Family Pawtraits — Grand Dame


Paul, Banking, shirt from J.Crew, jeans from Pure Blue Japan, shoes from Visvim
Ashley, PR and Events, dress from Wyldr, shoes from Aldo, bracelet from SW1 Projects
Pebbles, female schnauzer

Despite her small size, Pebbles is somewhat like the grandmother in this family. Ashley got her 14 years ago, when she was only about five months old, and today, in human years, Pebbles is a grand 98 years old. At her age, Pebbles is almost completely blind, and relies very much on her humans to get around in unfamiliar environments. However, this also means that she has an incredibly calm and trusting disposition, comfortably settling into whatever position she’s placed in — be it alone on a sofa, cradled in Paul’s arms like a newborn baby, or on a stranger’s lap —  and so she easily won all our hearts, even in the short time that we had with the family.


Shentonista (S): Was it a childhood/lifelong dream to have a dog, or something that you only considered as an adult or as a couple? Was there a reason you decided on this particular breed?

Ashley (A): I actually always had dogs, growing up, then when I was 16 we switched to a really small dog after our German shepherd. It’s quite a big change but it was nice to finally have a house dog, someone you can just have in the house. We got a schnauzer because I’m actually allergic to a lot of things, and schnauzers have a type of fur that doesn’t cause me to get rashes.

Paul (P): I didn’t have a dog while growing up, because my parents were like, you kids always talk about it, but no one’s actually going to take care of the dog.

S: What were some of the things you considered before getting a dog, or some things that you think anyone should consider?

P: I’m not sure if there’s such a thing as a hardy dog, but I think an independent dog is something to look out for. Which I don’t think you can tell, prior to having the dog at home.

S: What were some of the initial problems or challenges that you faced as a pet owner? 

P: Because Pebbles is much older, and she’s blind, we just needed to get her familiarised with the surroundings. I think it took a couple of months. For example, she’s only started to be able to walk into the kitchen herself recently, even though we’ve been in our new place for a year and a half.

A: There’s a slight drop into the kitchen, and because she can’t see, even something short is a huge challenge for her. So 6 weeks ago, when she first walked into the kitchen on her own, we were like — you know that feeling, I’m assuming, when parents first see their kids walking on their own — oh my god, she got into the kitchen!

S: Because she’s blind, do you guys have to make sure that there are no sharp corners at home? Babyproofing, basically.

P: She’s quite sturdy in that way. She will bump into things, but there’re no injuries or major mishaps. And although she’s blind, I suspect that she’s smart enough to sense light and use her other senses. So if you watch her at home you probably wouldn’t think that she’s blind, because she moves pretty quickly. It’s only when she’s outside and unfamiliar that she’s more hesitant. But I think that the other senses become heightened. Like Daredevil.


S: Paul, what would you say is the biggest change in your life after you got a dog? Do you think your personality/lifestyle/habits have changed in any way? 

P: I’ve never had a pet, other than a fish, which Ashley doesn’t think should be considered. But yes, it was a big change because I could barely take care of myself! So having to feed Pebbles, and clean up after her, and because we live in an apartment now it’s not as though she can use the toilet outside — things like that were a big change.

A: There was once I left Pebbles alone with Paul for 36 hours and when I came back I found out that he’d managed to give her food poisoning and incurred a $700 vet bill, because he had thought she might like fish-based dog food for a change. I was like, why would you change the diet of a 98-year-old?!

S: When you guys go to work, do you feel any pains leaving Pebbles alone at home?

A: We have a baby cam installed at home for Pebbles, so we can check in on her from our phones while we’re at work.

P: Actually it was more to figure out what the hell she was doing in the daytime.

(Paul shows us the camera app on his phone)

P: So you can see her walking around, and you can even move the camera 360º.

A: When we first got it I was completely crazy. I would check it every 10 minutes and I would scan the room and try to find her.

P: Like where is she, where is she? It’s actually quite interesting to see what they do at home. I leave the TV on throughout the day so it makes it seem that the house isn’t so quiet.

S: How did you come to be doing what you’re doing now? Was this something you’ve always wanted to do?

A: I’m actually taking a break from the corporate world, which I’d been working in for about six years, so I’m trying events and PR for the next two years or so. I think you get to a certain stage, after you’ve been working for a couple of years, that if you’re not really, really enjoying what you do every day, you sort of wonder, should I be doing something else? So I’m just trying it, and seeing how it goes.

P: For me, I think it was a natural progression from what I studied, which was finance. I always told myself, as a kid, that it’s a place that I would start and I would learn. In banking you get exposure to how businesses are run, and I think I was always interested in business per se. So this was probably the best place for me to earn some money and learn about business. Whether or not it’s the goal in the long run, I don’t know, but it was a start.


S: What would your ideal workplace be like, in terms of the actual physical space and the office environment?

P: Actually I’m very adaptable, so you need to ask Ashley! Even in the shittiest of environments, I could probably just do what I need to do.

A: I think it’s quite important nowadays to have a lot of flexibility. I think, being as connected as we are, your clients and bosses can reach you any time, and there’s no such thing as ‘switching off’, even on weekends or late at night. I think if you offer people flexibility — to come in at certain times of the day, or to leave early and come back online later on at night — that makes for a more ideal workplace. Maybe I’m speaking from the perspective of being female and seeing all my female colleagues and bosses struggle with the whole, “how do I balance my family life with my children, with my career?” and the ones who made it work were all the ones who had the option of flexibility. So I think, moving forward, that’s what most workplaces need to look at.

P: When it comes to the physical space, I think it depends on what kind of work you do. For example, the open space office where I am now is the most horrible concept. Because it’s always noisy, it’s hard to make phone calls, and a lot of people prefer to do work post-6PM or 7PM when nobody is around, which doesn’t breed a very good working culture. I think it might be good for smaller offices where you have to communicate a lot internally with one another. But otherwise, having your own space would probably be better.

S: Do you think your styles have changed at all when you got a dog? Are you more careful with the things you buy and where you leave your shoes/clothes?

P: It’s not really been an issue, because Pebbles isn’t really destructive. Not her — we’ve had friends’ dogs come over, and while playing, the dog would nip at me, and rip my pants, but I think it’s all part and parcel of owning a dog.


S: If you had to wear a uniform of sorts for the rest of your life, what items would your outfit consist of, and why?

A: I could never limit myself to one outfit — I just cannot! (laughs)

P: It would actually have to be denim everything. Things that I don’t have to wash regularly. I wash my jeans like, once a year.

S: What are some of the items in your wardrobe or on your dresser that you can’t live without?

A: Sunscreen.

P: You’re a very practical person.

A: I have so many freckles! If I don’t wear sunblock everyday I’ll be one giant freckle!

P: I’ve never heard this kind of answer before! For me, it’s probably a pair of shoes.

S: Do you have a certain favourite pair?

P: I do, but…

A: How can you pick? You have so many— 168 pairs.

S: You even have your own hashtag for your shoes. 

P: I built a cupboard for my shoes back at my parent’s place. You open it and there’s a rotating rack. I can’t pick, lah, I love them all.

A: When we were doing up our new place, I told the interior designer, can you do you a floor-to-ceiling shelving for shoes? And he was like, oh, you have a lot of shoes? And I was like, no, it’s not for me, it’s for my husband!

P: People have asked me, if our house was on fire and I had to pick a pair of shoes to save —

A: You should save our dog!

P: (laughs) No, no, I mean physical things, not you or the dog. I don’t think I could make up my mind, I’d probably just die in the fire.

S: What’s the one thing you think you should be doing more of, or that you wish you had more time to be doing?

A: Cooking at home, and having dinner with friends. Everyone’s schedules don’t always align anymore — when you’re in school, or when you first start working, everybody’s pretty much on the same kind of timetable, but nowadays it’s actually quite hard to get a group of six people together for dinner without planning for it far in advance.

P: I think it would be writing. (Paul used to run the lifestyle site Plussixfive.) I actually do miss writing, quite a bit; maybe on the creative side. I definitely have plans to pick that up again soon.

This is a Shentonista project in support of Save Our Street Dogs Singapore.

The next SOSD adoption drive will be the SOSD Flag Day on 28th February 2016, at *Scape Youth Park. The event runs from 9AM-6PM, with the drive running from 11AM-5PM.

If you would like to contribute to SOSD and support their cause of giving stray dogs a loving, caring home, please visit here. Kindly reference ShentonistaxSOSD when making your donation. The dogs thank you!

Here are two of SOSD’s dogs that are looking for a new family:


Male, HDB-approved At 9 months of age, the handsome Blaine is fully grown in size, but his timid nature means he needs some time to warm up. Once he does, however, he’s incredibly playful and happy-go-lucky. Blaine is great at home, but is also agile and active, so regular time outdoors is recommended.


Male, not HDB-approved
Oscar is 3 months old and, like any newborn, needs some time to warm up and come out of his usually-reserved shell. This active, mid-energy level pup is food-motivated and looks set to grow much bigger.

Shentonista-Features-A_Family_Pawtrait-SOSD-Blaine-1 Shentonista-Features-A_Family_Pawtrait-SOSD-Oscar-1

View more of our furry friends looking for forever homes on the Shentonista Facebook, here.

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