Furry Guru Interview - Ashley and Avery

Welcome to the first of a new interview series for the blog. The Furry Guru series focuses on how our animal companions can help us through difficult times, teach us important life lessons and be sources of unconditional love when we need it most.

Avery is 9 year old Maltese with one eye ( thanks to an ill fated run in with a sharp cat claw), and our first featured furry guru. Avery lives in NYC with her fur mama Ashley Williams of Greenlight Holistic Healing. I spoke with Ashley about her tiny diva with a heart of gold and how she has helped her cope with chronic illness and recognise her true purpose in life.

Tell us about your furry guru and how you came into each other’s lives.
I adopted Avery as a puppy when I was 16/17. My family has always had pets and also took in dogs we found wandering in the neighbourhood before being returned to their owners. I wanted a Yorkie or Maltese and did my research on the breeds. I chose to get a Maltese as they are supposed to be docile and not bark (which is not Avery at all!). I had saved and saved and saved to get a Maltese puppy when my cat Randy needed surgery, so I had to wait a bit longer until I had enough saved up to get Avery. My pets are my children and I chose to take them to college in NYC with me. We had to get an apartment instead of living in the dorms which doubled the cost of school! But I couldn’t have left them behind.

How would you describe the relationship between you and your furry guru? What does your typical day/time together look like?
She is like my child. She has a personality and feelings and needs. I worry about her and think about her all the time! She’s my all-the-time buddy, and I don’t have any roommates so it’s just the two of us (sadly Randy passed away last year at the age of 16). When I am out I will feel really guilty for leaving her alone. She’s my reason to come home at night.

Now that I’m working from home I will take her for a half hour to hour long walk in the mornings, then she will stay by my side for most of the day while I work on the computer. Then the day is bookended by another walk. At night she sleeps in my bed. She stretches out and ends up taking up most of the space!

Tell us about a time of personal struggle or hardship in your life, which was made easier by your furry guru and how they helped you get through.
Avery is someone to talk to. She doesn’t judges, she just listens. A few years ago I was working in the music industry – I was under a lot of stress and was dealing with chronic illness. Avery and Randy were sometimes my only reason to get out of bed. They were someone to talk to, sounding boards and provided lots of cuddles. Randy was there though my teenage angst years. He didn’t really like anyone else in the family but me – he was my cat and that was comforting for a teenager trying to find their place in the world.

Avery is really good at asking for what she wants and has taught me to do the same. The other day she came into the room and was scratching at my leg. So I went with her to my desk and she happily curled up in her bed next to me. She just wanted me to be in the room with her.

What’s the most important lesson your furry guru has taught you?
Avery is great at finding people who need her the most. People who you would otherwise walk by on the street, she will run to and rub up against them. It makes them so happy. She is so unconditional. She loves kids – we met a girl with Downs syndrome the other day and she stayed for five minutes and played with her. She is so open hearted. This is inspiring to me as a health coach because I want to help people who need it the most.

Best memory/funny story involving your furry guru?
There are a lot of good memories involving Avery. When she was a puppy she was only 1.8 pounds, really very small. I had a gate to my bedroom that we closed when we went out of the house, because she was not yet potty trained. The whole family would go out and when we came back she had got out of my room. This happened twice and we couldn’t figure out how she was escaping so I set up a camera to record her. The recording showed this tiny puppy climbing up the gate with her little claws and then slipping down before trying again, for over an hour. When she finally made it to the top she jumped onto my bedside table, then my bed, then out the door. It really showed how much will she had and sums up her personality. She is very determined!!

Finish the sentences
1- If my furry guru was a person/different animal they would be… a lamb! She looks like a lamb with her fur and her back legs are slightly longer than the front so she is kind of tilted. If she was a person she would be a  diva! She would let everyone know when she’s in the room.

2- Without my furry guru I would be… very lonely. I would not get much exercise in the winter!

3- One word to describe my furry guru is… ‘crazy’

Any parting wisdom?
Having pets has helped me realise how all animals feel the same. There is no difference between dogs/cats/pigs/chickens. Some of us love dogs and cats yet eat pigs because they were designated as food animals thousands of years ago. But all animals feel pain and suffering and fear the same and there shouldn’t be a difference in how we love them.

If you have a furry guru story you’d like to share as part of this interview series please contact me at ollie@ollieneveu.com



Ollie Neveu