Monday, May 23, 2016

Lori Pelikan Strobel & Louie

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi, I’m Lori Pelikan Strobel. My work experience has ranged from writer, sales representative, Pilates instructor, community college teacher, and real estate agent. My favorite job has been, and will always be, mom. Currently I’m writing waggleviews™ and some personal essays on womanhood, motherhood, and being an empty nester over on my blog. You can usually find me at my favorite coffee shop with my sweet and handsome four-year old dog, Louie. Louie is an apricot colored standard poodle with deep caramel eyes.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We are usually at Cheshire Coffee three times a week…if not more. We love to visit with the great staff and customers that come by. Louie loves to greet everyone as they enter and he especially loves all the attention. When Louie is not greeting everyone, he either sits by me or in the chair next to me as I try to write.

What's brewing?

I’m a tea person; so today it’s an iced green tea with honey. Sometimes, I will venture into coffee land and get an iced latte with almond milk.

Any treats for you or Louie on this occasion?

I will occasionally treat myself to the homemade granola bars at Cheshire Coffee. There is a secret stash of dog treats for Louie behind the counter. He waits patiently until he is given one.

How were you and Louie united?

My two grown up daughters surprised me with him for my 50th birthday! They always wanted a dog growing up but I just couldn’t get one with our busy schedules. My oldest daughter had just graduated from college and my youngest had just finished her first year of college. I guess I was feeling the empty nest of loneliness and wanted a baby again…so I mentioned that I wanted a dog.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

Both my husband and I attended Providence College and we use to go to a bar named Louie’s. We had many fun times there with friends, so when we had to name our dog we thought Louie would be a good fit. He’s fun!

We also call him Lou, Booboo, Pumpkin Poodle, and Louie Stroobie.

Louie & Rosie
What role does Louie play in your writing?

Louie is my muse. Getting a dog was so out of character for me; however, when I got him I realized how he changed my way of thinking. He was a catalyst for me to do things that I always wanted to do- write! Now, however, he distracts me all the time when I’m trying to write because he is so cute. I just want to stop what I’m doing and pet him or walk him or get coffee with him.

Who is Louie's best pet-pal?

His best gal pet-pal is Rosie, a beautiful Labrodoodle down the street. He goes absolutely bonkers when she walks by the house. Rosie and Louie actually have play dates together. After 15 minutes of him trying to chase her, he is so tired he will sleep for hours.

He also has a coffee pet-pal by the name of Charlie. They love just standing next to each other at the coffee shop. His other buddy is Murphy. Murphy is older and very distinguished. He taught Louie how to be a dog.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

He is determined to catch a squirrel someday!

[photo left: Louie & Charlie]

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

He loves to pick up sticks in our yard and run around. He likes squeaky-toys in the house and wants to play fetch. He has no idea what to do with a ball. I’ve never seen a dog that fails so miserably at fetch with a ball. The wind or a butterfly distracts him.

What is Louie's best quality?

Louie is very charismatic and friendly. He has a wonderful disposition. He is gentle, funny, happy and very human like at times.

Where is Louie's favorite outdoor destination?

Louie loves to walk the beach in the off-season. He finds new smells, dogs and people at the beach. His other favorite outdoor place is in Otis Massachusetts. He likes to ride in the boat because he likes the wind in his face!

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

Louie would like me to stop everything in my life and devote every moment to him! I think he realizes that I need to stop, breath and be in the moment. So, he would want to change my need from always doing to become a need to just being. He’s doing a good job in helping me change and realize the importance of being mindful of the moment.

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

I would ask Louie what do you want me to know about you that makes you happy and that makes you upset. I think we would have a great discussion on this topic.

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

I have thought long and hard about the answer to this question. My first response would be Tom Hanks because of how he played his character in the movie Big. Louie is distinguished and dignified, however, there is a childlike quality to him that makes him endearing. I could also see Will Ferrell as his voice too because of his character in Elf.

What advice would Louie give if asked?

Enjoy now, stop worrying, be the moment, and take time to look at the squirrels and birds. However, most importantly, always ask for treats and don’t be afraid to give yourself a treat now and then!

Visit Lori Pelikan Strobel’s website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Laura McNeal & Link

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Link, our 5-year-old mini dachshund, running on the grass the day we brought him home.

I'm Laura McNeal, the human in the photos below and author of the recently released The Incident on the Bridge and other novels.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Link hates to eat out, which involves sitting on concrete for hours while people consume tantalizing things he can’t have. So I’m drinking my coffee at home while he enjoys his usual place in the sun.

What's brewing?

Starbucks French Roast through a paper cone. Then sugar and cream.

Any treats for you or Link on this occasion?

Crust from the French toast.

How were you and Link united?

I fell in love with a pair of dachshund puppies who lived around the corner from us, and although my husband Tom is a serial Doberman rescuer, he liked those puppies, too, and one day he said maybe we should get one. He was still just mulling the idea, but I found Link at a rescue place within 15 minutes and applied to adopt him immediately so Tom couldn’t possibly change his mind.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

Tom said if I got to pick the dog, he had naming rights. Besides being named after a sausage, Link has a lot of completely humiliating nicknames such as Noodle, Doodle, and Linky.

Does Link do more to help or hinder your writing?

Link could also have been named Muse or Prozac or Eternal Calm. I sometimes write on the sofa in the morning to be in the patch of sunlight that falls there. Link sleeps on top of the back cushion [photo right] until he gets too hot, and then he drops down like a piece of ripe fruit and goes on sleeping in the space between me and the couch. His complete happiness with doing that all day, every day, makes it easier to feel hopeful about my work. Plus, if he has crept into my lap, I don’t like to stand up and wake him, so I work longer.

Have you ever created a fictional dog inspired by an actual canine?

The first book Tom and I wrote together was a picture book called The Dog Who Lost His Bob, and it was the life story of a bowlegged Doberman Tom found in a park. The illustrator was having trouble making a Doberman look friendly, so the publisher called to ask us to change the dog’s breed. Tom was on the phone with them, and I kept shouting, “Tell them we’ll send the money back!” but Tom, who is a practical person, said of course we could change it. The dog in the story became a light-colored, curly-haired mutt and he was perfectly adorable.

Cat, postman, squirrel…?

Nemo, the cat next door. Nemo spends all his time, night and day, sneaking into our backyard and lying on the patio furniture waiting for Link to notice him.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?

Link used to chew on and throttle a stuffed Angry Bird but he has achieved Transcendence now and ignores all his old toys.

Who is Link's best pet-pal?

Link does not see the point of animal friendship. Other dogs have no access to the refrigerator.

What is Link's best quality?

The way he runs flat out for everything. Never a stroll. Always a sprint.

If Link could change one thing about Californians, what would it be?

Their obsession with portion control.

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

Link’s best quality is his silence. We don’t ever have to think of what to say to each other, we just know.

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

Maria Bamford. She understands humans and dogs perfectly.

What advice would Link give if asked?

Stop making salad.

Visit Laura McNeal's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Incident on the Bridge.

Writers Read: Laura McNeal.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 16, 2016

Martha Crites & Mariluz

Who is in the photo at right?

Here we are: Martha Crites, mystery writer and Mariluz, 3 year old Yellow Labrador with a big appetite for reading.

My first novel, Grave Disturbance: A Pacific Northwest Mystery, was released by Rat City Publishing in December 2015. The Seattle Times calls Grave Disturbance “a dark and compelling story... Grace Vaccaro is a mental-health evaluator (as is the author) caught up in bad business after a filmmaker, working on a documentary about native land rights, is murdered.”

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Mariluz joins me every morning for coffee at my desk and is ready for a walk about the time I need a break.

What's brewing?

I take French Roast–strong and Mariluz prefers light roasted kibbles in her Seattle Mystery Bookshop cup.

Any treats for you or Mariluz on this occasion?

I count out 3 kibbles from the treat jar on my desk. I planned this repetition so she knows she is done and doesn’t nose bump me all morning for just one more.

How were you and Mariluz united?

I have lived with labs for going on 30 years. Mariluz was bred by a family in Chehalis, WA as a Little League fundraiser.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

She’s named after a tiny woman I met in Zamora, Spain. Mariluz does, of course rhyme with Silly Goose.

Does Mariluz do more to help or hinder your writing?

Now that she is three years old, Mariluz joins me at my desk every morning. She is an avid mystery reader, but as a pup she preferred to eat the books.

Has Mariluz inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

My first novel stars a not-too-fictional, rooster-eating husky pup. Mariluz is auditioning for a role in the next in series.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

She too has a taste for chickens (and cats and squirrels). Needs a lot of supervision! The postman is safe.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

The orange balls.

Who is Mariluz's best pet-pal?

Her best friend is Tunya the puggle. They used to run each other ragged.

What is Mariluz's best quality?

She is absolutely always happy and never fails to make me smile.

If Mariluz could change one thing about Seattleites, what would it be?

She is requesting more water features in Seattle dog parks. Labs do love water.

If Mariluz could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?

Really? I can read her mind: food, food, food, walk, walk, walk!

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

John Candy.

What advice would Mariluz give if asked?

Take another walk!

Visit Martha Crites at her website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Brendan Jones & Colorado

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Brendan Jones, author of The Alaskan Laundry, behind the camera, with Haley the baby, Rachel the mom, and Colorado.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine? And what's brewing?

Coffee (and tea) with the dog most often happens as our family make the 1/2-mile walk in from our home, a WWII tugboat tied up on the docks in Sitka, Alaska, to the parking lot, or into town.

Colorado, the husky-lab-shepherd mix I wrote into my novel The Alaskan Laundry (I once tried to write him into a housing application in San Francisco as a 35-pound corgie-mix, unsuccessfully) waits patiently on the stern deck as I make Deadman's Reach drip coffee, an Alaska specialty, and Rachel's Irish Breakfast tea. In the winter it helps to run hot water in the mug and let it steep as the kettle heats, to make sure the chill of the mug doesn't cool our morning drinks.

Meanwhile Colorado amuses himself on deck woofing with Earl the harbor sea lion as we get the baby in the Ergo, or into her car seat. When Rachel still needs to get her things Cal keeps an eye on Haley.

What's a regular day on the docks like for Coffee with Colorado?

As Rachel and I walk with the baby, we take sips (Rachel drinks Irish breakfast tea) where we can get them.

Colorado is supposed to be on leash whenever he's on the docks - and it's generally in his best interest, considering the pit-bulls on a couple fishing boats, and a haughty Airedale who patrols the dock like a righteous British Naval Officer. But it also makes it difficult for him to get in all his smells and inspections, like the purple starfish stuck to the poles, the trails left by mink slinking beneath the bullrails, and it also crimps his favorite game of breaking up the unkindnesses of ravens, scattering the black birds.

He also gets annoyed with the leash when an otter sticks up his head, although he doesn't bark at the otters, who seem to demand more respect than Earl the sea lion.

The warm liquids are magic, especially in the winter, the liquid warming the chest and making a buffer against the wind. But by the time we reach the ramp either we're done drinking from our mugs, or the liquid has become cold. We toss the dregs into the ocean and go about our day.

Visit Brendan Jones's website and blog.

Learn more about The Alaskan Laundry.

Writers Read: Brendan Jones.

My Book, The Movie: The Alaskan Laundry.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 9, 2016

Elizabeth Crane & Percival Fontaine Barksdale Brandt

Who is in the photo at right?

This is me, Elizabeth Crane, and Percy, our ten-year-old Catahoula.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Percy and I do actually have coffee together every day, usually on the sofa, but when the weather gets nice we take it to the yard, as we did today.

What's brewing?

Trader Joe's French Roast, black. We do mix it up sometimes, but this is sort of our house brand.

Any treats for you or Percy on this occasion?

Percy is enjoying a stick.

How were you and Percy united?

Well, the short version is that he's a rescue, who we got through a friend who fostered Catahoulas. We weren't looking for a particular breed, and she had another foster (some kind of mountain dog-border collie mix? Big.) that we thought we might be interested in. But when she came to our house with that guy and Percy, Percy went straight for our sofa and curled up on it, and I was pretty much all in right then.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

My husband and I spent a weekend trying to get the right name for him and nothing was quite right. I thought maybe Avon Barksdale, and then finally Ben remembered a childhood dog he had named Percy, and that seemed to be the one. Of course, he has so many aliases it's hard to keep count. Buddy, Mr. Buddy, Mr. Boo, Mr. Badoo, Mr. Schmoo, MooMoo, NuNu, MooMooNu (clearly anything with either a B, a Mister in front of it, or an OO sound works), Horse Dog (he's big and has long legs and sometimes when he lies on his side he looks like a sleeping horse), Puppeeee, Handsome, Creature.

Does Percy do more to help or hinder your writing?

Help! Except when he steals my seat. Which happens often. (I often write with my laptop, on the sofa, in case you were picturing an 80-lb dog in a desk chair.) But I'm still sticking with help.

Has Percy inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Oh, definitely. There's one story in particular, set in a dog park, that features a version of him, but basically if there's a dog that I wrote after 2006, he's in my mind. Even if it's a different breed. The dog in my last novel was for sure based on him.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

All of the above. My dog is a cliché, and I tell him so all the time.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Also all of the above. Clearly, he is a multifaceted dog. But these things are all needed and each called for, depending on the situation. He loves to swim out in the river to fetch a ball. Sticks are fun in the backyard. Squeaky toys (fuzzy ones are preferred) as he sees it, are designed to be torn apart upon receipt, so that the evil squeaker can be discarded.

Who is Percy's best pet-pal?

We've moved a few times, so he's got besties in a few different cities. Well - a couple of them are gone now. But he doesn't know that. Piper, a sweet German Shepherd, was his best gal in Chicago, Arthur was our next door neighbor in Austin who he loved (in spite of their size differences, Arthur was maybe 10 pounds) and here in Newburgh he has two good buds, Skillet, with whom he shares a passion for hiking, and Rocky, who he plays with (but they also enjoy parallel napping just as much as anything).

What is Percy's best quality?

Ben might have a different answer, but to me it's that in certain ways he's not super doggy, like, covering you with sloppy kisses. He's affectionate for sure, but he has boundaries. He likes his space. I like that about him.

If Percy could change one thing about New Yorkers, what would it be?

Ahaha! That they would all know to give him his space on the street. We talk about this all the time. It's a shared interest.

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

I would for sure ask him about his life before he was found (he was about 10 months old, was found - wait for it - near Percy, Illinois, which we didn't know until long after we named him). Although I fear it might break my heart.

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

My husband and I had some different thoughts on this. He said Clooney. Which I get, because he is a handsome dog. And he has occasional moments of goofiness that I think Clooney could really nail. But I don't feel like Clooney has Percy's gravitas. He's a serious dog. I mean, look, I'm open to creative casting, and I like Clooney. Maybe he could stretch, if he's willing to put something on tape. So when Ben suggested Michael Fassbender, at first I hesitated because Fassbender is so sexy. But then Ben pointed out that Percy is a pretty sexy dog. Which is true. So if Fassbender's available, I think I'd put in the offer.

What advice would Percy give if asked?

Keep your eyes open, unless you're napping.

Learn more about The History of Great Things and its author at Elizabeth Crane's website.

The Page 69 Test: We Only Know So Much.

My Book, The Movie: We Only Know So Much.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Brooklyn Schugar & Rex

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Brooklyn Schugar, and my standard poodle, Rex, 5 years old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We ran out of milk today and me, my parents, and Rex walked to the closest coffee shop where we could also order breakfast. Usually if the weather permits we take Rex everywhere with us. This particular coffee shop allows dogs inside.

What's brewing?

My parents had lattes.

Any treats for you or Rex on this occasion?

I had a BLT + egg crumpet sandwich. The crumpets at Queen Bee are made fresh daily. In the past I have ordered a crumpet with butter and jam, which is a delicious treat for me.

How were you and Rex united?

A friend of my mom’s thought he would be perfect for our family. My dad and grandma went to go see him, then came home and showed us pictures. The next day my Dad picked him up and my mom loved him from day one. Everyone did. He was trained and would listen at 8 months old.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

I asked my Grandma, "What I should name my dog?" She suggested “Rex" and I loved that name.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?

Rex does not fetch a ball, but will play with a squeaky- stuffed-toy.

Who is Rex's best pet-pal?

Not sure, all I know is he will play with other dogs at the dog park.

What is Rex's best quality?

He listens, and knows how to do a few tricks.

Who is Rex's best non-pet pal?

Me! He sleeps in my room.

Where is Rex's favorite outdoor destination?

The off leash dog park.

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

He would want me to give him more treats and take him for longer walks.

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

Are you sick of me and mommy hugging and kissing you all time?

What advice would Rex give if asked?

He would say, calm down, chill out everything will be OK.

Visit the Styling Brooklyn website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 2, 2016

Colleen Shogan & Conan

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Colleen Shogan, and I’m a political scientist at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. I also write mystery novels. My dog is Conan, who is supposedly a beagle mix. He’s 5 ½ years old but he still thinks he’s a puppy. In the photo, we’re at our favorite vacation spot, the Outer Banks in Duck, North Carolina.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

On the weekends, Conan and I go for long runs. When we return home, I make myself a nice cup of coffee before sitting down to write. He knows the ritual and waits for me to retrieve my laptop and mug of java.

What's brewing?

Starbucks Guatemala Antigua is my favorite. We have a Keurig so each cup is fresh.

Any treats for you or Conan on this occasion?

Conan always gets something, like a Heartyhide chewy treat. It takes him a while to eat it, and when he’s done, he’s happy to snooze while I write.

How were you and Conan united?

We got him from “Lost Dog, Lost Cat” rescue in northern Virginia. My husband spotted him at the dog adoption event. He’d grown up with beagles and instantly liked him, especially his name!

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

He came with the name “Conan.” It fit him so well we didn’t dare change it. He also truly seemed to like it. Conan is a classic alpha dog – he’s the first to do anything and very self-confident.

Does Conan do more to help or hinder your writing?

If he wants attention during a weeknight, he will actually try to stop my writing. He’ll put a paw on my hand to prevent me from typing. But if he’s not antsy, he’s content to lie next to me while I work. In the summertime, he loves going outside on our deck with me while I write.

Has Conan inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Yes, Conan is the inspiration for the dog in my “Washington Whodunit” mystery series. His character’s name is Clarence. In the first book, Stabbing in the Senate, he played a small role. However, Clarence plays a much bigger and pivotal part in the sequel, Homicide in the House.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Rabbit, actually. It’s springtime and Conan is all about hunting them. Fox season is wrapping up and now it’s time for the rabbits.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

He loves to play ball outside. He chases, catches, chews. I must have bought him over a hundred tennis balls. They last for a few days and then he needs a new one.

Who is Conan's best pet-pal?

We participated in “Dogs on Deployment” last year and hosted a dog named Honey whose owner had to spend eight months in the Middle East for the Army. Conan could get a little jealous at times but in general, he liked playing outside with Honey and jogging in the mornings with her. She still comes to visit several weeks out of the year so Conan still gets to spend time with her.

What is Conan's best quality?

He’s loyal and quite affectionate. But he’s also extremely intelligent. I’ve never owned a dog as smart as Conan. We taught him a number of tricks the first couple of months we had him. We can tell him what to do and he understands our commands. Every once in a while, he doesn’t listen. But we know he understands!

If Conan could change one thing about North Virginians and Washingtonians, what would it be?

Less working, more time playing with dogs!

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

“Is there anything you don’t like to eat?”

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

Harrison Ford.

What advice would Conan give if asked?

Legalize fox hunting.

Visit Colleen Shogan's website and watch the Stabbing in the Senate promo video featuring Clarence the Dog.

--Marshal Zeringue