Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Caryn Lix & Aleiah and Archer

Who is in the photos at right and below?

That's me, Caryn Lix, author of Sanctuary and teacher of children. The dogs are Archer (the Boston terrier, who is five) and Aleiah (mostly lab, who is nine).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

If I leave them home alone, I never know what they will do, so here we are!

What's brewing?

Chai latte. But it's summer right now, so I'll take it iced!

Any treats for you or Aleiah and Archer on this occasion?

I eat all the treats and so do my dogs. Actually while no one was looking there's a good chance Aleiah stole all the cookies out of the cabinet.

How were you and your dogs united?

I saw Aleiah at a dog adoption event. They were trying to introduce me to another dog and all I could focus on was the baby girl dragging one of her legs around and looking like everyone was out to get her. Six months later, the leg had been amputated, and she was living in my house. Archer came to me when his family couldn't take care of him anymore.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Aleiah came pre-named, and we liked her name so we kept it. Archer is named after the television show, and he lives up to the name. He also looks like he's wearing a suit. They have many names. Aleiah's middle name is Freeman because my husband wanted to be able to shout "Hey everybody, let's follow Freeman!" when she took off at the dog park. And Archer's middle name is Fremulon, just because we like the way it sounds.

Do Aleiah and Archer do more to help or hinder your writing?

Oh, they are a constant hindrance. I'll be deep in the middle of a scene and suddenly I'll hear a whimper and Archer will be up on his hind legs, pawing at my arm. It's fantastic.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

They actually haven't. I rarely put dogs in my writing. Whenever I see a dog on TV, I'm convinced it's going to die.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Bird. There's a magpie who lives in our backyard who takes great joy in dropping sticks on their heads. Then they go berserk chasing the magpie around the yard.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Anything they can rip to pieces.

Who is each dog's best pet-pal?

Archer loves Aleiah. She is his best friend and he will do anything to protect her. Aleiah is pretty fixated on me. She was scared and nervous when I first got her, and she doesn't like for me to be too far out of her sight.

What is each dog's best quality?

Aleiah is literally the best dog in the world. She is sweet, gentle, kind, cheerful, you name it. I can't name one best quality. Archer is a handful, but he is also completely hilarious and constantly doing weird things like getting on his hind legs and bicycling his front paws for no apparent reason, so we love that about him.

If Aleiah and Archer could change one thing about Albertans, what would it be?

Aleiah would like them to stop trying to pet her. Archer would like them to get rid of all the other dogs and just pay attention to him.

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

I would ask Aleiah what she's scared of, so I can try to protect her from it. I would ask Archer how I can get him to calm down for thirty five seconds.

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

Well, clearly Archer would have to be voiced by H. Jon Benjamin! Aleiah is so gentle and kind, I feel like Inoue Marina, who does the voice of Armin in Attack on Titan, would be great.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Aleiah: Just... keep quiet. Watch from the sidelines until you're sure things are safe. Also, licking people is a great way to get their attention.

Archer: Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me. Wait. Advice? What? Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me!

Visit Caryn Lix's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Danielle Banas & Cooper

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Danielle Banas, author of the young adult novel, The Supervillain and Me, which was recently released from Swoon Reads and Macmillan. The little guy with me is my best buddy Cooper. He’s a five-year-old Cavapoo and the best boy ever.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

This picture was taken on Coop’s 4th birthday right before I had to leave for work, so we unfortunately didn’t drink coffee together, but we did have cupcakes! It’s our birthday tradition. He eats a few bites of yellow cupcake, and I eat the rest plus the icing. My family has been trying to teach him to blow out his candle, but we haven’t mastered that trick quite yet.

What's brewing?

I consume most of my coffee while I’m at my office job (2 cups of Chock full o’Nuts original blend with vanilla creamer). When I’m at home, I stick to tea or hot chocolate. Cooper is a big hot chocolate fan – well, I should say he’s a big whipped cream fan. As soon as I pull out the can, he comes running and begs me to share.

Any treats for you or Cooper on this occasion?

All Cooper does all day is eat treats. Green beans, yogurt, chicken, carrots – and that’s just the people food!

How were you and Cooper united?

My family saw an ad in the Pennysaver. A guy in Ohio bred his dog with his mother’s, and he was trying to find homes for the puppies. We went back and forth for a day or two about whether we wanted one because we had lost our Shih Tzu about two years prior and didn’t know if we could potty train another puppy, but once we emailed the seller and got pictures of the pups, we were sold. My parents drove over an hour to the house in Ohio, and Cooper was the last one left. They literally saved the best for last.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

We brainstormed a lot of names. Some of them were golf-related because my dad is a golf fanatic, but we shot those ones down. I don’t remember who, but one of us suggested the name Andy, after Anderson Cooper, and then we decided that Cooper was a more suitable name. He has so many nicknames though. Coop, Mr. Coop, Coopie, Cooperdo, Cooperman, Super Cooper, and Monkey. One of those names is definitely not like the others.

Does Cooper do more to help or hinder your writing?

Cooper loves to snuggle. Cooper also loves to snuggle on my lap while I’m trying to write, so then I have to move my laptop onto the arm of the couch and turn awkwardly to type while he’s sleeping – then my back starts to hurt. So he definitely hinders more than helps, but I still gave him a shout-out on the acknowledgments page of my book. If nothing else, he’s good for moral support.

Has Cooper inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Yes, actually. I wrote a draft of a story with a dog named Cooper. The fictional Cooper was a black Standard Poodle, so he resembled my little guy in name alone. Maybe I’ll write the real Cooper into a story one day.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Friend, friend, friend. Cooper loves everyone and everything. Cats and squirrels confuse him a bit because he doesn’t see them often, but he still likes them. Postmen are his buddies. He loves anyone who comes to our house.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Cooper plays fetch with tennis balls and he gets so into it. We used to play outside, and he would crouch down really low and chew a blade of grass like he was a baseball player or something. We stick to playing ball inside now because he has some issues with his knees, and he was getting way too enthusiastic outside. He would slide across the grass and do somersaults and stuff. As for squeaky-toys, he’s not a big fan. He likes stuffed animals so that he can rip them to shreds. Sticks are bad because he’ll try to eat them.

Where is Cooper's favorite outdoor destination?

He loves the park! In fact, he loves the park so much that we can’t take him there very often because he goes nuts and pulls really hard on his leash, which is exhausting. He looks small, but he’s 40 pounds of pure muscle.

Who is Cooper's best pet-pal?

The ladies in the neighborhood love Mr. Coop. Pippy across the street rolls over every time she sees him. She’s a Yorkie, and the difference in size between the two of them is too funny. His other girlfriend is Molly three doors up. She’s a Cockapoo and always acts aloof whenever he’s around, but we know she’s just playing hard to get.

What is Cooper's best quality?

I call Coop a baby angel. He would never hurt a fly. We put fingers in his mouth all the time because he loves to eat things he shouldn’t, and he’s never tried to bite any of us.

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

He would make sure that I let him do more sniffing while on walks. I get so impatient that I tend to drag him along – because honestly, the 100th blade of grass smells exactly like the 99 that he sniffed before it.

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

We left Cooper once to go on a family vacation, and the friend who watched him told us he cried all night the first night. I would ask him if he knows that Momma, Daddy, and Danielle will always come back for him.

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

Michael Keaton all the way.

What advice would Cooper give if asked?

He’d probably tell me to relax and quit overanalyzing everything all the time. Then he’d suggest that I give him a treat.

Visit Danielle Banas's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

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!

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--Marshal Zeringue