Romeo and Juliet. Lancelot and Guinevere. Mark Antony and Cleopatra. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett. Napoleon and Josephine. Stevie and Boots.
Wait – you haven’t heard of Stevie and Boots? Well, you’re hearing about them now.
Stevie and Boots share a home with their pet parent Hayley Shoecraft – and they have an interspecies love that’s worthy of a tome of their own.
Hayley adopted her cat, Boots, six years ago. “I rescued her from a house that took very poor care of their cat,” she recalled. “Her mama got pregnant and was left with a litter of babies that her owner couldn’t take care of. When I heard of the litter and found my baby, five-month-old Boots, she was flea-infested and unhealthy. But she was mine.”
Thanks to Hayley’s loving care and an “uncle cat” named Chief, Boots soon learned what it meant to be part of a family.
“My roommate at the time had a GIANT male cat named Chief,” Hayley said. “He was an exceptional cat. He took Boots under his wing and helped raise her up like an older brother. Even as she grew, she never reached half his size. Shout out to Chiefton, though, for her early life adaptability skills.”
Hayley soon moved back down to San Diego from Los Angeles, where she and Boots settled into a new home. Hayley took a fateful trip to a pet store to get food for Boots, and that’s when she met Stevie.
“I saw these baby bearded dragons and remembered a friend in high school that had two,” she recalled. “They were the chillest creatures, and I was suddenly so interested in having one. I had a good job at the time, I lived alone, I’m pretty obsessed with most animals, and I could afford it, so I thought, why not?”
Hayley brought home her bearded lizard, dubbed Steve, in a “tiny, mouse-sized cardboard box.” Armed with a “bearded dragon starter kit,” she presumed that Google would help her with the rest. “He was no bigger than the palm of my hand, end to end,” she recalled. “He literally felt weightless.”
Boots, of course, was instantly fascinated with this new housemate. “I was worried that she would want to play with him and then mistake him for some kind of prey,” Hayley said. “Every day I left for work, I’d put books and weights on the top of Stevie’s tank, just to be safe… and every day she would spend lying on the table, stretched out in front of the glass of his tank, just gazing at him.”
As Stevie grew and Hayley learned more and more about him online, “Boots and I both became more and more fascinated with this dinosaur-like creature living in our apartment,” she said.
“I held him all the time, panicked to lose him when he was so small, and weirded out by his first head-bobbing,” she said with a laugh. “We were all learning together! I finally decided to let Boots get a good smell and see him without a glass partition. I put him down on the table and she walked right up to him and laid down in front of his face. She reached out and put her nose to his nose and Stevie slowly closed his eyes….my heart melted…”
From then on, Boots has been a “mother” to Stevie. “They’ve now spent years playing together, chasing each other, running over one another, you name it,” Hayley said. “Boots loves to lay inside his tank with him in the warm sand when I let her. He loves to curl up in her warmth when they lay together in their window hammock.”
Often when Hayley comes home for lunch, she’ll find the two snuggled together, wide smiles on both of their faces.
She added: “I love them both so much and couldn’t imagine life without them!”