That’s me, Cristina, with my four-legged love, Brando, who turns eight next month. I’m not working at the moment which is probably best since my boy isn’t fond of being home alone. I hold down the fort, cycle, practice yoga, and now that I cannot run, I enjoy long walks with Brando. I write in my blog, Ten Degrees of Bliss (which all of five people read) while he sits in my lap. Yes…that right, all 35 pounds of him. Brando is a medium standard poodle who thinks he’s a lap dog. More precisely, he is called a Moyen (french for medium), bred specifically for size and he is also called a Klein Poodle. His father was a miniature poodle and his mother a full-size standard poodle. Let’s just say a porch was involved in the process and leave it at that!
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
We used to live in Southern California, just two miles from the beach. It was so easy to take our boy with us to a plethora of outdoor eateries and coffee houses. There were countless trips to Peet’s Coffee after a long run (or leisurely walk) along The Strand or after a morning frolic at a nearby dog park. Now that we are in “Bama-Land” we are severely restricted by weather and places that are pet-friendly. I have to make a special effort to bring him with me to Starbucks when the temperature allows. If he could talk I’m sure he would demand we return to Southern California if for nothing else to escape the wrath of thunderstorms and tornado warnings!
I’m half-Italian and therefore I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to my java fix. I drink espresso, sans anything, for my early morning brew. A simple, no frills Cappuccino or Non-fat Latte is my afternoon preference, often at Starbucks. I eschew syrups and mounds of whipped cream in my coffee —it just corrupts my brew and adds calories which I’d rather assign to a sweet treat.
Any treats for you or your poodle on this occasion?
My boy doesn't care a wit about bones or Kong toys stuffed with peanut butter. But he would dance on his head for cheese. He likes yogurt too. Most mornings I have yogurt with berries for breakfast. I always leave a bit in the bowl for my boy. He can be in a deep slumber in another room but when he hears the last scrape of the spoon against the bowl he’s at my feet in an instant knowing that his treat awaits. He’ll patiently waiting for me to put the bowl on the floor so that he can lick it clean.
How were you and your poodle united?
Initially, my husband wasn’t one for getting a dog. I had to work on him for almost ten years. While living in Southern California a friend told me about a great poodle breeder in Oregon so I began to get a bit more aggressive about changing my husband's mind. I’m not one bit ashamed to admit that I caught him completely off-guard during his “orgasmic” moment when his beloved Steelers won the Super Bowl. As he jumped up and down in euphoria at the winning touchdown I chimed in saying: “Great! So….can we go to Oregon and look at these adorable poodle puppies?”
“Yes, yes, yes,” he cried as he threw his hands up in the air in jubilation. Underhanded, I know. Of course I wanted him to be completely on-board with having a dog-pal; if his heart-strings weren’t pulled then we’d just chalk it up to a weekend getaway.
|He chose me. My dog chose me. (swoon)|
How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?
It was Academy Award weekend and we were living in Redondo Beach, California (Los Angeles County) when we brought our boy home. As we were driving to the airport with our new addition to the family in my lap I was texting back and forth with my sister who lived in Northern Virginia trying to come up with names. She came up with Brando paying homage to the late great actor, Marlon Brando. Aliases: Troy (as in Troy Polamalu, but only during a Steelers game); Einstein (because my pooch is so freaking smart) and Killer … when he actually got ahold of a chipmunk and knocked it dead!
Cat, postman, squirrel…?
Without question squirrels. He goes positively bonkers over squirrels. He’ll bark like crazy as they all but dance in front of the window to their “U Can’t Touch This” tune. Add to that, lizards in the yard. He tries to sniff them out of crevices then goes nuts trying to catch one as they skitter over and under rocks.
Ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?
A squeaky soccer ball toy. I’d swear it’s like his crack toy. Sometimes the constant squeak gets annoying so I’ll hide it. He finds it every time. Once I’d forgotten about the ball. He was sitting quite patiently—like a statue—staring at a closet door. “What’s up with you?” I ask my boy. I opened the door only to realize I’d put the ball on a high shelf! He’ll eventually chew all toys to smithereens but he takes care of this one squeaky ball. We’ve had it for years. He could easily chew it away too—it’s the darnedest thing!
Who is Brando's best pet-pal?
In California, his best pals were Honey-Bear and Kerri, two Standard Poodles. Here in Alabama, he pines for a mutt named Daisy that lives down the street. When we are visiting my sis, it’s Nica-Roo, a beagle mix. They’ll play together from morning till night. We hated moving from Southern California. He loved his play dates with HoneyBear and Kerri. It was quite the sight to see the three of them together. I’d swear he was just as depressed over the move as I was.
What is Brando's best quality?
He is such a gentle, sweet-natured dog who adores me and loves just about everyone he meets. (Well…almost. There was one pest control dude that came to the house and things didn’t go so well. Brando went nuts and would not stop barking at the guy which was so out of character for my pooch. There must have lurked something mighty unsavory under the uniform cap about that guy.)
If Brando could change one thing about Alabamians, what would it be?
Properly contain their dogs. I cannot safely cycle without being chased down by un-contained dogs. It is rather terrifying since I have been attacked by a dog. Dogs come running out of their yards straight onto the roads. One incident was with a pit bull; he was one determined fellow running after me for a good quarter mile. I’m sad to admit I prayed for a car. Not good for the dog nor cyclist!
Where is your poodle's favorite outdoor destination?
We took Brando to the Outer Banks, North Carolina during one family vacation. Dogs were allowed on the beach without a leash. For a week Brando had the time of his life. Though it ruined his poodle coif for the week (they have hair you know!) we were overjoyed to see him so happy and running free. He also loves our large back yard and had a blast with his first snow a couple of years back.
If Brando could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?
Why o why are you so obsessed with licking your feet… and mine?
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Brando could speak, who should voice him?
My boy has a touch of regal aloofness about him at times, especially after he’s come from the groomer, perfectly coiffed. We can be walking down the street and another dog will be going all-out Cujo at him. Brando may deign to give the dog a passive glance, with a look to me that says, “Really, what boorish behavior.” I suppose I’m giving my age when I say I’d love Cary Grant to voice my boy.
What advice would your poodle give if asked?
Chill grasshopper. Stop worrying. Bask in the moment of now, with me…the one who adores you so… who is happy on your lap. Oh..and while you’re at it, have some cheese and pass a piece or two over to me…. pretty please.
Visit the Ten Degrees of Bliss blog.