Welcome to our Ventura County “Mom to Know” series!
We are featuring moms right here in our local community to highlight the wonderful things they are doing as mothers, business owners, community members, and friends. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured in our Moms to Know series, contact us at [email protected]. Each featured mom will be entered to win a single session with Pocket Chefs ($179 value). We are honored to feature our 2nd “Mom to Know” in Ventura County!
Tell us a little about your family and dogs.
My name is Tawny Minami. I am married to an amazing man and we have two fur children, Keiko and Niko. Keiko and Niko are rescue pit bull mixes and are biological brothers. Keiko and Niko and their four other siblings were rescued from Bakersfield where they were being sold and advertised as fighting dogs. A local rescue organization saved the whole litter, brought them to Simi Valley and nursed them back to health. 3 of the 6 puppies were sick with the canine coronavirus. Thanks to the work of the organization, all 3 puppies survived. Keiko was one of the sick puppies. We adopted Keiko in 2016 when he was 4 months old. 8 months later in early 2017 we saw online that Niko, Keiko’s brother had been returned to the rescue organization and was back up for adoption. Without hesitation, we adopted Niko. Unfortunately in those 8 months, Niko has been mistreated and abused. He only weighed 49 lbs when his brother Keiko, who was the same age, weighed 70 lbs. Niko, was very timid and scared, but absolutely lit up when he saw his brother Keiko for the first time. There was instant recognition. They have been inseparable ever since and Keiko has helped Niko to gain confidence and trust in the world around him.
What do you do for a living?
I am in Medical Sales.
What do you love about living in Ventura County?
I love living in Ventura County because it’s within an hour drive of so many places, however it’s a quiet community with a small town feel.
What are your favorite local things to do/places to go?
I love to go hiking with Keiko and Niko and we also enjoy taking them to dog friendly places like Petals and Pints.
Is there a hidden gem in Ventura County you love?
Yes, I love Longevity Coffee. They have great organic coffee, healthy soda called Jing Soda (yep, it’s actually good for you) and yummy breakfast items.
What do you do to reset and recharge?
I love to relax by the pool, usually while sharing my lounge chair with one or two dogs. I also love cuddling up on the couch with my husband, the pups, a glass of wine and a great show.
Tell us about your book and why you decided to write it.
“The story of Keiko & Niko” is a children’s book about Keiko and Niko’s true rescue story, told in a way that is appropriate for all ages. The book is about Keiko and Niko who are biological pit bull brothers that were rescued as puppies, adopted by different families and eventually reunited to live together happily ever after. During the process of writing this book, I had many friends’ kids that I affectionately call my “Junior Editors” read it and give me feedback. One of my friends’ four year old daughters suggested hiding a bone on every page so kids could hunt for them. I took her suggestion and ran with it and now, the hidden bones on every page is one of my favorite components of the book. I also always pictured the illustrations to be real pictures of the dogs with illustrated backgrounds. My illustrator, Brandon Roberts, did a great job of making this happen and look amazing!
I have always wanted to write a children’s book about my dogs because their rescue story is too cute not to share with the world. Also, the time felt right since pet adoptions are up nationwide because of covid, however bully breeds like pit bulls are the most abundant and overlooked breeds in shelters.
Bully breeds are misunderstood, and I want to help change the view around these breeds, and in turn help save the lives of amazing dogs. If this book or our Instagram page (@keiko.and.niko) helps to open people’s minds and hearts to bully breeds, then I will be happy.
How do you see yourself impacting our community?
Each month I partner with a bully breed or rescue organization and donate a portion of the proceeds from “The Story of Keiko & Niko.” (Available on Amazon) This month I have partnered with Paw Works, a local nonprofit rescue organization. I am thrilled to be able to help amazing organizations keep doing what they do best; save dogs’ lives. We just passed the $1000.00 mark for donations to bully breed organizations and rescues.
Brag on yourself! What are you proud of yourself about?
I am proud I wrote a freaking book! I knew I wanted to write this book, but I’m not sure I ever really thought I would actually do it. I am also so proud of so many comments I have gotten from people of how what I am doing with Keiko and Niko’s social media pages is truly making a difference. We are complemented often for being excellent ambassadors for bully breeds which is a dream come true. I hope what I am doing is going to help save pit bull type dogs lives and help encourage people to not overlook these amazing dogs in the shelter, but adopt them, bring them home and make them the family members they deserve to be.
What piece of advice would you give women right now?
If you have something you’ve always wanted to do, just do it! I didn’t know the first thing about writing a book, but if you really want to do something you find a way to make it happen. Ask questions, find a mentor, learn as much as you can and just go for it! If you don’t, you’ll always wish you did.
***Is there anything else you would like to share?
Keiko and Niko’s story has been featured on The Dodo and their video has over 10 million views worldwide. They have also amassed quite a following on Instagram and currently have over 22k followers! (@keiko.and.niko)