Monday, September 24, 2012

Courtney Rundell & Machu Picchu and Malife

Who is in the photo at right?

The girl wearing the headband is me - Courtney Rundell. I write, advocate and speak about thriving with alcoholism, bipolar and PTSD for WebMD, International Bipolar Foundation and the North Hollywood Patch and on my personal site.

The girl in the pink sweater is Machu Picchu, my amazing Boston Terrier. Yes, she’s wearing both boots and a sweater, because that’s how she rolls when she visits her grandma in Tahoe City.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Just another lazy Saturday afternoon chillin’ at the park with the husband, baby and two doggies.

What's brewing?

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s Sugar Free Mocha Ice Blended – yummm!

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Trader Joe’s Beefy Sticks are the bomb, I mean, if you’re a dog. My treat is spending an afternoon at the park with my beasts!

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Machu Picchu was named after the ancient mystical mountaintop city in Peru. Machu Picchu is a vortex of energy and a World Wonder and if you spend 10 minutes with her, you’ll agree.

Generally, she’s referred to as Mach, but there are several variations on that theme, such as: Le Mach, Mathee, Mathu and Mathu Pithee. Then there’s always Little Dawgs and Little Person in a Fur Coat and Cow Dog (is she a cow or is she a dog? She’s a cow dog!).

Malife (mah-leaf-ay) was named after a malapropism. My husband and I were watching Scarface for the 400th time and just after Al Pacino pulled out his machine gun and delivered the quintessential line “say hello to my little friend,” the hubs asked me the most awesome question of all time.

“Say hello to Malife. What does that even mean?”

“You mean, my little friend?”

“Rewind it. He says Malife.”

“Shut up. You can’t be serious right now. How many times have you seen this film?”

“I swear he’s saying Malife. It’s never made sense to me.”

“So, let me get this straight. Scarface is a total badass, kills like zillions of people, but he nicknames his machine gun?”

(Laughter ensues - for years. I’m actually laughing right now.)

Machu needed a little friend. She was lonely and depressed. Thus came Malfe. His nicknames are Leafays, Leafay, Leafs and Mats-leaf-ars.

How were you and your dogs united?

We had to use a breeder surrogate for Machu, as my husband and I only make humans. We knew when Machu’s “mom” was trying to get preggers, when she got preggers and when she was in labor. We tried to make her stop drinking wine, but she just wasn’t willing to give up her one glass a night.

Machu was born on December 20, 2004. She was 3-hours-old in this photo [at right].

She practically came out of my womb.

Malife was rescued by Boston Buddies (a wonderful organization in Orange County, CA). He was on death row in doggy jail and his back right leg had been broken in three places and reset itself backwards. Boston Buddies made the loving decision to try and save his leg rather than amputate it – which was much more expensive and wasn’t guaranteed to work.

His leg was rebroken and reset. The surgery was successful – he was a champ, but then he sat at the kennel for 3 months. No one would adopt him because he didn’t look like a Boston, probably because he totally wasn’t a Boston.

We took one look at him and knew he was the one – Machu’s little friend.

Ends up he’s mostly Miniature Pincher and Shitzu. This makes perfect sense when you meet him. His frame is Min-Pin and his tongue and personality are totally Shitzu, but he still thinks he needs to pretend to be a Boston. He burrows in the bed and makes hilarious noises, just like Machu.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Lulu, the French Bulldog, and Cat Dog, the cat who thinks he’s actually a dog. And if you met him, you’d agree. Any cat that can chill with a Boston as hyper as Machu is a very special pussnickers.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Sometimes there’s a possum in our dog run and much barking and hair raising ensues. Malife loves chasing the bunnies when we vacation in Ojai. Machu is completely obsessed with tennis balls.

Balls and bunnies aside, the other thing they love to chase is, well, me. I always wanted to be a celebrity so the universe gave me my very own personal “puparazzi.” Sometimes I put on sunglasses and run around the house pretending like I’m Britney Spears.

Yeah, I just admitted that on the web.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

“Throw the ball, throw the ball, throw the ball.” – Machu Picchu

“Chase Machu, chase Machu, chase Machu after you throw the ball so I can chew on her back legs and steal the ball although I could truly care less about the ball in the first place.” – Malife

What is each dog's best quality?

Machu really is a little person in a fur coat. She’s scary smart. She understands everything.

Yoda, she basically is.

She makes ridiculous noises. She snores as loud as an old man and cries like a baby.

She’s stubborn, moody, hyperactive and is the light of my life.

Malife, on the other hand, is not the brightest bulb in the box. He’s clumsy and codependent. His ears and tongue are comically large for his body. He’s also super jealous, which is weird since he came into the family after Machu.

And he’s everyone’s favorite.

Malife is the sweetest, snuggliest doggy of all time. The love that comes out of his brown eyes is so intense that it’s actually palpable. It’s physical. His energy can only be described as healing.

He’s trusting and compassionate and is the light of my life.

They’ve both been a huge part of my healing process and have each saved my life at different times. When I’m in the throws of my brain disorder, most humans feel unsafe to me. When I have a hard time trusting people, my pups have always been safe.

I often join them on their dog beds and we pray and meditate together. They’re the most tangible evidence I have of a God in this world. They are my strongest connection to the Divine.

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

Only one thing? They’d take away my laptop and never, ever give it back.

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

If “the most interesting man in the world” could be a woman from Boston that would be Machu – or Gisele B√ľndchen. Malife? Jeff Goldblum or Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees.

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

Malife, what were the first 7 months of your life like?

Machu, who built Stonehenge?

Visit Courtney Rundell's website,

--Marshal Zeringue

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