day after a grooming, Cathy took the dogs outside and took their snapshot.

“Both of them had red eyes,” Cathy said of the resulting photo. “I wanted to use the picture, though, (so) I sent the picture to Val Slack, a photographer in North Manchester, and she fixed it.”

The Burwells have always had dogs over the course of their lives, including an Irish Wolfhound and a German Shepherd they lost within six months of each other. They vowed they’d have no more dogs, because they were so sad when their pair died. But a trip to Shipshewana “just to look” at some puppies changed that mindset.

“In September of 2008, we went, and this one puppy looked up at me and I fell in love,” Cathy said.

That puppy was Mollie, and because they didn’t want her to be alone when they were not at home, they picked up her male littermate and named him Mac, after John’s grandfather. Mac is the first male dog the couple has adopted. The Burwells also have a grown son, Adam, and daughter-in-law Jennifer.

“We’ve always had dogs,” she said. And the two Goldendoodles are “very smart.”

“That’s the poodle in them,” John interjected. “They’re fairly docile.”

Indeed, after an initial flurry of excitement over a visitor, the pair flop down on the floor, eyes on the visitor. Mac, who is blonder than his darker-haired sister, will approach when asked, and he will gently put his paw on one’s arm, seeking a quick scratch behind his silky ears. Mollie seems a bit more reserved, but she will keep a watchful eye on everyone in the room, waiting for some action. Both Mac and Mollie are fashionistas, with bandanas and barrettes adorning their fur.

“They think they’re lapdogs,” Cathy said, though Mac weighs 75 pounds and his sister clocks in at 65 pounds.

“They want to be where we are,” she added. The dogs are adventuresome travelers, accompanying their retired owners on errands around Northeast Indiana.

“I dress them up when we go out,” Cathy said.

“They’re great travelers,” John added.

On hot days, Mollie, who more closely resembles the Golden Retriever side of her parentage, cools off in her own swimming pool in the fenced backyard at the Burwells’ home. Mac, who favors his poodle side, is content to watch the action from the sidelines.

First appeared in the January 2015 issue of Fort Wayne Magazine.

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