Who is in the photo at right?
The white one is Angel, my first Tibetan Spaniel and she’s now 10 months old, the black one is Pippa [short for Pipsqueak – she was the runt of her litter] and she’s 4 months old and another Tibetan Spaniel. They’re a wonderful breed, very affectionate and although small will act as a watch dog up to a point – i.e. they’ll let me know if there’s someone around – but mostly they’re just very playful.
I’m Tracey Alley and I'm fortunate enough to be able to work at my writing full time; prior to that I cared for my mother for seven years and worked part time in various administration or teaching jobs and got two degrees at Uni at the same time. A bad back injury stopped me from being able to sit or stand for long periods so I can no longer work full time in admin or teaching.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
The dogs and I have coffee together every morning before I start my day and every night after dinner I sit and have a coffee with the dogs while I give them a brush and we play together for a while. It’s my way of unwinding from the day. Actually any excuse to sit and play with the dogs I’ll take ... and any excuse for a coffee.
I use a blend I buy from Gloria Jean’s Coffee, a cappuccino with a hint of chocolate – a little on the decadent side but I limit myself to only two of these a day, the rest of the time it’s instant.
Any goodies to go with the coffee?
Usually not, the chocolate in the blend is enough. Sometimes a chocolate chip cookie if I’m feeling naughty or want the extra sugar rush.
Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?
In the mornings they have their Denta sticks, which clean their teeth, at night they get a liver strip each.
How were you and your dogs united?
I bought both dogs off local breeders. I bought Angel from a lady in Toowoomba who’s been breeding Tibbies [their nickname] for years and Pippa from another lady for whom this was her first breeding experience. I always tend to buy my dogs from breeders if I’m getting a puppy – there are puppy farms out there where the animals are treated very badly which is why I stick with registered breeders so I know they’ve come from a good home.
Have your dogs had any influence on your writing?
Only in the form of being a distraction – Tibbies like to play a lot. When I only had Angel she was constantly vying for my attention which is why I decided to get her a playmate. Now the two of them play happily together and I get more work done but they still like lots of attention from me.
How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?
Angel has two goldish coloured marks on her back that look a little like wings so that’s where her name came from and Pippa is so tiny that Pipsqueak came immediately to mind, shortened to Pippa. Angel’s nickname is ‘Miss Nibbles’ and Pipppa’s is ‘Houdini’ -- Angel’s a nibbler and Pippa will escape any chance she gets and from the tiniest breaks in the fence.
Cat, rabbit, postman...?
The postman’s OK and they love the family cat but I wouldn’t put them anywhere near a rabbit – they would definitely go for that and they both have very sharp teeth. They were originally bred as ratting dogs and they do that very well and leave the evidence for me to clean up.
Tennis ball, squeaky-toy, frisbee...?
In the back yard they like their tennis balls and squeaky toys but inside they prefer to mangle their stuffed toys – they each have stuffed animals of their own but they will play fight over each other’s toys.
Where are your dogs' favorite places for outings?
They both love the beach and their other favourite is probably the park near my house – it’s fully enclosed so they can both run around to their heart’s desire and wear themselves out.
Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?
Each other although they love my Siamese cat, Caesar, but he’s not quite as fond of them as they are of him and gets bored with playing with them very, very quickly.
What is each dog's best quality?
Angel has a real mothering temperament, she really looks after Pippa and she’s incredibly gentle with children and I tend to have a lot of children come through my house with all my nieces and nephews. Pippa is just a bowl full of fun, she’s mischievous and cheeky and very tiny. She has the heart of a lion though despite her small size and shakes the life out of her toys.
What is each dog's proudest moment? Most embarrassing?
I think Angel’s proudest moment was the first time she met my nieces – she marched up and down in front of them all while they were all sitting on my couch as if she was on display. As for embarrassing she certainly looked embarrassed one afternoon as she tripped over her feet coming in through the doggie door.
Pippa has an endless supply of proud moments but the first time she actually caught the tennis ball she looked so pleased with herself that I began laughing so hard and she looked so hurt that I was laughing so that was probably her most embarrassing as well, although that was my fault.
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