Life’s experiences can take us in many directions and take on many forms. For Monique Balas, adopting and caring for a friend’s older kitty with hyperthyroidism (a not uncommon disease afflicting our feline friends) turned her writing career into a focus on Pets.
Her cat Madeline was her closest companion for six years. “During that time, as she got sicker, I learned a lot about caring for animals and the important role they play in my life.” Balas said.
Balas is the Pet Talk columnist for the Oregonian in Portland, OR a position she’s held for a year. Prior to that she worked as an editorial assistant and freelancer for the paper. As a staff reporter, she covered education for The Bend Bulletin, and has also written for the Portland Business Journal, Fresh Cup Magazine, the Appleton Post-Crescent and the Green Bay News-Chronicle.
As a Pet columnist, Balas covers a range of issues that she hopes impacts readers the most by offering suggestions to help in their own lives. Recent columns have addressed groups working to help exotic birds, how the economy has impacted Portland’s Pet industry, the Delta Society’s Pet Partners program, and how to prepare Pets for when their human children friends headed back to school.
“I really care about animals, and I love the fact that all of my sources and readers do too. It’s fun to work with people who are as passionate about Pets as I am,” she said. “I also love getting feedback from readers who often have great insights about a column I wrote, or a nice idea for a future column.”
Balas said one of her challenges as a Pet columnist is all the topics she can cover. Her column runs once a week so narrowing down ideas can be tough and she, at times, admits to “over reporting” because she wants to talk to as many sources as possible.
In her own life, Balas adopted two shelter cats last year after losing Madeleine. Both around two years old, Louie is white with black spots and Esperanza is a petite black cat with three legs. She had been hit by a car, saved only by a Good Samaritan who brought her to the Oregon Humane Society where her right rear leg was amputated.
“They make me laugh and they are wonderful companions,” she said of her two cats. “I work at home so they keep me company during the day and remind me not to take things so seriously.”
Balas’ column can be found in the Living section of the Oregonian print edition or online at oregonlive.com. She also writes for exceptionalcanine.com.