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No dog too big for Rancho Santa Fe first-grader

Vivica Chang, 6, sits with her dog, Bond, and her pony, Cherry. Courtesy photo
Vivica Chang, 6, sits with her dog, Bond, and her pony, Cherry. Courtesy photo

By Claire Harlin

For those who frequent the Rancho Santa Fe Farmers Market you may have noticed 6-year-old Vivica Chang walking her 200-pound blue European Great Dane, Bond. Or if you have a horse at the Fairbanks Equestrian Center, you may have seen the duo there visiting Vivica’s North American Sporting Pony, Cherry.

She may only be a fraction of both her animals’ size, but everyone who meets the R. Roger Rowe School first-grader can tell that she’s their No. 1 human being. She spends as much as three hours a days with her 2-year-old canine friend, who accompanies her to the barn at least four days a week to ride Cherry, a 12-year-old registered pinto.

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“I love being with my animals and I don’t get scared, no matter what size they are,” said Vivica, who frequents the Helen Woodward Animal center to admire the animals and keep them company. She added that she wants to start volunteering and would like to adopt a French Bulldog to be friends with her Great Dane and name him Pedro — “a good sidekick name,” she said.

Vivica’s mom, Kristin Taylor, said her daughter’s friends are often scared of Bond when they visit the house; she said Vivica shows them how to care for her gentle giants, from feeding them to bathing them to giving them exercise. Vivica even helped her dad build Bond an exceptionally large dog house — about 4 feet by 4 feet, she said — and she painted her pet’s name on the outside of it.

Vivica said she is lucky to have the two animals, and she said she’s a happy she can be a teacher to other kids about how to care for pets, adding that she gives her dog baths in the horse cross-ties at the barn. Not to mention, she feeds Bond twice a day — “one and a half heavy scoops,” she said — in addition to crumbling a veggie burger patty with gloved hands over his food as not to get her germs in it.

“She always says, ‘They don’t have hands, so they can’t go in the kitchen and make it themselves, so that’s why I have to do it,’” Taylor said.

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Vivica said she’s “really excited” that her dog and her pony get along so well, and they can go on trail rides together in the woods — an unusual sight since the dog is nearly as tall as the horse. Vivica also taught her dog how to do some of the jumps she practices with her horse, and she hopes to start competing next year in English flatwork.

“He’s a really good friend,” Vivica said about Bond, with whom she has a very strong bond. “He protects me.”


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