Editor's Note: When we set out to create Heed, we wanted to create a dog food brand that met the needs of actual dog owners and the dogs they love. No fillers, great ingredients, nutritious and focused on healing from the inside out.
Our relationships with our dogs are all complex, unique and special. We wanted to uncover the stories behind dog ownership from our community and understand how dogs have helped heal us, too. To launch our blog, we're excited to share the first of our ongoing interview series, Heed Stories: Our Dogs and Us, beginning with model, activist and Survivor, Ash Foo, and her 2.5 year old Bernadoodle, Ziggy.
Heed Foods: Let’s start by chatting about how you and Ziggy met!
Ash: I was interested in having a certain breed. I knew how much I loved poodle mixes because they’re super smart, they don't shed, and they're just loving and friendly.
I remember when I was looking up different types of mixes of poodles and found out about Bernadoodles and how they don’t need much exercise and are super loving and cuddly. I was sold. I found a breeder in Ohio, so my ex and I drove ten hours to Cleveland to meet these two dogs. I remember when we met Ziggy and his brother, they were glued at the hip. I immediately felt the connection between me and Ziggy.
Heed Foods: What was the reasoning behind getting a dog?
Ash: I always knew that I wanted a dog. I loved dogs and was ready to have the responsibility. I was ready to have a life partner and have a best friend that would never leave me.
I think I also knew that New York was going to be my home. The apartment I was in at the time felt like it was going to be home. It felt like I was adding to that sense of stability and making bigger decisions for our future.
Heed Foods: How has it been to have Ziggy be a constant throughout all the things you’ve been through over the last few years?
Ash: Ziggy has had so many people come in and out of his life. There are dogs he obviously never forgets when we go to the park, but with people, he knows that I’m his home. We just have such a special bond, he knows I’m number one. If I’m not there, he’ll cling to someone else, but if I am there, it's always me. It makes me feel special that he needs me like that. It makes me feel wanted.
"I never really feel alone because I have him."
Heed Foods: Has he changed how you see yourself?
Ash: I've been very proud of myself, because even before I got Ziggy, I did a ton of research on training new puppy things.
I felt like I was very mature for my age even before Ziggy, because of my job. I left Canada to live in New York by myself since I was 17/18. The amount of responsibility when I got Ziggy definitely added more, but it wasn't hard to adjust. It never felt like a chore.
When I'm gone, he’s always in the back of my mind. I’m always thinking about what he needs, how many hours I've been out. I'd never had to think about anything other than myself.
Heed Foods: You went through treatment last year for Ovarian cancer. What was that like to go through with him by your side?
Ash: Even though I was in Toronto, New York is still my home, so having Ziggy helped stabilize me in terms of where home was. Wherever Ziggy and I am, that’s where home is.
He wasn’t with me every second, but he was definitely a positive distraction from what was happening because he loves me unconditionally.
No matter what you do or how you're acting towards them, you really can't do anything except love them and be happy that they love you. He’s definitely my emotional support.
Every time I go home there’s this immense amount of joy from him. He’s so happy that I’m alive, and that I’m home, and that it’s time to cuddle. It makes me feel like it doesn’t really matter what else happened, it’s such a grounding experience to come home to. I never really feel alone because I have him.
Heed Foods: How would you describe Ziggy’s spirit?
Ash: He's like me in the sense that he's not a social butterfly. He's better one-on-one rather than in group settings. He gets very shy. He gets so much attention because he's so pretty, but he doesn’t like it. He doesn't trust people easily, so when people try to pet him because he looks so happy and welcoming he's like, “Whoa, I don't know”. We’re both reserved and open up easier when there's like less people around. He's also very loyal, loving and affectionate.
Heed Foods: You guys sound the exact same!
Ash: Yeah, sometimes I feel like I birthed him. He’s an extension of who I am.
I feel like I raised him and have helped him adapt to life. I feel like I’ve taught him so much and it just feels like we’re connected. People always think I’m so weird when I say that but he’s really my son, I’m so protective over him.
Heed Foods: Did that connection develop immediately from when you first met him or did that happen over time?
Ash: It was immediate. When I first saw him I knew he was my dog.
Heed Foods: Do you think you chose him or he chose you?
Ash: Maybe a little bit of both.
Heed Foods: Imagine for 15 minutes, Ziggy understands every word. What do you say to him?
Ash: All I would say is, “You're perfect.” I would say how much I love him and that. If I leave, I will always come back. Always. And he needs to eat more fruits and vegetables. Classic mom shit.