Who is in the photo at right?
My name is Fiona Reid and I’m a journalist and blogger living in Edinburgh in Scotland. I write about interior design and architecture and my blog is called Copperline. I’m owned by Harris, a 4-year-old miniature wirehaired dachshund, who hangs out on Instagram.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
Usually Harris and I spend our days at home while I’m working, so we have tea together every day, but we’ve just been on holiday – a staycation, visiting places for day trips – and these photos were taken on a trip down the east coast to the beach at Seacliff.
Black tea, no sugar. Always. I gave up coffee many years ago as it didn’t agree with me. Here, I had a flask of Twining’s Afternoon Tea, which is my go-to cuppa.
Any treats for you or Harris on this occasion?
We actually packed a picnic for this trip. I’m vegan, so there were hummus and salad gluten-free rolls, and Montezuma’s Sea Dog chocolate is my addiction. Harris had some milky chicken bones, which are his addiction.
How were you and Harris united?
My partner Richard and I had been talking about welcoming a dog into our home for a while, but then my Mum got a wirehaired dachshund called Bracken – more on him below! Richard has always been a ‘big dog guy’, but then we spent time with Bracken and realized that dachshunds are not small dogs. In fact they’re not really dogs. They’re little gruff and hairy humans who basically come into your life and take it over.
So from that point on we knew we would be getting a pal for Bracken. Bracken’s breeder recommended that we go and see Harris’s breeder, as we wanted a pup and we wanted a boy. There were two pups, one of whom the breeder was thinking of keeping. Only I laid eyes on him and knew he was coming home.
How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?
We wanted something Scottish and also kind of gruff, as by this stage we knew something of the dachshund character. Baxter was in the mix. Richard is from Northern Ireland so we also thought about an Irish name – Murphy. But then we brought Harris home and thought, no… Harris suits… Harris. It’s the name of an island in the Outer Hebrides that’s known for its beautiful beaches, and while we live in the city Harris is very much a beach pup. And it’s a gutsy Scottish name.
Aliases? Toodle. My Mum called me Toodles as a kid (when I was very young) and the shortened name has passed to Harris. And ‘wee man’, of course.
Cat, postman, squirrel...?
We live in a top floor flat in the city. Harris is alerted to the postman when he swings closed the gate on the neighbouring property. If he misses this moment, there’s the buzzer as the postman requests entry to our communal stair. Harris goes nuts. Not just a little bits nuts. Full on crazy hound nuts.
Cat: we don’t see many, but I do feed a neighbour’s cat when they’re away and she teases Harris mercilessly, so he doesn’t understand cats. Neither do I for that matter, although I respect their independence.
Squirrels: we have squirrels in the giant tree in our communal back garden. They dig in the garden, and Harris smells them. He’d like to get his paws on a squirrel, I sense.
Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?
Harris got sent a squeaky Kong ball as part of his monthly DukeBox from Ruby & Duke, and he drove us insane for a few weeks until the squeak died. It was the only time he’s ever shown interest in a ball. Now, anything that appears with a squeak is used to taunt us, usually at about 9pm when we’re settling down to watch some TV or a movie. Every month, there’d something squeaky in the DukeBox…
No sticks though. Harris doesn’t fetch. You throw something and he looks at you as if to say, “That’s interesting. Are you going to get that?”
Who is Harris's best pet-pal?
His Uncle Bracken. Harris was introduced to Bracken (not his actual Uncle; we discovered recently that Harris is actually Bracken’s Uncle but this revelation was too confusing for anyone to deal with) on his second day home with us. For Harris, it was love at first sight. He came home with us, thought, “Who are these weird humans?” and the very next day, he met another him, only 18 months older and about 100 years wiser.
Uncle Bracken remembers this encounter differently. He wasn’t exactly delighted. Indeed that’s an understatement. Harris spent weeks, in fact, months, hanging from his Uncle’s beard at all opportunities. Bracken didn’t appreciate this. He liked his solo hound status. We thought he’d appreciate a friend, but he didn’t. It took time. Now, thankfully, they’re best buds.
What is Harris's best quality?
This is not a good question to ask a crazydogmama! Not unless you want a 1000 word reply! Okay, his affection and loyalty are profound. Harris is like my shadow. Wherever I am, he is. He’s such a devoted young man.
If Harris could change one thing about you, what would it be?
Harris wishes I didn’t spend so much of my day with technology, shifting from MacBook to iPad to iPhone. This is an addiction he could do without. Harris would want me to leave aside the tech and be a more outdoorsy person. Or someone who wanted to snuggle with him for 8 hours at a stretch.
If Harris could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?
Difficult question. Harris is an anxious little guy. He suffers from really bad anxiety when we’re in the city, when he’s out on his own with me. When we got Harris as a pup, Richard was unemployed – Harris was a “this recession sucks” pup – and he grew up with two of us around. That became his norm. Then Richard started working again and can spend long days away, and this change seemed to affect Harris’s confidence. So he struggles going out in the city, and I struggle knowing what to do to really help and to change the way he feels and acts.
So I guess my question would be: what do I need to do to make you feel secure and less stressed, and to believe that you’re always safe when you’re with me?
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Harris could speak, who should voice him?
My first thought was James McAvoy, but Harris consulted some of his friends in the #SausageArmy (yes, this exists on Twitter) and the consensus is Ewan McGregor. Uncle Bracken would need to be in this movie too, so he would be either Patrick Stewart or Bill Paterson: the gruff and grounded voice of maturity.
What advice would Harris give if asked?
So I asked Harris this, of course, and he said: find yourself some good humans, and then give yourself six months or so to figure them out, understand their quirks, and work out how to go about their training. Humans can be resistant to change so you need to be patient with them. And if you’re doing to do a whole lot of bad stuff – peeing, pooping, barking, squeaking - develop a killer-cute look that will render your humans incapable of being annoyed for more than 5 seconds.
Good advice I think.
Visit Fiona Reid's Copperline blog and Harris's Instagram page.