Thursday, December 18, 2014

Kathryn Powers & Penny

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Kathryn Powers and this is my five-year-old cavapoo, Penny. I'm an aspiring children's author-illustrator and work at a special collection library. I'm also very active in my local chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and have a blog where I post summaries of our meetings and events, as well as book reviews, writing and illustration tips, and my own art.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Penny and I are gearing up for a day of writing and illustrating.

What's brewing?

I love unique flavors of coffee, like Strawberry Shortcake and Chocolate Chip Cookie, and have a big collection of Disney mugs. Today I'm drinking my seasonal favorite, Apple Pie, out of Penny's favorite 101 Dalmatians mug.

Any treats for you or Penny on this occasion?

Penny really wanted a bite of my pumpkin bagel, but I told her it wasn't for doggies.

How were you and Penny united? How did Penny get her name?

We got Penny from a family friend who didn't have the time or energy for a puppy. Her original name, Zoe, was too close to my family dog who had just passed away, Chloe, so we renamed her. Penny seemed to fit her perfectly. She frequently goes by nicknames like "Penny Penkins," "Penny Puppy" and "Burp-a-tron." (She burps more than any other dog on the planet.)

Are there any Penny-inspired dogs in your fiction?

I love writing my pets into my stories. Penny's sweet (and cowardly) nature inspired one of the spaniel characters in my work-in-process novel, Pirate Ferret.

Does Penny do more to help or hinder your writing and illustrating?

Penny is my shadow puppy and keeps me company whenever I write and illustrate. I can lose track of time, though, so I know it's time for a break (and belly rubs) when she starts neurotically licking the carpet at my feet.

Who is Penny 's best pet-pal?

Penny's best canine buddy is my mom's bichon frise, Bailey. They've been pals since they were puppies.

Where is Penny 's favorite outdoor destination?

Penny loves visiting Bailey, of course!

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Squeaky toys are Penny's favorite. She has one toy with eight squeakers in it, and she could squeak that thing all day long.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Penny loves cats, postmen, squirrels, ferrets, bunnies, bugs, and everything she meets. She's even tried to give spiders kisses when she finds them on our walls.

What is Penny 's best quality?

Penny is a big sweetheart and the world's best snuggle puppy. She is a wonderful companion.

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

I think Penny wishes we lived someplace warmer. She doesn't like when the snow is taller than her.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Penny could speak, which actor should do her voice?

Penny would be right at home in an animated movie. With their cute, peppy voices, Mandy Moore, Kristen Bell, or Anne Hathaway would all be perfect matches for her.

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

We would ask Penny what we ask her everyday: "Why, oh why, do you burp so much?"

Visit the official K.S. Powers blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 15, 2014

Alice Passoni & Chaky

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Alice Passoni and I’m studying “Animal breeding and welfare” in Italy, where I live.

Last year I opened an Instagram account where I put all my illustrations about my dog Chaky: he is a male 16 years old Yorkshire terrier.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

A break from studying (for me) and a break from sleeping (for him)! And, this is an occasion to talk about his birthday party! (He’s turning 17 years old in few days!)

What's brewing?

Hot chocolate in big Starbucks mug! Love it!

Any treats for you or Chaky on this occasion?

Oh yes! Big homemade chocolate chip cookies for me and cookie crunchies for Chaky.

How were you and Chaky united?

My father took him home when I was 7 years old! I remember that day very well: I was having dinner and suddenly my father showed up with a tiny living being in his hands! And that’s how our adventure, friendship and love story began!

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

I remember my sister, who was only 2 years old, suggesting many silly names but I think the final name was chosen by my mom: she chose Chaky because it’s a short, easy name and she liked its sound!

Yes, he has loads of aliases: little chaky, chachee, chacho, little potato and other silly names that comes to my mind when I look at him!

You've got many terrific illustrations on your Instagram site. Does Chaky ever pose for you, or is his image imprinted in your mind?

Oh yes … indirectly! All my illustrations are based on what Chaky has done during the day and the way he acted. Then I let my imagination run wild!

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Unfortunately squirrels are very rare in the area I live in! He has a love/hate thing with our neighbor’s cats and, as a very respectable dog, he hates the postman!

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

He used to play with the ball and squeaky-toys, which were his favourite toys!

He has never retrieved a stick and when I was a kid this kinda disappointed me because all the TV series’ dogs used to do it! Nowadays play fight!

Who is Chaky's best pet-pal?

He used to play with my cousin’s dog, but now that he’s gone I am his best pal!

What is Chaky's best quality?

I see true love in him, that’s why I use to say that he’s my prince charming!

If Chaky could change one thing about Italians, what would it be?

I think he would make them understand how it’s important to stay united, to support and to honor our country … and not only when it’s involved in a soccer game!

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

I always wonder if he is really happy, so I would ask him: “Do you want to make a wish?”

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

Tough question! I think Michael Socha should voice him, because I’m so in love with his accent! (He plays Will Scarlet, Knave of Hearts in Once Upon A Time, the TV series).

Visit the Now Where's My Chaky? Instagram site.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Randall Wood & Pendjari

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Randall Wood. I live in Senegal, West Africa, where I manage complex construction projects like maritime ports, highways, and irrigation systems. That's Pendjari - he's an eight year old Basenji-Picard Terrier mix, and is in charge of keeping me sane, calm, and down to earth; and for keeping the yard clear of cats, rats, bats, and the roving security guard (technically, the security guard should be allowed to be there). Nights and evenings I write: my last book was The Dictator's Handbook: a practical guide for the aspiring tyrant by Gull Pond Press. (350 pages; free electronic version to any reader of this blog - just write and mention Coffee with Canine).

Pendjari comes from a multi-generation pedigree of Beninese street dogs, but we think he's mostly Basenji and Picard Terrier. There are other Basenjis on this blog – they're a common West African hunting dog that is mostly quiet and slightly aggressive. Picard Terriers are a French breed that was common on French farms around World War II. We got him and his sister in Cotonou, Benin, and since Benin is a former French colony, it's no surprise to find someone brought their furry friend with them to the colonies, where he/she bred with the local Basenjis.

If you look at this other picture [photo left] of Pendjari ["ears down"] with his sister, Piñuela ["ears up"](who passed away in July, sadly), Pendjari looks more Basenji and Piñuela is the spitting image of a Picard Terrier. The combination of those races made these two loyal, quiet, almost totally odorless, a bit nervous, and very protective. Good dogs!

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

Pendjari and I are starting out the morning like we do every day – a cup of steaming Ethiopian dark roast with (powdered) milk, and some bread and butter. We're on the back steps outside the kitchen under the shade of the Casuarina trees, enjoying the cool morning. Here at the edge of the Sahel, cool mornings give way to blazing sun and heat by noon, and a hot coffee tastes a lot worse when you're dripping with sweat. But mornings are great. I make the coffee with filtered water and a French press, and brew it stronger than I probably should.

Any treats for you or Pendjari on this occasion?

Well, if we're lucky, there will be some banana bread this morning, or maybe some sausage slices and cheese – both imported from France, since the Senegalese are Muslim and don't like or eat sausage. Pendjari on the other hand, is a big fan of sausage! That counts as a treat for both of us.

How were you and Pendjari united?

We'd just moved to Cotonou, Benin for the beginning of a project, and my wife and I had agreed we'd finally get the dog we'd been unable to have back in our small home in the States. Downtown on a street corner, a Beninese was selling a fluffy little puppy – Piñuela! My wife knew immediately that was the dog we wanted. But by the time we circled back, the seller had two dogs in his hands. The second was a dripping, unhappy, recently-bathed Pendjari. "Which one do you want?" he asked. We panicked: how can you take one home and leave the other behind to cruel destiny? Without even discussing, we both said, "both of them." We got home with two – not one – dogs, and thought, "what have we done?" But it turned out to be serendipity – having two dogs around the house was nothing but happiness.

How did Pendjari and the late Piñuela get their names? Any aliases?

The alliteration, I suppose. Pendjari is the name of a river in Benin; Piñuela is the name of Nicaraguan plant with spiky little ears that stand up straight like hers. She was "Piñuela the Pup, Ms. Puppers, Shnozzolina, and my Puppy-Bear. He's Pendjari the Pup, Mr. Mutt, El Shnozzo, Doctor Destructo-Bone, and my Basenji Warrior." Not sure what kind of names they had for me.

What's the most interesting critter that Pendjari has encountered in Africa?

We've come across 5-pound rats, big dogs, scrawny but mean cats, horses, and flocks of curious sheep that chase us. Our funniest encounter (well, it's funny now) involves an afternoon down on the Atlantic Ocean in Benin. A goat [photo left] came over to check us out, and both pups (they were probably only six months old at the time) sat there at the end of their leashes, looking back. "What a great picture," I thought. But milliseconds after I snapped this image of peace and curiosity, both dogs snapped their leashes and went tearing off to go catch that goat, who started running circles around a woman seated on the ground, plaiting a basket. Around went the goat, followed by the dogs, followed by me trying to catch them before they killed the goat and caused a scandal. Suddenly, the goat lapped me, and as the goat went by, the dogs caught up to me too. Pendjari slowed to my speed and looked up at me with approval, like this was a great goat-chasing/bonding moment. "Oh hey, you're after this one too? Isn't this great?"

Does Pendjari do more to help or hinder your writing?

Actually, just about every writing conundrum I've ever had – particularly issues of organization, presentation, or focus – has been resolved by taking the dogs out for a walk. I do my worst writing when I'm in front of the computer and my best when I'm walking and thinking. Try it! Every writer should obligatorily get a dog.

What is Pendjari's best quality? And what was Piñuela's?

We got lucky – they turned out to be great watch dogs, but still good with the children. We got burglarized once in Dakar, and it would have been serious had the dogs not caught the guy as he came up the stairs. They were also clean, odorless, and generally friendly, grateful mutts.

If Pendjari could change one thing about the Senegalese, what would it be?

The Senegalese are scared to death of dogs, as are most Muslims. On the other hand, they like to eat out of a communal bowl, seated on the ground. As they eat, they throw the bones into the street, where dogs like Pendjari scoop them up. Maybe he wouldn't change a thing!

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

"Do you miss Piñuela? Because I do." Dogs seem to understand death in a way that's easier for them than for us. I feel like I learned so much about death – and therefore, about life – as Piñuela succumbed to liver cancer. But I so wonder what Pendjari understands about it all.

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

Ha ha! I struggled with this question. Not sure, but I think in terms of tone and humor they'd have to sound a lot like the characters from Over the Hedge. Or maybe the Penguins from Madagascar: "Nod and smile, my fuzzy brother. Nod and smile."

What advice would Pendjari give if asked?

That's easy. "Get away from that computer! How many times do I friggin' have to tell you?"

Visit Randall Wood's website. Learn more about The Dictator's Handbook: a practical guide for the aspiring tyrant. Read a poem for Piñuela.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 8, 2014

Nikki Kelly & Alfie and Goose

Who is in the photo at right?

Hey there! I'm Nikki Kelly and I was born and raised only minutes away from the chocolately scent of Cadbury World in Birmingham, England. Lailah is my first novel, and the first book in the Styclar Saga. I live in London with my husband and our dogs, Alfie (a pug) and Goose (a chihuahua).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have tea with the pooches everyday! In fact, everyday is a delightful tea-drinking, dog petting, wonderful writing day in my flat!

What's brewing?

Twining's English Breakfast tea… Milk with three sugars!

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Alfie is sitting with a very large bone. Goose, however, is restricted to one small gravy bone (she's recently put on a bit of weight, and though she insists it's puppy fat, the vet told Mommy to stop giving her so many treats…)

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

My hubby named Alfie, he was easy to name, he just looked like an Alfie!

Goose [photo left, sleeping], was a little trickier—I didn't want to give her a typical Chi name. In the end, it was one of her habits that led to what we chose to call her. So, when Goose wants attention she will jut her neck in and out and makes a pecking like moment… hence the name Goose!

How were you and your dogs united?

I tried to find a Pug and a Chi through the rescue centre, but they didn't have any 'small' rescue dogs, so in the end I found both through breeders.

I'll never forget driving home with Goose. She was in a cardboard transport box, which I had put on the passenger seat next to me. Within minutes (and when I was driving down a highway no less!) she had chewed through the cardboard and when I put my hand down to try to keep her from jumping out, she nipped me! I remember thinking… oh lordy! But, despite that less than perfect start she's ended up being the easiest dog I have ever had!

How do your dogs help--or hinder--your work?

They do both. When I'm working (usually through the night) they won't leave my side, so they sleep on the sofa in my office. But, when they wake up and decide they want attention I have to take a break to entertain them for a while!

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your writing?

Not in this series, but I am sure the impact of Marley and Me will end up in one of my novels. One day!

Squirrel, postman, cat.... ?

Alfie—Postman! Goes mad when the letter box goes!

Goose—Cats! She barks at them, but if they come close she hides between Mommy's legs! (She's all mouth that one!)

What is your dogs' favorite outdoor destination?

The Lido!

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Each other, they regularly cuddle up on the sofa!

Because Alfie is much hairier than Goose, she tends to sleep nestled right into his podgy belly!

What is each dog's best quality?

Alfie [photo left: in the bath] is the happiest, most bouncy dog in the world! I love that about him!

Goose is fiercely loyal, and follows me absolutely everywhere.

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

That they don't stop and pet them!

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, which actors should do their voices?

Tough question!

For Goose, Kate Winslet.

For Alfie, Adam Sandler!

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

What would you like to do more often?

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

As Daryl said on the American version of The Office: "You will win this in the end. It's all about heart, and character. Be your best self."

I think both the pooches have sat through that episode of the American Office, enough to know that it's good, universal advice!

Visit Nikki Kelly's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Dewi Wihardja & BEI

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Dewi Wihardja - a Communication Specialist and Copywriter; and for now I'm a volunteer and freelancer at Young Ambassadors.

My dog is called Bello E Impossibile (BEI). He's a male Yorkie terrier who is now 2 years and 8 months old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Whenever I'm not busy or working, I always take him out with me whenever I go to cafe by myself or with friends in Milan.

What's brewing?

I love to drink Italian Cappuccino.

Any treats for you or BEI on this occasion?

His treat would be normal 1/4 wheat croissant without sugar or any filler, plain.

How were you and BEI united?

I was searching for a dog and I found this breeder online. I didn't know that she was a famous Yorkie breeder in Italy. She was selling BEI at 11 months old at reimbursement price and I contacted her immediately.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

His name is an abbreviation of Bello E Impossibile, or in English, Impossibly Beautiful. I never changed his name; it's original from his breeder as she was preparing him for dog show but he then grew up outside the normal yorkie size. He's 5 Kgs and his ears don't stand up, and for dog competitions yorkies shouldn't weigh over 3 Kgs and both ears have to stand right up if I'm not mistaken.

His alias is BEI, to make it shorter and simpler.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

I always prefer to keep him inside the house unless I'm also outside.

The housing complex is based on several houses or apartments inside one with intercom; when there are postmen, they just put the mail inside the box or ring the intercom.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

He doesn't play ball. But he likes his chewing snack made of animal skin (usually cow).

Who is BEI's best pet-pal?

It's Euro, my friend's yorkie who got me in love in this breed. But unfortunately it's been a while since they've met because I have been busy.

What is BEI's best quality?

He has this beautiful three colour coat and silver hair like most yorkies.

Also, he doesn't bark a lot like other yorkies and he's easy to teach tricks and he remember some words.

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

It's the presence in the house. It's so amazing feeling only to know that when you come home, there is this little creature always waiting for you, smiling, wagging his tail, and just jumping while trying to lick you to greet, "mommy you're home." Even when I'm tired or sad, only to see his face expression can bring my good mood back.

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

"What do you love to do best with me together and when you're alone at home?"

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

He's a small dog... I'm not quite sure, but it has to be someone that sounds smart with not too low or deep voice.

Visit Dewi Wihardja's website and BEI's Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 1, 2014

Lin Wilder & Shadow

Who is in the photo at right and just below left?

This is me, Lin Wilder, right before my reading and book signing at the Texas Medical Center Library during a two week book promotion for The Fragrance Shed By a Violet, a medical murder mystery with a TMC cardiologist as the main character. My dog’s name is Shadow--his age is somewhere between 8 and 10 or 11 and his breed a combination of Shepherd, Collie, 2 or 3 other breeds have been suggested-among them Golden Retriever, Great Pyrenees, and maybe Border Collie.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Shadow and I have coffee together every morning- we’re usually up by 4 or 5 am (early morning is my best time to write) and 2 cups of coffee together to talk about the upcoming day’s work is a ritual for him and me.

Today though, my brain is really foggy so we went to Avila beach for a latte at Joe Mama’s Coffee so I could get a latte and Shadow [left] could run around and do his very most favorite things: meet new people, meet new little kids, and meet new dogs at the beach where we don’t need a leash before 10am.

What's brewing?

We are currently escaping the winter of the high desert in our RV which is near San Luis Obispo so normally we are drinking SLO darn good coffee; today for my foggy brain, I got a latte at Joe Mama’s Coffee.

Any treats for you or Shadow on this occasion?

In an attempt to dissipate the fog in my brain, I broke my gluten free rule and had a biscotti from Joe Mama’s Coffee. Food is not Shadow’s thing although he politely accepts offered snacks from new friends at the beach, acts as if he is going to eat it then drops it and walks away.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

When I first met my husband John back in Massachusetts, he had a female dog named Shadow with the exact colors of this guy; the similarities were so striking that we decided to name him after her.

How were you and Shadow united?

Shadow adopted us when we were beginning the landscaping that transformed our house from acres of nothing to an oasis. I was helping the people who were doing the 1st and 2nd phase--build the picket fence and gazebo [photo right] when I felt a cold wet nose in the fingers I had extended through the slats of the fence; Shadow had summoned the courage to approach after 2 days and nights of crying and hiding from us each time one of us would approach. He was starving--someone had abandoned him.

Does Shadow do more to help or hinder your writing?

Shadow is the mellowest dog in the universe. He is willing to do anything--even listen to my complaints about a foggy brain that is inhibiting my plan for today’s writing. His mere presence is calming, especially after a morning at the beach.

If Shadow could change one thing about Nevadans, what would it be?

Shadow would outlaw gun practice and hunting- he hates, detests, abhors the sound of guns.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your fiction?

Readers of my latest book will meet a red Doberman named Max who looks exactly Ally. The character in the book who owns Max is Rich Jansens, Chief Warden at Huntsville Prison. Max does not sit on Rich’s lap--he sticks to his beds.

[photo left: Wilder and Ally]

You've written eloquently about the unexpected death this year of your dog Ally [here, here, here, here]. What do you and Shadow miss most about him?

What Shadow and I miss most about Ally would fill a medium sized book but here are the 4 top of the very long list:

Ally was more than happy--he was enthusiastic, excited about all things whether it was chasing lizards in the spring, his food, snacks, going for a ride, hike or simply climbing up on my lap, he was a Presence. Shadow and I really miss that Presence--it’s been 8 months and the hole he has left in our lives remains gigantic.

Our two to sometimes three hour hikes in the mountains behind the Nevada house.

Ally was fearless; unafraid of gunshot, thunder--all the things that plague Shadow more so now that Ally is gone.

Dobermans are unique among dogs- the connection between them and those whom they choose to love seems deeper, therefore cuts deeper and bleed more once they have to leave us; Shadow has watched two Dobermans die.

What is Shadow's best quality? And what was Ally's?

Shadow’s best quality is his patience- he is a very patient dog.

Ally? Well patience was never one of his virtues nor was it any of the 2 Dobie’s I had before him- Ally’s was love---everyone saw it- those who could see past the prejudice that so many still have for Dobies...

[photo right--hiking in the mountains behind the Nevada house]

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

I’d ask Shadow what the face of God looks like. I am sure that he—like all dogs see God on a routine basis. Unlike us, dogs don’t decide to do anything contrary to the way God made them.

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

Morgan Freeman would speak for Shadow.

Johnny Depp for Ally.

What advice would Shadow give if asked?

When things get really bad, hunker down and wait; either things will improve or you’ll die. There are worse things than death.

Visit Lin Wilder's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Kristen Weber & Sampson

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Kristen Weber, and this is my 8-year-old male pug, Sampson. I'm a freelance book editor and I run Shelf Pleasure, a website for women who love to read.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Sampson is my co-editor and cuddling companion while I read. He'll take every chance he can get to sit on my lap. I usually put a pillow on top of him and then my computer or book on top of that.

What's brewing?

Chocolate is my vice over coffee, and you can usually find me drinking a hot chocolate whatever the season.

Any treats for you or Sampson on this occasion?

Sampson's favorite treat is cheese. We usually take a 2:00 break and share a piece. But don't worry, he gets plenty of exercise. Every hour or so we take a break outside and then we also take 2-3 bigger walks during the day. It is good to take breaks from lying down all day (Sampson) or editing / reading all day (me!).

How were you and Sampson united?

I always wanted a pug, but the obsession grew even stronger when my husband worked as an assistant on one of the Men in Black movies and came home every day sharing stories about the pugs who played Frank. In fact, I began talking about my future pug Sampson so much that my co-workers at Hachette Book Group thought he was real even before he joined my family - and gave me a collar and treats for him at a Christmas party. I had to confess he wasn't real yet! But as soon as I found a dog friendly apartment in NYC (nearly impossible!) I brought him home and he's been part of my family ever since.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

I thought Sampson was a good name for a breed that's a lot of dog in a small body. We call him Sammy for short.

You and Sampson are professional editors: what's the division of labor when you tackle a manuscript?

I do all the heavy lifting. He does the cuddling and the snoring.

Cat, postman, squirrel…?

Postman! There's a barking party when our mail is delivered.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Nothing that requires too much work, but he'll play with a squeaky-toy if there's a chance there's food in it.

Who is Sampson's best pet-pal?

Sampson's two best dog friends live a few houses down from us and he always stops at their house and stares longingly even if they're nowhere to be seen.

What is Sampson's best quality?

He's incredibly loyal. All he wants to do is be with his people.

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

He probably wants me to sit down on the couch for even longer periods of time, so he can cuddle in!

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

Are you really that tired?

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

That's a tough one. I imagine Sampson probably has his own voice itching to get out. He always looks at me like he has so much to say, if he had the voice to say it.

The only problem will be that he'll probably just demand more food. If I don't feed him right at 5:00, watch out!

Visit Shelf Pleasure and Kristen Weber's website.

--Marshal Zeringue