The phrase “dogs are a man’s best friend” has become a common colloquialism, while Marilyn Monroe famously sang that “diamonds are a girl’s best friend”. Kartika Winata is here with four excellent reasons that will shatter this common misconception.

Kartika grew up around dogs. The first dog she ever met was Ting Ting, a Miniature Pinscher that had been around even before Kartika was born.

Ever since then, she has never been without the company of a canine. Even when she went overseas to further her studies, she could not help but get a dog. “The place I was staying at just felt so empty without a dog,” says Kartika, recalling her university days.

Now, Kartika is back in Jakarta and lives with four of her best friends: Afin, Cola, Oppa and Bear—each with distinct personalities and quirks. And despite their differences, they are absolutely the best friends that anyone could ask for.

Afin, the Daschund, is the oldest of the gang. Despite being the mature (in dog years) age of 14, Afin is still the one that requires the most attention. Afin gets jealous if he catches you petting another dog.

A sure sign of Afin getting enough attention is when he starts to groan. While it may catch you off-guard at first, the groaning actually means you are doing something right—the louder the groaning, the more Afin is enjoying himself.

Cola is a very special dog. She is an 8-yearold Samoyed with the softest, fluffiest snow white fur. While she was very mischievous at a young age—chewing up Kartika’s leather shoes being a favourite pastime—Cola has grown to be one of the smartest and wisest dogs ever.

In addition to the myriad tricks that she has picked up over the years, Kartika says that Cola can understand human emotions and body language. On more than one occasion, Cola had come up to a member of the family at times of sadness or anger just to comfort them.

Next in line is Oppa, the 3-year-old French Bulldog. While Kartika loves every one of her dogs abundantly, Oppa holds a special place in her heart.

Oppa is the first dog that Kartika has been completely responsible for ever since he was puppy. He has since become notorious for being the most rambunctious of the group—he is known, for example, to steal pillows and cushions to lie on.

Oppa is also the worst to share a bed with as he is excessively flatulent and makes a lot of noise in his sleep. But despite all his quirks, Kartika continues to spoil Oppa and even takes him along to meetings at the office.

Last, but certainly not least, is Bear, the Alaskan Malamute. Although not yet 2 years old, Bear is the biggest dog in the house. Her thick brown coat of silky smooth fur certainly adds to her already-intimidating stature, but her large size is certainly not proportionate to her ferocity as one might think.

Bear is all heart: the only thing comparable to her size is the amount of love she has to give. While it is slightly terrifying to see Bear running towards you, rest assured that Bear is only looking for hugs and cuddles.

At one point during our interview, Bear left Kartika’s side for a while. It turns out that she had gone to the fridge to get one of her favourite snacks: a cucumber.

Living with four roommates of such differing personalities sure can be a challenge, not to mention the amount of maintenance required to keep them healthy. But it is a task that Kartika has gladly taken on as there is nothing quite like the love of such loyal companions, making it all truly worth it at the end of the day.

(Text by Kevin Sjahrial; Photo by Heri B Haryanto) 

Tags: Indonesia Tatler, Kartika Winata, April 2017, Close Up