Who is in the photo at right?
I am Serra Battaloglu, a 19-year-old university student from Istanbul,Turkey who is training to be a yoga teacher. The dog in the photo is one of my dogs, Alex. He is a 6-year-old male Alsatian. Even though he probably weighs more than 120 lbs, he usually considers himself to be a small petite lapdog.
I also have a another Alsatian who is 5 years old, called Zino.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
A Sunday morning walk at seaside watching the ferries and sailboats.
Well, I usually prefer the good old Turkish tea to any kind of coffee.
Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?
Of course! There is a small teahouse that has all these good pastries. I usually get myself some pastry from there and as soon as the dogs see the tray, they start drooling all over the place. So I usually give in and share my treats with them.
How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?
Unfortunately we didn't get to name any of them. They had already been named when we got them.
Alex [photo left] has another official name which is Vemito von der Urbecke since he was bred in a kennel in Germany. After all those years I still wonder why someone would give such a long name to a dog!
How were you and your dogs united?
When our older dog, Pasa, who was a tough rottweiler passed away, our family was left with sorrow. We had another dog who was also an Alsatian called Duman and he was also very old so we knew he wouldn't be around for long.
Personally, I felt like I had too much love in me for animals and I didn't want that love to be spent in vain. I wanted a dog that I could share this love with and eventually I got what I wanted. Actually I have to admit that since I have grown up with dogs, I don't know have a clue on how to live without dogs.
As horrible as that sounds, Alex was adopted by one of our neighbors who had very little love for dogs. Well, they had love for only puppies but not for massive dogs like Alex. As soon as they saw that the cute little puppy was growing into a massive dog, they wanted to give him up. And we were there to take Alex into our life.
Zino [photo right, with Serra's father] is a complete different story. We got Zino from a kennel in Istanbul. Before we got him, we visited his kennel as a family and I remember seeing Zino running all over the kennel and I remember hoping that this wild dog is not the one that we would be bringing home and eventually it turned out he was!
For Zino, definitely cats. Just the sight of a cat throws Zino's obedience training into a dustbin.
Alex couldn't care less about these three. I sometimes get the feeling that he actually likes cats! He just has a kind nature.
Squeaky toy, ball, stick....?
For Zino, I would have to say pine cones. Our house is surrounded by huge pine trees and it's not uncommon to have your head hit with the occasional pine cone while walking in the garden.
If Zino finds a cone, he will bring it to you and wait for you to throw it. And when you throw it, he will run after it like it's the Snitch from the Quidditch game. The sad part is, for me the game gets pretty boring after some point and I hate to be the one to end the game and see his disappointed face.
For Alex [photo left], tennis balls are his favorite. The yellower the better. I actually think that there is a love and hate relationship between the balls and Alex. He likes to play with them but he also likes to destroy them by eating them which is usually incredibly gross to clean after.
Which is each dog's best quality?
Alex is the world's most obedient dog as well as being a great hugger and a great kisser. He is an affectionate dog. I think his best quality is his ability to bond with humans, maybe from my selfish perspective, his ability to bond with me. He is the kind of dog that if he sees your lap empty while sitting, he will come and put his head on your lap so that you can feel his affection. I like to think of him as a dog who gives love to people. Also if he sees you crying, he will rub his body against your legs to let you know that he is there for you. I often say that if he were a human being, I would marry him.
Zino is another case. He has his affectionate moments but overall he has too much energy to be a good hugger. He is the kind of dog that can't stand still. He is so energetic. Actually calling him energetic is underestimating his level of energy. He is more like a hyperactive dog. Zino is also the joke of the family. We have lots of jokes based on his ever-cheerful character and his readiness to play games. Spending time with him is almost always fun. I always enjoy his company.
If your dogs could change one thing about the people of Istanbul, what would it be?
For some unknown reason, people of Istanbul usually think that Alex [in the distance] is a female. Actually what is worse is that they usually think he is Zino's [forward] mother. I am sure Alex would like to change that misconception for good.
Also they would both want to change the fact that there used to be a TV series about an Alsatian who was named Pulsar. While on their daily walks, it is not uncommon to have people point their fingers at them and say 'Are they Pulsar?' Sometimes getting celebrity attention like that can be intimidating.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, which actors should do their voices?
Jim Carrey for Zino and Jake Gyllenhaal or James Franco for Alex.
If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?
Zino will you ever calm down?
Alex sometimes you can't get the angle right and you pee on yourself, do you realize that?