From Savannah Dogs, published by Frederic C. Beil ©2001,
Minne McQuillen Beil, Editor.
Joan on Chutney:
Benign creature; outgoing, good natured, playful—capriciously
mixed with the breed's agile sparring instincts and natural
“The shar pei is a vet's dream,” cautioned Kyle Christiansen,
DVM, but that darling, copper-colored, fluffy beastie had
captivated me. AKC-unacceptable, chow-like coat—the “bear
coat”—a recessive gene results from an ancient relationship
between the two breeds. She isn’t the fearsome-looking dog I’d
So we amble along—she with her compromised immune
system due to inbreeding, ongoing allergies, and I, her elderly
owner, with all the accompanying indignities of aging.
Her catlike tidiness and independence, her thoughtful
intelligence is combined with an impulsive tactical-animal
sense. The combination seems to create a paradoxical, usually
Chutney, who loves company (people and dogs), has a sense of
poise. Since she was a puppy, she appears to be up to social
One spring morning I decided to let her take me for a walk
beyond Monterey Square, our usual turnaround point. Moving
north along the west side of Bull Street, she crossed Liberty,
turned right across Bull—not to Home Run Video, where we go
for movies. (This dog friendly store not only offers movies, but
also biscuits and, sometimes, if he’s not busy, a teasing,
affectionate, brief tussle with Alan, who is a special dog
person.) No—she was going to the Gallery Espresso, where she
gets not only my version of biscuits, but can sit outside, greet
people, and enjoy watching the scene. A cafe dog who brings
life and structuring responsibility to my daily existence.
Chutney on Joan:
My owner is an old lady who moves slower than than I do,
except when she wants to be fast. She dawdles when we’re
going to go out, wanders around the house saying:
“Where’s your leash?” “I don’t know where I left the keys.” “I
forgot the plastic bags.” “Do I have a paper towel?" This last
for when I embarrass her by shaking my head with drooling,
floppy lips, slinging slobber about. Of course with her as a
model I get to wander a bit before I answer her calls.
Keeping house doesn’t suit my owner. She makes nests—one
in the kitchen, another at the studio table, and in her bed. I have
nests too. A not-quite-large-enough pillow, which I’ve had
since a puppy, and which people trip over; and two pillows in
the parlours—one of these by the window where I guard the
house. I bring toys and chewies to my nest; she brings books
and magazines, which she doesn’t chew.
Sometimes, when I want to play, she doesn’t. But we share
dinner at home. When we eat out, I mustn’t beg, even when
meat-smells make me forget myself and groan. Oyster roasts
are the best as the shells on the ground are for me and my
She needs me for company and exercise; I take her for walks.
So we lead our days—me on the leash mostly. I'm quite
attached to her. She's all I have.