Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lauren Hagerman & Crackers

Who is in the photo at right?

Meet Crackers, a lovable mutt who was officially labeled an “English Shepherd Mix” at the pound. This 6 year old sweetheart is most likely an Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix with some English Beagle thrown in for good measure. I also refer to her as a “Toy Burmese” since I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked if she’s a straight hair Burmese Mountain Dog pup. Oh, and the human with her? That’s me, Lauren Hagerman. By day, I am a city government employee who tries to make a difference one complaint at a time. By night, I am a scrapbooker, amateur photographer, book worm & movie lover. Mostly, I enjoy my life with my husband, Andy, and our little sweetie, Crackers.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

There’s nothing like a good cup of joe to raise my spirits and get me in a feisty mood. Since Crackers tends to mirror my mood, she loves it when I get a cup of joe too. Not to mention, that the dog likes coffee! Don’t worry, I never intentionally give her coffee. After I caught her drinking out of a cup on the coffee table, I pay close attention to where I leave my cup, but she’s always on the look out.

What's brewing?

Nothing beats a Starbucks Peppermint Mocha with half the syrup and no whip, extra hot please and hold the sprinkles. There is one exception, though it requires a 90 minute drive to Coal Creek Coffee in Laramie, Wyoming. They make the perfect mocha. Not too sweet, no whip and occasionally topped with a pretty design in the foam. Mmm.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Nope! The stresses of life have added a few too many pounds to my once lithe frame. The scrumptious coffee is my treat!

Any treat for Crackers on this occasion?

Usually a walk, since Starbucks tends to frown on non service dogs in their stores. But when we get home at night, she is usually treated to a small rawhide square.

How did Crackers come to be united with you?

I always wanted a dog or cat growing up. I begged and pleaded for a puppy many a Christmas. The answer was always “no.” As I grew up, my requests began to include other exotic creatures, such as an iguana and a snake. No dice. Eventually, I was given a parakeet for one Christmas. And while I was ecstatic, I still longed for a dog to call my own. Fast forward to 2004. I was single, living by myself and then one day I realized there was no reason why I couldn’t have a dog. On break at work the next morning (I had no home internet at the time), I perused the local pound website and decided to go “take a look” over lunch. Crackers was the first dog I asked to see. A worker brought her into a little fenced enclosure with a bench, just outside the building. She ran around the tiny area several times, tail high, grinning from ear to ear and eventually landed in my lap, giving me a big lick across the face. Everything I knew about how and why to choose to a dog went out the window. Crackers came home with me that very day.

How did she get her name?

When I brought Crackers home from the pound, she came with the name “Gorda,” which means “fat” in Spanish. That had to go and besides, she was a healthy, fit 6-9 month old puppy. So for weeks everyone and their dog (pun intended) had a suggestion. I wrote the best down on a list and would try some out to see how they fit. Then I went to add Crackers to my lease, as I lived in an apartment and if you didn’t make a deposit and pay a small monthly fee you could lose your brand new best friend to the same place I just rescued her from. So I took Crackers in to meet the apartment manager. While we were filling out the paperwork, my new little dog jumped up an empty chair, put her front paws on the desk and ate half a plate of saltines before anyone could even react. The lady helping me looked me straight in the eye and said “You should name her Crackers.”

Your dog Hailey died very recently. How is Crackers doing with the change in the household?

It’s been tough on all of us losing our sweet Hailey [photo, left] suddenly and unexpectedly to cancer a few weeks before Christmas, but it’s been the hardest on Crackers. At first, she would look for Hailey throughout the house. Whenever she went out in the backyard, Crackers would wait for Hailey at the end of the patio. Eventually, she began to get used to Hailey being gone. Crackers has become more loving and will happily hop in your lap for a long cuddle, if you let her. Crackers is a rather shy dog. Hailey’s confidence rubbed off on her whenever she was around. You can definitely tell Crackers is now missing that presence.[photo, bottom left: Crackers & Hailey]

Where is Crackers' favorite place for a walk?

Anywhere, anytime, any place. From the dust bowl plains of West Texas to the peaks of the Colorado Rockies, this little dog loves to walk or hike. Most days, we just walk around our local neighborhood, but every other weekend with nice weather I make it a point to take Crackers for at least a mini hike in the foothills.

Stick, Frisbee, tennis ball...?

Toy hedgehog! Crackers has never really been big on the whole “fetch” concept, but she loves to play with her stuffed hedgehog. On occasion you can get her to bring a tennis ball back once or twice and you can even get a quick game of tug, but she would much rather climb into your lap for some love.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Rabbit! Followed closely by squirrel. She sure loves to chase those critters!

What's an ordinary day like for Crackers?

Easy and full of love. She hops up on the bed sometime in the early morning and when my alarm starts to buzz, Crackers is right there to make sure I’m up. We go for a quiet morning walk around the neighborhood, as I gather my thoughts for the day and she marks her turf. From there, it depends. On work days, she is crated. Thankfully, she loves her crate and feels safe in it. And given how much she loves to “eat first and ask questions later,” it makes me feel better too. On non work days, she usually gets to go for a ride in the car as I run some quick errands (weather and temperature depending) and then I try and treat her to a mini hike. Either way, at the end of the day, you can bet there will be some play time and love time for all of us.

What's Crackers' best quality?

She’s a lover and cuddle bug. She also is happy to let little kids play with her and when she’s had enough, she simply gets up and leaves the room.

What's Crackers' proudest moment? Her most embarrassing?

Her proudest moment so far would be getting kicked in the nose by a rabbit. She’s not much of a hunter, but she loves to chase rabbits. That’s probably as close as she’ll ever get, but she was so cocky after that, you couldn’t help but smile.

Crackers most embarrassing moment was probably the story I told above of eating the crackers off the desk. Although, I would also have to say that her most embarrassing moment happens every time there is a door bell on TV and she jumps up, barking at the front door only to realize no one is there and then slink off back to her spot next to the couch, only to do it again in another 10 minutes. Usually, by the third time, she finally starts to catch on.

How pleased was Crackers with her Christmas present?

Not too thrilled...just sniffed at her shiny new toy and let it lay. But the special homemade dog treat? That, she loved!

Visit Lauren Hagerman's blog.

--Marshal Zeringue