Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Kristine Tonks & Shiva

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Kristine. My day job is at a non-profit organization but what I really love to do is eat cheese, read pretentious novels, and post photos of my dog on the Internet. It's too bad I have yet to find a way to get paid for the latter but I'm working on it! My dog's name is Shiva. She is around two and a half years old. I say around because we're just going off the basic information the SPCA gave us. We have no idea what breed she is but I love hearing other people's opinions! One of the popular search terms for my blog is "merle jack russell whippet mix." It's a little long but I like it.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I took the day off work to do a little Christmas shopping. Now that I'm home from fighting the hordes at the mall, it is refreshing to spend some time relaxing with the puppers in our cozy living room.

What's brewing?

Actually, my mug is filled with tea instead of coffee. I'm trying to get in the spirit by drinking a Christmas blend from my favourite tea brewery in Mahone Bay, NS. It's helping ward off the cold rain outside that's for sure.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

I bought some chicken livers for Shiva at the mall but nothing for me. Yet.

How were you and Shiva united?

It is all because of Before we adopted her, I was pretty obsessed with getting a dog. It had been a long time since I'd lived with one and while I love our cat, I really missed the companionship of an energetic canine. I started checking Petfinder religiously, like six or seven times a day, just to see if there were any new dogs available in our area that would suit our lifestyle. We were already pre-approved for adoption at the NS SPCA. It was just a matter of finding the dog for us. I wanted a dog that was house-trained and that would have some energy. At the time I was looking for a great walking and hiking companion. If only I knew what I was in for! It was the evening of Good Friday back in 2008 that Shiva's photo appeared on the screen. She was all legs and spots and I suggested to my husband that we should go to meet her the next day. My husband fell in love with her right away. I tend to be more cautious and was a little unsure as her energy levels seemed a tad over what I expected. She literally pulled me across the parking lot, bouncing instead of walking. I knew she was going to be a lot of work. But there was another couple there who wanted to meet her at the same time. The pressure of having to make a quick decision or lose the chance forever, was what made me give in.

We know very little about Shiva's life before the shelter. Just that she was found wandering alone by the man who brought her to the SPCA inside a cat carrier. Since she has been living with us for a lot longer than she was on the street, we like to say that time of her life doesn't count any more.

How did Shiva get her name? Any aliases?

The SPCA had named her Tessa and while that was a sweet little name we wanted to give her something completely new. We spent over a week writing a list of different options. We just wrote down every possible name we could think of and then went through and eliminated each one. For some reason Shiva stood out the most. It suits her; I couldn't think of calling her anything else now.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Cat, definitely the Cat. Luckily, he's been around a lot longer than Shiva and has no trouble putting her in her place if need be. She also loves chasing birds. Especially the poor ducks that live in the lake in our backyard.

Tennis ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Shiva loves them all! When we first adopted her, she seemed to have very little interest in toys. We couldn't even inspire her to chew on a bone. After we stuffed a Kong for her, she suddenly found the joy that can be gained from destroying things. There was no going back. No stuffed animal is safe any more.

Where is Shiva's favorite place for an outing?

There is a dog park not too far away with dozens of off-leash hiking trails and a whole beach area designed just for dogs. This is one of my favourite places to take her as she gets to run and run and run as much as she could ever desire. Since we don't have a fenced backyard, she doesn't get to relieve her zoomies nearly as often as I'd like. Nearly every time we go she is able to meet another dog who appreciates the thrill of the chase as much as Shiva does. It is an amazing thing to see.

Who are Shiva's best pet-pals?

Shiva has a few friends at agility class. There is a Bernese Mountain Dog named Jenna who is kind of her go-to gal when other dogs tell her off for being to wild. And a Shiba-Inu mix named Robin who has a similar energy level. They play really nicely together and we're hoping to meet up with him outside of class one day. There is also Toffee the Sheltie, who is her sometimes-friend, sometimes-nemesis for agility points.

If Shiva could change one thing about you, what would it be?

I'm pretty sure she thinks I spend way too much time on the computer. Time that could be better spent going into the treat cupboard or playing a game of tug.

What is Shiva's proudest moment? Most embarrassing?

This is a hilarious question! Those who know Shiva know she is insane. She does everything at top speed - there is no middle ground. She is also super smart and picks up on new behaviours too fast for my liking sometimes. I'm sure Shiva's idea of her proudest moment was when she figured out she could turn the trick of walking on her hind legs to her advantage. If I had known teaching her that would turn her into a counter-surfer extraordinaire, I may have reconsidered!

In my opinion, however, Shiva's proudest moment was just a few weeks ago when we went to the bookstore to get her photo taken with Santa. As she can still be a little stressed around strangers I wasn't sure how the day would go. At the first sign of reactivity I was ready to bolt. However, not only did she sit on Santa's lap but she also sought out attention from the staff and other dog owners. She is so brave and I felt so proud to see how far she has come in the last year.

As a hyper-active klutz, one can imagine Shiva would have a lot of embarrassing moments to reflect on. She is constantly crashing into things and knocking stuff over. However, one of my favourite stories is about the day after we brought her home. I returned from work to find Shiva's crate empty. Naturally I panicked. Thinking she had somehow escaped or that the neighbours had gotten fed up with her yelping and carted her away, I called my husband to make sure she wasn't with him. That was when I heard a soft whine coming from the down stairs. When I headed down to investigate I found our cat sitting in the hallway licking his paws as if nothing abnormal was going on. I turned to look in the direction of the whining and that's when I found my new dog. Shiva was cowering in the bathroom between the toilet and the wall. The cat had obviously had chased her there when she got loose from her crate and was making sure she stayed put. If I hadn't of been so worried and if she hadn't of looked so pathetic, I could have laughed. Poor little fifty-pound puppy, trapped by a fuzzy eight-pound cat. What would her old friends back at the shelter say if they found out?

Learn more about Kristine and Shiva at the Rescued Insanity blog.

--Marshal Zeringue