Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Katie Kennedy & Ernie

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Katie Kennedy. I write YA (Learning to Swear in America; What Goes Up), and MG. Ernie is a male Shih Poo (half Shih Tzu, half poodle). There’s some confusion as to how old he was when he got him from the pound, so he’s either ten or eleven.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We’re celebrating the release of What Goes Up, a YA light sci fi mashup.

What's brewing?

I’m drinking Swiss Miss with extra marshmallows because I don’t like coffee. It can be Hot Chocolate with a Canine, right? Ernie has water, but you can’t see it in the picture.

Any treats for you or Ernie on this occasion?

You bet! We are all about the treats. I have a scone and Ernie gets a beef treat. Later he’ll probably get half the cat’s food, too. [sigh]

How were you and Ernie united?

We got Ernie at the pound. He’d been surrendered by an older couple that couldn’t keep up with him. I imagined that they were elderly folk in poor health, tottering around with walkers, and just couldn’t have a dog underfoot. After we took Ernie home, we realized that he’s a lot to keep up with. That couple might have been running marathons and still have had trouble dealing with him.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

We kept the name his first family gave him, but he’s so disobedient and ornery that we decided he must not speak English. Why else would he ignore our every command? My husband calls him Ernesto, or Nesto for short, in the hopes that he’ll respond to commands in Spanish. So far it’s not working, but we’ve only tried for about five years.

Does Ernie do more to help or hinder your writing?

Oh, hinder. Ernie enjoys barking, and I don’t know how many sentences I’ve lost when he pulled me out of my story world. Needless to say, it’s totally worth it. I’d be lonely without my—loud, intrusive—little writing buddy.

Has Ernie inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

I had thirty pages devoted to a fictional dog in my work-in-progress, but I had to cut those scenes. I’m trying to figure out how to break the news to him. I do often work in a small black dog in some way or other, so he usually gets a cameo.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Ernie barks at everything except squirrels. He’ll bark because other dogs are barking, or because they aren’t and he wants to stir up trouble. But not squirrels. Pretty sure they made a pact at some point.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

He’s not a chewer, probably because his mouth is busy barking. But he does enjoy playing fetch and then refusing to give the toy up so I can throw it again. Also, the ottoman is home base. If he makes it there safely, I’m not allowed to grab the toy and play tuggy pull with it.

Where is Ernie's favorite outdoor destination?

He loves his walks and despite his tiny legs he’ll walk for blocks and blocks, no matter how cold it is. When he realizes we’re almost home he tries to trick me and head in the opposite direction. He’s a scamp.

Who is Ernie's best pet-pal?

I think he has a little crush on Emma, the dog next door. Every time he sees her he goes nuts barking. Did I mention that she lives next door? So he sees her every few minutes?

What is Ernie's best quality?

He’s incredibly loyal. He’s also incredibly brave. I was watching Jurassic Park with the kids once, and you know that scene where the T. Rex slowly turns its head and roars? Ernie stood between the kids and growled back. He weighed fifteen pounds. I’ll always love him for that.

If Ernie could change one thing about Iowans, what would it be?

People don’t drop hams enough.

If Ernie could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

If I only got one sentence, I’d tell him something--that it’s okay for him to sleep in the sunny window in the living room while I work in the study. He loves that room so much, but I can’t draft in it. He tries to lead me in there in the morning, and when I go into the study he sighs and follows, and stays as long as I do. I’d like him to know it would be okay if he took a little time off to enjoy his favorite place.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Ernie could speak, who should voice him?

Meryl Streep. She can do anybody.

What advice would Ernie give if asked?

If you sneak around the island, you can sometimes make it to the cat’s bowl before Mom notices. And that is awesome!

Visit Katie Kennedy's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Kendra Elliot & Max and Liesel

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Kendra Elliot, an author, mom, and procrastinator. I have two Pomeranians. The one on the left is seven-year-old Max and the other is five-month-old Liesel.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We have coffee every day together. Liesel is an early bird who gets us up at the latest by six—Max prefers to sleep in and doesn’t join us until later. Liesel is hyper; Max is mellow. When Max goes down the stairs in the morning, he always stops on the second to last stair and looks over his shoulder at me because Liesel is spazzing out at the bottom, thrilled to see him and unable to climb up the stairs. The look in Max’s eyes says “Dude. There isn’t enough coffee in the world to deal with her first thing in the morning.” As soon as he hops off the last step, she attacks and chews on his ears and feet. It’s all in love, but Max doesn’t appreciate it first thing in the morning.

Do your dogs do more to help or hinder your writing?

There’s nothing better than the soft snore of a dog nearby when I’m at my desk…but I don’t care for the hyper barking at every dog that walks by on the sidewalk.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, who should voice them?

I’ve mentioned this on Facebook before. Max would sound like Hodor from Game of Thrones and Liesel would be Elmo on fast-forward.

What's brewing?

Decaf drip brew. I gave up caffeine a year and a half ago (waits for exclamations of horror). During the withdrawal, I was in physical pain for a few days and then I was perfectly fine. I was shocked to discover I didn’t need caffeine to function in the morning once I shook the addiction. It was more that I needed a hot cup of something in my hand. I occasionally indulge in caffeine when we’re at a coffee shop.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Today we have dried turkey jerky for the dogs and jicama sticks for me. I’m trying to lose some vacation weight otherwise I’d be having anything chocolate.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

It’s hard to agree when there are five people to please. Max was easily voted on and the only holdout was my oldest daughter who wanted to call him Jasper after a vampire in Twilight. Liesel was hard. We had a huge list of names and voted and voted again. By process of elimination, Lila won. I didn’t like the name and overruled to the protests of my kids. A few hours later Liesel came up. Two of my daughters immediately shrieked yes, and I made an executive-mom decision. I’d always loved the name from The Sound of Music.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Both dogs love to play with our cats and bark their heads off at the postman and squirrels.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Liesel loves balls and leaves. Max prefers to simply sit and chew on snacks.

Who is your dogs' best pet-pals?

Max’s best pal is our cat, Paris. We got her as a kitten last fall and she immediately attached herself to Max. Liesel loves Max to death, but right now he finds her a bit ridiculous.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

My main characters in Chilled, Buried, Known, the Callahan & McLane series, and the Rogue River series have dogs. I can’t say they were based on any particular dog. I had a stray attach himself to the main character in the Callahan series because he seemed so unlikely to have a dog.

What is each dog's best quality?

Max is mellow and loving. Liesel shows us how to find joy in the simple things…like leaves.

If your dogs could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Liesel would want me to play with her 24/7, and Max would prefer that I give more snacks and back scratches.

If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

Why must you bark at the doorbell every time??

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Max: eat more peanut butter
Liesel: Play! Play! Play!

Visit Kendra Elliot's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Merciful Truth.

Writers Read: Kendra Elliot.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tamara Bundy & Toby

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Tamara Bundy, a high school teacher, mom and author. I have seven non-fiction books to my name –but this summer my debut middle grade novel, Walking with Miss Millie comes out and I couldn’t be more excited. The cute little guy with me in the picture is Toby. He is around six years old and is a Cockapoo. This picture was the lucky day we brought him home from the SCPA.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It’s always first in the morning. I take my first sips of the day and Toby tries to crawl into my skin to get as close to me as possible.

What's brewing?

The rest of my family spends enough money on daily Starbucks runs. I’m the practical one who home brews. I still like the occasion of a pot of coffee that allows you to “freshen” your cup.

Any treats for you or Toby on this occasion?

Toby’s favorite treats are the doggy “ice creams”. I think he sees me eating so much ice cream that he really feels he is eating ice cream too. Have to say I want to try it.

How were you and Toby united?

Toby was a “Surrender Dog”. I never have found out why his previous owners gave him up. He has had a lot of medical bills, so I wonder if they gave him up due to that. We got him through an adoption program at the SCPA. We were the lucky ones—he is an amazing dog.

How did your dog get his name?

They called him “Toby” at the SCPA so I thought that was his name –the one he was surrendered with. But after we started calling him that for a few months after we got him, I realized the workers gave him a random name. I think I would have chosen something different had I known –but it’s too late now. At least he finally answers to “Toby”.

Does Toby do more to help or hinder your writing?

Toby is the perfect dog. I’m serious. He never causes trouble. The only thing that hinders me is sometimes he is so close to my feet when I stand up, I trip over him.

Has Toby inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Believe it or not – he inspired a fictional …lamb! My next book – out in 2019 is about a lamb who becomes more of a pet. I used Toby’s expressions, and the way he’d look at me, to come up with details about my lamb in the book.

Who is Toby's best pet-pal?

My daughter rescued a sweet pit-mix named Milly. And while Toby and Milly look like polar opposites, they love to hang out together when my daughter comes to visit.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

When we first got Toby, he didn’t bark. At all. I thought maybe he couldn’t. But one day…three months after we got him, he did bark – at a cat on the deck. I guess he was just waiting for the right moment.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Squeaky toy… all the way.

Where is Toby's favorite outdoor destination?

Anywhere with me. He loves to go outside –just not alone.

What is Toby's best quality?

He is the best dog in the world. Seriously, he is so sweet. You just look in his eyes and you see such kindness and sweetness. And he has never had an accident in the house. Never.

If Toby could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Toby would change the fact that I sometimes leave the house. He would much prefer I never leave without him. And I think he’d prefer not to have to get some of the medication he’s on now.

If Toby could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

I’d love to know the name he had for the first years of his life. I really want to know more about that time.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Toby could speak, who should voice him?

I picture Toby as such a kind, old soul, I’d have Morgan Freeman give him a voice.

What advice would Toby give if asked?

Toby would say everybody should lighten up a little, give more belly rubs, and take more naps.

Visit Tamara Bundy's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Michael P. Spradlin & Willow and Apollo

Who is in the photo at right?

The devilishly handsome guy in the photo is me, Michael P. Spradlin, author and international man of mystery with my two highly trained, well behaved, always silent and stealthy (not) Schnoodles, Willow (gold) and Apollo (Black). Schnoodles are Schnauzer and Poodle mixes.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Since I work at home, every day is coffee with a canine. Except for the coffee part. I’m not a coffee drinker. So, most days tend to be ‘hijinks with a canine days’.

What's brewing?

Usually it’s some type of flavored water. Most often Pineapple-Coconut which allows me to imagine I’m somewhere in the tropics.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Cheese. Always cheese. Cheese. It’s what’s for dinner. My dogs will do anything, and I mean anything, if there is the prospect of cheese at the end. Anyone who wanted to rob our house would only need to bring cheese to convince the dogs to lead them to the valuables.

How were you and your dogs united?

Willow (gold) is the oldest. She came to us first and we enjoyed her so much, we decided to get Apollo so she would have a friend. However, as it turns out, while Willow tolerates him, she’s quite convinced she is the only dog in the world and therefore can’t be bothered with his shenanigans.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Willow is named after the character Willow from Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. According to my family, Apollo is named after the Greek God, although I like to tell people he’s named after Apollo Creed from the Rocky movies.

Do your dogs do more to help or hinder your writing?

Definitely help. Dogs are one of mankind’s great stress reducers. They love unconditionally, are always happy to see you, and when you are holding or petting them, it’s impossible not to relax and breathe. And properly caring for a dog, walking and exercising them, keeps you refreshed and active which is good for you. Many times when I’m stuck on a story, taking the dogs for a walk helps me clear my head and think.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

Both of my mutts have made appearances in my books. In the Youngest Templar trilogy, Tristan, the protagonist, is adopted by Angel, a small golden dog who bravely assists him in his journey. In the Killer Species series, Calvin has a black Schnoodle named Apollo. They both have agents now.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

All of the above. Willow is an ‘observe and report’ member of the pack. She notifies us of any unauthorized activity in the neighborhood including but not limited to neighbors getting their mail, meter readers, or undocumented leaves blowing into our yard. Apollo is the ‘observe and attack’ member of the pack and has a blood feud with the neighbor’s cat, and is a sworn enemy of all UPS, FedEx or US Postal services workers. As far as he is concerned they shall not pass.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Neither of them are big on toys or fetching. Apollo is a mighty hunter and brings us snakes, moles, mice, the occasional bird and frog. Both are big fans of rawhide chews.

Who is each dog's best pet-pal?

Unquestionably my wife. I’m purely here for back up. If my wife is gone, I’ll do in a pinch, but she is the center of their universe.

What is each dog's best quality?

Schnoodles are people dogs. They’re happiest when their ‘pack,’ which includes my children, and their mates are all together at our house as they should be. They’re always in a good mood, the first thing they offer is love and they’re big fans of naps. If nothing suspicious, like garbage pickup, is happening in the neighborhood.

If your dogs could change one thing about Michiganders, what would it be?

Well they are Michigan dogs, so I believe in their minds they consider themselves superior to all other canines. But they’d probably say that instead of using our hands to point out to people where we live, we instead use those hands to hold cheese. On can never have enough cheese.

If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

I would ask them how it is they can live so easily in the moment. They seem to be born Zen masters. I wish I could find that state as easily as they seem to.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, who should voice them?

Willow would demand that Meryl Streep provide her voice. And Apollo would not participate unless Samuel L. Jackson was his mouthpiece.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Life is simple. Talk a walk, have some cheese and then a nap. Repeat. And baths really aren’t necessary. You smell great.

Visit Michael P. Spradlin's website.

My Book, The Movie: Prisoner of War.

Writers Read: Michael P. Spradlin.

The Page 69 Test: Prisoner of War.


--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Melissa Scholes Young & Huckleberry Nacho Finn

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Melissa Scholes Young. I'm a writer and a teacher. This is the dog who picked me, Huckleberry Nacho Finn Scholes Young. He sits on my feet while I write books. We think he's about four years old. He's a chocolate lab/Pit Bull/Boxer/Love of my life mutt.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We're on our way to the dog park. He let's me take him as a reward if I make his morning chicken just right.

What's brewing?

Nespresso. Dry cappuccino with skim milk. Huck prefers his with whipped cream.

Any treats for you or Huck on this occasion?

I'm enjoying a salad and Huck is enjoying the salmon that used to be on top of my salad.

How were you and Huck united?

He chose me at a Lucky Dog adoption event. He leaned in. If you've ever had a dog lean in and claim you, you know the rest.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

I grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, Mark Twain's boyhood home, so I'm a big literary fan of Twain's. Huck just seemed to be a Huck, but the first time he ate an entire stick of butter off of our table Huckleberry Finn came out of my mouth in a certain tone that Widow Douglass would have used. My youngest daughter added the Nacho part to his name. He mostly goes by Huckanoodles and Good Boy.

Does Huck do more to help or hinder your writing?

He sits on my feet and makes me sit and stay. He reminds me to take breaks and walk him. He lets me throw his ball while I'm working out plot points in my mind. He snores a lot and there seem to be a lot of snoring dogs in my scenes.

Has Huck inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Yes. The novel I'm working on now has a Nacho in it. Nacho prefers sticks to balls but whatever.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Bunnies.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Ball. Ball. Ball.

Where is Huck's favorite outdoor destination?

Our woods. Anywhere there is water.

Who is Huck's best pet-pal?

Cinder. She's also from Lucky Dog Rescue and she is Huck's everything. She likes to play rough.

What is Huck's best quality?

He is absolutely the best listener ever.

If Huck could change one thing about Marylanders, what would it be?

They think their dogs have behavior problems. They're really only owner problems.

If Huck could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

Do you know how much I adore you?

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Huck could speak, who should voice him?

Matthew McConaughey with a southern accent.

What advice would Huck give if asked?

Don't work so hard. Take more naps.

Visit Melissa Scholes Young's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Trish Doller & Cobi

Who is in the photo at right?

I attempted to get a good picture of my dog and me, but it was kind of a perfect storm of weird lighting, new location, and Other Dogs. But I am Trish Doller, author of In a Perfect World, and this is my dog Cobi, a 10-year-old male Border Collie.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My typical morning caffeine is usually a bottle of Coke (I don’t care for coffee), but since this was a special occasion, I took Cobi to Bennett’s Fresh Roast, which is simply the best place in Fort Myers for coffee and doughnuts.

What's brewing?

I opted for a red tea with cranberry and orange, and it was delicious, but left me kind of sweaty because the weather is so hot today!

Any treats for you or Cobi on this occasion?

Bennett’s has amazing homemade apple fritters and doughnuts in flavors like maple bacon, s’mores, and orange coconut. My favorite is the key lime-filled with a dusting of graham cracker pie crust. So delicious. (I gave Cobi a little nibble.)

How were you and Cobi united?

One of my favorite internet activities is browsing petfinder—even when I’m not actively looking for a pet—and about eight years ago, I came across a ridiculously cute Border Collie named Kobe. His profile said he was already in the adoption process, so I continued browsing. About a month later, Kobe was still there. I emailed the rescue agency and they told me the adoption had fallen through. I submitted an application and three days later he was mine!

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

His original name was Korbin, given to him by the people who eventually surrendered him to animal services, but he was renamed Kobe by the rescue agency. I was not huge fan of the name, but his rescue “mom” loved him so much that I felt a little disrespectful changing it. So we changed the spelling instead.

My whole family loves soccer, so Kobe became Cobi Jones (after the former US player) and his aliases are Mr. Jones, Jones, Bones, Kobayashi Maru, Cobi Wan Kenobi, and sometimes Jermaine. (Bonus points for anyone who figures out that last one.)

Does Cobi do more to help or hinder your writing?

Now you know who really writes my books. [photo right]

Has Cobi inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

I've written three novels with dogs as characters, but none of them are Cobi-inspired. Odd.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Cobi isn’t bothered much by cats or squirrels, but he barks at other dogs going past the house and at delivery people. I’m trying to teach him that we don’t bark at people who bring us food, but so far the lessons haven’t stuck.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Ball. And there is nothing that can’t become a ball. Plush toy? Ball. Sock? Ball. Plastic soda bottle? Ball. I once bought him one of those toys in which you put treats so the dog must figure out how to get the treats out. It’s a ball.

Where is Cobi's favorite outdoor destination?

He loves Dog Beach on Lovers Key. It’s kind of far, so we don’t go very often, but when we cross the bridge, he knows where we’re going and he gets so excited.

Who is Cobi's best pet-pal?

He doesn’t have a BFF, but Cobi likes just about every dog he meets.

What is Cobi's best quality?

He is the sweetest and most well-mannered dog I’ve ever owned, but his best quality is his charm. It’s impossible not to like him.

If Cobi could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

Cobi is a wanderer. When he was young, he used to dig under the fence to escape the yard. Once, he squeezed out a window. Fortunately, we’ve always gotten him back, but I would love to know where he goes and what he does when he’s wandering.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Cobi could speak, who should voice him?

Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Dodgeball) is one of the best voice actors ever and if anyone could get Cobi’s voice, it would be him.

What advice would Cobi give if asked?

Stop what you’re doing and play ball with your dog. (Which is never a bad idea.)

Visit Trish Doller's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Robyn Harding & Ozzie

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Robyn Harding and I’m the author of the novel The Party. My dog, Ozzie, is a twelve-year-old, male papillon. He weighs 7.5 pounds and has no teeth.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every morning, Ozzie and I have coffee together at home. Ozzie doesn’t like to go out for coffee. He is very nervous so he prefers to avoid people, traffic, and other dogs. In the mornings, I like to grab my coffee and start writing. Ozzie keeps me company.

What's brewing?

During the week, I drink Ethical Bean drip coffee with honey and milk. On the weekends, I’ll have a latte.

Any treats for you or Ozzie on this occasion?

Ozzie is very picky and doesn’t like treats, which is probably good because they’d be a challenge without teeth. But every morning, he gets a home-cooked breakfast with just a sprinkling of tiny kibble on top. He’s spoiled.

How were you and Ozzie united?

My kids had begged for a dog. I knew the care and maintenance would ultimately fall on me, so I said the smaller the better. Ozzie came from a family of show dogs but he isn’t “breed standard”, so they were getting rid of him. Apparently, he’s not cute enough to compete on the dog show circuit, but I beg to differ.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

The breeder had already named him Ozzie. My husband is an Aussie. When he heard the name he said, “That’s the dog for us!”.

Does Ozzie do more to help or hinder your writing?

He helps me by forcing me to take breaks. When we go for walks, it lets me plot out my story, and gives my neck and shoulders a break from typing.

Has Ozzie inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

No, but he’d be a great character in a children’s story – a sweet, fluffy little guy who is afraid of everything.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrels. They’re the only thing Ozzie isn’t afraid of… although, if he ever actually caught one, I’m sure he would be.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

We have tiny tennis balls that he’s able to pick up in his small, toothless mouth. But in the last few years, he’s gotten pretty lazy. I’ll throw the ball or a small stick for him, and he just looks at me.

Where is Ozzie's favorite outdoor destination?

He loves to go to the beach – but not the dog beach. That’s terrifying! We take him to the human beach in the off-season (when there are no lifeguards around). He likes to run figure eights in the sand.

Who is Ozzie's best pet-pal?

Me. Or my husband or my kids. He doesn’t like any other dogs. And only a couple of other humans.

What is Ozzie's best quality?

His very sweet and compliant nature. He always wants to be a good boy, even when he’s getting a bath or a trim or I’m putting drops in his eyes.

If Ozzie could change one thing about Vancouverites, what would it be?

They wouldn’t have so many dogs! Everyone in Vancouver seems to have a dog or two. Ozzie would like to be the only dog in the whole city.

If Ozzie could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

Do you remember your dog mom?

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Ozzie could speak, who should voice him?

Steve Buscemi.

What advice would Ozzie give if asked?

Be careful! Everything could kill you!

Visit Robyn Harding's website.

--Marshal Zeringue