Pet of the week: Masala, a blanket-loving miniature Australian shepherd

A dog with brown, black, and white spots sits on the ground.
Masala, a six-month old miniature Australian shepherd, is a beloved celebrity at Scripps College. (Stella Favaro • The Student Life)

Name: Masala

Breed: Miniature Australian shepherd

Age: Six months

Likes: Blankets

Hates: People trying to actually win tug-of-war

Favorite human food: Indian food

Favorite not-a-toy: Mom’s shoes

Annika Mammen SC ’20 got her dog Masala in early fall 2019, and with the help of Instagram, the pup quickly became a Scripps College celebrity, boasting almost 500 Instagram followers. 

If Masala attended one of the Claremont Colleges, Mammen said she would definitely be a Scrippsie. According to Mammen, she breaks a lot of hearts at Claremont McKenna College. 

“Her main target is all the econ frat bros,” Mammen said. “She’s broken numerous hearts over there, especially on North Quad.” 

Mammen didn’t envision herself having an emotional support animal for the majority of her time at Scripps, always dissuaded by the considerable responsibilities they involve. It was in her senior year that she realized that having a dog would significantly improve her college experience.

Mammen has faced different issues during her time at Scripps that have affected her mental health, but “[Masala] has made me a new person,” she said. “Just seeing her face makes me so happy.” 

Masala completely fulfills her obligations as an ESA for Mammen, despite occasionally causing trouble.

“I give her free rent and free food, and in return she pays me back in cuddles.” 

Mammen said Masala is quite calm for her breed, and doesn’t bark or whine, even though Aussies are known to be hyperactive. She is also very in touch with the emotions of the people around her. 

“If any of my suitemates feel sad or anything,” Mammen said, “she will actually go in and give them her toy … to make them feel better.”

Masala is also a quick learner, mastering tricks with ease. Mammen’s favorites are when she makes a finger gun and says “Bam!” and Masala plays dead, as well as the fist bump she gives with her nose.

A dog with brown, black, and white spots eats a treat from her owner's hand.
Masala loves eating canine-friendly Indian food as a treat. (Stella Favaro • The Student Life)

Masala loves anything fuzzy, especially blankets. She’s claimed five that belong to Mammen, and she goes after the blankets of Mammen’s suitemates and boyfriend when given the chance. 

She also adores the dog park. Masala is great at adapting her play style to that of other dogs. She’ll let small puppies be the alphas, but when playing with bigger dogs, Mammen says she isn’t afraid to fight back.

“This one dog tried to hump her, and she stopped, turned and slapped the shit out of him. He didn’t try after that,” Mammen laughed, remembering the incident. “That’s my Scripps girl!” 

The pup’s favorite toys that aren’t actually toys are definitely Mammen’s shoes. Masala has chewed up an impressive five pairs at this point, including Mammen’s only pair of formal shoes. Once Masala has gotten her paws on a pair, they are unsalvageable.

Though Mammen does her best to keep her shoes away from Masala, she does give the puppy something else she loves — Indian food. True to her name, Masala is a huge fan.

Fortunately for Masala, the mom of one of Mammen’s suitemates actually makes special, dog-friendly Indian food, meaning Masala can happily eat her favorite treat. 

Students can often find Masala in the main courtyard of Scripps’ Schow Hall, but she also spends time in front of Malott Commons during meals. Otherwise, she can be found in the courtyard of Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Hall, also at Scripps, or playing fetch on the field next to the Sallie Tiernan Field House in the mornings. 

If students come across her, though, she wants them to know that she gets very offended when people walk by and don’t pet or acknowledge her. She’ll even stop and stare after them, deeply hurt. 

“She’s very spoiled and pampered,” Mammen said. “It’s her world and we all just live in it.” 

Find Masala on Instagram at @masala_theaussie.

Lucia Stein SC ’23 is TSL’s pet columnist. When she’s not following pets around campus, she’s performing with Under the Lights, listening to NPR and making people laugh — usually intentionally. 

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