Monday, May 21, 2012

Kirsty & Strauss

Who is in the photo at right?

This is me, Kirsty a.k.a ‘SV’, 35-year-old modern day nomad currently living in Italy, blogger on Status Viatoris, writer for the Overseas Guides Company and wannabe author in general. With me is the love of my life and centre of my universe, Strauss a.k.a ‘Pooch’, an 11-and-a-half year old male Podenco (Spanish hunting dog) cross.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Our day always starts at 6:30/7:00 with an enormous mug of tea in bed; I read whichever book I have on the go and Strauss snoozes on under the duvet like a lazy teenager - although when we are in the UK at my mother’s house he will be sitting eagerly at the end of the bed keeping watch for squirrels out of the window.

What's brewing?

Tea, of course! Nothing beats a mug of strong builder’s tea with a splash of milk. PG Tips pyramid tea bags are the only essential item on my list of must-haves from the UK – the Italian equivalent simply doesn’t cut it; gnat’s pee is gnat’s pee no matter how exotic the location.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

I shall probably have another mug of tea with my breakfast – a bowl of oats with blueberries and milk. Yum!

Any treat for Strauss on this occasion?

Strauss has his brekky after our morning walk; doggy biscuits for ‘dogs d’un certain âge’ with a bratwurst sausage cut up into them – an excellent way of disguising his cod liver oil/glucosamine capsules which he needs for his achy joints.

He tends to have his treats in the evening, and any kind of dental chew makes his day – although I have to say that they never seem to make much inroad into his halitosis…

How were you and your dog united?

I adopted Strauss from a rescue centre in Estepona whilst I was living in Southern Spain. He was about three months old at the time, extremely skinny and full of worms. The first year was slightly up and down, but we settled into a mutual love-fest soon after that which has done nothing but increase in intensity since then.

When he was two, we moved to Southern France for five years; Strauss was especially thrilled as we exchanged a concrete jungle for a mountain village in the process.

When he was seven, we went back to the UK for a while for family reasons and then up to Scotland for seven months, he also stayed with my mother for four months whilst I backpacked round New Zealand – it worked very well at the time, but I simply couldn’t consider such a long separation from him again.

When Strauss was nine, we moved to Italy and another mountain village where he is thoroughly spoilt by everyone there due to his charming little ways.

How did Strauss get his names? Does he have any nicknames?

My family has a history of naming dogs after classical music composers and with the theory regarding single-syllable names for dogs ruling out Rimsky-Korsakov, Strauss he became!

When he was little I used to refer to him as Straussy, but a young Spanish boy I was teaching English to at the time misheard and began calling him Trousers; Trousers then got a Scottish makeover and was shortened to Trewsy or Trews. In France some of my friends rechristened him ‘Stras’ which mean scrap of cloth in dialect, and then when we got to Italy he became ‘Squisi’, short for squisito (exquisite) or ‘Stronz’ short for stronzo (idiot).

He is also variously referred to as ‘Mummy’s Ickle Soldier’, ‘Angel of Luvy Wuvy’ and ‘Mummy’s Fluffy Wuffy Baby’, all of which he has strongly requested I refrain from using in public.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Definitely squirrel, but only when we are in the UK. He’s perfectly happy to bark up at them when they’re in the trees, but can’t be bothered to chase them when they actually come down to his level, so contents himself with staring at them for hours whilst shaking with excitement.

He used to have a thing about cats, but Italian cats are seriously tough, so he has given up trying to provoke them and now even counts a couple among his besties.

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

None of the above, in fact rocks have always been Strauss’s thing, and the bigger the better.

Once he finds the perfect specimen, he enjoys carrying it around between his long-blunt teeth or sitting with it between his front paws and licking it incessantly or dropping it in long grass then madly uprooting the grass to uncover it – the games are endless and apparently very entertaining, and although he would be perfectly happy to hand over a fresh lamb bone if it were requested of him, parting him from one of his rocks is a job for someone with a lot of time on their hands and an almost endless well of patience.

Where is Pooch's favorite place for an outing?

Strauss loves swimming, especially in the river that runs along the bottom of my Italian village. Unfortunately due to his achy back legs, swimming no longer loves him; so this summer will almost certainly have to be a water-free one. Luckily he is made pretty happy with any sort of outing, even a spin round town can be satisfyingly packed with interesting sniffs and stuff to gawp at.

Who are Strauss's best pet-pals?

Strauss is definitely more of a people-dog. He rarely shows much interest in other dogs, probably because he doesn’t consider himself to be one; however he doesn’t mind the odd wrestling match with Sugar, the Brittany spaniel puppy. He also enjoys mooching round the garden with Olive the whippet, and the occasional bounce with Lady the beagle cross. Bruschetta the black cat and Stella the multi-coloured cat will also get a brief wag and an affectionate sniff if their paths cross.

His human friends, however, are many and varied but listing them here would constitute an invasion of privacy and would certainly make their own pets jealous.

What is Strauss's most endearing quality?

Strauss is a truly wonderful dog and I would find it practically impossible to choose just one quality; he is affectionate, friendly, communicative, funny, happy, goofy, loving, chatty, waggy, and expressive, and he manages to charm most people who meet him.

In fact I strongly suspect that a lot of people I count amongst my friends are probably only using me in order to spend quality time with him… Oh well.

What is Strauss's proudest moment? Most embarrassing?

Strauss’s main purpose in life is as a sort of canine ack-ack gun, and he is never prouder than when he manages to chase a passenger jet out of our airspace with a volley of fierce barks accompanied by some threatening bouncing and a spine-chilling display of hackles.

His most embarrassing moment could well have been the time he raced helter-skelter into our balcony window in Marbella trying to get to a bird that had alighted on the railings. Sheepish was not the word…

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

He would almost certainly request that I refrain from making a fuss of other people’s pets, thank you very much Mummy.

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--Marshal Zeringue


  1. Shhhhhhhhh...! Mummy's Ickle Soldier is all about the privacy... ;-)

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  3. Nice to see Pooch! And well done for keeping those nasty jets out of your airspace, Plum, our first Dalmatian, used to feel much the same about the church bells and issued noisy warnings to them not to ever come near the garden. They never did.