Pets

Troy and Vicky’s dogs of Instagram
Channel People: I Love My Pet

Troy and Vicky Rawhiti-Forbes live in Glenfield and are the proud parents of two dogs, Foley and Fiona. 

Troy is the Social Media Manager at Spark New Zealand and previously worked at the New Zealand Herald. Their dogs are frequently seen on the couples' Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages and even have their own hashtags! Vicky has had dogs in her family since she was five years-old (along with fish, cat and a rabbit) and, other than a couple of months when she and Troy started flatting together, has always had a dog in the home. Troy’s first dog came to the family when he was eight and he also had a frog growing up. Channel Mag put a few questions to Troy about life with Foley and Fiona on the Shore.

Courtney Bennett: Why are you an animal lover?

Troy Rawhiti-Forbes: Vicky says it best: Dogs remind you to live in the moment, and they’re snuggly. There are no pretences either – they’re so upfront.

CB: Tell us about your two dogs Foley and Fiona…

TRF: Vicky describes both of them as 'ridiculous' on her blog, and it’s a good summary. They make us laugh all the time. We have no real idea of what Foley’s breed is, other than some obvious mastiff.  He is alternately nicknamed “Horse” or “Monkey” depending on whether he’s rearing up over our heads because he wants our attention, or climbing or scurrying about to find a more comfortable place to rest. Our English bulldog Fiona’s name makes more sense to people who have seen the Shrek flicks, and we nicknamed her “Pork Chop” on account of her shape and build.

CB: Why did you decide to get two very different breeds of dogs?

TRF: Foley is an SPCA boy, and after two days at home it was a quick decision to enquire about one of his brothers. Gone. So we held off, and took two years to raise and get to know Foley. If we’d had been quicker, the bulldog we know and love as Fiona would have been someone else belonging to another family.

As we were raising Foley, we talked about what kind of best friend would be best for him and for us, and we decided bulldogs were for us. However, bulldog puppies are prohibitively expensive. Fiona was actually secondhand – reduced to clear, with no free set of steak knives. Her owners took poor care of her, and knew it, but cared enough about her to be upfront about it.

CB: What sort of personalities do your dogs have? Are they much different for each dog?

TRF: Both dogs are very attentive and loving, but they are miles apart as personalities go. Foley is very much into routine and comfort, and that’s reflected in his loyalty to Vicky as well as in his anxiety around strangers. He normally takes two encounters to let his guard down. Foley’s also incredibly gentle, and will take food from your hand with delicate ease.

Fiona is a cannonball who can’t help but launch herself at the people and things she loves, though her rampancy is broken up by frequent power naps. Like a typical bulldog, she is tremendously stubborn and very powerful. She’s not as smart as other dogs, but she has learned what she needs to get by. If she wants attention, she’ll reach out and thump you with one of her meaty paws. If she doesn’t want to do something, she’ll go dead-weight and grunt or squeal until defeated or left alone. Fiona doesn’t know what gentle means, and if you offer her a treat she’ll try to swallow your hand as well. She has excellent eye-to-mouth coordination, so try throwing it to her instead.

CB: What are the best areas to take your dogs on the Shore in your opinion?

TRF: There are several good spots and some no-go areas as well, like a couple of beach areas where some owners will scrunch up their faces at the sight of any dog that couldn’t fit in a handbag. That’s fine, but the only thing about a dog that should put a nose out of joint is the concentrated foulness that falls out of their rear ends.

Manuka Reserve is fantastic, and if you can make the drive past Albany to Sanders Reserve then you’ll find great on-lead and off-lead walks, as well as great views across the Upper Harbour area.

For a quick dash with a bit of variety, the bushy walkway at Stancich Reserve in Northcote is good. If you want to make a morning of it, Eskdale Reserve is even better.

CB: Is the North Shore a pet-friendly place?

TRF: Generally speaking, the Shore is quite accommodating. I think that’s reflected in the increase of doggy daycare and specialist pet stores – the services are growing to meet growing demand. Back when we were renting, it was far easier to find pet-friendly homes on the Shore than out west where I had grown up. There are plenty of places to walk, too, which means less time thinking and more time having fun.

Though there are some folks who let the side down, the general canine intelligence is pretty good. The more people who know how to share their neighbourhoods with dogs, whether they are owners or not, the better.

CB: Do you always pick up the doggie dos?

TRF: One of the most on-point tweets I’ve ever read was a lament by the politician Tau Henare, and he had observed that lawnmowers weren’t actually vacuum cleaners for dog turds. We get a lot of wind coming through our back yard, and that doesn’t blow them away. So that’s a no for slashing them with a high-powered blade, and a no for letting Mother Nature sort it out. That leaves the job to us – I’ve tried reasoning with the dogs but they just won’t listen – and we share the job of handling the poo. Not literally, of course. There are bags involved.

CB: Do your dogs wear doggie clothes?

TRF: Fiona has a pink tutu, which she wears only during very special occasions, and a Strawberry Shortcake scarf, which is worn often. Foley usually wears an expression of quiet dignity but, because he’s an anxious boy, we’ll put him in a Thundershirt during intense weather.

Actually, Fiona’s scarf isn’t just for superficial giggles. She is a therapy dog with the Canine Friends network, and she goes with Vicky once a week to spend time with a group of special young people. The scarf’s a cute little distraction, and the kids love it.

CB: Do you have a favourite animal charity that you support?

TRF: We take animal welfare seriously, and there are things that Paw Justice and the SPCA do that we find admirable.

 CB: What’s your view of animals on social media? (Had to ask!)

TRF: Animals are pretty useless at social media because their typing skills and vocabularies just aren’t up to par, but they have a safety net in auto-correct. Fiona stood on Vicky’s phone a while ago and she sent me a direct message about Japan. It read something like: “aksdidd000999992i4 Hiroshima 23fnd huams.” I learned a lot, clearly.

The internet would be a duller place without images of cats and dogs, and I think the ice gets broken just as easily online than off. If we know you’re a dog person, we know you’ve got to be pretty good.

CB: I wouldn’t be without Foley and Fiona because…

TRF: Let’s take this in turns. Vicky, you’re up first!
VRF: …they’re basically our kids, and they’re pretty great company.

TRF: …if life’s the joke then they’re the punchline, and we never stop laughing.

By Courtney Bennett

Channel Magazine: Issuu 50 December 2014 | January 2015

Shore People articles by Courtney Bennett