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ANEKA JOHNSON’S mission is to raise awareness around dog ownership within the black community.
Black Dog Parents from all walks of life will be featured on the Voice Online over the next few months telling their stories of how they have been positively impacted by having a dog in their lives and addressing some of the topics around dogs within our community that will provide a broad spectrum of opinions where the canine friend is concerned.
This week Johnson, co-founder of London Dog Week, caught up with Ezinne Asinugo.
MEET EZINNE ASINUGO
I often see Ezinne’s edgy pics, flawless dance moves, and funny videos on Instagram; however, when one of her posts revealed she had just got a puppy, I made it my business to find out more.
Ezinne first hit our TV screens in 2013 as a semi-finalist on Britain’s Got Talent when she was part of the dance group CEO Dancers; since then, Ezinne has danced and choreographed for music royalty such as Rihanna, Wizkid, Drake, Davido, Tiwa Savage, and Lil Kim.
She is the presenter of E4’s online series ‘Show Me the Moves’ and the director of ‘Zinarts Productions.’ She focuses on aiding young women’s growth through dance and sharing her Christian faith within the entertainment industry.
Aneka: You grew up in Abuja, Nigeria, until the age of 10, before coming to live in the UK. What was your childhood experience with dogs?
Ezinne: My cousins had about five dogs who used to scare the life out of me because they were massive and felt like ten times my size. I would hear them barking and would run a mile away, hoping that they would not eat me! Bear in mind I was about seven years old, so they were really twice my size. I used to be the person that would cross the road if I saw a big dog because I was too scared to walk on the same street as the dog. Until I met a massive dog called Peaches during one of my rehearsals, and we bonded. I think Peaches broke my fear of dogs and made me want a dog, but I knew my dog had to be a small one!
Aneka: I love that your fiancé got your new pup Yooshi for your 30th birthday present; how did this come about?
Ezinne: I had wanted a dog for a long time and asked my Instagram followers to pressure my fiancé to make it happen! They messaged him, overloading his message box, he got the message, and Yooshi arrived! My Instagram family was definitely instrumental in Yooshi being in my life. I will be keeping them updated on mine and Mr. Yooshi’s journey.
Aneka: Tell us about Mr. Yooshi; I have seen his pics; that face is adorable.
Ezinne: He is only three months old and a hybrid Chihuahua and Yorkshire terrier, a Chorkie. He has a great personality. He’s super playful and full of energy, chasing a ball, and anything that requires running is his thing!
He is still too young to go out, but once he has all his vaccinations, we will be heading out to the local park to hang out with some fellow canines. I am also looking forward to taking him to some of my dance rehearsals to meet the team.
Aneka: You are clearly smitten with him; describe your relationship and what he means to you?
Ezinne: As a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I haven’t seen my fiancee since January, which has been very tough. Yooshi has been the most necessary companion that I didn’t realise I needed. Caring for a puppy isn’t easy; however, the joy you get in return makes it absolutely worth it. When he runs to me, licks me, or gives me a little cry when he wants some attention or an occasional growl when he’s throwing a tantrum makes me love having him even more!
Aneka: How much did you know about caring for a dog and the impact he would have on you before getting Yooshi?
Ezinne: I had no idea about what it would take to care for a puppy until the day we met. I fell in love with how small he was, and then I lost my mind for about two weeks because all I did was read up all day and all night about what will make him happy. The reading hasn’t stopped. I am learning something new about him every single day. I didn’t realise how much I will be learning from him and the happiness he would give me in return. Yooshi and I would like to use this opportunity to thank Papachips (My Fiancee) for making this union possible. We love you!
Aneka: Having a dog has been proven to support people’s physical and mental health; what’s your experience of this?
Ezinne: Physically, he keeps me prompt and active with early morning starts. I can fit in my fitness plans along with his daily schedule. Mentally, having to care for a puppy I feel is a super stimulating, positive distraction for the kind of year I’ve had. Yooshi definitely fills the void of loneliness.
Aneka: I personally see my dog as my child. Can you relate to this, or do you think I am taking pet parenting to far?
Ezinne: Honestly, you’re not taking pet parenting too far! I don’t think it is the physical birthing that makes you a parent, the care, the attention and love you give, and the critical skills of parenting. Therefore, Mr. Yooshi is my child.
Aneka: What do you think discourages interactions with dogs within our community that you would like to challenge?
Ezinne: I think one of the key ones from within my family is that the dog will bite. I read that it’s never a bad dog; it’s just a bad trainer. This was an important message because it made me more determined to become the best trainer I could be and break the myth that all dogs bite.
Aneka: Thoughts on the future black dog ownership, what do you think is needed to encourage more black dog ownership.
Ezinne: I think more awareness that black people do own dogs and are very happy with having a dog in their home would increase black dog ownership. The Black Dog Parents is a fantastic platform and should really be blasted everywhere because this is the only way I get to know more black dog owners.
Don’t miss the next Black Dog Parent Blog.
Follow on Instagram and Facebook @blackdogparents.
All images courtesy of Emmanuel Ogunnubi and e5dogphotography
Check out @zinnyxgram