Monday, January 11, 2010

Kyla Duffy & Bill

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Kyla Duffy and among other things (flying trapeze artist, gymnast, editor, teacher, foster mom, etc), I'm the founder of Happy Tails Books, a publishing company on a mission to raise awareness of, and funding for, private dog rescue organizations. I started the company after realizing how many people weren't aware of the important work private dog rescue organizations do, and I'm hoping to reach out to people through our books and let them know that there are wonderful purebred and mixed-breed dogs (and puppies) available for adoption from rescue organizations all over the country other than local shelters (not that there is anything wrong with local shelters, it's just that some people are only interested in one breed and it's much easier to find that breed from a breed-specific rescue).

My Boston Terrier, Bill, was the inspiration for Happy Tails Books. He was my second and fifth foster... How? He came to me after being adopted and then returned to our rescue group. The family didn't want him because he was too scared to move after spending the first two years of his life in a 2'x2' chicken wire cage somewhere outdoors in MO. He just sat in his crate with a lifeless look in his eyes. Unfortunately, life didn't get much better for him after he came to "live" with me, because after only an hour he escaped my yard and got lost in the woods for three weeks. Luckily a jogger finally found him splayed out, trying to eat a carcass. He was down to 13 lbs (he's a 21 lb dog) and had a gash so deep on his leg that the muscle was exposed. After narrowly escaping euthanization, Bill came to live with me permanently. Healing his physical wounds were easy compared to the psychological ones, but a year and a half (and a lot of patience) later, Bill is the best companion I could ever imagine. His whole story is at if you're interested, but suffice to say that my experience with Bill completely changed my life and I couldn't imagine a day without him now. He's my constant companion, whether drinking tea, riding in the car, or hiking big mountain trails. He's so smart and has so many facial expressions that I wouldn't be surprised if he turned to me on day and started talking, like "Brian" on "Family Guy."

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

There's another way to wake up in the morning?

What's brewing?

My favorite morning brew is Coconut Pouchong tea from adagio teas, although I do like to mix it up. The website lets people make their own tea blends and then other customers can buy them. I especially like their Zodiac blend series - Aquarius is the best, of course!

Any goodies to go with the tea?

Oh, yes! I don't think all Whole Foods carry this, but our local store has a lemon tea cake in their bakery department that is to die for. I buy one cake a week (it's like a loaf), cut it into 6 slices, and then eat one a day.

Any treat for Bill on this occasion?

Bill's favorite breakfast snack is dehydrated chicken tenders. I'll keep my chicken for lunchtime, thank you, but he seems to really enjoy them in the morning.

How did he get his name? Does he ever go by William or Mac or Buddy?

Bill's "pedigree" name is "William Shattner," and although the famous human hates being called "Bill," my best buddy prefers it. He actually came with that name, and I thought, "You're kidding me, you're sending me a foster dog named Bill? great." But the truth is, Bill is the best!

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Prairie dog!

Stick, ball, Frisbee...?

Playing tug of war with my red leash.

What's an ordinary day like for Bill?

Bill likes to wake up for a second to stretch and get out of bed (mine, of course), and then he goes back to sleep on the couch upstairs wherever he can find sun. We joke that he "takes a dip in the pool" whenever he gets too hot, but really he just goes and hides in the shade of the hallway for a bit until he's ready for more sun. Each day includes a variety of trips to the dogpark and hikes, and ultimately ends with a pig ear, bully stick, or bone at the end of the night. Sometimes my parents stop by just to ring the doorbell because they know Bill likes it.

Where is Bill's favorite place to go for walk?

Bill is really into rock climbing, so he likes to go anywhere where he can scramble up rocks. We hike Sanitas in Boulder quite a bit.

Who is Bill's best pet-pal?

He's got a few girlfriends, but his favorite is a giant shepherd-mix named Dutchess. Every time he sees her at the dogpark (which is daily), he sticks his entire head in her mouth and checks her teeth. He also gets along great with all of our fosters (we're on #19). Bill's got a magical way of understanding each dog's specific needs and he adjusts his play style for them. They usually become pretty good pals by the time they go to a new home. They always teach each other something.

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

He would probably want me to stop moving so much when I sleep.

What's Bill's best quality?

Bill's best quality is his resilience. His past is so sad, but he's been able to put that behind him and learn to trust and love people and other dogs. I love his smile - and it really is a smile. He's got a great run, too. His back right leg flies out to the side and he does a little happy dance when he gets to wherever he's going. Ok, that's three things, but he's got too many good qualities to stop at one. Oh, and I LOVE the fact that he's potty trained. A lot of people overlook how challenging it can be to potty train a dog who has been a puppy mill breeder, but Bill caught right on. What a great guy!

What's his proudest moment so far? His most embarrassing?

I think for Bill his proudest moment was when he caught on to playing ball. It took over a year, but now he chases it and brings it back, always looking so proud of himself. I think his most embarrassing moment was when he went running off through the bushes to go see a poodle-friend, but tried to take on a bush that was too big. He jumped and the disappeared because his feet caught. 30 seconds later he came running back to me with a grass stain on his head and part of the bush stuck in his collar [photo right].

Visit the Happy Tails Books website.

--Marshal Zeringue