Kristi Astaphan

A stroll with her white and red Shiba Inu pups

By The Get Leashed Doggy Style Team

kristi astaphan shiba inu

Is that a fox? A miniature wolf? A baby Akita? Those are just some of the questions Kristi Astaphan commonly gets asked on her daily strolls with her two very distinct Shiba Inu pups. Kristi, of Central American and Lebanese heritage, is known to turn heads herself, but this beauty also has enviable brains. Having recently completed her Masters in Early Childhood Education, Ms. Astaphan has a majorly tender heart for all tiny creatures, both human and animal. Following the tragic loss of her father, Kris Astaphan, to a hard fought battle with cancer, it was a tiny, snowy-colored puppy that helped Kristi’s family through their grief and find joy again. With the addition of Tigerlilly, a classic red, purebred Shiba Inu, Kristi’s animal sanctuary, as her friends affectionately refer to her Yorkville home, is complete. For now.

Read on as Kristi shares how she chose the Shiba Inu breed, the inspiration behind her home aesthetic, and her journey of healing her pups through holistic nutrition.

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Please tell us a bit about yourself:

I have recently completed my education with degrees from both McGill and Ryerson University. I have become very interested in nutrition (for both people and pets) after I found out my dog Snowy has a serious liver issue. After doing a lot of my own research and working with multiple vets and holistic specialists, I now make my dogs’ food myself. Amazingly, after about 6 months of dedication, Snowy’s liver enzymes became normal and he’s a happy, healthy fluff again.

Please tell us a bit about your pups – is there a story behind the breed and their names?

I saw a picture of Snowy and instantly fell in love because he looked EXACTLY like my childhood teddy bear. My teddy bear is named Snowy and so I saw it only fitting to name his real life doppelgänger after him. My sister initially convinced me to name him Wolfgang but that lasted about 6 hours because I kept mistakenly calling him Snowy. For Tiger, I wanted a unique name; I’ve always loved Princess Tiger Lily from Peter Pan and I thought my princess fox deserved such a name. But since knowing her I’ve realized she is far too ferocious and headstrong a little girl to have “lily” in her name, and so now she is just the fierce Tiger!

How would you describe your personal style?

My style is definitely all about bright colors, solids, fitted silhouettes, with more bold and interesting accessories. I wear a lot of Mendocino and Marciano, and love Shourouk and Ruthie Davis for jewelry and shoes. I’m definitely a heels girl, but my Louboutins are usually reserved for dinners, and I’ll rock Steve Madden or Jeffrey Campbell if I’m going to be out late dancing.

How would you describe the look and feel of your home?

I would say my home is modern and eclectic. I love white (white sofa, white dog!) with pops of color and Mexican Talavera patterns. I can be particular when I get an idea in my head – it took me two years to find just the right mirror for my living room but it’s so perfect, it was worth the hunt.


What inspires you?

I have always been drawn to anything innocent and unaffected, hence my love for animals and children. I also love anything and any place bright and sunny and colorful. I’m just a big kid at heart!

What does your ideal weekend look like?

I like to start my day by taking the pups for a long walk through one of the parks in my neighborhood. They love hunting for stray tennis balls and other ‘treasures’ to bring me. After they are tired out, I’ll try to squeeze in some boxing or a workout with my trainer.

Summer is my season, so I’ll spend the afternoon having a coffee or brunch with friends on a patio, or make a day at one of the pool bars in the city. I could definitely see myself living in LA or Miami, but I love being in Toronto, close to my family and friends. Just don’t expect to see me out too often in winter☺.

In the evenings, I like to get dressed up for a nice dinner at Lee’s or ONE, or have a few cocktails at Kasa Moto.

Finally, can you leave us with a funny story (or two) about your pets?

I’ve been told by my vet that Snowy is one of the friendliest Shibas they’ve ever seen. I would attribute this to the forced snuggling he’s had since I got him. He loves to sit and watch TV on my lap.

Whenever I have girlfriends or family crash at my place, I warn them, don’t let the dogs see your eyes open in the morning, unless you are prepared to get out of bed and play with them. They will relentlessly poke you if they know you’re awake!

My friends know I have about a four-hour window before I really start missing the dogs. I hate to be apart from them! When I travel, I make sure to get photo updates from whomever is dog sitting for me, and I even FaceTime the pups. Does that make me a crazy dog mom? I’m cool with it.

Keep up with Snowy and Tiger on Instagram @shibainupups