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The Sweet life of Diego and Katie

 Lee Darby lives on the Shore with his wife Shannon and their two adorable Cocker Spaniels, Diego and Katie.  Lee’s family has always had dogs so when the couple got their own home, they were eager to get their own bundles of joy. Lee says they were very lucky to get Diego and Katie - the breeder was looking for a home for one of her three-year-old spaniels and had put him on Trade Me as 'free to a good home'. He says: “We went and paid him a visit, but when the breeder found out that both Shannon and I worked full time she was reluctant to let him go. Luckily for us, she had another cutie whose front teeth were skew enough that she wouldn’t make the grade as a show dog. So we got the matching set”. The rest is history.

Courtney Bennett: What do you like about animals?
Lee Darby: Animals don’t judge, they just love unconditionally… most animals anyway - not sure about alligators, they have shifty eyes!

CB: Tell us about your two Cocker Spaniels?
LD: Diego began his life as Star. But the name Star, to me, sounded like he was a cabaret dancer. Diego was a much better fit. Katie, our three-year-old girl (or Catherine Middleton if she is being naughty) is the doggie equivalent to a teenage girl at a party after a few Red Bull’s, running from one group of friends to another and then on to the next.

CB: Why did you decide to get cocker spaniels as a breed?
LD: My parents had the most amazing golden Cocker Spaniel, so when it came to us choosing a medium-sized dog, we were locked on Spaniels.

CB: What are the best areas to take your dogs on the Shore in your opinion?
LD: We used to love taking our dogs on the rock walk between Takapuna and Milford, but since we moved to Torbay, we normally end up at Browns Bay or Waiake Beach. Spaniels are water dogs, so they are happiest when the sea is close, even in the middle of winter!

CB: Is the North Shore a pet-friendly place?
LD: For sure! We try to take our dogs with us whenever we go out, and all the places we visit are very accommodating for pets. Most establishments have a full bowl of water and an ice cold beer waiting for us when we drop in.

CB: Do your dogs wear doggie clothes?
LD: No! I told you, Diego is not a cabaret dancer! Mind you, in an insane moment, lacking self control, I bought a superdog outfit for Katie. 

CB: What’s your view of animals on social media? Eg: having their own page on Facebook or Instagram?
LD: I have enough trouble keeping track of my own social media, so unless Katie and Diego grow opposable thumbs and create their own Facebook accounts, no.

CB: I wouldn’t be without Diego and Katie because…
LD: …They are our kids! Our cute, little, furry kids! 

by Courtney Bennett