Monday, August 15, 2011

Samantha Sivils & The Love Shack Pack

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Samantha Sivils. I'm a God fearing, blissfully married, therapy dog handling, proud homeschooling, Mississippi momma of four, and a freelance writer and photographer. In my spare time, I volunteer with our local animal rescue league. I serve as Education Chairman for the shelter and enjoy working in our community teaching youth about bite prevention and being a responsible dog owner.

Our family owns a total of seven dogs - five Golden Retrievers (Scarlet is seven, Cosmo and Rose Bud are two, Kudzu is six months, and Boondocks is five months) and two Morkies (Ohno is almost two and Joy is one.) Cosmo, Rose Bud, and Joy are primarily the children's dogs while my husband and I share Scarlet, Boondocks, and Kudzu. Ohno is all mine!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I begin each day with a cup of coffee. The dogs are always curled up nearby. It is a fabulous way to get my day off to a wonderful start. For this special occasion, I am brewing my coffee with an extra scoop, letting it cool a bit, and then throwing it into the blender with two cups of ice, a bit of creamer, and some Splenda. The heat index is 108 right now, so I prefer cold to hot.

What's brewing?

Folgers’s Simply Smooth.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Yep, the dogs are enjoying Bil-Jac's PB-nanas treats that we only break out for special occasions or training sessions.

How were you and your dogs united?

Scarlet was our first Golden Retriever. She was a gift for my husband. I often refer to her as 'the other woman' because she and I both like to think he belongs solely to each of us. Cosmo was my son's gift for his seventh birthday. They have been BFF's ever since. My daughter purchased Rose Bud with her allowance she had saved. Ohno was given to us to be trained as a therapy dog. Who knew the only person Ohno would actually serve as therapy for would be me! He is afraid of the rest of the world's population. Joy was given to my oldest son after he attended our rescue group's first summer camp and came home wanting a dog of his own. I saw Boondocks picture online. It was a case of love and first sight. We went to meet him the same evening and brought him back home with us that night. And then came along sweet, Kudzu. At four months old, Kudzu's former owner left him for several days only to come home and find him tangled in a hammock. Kudzu's leg was badly mangled. He took him to the veterinarian to be put to sleep. Fortunately, the vet was able to talk the man into surrendering him. They were able to amputate his leg and save his life. The shelter we volunteer with heard of his plight and referred us to them knowing we love Goldens as we do. We couldn't turn him away.

How did your dogs get their names?

Scarlet was named because of her red coloring and my love of Scarlett O'Hara's character in Gone With The Wind. We brought Ohno home the night Apolo Ohno won his 7th USA medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Boondocks was named after seeing his picture online, before ever meeting him... it just fit. Kudzu grows on everything it touches and since our pup has that same effect on people, we chose for him to share the name with the vine. Our children named Cosmo (my son loves all things about the solar system), Rose Bud (my daughter named her after The Buddies). After a difficult situation Joy joined the family. The Bible says that sorrow may last for the night but joy comes in the morning. So my son chose the name as a reminder that even when bad things happen, there are still good times waiting to be had.

Do your dogs have a favorite place to go for a walk?

The Morkies just want to hang close to home. The Golden Retriever's do not care where we walk as long as they get to go! They do have a preference for any place that includes any size body of water.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

The Morkies love cats. (Ohno even has a t-shirt that reads: CAT - THE OTHER WHITE MEAT.) I spend half of my day everyday trying to convince them to spit out their feline sister, Serendipity. The Goldens?? Just keep the tennis balls coming, y'all!

What is each dog's best quality?

Scarlet is a working therapy dog and all of her qualities make her the world's best at what she does. She has that unconditional acceptance of all people that puts even the most heartless person at ease. She has a heart of pure gold.

When we gifted my son Cosmo for his birthday, it was with the hope that Cosmo would make him feel more complete. Being the third born child and the second of three boys, Isaac suffered with middle child syndrome. Cosmo has perfected all that I'd hoped he would accomplish. He has been Isaac's devoted companion and buddy since the day we brought him home, and we have witnessed Isaac's personality bloom as a result of their relationship.

Rose Bud's best quality is her uncanny ability to keep us laughing at her neurotic behavior. She always leaves me with plenty of stories to write about that usually involve someone being humiliated but with wonderful, comedic twist.

Ohno is the perfect lap dog and my most constant companion. Ohno lives in my shadow and fills my heart with love.

Joy is so very protective of our children. If we ever had a home intruder, our five 50 pound plus Golden Retrievers would most likely lick them to death while Joy, and Joy alone, would take them down with all four pounds of her fierce self!

Boondocks is still so much a puppy - a huge, goofy, clumsy puppy that makes me smile a hundred times a day. For now his best quality is just being who he is - a huge, goofy, clumsy puppy.

Kudzu's best quality is in large part because of his disability. People seem drawn to him in a way I've rarely seen anyone react to an animal. Because most people feel “broken” to some degree, they relate to Kudzu on a more personal level. Folks can't seem to get enough of him. And Kudzu responds by showering them with love and affection.

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

They all make it known every single day that they wish I was a morning person. And every single day, I fail them miserably.

What's each dog's proudest moment so far?

Just before my youngest son's third birthday, he snuck out of the house one night and took Scarlet with him. Scarlet stayed close and would not allow police officers (or anyone else) near him until they made it back to our yard. Scarlet also tested for CGC and TDI with my husband, daughter, and me all in the same day and passed with all three of us. From what we've been told, that is a rare occurrence.

Cosmo's proudest moment? Every moment that Cosmo spends with Isaac is a proud moment for us. Seeing the bond they share is the reason that every boy needs a dog to call his own.

I was most proud of Rose Bud last week when she took part in our summer camp's parade of pooches through downtown Brookhaven. She completed the parade without incident - and that is a first!

Ohno and Joy do not have specific jobs like the rest of the gang. Their very presence gives me happiness and peace. And that makes me proud of both of them.

Boondocks and Kudzu won first and third place in an obedience competition with my children handling them last month. Yeah, I had a goofy smile plastered on my face for hours. It was great!

The most embarrassing?

We were walking through a street fair last fall when all of a sudden Rose Bud had a bout of diarrhea. My husband and I and our four children were walking through the main thorough-fare with five dogs when all of a sudden Rose Bud lost all control of her bowels. We must have walked for ten feet before we realized what was happening. By that time mothers were grabbing children and running, folks were hollering “don’t step in it” and “oh, it smells horrible“, and I was dry heaving. All the while my husband is frantically searching for a nearby vender with paper towels, and I’m trying to steer the traffic around the artistic display our crazy pooch has left for all to see. We ended up having to use the t-shirt Rose Bud had worn to finish cleaning. Once the road was cleared, we headed straight to the van and left. (Refer back to proudest moment of Rose Bud’s life to understand in more depth.)

Visit The Love Shack Pack blog.

--Marshal Zeringue