Celebrating the world’s longest friendship.

By Bianca Kapteyn

Living with companion animals has its challenges, uplifting moments and the little things that can guide us to be a better people.

 When my family dog Otis was alive, his play time was spent in the park next door where I live. In his youth, he was an awesome Frisbee catcher – catching a mid-air throw from 100 metres and a “baseball dog” joining my sons and their dad in the field for a game, where he was the centre-fielder.   These were the nurturing interactions to Otis’ well-being.  And further cemented our emotional bond with him as a family-unit.  Playtime is essential for a dog’s happiness.

I interviewed local Antonita Chan, who shares her personal story about her relationship with her beloved dog Kit.

Tell us about yourself?

I am a gardener, and I am also an artist.

How did Kit become a part of your family?

Kit came to me in the summer of 2020.  I lost my last dog, Bruzzi, April that year.  After months of living without a dog, I was getting desperate to find a new dog.  It was the beginning of Covid, and it was not easy getting a dog, any dog!  After months of daily searching, I finally saw something hopeful on Kijiji, so hopeful that I kept thinking about it. Not that anyone is proud to get a dog from someone on Kijiji, but dogs were really that hard to come by during the beginning of Covid!

As much as I love cattle dogs, and would love to have another one, I was hesitant to get another one.

Why?  Because I knew how much energy those dogs have. I had a Blue Heeler before, and I loved that dog, but it was work. My Blue Heeler, Dingo, was a great joy and a greater pain!

In the end I submitted. I submitted because it was too coincidental, the fact that my friend and I both spotted the same ad. If it was not because of that I probably would not have committed to another Australian Cattle dog. My friend emailed me the ad and said that it would be the right dog for me. Why? Because of the protruding ears.

The cute little face, a little red dog, the protruding ears — they all added up to be a pure joy!

Kit is three quarter Heeler and a quarter Lab!

It was not easy getting Kit. It was Sunday, the ad was up since Thursday. Fortunately, there were two puppies left by the time I called, a boy and a girl. I was not sure what I wanted at the time. The decision must be made fast. The puppies would not wait, they are first come, first served!

I had to solicit help from all three of my children, they put together the big stash of cash and the car.  One was moving that day, so two came to get the puppy.  There was a couple of hours drive out of town.  I asked as many questions on the phone as I could regarding the puppies.

In the end, the whole operational looked debatable. We saw the puppies; they took them out to the front yard to meet and greet. Apparently, they came from an uncle’s farm.

But who knows? And there, in front of a suburban house, there was how we got Kit. I have never had a girl dog. She was picked by my daughter who thought that a girl dog would be a better choice. A girl dog — she would be a bit smaller, a bit calmer, and a whole lot less work than the Dingo, if I must have another Heeler. Two and half years later, I can say that other than the fact that she is half the size of Dingo, she IS another Dingo!

That was how I got Kit!

What does a typical day with Kit look like?

The first morning outing with Kit is the most exciting for both of us. No matter what I must do that day, it is such a joy to be able to wake up every morning with her next to me in her crate. Rain or shine, we would be out and have our morning exercise and walk when I am ready to get out of the house.

Typically, we go to the park, which is a couple of mins from my house. We would always start with simple obedience training, ball-fetching, and then frisbee. Then we may do scent work, balance work, or tree-climbing …

We usually spend close to an hour in the park in the morning. It depends on how hectic my schedule is for the day. In the afternoon, I would do similar things like the morning. Sometimes we would just go for a walk down the dog park after some one-on-one play time. And there at the dog park is where I get to socialize with other dog owners, and she gets to play with other dogs.

That is how Kit and I structure her day. Two sessions per day. The time spent on the sessions would depend on busy I am on that day. Or whether I have other things to do with her outside.

How do I keep Kit happy?

I really believe that to keep her happy, I need to have her with me as often as possible. Unless I am going out for hours such as in the case of work, then she is left behind at home with a big piece of bone. The rest of the time, she is with me. When I am working in my studio, she is sleeping next to me. When I am working in the garden she is out and about playing by herself. In general, I have made a point to take her with me as often as I can, so that she knows that her life is with me.

There is hardly a day that would go by without an interactive playtime with Kit. From doing frisbee with her to allowing her to climb trees, these are all exercises designed to keep her mind and body active, as well as to keep her focusing on me. The more I teach her and interact with her, the more she is used to my guidance. And the more she is capable to do, the more self-confidence she is as her own dog.

Kit does not get a lot of privileges at home, for example she does not get to sleep in my bed or do whatever she wants whenever she wants. She is usually very calm and quiet when she is home. Unless I take the initiative to play with her indoors, otherwise she knows that she is not allowed to disturb me. That is the reason why the heavy interactive play time outside is so important for both of us. When we play, we play!

Kit is still young; she will turn two and half this December. We still have a lot of work to do. In the interim, it has been a pleasure to share her growing up journey. I appreciate how she has trusted me. Since the beginning of our time together I have relied on her to guide me and show me what she is ready to learn and do. Our time together has been precious. I have never thought I could ask a dog to stand on my shoulder, or to walk on a wooden fence, or to climb up a tree. Who said having a dog is just work? Who said having a dog is not fun?

I say having a dog is work. And yes, having a dog is lot of fun. I love how fun it is to play with Kit.  But, beyond all that I love how patient she is with me when I need her to be quiet when I work. And the bulk of the day is about her being a quiet companion.

My dog, Kit, has been a work in progress, but she is a pleasure to have around and truly a great companion. She is attentive, loving, funny, insane … and she is a great joy to wake up to every morning!