Friday, December 6, 2013

Faith McCune & Dayle and Alva

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Faith McCune, the author of a book titled Duffy’s World, Seeing the World through a Dog’s Eyes. Duffy opened my eyes to a whole new world of canine agility and, though he was too old to participate in this sport, his baby sister, Corrie, did. It was through this activity that I met Dayle and Alva, her Shetland Sheepdog, commonly called a Sheltie. Alva is a male, 9 years old, who happens to be deaf.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Corrie passed away suddenly in May, but I’ve kept in touch with all our dear friends in the agility world. Dayle and I decided to meet to celebrate the release of my book. Dayle and Alva achieved their big milestone, too. A championship for Alva! This is a very special feat for any of our dogs, but especially sweet for them. Most dog owners take for granted being able to speak our commands to our dogs. It takes a lot of know-how and patience to do it only with hand signals. Competing in canine agility with a deaf dog is remarkable. They are amazing to watch!

What's brewing?

Dayle’s beverage of choice is Starbuck’s skinny peppermint mocha while mine is their black tea brew.

Any treats for you and Dayle and Alva on this occasion?

Dayle had an artisan veggie Panini, which she shared with Alva. I also brought some buffalo and blueberry treats for him.

How were Dayle and Alva united?

Dayle already had a deaf dog at home when a breeder called to see if Dayle wanted Alva. She was reluctant to take him at first, but when the breeder was unsuccessful trying to find him a home, she decided to take him.

How did Alva get his name? Any aliases?

Dayle and her husband like naming their dogs after scientists and inventors. Alva was named after Thomas Alva Edison, who also was partially deaf.

Did Dayle know your dogs?

I first met Dayle about five years ago at her very first agility trial. She never met Duffy. Since then, Alva and Corrie competed in many agility events together. Most of the time, we ended up at the same venues, then started sharing space together. We and a few others became quite a circle. We shared stories, laughter, snacks, and course strategies together. We made long-lasting friendships and looked forward to seeing each other from event to event. As the years passed, we shared victories and championships together as well.

Did Corrie do more to help or hinder your writing when you were working on Duffy's World'?

Corrie [photo right] was in constant attendance while I wrote my book. She and I enjoyed daily walks where ideas flowed in the fresh morning air. She’d drop toys or balls at my feet periodically to remind me to take breaks. She was never far from me though she enjoyed time with my husband as well. I could never resist her beautiful eyes and face that urged me to come out and play. This usually meant four or five breaks a day regardless of what I was doing.

Does Alva have a favorite place to go for outings?

Dayle and I are both agility junkies! Alva and Corrie just loved going places and having fun. All I’d have to say is, “wanna go?” and Corrie would turn herself inside out, yipping and whining in anticipation. She got so she’d know the difference between just me leaving and us going somewhere together by the sound of the cap on the tubes of skin lotion vs sunscreen. Seeing her friends was an added plus. More friends meant more treats! Alva also likes his chiropractor because he knows how good he feels after a session. He goes crazy when Dayle approaches the doctor’s driveway. Corrie enjoyed her sessions, too. When dogs compete, they’re actually athletes and we make sure they have treatments they need to keep them sound. Most of all, they both loved butt rubs—and they didn’t have to go anywhere for that!

What is Alva's best quality?

Alva is highly attentive to Dayle. She’s not quite sure if it’s his personality or because he’s deaf. He also aims to please and does his best to focus on her. When his mom is happy, he’s happy.

If Alva could change one thing about you and Dayle, what would it be?

Dayle said he’d probably say she’s too stingy with her treats. He also looks at me like a giant treat machine, hoping I have something to give him because his “mom” isn’t forthcoming with anything at the moment. He wishes we weren’t so wise to his begging ways.

If Alva could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

Dayle would be interested in knowing what he really thought about his siblings. He has a Sheltie brother and a Papillon sister. Dayle feels he’d be happier just being a laid-back only dog. His brother, Hutch, has fear issues so he’s always on the alert, whereas Tesla, his sister is a 10-month old hell-on-wheels girl, primed for the agility ring.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Alva could speak, who should voice him? How about Corrie and Duffy--who would voice them?

I’ve actually thought about an animated movie starring Duffy and Corrie. Dayle thought Tom Hanks would be a good voice for Alva. He can be smart alecky, wise-cracking, and still serious. Duffy’s wild vocal swings would be suited to someone like Will Smith or, as Dayle suggested, Mike Myers. Corrie would probably do well with a younger voice like Dakota Fanning, sweet yet impish in the blink of an eye.

Visit Duffy’s World website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

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