You find them in every town – the well-heeled older woman, the grungy man about town, the slightly eccentric neighbour, the buff young blokes on the block and those who work hard for their money.

But just how do they spend their days? And more importantly, what are their favourite accessories?

Tune in each month to find out the deepest and darkest secrets of those dogs you may pass on the street but are just too polite to question…

Interview with Miss Cinder Wicks-Casey

by | Jul 1, 2017 | Model of the Month | 5 comments


  • Name: Cinder Wicks-Casey
  • Age: 3 and a bit.
  • Breed: Kelpie x Dingo (we think…)
  • Residential area: Vasse and Busselton
  • Favourite harness: My wine Haqihana Harness matches my ginger highlights beautifully.
  • Preferred lead brand and length: My Freedogz biothane 6m bright red lead. I always hope when people see I’m on lead they will consider putting their dog on its lead too.

This month our model wears ...

Haqihana Harness – Standard


Harness Size: Small

Harness Colour: Wine

In-depth interview questions:

Thank you for your time today, Cinder. Um, that’s ok. I’m trying really hard to try new things without being scared or frightened. Mum, Dad, Helen, and Jennie from Lets Walk have helped me become more confident.

Tell us about yourself.  My dad fostered me through SAFE in Busselton when I was 7 months old and I moved to Perth to live with him, Mum and my sister Ruby. I also have a cat brother, Rocky. His front legs are crooked and don’t work properly, but nobody’s perfect. We all moved back to Busso permanently in July 2016.

Talk to us about your early life.  My first family didn’t really teach me stuff, so when I came to my new home lots of things were super scary. I’d get super excited, but that would turn into stress and anxiety and then I couldn’t calm down. My cortisol levels where permanently up. It was exhausting.

What types of things scare you?  Well, storms, wind and rain are scary. Loud engine noises, like motorbikes, trucks, lawnmowers and power tools. Other dogs scare me, even dogs on leads, but dogs off-lead, really scare me. And the obvious things that scare us all, like being outside at night on my own and American politics.

What’s the scariest thing when you’re out walking?  One thing that majorly freaks me out is another dog heading straight at me. Imagine this – there I am, wandering along sniffing, and suddenly an off-lead dog hurtles towards me. Is it nice or will it hurt me? Behind it is the owner who yells things like, “He is friendly,” or “Fido, come here. Now!”. Let me tell you – Fido almost never recalls, and his owner almost always offers unhelpful negative comments. So as this dog hurtles ever closer, I panic. No one makes a good choice when they are panicking, so all I can do is react.

How have you learned to cope in these situations?  I prefer not to be in fearful situations at all – once the fear factor creeps in, it’s hard to stay calm. Mum and Dad have invested loads of time learning how to help me. They can now read my body language, they know my triggers and are great at keeping me out of fearful situations.

And how special is this? They create safe and enjoyable walking setups just for me! Using a well-fitting, comfortable harness frees my head movement so I can communicate better and do my calming signals. A longer lead gives me more options to make positive choices. Mum and Dad had to learn some practical long lead skills, but they are now doing very well at their end of the lead.

There are some lovely local dog owners who know about my issues and what we are trying to achieve. When they see us they know not to head directly at us, and some even ask what they can do to help us – how generous is that? Mum’s really good at telling people our story to help them understand what we are doing and respect our space.

We all feel very proud now when I make good choices – Mum even gets a tear in her eye. My Mum and Dad are the best.

Do you have any close dog friends?  I am not good at that ‘up close and personal’ kind of thing yet. For now, I really prefer my friends to respect my boundaries and stay behind their fences or at a distance.

Having said that, there is Harley down the road – we respectfully sniff each other through the fence and playbow, that’s pretty cool. And I do enjoy parallel walking with polite dogs like Biscuit and Sally.

What is your ideal world?  A place where I can jump up and kiss people, but only when my Mum isn’t looking. I love going to the beach with Dad, running around farm paddocks, and sniffing for kangaroos. I would also eat human food (my Granddad makes me the best Shepherd’s Pie when I stay over), sleep on all the furniture, and keep the heater high because I feel the cold.

Any final thoughts to share?  I’d like to remind everyone that, just like people, some dogs find the outside world overwhelming. Some dogs are confident and secure in their own fur, but some of us aren’t like that. If owners could remember this before letting their dog race towards me barking madly, or even keep their dog on a lead and give me space, this would be a great help.

The other thing is that with knowledge, patience and perseverance, life gets better and not so scary. It takes time, but if you keep at it you will reap the rewards. Own the fear – don’t let it own you.

Thank you Cinder


  1. Lesley

    Hi Cinder, so pleased to hear you are enjoying life more these days. Mum and Dad are very special. Such a lucky girl. Lost of love Lesley, Meme and Mojo.
    Ps, I feel the same about those Americans!

    • Melanie

      Thanks Lesley!!! Getting closer to one day being able to welcome another beautiful grey into our lives from your wonderful organisation. We are very lucky to have so many wonderful people supporting us down here. X

  2. Marylene Glover

    Cinder is such a beautiful girl! Off-lead dogs are a massive problem, as are ignorant and uneducated dog owners who think all dogs are friendly and comfortable with other dogs running up to them. Human’s owe it to their canine companions to learn dog body language and read the way dogs are feeling by the way they act in order to keep their dogs, as well as other dogs, safe and comfortable. As the owner of a lead reactive and fearful dog, the one thing that ticks me off the most is when I am doing the right thing by my dog and others by walking her on a lead, only to have off-lead dogs approach her, making her feel uncomfortable and reacting due to fear. And it’s even worse when the ignorant and uneducated dog owners of these dogs comment or look at my dog like she’s a monster, when in fact she is acting out of fear. If your dog does not have good recall then KEEP HIM/HER ON A LEAD, for everyone’s safety and wellbeing. The same applies to non off-lead areas. Public parks and the streets are NOT off-lead areas!

    • Melanie

      Absolutely Marylene! Hopefully with some more work we might be able to do some parallel work together one day with our girls with the skills we are learning. Thank you for your support. 🙂

  3. Melanie

    Thanks for featuring our lovely little girl Jennie! We are super proud of her progress and really pleased with our own… learning from your experience and long lead walks have changed our dynamic so much and we are really noticing a difference 12 months in. It’s a work in progress but we are thrilled to share our story in the hope others learn or don’t feel they are alone with reactive dogs and their behaviours. We feel so strongly about what we are learning along the way and have yourself and Helen Baron-St John to thank for that!! What a lovely and humbling journey.


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