Meet Basil: The Quirky ‘Small’ 46kg Bernese Mountain Dog

Basil and Henrietta in the Barossa Valley

Step into the world of Basil, the ‘small’ 46kg Bernese Mountain Dog who has stolen hearts with her endearing quirks and unwavering charm. In this interview, we delve into the delightful journey of how Basil found her forever home amidst the tumult of the COVID-19 pandemic, igniting a blossoming partnership in the form of “Cider & Basil” Pet Providore. From her daily escapades at the café to her inaugural road trip to the scenic Barossa Valley, every moment with Basil is infused with laughter and love. Join us as we uncover the playful antics, heartfelt connections, and cherished memories that define the extraordinary bond between Basil and her devoted mum.

1. How did Basil find your family?

It was during covid! 

We have been friends with Basil’s dad’s owner for ages. To backtrack a little, I met Kathryn (the girl who owns Basil’s dad) in St Kilda at least 10 years ago and both of us had a young maremma. My maremma was called Cider. We started chatting and discussing all our training struggles and slowly became friends. Her next dog was a Bernese Mountain Dog and she eventually ended up with three. We had a soft spot for Quinn (Basil’s dad) and always joked about having one of his puppies if he ever had any. So… during Covid, Kathryn mentioned he was going to have a litter and then he was going to get desexed. And I jumped on the offer immediately! Plus, we were in lockdown during covid so that meant I had heaps of time to train her. And soon after, Basil came home. She became the Basil for “Cider & Basil” the business. 

Basil as a Pup in her mothers arms
Basil as a pup in her Mothers arms

2. What does a day in the life look like for Basil?

Unfortunately for her, Basil came into our lives during covid so there was not much we could do with her. We couldn’t bring her out to cafes for brunch or walks at the markets as we were either in lockdowns or restrictions of some sort. However, an opportunity fell on our lap with regards to opening a small coffee business and we started the cafe. Over time, it grew and we made it into Cider & Basil Pet Providore cafe where we had a retail section full of grooming products, dog treats and puppacinos and we did not forget the owners. We had coffee and pastries for the owners.

Basil pretty much grew up in the cafe . She drags herself out of bed in the morning around 6am and comes to the cafe with me. Whilst I am setting up, she goes to the back of the warehouse, gets a little snack and then takes a nap. Once we open up for business, she will come out to say hi to customers and then goes to the back of the warehouse to chill or sleep. 

During a quiet time, we do a little walk (for a pee) and she gets to see her boyfriend Zac who is in the warehouse behind ours. They have a crazy play and then back to work. In the evening, we go home and she gets a long walk. Then she gets fed her dinner and she is knocked out. When she is really tired, she snores HA. 

Basil with her dog mum Henrietta and her sibling Cider
Basil with her dog mum Henrietta and her sibling Cider at the ‘Cider & Basil Pet Providore Cafe’

3. You mentioned that you just went on a roadtrip to the barossa valley, what other kinds of trips and adventures have you been on together? What are your most memorable experiences?

Unlike Cider who had the chance to go on road trips to places like Mornington, Bright and Dinner Plain, Basil did not get to go on many adventures due to covid. Which is why we decided to take her to Barossa valley for her first proper road trip. Surprisingly, she did super well on the long drive. This trip was super memorable as it was her first trip and my parents were visiting. It’s the first time they met Basil and we brought her to dog friendly vineyards and stayed in a lovely dog friendly cottage. 

4. What are some of Basil’s funny quirks or habits?

She is one goofy girl and VERY dramatic may I add. When I leave her alone for five minutes and I return, she acts as though I have left her for a whole day. She starts making these weird seal noises, shakes her whole body, runs between my legs, sits in front of me and stares at me with sad puppy eyes whilst making those seal noises. Super dramatic. 

I’m not sure if it is a Bernese mountain dog trait but she loves to bop items. When she has a squeaky toy, she will grab it, run around with it, then eventually lie down with it and use her nose to start bopping it. I’m guessing the idea is to make it produce some sort of noise. When we met our friend’s sausage dogs, she lay with them, and started bopping them hahah. She almost looked like she was performing CPR on them. 

Basil likes to lovingly 'bop' her toys and other animals on the head
Basil likes to lovingly ‘bop’ her toys and other animals on the head

5. How did you start your business Cider and Basil? What’s the origin story?

I bought a Shampoo that smelled nice from one of the big pet shops and used it on Cider. She started itching and developing red patches over half of her body. Cider is a 65kg maremma, so having a reaction throughout half her body was a big job to try and heal such a huge surface area. There was a lot of medication and cream application. I cringed thinking that other pet owners may go through the same problem and tedious process I did with their pets. 

As a pet owner (I have 3 dogs and 2 rescue cats), it occurred to me back then that we did not have cleaner options. Options like paraben free or sulphate free alternatives. We also did not have many eco-friendly options like zero waste dog shampoo bars. Hence, Cider & Basil was born. I wanted to offer pet owners a cleaner alternative. Something that was sulphate and paraben free or eco-friendly and natural. Pet owners were becoming more aware with what went into the commercial pet products and I wanted to be able to offer a better alternative. 

And then there were two! Cider & Basil
And then there were two! Cider & Basil

6. Basil is a big girl! What are your tips for road tripping with a big dog?

I always tell people Basil is small for a Bernese mountain dog. And when people see her, they say “that is not small!”. Haha but if you have met her dad, she is half the size of him. He is almost a 80kg dog. Basil, on the other hand, is only 46kg. 

But when it comes to road tripping with a big dog, i would say its important to make sure she gets enough space to lie down in the vehicle. Try to plan some pit stops for water breaks, pee breaks and just for the dog to stretch their legs and get some fresh air. If there is time, maybe factor in a short walk. 

Pack some poo bags, a water bowl, bottles of water, some chew sticks to keep them occupied in the vehicle and even a small snack if it is a long road trip. 

My number one thing though, is to tag the dog. Make sure her collar has your name and number in case she gets lost or spooked and runs away. I also air tagged her as we were going interstate and she would not know her way around. This way, I could locate her with my iPhone. 

Basil turned 3 in 2023 and has a massive sweet tooth!
Basil turned 3 in 2023 and has a massive sweet tooth!

7. What do you love about the Top Dog Film Festival?

There are so many things we love about the Top Dog Film Festival. Basil and I love meeting fellow dog owners and dog lovers. We love watching the stories about dogs from all around the world. It is both educational and eye opening. We love having a booth and sharing all the products we created with our dogs in mind. Last but not least, Basil gets so spoiled with all the pats and cuddles. 

8. What’s the most amount of dogs you’ve had at one time?

Ohhhh…. Ive had 5 dogs at one time on a walk. All big dogs except for one but we have had all of Basil’s litter at our cafe for their birthday party. That was like having many bears all around. 

Silly Fun facts: 

  • Before Basil came into our lives, we did road trips with our cats too! 
  • Basil loves to make silly faces once she knows I’m going to take a picture.
  • Our white rescue cat only grooms the white part of Basils head. 

She's one big gal! 46kg's of Basil the Bernese Mountain Dog
She’s one big gal! 46kg’s of Basil the Bernese Mountain Dog

Go to our instagram @TopDogFilmFestival to see Basil doing a takeover on our grid all this week! (lots of cute pictures of her)

See the Cider & Basil ONLINE STORE!

Thank you to Henrietta and Basil for letting us interview them! Please note: all image credit goes to them.

Read about other dogs smashing the Instagram game:

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