Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Nicole Galland & Leuco

Who is in the photo at right?

The adorable canine is Leuco, my 6-year-old Portuguese Water Dog, a dog of such excellent qualities that my friends have been known to squabble with each other over who gets to dog-sit when I’m out of town. I’m Nicole Galland, usually an historical novelist, who recently jumped genres to write Stepdog, a lighthearted tale of blended families, Irish music, and unexpected road trips with sociopaths. I also write a tongue-in-cheek advice column for the Martha’s Vineyard Times, and with my friend Chelsea McCarthy I direct a theatre project called Shakespeare For The Masses.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Midafternoon break. Stepdog just came out and so I’m a bit scattered, my writing schedule is all thrown off…but we’re spending a few months living on an old farm on Martha’s Vineyard, so I let myself come up for air and chill outside with the ukulele, a mug of coffee, and Leuco. Wherever I am, there’s Leuco.

What's brewing?

French press coffee! I love the aesthetic of it, the benign artisanal pretentiousness, the very word: cafetiere. I always add cream. I never add sweetener unless it’s a stand-in for dessert.

Any treats for you or Leuco on this occasion?

Leuco has been getting more than enough treats from the elderly (but still working!) stone mason we’re sharing the farm with, so I’m trying to limit what she imbibes the rest of the time. But we received some awesome doggy-swag from Polka Dog Bakery last week for a reading – a bag of dried codfish skins – and she’ll get some of them later on.

How were you and Leuco united?

My first husband and I both wanted a dog. I wanted a rescue; he wanted a purebred. He won. We found a very reputable breeder, who interviewed us twice and made us sign so much paperwork that, as my dad said, we could have adopted a child from Kazakhstan with less oversight. When we went to get her, the breeder came out with this monkey-faced furball and plopped her into my arms, and I’ve hardly let go of her since then. When I left my marriage, less than a year later, she was practically the only thing I took with me. It’s a longstanding joke among all who know me how hyper-attached we are to each other.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

She’s a Portuguese Water Dog, and so we wanted to give her the name of a Portuguese water goddess. We couldn't find any that we liked, so we settled for a Greek water goddess, Leucothia. That was shortened to Leuco, although as all of our friends who know Latin kept pointing out, “Leuco” means white and she is black. It also sounds like a male name, and she’s a girly-girl. She has no official aliases but she gets called “pup” as lot, as in “Who’s the puppiest pup that ever pupped?” I try to only do that in private. In fact I can’t believe I just admitted to saying that.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrel! Squirrel squirrel squirrel oh boy squirrel! And maybe cat, depends on how squirrelly it is. But never Postman. We love Postman because he is Human, so we will sit at his feet and look up at him hopefully in case he’s planning to give us a treat. Maybe if we wag our tail just a little? Or lean against his shin?

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

At the beach, with Billy teasing her, Leuco goes bananas over balls, sticks, Frisbees… It is literally the only time she ever barks. Otherwise, she mostly just wants floppy toys that are full of stuffing so she can eviscerate them and then play tug with their carcasses.

Who is Leuco’s best pet-pal?

She “grew up” with a friend’s English shepherd, Jackson, whom she still loves, but after playing together for about 10 minutes, they ignore each other like an old married couple. With Obie, on the other hand – a dog we often dog-sit for – she gets more excited and playful the longer they are in each other’s company, so that evening generally finds them tumbling all over each other and tearing all the tug-toys apart. But Henry (immortalized in Kate Feiffer’s Henry, The Dog With No Tail) has been her big brother from puppyhood, and although he’s an old man now, and can’t even take walks with us, I believe he holds a particularly sacred place in her heart.

What is Leuco’s best quality?

I have gotten used to hearing “She’s the sweetest dog I’ve ever met.” “Sweet” is such a generic and uninteresting adjective, but her sweetness is neither generic nor uninteresting. She very gently throws a ton of love at everyone. I think she has a calling to be a therapy dog, but unfortunately I don’t have the time to be a therapy-dog-handler.

Does Leuco do more to help or hinder your writing?

Oh I wish I didn’t have to face this question. The truth is, I get more done when she’s not around, but I like having her around. (I would like to point out that this is also true about my husband.)

What is Leuco’s favorite book?

Stepdog, of course, because she is the Stepdog. (Or she was, anyhow.)

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your writing?

Cody, the dog in Stepdog, is Leuco dressed up as a Golden Retriever. Peter Sagal, who kindly read an early copy and wrote a blurb for us, wrote me to ask if Leuco was actually as endearing as the dog in the book, because it was hard for him to believe any dog could be as endearing as the dog in the book.

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

I would grow an extra arm and hand so that I could give her belly-rubs 24/7.

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

“Do you understand that when I give you a bath, it’s not because I’m a sadist?”

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

This is a great question…she’s so quiet that I can’t imagine her speaking at all. Maybe Barbara Luddy, if she were still alive - she was the voice of Lady in Lady and the Tramp, and Kanga in Winnie-the-Pooh.

What advice would Leuco give if asked?

Be gentle.

Visit Nicole Galland's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

The Page 69 Test: Stepdog.

My Book, The Movie: Stepdog.

Writers Read: Nicole Galland.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 31, 2015

Suzanne Donaldson & Edie, Clair, and Gus

Who is pictured in the photos here?

I am Suzanne Donaldson [photo below], expert on all things Chic Pet. I have a dog website called Mrs Sizzle.

I have three dogs: Edie [photo: right] and Clair [photo: left] are mixed breeds (we think morkie), and Gus is a Labradoodle!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My everyday ritual is a loop in Central Park with a stop at Pain Quotidian half way through. The fun part is in the summer I use the lid top as a water bowl for them to drink from.

What's brewing?

Pain Q's finest cappuccino.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Indeed — they hand out the best dog treats to customers.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

No story there. But both are referred to as B, and Clair gets the occasional Bibichi thanks to my friend Marja Sampson.

How were you and your dogs united?

In a puppy store — hate to say it but it's what led me to Mrs Sizzle and my animal awareness campaign.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

Zanies and the small fetch balls on sticks.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Anyone on street.

Where is your dogs' favorite outdoor destination?

Our Brookhaven house on the bay — they are water dogs.

Who is Edie and Clair's best pet-pal?

Gus their older brother.

What is each dog's best quality?

Edie — outgoing; Clair — pure love.

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

They'd want me to stop working all of the time.

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

Edie would be Ellen DeGeneres and Clair would be Reese Witherspoon.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

How to be trained better!

Visit the Mrs Sizzle wesbite.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Noni Brueckner & Sally

Who is in the photo at right?

This is me, Noni Brueckner, and my dog Sally. I'm a wedding and family photographer in Charleston, SC and Sally is a 5 year old, 40lb mutt. We did a gene test on her and she's mostly Staffie Pit Bull but also hound, pointer and bulldog. We think she may have some Ridgeback as well.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Sally loves people so I like to bring her to my favorite coffee shop, Muddy Waters. It's a treat for both of us.

What's brewing?

Muddy Water's large latte with 2%. Yum.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Sometimes a muffin.

Any treat for Sally on this occasion?

Just lots of people to wag her little stubby tail at and lick.

How were you and Sally united?

My husband, Eric, adopted Sally from a shelter after she was found stray at 5 months old in Los Angeles (where we used to live). She was living off pizza crusts and chicken bones (she still loves pizza crust)! He was in school at the time and I was worried that he wouldn't have time for a dog... but it was totally the best decision ever.

[photo left: Sally and Eric, shortly after he adopted her]

You've got some beautiful wedding photos on your website. Which are more challenging to photograph: dogs or brides?

Haha! I'd say dogs. And thank you!

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

My husband named her when he saw her - thought she looked like a Sally. We call her about a million things including Sal, Sallymander, Salsal, Princess, Sea Captain, The Captain and all kinds of nonsense.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Squirrel and cat! Also opossum, raccoon and skunk.

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


Where is Sally's favorite place for an outing?

Probably the mountains in California where we used to live. We'd take her on long hikes all the time. A close second would be Folly Beach here in Charleston where we bring the ball slinger and she plays beach fetch.

Who is Sally's best pet-pal?

Probably Zoey, our best friend's great dane mix. We all used to live together and hike a lot. Unfortunately, we just found out yesterday that Zoey has bone cancer which is so very sad.

What is Sally's most endearing quality?

Her excitement towards people. She will squirm and wiggle her butt so hard to greet you and then wants to lick and cuddle. She even does this to strangers! She also is very floppy and relaxed and will lie comfortably in anyone's lap and all kinds of contorted positions.

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

She would have me take her on even more and longer walks -- oh and probably never use a leash.

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

Wow, I have no idea. Maybe Shailene Woodley.

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

Probably if there is anything she needs! (I really love my dog!)

Visit the Noni Elizabeth Photography website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 24, 2015

Pressley Baird & Darby

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Pressley Baird, and this is Darby, my coonhound mix. I'm a reporter turned grad student at UNC-Chapel Hill, where I study and teach journalism. Darby sleeps in sunny patches, howls at sirens and eats lots of peanut butter.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Darby and I just moved to a new house with a beautiful back porch where I can drink my coffee every morning. Darby's just here for the sun.

What's brewing?

Milk and sugar with a little coffee.

Any treats for you or Darby on this occasion?

No treats today, though Darby gets plenty. Peanut butter is her favorite.

How were you and Darby united?

Darby is the first dog I've had that's all mine. I adopted her from the American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue in 2013, a few years after I graduated from college. After I'd proven I could keep myself alive, I decided to add another living thing to the mix.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

When I adopted her, Darby's name was Brownie. I wanted to change it but needed to keep the "ie" sound.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Postman. Darby loves all people.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Fluffy stuffed animals that she can rip to shreds.

Who is Darby's best pet-pal?

Avett, my parents' blind Labradoodle puppy. (Yes, he is as cute as he sounds.)

What is Darby's best quality?

She has never met a person she didn't instantly adore.

You're a Roy H. Park Fellow in UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Media and Journalism. Is UNC a dog-friendly campus?

It is! Most of Chapel Hill, with its wide sidewalks surrounded by trees, is very dog-friendly.

If Darby could change one thing about Tarheels, what would it be?

She'd have this year's basketball team work on their offensive prowess and talk Harry Giles into signing on for the 2016-17 season. (Darby really likes basketball.)

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

"What was your life like before we met?" Since Darby is a rescue, I don't know much about her life before I got her -- including exactly when she was born. (She's probably 8 but maybe 10.)

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

Elizabeth Taylor. Darby lives a very luxurious life.

What advice would Darby give if asked?

Give everybody a chance. Cute ears will get you far in life. And always eat the peanut butter.

Learn more about Pressley Baird, journalist (and baking and basketball enthusiast).

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Katie MacBride & Sally

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Katie MacBride; a writer and a young adult librarian. On my lap is Sally, my 7 (ish) year-old Chihuahua-Terrier mix.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I’m lucky to have a Peet’s within walking distance of my house. It’s a perfect little walk for Sally and a late afternoon (hence the sun being in my eyes) coffee break for me.

What's brewing?

Iced coffee with a little almond milk.

Any treats for you or Sally on this occasion?

Sally loves these chicken rawhide things. I have heard that rawhide isn’t good for dogs but being the chicken-focused gal that she is, she just gnaws at the bone until she gets the chicken off. I think her teeth are too small to do any damage to the rawhide.

How were you and Sally united?

Sally came to me through the Oakland SPCA. She was terribly traumatized; she had been used as bait in a dogfighting ring. While she’s still nervous around new dogs and people, she continues to get a little braver every day.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

The trainers at the SPCA gave her the name Sally, but I have a million nicknames for her. Tootie (short for Tootie Bootie), is a common one, as is “Baby Girl” and, more recently “Butt Butt.” I don’t really know where that last one came from.

Does Sally do more to help or hinder your writing?

I’m just finishing a draft of a young adult novel and in order to accomplish that without disruption, I had to write the thing while Sally slept on my lap. I had to stretch over her sleeping body to reach the keyboard. This was not the most efficient process. That said, she keeps me happy and sane and those are two key ingredients to a daily writing routine.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your writing?

Yes! In my novel, the protagonist's boyfriend has a dog, Abby, who is inspired by the black lab my grandparents had when I was growing up. I know I have created a fictionalized account of her but it makes me feel a little less sad about losing her, knowing that she’s in the pages of my novel.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Sally’s responses: [to cats] please don't see me, please don't see me; [to postmen] Stranger Danger!; [to squirrels] Hey! The only thing I'm not too scared to chase!

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?


Who is Sally's best pet-pal?

She gets along well with my grandmother’s dog, Buzzy. They are about the same size, though Buzzy is much older. She wants Buzzy to chase her and Buzzy is more interested in getting a good sniff in Sally’s butt, but it’s a generally agreeable relationship.

What is Sally's best quality?

I know this could be said for all dogs, but Sally is 100% pure love. All she wants to do is kiss and cuddle (and eat and sometimes play) and I love her more than anything in the world.

If Sally could change one thing about Bay Area Californians, what would it be?

More dog friendly establishments! If I have to run into the store to pick something up, it can be tricky. I don’t want to leave her in a hot car and would be terrified if I tied her up outside and went into the store without her. It would be nice if I could just pop her in the cart while I grabbed a few groceries.

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

Why are you sometimes so picky about eating kibble but will happily eat other dogs’ poop?

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

The character that Sarah Silverman voiced in Wreck it Ralph, Vanellope, would be pretty dead-on, I think.

What advice would Sally give if asked?

Eat. Sleep. Cuddle. Try not to worry so much.

Visit Katie MacBride's website and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 17, 2015

Camille Griep & Dutchess Marie Siefker-Griep

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Camille Griep, and I’m an author and editor, living just north of Seattle. Pictured with me, is my girl Dutchess Marie Siefker-Griep, a 4-year-old Olde English Bulldogge. (They’re a bit different from standard English Bulldogs.)

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

As is standard for our morning routine, I take a couple hours (and a couple cups of coffee) to catch up with the news, literary and otherwise, so I can attempt to write without the distractions of social media and the 24-hour news cycle. Dutch has her own miniature office in the form of a fluffy grey bed underneath my desk. She’s here to ensure I stay on task.

What's brewing?

I’m not as much of a coffee snob as many of my fellow Pacific Northwesters, but I’m drinking the quite wonderful Bistro Blend by CafĂ© Vita, run through our Braun espresso maker on the 2XL cups of coffee setting. (The regular-sized cups of coffee must be for hobbits or something.) I add heavy cream to the first cup of the day and drink the remaining cups black. (Did I mention I’m a Gemini?)

Any treats for you or Dutch on this occasion?

Summer has brought some amazing strawberries and blueberries to the store, so I’ve thrown some in a bowl of yogurt.

Meanwhile, Dutchess is also having a seasonal snack: peanut butter and bacon doggie ice cream from The Bear and the Rat. This summer has been abnormally hot for us, and so I try to start her day with something cool. In the afternoons we work from the basement.

How were you and Dutch united?

My grandmother, who still lives in my hometown of Montana, had wanted a puppy and the one she picked out was very ill, so the breeders offered her one of their adults who hadn’t been successful as breeding dogs. However, my grandmother’s boxer, who is very much a one-person sort of dog , didn’t appreciate the arrival of another adult female and she and Dutch fought terribly, requiring stitches for them both more than once.

Last summer, while helping my grandmother move to a smaller house, complicating the situation for the dogs, I offered to take Dutchess home with me instead. She’s been here for a year now and is doing a great job adapting.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

When my grandmother received the dog her name was Nova. Coincidentally, her boxer nemesis was also Nova, My grandmother settled on Jade, but my uncle kept referring to her as Dutch Chocolate aka Dutchie because of her rich brown coat. For whatever reason, I like two syllable dog names, so it was natural to stretch it into Dutchess. Her nicknames are Dutch, Button, and Muffin, for no particular reason.

Does Dutch do more to help or hinder your writing?

Most of the time she is very quiet company. But there are rare days when she’s an insatiable snacker (mooch) and we have to do a good bit of negotiating before I can really settle in and get work done.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your fiction?

In my satirical, epistolary fairy tale, Letters to Zell, Rory (Sleeping Beauty) adopts an English Bulldog named Snoozer. Snoozer is modeled directly from my late friend Wynnie. She was a traditional English Bulldog, whose talents were sleeping and stealing sandwiches from improbable heights.

I also wrote a short story called “Robodog” in which the Wild Dog in the story was modeled after my mother’s mixed breed sweetheart, Festus.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Dutch will chase cats, raccoons, and, apparently, the terrier who sneaks into our yard from next door. She doesn’t take much notice of squirrels, but she loves the Chinese food delivery driver. The feeling seems to be mutual: occasionally we’ll find things accidentally tucked into our order for her.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Though Dutchess does not deign to play catch or fetch, she does love squeaky toys. She had one caterpillar with six or seven squeakers in it, and she was in heaven. Her other favorite activity is bouncing on the guest bed. (Don’t tell the guests.)

Who is Dutch's best pet-pal?

We haven’t had a whole lot of pet dates, but I’d say it’s probably her writing retreat friend, Buddy. He’s a Boston Terrier who belongs to another local writer, G.G. Silverman.

What is Dutch's best quality?

Even though she’s a super low maintenance dog, I think my favorite thing about her is how much she loves the humans in our house equally. Growing up in a household of one person dogs, I was afraid she wouldn’t bond with Adam since she spends the days with me. That hasn’t turned out to be true. She loves us differently, yet equally, and I’m thankful she and Adam have grown so close, as she’s his very first dog.

If Dutch could change one thing about Washingtonians, what would it be?

She would take away their insatiable appetite for the fireworks that remain maddeningly legal in our little unincorporated enclave.

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

Are you happy?

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

Perhaps Kat Dennings, Eva Amurri, or even Zooey Deschanel – ladies with a bit of snark and edge, yet still able to be languorous and playful.

What advice would Dutch give if asked?

Sniff everything with one nostril then the other, just in case the first one leads you astray.
Always eschew presents for the box they come in.
When possible, hold out for a hamburger.

Visit Camille Griep's website.

The Page 69 Test: Letters to Zell.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Madison Weaver & Riley and Molly

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Madison, from the blog Color Me Madison and I am a student at the University of Texas. The two cuties with me are my dogs Riley (with brown fur) and Molly (with black and white fur). Both are female, longhaired, dapple dachshunds. Riley is about 5 and a half years old while Molly is 4 years old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Since I’m leaving for my second year of college soon, I’m trying to spend as much time with my pups as I can! So if that means having a coffee date with them, then I’m game.

What's brewing?

Iced coffee from Starbucks with cream and sweetener. Since summer in Texas is miserably hot, the only way to drink coffee is with ice.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Sprinkles Cupcakes in Highland Park, Texas make adorable little doggie cupcakes. It also gives me an excuse to snag a few cupcakes of my own…

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

I named Riley and my older sister named Molly. We got Riley first, and for some reason, the name Riley just stuck out to me… so not too much of a story there. My sister got to name Molly since I named Riley. It was only fair, right?

How were you and your dogs united?

Since I was a little girl, my family and I always went to a Pet Land near our house. We would go almost every weekend and hold way too many puppies. One night, my parents and I went and got dinner and made our way to Pet Land after, like we usually did. We walked in just to look at dogs for fun, but my dad immediately locked eyes with Riley and fell in love. Seriously, it was love at first sight, like you see slow motion in the movies. A couple of minutes later, we’re holding her and decide to take her home – no question. At the time, we were unaware of the horror of puppy mills and the part that Pet Land had in it. Now that we have Riley, we are so happy that we saved her from potentially going back to a puppy mill. After doing more research on puppy mills, from now on we decided that rescuing dogs is the best option. With Molly, my dad was set on getting another dachshund. He found her online and brought her home as just a baby. We have two perfect dogs, but we are more informed now and know that in the future we should rescue and give dogs a second chance at a home.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

All of the above. Give our dogs anything, and trust me, they’ll destroy it. We have yet to find anything that can survive over 24 hours under their care.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Definitely squirrel. Just saying the word squirrel gets them barking.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Each other! Having two dogs is so great because they have a buddy who is with them all the time.

What is each dog's best quality?

Riley is such a lover. She is our little cuddle buddy! She is always there to give kisses and love. With Molly, well, she’s just crazy. She’s fun to mess and play with. She loves to be active, play outside, and go on walks, so she always gets me moving.

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

Like I said earlier, Texas is hot. So in the summer, Texans tend to stay inside with this awesome thing called air conditioning. So I guess they would change our tendency to stay inside since they love to be out in the fresh air running around and chasing squirrels, even though they get visibly hot as well. In the Texas summer, it’s important to be extra careful as to not let your dogs get overheated.

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

It’s funny you ask this, because my dad loves coming up with voices for my dogs. But, since my dad isn’t a Hollywood actor, his voices won’t do. For Molly, I think of someone like Meryl Streep because I think Molly can sometimes be a bit pretentious. For Riley, I imagine Ellen DeGeneres because she is sweet and fun.

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

I would ask them what makes them happy. The most important thing to me is that they are happy and loving the life they have. So if that means more treats and more walks make them happy, then I’ll do it! They bring us so much joy and they deserve just as much. I remember reading a quote that said, “To you, dogs are just a part of your life. To them, you are their whole life”. I think that is so true and really puts into perspective how important it is to make them happy.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

When the family is eating dinner, always sit by Madison or Dad because they are pushovers and will always slip you something to eat (and always whine for bacon, because bacon is awesome).

Visit the Color Me Madison blog.

--Marshal Zeringue