Who is in the photo at right?
My name is Laura and I'm a farmer. I think when I tell people this they don't really believe me, but there's not much I like more than zooming around on my tractor. In a previous life I was a teacher. I taught children with emotional and behavioural difficulties then I did a stint with children with severe autism. It was quite hard and after 12 years I decided it was time to burn out. Around this time my husband, Lloyd and I decided to emigrate from Scotland and move to New Zealand, it's been the most brilliant thing we could have done.
The photo is of Lloyd, me, Bob, Brodie and Tallulah. Great family shot or what?!
Bob is a boy, a labradoodle and 9 years old. But he'll always be my baby.
Brodie is also a boy, another labradoodle and 6 years old.
Tallulah [photo left] is a girl, another labradoodle and 5 years old.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
Oh, any excuse really. We have a gigantic garden, so we often get a rug out and have a wee picnic. It's summer in New Zealand now, so it's very hot and very sunny, pretty perfect for a wee drink in the garden.
Well, for Lloyd it's some locally roasted coffee, made in one of those Italian stove top things. He likes a wee espresso.
To be honest I'm more of a tea girl. A nice Earl Grey does it for me.
Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?
Well, for the humans we've got home made French macarons - it's taken me 2 years to perfect these wee beauties. No sugar for the dogs though - Daddy's a dentist and as they can't brush their own teeth sugar is a no no. They often have huge 'dinosaur' bones to gnaw on though.
How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?
Bob [photo right] was our first dog and we spent ages thinking up names for him, then decided to wait until we got him home and somehow he'd tell us his name. He said he wanted to be called Bob, so Bob it was. This wasn't on our list and had never crossed our minds. We waited almost a year for him, and visited him when he was a day old. We visited him 3 more times, which involved a whole days driving, before he was old enough to take home. So to say we were keen is an understatement!
He has so many aliases it's unbelievable: Bob Dog, Bobadoodle, Bob a dog, Brad Pitbull (Brodie becomes Angelina Fluffy in this instance), Boblingham Bertie, Floo Floo the fairy Pirate Fish, Mr Fluffy, and Treacle Hound.
Brodie was our second family member. We went to visit him a few times before he was old enough to come home and he just instantly became Brodie. He too has a few aliases: Brodie B, Big Boy Brodie, Angelina Fluffy, Brodelie, Beeper (boy), Beep.
And finally Tallulah. Shortly before Lulah came to live with us there was an article in the paper about a family who had wanted to name their daughter Tallulah does the Hula from Hawaii - a judge had ruled against it, stating that "she's not in the kennel club." This made us laugh so we decided that this would have to be her name!
Her aliases: Lulah, Loopy (lulah), Lulah pants, Loopety Loo, Talullahbelle.
[photo left: Brodie]
How were you and your dogs united?
Well, with Bob, friends of ours have his half brother - we fell in love with him instantly and decided that this was the type of dog we'd like. So we contacted the breeder. She had a years waiting list so we waited the year. She only allowed her dog to have one litter a year so this instantly made me like her. We ended up making good friends with her so she let us have the pick of the litter. We picked him when he was one day old and I've loved him ever since. Bob came to us when I had just given up teaching because of, basically, stress. It was perfect timing and he pretty much healed me. I owe him a lot.
He was born in England, moved to Scotland when he was a baby, lived there for 2 years then emigrated all the way to New Zealand. We've always said that if Bob couldn't have come with us we'd not have come ourselves.
When we'd been in NZ about a year we decided that Bob could really do with a wee friend to play with; it seemed crazy to have all this space and only one dog. We like labradoodles a lot - they're a bit mad and very bouncy, but incredibly loving dogs with huge personalities and really we couldn't see past them as family. So we found a breeder about an hour away; we liked how she did things and we waited... and waited... and waited. Eventually Brodie came along. We brought him home and Bob loved him, even though I think he drove him rather mad when he was a puppy.
Finally Lulah [photo right]. I had always wanted a girl chocolate labradoodle. I just felt like our little family needed one to complete it. People thought we were daft - 2 doodles are pretty hard work, and a third one could be sheer madness! But I kept looking. I really wanted to rescue one, so kept an eye out on the SPCA website and trademe (NZ's version of eBay) just looking for our girl. Then one day after months of searching I saw Lulah. She was needing a new home. I emailed straight away - I totally knew she was going to be our dog. But I got a reply back saying that a home had been found for her already. I was devastated, I'd been so positive that this dog needed us. Then 3 days later I got another email. The new home hadn't worked out. She was too boisterous and she was still in need of a home. So we headed down to Auckland (a 4 hour journey) to meet her and needless to say she did come home with us, and yes, she is boisterous! But the most loving and affectionate dog you could ever meet.
Rabbit, postman, cat....?
Well, they live with three cats, so thankfully not cat!
Rabbits: there are lots of them around the farm, but they seem totally uninterested in them.
Our poor postman, Dougie, however.... We live rurally, so our postman drives a van and does all the rural deliveries. There's nothing sets our dogs off barking more than Dougie's red van coming up the drive!
They lick him to death!
Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?
Ball, they are all obsessed with them.
Lulah does also have a teddy that she carries around like a baby, which she tries to give to anyone that comes to the house...
[photo right: Brodie with Bob looking on]
If your dogs could change one thing about New Zealanders, what would it be?
I completely understand the reasons for this, but NZ, for dog walking, is not an easy country. Almost all forests, hills, farmland is out of bounds. No dogs allowed - it's to protect the very fragile ecosystem we have here, but mostly the Kiwi.
Almost all beaches are dog free zones as well; either that or are very restricted to times of year, times of day and always on a lead.
We have a few secret ones that we take the dogs to as they are so out of the way no one is there!
So, if our dogs could change one thing it would be the amount of outdoor places we could take them.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, which actors should do their voices?
I love this question. Lloyd and I can't agree!
[photo left: Laura and Brodie]
I think Patrick Stewart would play Bob, Lloyd thinks Ian McKellen, but Morgan Freeman would also be good. All wise sounding men.
For Brodie, Lloyd and I both agree that Hugh Grant should play him.
Lulah, Brittany Murphy had she still been with us. So maybe Sarah Hyland from Modern Family!
If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?
Are you happy? It's all I want them to be. I hope I know the answer.
Visit Laura's Our Wee Farm blog.