Pets & Their People features ‘how we met’ vignettes of dogs and their humans, uncovering the particularities of this unique relationship, from touching adoption tales to outlandish quirks.
Mallory is a product developer in the tech industry, the founder of WARM and parent to Stella, the jumpsuit-wearing Podenco Canario. The Wild One team sat down with Mallory and Stella to chat about the troubled Podenco history, their exciting adoption journey and the personality traits they bring out in each other.
Wild One: Stella is a Podenco Canario. Can you tell us a bit about the breed and its history?
Mallory Kramer: The Podenco breed comes from Spain, and they've been bred to hunt woodland creatures for centuries. There are many different types of Podencos, each of which is named for their place of origin. Stella, specifically, is a Podenco Canario, a variant of the breed that comes from the Canary Islands.
WO: How did you come to adopt Stella?
MK: I had a Corgi, and really wanted a second dog. I was originally interested in getting a Greyhound because I grew up with one, and began to do some research, during which I stumbled upon the Podenco breed. I immediately knew I wanted to adopt Podencos, given the difficulties they face when used as hunting dogs. I became hooked on Galgos del Sol, a nonprofit committed to raising awareness and educating populations about the Galgos and Podenco breeds. The organization is based in Murcia, Spain, a mountainous area, known for hunting and therefore home to many Podencos. They work with families all over Europe and North America, which is how I was introduced to Stella.
After seeing her picture and learning about her history, Stella was sent to me on a plane bound for JFK airport. She was one year old and fully grown. The first six months were crazy. She was a shell of a dog, unable to stop moving given wild Podencos are left to find their own food and water when no longer used for hunting. My affectionate Corgi, Penny, showed Stella how to be a dog again. Three and ½ years later, after rigorous training and a ton of patience, Stella is the jumpsuit-wearing sweetheart you see on Instagram.
I try to take a trip to Murcia and volunteer at Galgos del Sol at least once a year. While I’m there, I play with the dogs, and prep them for their new homes. Galgos del Sol’s mission is to help existing wild dogs, but also educate Spain’s youth to keep dogs out of hunting culture. They’re a fantastic organization with a bilingual website and strong presence in the U.S.
WO: How has adding Stella to your family changed you?
MK: Stella has made me a more social person! She is very thin and angular, and sometimes people will stop to ask me if she’s healthy, though, I assure you, she’s VERY healthy! Podencos naturally have a trim build, like Greyhounds. I’m an introvert, but Stella has given me the courage to chat with inquirers about the Podenco breed and Stella’s history, instead of ignoring them or getting upset. It’s been a really great communication and educational opportunity for me.
WO: How have you and Stella learned to coexist? Do you guys have a routine?
MK: I’m a product developer working in the tech industry, which means I travel a lot to visit factories in the U.S. and Asia. Stella has done really well with it. I have a rotation of dog sitters that Stella loves, which ensures there is always someone to spend lots of time with her in my absence.
WO: Congrats on the recent launch of WARM! Can you tell us a bit about how the brand came to be?
MK: Stella is from southern Spain and is used to a warmer climate. She needs outerwear if the weather drops below 70 degrees, which in New York is most of the time. When I first got Stella, I went to all the major pet stores and browsed the depths of the Etsy website, finding nothing that was a good combination of the right size, sustainable materials and style. I decided to dig up my childhood sewing machine and make something myself, taking a week to analyze what I liked about Stella’s existing wardrobe and then pinning an old sheet to fashion a prototype. I live right by the Garment District and purchased different fabrics, making one jumpsuit, then another, and posting pictures on Instagram to share with friends. People loved the photos and wearables and slowly WARM was born.
It’s really important to me that the jumpsuits are sturdy and fashionable, but are also made from sustainable fabrics. I try not to participate in fast fashion, so why should my dog? Prior to tech, I worked in furniture, so I have a lot of connections to the textiles industry. I do have a full-time job, so it’s difficult to find time to make jumpsuits for customers, but I love doing it and I’m so excited by the enthusiasm I’ve seen since I began accepting orders.
WO: Does Stella have any weird quirks (we call them Dog Sh*t)?
MK: She licks the ground post rainstorm and can’t help but drink the entirety of a liquid within reach. Given Podencos were originally a wild breed, they’re used to finding their own water sources and filling up, not knowing when the next drink is going to come. Old habits die hard, so whenever it rains in New York, Stella can be found lapping at the pavement or drinking from a puddle in Central Park.
*Editor’s Note: During her photoshoot, Stella couldn’t help but drink from the fountain at The Springs.
WO: Do you have a human voice in mind for Stella?
MK: She’d sound like Penelope Cruz! I like to think she has a deep, sultry Spanish accent.