Who is in the photo at right?
I am Marika S. Bell, a CPDT dog trainer and dog behaviour blogger.
Cooper is a 7 year old Lancashire Heeler male. Lancashire Heeler are a rare dog breed from the NW UK used (like corgis) for herding cattle.
Ripley is a 3 years old SPCA-special. We would love to get him genetically tested to see what his closest breed is, my guess is English Mastiff/GSD.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
After breakfast we head to the local dog park where we get to sniff the pee-mail and stretch our legs. Then I lead the way to our favourite coffee shop. Next stop is home to read email and write. I love this part of the day where we can relax in the office with the heater on, drinking my coffee while the boys lounge on their beds around the office.
A half strength flat white from my much-appreciated baristas at GroundUp cafe in Pauahatanui.
Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?
The best treat for all of us is the toastie-warm office when the heat is on. It isn't a big office so two dogs, two cats and me, fill it up pretty well.
How were you and your dogs united?
My husband grew up with Lancashire Heelers so when we decided to get a dog, 7 years ago, he wanted another heeler. Cooper was chosen for us by my husband's mother in the UK and he flew with her (first class) to Seattle where we lived. He has since travelled with us to Singapore for two years then here to New Zealand.
Ripley was a pup at the local SPCA at 8 weeks old, I met him at 4 months old and decided he was the one! He is my big New Zealand Frankenstein dog (he doesn't seem to fit together very well).
You may be the only dog trainer I've come across who also has a background in big cat training. How similar are those two areas of expertise?
I was first introduced to clicker training when I worked with a Puma named Tum-Tum. That experience has greatly affected my methods of dog training through positive reinforcement. If you wouldn't smack a tiger on the nose, why would you need to do that to a dog? All training with the cats was behind a safety fence so you had to be able to communicate well and you couldn't use force even if you wanted to. The animals has to trust you and that only happens through positive training.
How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?
Cooper was named on the impulsively, when I saw his little head poking out of his soft-sided carrier at the airport.
Ripley was named after one of my favourite movie characters "Ripley" from Alien. Also he was very wrinkly as a puppy so it seemed to fit.
Do your dogs have a favorite place to go for an outing?
They love the local dog park, but their unequalled favourite is the beach!
Rabbit, postman, cat...?
Due to Ripley's lack of early socialization just about anything out of the ordinary needs at least one good bark. They have a very tolerant relationship with their own two cats, even sleeping on the bed together if given the chance in the morning.
Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?
Molly and Max, a Labra-doodle and a Mini Snauchzer are their good friends from the dog park. They are also one big and one small dog so they are a good match for my mis-sized boys.
What is each dog's best quality?
Ripley is a snuggler, he stares up at me lovingly and the Oxytocin hit is instantaneous.
Cooper is a courageous soul, and a proper gentlemen at heart. All the airs of stateliness go out the window, however, when a guest comes to visit and he can't stop his butt wiggling faster than his front.
If your dogs could change one thing about New Zealanders, what would it be?
All the beaches in NZ would be dog friendly and off-leash!
If your dogs could speak in the movie about your life, who should do their voices?
Cooper would be voiced by Pierce Brosnan, and Ripley would be Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords.
Visit Marika S. Bell's Dancing Dogs website and blog.