Sunday, June 17, 2018

E.M. Powell & Marshall

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m E.M. Powell and I’m the writer of the Fifth Knight medieval thriller series as well as The King's Justice, the first in my new Stanton & Barling medieval mystery series. On my lap (even though he barely fits and he’s really heavy!) is our man, Marshall. He’s a Staffie cross and we think he’s about five. We don’t know for sure because he’s a rescue.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

If there are writers who don’t run on caffeine, I haven’t met many! When I have my first cup at breakfast, somebody likes to sit up next to me. We had a chat this morning about the upcoming World Cup. Marshall’s not sure about England’s chances.

What's brewing?

Cafedirect Fairtrade Intense Roast Ground Coffee. Best coffee around.

Any treats for you or Marshall on this occasion?

After morning walk, I have to produce a Dentastick. If I don’t, the universe is not aligned, and I will be pawed without cease.

How were you and Marshall united?

We had to put Poppy, our sweet, bonkers girl of 14 years, to sleep last summer. We were utterly heartbroken. But we only lasted three weeks without a doggo. We weren’t in any way trying to replace her. But she was a rescue and we thought, ‘Why hang around and leave a dog in a shelter when they could be home with us?’ So we found Marshall at a wonderful shelter called Homeless Hounds here in the northwest of England. He’d been abandoned and would’ve been put down if the shelter hadn’t taken him in. We fell in love with his photo. They also have a great system at the shelter where the dogs spend time in a foster home and the fosterer does a detailed write-up. We knew he was the man for us!

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

Homeless Hounds named him and we kept it because it suits him so well. I call him Mr Bear because of his gorgeous big face and heavy snout.

Does Marshall do more to help or hinder your writing?

He helps loads because he’s a calm, settled boy and he’s so patient in letting me get on with work. He tells me when it’s time to break, though! Having a dog is a gift to my health as well. I spend most of my working hours sat on my behind in front of a computer. Having a dog means I have to get out in the fresh air and take some exercise. Without him, I’d be good as a stunt double for Jabba the Hutt.

Has Marshall inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Not a named one. But in my next Stanton & Barling mystery, which is called The Monastery Murders, I have a bear-baiting scene. Bear-baiting, where a chained-up bear was forced to fight with multiple dogs, was very popular in medieval times. As with everything in historical fiction, I had to research it in depth which I found very challenging. It was horrific for bear and dogs. Marshall is of a similar powerful build to the type of dogs that were used. He’s not in the least aggressive and would have been utterly terrified, as would the poor bears. Sadly, bear-baiting still goes on in some parts of the world and illegal dog fighting is also sickeningly common. One would have thought that the human race had moved on from such senseless cruelty, but it seems it’s timeless.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Cat = i-can-see-you-and-if-you-don’t-back-off-I’ll-woof. Postman = zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Squirrel = I can see you, I can see you, I can see you, I can see you up that flaming tree and I’m coming up there after you!!!!!

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Kong is King. Anything else gets power-jawed to pieces in about thirty seconds.

Where is Marshall's favorite outdoor destination?

Garden games are Very Good Indeed. We also have lots of great local parks and woods. Marshall is far happier there. He’s not a huge fan of pavements and traffic. He gets quite tense in those situations, maybe because of his history as a stray.

Who is Marshall's best pet-pal?

He likes Daisy, a female border terrier who’s his neighbour. He also has a Park Friend, a daft poodle called Milo.

What is Marshall's best quality?

He’s a stoic, through and through. He takes anything and everything that’s thrown at him without complaint or fuss. We’ll never know his past, but he has part of an ear missing and certain noises make him worried. But he never gets aggressive or snappy when he’s not sure about something. He just sits or leans really hard on you to get comforted. He also likes his bed. Our bed. Any bed.

If Marshall could change one thing about the English, what would it be?

To make them more like the Irish. (I’m guessing here, but he may be influenced by my Irishness.)

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

How are you doing, pal?

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

Sean Bean. (Note: this answer is going to cause trouble. Bean is from Yorkshire, while Marshall is a Lancashire lad. The Yorkists and Lancastrians first had at it in the 15th century Wars of the Roses. Things have been simmering since.)

What advice would Marshall give if asked?

Be kinder to each other. Hate diminishes us all, my friends.

Visit E.M. Powell's website, blog, Twitter perch and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Demetra Brodsky & L.B. and Ponyboy Curtis

Who is in the top two photos here?

I’m Demetra Brodsky, the author of Dive Smack and this is L.B. (my 9-year-old female terrier mix) and Ponyboy Curtis (my 2-year-old Doxiepin).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I go to the gym at 6:00 a.m. every morning and then come home and sip my coffee on a small deck outside of our kitchen and hang out with my dogs for a while before I get to work. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I take them for a walk (we have the family on rotation) and those are actually my favorite days because sometimes I pick up a take out coffee along the stroll.

What's brewing?

This depends on my mood so much. At home, if I’m on a deadline, I use the Keurig and whatever coffee I pick up by the truckload at Costco. But I prefer my Keurig. If I’m feeling extra fancy and want to get in touch with my roots, I’ll make Greek Coffee. It’s something I grew up with and is made on the stovetop in a small copper pot. It’s similar to espresso or Turkish coffee. If I’m feeling regular fancy, I’ll get a soy latte, sometimes with lavender.

Any treats for you or L.B. and Ponyboy on this occasion?

I always have peanut butter filled Kongs in the freezer and the cookie jar filled. They’re spoiled. But if I’m having a treat, they should have one, too. Cookies for everyone all the time.

How were you and your dogs united?

I lost my job during the recession in 2009 and my dog Luke, a gorgeous 8-year Viszla, died two weeks later of undetected stomach cancer. It was a nightmare. About a month after that, I told my husband I wanted to get another dog and he was going to be the luckiest bastard every adopted and that I was going to name him L.B. I started looking at the kill shelters in Los Angeles and saw L.B.’s picture and knew she was the one. I didn’t know she was a she because she just had a number, but I called on a Thursday and they told me that Saturday was her last day. My daughter and I asked them to hold her. They wouldn’t, so we raced up there and got her the next day. She’s still L.B. for Lucky B-word. I got Ponyboy for my daughter because she was at a time in her life where she needed a good friend, a loyal friend, and I couldn’t think of anyone more loyal than a dog. We got Ponyboy local from Thrive Rescue because I knew introducing another dog might be tricky. Thrive also rescues from kill shelters and puts the dogs in foster homes to get a feel for their personalities before adopting them out. I saw him (His name was Snoopy) on their website and fell in love with that 7-month old cutie.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Oh geez, well, I answered this question about L.B. above so I’ll tell you how Ponyboy got his name. The Outsiders is the book that made me want to be a writer as a teen. Ponybody Curtis was my first celebrity crush and when we went to meet “Snoopy” he was so sweet and sensitive, like his namesake, the homage just popped out of my mouth.

Do L.B. and Ponyboy do more to help or hinder your writing?

That depends on the day. They’re both pretty mellow while I’m working and will lie down in the office near me…if they’ve been walked. Otherwise, they want to go outside every time I move.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

Yes, I have a book out on submission with editors right now and there’s a husky in that book named Skyla that’s named after my friend Aly’s dog that passed away.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Hate, hate, hate.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Ball for L.B., any day, any time. Ponyboy is a stone cold squeaky toy killer. He uses his small, razor-sharp teeth to puncture and destroy every squeaker in every toy I bring in the house. I swear he’s very docile otherwise.

Who is each dog's best pet-pal?

Me. I’m both of their favorites. Probably because I’m home the most.

What is each dog's best quality?

L.B. is so empathetic and loyal. If you’re having a bad day, or upset, L.B. knows and will come to you right away.

Ponyboy is a lover. That’s the first thing the vet said about him, too. “This dog is all love.” And it’s true. He’s ready for cuddles and kisses 24/7.

If L.B. and Ponyboy could change one thing about Californians, what would it be?

I think both dogs would ask Californians to walk more. The traffic is atrocious.

If L.B. and Ponyboy could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

I’d ask L.B. “Why do you bark at me like a lunatic every time I come home?”

And I’d ask Ponyboy, “What were you doing on the street in Compton when they picked you up?”

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

C. Thomas Howell, of course, for Ponyboy. And Jane Lynch from Glee for L.B.

What advice would L.B. and Ponyboy give if asked?

It’s okay to play more. There will always be work to do but we won’t be here forever. Step away from the computer. Aww, that answer made me sad.

Visit Demetra Brodsky's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Megan Bannen & Brontë

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Megan Bannen, the author of The Bird and the Blade, and I’m hanging out with Brontë, a two-year-old female Beagle-ish mutt. Fun fact: It turns out that taking a selfie with Brontë is rather challenging.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Brontë waits patiently while I down 2.5 cups of coffee and write a few words before we head out the door for our morning walk around the neighborhood.

What's brewing?

Most days, it’s Aldi’s Fair Trade Medium. I set up the coffee pot the night before so that a perfect cup of coffee awaits me by the time I stumble out of bed at 5:00am.

Any treats for you or Brontë on this occasion?

One of our neighbors has a metal box full of dog treats at the end of their driveway. Sometimes, we fill up the box with our own treats to help out. It’s kind of like a Little Free Library, only with dog treats instead of books.

How were you and Brontë united?

Last spring, we lost our beloved Zora Neale Hurston, a shih tzu-poodle-maltese-ish mutt whom we adopted shortly after we were married. I was heartbroken and didn’t think I’d want another dog so soon thereafter, but 1.) a house without a dog is basically a house without a soul, and 2.) my sons get food everywhere, so I was in need of a doggy vacuum again. Thus, we adopted Brontë from the Great Plains SPCA last June.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

We’ve long since established that all Bannen pets must be bookish. As I mentioned earlier, our previous dog was Zora, and we also have two cats: Jane Austen and Thursday Next. When we adopted Brontë, the shelter was calling her “Lady,” and that would never do. She has striking eyes and that soulful hound dog look about her, clearly a dog who belongs to the windswept moors. But she is also spunky and a bit stubborn. Brontë just seemed like the right fit for her. You can choose whichever Brontë sister you prefer. (Personally, I’m on Team Charlotte.)

Does Brontë do more to help or hinder your writing?

I’d say Brontë is helpful to my writing. She doesn’t bug me when I’m sitting at my computer, but she is always, always game for a walk, and walking helps me unsnarl plot problems and dream up new ideas.

Has Brontë inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Brontë has not, but Zora inspired the creation of a doggy character in a middle grade novel that will most likely never see the light of day. That fictional dog’s name was Rossetti, by the way.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Cat: She doesn’t pay much attention to cats. Except Thursday Next. She is not a fan of that particular cat.

Postman: I think she just wonders why this person never comes inside to pet her as is her right.

Squirrel: She has nearly ripped my arm off on multiple occasions and sent me tripping over the leash in her mad pursuit to kill them all.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Brontë enjoys a fake rawhide bone and her rope toys. She’s a huge fan of stuffed animals, but since she kills them very thoroughly (plus the occasional accent pillow) that is something we have given up on.

Where is Brontë's favorite outdoor destination?

She enjoys the occasional visit to the dog park. She’s also a big fan of escaping and running amok, dangerously close to a very busy intersection. So that’s awesome.

Who is Brontë's best pet-pal?

Penny, a Siberian Husky we frequently meet on our walks.

What is Brontë's best quality?

She is incredibly affectionate. We call her The Boneless Pile of Love.

If Brontë could change one thing about Kansas Citians, what would it be?

Pour a bunch of tax money on a robust public transportation system on both sides of the state line. And to all Americans, she has this to say: high speed rail, people!

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

Why do you think jumping all over me is going to make me put on my shoes any faster or put the leash on you faster or get you on a walk any faster? Why??

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

Melissa McCarthy.

What advice would Brontë give if asked?

All you need is love … unless you’re a squirrel or a rabbit.

Visit Megan Bannen's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 25, 2018

Julie Clark & Teddy

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Julie Clark, and I'm the author of the debut novel, The Ones We Choose, from Gallery Books, and imprint of Simon & Schuster. The pup is Teddy.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Teddy never misses a chance to sit next to me on my reading chair, even if it means sitting on top of the book I happen to be reading.

What's brewing?

I have an automatic coffee maker that brews my coffee by 3:30 in the morning, so that it's ready when I get up to write at 4:00 AM.

Any treats for you or Teddy on this occasion?

Teddy is always looking for treats. He's not picky, and if my two young boys aren't careful, Teddy will help himself to their food as well. He has zero impulse control.

How were you and Teddy united?

Teddy was a rescue dog that we got through an organization called Dogs Without Borders. They found him wandering the streets when he was about six months old. He was malnourished and suffering from pneumonia. He spent a few weeks in the dog hospital before we were able to bring him home. But now, he lives a life of luxury, and we're not sure he even remembers his time as a street dog.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

My boys named him. They thought he looked like a teddy bear. Sometimes we call him Teddy Bear. But mostly just Teddy.

Does Teddy do more to help or hinder your writing?

He generally sleeps on the bed next to me while I write. Sometimes he'll snore. Other times he'll yip. Every now and then he'll wake up and try to settle next to me, squeezing himself between my laptop and notebook and various printed pages that usually surround me when I work.

Has Teddy inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Not yet!

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

He has a squirrel friend who comes to visit him every morning to torment him. Around 6:30, when I let him out into the back yard, this squirrel will show up and "bark" at him from the roof of the garage or the telephone pole. It drives Teddy crazy.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Squeaky-toy for sure. He has a stuffed squeaky tiger toy that he carries around with him.

Where is Teddy's favorite outdoor destination?

The dog park. He loves to meet other dogs, and would spend all day there if he could.

Who is Teddy's best pet-pal?

Jack, a labradoodle that lives with my friend Chrysta and her family.

What is Teddy's best quality?

He's pretty low energy. Wherever we are, he likes to be there too. He'll travel from room to room with us, and then just settle in and take a little snooze while we do whatever it is we're going to do there.

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

He'd eliminate the postal service. It's his most stressful hour of the day.

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

What was it like living on the street as a puppy? How did you get there?

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

Whoever does the voice for Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street.

What advice would Teddy give if asked?

Take a nap. Things are always better when you're well-rested.

Visit Julie Clark's website.

Writers Read: Julie Clark.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 18, 2018

Melissa Caruso & Freya

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Melissa Caruso, author of The Tethered Mage and The Defiant Heir, the first two books in the Swords & Fire trilogy, novels of intrigue and magic from Orbit Books. Freya is a 9-year-old female Labrador Retriever, and the sweetest lump of butter you could possibly imagine.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Freya and I like to hang out on the deck in together while I write and sip iced tea! Our deck is my fair-weather office, and Freya is my constant writing companion. Today we're working on edits for Book Three of the Swords and Fire trilogy.

What's brewing?

Teavana Jade Citrus Mint tea, iced. I’m actually not a coffee drinker…eep! Is that allowed? (I love the smell of it, though.)

Any treats for you or Freya on this occasion?

I just had a delicious cinnamon roll, and Freya helped finish it.

How were you and Freya united?

Freya was a Christmas present to the whole family. When my eldest (who was five at the time) opened the surprise box we’d carried her into the house in and saw her for the first time, she whispered “It’s real!” in this awed voice, as if she’d seen a magical creature. And in a way she really did—I’m not sure there’s any creature more magical than a puppy!

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Freya is named after a Norse goddess. Her beloved predecessor, Sif, and my husband’s childhood dog, Loki, also have names from Norse mythology. So we have a tradition going!

Does Freya do more to help or hinder your writing?

Mostly she’s a wonderful and patient writing companion. Sometimes she decides it’s Arbitrary Barking Time when I’m trying to concentrate, though. And she kindly makes sure I never get so absorbed in my writing that I forget dinner!

Has Freya inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

One of my main characters in the Swords & Fire trilogy has a dog, Scoundrel, who isn’t directly based on Freya—but she certainly inspired some of his traits, like his intense devotion to expected leftovers and love of chasing sticks.

Cat, postman, squirrel…?

Freya lives with three cats and both loves and is intensely jealous of all of them! For barking at, though, nothing gets her worked up quite like deer, which we do get in our backyard sometimes.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?

That’s a tough one… She’s a retriever, so she loves anything and everything she can carry around in her mouth. She has a special enthusiasm for really big sticks, though. She’ll drag around small logs if she gets the chance.

Where is Freya's favorite outdoor destination?

Any park with a pond! She loves swimming more than anything. We also have taken her on a few trips to hike in the White Mountains in New Hampshire with us, and she really loves those, especially when we hike alongside streams with lots of swimmable pools!

Who is Freya's best pet-pal?

Freya has a very special friendship with one of our cats in particular, a little female tortoiseshell called Star. Star climbs up on Freya’s back and gives her massages, and Freya occasionally brings Star dog toys in the hopes that she’ll play with her.

What is Freya's best quality?

Her boundless capacity for love. She’s one of those dogs who immediately loves everyone she meets and wants nothing more than to play, snuggle, and be petted. Though she does have one special talent—one of our friends who house-sit for us when we go on vacation has epilepsy, and apparently Freya can detect her seizures before they happen and will make her go lie down shortly before a big seizure occurs!

If Freya could change one thing about Massachusettsans, what would it be?

I think she wishes they allowed dogs in more places, especially at beaches and in restaurants…but probably most of all, she wishes she could go with her girls to school.

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

Someone with the right degree of goofy warmth! I’m not really a big movie buff, so I’m clueless about specific casting.

What advice would Freya give if asked?

She might advise us that it would be better for our health to give half of whatever’s on our plates to the dog. Also that petting dogs relieves stress…Especially in this one spot on her chest that really gets her leg going!

Visit Melissa Caruso's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Emily Adrian & Hank

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Emily Adrian. I’m the author of YA novels Like It Never Happened and The Foreseeable Future, which was released on May 8. Hank is a seven-year-old shepherd/Golden Retriever mix (we think).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Hank and I have coffee most mornings, but today is Saturday so we are extra relaxed.

What's brewing?

Some Dunkin Donuts coffee that we brewed in a cheap coffee maker from Walmart that never gets quite hot enough.

Any treats for you or Hank on this occasion?

I’m having a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Hank is eagerly awaiting his human sibling’s breakfast time, at which point human sib will toss a lot of food from the high chair to the kitchen floor.

How were you and Hank united?

My husband and I adopted Hank when he was an eight-week-old puppy in the city of Toronto. Hank, like our son, is Canadian; my husband and I are both American.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

Hank just seemed like a Hank—however, his full name is Hank Buckles Triumph Musty Bear.

Does Hank do more to help or hinder your writing?

Honestly? I’m never more peeved than when Hank barks at the postman, waking the baby from his nap and effectively ending my writing time. That said, Hank’s overall impact on my life is so positive that I’m quick to forgive his occasional misdeeds.

Has Hank inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Oh, absolutely.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

He’s terrified of cats, offended by the postman (see above), and indifferent to squirrels.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Shhh…he’ll hear you.

Where is Hank's favorite outdoor destination?

Any body of water.

Who is Hank's best pet-pal?

A lovely beagle named Louis, our friends’ dog, with whom he grew up.

What is Hank's best quality?

Hank is truly up for anything. In his seven years, he has been on countless road trips, stayed in hotel rooms and Airbnbs, moved with us from Canada to the states, explored cities and forests and small towns. No matter where we go, he’s right by our side.

If Hank could change one thing about Ohioans, what would it be?

We’ve been living in a small town in north Ohio since last August, and Hank’s chief complaint is that most of the dogs here are confined to their houses or backyards. He would like the dogs to go for walks, so that he can meet them.

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

Who’s a good boy?

What advice would Hank give if asked?

Remember: you’ve got three legs and a spare.

Visit Emily Adrian's website.

Learn more about The Foreseeable Future.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Arin Greenwood & Murray

Who is in the photo at right?

That's my sweet dog Murray Rothbark. He is going on 10 years old. My husband and I adopted him when he was about a year and a half old. We don't know what breed he is - we've never had him genetic tested - but he seems to have some hound in him. What I can say for certain is he's a Very Good Boy.

I'm Arin Greenwood. I'm an animal writer and former lawyer. I live in St. Petersburg, Florida, with my Murray, three cats - Elfie, Jackie, and Chappy - and one very tolerant husband.

I used to be animal welfare editor at The Huffington Post, and now I freelance animal stories for a whole lot of publications like The Today Show's website, The Dodo, and The Washington Post. I have a new novel about dogs, and robot dogs, and love, that came out on April 17 - it's called Your Robot Dog Will Die.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

The occasion for Coffee with a Canine is that the day has begun, and so I must have coffee. Murray very patiently lets me drink one big mug of it before our morning walk.

What's brewing?

I have one of those coffee makers with a timer on it, so that I wake up to a full pot of coffee. I want to thank the person who invented this device from the bottom of my heart. I drink dark roast coffee with a splash of almond milk - my husband complains the coffee tastes like burned sludge but I like it quite a bit.

Any treats for you or Murray on this occasion?

Murray and I eat our breakfast after getting home from our morning walk. I'll have my second gigantic cup of coffee with a big bowl of Wheaties, while Murray enjoys his bowl of kibble.

How were you and Murray united?

My husband and I wanted to adopt a dog. We were looking for a dog who'd get along well with our cat. We found Murray - then called Baxter - on Petfinder. A local rescue group called Rescue Angels got him out of a shelter in the south. He was being fostered at a doggie daycare in Washington, D.C., where we were living at the time.

We went to go meet Murray at the doggie daycare, and he just rolled right over for belly rubs. We were smitten. We brought him home overnight for a test run, just to make sure he and our cat would be good. (They were!)

The second we walked in our apartment door, Murray ran into our bedroom and hopped up onto the bed. It's like he knew he was home.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

The general rule in our household is that I bring home the pets and my husband gets to name them. Our dog's full name is Murray Rothbark. He's named after one of my husband's favorite economists, Murray Rothbard. My husband works at a think tank called the R Street Institute, and our Murray actually holds a position there as well - he's director of canine policy. He's got bylines on a couple of published op-eds, too, if you can believe it.

Does Murray do more to help or hinder your writing?

I'd say overall he's a neutral influence on my writing, but he's a tremendously positive influence on my life. So to the extent that I am a happier person because of Murray, I'm also a happier writer.

Has Murray inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Not yet. Stay tuned, though.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Murray is so funny about cats. We have three cats now, and they all desperately want to be friends with Murray, and he is just not interested. He doesn't pay them any attention. But when he sees strange cats - out on the street or at other people's houses - he gets so excited that he'll start to cry. He wants to go sniff them and lick them. He loves them. Our cats, though - nope, he has no time for them.

He hates people who deliver mail to our house, or packages. He'll bark at UPS drivers, even if we see them miles away from our house. He sometimes even barks at random brown vans if we happen to spot one. Squirrels, likewise, do not bring out Murray's best qualities.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Yes to all the above.

Where is Murray's favorite outdoor destination?

He loves playing fetch in our yard. And his favorite thing in the world is when we take him to this magical place called Dog Beach. My husband and I call it the happiest place on earth for dogs. It's a beach at a park in St. Petersburg where dogs can go run around and swim, and play. It's so wonderful. Unfortunately for Murray, a trip to Dog Beach is usually followed by his least favorite thing in the world - a bath.

Who is Murray's best pet-pal?

Murray loves me and my husband, and likes a couple of other people, but he doesn't have that many dogs he likes to play with. He's not mean or anything, just mostly kind of disinterested. There is this one dog named Banjo who Murray really loves, though. She's one of the only dogs he's ever loved to play with. I don't know what is different about Banjo, but it's very sweet to see him have a doggie friend.

What is Murray's best quality?

That's like asking what is the best thing about being alive, or about sunshine and flowers. Everything about Murray is perfect.

If Murray could change one thing about Floridians, what would it be?

He wishes they would set off fewer fireworks. Those stupid explodey things really scare the bejeezus out of him.

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

"Can we go to dog beach now, but how about we skip the bath afterwards?"

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

Oh, that's a good question. I guess the obvious answer would be Bill Murray. (Get it????)

What advice would Murray give if asked?

I think it would be something along the lines of: "Eat more snacks, take more naps, abandon all baths."

Visit Arin Greenwood's website.

--Marshal Zeringue