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Q. Thanks for taking part Claire! first can you tell everyone a little bit about Sally and yourself.
Sally is a purebred Samoyed. She's 5 1/2 years old so now officially an adult but still acts like a puppy. We live in either Edinburgh or Lochearnhead as we split our time between Sally's Grandpawrents. Pre-covid we'd recently moved from St Andrews to Edinburgh so as Sal's Human could go back to college and Sal could enjoy doggie daycare with her Granny (all now on hold thank you Covid).
Q. Tell us about the day Sally joined your family.
Sally was a graduation present from me to me. I started looking for a dog to adopt once I'd finished my PhD. None of the reputable rescues were willing to rehome to someone who lived on their own and worked full time (even although I had friends and family support and a neighbour with a dog who was in all day and offering doggie daycare). So I ended up looking for a puppy, and since I was going to have to buy a pup - why not my favourite breed - Samoyed - those smiling fluffy polar dogs. I got lucky and found a good breeder in Fife who had a litter with one girl pup still looking for a home as her family had dropped out at the last minute. The day I collected her, it was a short 30 minute drive from her breeder back to my house, but in that time Sal managed to pee, poo and throw up in the car as well as singing her lungs out the whole way. Since then she's been an excellent traveler, but that first day it was all too much for her. She very quickly settled in, there was a wee bit of crying her first night home but generally she was a confident happy pup.
Q. That's my next question, what was Sally like growing up to now? What sort of character does she have and what does she like to do the most?
Samoyed breeders warn about the "terrible twos", when at around a year old your perfect puppy becomes a little demon. Sally started early. She was a well-behaved pup until she started teething at about 7 months. Then she had a flair for interior decoration. Her modern artwork can still be seen in the drywall in the kitchen. She is stubborn, not very food motivated so she has to see what's in it for her before she follows commands, and like most of her breed she craves constant attention, either from people or from other dogs. She's outgoing and always happy to make new friends. She's immediately friendly with other animals (cows, horses) larger than herself but smaller animals (rabbits and squirrels) are viewed as food and she will chase them. She's a snow dog so her favourite thing in the world is getting out into fresh deep snow. She rolls in it and then has an attack of the zoomies. A sandy beach is a good second best to snow.
Q. Has Sally had any issues growing up you’ve both had to work on, health, behavioural etc?
Sally came from a reputable breeder who screens for genetic conditions and hip and eye disorders. She is a fundamentally strong and healthy dog. She's raw fed as her breeder raw fed and I've never had any reason to switch, also her breed is prone to diabetes if fed a starch-rich diet so I try to steer away from grain-based kibble and treats. Behaviourally, she's as stubborn as they come. You have to make it worth her while to get her co-operation. If she likes you (and she likes most people) she's eager to please, but only if what you want isn't getting in the way of her valuable time barking up trees at squirrels. She's a sled dog and pulled like a sled dog. We've done a lot of walking nowhere slowly until she got the idea that pulling didn't work. She's generally very happy-go-lucky except that she has a phobia of fireworks and other loud noises. Valerian extract and a calming pheromone collar both help her cope but aren't a cure. We have to walk before it gets dark around bonfire night and New Year, and if it's a bad night I'll find her curled up in the (empty) bath as that's where she feels safest (it's cold and enclosed).
Q. When did you first start using Skipper’s products? Have you noticed any positive effects on Sally as a result?
Since she was around 2 years old Sally has been attending dog shows to cheer on her showgirl sisters (she's just too large to show herself, she's inside or outside the breed standard depending on the day and who's doing the measuring) and to be the unofficial "meet the breed" for Samoyeds. Dog shows always had some some stalls selling dog gear and treats. Sally would drag me over to the Skippers stall, and after she'd said a waggy hello to everyone and got a few samples of course I'd have to buy her a selection of snack! She's easily pleased as she's yet to meet a dried fishy treat she didn't like (and this is a dog who refuses to eat raw fish). I like the dried skin flatties and the twists as although she's raw fed she gets stubborn plaque on her back teeth and the only way to shift it is with dog toothpaste on a toothbrush, or a few days of giving her a Fish skin chew every night. I prefer the more natural method of a Fish skin chew.
Q. You’ve got a pretty great following on Instagram, and Sally clearly loves having her photo taken. When did you start taking photos of Sally for Instagram and how do you keep inspired to take such creative photos? You live amongst beautiful surroundings up there in Scotland, i’m sure that helps?
Aww thank you. I started putting Sal's photos on Instagram when she was about a year old. I was having to use my Facebook for work and was told it wasn't professional for me to have 100s of dog photos all over my social media. She quickly started to get a following both among dog-lovers and expats who miss Scotland. I try to stay away from the obvious touristy sights (as they are too busy and we get swamped with people trying to pat her and it's hard to just enjoy our walk). I made a conscious decision to show outdoor photos of Sal, as when I started her IG the most popular Samoyed accounts were posting mostly cute indoor photos and I feel that is misrepresenting the breed. Yes, they are cute and cuddly but they are also an active outdoor breed that requires daily exercise. I always take my camera on walks, I've found if you have it with you, you will see the moments that are worthy of a photograph. I think people follow us for the mix of Sally and Scotland. Sally photos get more likes but photos of the landscape get more people messaging to tell me about their connections to Scotland. Through her IG, I've made some good friends all around the world and some have even come to visit us (sometimes with their dogs).
Q. Lastly, what’s Sally’s favourite Skipper’s treat?
Oh this is a hard one. She loves them all! She's a little predator so I think she'd say the whole fish (Dover Sole, Anchovies and Prawns), or maybe the Squid Strips? I like the Fish Skin Flatties and Twirls as they clean her teeth, and the tiny Fish Shaped Training Treats as they are easy to carry on walks.
Thank you again to the wonderful Claire and Sally! We'll bring you some more Customer Focus blogs in the near future. In the meantime why not check out some of those treats Sally loves so much HERE.