Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ann Crowder & Sage and Toby

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi, I’m Ann Crowder and these two are Sage and Toby. After years of Federal service as an accountant, I’m enjoying retired life with days full of dogs, volunteering and quilting. After Sage came into our lives almost a year ago, I decided to write a blog about her adventures growing up. Actually, she writes it—I just help with the big words.

Toby is our old guy. He’s 11-years old and is an Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler) mix. He’s been with us since he was rescued at 15-months old. Sage came to us as a puppy from a local shelter when she was 10-weeks old and will have her first birthday on November 27. She’s an Australian Kelpie/Border Collie mix (our best guess), and, as you may have surmised from her breed, keeps us busy!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Coffee at home is a must, but there’s always something brewing at our favorite indoor dog park-Fido’s. The raining season is here in the Pacific Northwest and taking Sage for a walk is like an appetizer. We don’t know what we’d do without Fido’s! There’s even a coffee bar there.

Sage at 10 weeks
What's brewing?

My favorite coffee is Stumptown, a local roaster. It’s the best! I like my coffee black, but occasionally, I’ll succumb to a latte or maybe a mocha.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Generally, not. Even when I go out to coffee with my yoga friends, I keep it to black coffee.

Any treats for Sage and Toby on this occasion?

They get their treats either before we go to the dog park or when we get home. I try to keep their treats high-value—like a carrot chew or a pumpkin & apple cookie.

How were you and Toby and Sage united?

Toby came from the Dumb Friends League in Denver, Co. He was 20 pounds underweight, had a big hematoma on his head and had been dumped several times. But he had a big smile on his face and we fell in love with him at once. He had no social skills and didn’t know how to play, but with a lot of training and love, he’s become a great dog. He never lets me out of his sight to this day!

We didn’t plan on getting another dog after Maggie (a Border-Aussie) succumbed to cancer in January, but I saw this little ball of fluff on She was originally in a shelter south of here and was transferred to our local shelter through the second chance program. Along with Toby, we went in to see what we thought. How could you resist her, we decided. Toby also put his stamp of approval on the deal--he was tired of being lonely.

How did Toby and Sage get their names? Any aliases?

We kept Toby’s name that was given him at the shelter. He had so much to learn that he didn’t need to learn a new name. Sometimes we call him “The Tobster” though!

Mystic & Sage in the cat tree
The name Sage was an inspiration of my husband’s. She can be called Sager-Wager-Pager, or SWP, or sometimes “The Brat,” depending on her latest puppy antics.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

We have two cats that grew up with Toby and are around 8-years old. He’s very tolerant of them and I’d often find them sleeping together. However, Sage is another story. They currently co-exist and one cat, Mystic, will even tolerate her to some extent. One of Sage’s favorite spots is the lower level of the cat tree and often she will be there with Mystic in the upper level (the penthouse). As Sage gets older, we are sure their relationships will continue to improve.

Now, squirrels are a different matter. Both Sage and Toby are on constant guard against invaders into our yard. The squirrels love to taunt them by either running along the top of the fence or chattering at them from the trees. Fortunately, the squirrels always seem to outrun them!

Tennis ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Sage has a knack for chewing up most toys, so what she gets now is limited. I think her destruction record is 5 minutes! So we only have certain rubber balls and deer/elk antlers lying around. Sage does love to play ball though—so much so, that I think she’s a bit ball-obsessed! We generally play ball for at least two hours a day and sometimes more. Usually this is at Fido’s where we have room to let her run.

Sage at the river
Toby used to carry around a plush toy and would go to sleep with it in his mouth. That was a “game” he played with Maggie, who thought every toy was hers. It was a type of keep-away, I think.

Where is Sage and Toby's favorite place for an outing?

There is a very large park near here that is the delta between the Sandy and Columbia Rivers and is around 1400 acres full of trees, meadows and, best of all, the river. This is where Sage discovered water, and, during the summer, spent as much time as she could in it. We never had a dog that likes water as much as she does, so it gives us endless hours of enjoyment. She can find water even if it’s a mud hole! Toby loves long hikes and, as long as he’s with us, he’s happy.

Who are Sage and Toby's best pet-pals?

Sage met my friend’s Great Pyrenees mix when she was about 4-months old and it was love at first sight. The size didn’t matter to her—she doesn’t seem to be afraid of much. Every time they are together, they love to have a good romp.

Toby's proudest moment
When Toby was younger, his best friend was Maggie. About a month after Sage came to live with us, he decided this little pest was going to stick around and he became her teacher. Now that he is older, he is selective in who his friends are and occasionally will find a dog at the dog park that he likes.

If Sage or Toby could change one thing about you, what would it be?

I bet they’d like me to quit rationing their treats and find some juicy bones for them!

What are Sage and Toby's proudest moments? Most embarrassing?

Sage was very proud of herself for digging out under our fence and rolling in something very stinky and dead. Her most embarrassing moment was the bath she had afterward. That stink was all washed off and she couldn't even let her friends get a whiff!

When Toby was young, he loved to sit up tall and proud with a pink octopus in his mouth. I don't think he's ever gotten embarrassed.

Check out Sage’s latest antics at The (mis)Adventures of Sage.

--Marshal Zeringue