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Our feature family this month are endearingly dedicated parents to their furry children. Meet Karen and Burns Bishop. Both are Mississippi natives, Burns from Plantersville and Karen from Jackson. Although remaining in their home state, they have a penchant for travel which is how our paths crossed.
Karen and Burns were living in Madison working for Bottrell Insurance, Karen as a commercial account manager and Burns a comptroller. In July 2015, they heard the company was interested in opening an office in Oxford, and they jumped at the opportunity. Burns always had an attachment to Oxford, having visited frequently with his Dad, an Ole Miss graduate, to attend ballgames. This bolstered his decision to also attend and graduate from Ole Miss. Moving here was their dream coming to life. They were closer to their grandaughter, Marion, and all that life in a college town offers, especially their beloved Ole Miss. When they aren’t spending quality time with their family or attending events, they take a well planned excursion.
Planning for their travels to such places as Paris, London, Rome and many other destinations rich with landmarks, would not be possible with out care for their canine children which is how we met this family. Karen had searched extensively for her bluetick coonhounds. They are rare in our state. The Bishops had always had dogs, preferably large and this breed. When we came to care for the Bishop children, they had Abby and Kate, sisters from Georgia. These girls being very sweet in nature and raised as hunters, even though Karen and Burns had no intention of using them for that, loved being outside. The girls also loved stuffed animals and occasionally tried to take some of grandaughter Marion’s toys, in particular was a Mickey Mouse doll. The girls love it so much that Karen had to get them their own Minnie Mouse toy to keep them from taking Marion’s. Watching them play was ultimate joy for the Bishops. They never entertained the thought of what was about to happen.
On one October day in 2015, Karen was on her way to work when she saw a dog on the side of the road. She stopped to check on him, and without prompting, he jumped into her car and never looked back. After taking him to the vet, she found that he was possibly a Border Terrier and around 4 months old. She gave him her birthday of May 31st and Burns gave him the name Toby. Burns names all of the pets because he seems to have a gift for it. Toby fit in with the whole family right away. They were unprepared for how much they loved him. He would lounge with the girls all of the time. In fact Abby or Kate would lay in one of the pet beds, Toby would lay on top of one of them and the other on him. Burns said,”Sometimes you need a pillow, and sometimes you are the pillow.”
In December 2016, they lost Kate to an illness. Karen and Abby were lost and devastated. Toby stepped up his role in the family, cuddling with Abby more, and honing the best side of himself. He always enjoyed playing fetch with his ball; it just became more entertaining. He likes to dribble his ball and fetch it too. The backyard being on a hill, loans itself to endless fun. When Toby can’t find anyone to play fetch, he stands at the top of the hill, tosses it down, chases it to the bottom and brings it back to the top to start again. They call him “their joy.” They have had a full life with their pets. Even though Toby has been coming to the Spaw lately, Abby cannot, due to how sick she gets when she travels. When their next dream trip, possibly Ireland, comes to fruition, our pet nannies will be ready to play lots of fetch with “the joy” and howl with bluetick coonhound Abby.