Monday, November 14, 2011

Laura Hartwick & Team Small Dog

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Laura and my dogs are Team Small Dog. I'm a former artist who is working on being a super champ of dog agility. The rest of the time I'm a horse trainer and riding instructor and write my blog, coincidentally also named Team Small Dog. Those two that look alike are Ruby, an 11ish year old terrier based ex-feral dog, and Otterpop, who is one pain in the hiney 7ish year old cattle dog chihuahua hybrid sort of maybe. Gustavo is 5ish and all I can say about him is he's the sweetest dog I've ever met and of completely unknown breeds. Literally. He got DNA tested and has an official certificate that says "Untested Breed." No DNA.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every day is a nice day for drinking coffee and hanging out with the dogs.

What's brewing?

Fair Trade coffee. If I'm a gonna drink it those poverty stricken coffee farmers need to get a bigger cut of the coffee money pie.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Oh yeah. Now everybody knows the secret of my photo shoots. Trader Joe's string cheese.

How were you and your dogs united?

Ruby was sprung from our local shelter where I used to volunteer. Otterpop came from the side of the road out here in Watsonville and Gustavo got picked up by some vets down in Juarez doing a spay/neuter clinic and drove back across the border in their van. Luck and fabulous timing brought us all together.

How did your dogs get their names? Any nicknames?

Otterpop. Like the popsicles? Pop for short. Ruby just seemed to fit, sort of hard and small and sparkly. We call her Mrs. Wu, after the guy in Deadwood that fed corpses to his pigs. Gustavo is a very distinguished name in the Spanish language. He's Gooey most of the time, though.

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

We walk a lot. In the redwood forests, on the beach, open meadows, the railroad tracks, around the neighborhood. This is what we do.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Otterpop would agree all of those things must die. Ruby and Gustavo are plagued by the plethora of squirrels that taunt them on our block.

What is each dog's best quality?

Ruby is a shrewd and crafty Mother Teresa amongst dogs. She has been through a lot in her 11 years, and is why we started agility. She taught me a lot about dog training. Otterpop is my agility super champ and taught me even more about dog training. She yells a lot, but is damn funny. Gustavo's unusual brain taught me even more about dog training, more than I ever knew existed. His shining personality reminds me to be a better person.

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

My dogs all wish that they could actually walk legally in all the beautiful redwood forests, open meadows and beaches in Santa Cruz.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, who should do their voices?

I am so glad you asked this, because this is a question I think about a lot in my spare time. Otterpop should probably be played by Courtney Love or Sgt. R. Lee Ermey. I think Robert Downey, Jr. after huffing helium would do a great job as Gustavo. If that's not cool with Bob's 12 step program, then maybe the lady that does Bart Simpson's voice. Ruby would need subtitles or animated thought bubbles, because she is too zen to speak through words.

If your dogs could each answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

I'd try to get Ruby to tell me where it hurts.
I'd ask Gustavo what it is he sees in his brain.
I would just ask Otterpop why can't she shut up?

Visit the Team Small Dog blog and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue