Monday, December 21, 2015

Donna Balzer & Kelly

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Donna Balzer, and my dog Kelly.

I am the No Guff Gardener - I make gardening less complicated for my audience but I never make it stupid because that’s just dumb. I write and speak about gardening to various audiences and I have a regular phone-in gardening show on CBC radio in Canada, regular column in the local newspaper (Calgary Herald), a blog, and a YouTube channel (No Guff Gardening).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Kelly looks for an excuse to relax and unwind and we encourage this because he was such a crazy overactive dog when we first got him eighteen months ago. Every morning, after his big exhausting off-leash run in the woods with dad, Kelly puts on his best neck-tie and joins me for coffee by the fire.

What's brewing?

Kelly still drinks from puddles but I love a good cup of French Press coffee and I prefer Kick Ass coffee from Kicking Horse Coffee in Invermere, BC.

Any treats for you or Kelly on this occasion?

I love toasted nuts and Kelly loves his Stella’s Super Beef Dinner Patties (although a frozen chicken neck really makes him happy too). We tried to convince Kelly he would like the Stella’s lamb after the store ran out of the Beef but he declined and waited it out until the beef were re-stocked.

How were you and Kelly united?

As beautiful as he is Kelly was a rescue dog, returned to the breeder because of discipline problems and an insecurity that made him aggressive and gave him a bad rap. The breeder had already had another batch of puppies plus her breeding dogs so there was no room at the inn for a big bad brother. My husband heard of his availability through his daughter and we took him on trial. And he was bad. And he has attitude. But when people meet him at our house for the first time they fall all over themselves touching him and snuggling with him. He is a real Jekyll and Hyde type dog.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

At 18 months old, Kelly came to use as Pele. Apparently this is the name of a famous soccer player but I was always pronouncing it wrong so we went with the almost-rhyming Kelly. And he took to it right away. He wanted to forget about his past and move forward. And we know the harsh sounding letter K gets a quick response in the park so it works for us all.

Does Kelly do more to help or hinder your gardening?

Kelly likes to chase people away from our fence and he sometimes helps with liquid nitrogen applications but he was previously trained to do his business on gravel and that is very helpful for us and keeps certain items out of the garden. He is a very loyal dog and likes to be right with us as much as possible so whether it 90 degrees in the greenhouse or pouring rain outside he is right on hand for whatever is required.

Cat, postman, squirrel…?

We learned from our dog trainer that poodles are actually trained French Police dogs and they take their work seriously. They try to keep the thugs in the neighbourhood pinned down and controlled.

Kelly took to natural garden patrol the first week we had him. He chased a deer down the street and over a tall fence into the backyard of a neighbour. When we caught up with him he had the deer down on the ground and had him firmly by the neck. This is a city dog, born and bred. We were shocked but not as shocked as the lady having coffee on her back patio when the scene from the Serengeti played out beneath her in her own yard. We leashed and brought Kelly home and we are keeping him on leash now until he gets his natural impulses a little more restrained. Meanwhile my husband lets him gallop at will in a natural area where he pursues deer but refuses to go off trail and mess up his pretty fur. So he is really turning into quite a pussycat.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?

Kelly chases a ball but doesn’t have the retriever instinct so we let him run toy-free so that we don’t have to learn to retrieve either.

Who is Kelly's best pet-pal?

Our older dog Kepla was best friends with the boy Sheltie across the street so of course we thought Kelly would want to continue that friendship. The owners were game even though Kelly was less than friendly initially. After a date in the fenced off-leash park the dogs came to an agreement. They tolerate but don’t sleep with each other. Kelly is not as amendable to letting Troy finish his dinner like Kepla used to do. and Troy never shares his bed with Kelly. Quite simply, Kelly prefers people and appreciates a strong master and commander.

What is Kelly's best quality?

Everyone says he is handsome. He walks like a princess and looks good when he trots (on-leash) down the street.He is also loyal and can leap over tall fences to bring home the game or defend us against toy terriers.

If Kelly could change one thing about you, what would it be?

He would get me on a training program so that I could run with him daily. He can’t figure out why I move so slow compared to him and stick with my morning walks on the beach when he goes off-leash with Keith.

If Kelly could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

I would like to know what happened in his first life that made him so antsy around little dogs. We like all dogs but realize we can’t trust him yet with others so we have to keep him on a short leash when we are in town.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Kelly could speak, who should voice him?

Definitely Peter Sellers because Kelly has respect for authority so would like to be voiced by Inspector Clouseau.

What advice would Kelly give if asked?

He would say I should work less and lie around more and he has been learning this skill himself. He would say I should follow my nose and not my heart. He would say we should age gracefully together and recently he has started going grey and is supposed to be fully grey before he turns five so maybe we will look more like a match then.

Visit Donna Balzer's website, Twitter perch, Facebook page, and YouTube channel (No Guff Gardening).

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. Jelly you are the perfect K9. You keep chasing all the peoples and tree rats
    Happy Holidays
    Lily & Edward

    1. Too fun! He is a big boy and is still in the learning process but we think he cleans up well!