Thursday, March 21, 2019

Laura Pohl & Vina

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Laura Pohl, here with Vina! Vina’s a two-year-old dachshund who loves to chew toys and sleep. She’s a good company always.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have coffee every morning sitting next to her. Or in this case, sometimes I get coffee while working and she’s still sleeping in bed.

What's brewing?

I love cappuccinos, but usually have a healthy dose of café au lait in the mornings. Brazilian brands only.

Any treats for you or Vina on this occasion?

I’m eating brownies my friend baked. Vina’s eyeing them in the hopes of getting some, but she’s already had her morning biscuit.

How were you and Vina united?

Vina’s a rescue dog. Me and my roommate rescued her from people who were abusing her and did not want dogs. She was real quiet and scared at first, but she warmed up to us quickly and is very affectionate.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Vina is slang for “sausage” in Curitiba, Brazil — the city where I grew up. I thought it’d be amusing to name her that. She always answers when I call her “baby” though.

Does Vina do more to help or hinder your writing?

She does both. Sometimes she really wants attention and I need to stop writing and walk with her or play, but usually she stays asleep while I work and is there when I need a break.

Has Vina inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Yes! My debut book, The Last 8, has a dog in it – Sputnik is a Bernese Mountain Dog, but she has much of the same personality as Vina. Very chaotic but very cute.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

We live in an apartment building, so it ends up being just the doorman or the neighbor next door (who she deeply despises).

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Her favorite toy is a ball that’s shaped as a meteor.

Where is Vina's favorite outdoor destination?

The dog park a couple of blocks away.

Who is Vina's best pet-pal?

My parents’ dog, Fadinha. She’s also a dachshund, and they get along pretty well.

What is Vina's best quality?

I think she’s very loving toward everyone she encounters. Once she meets them, she’s very protective of people, and likes cuddling and just being affectionate.

If Vina could answer only one question in English or Portuguese, what would you ask her?

Why do you keep throwing your own ball in places you can’t reach only so I have to get it for you?

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

Huuh, that’s a hard one! I feel like Vina would have to be someone a little bit sarcastic as well, maybe like Chelsea Peretti.

What advice would Vina give if asked?

Vina is a firm believer in taking naps and taking breaks. Don’t overwork yourself—you have all the time in the world.

Visit Laura Pohl's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Elisabeth Elo & Freddie

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Elisabeth Elo, author of suspense novels, with Freddie, my three-year-old golden doodle (1/4 golden retriever, ¾ poodle).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Freddie and I go out to get coffee every morning. We drive, and he usually sits on the middle console leaning into my shoulder. Or he sits in the passenger street paying close attention to dogs on their morning walk. By this time, he’s already had a good romp in the dog park.

What's brewing?

Large latte. I heat it up some more when I get it home because I like it very hot. Then I put it in the trusty pink thermos my daughter gave me, and it gets me through a few hours of work. I’m always sorry when it’s done.

Any treats for you or Freddie on this occasion?

Freddie has breakfast at this time. When he’s finished eating, he comes over to lick his chops at me and get patted. If I don’t pay attention to him right away, he swipes my leg with his paw. I think he likes to share the joy of a good meal.

How were you and Freddie united?

I was allergic to the last dog we had and spent twelve years sniffling and feeling scratchy whenever I got too close to him. It was OK because that dog was really my kids’ dog and he got lots of attention from them. I knew that our next dog would be mostly mine, and I couldn’t risk feeling uncomfortable around him, so I figured he would have to be a poodle or poodle mix. I did a lot of research and visited a number of breeders. In the end the search was entirely worth it because Freddie is a fabulous dog and I’m symptom-free.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

Just out of the blue. Freddie feels like someone you’d like to hang around with—a friendly, low-maintenance kind of guy. However, he does have names for different facets of his personality. His formal title is Frederick the Great, and in certain circles he’s known as Freddie Wop.

As T.S. Eliot pointed out in his famous poem “The Naming of Cats,” an animal sometimes has a name known to him alone: “An ineffable effable / Effanineffable / Deep and inscrutable singular Name.” I have reason to believe that Freddie also possesses one of these secret mysterious Names, but of course I’ll never know for sure.

Does Freddie do more to help or hinder your writing?

He keeps me from working in coffee shops because I don’t want to leave him alone for too long. That may seem like a hindrance, but it’s actually not, because I think coffee shops were just a distraction for me anyway. Now that I have Freddie, I just sit at my desk in the morning without a lot of futzing around (but with coffee). We mostly ignore each other until about three-thirty in the afternoon when, without fail, he comes over and swipes my leg with his paw as if to say, “That’s enough. Take a damn break, would you?”

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Freddie loves all sentient beings with the exception of dogs larger than himself. He spends a lot of time resting on the couch looking out the window and, when he sees one of these possible aggressors on the street, he reacts with sudden, protective vigor. I can usually talk him out of this reaction, and he usually complies, but not before he’s looked at me as if I clearly have no idea what I’m talking about it.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Ball, unless there are other dogs around to play with. In the house, he tears up old T-shirts.

Where is Freddie's favorite outdoor destination?

Anywhere with my husband, who often takes long walks.

What is Freddie's best quality?

Unquenchable joie de vivre.

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

He’s not judgmental at all. He likes everyone just the way they are, including me.

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

What can I do to make your life happier?

What advice would Freddie give if asked?

Don’t worry. We’re not meant to know everything.

Visit Elisabeth Elo's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 2, 2019

A.F. Brady & Maurice

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Alex (A.F. Brady) and I am a psychotherapist and author. My dog is Maurice, a seven-year-old French bulldog and unapologetic lover of the finer things in life.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Maurice and I enjoy a coffee (usually cold as we are distracted by the needs of two very small humans) daily, because I can’t function without coffee and he can’t function without snuggles.

What's brewing?

Usually Nespresso with a lot of milk, or if I’m particularly impatient, NesCafe Instant coffee, also with milk.

Any treats for you or Maurice on this occasion?

I usually eat breakfast well after my first coffee, and Maurice usually hovers under the kids while they’re having breakfast in case they drop anything.

How were you and Maurice united?

Maurice was the runt of a small littler of Frenchies at a place in Jersey. He was needy, tiny, and had parasites, and he wouldn’t let me put him down for even a moment for the first few weeks.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

As he is a saucy Frenchman, I named him after Maurice Chevalier. And I usually call him Momo.

Does Maurice do more to help or hinder your writing?

Maurice has been on my lap or at my feet or under my knees for every book I’ve written and all through the editing process. He is an extremely calming influence, so in that way he helps enormously. However, he wants exclusive access to my lap, which is where my laptop goes, and he snores, so in that way, he is a hinderance.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

If a human of any kind approaches, Momo will lick and snuggle him/her to death. He has absolutely no interest in other animals, no matter the variety.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Usually stuffed toys. He tends to destroy them admirably. He cares very little to whom the toy belongs.

Where is Maurice's favorite outdoor destination?

My lap when my lap is outside.

Who is Maurice's best pet-pal?

He thinks he’s human, and he prefers humans.

What is Maurice's best quality?

His silliness and absolutely unconditional love.

If Maurice could change one thing about New Yorkers, what would it be?

They would all have bacon in their pockets, cashmere blankets at the ready and no pets of their own.

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

Is there anything else that you need?

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

Maurice Chevalier.

What advice would Maurice give if asked?

“Stop caring what other people think. Only care what I think.”

Visit A.F. Brady's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Kitty Zeldis & Dottie

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m an author; Kitty Zeldis is the pen name I’m using for my newest novel, Not Our Kind. I’m holding Dottie, a purebred Pomeranian who celebrates her first birthday on December 14, 2018.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Dottie and I are coffee buddies every morning. She’s still very frisky so I have to hold her on my lap while I’m drinking my coffee. Otherwise she’ll trot to the window and yap her little head off!

What's brewing?

Carmelito or Vanilla latte that I make at home with my nifty Nespresso machine. I take a double hit of milk and drink it from a small bowl, like a Parisian.

Any treats for you or Dottie on this occasion?

Dottie gets a dog biscuit or a treat with green tripe that is supposed to aid in digestion though it’s not at all clear that it’s doing anything.

How were you and Dottie united?

Dottie was previously owned by a breeder. But because of a small defect (an underbite), the breeder decided not to show or breed her, and she let me have her.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

My daughter and I just thought it was a cute name that suited her. We liked its retro quality. We sometimes call her just plain Dot. Or we give the name a Russian twist: Dotska.

Does Dottie do more to help or hinder your writing?

I’d say more to help. Her puppy energy and entertaining antics put me in such a good mood.

Has Dottie inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Not yet, but soon...

Cat, postman, squirrel…?

Postman, because she can bark at him. Cats scare her.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?

Squeaky toy is her favorite though she likes a ball too.

Where is Dottie's favorite outdoor destination?

She likes to go almost everywhere, though places with super slick floors upset her.

Who is Dottie's best pet-pal?

She’s not too dog friendly; she's more of a people dog.

What is Dottie's best quality?

Her affectionate nature. She wants to be friends with everyone, and is lavish with her licks!

If Dottie could change one thing about Brooklynites, what would it be?

She’d tell them to quit using those little scooters you see all over—she hates them!

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

Why does she bark hysterically whenever the mop comes out of the closet?

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

I’d go for Reese Witherspoon.

What advice would Dottie give if asked?

There’s always time for a tummy rub.

Follow Kitty Zeldis on Facebook.

My Book, The Movie: Not Our Kind.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 26, 2018

P. J. Vernon & Chauncey and Mikko

Who is in the photo?

The human is me, PJ Vernon. I’m a suspense author (When You Find Me is my Southern Gothic debut, and everyone should buy twelve copies from NY Times-reporting bookstores). These are my dogs, and they’re pretty grand, too.

In the foreground and half outta frame, we have Chauncey the eight-year-old English Bulldog.

Above him, is our three-year-old rescue, Mikko. Half-Husky, half-German Shepherd, half-Bolto, and half-White Fang. That math adds up; no follow-up questions.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

When it comes to my dog-children, I’m a pageant mom. I’ve forced this publicity upon them in an emotionally-fraught attempt to live vicariously through their impending celebrity.

What's brewing?

I’m no coffee snob [coffee not pictured for safety reasons]. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got a collection of great beans—and one of those fancy-shmancy hand-crank grinders—but ain’t nothin’ wrong with Maxwell House in the morning. The addition of sweetened condensed milk, however, is an absolute must.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?


Mikko already indulged in sweet manna from the heavens (magpies dropped orange peels in the backyard this morning while I wasn’t paying attention).

Chauncey’s treat-less because he knows what he did.

How were you and your dogs united?

Chauncey was a poorly-advised-but-totally-worth-it-and-no-one-can-tell-me-otherwise purchase. In grad school, I emptied my entire checking account to bring him home. The bank teller’s face as I withdrew everything to acquire a puppy? Priceless.

Bless her heart.

Mikko’s a rescue. He hails from the far north of Alberta. Brrr. He has a prison [shelter] tat on his left ear, bum hind leg, and a heart o’ pure gold.

He’s also in doggie therapy working on his fear reactivity towards strange dogs (we all have a past). He’s making fabulous progress!

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Chauncey’s name just came to me. He often goes by Chaunpoo. My partner Barry named Mikko. Mikko also goes by Mikkiepoo.

Do Chauncey and Mikko do more to help or hinder your writing?

A mixed bag. I’m very productive in the mornings when they play the role of white noise machines (soothing snoring punctuated by an occasional fart).

However, once noon rolls around, they engage in mission creep but for dinner. At one point, feeding was 6 PM. They’ve now collapsed the dinnertime window to between 3 and 4. Success!

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

Oh god no. I wouldn’t let them anywhere near my dark and twisty plots.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Baby strollers.

Our house is a downtown, so there’s always a flurry of activity outside. When—and this actually happened—drifters were having sex in our back alley? Not a peep from either of them.

But the menacing clickity-clack of a squeaky stroller wheel on an uneven sidewalk? Not havin’ it.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

All of the above for Chauncey. It’s unlikely Mikko had access to traditional dog toys as a pup, so he’s in the process of learning how to play from his brother. Although, he does have a serious sock fetish we have to watch out for.

Who is each dog's best pet-pal?

Chauncey is not self-aware when it comes to his status as “pet”, so he’d likely say Mikko. His dog.

Circling back to Mikko’s fear reactivity, he’s made great furry friends in therapy (huge shout out to Dogma in Calgary). But at the end of the day, he loves Chauncey the most. He’s protective of his sibling.

What is each dog's best quality?

Chauncey spent his formative years with me as a single gay man, so his special power is the neediness I deliberately and carefully cultivated in him.

Mikko’s best quality is his ability to play the big spoon to my little spoon on the couch.

If Chauncey and Mikko could change one thing about you, what would it be?

They’d like to see the final remnants of my sand castle-like resolve wash away when it comes to staving off dinner until [currently] 3:30 PM.

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

How much more do you love me than Barry? If the answer’s not what I want to hear, I forfeit my question.

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

Mikko could be voiced by Michael J. Fox who played Chance in Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey.

Chauncey could be done by Sally Field a la Sassy.

Neither has the gravitas for Shadow (played by the late Don Ameche).

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Strollers belong in zoo enclosures where they can be appreciated from a safe distance. Not just… feral… in urban centers.

Visit P. J. Vernon's website.

The Page 69 Test: When You Find Me.

Writers Read: P. J. Vernon.

My Book, The Movie: When You Find Me.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Abbi Waxman & her dogs

Author Abbi Waxman answers a few questions about her dogs, Daisy, Jasper, and Wilbur.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I don't really need an occasion. I pretty much mainline coffee and dogs all day. The three we have, plus one that comes over to visit a lot, plus my brother-in-law's dog who often comes to stay... there's always fur everywhere and a lot of noise, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Of course, that might explain my need to mainline coffee, but correlation is not causation, right?

[photo right: Wilbur]

What's brewing?

Drip coffee: Peet's Major Dickasons, at home, although I don't like the way they make coffee in their coffee shops (sorry, Peet's). I work at a Le Pain Quotidien near my house, and there I drink either lattes with cinnamon or mochas.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Yes, always treats, although mostly for me. I'm a cake whore.

How were you and your dogs united?

Two of them came from the pound, and one from a small family breeder (it's a long story, adopt don't shop, etc).

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

The kids named Wilbur and Daisy, I named Jasper [photo left]. They wanted to call him Huckleberry, but I put my foot down. We call them all kinds of names, all the time; Jasperilla, Wilberto, Wilberino, Daisy D. Dog...the list goes on.

Do your dogs do more to help or hinder your writing?

Help. They're an excellent distraction and excuse not to work. The picture of Jasper is his idea of a subtle interruption to my work.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

There are lots of dogs in my work, they're my favorite characters to write. They're all an amalgam of all the dogs I've ever had, although Frank, the dog who appears in all three of my novels, is based on a labrador mix we had years ago, whose name was Milo. He was a great dog.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

They ignore cats, largely, because we have several, and they're nice to the mailman. However, they are driven to distraction by the squirrels in our yard, and there's kind of a running battle. We have two or three squirrels who regularly taunt the dogs and sit up in the trees and chatter and hurl invective down at them. Jasper falls for it every time. He's a sucker.

[photo right: Daisy]

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

All of the above.

Who is each dog's best pet-pal?

Daisy, who is a pug mix, doesn't think she's a dog, so she tends to hang out with me. Jasper loves Wilbur, because when Jasper came to us as a puppy Wilbur was already grown. He looks up to him. Wilbur loves whoever has food. All of them love my youngest daughter, Kate, who is a dog whisperer and animal fanatic.

What is each dog's best quality?

Daisy has a commitment to sleep that I envy. Wilbur has a commitment to food that I appreciate. And Jasper is the most enthusiastic dog on the planet. He is up for anything.

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

They would encourage them to drop more food.

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

What can I do to make you happy?

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

Well, currently we have three dogs, two cats, a leopard gecko and 7 chickens, so I think they should all be played by Meryl Streep, just to give her a challenge.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

You should take a nap. And snack more. Snack and nap, over and over again.

Visit Abbi Waxman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 21, 2018

Paula Munier & Bear

Who’s in the photo at right?

That's me, Paula Munier, and Bear.

I'm an author, an agent, and a writing teacher. My dog's name is Bear. He's a male, probably about three years old, a Newfoundland Retriever mix as far as we can tell.

Every morning we have coffee together. I drink coffee, he drinks water. Bear is a morning person, I am not a morning person. That’s why Bear has to wait for me to get my act together and come outside and sit down and drink my coffee. We live in New England in a big old 18th-century Colonial—19 acres of Sugar Maples and a lake, and lots of wildlife all around.

What's brewing?

What's brewing is coffee, black. I never drank coffee as a young woman. I drank Pepsi. When I got my first job as the only woman reporter on a tough-guy staff of a business magazine back in the 80s, they made fun of me. They said that real reporters drank black coffee. So I learned to do it. They taught me to curse, too, but that's another story.

Any treats for you or Bear on this occasion?

Bear always get a treat. If we're having bacon and eggs, he gets bacon and eggs. If we're having peanut butter toast, he gets a little peanut butter toast. He's spoiled. What can I say?

How were you and Bear united?

We adopted him. He's a rescue from Alabama. He'd been hit in the head (probably with a shovel) and abandoned. Double Dog Rescue found him, fostered him, and brought him up to New England for us. He's a lovely dog in every way.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

His name was Bear already when we got him. But I call him Yogi Berra because he's the same goofy, profound kind of character that Yogi Berra was. If you see a fork in the road, take it….

Does Bear do more to help or hinder your writing?

Bear is a great help to me in my writing. He served as the inspiration for Susie Bear, one of the dogs in my K-9 mystery, A Borrowing of Bones. She’s a Newfoundland Retriever mix like Bear. She works as a search-and-rescue dog with Vermont Game Warden Troy Warner. Like Bear, she’s friendly and cheerful—and a very good swimmer.

Cat, postman, squirrel…?

We have a rescue cat, a torbie tabby named Ursula. Bear chases her, but only with the aim of persuading her to play with him, which she naturally refuses to do. He really needs a pal, and we're on the lookout for another rescue dog to be his playmate.

Ball, squeaky toy, stick?

Bear doesn't show much interest in fetching, although he’s a very smart dog. He's done very well in obedience training, and we’re doing some agility and nose work now. (When we train him, we use treats as a reward.) We've taught him to go kayaking with us in our tandem kayak, and to jump up on my paddleboard with me when I go out on the lake, which is great for me because it adds almost 100 pounds to my workout.

What is Bear's favorite outdoor destination?

Bear likes to go anywhere anytime. He loves to go with rides from Michael in his truck, especially to Home Depot because he knows that every Home Depot run usually ends in a stop at McDonald's for a cheeseburger or a breakfast McMuffin depending on the time of day. (We are remodeling the house, so there are a lot of trips to Home Depot.) He likes to go on walks with me in the woods. He likes to go swimming in the lake. He likes to go anywhere and everywhere. He's always ready to have fun.

What is Bear's best quality?

I would say his best quality is his ability to live in the moment. He had a very rough beginning in Alabama. When we rescued him, he showed up with half of his upper teeth missing and it was apparent from the X-rays that his skull and facial bones had been fractured. Our vet removed the roots left from those missing teeth, and he seems to be fine now. But you’d never know that he’d had such a tough past. Our vet calls him The Happiest Dog in the World. He’s living large in the present. A good lesson for all of us.

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

That's a really funny question. I'm stricter with Bear than anyone else in the family, because I do the training with him. So, he'd probably like it if I let him get away with more at home. And he’d probably like our walks through the countryside to be even longer than they already are.

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

I'd ask him to tell me a little bit more about his past so that we'd understand him better. Or maybe I’d take a cue from his “Be Here Now” philosophy and just ask him what kind of playmate he'd like to have, now that we are actively looking for another rescue. (Or two or three or...after all, we do have 19 acres now.)

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

I would say Yogi Berra, because he reminds me so much of Yogi Berra in that zany Zen monk kind of way. But since Yogi Berra is no longer with us, Bear will have to settle for Tom Hanks.

What advice would Bear give if asked?

I think Bear would advise us to lighten up, have fun, and live for the moment. He'd also tell us to take care of one another. He's a very protective and loyal dog. And he pays very close attention to everything we do and say. I think he'd remind us to pay attention to the people we love. Just like he does.

Visit Paula Munier's website.

My Book, The Movie: A Borrowing of Bones.

--Marshal Zeringue