Saturday, March 10, 2018

Leslie Karst & Ziggy

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Ziggy, a Jack Russell mix, age seven. (But when she switches into her devil-dog mode, tearing around the place in circles, you’d swear she was still a pup.) I am Leslie Karst, author of the Sally Solari culinary mystery series. I’m a Western-European mix, age sixty-one. (But after several cocktails, if you can get me dancing to “Burning Down the House,” you might swear I was still a teenager.)

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Ziggy and I are waiting for the Merrie Monarch (a world-renowned hula competition) parade to pass through downtown Hilo, Hawai’i, where we live half the year. But right before this photo was snapped, we were at home out on our lanai, me sipping a cuppa joe, she stalking geckos scurrying around the ti and ginger plants.

What's brewing?

Kirkland label House Blend, medium roast, by Starbucks. (It’s the Costco brand, and not at all bad for the money.) Brewed strong, with milk—or half-and-half, if there’s any in the fridge.

Any treats for you or Ziggy on this occasion?

Some of the folks on the parade floats tossed wrapped candy our way, and I let Ziggy have several licks.

How were you and Ziggy united?

Ziggy was in the local paper as one of a litter of puppies born in Puna, the district south of Hilo on the Big Island of Hawai‘i (Puna is also home to the active volcano and a whole lot of hippies). Since my wife and I wanted a dog that would be small enough when full-grown to ride in the airplane cabin with us when we travel between Hawai‘i and Santa Cruz, California, we needed to meet both parents, to see how big they were. Ziggy’s mom and dad were not only the requisite size, but her dad (a JRT-Corgi mix, we think) was one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever encountered. (Her mom, a JRT-Chihuahua mix, not so much).

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Ziggy’s full name is Sieglinde (but we spell it with a Z so folks will pronounce it correctly). She’s named after the heroine in Wagner’s opera, Die Walküre, and has the majesty and spunk to match her namesake—the demi-goddess who fell in love with her brother and bore Siegfried, who himself went on to marry his aunt, Brünhilde. (And you think your family is dysfunctional.) We mostly call her Zig, Ziggy, or Sieglinde, but on occasion refer to her as “the Zigster,” or “the princess.”

Does Ziggy do more to help or hinder your writing?

In general she does neither, spending her day lazing about the house while I write. But when she’s ready for her walk or wants to play, there’s no ignoring her piercing barks as she sits at my feet with that look in her eye: Get up from the computer right this instant and pay attention to me!

Has Ziggy inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Sally’s dog, Buster, is certainly inspired in part by Ziggy, but also by every other dog I’ve known in my life. And Ziggy and Buster do share an infatuation with critters who scurry and who live in holes.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

All of the above, and also geckos and mongoose, when we are in Hawai‘i. But squirrels—especially the ground variety that burrow by the levee in Santa Cruz—are without doubt her favorite. We don’t even say the letters S-Q around Ziggy, lest she go berserk.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Those will all do in a pinch, but she mostly loves to chew the eyes off stuffed animals we buy for a quarter at garage sales, then pull the stuffing out of their eye sockets, imagining herself (or so I imagine) one of those vicious hyenas feasting on zebra from Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

Where is Ziggy's favorite outdoor destination?

Anywhere that has (shhhhh!)...s-qs. And she loved tearing through the snowbanks in Fairbanks, Alaska, where we once spent five months.

Who is Ziggy's best pet-pal?

Her biggest crush was an Alaskan husky mix named Makai. She met him when we were in Fairbanks, and fell head-over-paws in love with that handsome dog. Makai taught her to lift her leg when she pees—which she still does when she’s marking—and they would run off together for adventures in the woods until we put a stop to it (we were worried the little Zigster could be carried off by an eagle; this was Alaska, after all). But her best long-term pal is Daisy, whom Ziggy met as a pup in Santa Cruz.

What is Ziggy's best quality?

Her curiosity. She’s fascinated by the world and is constantly checking everything out: looking around, listening, cocking her head, wondering, “wait, what’s that?”

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

She would make it so I never left the house without taking her with me.

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

What goes through your brain when you lie there in the sun gazing out at the world?

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

Rachel Maddow. She’s smart and curious like Ziggy, but also has a bit of the devil dog in her.

What advice would Ziggy give if asked?

Make sure you’re adopted by humans who are retired or who write for a living. They don’t leave home nearly as much as those other kinds.

Visit Leslie Karst’s author website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Leslie Connor & Atticus and Broomis

Who are in the photos at right and below?

That human is me; I’m Leslie Connor and I am a children’s book author.

The blonde canine is Broomis. He’s a shepherd mix and he’s about eight years old. The “cookies and cream” dog is Atticus. He is seven. Until very recently, we thought he was a Border Collie/Great Pyrenes mix. But a doggie DNA test, says he’s neither! He’s a super-mix—Golden Retriever, Labrador, Australian Cattle Dog, with traces of Terrier and Guard breeds. (We figure all of this means he can do anything.)

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We are back from our walk and today is another writing day. It’s just what we do: daydream along the trail, stoke the fire, fill the mug, and get to work.

What's brewing?

It’s tea—Earl Grey, loose leaf, which we order in bulk from Frontier. It’s brewed here at out house in a stylish handmade pottery teapot, which was a gift from a dear friend. (I happen to know that she purchased it at the Blue Hill Farmers’ Market in the great state of Maine.)

Any treats for you or Atticus and Broomis on this occasion?

They get wheat-free treats while the tea brews.

I might be having a chunk of dark chocolate before noon. Maybe. It happens.

How were you and your dogs united?

We adopted one another. Broomis came first, one Valentine’s Day at a big rescue event for dogs from Tennessee. One year later, I found Atticus on Petfinder. He came from Kentucky.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

We landed on the name Broomis after a few other names including, Pancake, Chickpea, and Sun Bear, failed somehow. (I know. What were we thinking?) Broomis was the name of a “roly-poly” bear in an old children’s song—spelled Brumus, actually—but we changed that because our guy is the color of broom straw. Atticus was named by his foster-family. We thought he’d been through enough changes in his young life already (picked up running in the wilds of Kentucky…) so we kept it. We like it, but he’s really more of a Scout.

Aliases? You bet. Nicknames happen endlessly at our house. Broomis is also known as: Broo, Broo-bacah-soda crackah, Hummus (oh, that chickpea thing), Hummy-ding and Hoy-ding. (I can’t believe I’m confessing this.) Atticus is also called: Atti-kissy, Attri, Pat-pat, and Little Man With a Hat.

Do Atticus and Broomis do more to help or hinder your writing?

Well, there is that hourly business of me being a dog door. But by way of keeping my mood elevated and giving me so much love, they help immeasurably. Also, both dogs take dictation and type one hundred words per minute, so there’s that.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

Yes! My new middle grade title, The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle, features a dog named Moonie Drinker. Moonie is modeled on my Atticus. I’m working on something new now and there is a dog with a mysterious past—a thread based on the guesses we’ve made about Broomis’s life before he landed with us.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Atticus: avoid, kiss, chase.

Broomis: fear, cautiously curious (there have been biscuits…), chase (but not like he means it).

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Atticus: six catches and we’re done, not offered (because my ears), proud to carry one but only for a hundred feet.

Broomis: What ball? (rolls by him), not offered, too scary!

Who is each dog's best pet-pal?

Since they have each other there’s a lot of canine brotherly love. Both our dogs welcome canine and human visitors; nothing is better than when one of our grown human kids comes home to visit.

What is each dog's best quality?

Atticus: enthusiasm!

Broomis: quiet reserve.

If Atticus and Broomis could change one thing about Connecticuters, what would it be?

More funds for no-kill shelters!

If Atticus and Broomis could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

Name one thing you wish we’d stop doing to you? (Not that we’ll stop…)

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

Atticus: Gaten Matarazzo. Broomis: Steve Carell.

What advice would Atticus and Broomis give if asked?

Shut down the device, get down on all fours, and smell every inch of the eighty-acre wood.

Visit Leslie Connor's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Rebecca Ross & Sierra

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Rebecca Ross and I write Young Adult Fantasy books. And this is my dog, Sierra. She's a six year old Australian Shepherd with a lot of personality!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I am a coffee addict. I cannot start my day without it, so Sierra has coffee with me every morning.

What's brewing?

Eight o' Clock Coffee in the Hazelnut flavor.

How were you and Sierra united?

I found Sierra on a puppy listing. I drove 3 hours to meet her and her brothers and sisters, and she was like a ball of energy charging through the grass at my feet. And I knew she was the one I was supposed to take home.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

My husband and I were trying to think of a good name for her when I randomly thought of the Sierra Nevadas. And I was like, oh, Sierra is the perfect name for her. She doesn't have an alias but she has accumulated a few nicknames. "Boo Bear" is probably my favorite.

Does Sierra do more to help or hinder your writing?

Sierra is great about curling up the armchair in my office and snoozing while I write. But when it's time to go out and play, she definitely lets me know. She'll nuzzle her nose beneath my elbow until I relent. And I've typically been working for a few hours at that point, so it's always time for a little break.

Has Sierra inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Sierra actually did inspire a fictional dog in my debut, The Queen's Rising! I simply could not write a story without a dog, to be honest.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Sierra's one true nemesis are squirrels.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Frisbee. Sierra loves to play frisbee. She's very agile and has tons of energy to burn every day, so this is the perfect activity for her.

Where is Sierra's favorite outdoor destination?

My in-laws have a farm, and whenever we pull into their driveway and Sierra sees the open fields...she can hardly contain herself. So I would say she loves wide open spaces.

Who is Sierra's best pet-pal?

My parents have an Aussie who Sierra has known since she was a puppy. The two of them are good friends (until they fight over the Frisbee).

What is Sierra's best quality?

Sierra is a committed, faithful dog. She does everything with 100%. She always gives the best she has, and I love that about her.

If Sierra could change one thing about Georgians, what would it be?

Hmm...I think she would make us all go outdoors more. Get out of our of offices and take more time off of work to enjoy outdoor activities.

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

I would ask her what she dreams about! Every now and then, she'll twitch and growl and yelp in her sleep, and I always wonder what she's dreaming about.

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

I think Daisy Ridley would be perfect.

What advice would Sierra give if asked?

Sierra's advice would go along the lines of this: Give your best, love all people, and take naps every now and then.

Visit Rebecca Ross's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Queen's Rising.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 12, 2018

Rhiannon Navin & Oscar Wilde

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Rhiannon Navin, author of Only Child. That is Oscar Wilde, giving me a big kiss on the nose. Oscar is a Golden Irish (mix between a Golden Retriever and an Irish Setter) and he’s five months old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

The picture was taken on Thanksgiving, when Oscar was brand new to our family. He just wanted me to hold him all day long, like my kids when they were babies. So I held him, ate my turkey with one hand, and let him give me kisses.

What's brewing?

I don’t drink coffee (a cruel trick of nature that I just don’t like the taste, since I could really use the caffeine) But I drink several cups of green tea in the morning after the kids are off to school. Oscar and I will sit together while I sip my tea and read the paper. I enjoy the peace and quiet and Oscar misses the kid-chaos.

Any treats for you or Oscar Wilde on this occasion?

So many treats for this pup all the time. I spoil him rotten, I’m afraid.

How were you and Oscar Wilde united?

The kids and I watched the movie A Dog’s Purpose together and just fell in love with the dog protagonist, a beautiful Golden Irish. The kids had been working us to get a dog for a long time. We found a breeder in Illinois who was about to have a new Golden Irish litter. Next thing we knew, my husband was on a plane to Chicago to pick up Oscar.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

We wanted an Irish name and from the shortlist, the kids picked Oscar. I added the middle name Wilde. I don’t know if he’ll ever learn his actual name though, because we call him by about a thousand different nicknames.

Does Oscar Wilde do more to help or hinder your writing?

Oh, totally hinder! Every time I have a great writing window and am about to dive in, without fail, Oscar will saunter over and stare at me with his sad, guilt-inducing Irish setter eyes. And then we’re off, for walk number thirty-seven before we’ve even had lunch. On the plus side though—walking time is thinking time and I’ve had some of my best ideas while out and about with Oscar.

Has Oscar Wilde inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Not yet. But I must find a way to work him into a story soon. He’s quite the character.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Yes, yes, and yes. Oscar tries to make friends with anything or anyone. We have two cats (Romeo Tony Stark and LuLuLemon) who used to rule the house before Oscar showed up. Now they have to share the kids’ affection with a loud, goofy puppy and they’re not too pleased. Oscar hasn’t given up hope yet that one day the cats will want to be his buddies.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

All of the above. He brings home sticks and walks around with them for hours. And he has a huge tub full of toys, because…how fun is it to shop for dog toys! Again, this is a very spoiled puppy.

Where is Oscar Wilde's favorite outdoor destination?

We have a lake close to our house and Oscar loves chasing the geese and ducks who live there. I don’t take him there too often though, because it kills my shoulders, trying to keep him from following his “friends” into the water.

Who is Oscar Wilde's best pet-pal?

His girlfriend Penny who lives just a few houses down. Penny is a Black Lab puppy, only one week younger than Oscar, and they are in love.

What is Oscar Wilde's best quality?

Well, it’s not good listening! But Oscar is fantastic with our kids. So loving and gentle. He’s still a puppy and has a lot of energy, but he would never hurt the kids. They could put entire limbs inside his mouth (and they do all the time, actually) and he wouldn’t bite down.

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

He would make sure I’d let him lick all the dishes in the dishwasher. What kind of stupid rule is that anyway—don’t stick your nose in the dishwasher?

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

Why must you shred every last piece of paper in the house if you’re not going to eat it?

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

Morgan Freeman. His voice would be funny coming out of such a little puppy body.

What advice would Oscar Wilde give if asked?

If you give this lady the sad-puppy-eye-look, she will do anything for you.

Visit Rhiannon Navin's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Michael Moreci & Charlie

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Michael Moreci. This is my dog, Charlie! I've had him since he was eight weeks old, and he's currently 15!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Charlie, because of his age, doesn't get around much anymore; he lives in my basement because the floor is carpeted and that allows him much better traction (plus, he's still in the action with that being our TV room/kids play room). I oftentimes have light night coffee so I can stay up and do research involving movies and video games; Charlie's always there with me, my best buddy.

What's brewing?

Like Mike D said, I like my sugar with coffee and cream.

Any treats for you or Charlie on this occasion?

Sadly, Charlie has digestive problems, so treats are a no-no. But, he does enjoy a solid diet of boiled chicken, peas, and sweet potatoes, so he has it pretty good.

How were you and Charlie united?

Funny enough, I got Charlie on a whim. I'd never had a dog before, and knew very little about caring for one. But one day I was driving home from work, and I decided to stop at the shelter I passed every day. And there was this little ball fluff, and I couldn't say no (despite the fact that I lived in an apartment that did not allow dogs).

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

Alas, his original name that I'd given him was Chewbacca. I mean, look at him! He's practically a Wookie. But my wife's favorite movie is All Dogs Go to Heaven, so he got dubbed Charlie, just like the dog in that movie.

Does Charlie do more to help or hinder your writing?

Charlie's a great writing must. It's always a comfort to know he's around, and he's heard many, many ideas, good and bad. His patience is unparalleled.

Has Charlie inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

You know, I've never written a dog into my work. I should change that though!

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrels. All these years later, and Charlie still can't resist scampering after them.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Pull toys. No one enjoys wrestling over a stinky, soggy toy more than Charlie.

Where is Charlie's favorite outdoor destination?

The yard's his domain. He likes to wander, visit neighbors, lay in the shade. Again, he's not too mobile these days, but he does love to be outdoors no matter what.

What is Charlie's best quality?

Charlie is the most patient dog I know--nothing bothers him, nothing gets him upset. And in a house with two rambunctious kids, that serves everyone well. But it also speaks to his demeanor, which is so kind and gentle. He's lover, not a fighter, and we all love Charlie back.

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

I would ask him if there's anything else I can do to make him happy. That's really I want for him.

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

Probably Seth Rogen.

Visit Michael Moreci's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Cheryl Reid & Django

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Cheryl Reid, a mother of three boys and a fiction writer. This is my dog Django, a seven-year-old male cattle dog probably mixed with a terrier. But who knows? He could be a whippet, beagle, terrier, pit bull mix. Whatever breed he is, he’s hyper and he’s a herder.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have coffee with Django every morning and most days he’ll stick his nose in my cup at some point. That’s because when I’m home writing, he’s tucked up beside me and he must love the smell of it.

What's brewing?

I love the beans from our local coffee house/ roaster Dancing Goats Coffee, and I’ll take it anyway I can get it, latte, brewed, with cream or black.

Any treats for you or Django on this occasion?

Django gets treats all the time – on his morning walks and during the day, I’m constantly stuffing his bones with smelly dog treats so he’ll chew and keep calm, and let me get some work done.

How were you and Django united?

Django came to us at a year and a half old. He was a pound puppy that was adopted, but that owner couldn’t handle his activity level. She gave him to a local dog training academy, Jabula, and we adopted him through them. It was great. He was totally trained and ready for a loving home.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

Django was a rescue with the very regal name of Marcus. We have a friend named Marcus, so it wouldn’t do to have our dog go by the same. I love the French Gypsy jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and I had always wanted to name a child Django, but with each child, I chickened out, knowing that he’d always be spelling it, explaining it, etc. But a dog doesn’t have to spell his name. Django fits him. But I call him all sorts of names… Chicken, Stinker, Noodle, Nugget, Dog.

Does Django do more to help or hinder your writing?

Depends on the day… he’s an active dog and if he hasn’t gotten his walk and a bit of play, he’ll nudge my arm or walk under my chair and bump my legs. He hates going out in the cold or the rain, so on those days, he sits at the window and barks at squirrels moving through the backyard. But most days he’ll find a sunny spot in my writing room and curl up until I head to the kitchen for coffee. Then he follows along.

Has Django inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Not yet, but Django’s “girlfriend” Baby has inspired a dog in the novel I’m currently working on.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Equal opportunity for Django. He’s fast and he’s caught a few squirrels, but he has yet to nab the postman or the neighbor’s cat. I think he’s actually afraid of the cat.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Ball, especially footballs and soccer balls. He loves to play pick-up soccer and go for interceptions when the family is tossing the football.

Where is Django's favorite outdoor destination?

Django loves mountain trails. He’s happiest off leash hiking with his pack of humans.

Who is Django's best pet-pal?

The aforementioned Baby, my sister’s beautiful black and white, blue-eyed pitbull. She has thirty pounds on him, all muscle, but he’s the confident sort, happy to be around strong females.

What is Django's best quality?

Django never runs away. That’s the best thing about a herding dog – they feel connected to their place.

If Django could change one thing about Georgians, what would it be?

He hates it when a Georgian, or anyone else for that matter, knocks or ring the door bell. He’d like them to stop attacking our house.

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

Do you like dancing with me or do you do it just to make me laugh?

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

Will Ferrell in his full range – hyper, fun-loving, frantic, anxious, wild, with short outbursts of rage.

What advice would Django give if asked?

Django’s advice would be self-serving. He’d tell me, I should let my dog get on the couch or that I should take him on longer walks.

Learn more about As Good as True by Cheryl Reid.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 20, 2018

J.D. Horn & Kirby

Who is in the photo at right?

J.D. Horn, author of the Witching Savannah series, Shivaree, and the new The King of Bones and Ashes; Kirby Seamus Weissman-Horn, male, will be declared as being 3 years old on 2/14 (not sure of actual age), Chihuahua.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

There's a cafe named Kofi just a few blocks down the street. Kirby and I sometimes stop by while out on our walk.

What's brewing?

I'm a total addict when it comes to coffee, but here I always order the "Crimsonberry" herbal ice tea.

Any treats for you or Kirby on this occasion?

No. I'm trying to get back in shape for a half marathon in February. Kirby will get a "good boy" biscuit when we get home.

How were you and Kirby united?

We met through Rocket Dog Rescue in Oakland, CA. (Adopt, don't shop!)

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

We were looking for a name that begins with a hard consonant--supposedly dogs respond better to names beginning with a hard consonant--that suited him. He just looks like a Kirby, no? The middle name of Seamus came from my younger stepdaughter. With Kirby's red fur and green--yes, gorgeous green--eyes, he has a bit if an Irish look to him.

We've come to call him "The Professor," as he is an incredibly intelligent and serious dog.

Does Kirby do more to help or hinder your writing?

I've learned to type with one hand while playing tug with a squeaky toy with the other. You decide if that's a help or hindrance.

Has Kirby inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Not yet, but our dear, departed cat Sugar appears as a character in The King of Bones and Ashes. Makes me feel like Daddy has given her a tenth life.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Kirby loves cats. His big thing is bunnies. He hates them with a fiery passion. An Anya Jenkins level of loathing for the rodents. Our place in Palm Springs is overrun with the critters. They're actually adorable, but Kirby has a total meltdown whenever he spots one.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Ball and squeaky. He loves both. With a dog his size, I'd have to go with a twig rather than stick, so it hardly seems worth the effort.

Where is Kirby's favorite outdoor destination?

We live half the year in San Francisco, and Kirby adores Huntington Park on Nob Hill. It's a small park, but there's usually a dog or twelve to meet there. Every Friday evening from 5 to 7, people bring wine or beer and gather in the park with the dogs for "Yappy Hour." Some of the people who come aren't in the position to have a dog, so they drop by for their canine fix.

Who is Kirby's best pet-pal?

Our Palm Springs neighbor (and pet sitter) has a Tibetan Spaniel named Ava. She's Kirby's bestie.

What is Kirby's best quality?

He is such a good boy. How can I choose just one best quality? All of his qualities are the best.

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

I would never again leave home without him.

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

My rescue boy suffers from terrible separation anxiety, especially when we go out at night. I would ask him what I could do to help him feel safe when we're not there.

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

Liam Neeson.

What advice would Kirby give if asked?

If you can avoid swallowing the pill your dad has wrapped in a treat, you can double or triple your treats before taking the medicine.

Visit J.D. Horn's website.

--Marshal Zeringue