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Dog lovers
Photography: Graham Denholm

Must love dogs: Melburnians and their doggy companions

We meet with six Melbourne dog-lovers to find out what makes life with their furry friends great... apart from the obvious cuteness

By Delima Shanti

Melbourne is a dog lover's city (cat people, you're welcome to disagree). Go to any park on weekends and you'll find dogs running laps around each other, and it's not uncommon to see the odd tail wag at the local beer garden or café backyard.

Ahead of the annual Dog Lovers Show, we tracked down six canines (and their humans) to learn what they love most about life with their four-legged buddies.

Dog Lover: Husny Thalib
Photography: Graham Denholm

Husny Thalib, 34 and Hugo Boss, 5

Hugo's breed Schnauzer

Personality "Hugo’s not the smartest dog in the world, but he’s certainly the friendliest. He’s quite well-known: some of his dog friends have their own Instagram accounts and he gets recognised on the street from the occasional cameo he makes on his friends’ accounts."

Life with Hugo "I wasn’t even a dog person before a former partner and I got Hugo, but I adore him now. I work long hours and he would get really sad if he doesn’t get enough emotional attention, so my younger sister co-parents Hugo with me and she takes him on alternating weeks. Both my sister and I live in share houses and our housemates love him and take him on walks. He’s kind of a communal dog now and he has enriched so many lives."

Dog Lover: Michelle Le
Photography: Graham Denholm

Michelle Le, 27 and Swift, 16 months

Swift's breed Whippet

Personality "Whippets can be a quite timid, but Swift is a bit more boisterous and playful. He’s also more like a cat than a dog, always sun baking or sleeping during the day."

Life with Swift "My partner Chris and I socialised him quite early, so he gets along with other people and dogs really well. His best friends are two dachshunds. In general, Swift is a really silly dog. Once he got his head stuck in a cardboard box and when he realised he couldn't get out on his own, he just sat down. No whining or barking. I came to help him out of it and he was back in the box five minutes later."

Dog Lover: Ruby Lee
Photography: Graham Denholm

Ruby Lee, 30 and Ron, 2

Ron's breed Cavoodle

Personality "He’s a very friendly dog, and really quite cheeky. He thinks everyone he meets is there to see him."

Life with Ron "We call Ron the Chicken Thief. One day we went for a walk at Central Park in Malvern and we saw a young mum and her two kids tucking into a picnic feast for dinner. Opposite was this organic, free-range shop where some chicken and chips will set you back $30. Being an off-leash park, Ron was frolicking around with some other dogs, when we saw him wander over to this family. Next minute, Ron is launching himself at their chicken and chips, and bounding away with half a chicken in his mouth, with kids screaming and chaos everywhere. The chook was so big it looked like a roast chicken running across the park with furry legs. Once we chased him down, we realised we couldn’t give the lady her chicken back. We only brought our house keys with us, so I’m ashamed to say it, but we legged it! So if the lady from the park is reading this: we are sorry, we felt so guilty afterwards we donated $30 to Save a Dog Scheme…and avoided the park for a week."

Dog Lover: Angelo Ainalidis
Photography: Graham Denholm

Angelo Ainalidis, 42 and Ricky, 11

Ricky's breed Westmaltshitalier – a West Highland terrier/Maltese/Shih Tzu/Cavalier mix

Personality "Like most dogs he loves having his face in the wind. I used to stuff Ricky in my jacket when l rode my bicycle, then three years ago my friends and family bought me a scooter for my 40th birthday, so we upgraded Ricky into a shoulder bag so he'd feel snug and secure. Even when it's raining and I've got my wet weather jacket on he still sticks his head through the buttons!"

Life with Ricky "He was orange when he was a pup, and no one wanted to buy a ginger dog, so I rescued him from the pet store. We've been companions for 11 years now and Ricky hangs out with me at work [at Cherry Bomb salon in Collingwood]."

Dog Lover: Jamie Woolway
Photography: Graham Denholm

Jamie Woolway, 26 and Rippa, 16

Rippa's breed Golden labrador 

Personality "Little Rippa is generally a very relaxed dude; he’s never been too high maintenance. He’s gone a bit blind and deaf, but I have a feeling he’s might pretending to be deaf because he’s gotten lazy."

Life with Rippa "My family got Rippa as a spur-of-the-moment thing when I was ten and he’s been part of the family since. He has a funny history of escaping though, and for a dog with limited mobility whose favourite pastime is sleeping and lounging around the house, it's always bemusing how quickly he can escape when he wants to. We just refer to them as his Houdini adventures. A few months back, he disappeared for an hour or so before re-appearing in the lounge room covered in partially melted asphalt. No idea how he got out, but we had to end up cutting away almost all the fur on his tail and belly – he looked very decrepit for a while."

Dog Lover: Denee Savoia
Photography: Graham Denholm

Denee Savoia, 35 and Chips, 7

Chips' breed Chihuahua

Personality Chips is quite cheeky and likes humans, but she doesn’t quite get along with other pups. She spends her days watching people walk down Smith Street from my balcony.

Life with Chips: “Chips has her own Instagram account with more than 5 thousand followers (@ChipsOfficial) and occasionally people recognise her from it. She also gets up to all sorts of trouble. When she was a puppy she ate three-quarters of a block of Lindt Chilli chocolate while I wasn't looking. She then vomited it back up over the course of six very long hours. She likes to hide dog treats around the house when I'm not home. Once I came home to find her trapped in the laundry basket… she’d attempted to hide her treat in there, and the lid had closed on top of her." 


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