• Jess and Mark Gunn, with Sparrow.

Jess & Sparrow – the 'Bitsa'

MY DOG & ME: Jess Gunn & Sparrow

In association with our good friends at DogHQ each month we meet Shore people whose four-legged family members add a great deal of joy to their lives. Our very own dog-lover Aidan Bennett (he has two doggies of his own he spoils – Olive a Cocker Spaniel and Maisie a French Bulldog) loves the task of putting this monthly feature together. This month he talks with Jess Gunn of Beachhaven about Sparrow, her much-loved ‘bitsa' who loves going to Dog HQ.

AIDAN BENNETT: How long has Sparrow been part of your life?
It will be a year on labour weekend that we brought her home.

AB: What made you decide to get Sparrow?
We didn't specifically choose a breed - she chose us! She's an SPCA rescue we refer to her as a ‘Bitsa’. On her adoption papers she's a Red Nose Pitbull cross with Hungarian Viszla as dominant breeds. We saw her on the SPCA website and went to meet her and it was love at first sight from all parties!

AB: Is she your first dog, if not tell us about your other dogs?
First dog and I can't believe It's taken me so long to have one. Back in London I was always in rentals that allowed cats only, and have had several rescue cats in the past but never a dog. I also used to have four Degu's.

AB: Do you have any other pets?

AB: What do you love about Sparrow?
She's just such a character. Full of energy and a super happy, friendly and affectionate dog. She follows us everywhere around the house like a shadow, and wants to make everybody she meets her new best friend. Its been a lovely journey with her this last year, watching her gain confidence and trust, and share all these first time experiences with her and her excitement about discovering something new. Last weekend it was a first encounter with horses  at Muriwai... She went crazy with excitement full on zoomies!

AB: Does she have any bad habits?
Every morning I wake up with a dog under the duvet. She sneaks in under it by our feet when we're asleep. She also takes great joy in digging up the plants in the garden. She brings them into the house like she's proud of herself.

AB: What are her favourite things to do?
Sleeping in the sun, going for bush walks, and she absolutely loves the beach, although still not a confident swimmer she loves splashing about!

AB: How long has she been going to DogHQ and does he love it?
She has been going to Dog HQ for nearly 10 months now. We started off just with a couple of days a week but now it's every day and has been since last summer. She absolutely loves it and all the people that work there, and gets excited if we bump into one of her friends in the park too.

AB: Does she love the beach and swimming or other things?
Summer or winter she loves the beach, capering around in the sand and splashing in the waves. She's not a confident swimmer though and gets nervous in water above her belly. We have a little pool at home and she stands on the edge and barks at us when we're in there, she won't get in! We do a little bush track walk with her every weekend she loves all the smells, and anything even vaguely muddy absolutely must be rolled in!

AB: Any words of wisdom for other dog owners or prospective dog owners?
Do it! Be prepared for it to be a bit trying at times, and time consuming, especially taking on a rescue.. and it does change the way you make plans - having to take the dog into consideration. But the unconditional love and joy you get from them is priceless. I don't think i'd ever be without a dog now. I also feel passionately about rescue over purchase wherever reasonable.