Monday, February 8, 2016

Sarah Messina & Stella

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi! My name is Sarah Messina. I am a freelance artist and designer. My dog’s name is Stella; she is a 10-year-old mini dapple Dachshund.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I work from home a lot and Stella and I start a lot of our mornings with some freshly brewed coffee, she totally loves the smell.

What's brewing?

Freshly ground, New England Coffee, Blueberry Cobbler Medium Roasted. I usually take my coffee black, if made at home, or if it’s a wonderful flavored blend from a cafe. But today I added a splash of Baileys Irish Crème. It’s a rare once in awhile treat.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

I love making a toasted English muffin with peanut butter on it and letting the peanut butter melt a little before I dig in.

How were you and Stella united?

Every since my childhood dog Hasbro, a Cockapoo, passed away, I begged my parents for a Dachshund. I just love the breed; I think they are so adorable. So in 2005 my parents caved, said yes, and I began my search for a Doxie on the Internet. I came across a breeder in Texas. I first picked out one of Stella's brothers, an all black and tan Doxie. But then the breeder sent me a photo of Stella and I was immediately in love. We paid the breeder, drove to the Philadelphia International Airport (I am from South Jersey and was living at home at the time), and picked her up. She was so tiny I could not even see her in the crate at first. I fell in love even more (if that was even possible) then I did when I saw her photo for the first time. She has been a constant in my life ever since.

Any treats for Stella on this occasion?

Since I am having peanut butter Stella is have a tablespoon of it as well.

How did Stella get her name? Does she have any nicknames?

I was so excited about getting Stella that I got a baby name book out of the library, and I also searched baby names on the Internet. I kept coming back to the name Stella. It means star. I asked my father, who at the time was in his last few months of life battling brain cancer, if he liked the name and he said that he did, and told me go for it. So, I did. And yes, she has many, many, nicknames... Bean, Beanie, Nu Nu, Noosh, Chi Chi, Nee Nee, Bim, Bimie, Binki... She is so amazingly cute these names just come out of my mouth when I talk to her. Also one of my best friends, Devin and I have a special dog language for our fur babies, and they totally understand it.

Does Stella help or hinder your art and design?

She truly helps. No matter where I am working she is either nestled behind me in my chair, or next to me in her bed. It is a true comfort having her with me; it relaxes me and makes me feel happy. I will admit though, she can get a little needy with my attention sometimes and that does distract me, but honestly I would not want it any other way.

Tennis ball, stick, squeaky-toy...?

Oh, squeaky toy for sure!

Postman, cat, squirrel...?

Definitely squirrel first. Her body goes straight, her tail sticks out and she lifts her one paw off the ground as if in full hunter mode. Stella is a protector, so she will bark at a passer-by here and there.

Where is Stella's favorite place for an outing?

Honestly anywhere with me. All I have to say is ‘Want to go bye-byes with Mom?’ and she can’t wait to leave.

What is Stella's most endearing quality?

She knows when I am crying, comes over and licks my tears.

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

That I would be home 24/7 with her curled up on the couch, and never leave.

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

I love this question! I will admit though I asked my brother, Jason Messina, for his thoughts, and he said Judi Dench. And I 100% completely agree.

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

Have you loved your life so far?

What advice would Stella give if asked?

Be grateful for all you have, life is good. Oh, and if you have a long back like me, be careful of your leaps off the couch.

Visit Sarah Messina's website and Instagram page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Yona Zeldis McDonough & Willa and Holden

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Yona Zeldis McDonough, a novelist and children’s book author. With me is Holden (left) and Willa (right). He is nine and she is ten; both are purebred Pomeranians. Before I adopted them they belonged to a breeder and were bred together, so I call them husband and wife. They had a puppy named Beebee. I got to meet her and she was darling!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Unless I have an early appointment and have to race out, we have coffee together in my dining room every morning.

What's brewing?

We have a snappy new Nepresso maker in lipstick red and I love it. Every morning I use it to make a vanilla latte with an extra hit of steamed milk. I call it Heaven in a Mug.

Any treats for you or Holden and Willa on this occasion?

I might toast a slice of my favorite spelt bread and spread it with apple or pear butter that my daughter brings me from a farm stand near Tivoli, New York; the dogs get bits of dried lamb lung, which they adore. The pet store owner where I buy it refers to it as “puppy crack.”

Are there many dog-friendly cafes in Park Slope?

Not nearly enough! Dogs are not welcome at most, which means I can’t stop in if I’m with them. I would never leave them tied up on the street—perish the thought!

[photo left: Willa]

You have a new novel that's just hit the bookstores. Are there any dogs in it?

Yes, there is an elegant and very well-behaved black standard poodle named Emma; she has a significant presence in the story. And there is also a brief, cameo appearance of brindle Pom pup named Panda.

What's the latest thing that Holden and Willa did to help your writing?

Just having them in my presence helps my writing. I feel good when I see them, and if I am stuck with a scene or a chapter, there’s always a little dog time to distract me.

How about to impede your writing?

When they bark hysterically at someone walking by!

Who are Holden and Willa's best pet-pals?

Holden [photo right] is not really into other dogs much though on occasion, he spends time in upstate New York with my daughter and she says he’s met some new doggy friends up there. Willa has no interest in other dogs.

And their favorite humans?

I am by far Holden’s favorite in our household. He seeks me out and wants to chill with me wherever I am. I often look deeply into his dark, soulful eyes; I feel we are communing.

For Willa, it’s my husband Paul. She circles, coughs, and whimpers to get his attention and she wants to sit in his lap or be held by him 24/7. She’s also very coy and even flirtatious (if a Pom can flirt!) in his presence—I think she’s in love with him!

What advice would Holden and Willa give if asked?

Willa: More belly rubs please!
Holden: Ignore the vet when he says I’ve gained weight and have to cut back on my portions.

Learn more about the author and her work at Yona Zeldis McDonough's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Yona Zeldis McDonough & Willa and Holden (October 2014).

Writers Read: Yona Zeldis McDonough.

The Page 69 Test: The House on Primrose Pond.


--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 1, 2016

Leza Lowitz & Bingo and Memo

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s Memo on the left, and Bingo on the right, chilling out in the early morning before their first walk. They’re both rescue dogs, so we don’t know their exact ages or breeds. But Memo is about eight and part Shiba Inu and part Corgi (we think). Bingo is about five and part Shiba Inu and part Japanese tanuki or fox-- something totally undomesticated and undomesticatable. Is that a word?

I’m Leza Lowitz and my husband is Shogo [photo left]. We don’t have many pictures of us with the dogs because they don’t stay still for anything, let alone a camera. We write books and run a yoga studio in Tokyo.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Just waking up. Any occasion to crowd the ‘Rents pillow, you know? Give us a soft spot and we’ll take it over. That’s our motto.

What's brewing?

Since we live in Tokyo, it has to be green tea. Anything green tea. Matcha with a traditional bamboo whisk. Or a matcha latte.

Any treats for you and Bingo and Memo on this occasion?

A one-hour walk and lots of love.

How were you and Bingo and Memo united?

It’s a modern love story: Shogo found Memo on the Internet. It was just after the earthquake and tsunami, and she was rescued from the mountains outside of Tokyo. When she got picked up, she gave birth to eight puppies in the rescue truck. All the pups were adopted, but Mama dog was still waiting for a forever home. She looked exactly like our previous rescue dog, Aska, who we’d brought with us to Tokyo from San Francisco, so Shogo was kind of stalking her online to see if she’d get adopted. When she didn’t, we decided to take the plunge. The little one, Bingo, was connected to Memo by some kind of invisible string, even though she wasn’t one of Memo’s pups. There was no way we could separate them. So we brought them both home.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Memo is the name she came to us with. When Bingo came, she was named Karen. Bingo is a totally wild dog, always jumping long distances suddenly with a boing and landing somewhere completely unexpected, like on top of a table or a lap. Needless to say, the name “Karen” was way too boring. At the time, our six-year-old son was learning the English song, “There was a Farmer...” and you know the rest. He gave her the name Bingo.

Do Bingo and Memo do more to help or hinder your writing?

The verdict is still out on that one. They do keep us active though. And laughing.

[photo right: Lowitz and Aska]

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your writing?

We wrote an epic adventure story about a female ninja, called Jet Black & The Ninja Wind, in which there is a bad-ass ninja dog named....you guessed it--Aska!

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Definitely cat. Our little Tokyo alley seems to attract people who leave out food for stray cats who drive the girls crazy. We also have a pretty wild garden, so the unwitting cats inevitably make their way into the ninja dog’s den. Then the fun begins.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Do cats qualify as any of the above? Try telling that to Memo and Bingo.

[photo left: The Boy and Memo]

Who are Bingo and Memo's best pet-pals?

A Shiba Inu named Riku and two huge white giant poodles who shall remain nameless because they belong to the local yakuza gangster (in full tattoo--we know because we’ve seen him at the bathhouse) and his paramour. These two characters also have a young black Kai breed male dog, who is totally tough and wild, and of course the girls love him.

What is each dog's best quality?

Memo--Patience.
Bingo--Wildness.

If Bingo and Memo could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Uh. That five letter word called a....leash?

If Bingo and Memo could answer only one question in English or Japanese, what would you ask them?

Inu ni umarette shiawase desu ka? (犬に生まれて幸せですか?)Are you happy you were born a dog? (This is from our ten-year old son).

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

Memo would be voiced by Anthony Daniels, the actor who voiced C-3PO.
Bingo would be voiced by Lady Gaga or Jennifer Lawrence.

What advice would Bingo and Memo give if asked?

Live Free (from Shogo).
Treat People Well (from the ten-year-old).

Visit Leza Lowitz's website, and learn more about her latest novel, Up from the Sea, which BuzzFeed chose as one of five new YA novels you should read this January.

The Page 69 Test: Up From the Sea.


--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Roxanna Elden & Rudy

Who is in the photo at right?

The dog: Rudy Elden. He’s an eight-year-old mix. We don’t know what breeds he is, but people love to guess.

The human: Roxanna Elden – teacher, mom, and author of Rudy’s New Human, a children’s book based on Rudy’s experience getting used to a new human in the house after years of being the “baby” of our family.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We went for a family breakfast at Latin American cafeteria. They have locations all around Miami. It’s a very family-friendly and dog-friendly place because most of the seating is outside. And the food and prices are great.

What's brewing?

Café con leche. In Miami, Cuban coffee is more popular than the American version. If you try it, you’ll see why.

Any treats for you or Rudy on this occasion?

We try not to feed Rudy off the table, but he knows if he hangs around near the high chairs, something is probably going to fall on the ground [photo, below left]. And we always take some leftovers to feed him on the walk home.

How were you and Rudy united?

A family was selling puppies from a box outside the supermarket. At the time I had no intention of getting a dog, but I picked up Rudy and he put his head on my shoulder and I fell in love. As I was shopping, I called everyone I knew who might be able to talk me out of buying him. No one answered. I ended up calling my friend Inga, a dog lover who grew up with dogs and has never been without one. She said, “I don’t know what to say to talk you out of this… life is better with a dog!” I decided that if he was still there when I finished shopping, I would buy him, and then suddenly felt like I couldn’t shop fast enough. When I got out of the store, there he was, and I took him home. He was my best impulse buy, ever.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

For some reason, I always knew if I ever had a dog I would name him Rudy. Now my daughter is just learning to pronounce his name, so he was “Beebee” for a while, and right now he’s “Ru-bee.”

Does Rudy do more to help or hinder your writing?

Help. He jumps onto the chair with me as soon as I sit down to write and sleeps next to me the whole time.

Has Rudy inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

The idea for the charismatic canine-narrator of Rudy’s New Human came from watching Rudy as he adjusted to having a new baby human in the house. Illustrator Ginger Seehafer also based her drawings on Rudy’s pictures. Like a lot of dogs, Rudy was the littlest, cutest member of our family before we had kids. Ever since, he’s had to deal with all kinds of indignities - pulled ears, missed walks, and lots of interruptions to his couch naps. And, of course, he’s had to learn to share the spotlight. Luckily, Rudy has channeled all of this into his literary debut, sharing his hard-learned lessons with other dogs – and human big brothers and sisters.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Postman.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Couch.

Who is Rudy's best pet-pal?

His girlfriend is a Jack Russell named Sushi.

What is Rudy's best quality?

He’s always wagging his tail, and he is so friendly – he will stare at strangers until they come over to pet him.

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

Probably to be home more often and give him as much attention as he deserves.

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

Aziz Ansari. Like Ansari, Rudy is enthusiastic and genuine and family oriented. And though I can’t be sure, I imagine he has a great sense of humor.

What advice would Rudy give if asked?

Seriously… you’re not going to finish that whole sandwich, are you?

Visit Roxanna Elden's website and the Rudy’s New Human website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 25, 2016

Lawrence M. Schoen & Gej

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Lawrence M. Schoen. I’m an author, a small press publisher, a psychologist, a hypnotherapist, and a Klingonist. With me is Gej. He’s about six and a half years old. To the best of our knowledge, he was an attempt by a puppy mill to generate a new designer dog — a Maltese/Pug mix. Or as I like to think of it, a “Mug” (not that I’ve ever seen any others).

What's the occasion for Diet Coke with a Canine?

I recently leased a new car, and it’s past time for Gej to get comfortable with it and take it out for a spin. Alas, he cannot drive it, not because of any lack of will, but simply because it’s a manual transmission and he only knows automatics.

What's on tap today?

We’re on our way to a nearby park that was recently renovated. It’s very dog-friendly, and has several miles of walking paths so we can both get some exercise.

Any treats for you or Gej on this occasion?

There is a brand new chew stick with his name on it waiting for us once we return home. He won’t actually chew (or eat) it right away. He’s apt to run around the house with it for an hour, showing it off as he clenches it in his mouth, until he decides where to hide it for a day.

How were you and Gej united?

I went to a puppy rescue to check out the dogs they had. I was sitting with one pup, and he looked up at me with an expression that said, “You, you are the most important thing in the universe.” It was really striking. Then a butterfly went by, and the pup tracked its movement, all the while with an expression that seemed to cry out to the butterfly, “You, you are the most important thing in the universe.” Uh huh. I picked up a pebble and rolled it past his field of vision, and wouldn’t you know it? That pebble was also…

So I left that dog behind and went to look at some others. There was one, a tiny puppy that the older dogs had been picking on; he had been given his own space to keep him safe. My wife and I visited with him, and he came over, stopped shivering, and sat with me a while. That was Gej.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

I don’t believe in giving dogs names that are people names. And I had to explain this to my wife when we went looking for a dog. To say that she disagreed with my way of thinking would be a mild way of stating it, but since this was to be “my” dog, she gave in.

When I looked at him the name popped into my head and I said, “Gej, your name is Gej.”

My wife did not approve. I reminded her that I did not want to burden a dog with a person’s name. She countered with the notion that I name the dog for something else. I remember suggestions that included choices like “doorknob.” In the end, I was able to keep “Gej,” but only after promising not to train him to respond to commands issued in Klingon.

As far as aliases go, now that he’s a respectable and civilized six and a half, I can say that as a pup he was a terror. He had a habit of opening latched handbags and distributing their contents around the house, or pulling my wife’s books (but never mine) off the shelves and chewing on the spines. But that’s all part of the usual rambunctious/destructive nature of puppies. Except, it was also about this time that he crept up behind my wife’s aging and sickly dog, gripped her hind leg (the dog’s, not my wife’s) with his mouth full of needle-like puppy teeth, and attempted to push her down the stairs. For this and a few other reasons, my wife took to calling him “Evil Fuck Dog!” To her credit, she has since forgiven him, and now speaks of Gej only with love and adoration.

I also sometimes call him “Mr. Boy,” though I’m not sure why.

Does Gej do more to help or hinder your writing?

Gej’s involvement is as a reassuring but carefully detached presence. When I’m working from my home office, he will lay on the floor by my feet, keeping me company as I pound away at the keys.

Have any of your actual dogs inspired the creation of fictional canines?

My previous dog was with me for eighteen years. She showed up at my doorstep as a stray puppy. We sat together on the steps awhile and I looked at her and said, “Ghang, your name is Ghang.” And so she was.

Ghang was my constant companion through the end of my college years, all through grad school (my doctoral dissertation was dedicated to her), and through all the colleges that I taught at. Her passing after a long and rich life hit me very hard.

So hard, in fact, that I spent half a million words eulogizing her in fiction without even realizing it. One of my readers (who was also a psychologist) pointed this out to me after reading one of my books in which the protagonist loses his dog, believes him to be dead, but gets the dog back by the novel’s end. That’s when I realized what I’d done, and that if my character could get his dog back, I could move on and have another one in my life. Soon after, I went in search of Gej.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Deer. We live out in the exo-burbs, and there are a number of wooded lots near us. It’s not uncommon to come out in the morning and find half a dozen deer milling around on my lawn. Gej is not a fan of them and will rush up to the fence and bark at them. They are generally disinclined to move on.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Definitely the squeaky. Do you know the toy that’s a long serpent with multiple segments and a different squeaker in each? Yeah, that one. Don’t get that for a dog that likes squeaky toys. The dog will be happy, but trust me, you’ll regret it very quickly.

What is Gej's best quality?

Just being himself and wanting to hang with me. It’s a great thing to just be with a dog. You either completely understand what I mean and are already nodding, or I really doubt I could explain it to you.

If Gej could change one thing about Pennsylvanians, what would it be?

Not surprisingly, given that he lives a privileged and somewhat sheltered life, Gej has never shown any interest in state policy or procedures. I tried to get his input on this question but he just stared at me.

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

Probably, “Gej, what question should I have asked you? Good dog.”

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

I’ve never really given this question any thought. Huh. Statistically speaking, I suppose it would be Michael Caine, but I don’t think he’d be a good fit. Hmm… maybe Tom Cavanaugh. I know, right? Not what you expected.

What advice would Gej give if asked?

“What is best in life? To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women!” No, wait, that’s Conan. Sorry.

Visit Lawrence M. Schoen's website and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Lawrence M. Schoen.


--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Theresa Kaminski & Hugo

Who is in the photo at right?

Sitting at the dining table is me, Theresa Kaminski, a history professor and author of the newly-published book Angels of the Underground. The canine with the rawhide chewy in his mouth is Hugo, a 5-year old basset hound.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have my coffee and Cheerios every morning while Hugo settles in for his second nap. (He gets up very early with my husband, who gives him his breakfast and takes him for his first walk of the day.) Sometimes we’re in the dining area that’s just off the kitchen. If I’m anxious to start work right away, we’re in my study, also known as the Eeyore room because of the small stuffed Eeyore I keep on my desk as a writing mascot.

What's brewing?

Right now we’re finishing up a couple of bags of regional coffee that came to us as gifts: Tony’s from the Pacific Northwest and Tall Bean Coffee from Manitowoc, Wisconsin. A more typical coffee morning involves the Beaumont brand from the Aldi grocery store chain. I drink one cup a day, which I make with a single-serve pour-over Melitta coffee cone. I add enough 2% milk to turn the dark brown to beige.

Any treats for you or Hugo on this occasion?

No. I’m strict about no extra food intake in the morning. Hugo loses interest in his rawhide pretty quickly, preferring a nap.

How were you and Hugo united?

Not long after our golden retriever died, we started thinking about a new dog. We wanted a very different breed so we wouldn’t feel tempted to make comparisons between old dog and new. I started looking at various animal rescue organizations and my first choice was a greyhound, which my son and husband nixed. Then I found a small animal rescue organization that was adopting out two adult bassets and their six offspring. (In the case of bassets, “small” is a bit of a misnomer. They are short, but long and hefty.) The bassets had been removed from an abusive home.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

Hugo seemed a fitting name since the breed originated in France. I sometimes call him Puppen, sometimes Stinky Boy. Because of their oily coat, bassets have a unique fragrance.

Does Hugo do more to help or hinder your writing?

Hinder, only because I have to pull myself away from my work to walk and feed him. If I forget, he reminds me with a wet nose wedged under my arm or a heavy paw on my thigh. Hugo has been inexplicably indifferent to my writing projects and deadlines.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Hugo loves cats and views them all as potential friends. He is crestfallen when they don’t see him the same way. Squirrels and rabbits are fair game, though. When they got into the yard, Hugo viewed them as interlopers and acted accordingly. He is very fit from regular exercise and can run fast. However, our new house doesn’t have a fenced yard so he won’t be out there on his own. Local wildlife is safe. Hugo ignores the postman except if we encounter him on a walk. Then Hugo wants to be petted.

[photo right: Hugo's mom, Molly]

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Right now Hugo is enamored of two toys, both Christmas presents. One is a gray plush toy in the shape of a dog that has an empty plastic bottle in its middle. He likes the crunching sound it makes when he chews on it or jumps on it. The other is a long knotted rope that he likes to drag around and show off. If I throw a ball for him, he watches to see where it went, then looks at me to see if I’ll get it for him.

Who is Hugo's best pet-pal?

Hugo was very fond of a Chihuahua named Jules who belongs to the people who pet sat him. He’s just met some new canine pals at a dog daycare near our new home. Hugo’s a sociable guy.

What is Hugo's best quality?

He’s very friendly and always happy to see us.

If Hugo could change one thing about Wisconsinites, what would it be?

I think he’s puzzled by why we have to take so long to bundle up before going outside in the winter. To him, it must seem a curious thing to do and it only causes a delay in his walks.

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

Why can’t you stop barking when I tell you to?

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

John Hillerman, who played Jonathan Quayle Higgins on Magnum, P.I. And he’d have to use the Higgins voice because Hugo would sound droll and always vaguely amused. If the movie were animated, it would take tremendous willpower not to draw Hugo wearing a deerstalker cap with a pipe in his mouth.

What advice would Hugo give if asked?

Take more naps.

Learn more about Angels of the Underground at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Angels of the Underground.

Writers Read: Theresa Kaminski.

My Book, The Movie: Angels of the Underground.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 18, 2016

Valerie A. Cody & Sundae

Who is in the photo at right?

Hello! I’m Valerie Cody, the founder, content creator and photographer over at Perfect Timing Photography. I also enjoy my time in front of the camera as a freelance model/brand ambassador. Find me on Instagram! I also work part-time teaching yoga to elementary school children. This little blonde “mini-me” is Sundae. She is a long haired, miniature, English cream dachshund. Sundae is a Libra who turned 2 on October 20th.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I haven’t had a cup of coffee in a while, so I decided it was time to enjoy one. Also, beautiful weather and lovely company! What more could I ask for?

What's brewing?

Black coffee from The Gourmet Shop in Columbia, SC.

Any treats for you or Sundae on this occasion?

Sundae just devoured a Bark Bar in the gingerbread flavor. We feed her these because they are made with vegan ingredients.

How were you and Sundae united?

Sundae is a Carolina girl, she hails from Wilmington, NC. We picked up our little girl a few weeks before Christmas of 2014.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

The thought process went like this: English Cream = Ice Cream = Ice Cream Sundae. The Cody household is absolutely overrun with nicknames, to the point where it is embarrassing. We try to limit our nickname usage when guests are present, but just know that we basically have our own language. Not even household appliances are exempt from the nicknames. So, naturally, Sundae has so many aliases that it feels unnatural even calling her ‘Sundae’ for the purpose of this interview. To name a few: Goose, Boppins, Sundance, Spook, Pookah, and Spookensyboppinschbeetle. No, that last one was not a typo.

You've got some great photos of pets and people on your website. Who are the more challenging subjects, pets or people?

Thank you! Overall, people are more challenging. Yes, pets have the shorter attention span, but that’s nothing which can’t be fixed by a dangling treat. However, it can be difficult to please people based on the bias they have of themselves. I may think he/she looks stunning in a photo, but the subject may be self-critical. It’s important to take a little time with clients before a shoot to help them feel confident and comfortable. This is the secret to capturing natural looking expressions and body language during a photoshoot.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Postman! Or pizza delivery man. Or passer-by. Generally, any human who isn’t my husband or me.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Definitely not a stick. But she loves a squeaky-ball!

Who is Sundae's best pet-pal?

Sundae’s best friend is Kona, a chihuahua-beagle mix. Kona lives in Florida now, but just the mention of Kona’s name will send Sundae into a frenzy. We attempted an ill-fated relationship with Royce, a pitbull mix. However, to no fault of Royce, Sundae is only comfortable around him when she is being held by a human.

What is Sundae's best quality?

She has extremely soft fur, which makes her extra cuddly. Oh, and her fantail. I can’t think of one dog owner who doesn’t love coming home to a wagging tail. It’s heartwarming.

If Sundae could change one thing about South Carolinians, what would it be?

I don’t think she would change a thing!

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

Do you think Leonardo DiCaprio will win an Oscar for The Revenant?

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

Definitely Robin Williams, circa Mrs. Doubtfire. (RIP)

What advice would Sundae give if asked?

She would tell us to keep calm and cuddle. To Sundae, everything can be solved with a warm blanket and a nap.

Visit the Perfect Timing Photography website and Facebook page, and find Valerie Cody on Instagram.

--Marshal Zeringue