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Pet Set: Michael Mealor

Animal Attraction: “I got Mishka in 2020, when he was just a puppy. He’s a Bernedoodle, which is a Bernese Mountain dog and standard poodle. Mishka means teddy bear in Russian, which fits because he’s just a big teddy bear. I also have a new dog named Ruby that I adopted recently. She just kind of appeared in my life and I immediately fell in love with her. She’s a Cavapoo, which is half King Charles Cavalier and half poodle. She has the floppy ears and big eyes of the King Charles Cavalier and the soft coat of a poodle. She’s my little girl and a quarter of the size of Mishka. She just wants to lie on the couch and cuddle, whereas the big guy is like a wrecking ball wherever he goes.”



Did you grow up with pets? “We had three miniature Dachshunds and the last passed away two years ago. I grew up believing that humans are just meant to have dogs.”

How would you describe your pups’ personalities? “Mishka is the smartest dog I’ve ever met. In fact, he’s too smart for his own good. And we know exactly what the other is saying. He’s very mischievous, but in a funny way. He knows what he’s doing every step of the way and he knows what he’s not supposed to do every step of the way. Ruby is extremely playful. She’s like a puppy in every sense of the word, but she’s also one of the dumbest dogs I’ve ever met and it’s so endearing. She’s just pure innocence. If you were to come over to my place, they would love you and want to play with you.”

How do they get along with each other? “Oh, they love each other. They love to cuddle together. They curl into each other and she will sleep with her head on his back. You would think that they’re from the same litter.”



How do they differ? “Ruby is extremely affectionate, while Mishka is not. He will only give me one kiss a week, so when I finally get that kiss from him, I know I’ve earned it. But then he gets really embarrassed and runs away. He also knows when I’m not feeling well. He’ll have lower energy, but he’s not one to curl up with you when you’re sad or upset like Ruby will. He just kind of knows when to have high energy and low energy.”

How are they with vet visits?I practically have to take anti-anxiety medication for that because Mishka freaks out and gets really scared. He starts barking and even shows his teeth. He’s really sensitive and has some social issues. He’s been sick for the past two or three months, and he’s been having to go to a vet periodically to get shots, which just adds to his anxiety. I had to get a full blood panel done on Ruby recently and when they pulled out blood with a syringe, she didn’t squirm, or make a peep. She was like, ‘I trust you.’ ”

How are they with groomers? “Mishka is scared every step of the way. He’s the sweetest guy, but when it comes to being outside of the home and in a weird situation where someone’s trying to do something to him that isn’t normal, he gets really stressed. Ruby trusts any human that she comes in contact with, so she does fine.”

Do you take them to dog parks? “Weirdly enough, they both do great in dog parks, I think because of the wide open spaces and they’re not confined to any particular area. I think Mishka feels like he can get away from anyone or anything if he needs to and he’s less anxious when he’s off his leash. Ruby is kind of timid around big dogs because she’s so small, but for the most part, they both love the dog park.”

Do they go crazy upon seeing squirrels? “I don’t know if they’ve ever seen a squirrel, to be honest, but they are fascinated by birds. They don’t want to attack them, they’ll just sit there and watch them. They don’t bark at birds or anything like that, but the whole flying thing is a weird conundrum for them.”

What is your favorite thing to do with your dogs? “We go to Starbucks so I can get them puppuccinos. They also love the beach. I live in the marina, so we walk to the beach often and they love running through the sand. Ruby doesn’t swim, so she stays away from the surf. I’ve taken Mishka to swimming classes, so he loves the water. Bernese Mountain dogs have this kind of double coat and it’s a nightmare to dry. I had to buy an industrial blow dryer because I kept burning out the others and it takes probably an hour to dry him.”

Do they sleep in your bed? “No, because I don’t want my bed to smell like dog. Even though they don’t shed, my bed is a sacred place and I just want my sheets to smell clean. They each have a very comfy bed on the floor.”

Are you a disciplinarian or a soft touch? “If you think about it, dogs are wild animals and we’re trying to do these very human things to them that don’t come naturally. It’s just a very weird experience for them and not in their nature, so we have to give them some slack — but in my case, I may give them too much slack.”