While every day with a pet is a celebration, the first full week of May is officially National Pet Week, established in 1981 by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) “to honor the many important roles pets have in our lives and to promote responsible pet ownership.” To commemorate the week, we chatted with local musicians about their relationships with their own pets — today, we profile Sera Cahoone and her toy poodle, ChiChi!
What are ChiChi’s nicknames?
Well, she has quite a few, but we will leave the mean ones out! Cheach, The Griz, and, of course, The Queen.
How long have you and ChiChi been together?
My ex, Jess, and I got her as a puppy, and she’s turning 11 next month. Apparently, the oldest dog ever was a toy poodle named Uncle ChiChi who lived to 26 so, we aren’t even at middle age yet.
Does ChiChi influence your music, or musical choices, in any way?
She definitely prefers old country. She was fired from every groomer in town for her bad behavior. We tried everything we could to groom her on our own, but there is definitely a reason she was 86ed. Then one day, Hank Williams is on, we are in the bathroom, and instead of the usual weeping and gnashing of teeth, she let us clip her as long as we were singing along with Hank. So I would say we have similar musical tastes. She is also a pretty good listener. She usually gets to hear the new stuff first. Her volatile temperament lets me know if I am on the right track.
You released a 7″ single a couple of years ago with the song “Dog Song” — was that inspired by ChiChi? What’s the story behind it?
You know that story on the news recently where the family got barricaded in a bedroom by a vicious cat and had to call 911? Jess and I were in that very same situation only, without the advantage of a cell phone. ChiChi’s switch had flipped, and we were trapped in the bedroom with her holding us hostage outside the door. After what seemed like forever, Jess finally took a pillow and used it the way a dog trainer would fend off a vicious K9 and we were able to escape. The irony is that at that point we had been working extensively with a dog trainer, not the first of many! We were fed up! We loved her so much, but that was just a really bad night. The next morning, we woke up so bummed and frustrated. I grabbed my guitar just started singing “Goddammit, you dog.” And we sat there, half-defeated, half-cracking up, and finished the song together.
ChiChi appears in the outtakes of the music video for “Nervous Wreck” — what was it like working with ChiChi on the set?
When ChiChi was younger, there was one summer in which I devoted myself to teaching her some fancy tricks, primarily so I could get on David Letterman’s “Stupid Pet Tricks”. Obviously that didn’t happen, so this ended up being the next best thing. To be honest, I was really nervous about bringing her on set, but the director, Ryan, assured me there wouldn’t be too many people hanging around. (He also made everyone sign a waiver, just in case). She ended up stealing the show… and thankfully no one was hurt!
Sera Cahoone‘s most recent album, Deer Creek Canyon, is out now on Sub Pop Records. She’s playing May 31st at the Southend Grooveyard on Salt Spring Island, BC.