Monday, July 21, 2014

Tess Hilmo & Daisy

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi! I'm Tess Hilmo. I write novels for young readers (ages 8-12) and this is my pup Daisy - she's a 13-year-old toy poodle.

Here we are in the hammock in our back woods - my favorite place to steal away with a good book.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I'm an herbal tea fan and enjoy it at my breakfast table most often - though I do like to go out for tea and found my newest favorite on a recent outing to the cafe at Barnes and Noble.

What's brewing?

Today it's Harney and Son's Hot Cinnamon tea. It tastes just like those hard cinnamon candies I loved as a little girl and I feel like I'm getting a real treat when I choose this flavor.

Of course, Daisy is always curious about what is going on at the table....[photo left]

Any treats for you or Daisy on this occasion?

Funny you should mention treats. At 13, Daisy is pretty chill. You can find her stretched out on our family room rug most of the time. But when she hears the treat bag rattle, she comes to life like a young puppy again.

How did your dog get her name? Any nicknames?

We adopted Daisy from a neighbor who was moving 11 years ago so she came with her name - but when she needs a bath we call her stinky-pot-schmooley. I have no idea why, really, but my son said it one day and it just stuck.

How were you and your dog united?

Our neighbors were moving and we couldn't imagine the street without Daisy on it so we offered to keep her and they agreed - lucky us!

Are there any dogs in your new novel inspired by Daisy?

My newest novel, Skies Like These, is a fun, friendship filled novel with a cowboy twist. It takes place on a dog ranch in Wyoming so there are lots of wonderful dogs in it - in fact the resolution at the end comes about because of one particularly wonderful bullmastiff. Daisy definitely inspired some of the various moments I wrote about.

Does Daisy do more to help or hinder your writing?

She keeps me company which is a wonderful gift.

Who is Daisy's best pet-pal?

Me! If I'm in the house, she's right there with me. Sometimes I feel guilty because I'll go downstairs to grab something and she will follow me. Since she is 13, she's a bit slower and will inevitably get to the bottom stair right as I'm going back up. The look on her face is like, "Seriously?" but she follows me back up all the same.

Where is Daisy's favorite outdoor destination?

Picking the kiddos up from school.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Daisy has never been much for toys. I remember buying her a squeaky early on and she couldn't care less. Ah, well.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

We get the occasional deer in our yard and she goes crazy barking and chasing them off. At first, I liked the deer and was sad but after I saw them mow down my vegetable garden in about thirty seconds, I let her chase at will. She is about one tenth their size so it's a funny sight.

What is Daisy's best quality?

Unconditional love. It's probably every dog's best quality but Daisy has it in spades.

If Daisy could change one thing about Utahns, what would it be?

About Utah: the snow - she's winter wimp!

Utahns in general are big outdoorsy people so dogs are widely accepted and loved.

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

Hilarious question! Hmmm... let's see, I think I'd like Rosie Perez to do her voice. Funny, snarky and full of personality.

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

I'd just want to make sure she knows how very much she is loved.

Visit Tess Hilmo's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tracy Barrett & Pericles

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Tracy Barrett, a writer, knitter, animal lover, former college professor. Peering over my shoulder is Pericles, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. He was just six weeks old in that picture and he liked to climb up behind my neck to snooze. At the advanced age of three months, he’d probably still do it if he could—he’s very cuddly!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My twentieth book (and tenth novel) for young readers was published just a few weeks ago! It’s a young-adult novel called The Stepsister’s Tale, and it shows a different side of Cinderella and her stepfamily. The publisher is Harlequin Teen.

What's brewing?

I’ve been drinking Peet’s coffee ever since I lived in Berkeley, California, a few miles from the original Peet’s location. After I moved to Tennessee I used to have to mail-order Peet’s from Oakland but now I can get it in the supermarket, which is a thrill! I like their new medium roasts but I sometimes drink dark roast. I drink it black. I have to stop around 3:00 in the afternoon if I want to sleep.

Any treats for you or Pericles on this occasion?

Pericles gets lots of treats because he’s finally getting the hang of housebreaking. Each successful attempt earns him a dog cookie!

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

We live in Nashville, Tennessee, home of the only full-scale replica of the Athenian Parthenon that replicates it both inside and out. My kids were always crazy about Greek myths (as was/am I!) and our animals have almost always been named after Greek mythological figures. We’ve had Psyche, Athena, Penny (for Odysseus’ wife, Penelope), Jason, and Purrsephone. This time we decided to honor the leader of Athens under whose rule the Parthenon was built. We were going to call him Perry but the absurdity of the dignified “Pericles” for a goofy puppy was a fun contrast, so he gets the honor of the full name. Although most often we call him “Stop it!”

How were you and Pericles united?

We bought Pericles from a breeder in Nashville who raises the puppies in his home and lavishes them with love.

How does Pericles help--or hinder--your writing?

The biggest hindrance right now is that I like to write while walking (very slowly) at a treadmill desk. Pericles goes nuts and attacks the belt and I’m afraid his long ears will get tangled up in it! If I close him out he scratches on the door and drives me nuts. So until he’s a little calmer I have to write sitting, which I don’t like!

Are there any dogs in your fiction that were inspired by your real-life dogs?

I have dogs in most of my books. The Stepsister’s Tale has a farm dog named Betsy (and her puppies); in Dark of the Moon, a retelling of the Minotaur myth, Theseus has a dog that I picture as some kind of borzoi-like breed (when he was a boy he also had a cat, which was an exotic Egyptian creature to a Greek of those days); and a dog named Argos plays a role in King of Ithaka, my Odyssey retelling.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

We got a rescue kitten a few weeks after acquiring Pericles. Her name is Izzie, since as soon as I let her out of her carrier she leaped up next to the fireplace, where she sat like Cinderella. Since the Cinderella character in The Stepsister’s Tale is named Isabella, that became the cat’s name too. She and Pericles play together a lot—the poor kitty’s head is usually soggy with dog spit!

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

Ball. He’s a natural at fetch. We got some tiny tennis balls for him and from the first time one was tossed he ran after it, brought it back, and dropped it at my feet. After the Jack Russells we had for years, who guarded their toys like you were a thief, this was so easy!

Who is Pericles’s best pet-pal?

He adores Izzie. As I was writing this I heard her purring and turned around to see this [photo right].

What is Pericles's best quality?

He’s very adaptable. If the weather isn’t good for a walk, he’ll happily chill at home. If it’s a nice day, he’ll happily walk for a long way. Anything goes! He likes everyone and is convinced that everyone loves him.

If Pericles could change one thing about Tennesseans, what would it be?

There would be no such thing as an “outside dog.” All dogs would be part of the family.

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

The kid who voiced Charlie Brown in the Peanuts cartoons.

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

How do you manage to untie double-knotted shoelaces using only your teeth?

Visit Tracy Barrett's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 14, 2014

Susan Slater & Toby and Tess

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Susan Slater a southwest mystery writer and recent transplant from New Mexico. I currently live in Florida. I’m working on calling myself a “surf-side cowgirl” but I’m not quite there yet. The trek here with a cage full of canaries and two miniature Schnauzers—Toby and Tess—rivaled the Joad family’s move to CA. And here I am getting a puppy kiss from Toby with his sister, Tess, waiting in line.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Coffee every morning is an excuse to start the day on the back porch—in the summer down here, it’s called enjoy the outdoors before the humidity sets in. And, of course, I always have company. Today, however, was special—a carton full of my new book, Rollover, arrived late last night. Wow. Is there anything as exciting or gratifying as holding that first, “hot off the press” copy of your own work?

What's brewing?

I am such a coffee snob; I must have been a barista in another life. And talk about addiction, I can wake up in the middle of the night, chug a “shot” of espresso and fall back to sleep. My morning choice is a medium ground (of course, I grind my own) Kaldi brand Breakfast Blend. I do a “pour through” using a Chemex and filters.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

We almost always share a bagel and cream cheese—the Schnauzers prefer the addition of lox and capers.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Named in memory of a close friend’s first two Schnauzers. Tess also answers to “Poodie”, short for poodle. There’s poodle in the miniature Schnauzers’ family tree but some are more poodle-like than others. Tess can walk across a room on her hind legs. At eight and a half I wonder if she’s too old for Americas Got Talent?

How were you and your dogs united?

My vet in NM had a boarding kennel. One morning when I was putting my Belgian Sheepdog in for the weekend, my vet asked me if I wanted to see something cute. She’d just been up all night saving the life of a Schnauzer mother and her five puppies. Now at my age one would think I’d see the danger in looking at something small, warm, fuzzy . . . I looked at them, held them and reserved two!!!

How do your dogs help--or hinder—your writing?

I totally blame the Schnauzers for teaching me how to nap. Not that I equate chasing squirrels around the backyard to writing that particularly difficult ending, but I suppose both of us have earned a little downtime.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your published work?

A friend’s Rottweiler, Max, inspired Simon in the Dan Mahoney series. But writing about dogs is tough. Simon has his fifteen minutes of fame in Rollover—a scene that will bring tears to the eyes of all dog-lovers. No, no Simon isn’t injured—an author learns quickly never to maim a dog or he will suffer the wrath of his readers!

The third Dan Mahoney mystery is Hair of the Dog. Yeah, greyhound racing in Florida is the backdrop—the topic is great fun and I’m really into it but am scared to death something lithe and lovely will follow me home.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Stuffing-less toys that allow two Schnauzers to try and jerk each other off their feet are real favorites.

[photo left: Tess is looking for a “game”]

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Anyone on two-legs who comes to the front door is an automatic best friend! Schnauzers are, however, one of the top five breeds of “warning barkers”. Yes, mine have a police record—a couple misdemeanors for being overly loud.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

I’ve never owned dogs with such a high prey-drive! For the first three years of their lives we lived on a goat farm in the mountains of NM. The Schnauzers kept my barn absolutely rat-free. They really earned their dog food!! The chickens, however, were not impressed.

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

They would like me to eat bacon three times a day—cook it really crispy and drop at least one slice each on the floor.

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

Danny DeVito and Goldie Hawn.

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

On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate me as an owner?

Learn more about Rollover at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Warren C. Easley & Theo

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Warren C. Easley, the author of the Cal Claxton Oregon mystery series. The second book in the series, Dead Float, is now out from Poisoned Pen Press. That little guy is Theo, a Pomeranian-Chihuahua mix, although he doesn’t know he’s a small dog. He’s seven years old and feisty as ever!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We always snack before going on our daily walk—a double cappuccino made from freshly ground beans for me and a Milk Bone for Theo. I taught him to stand up for his treat, but he really doesn’t like dog tricks at all. He’s way too cool for that. If it’s nice, we sit on the side deck, which affords a view of the Willamette Valley to the south.

How were you and Theo united?

Theo was my daughter’s dog. She saw him at a pet store and it was love at first sight. A dead ringer for a small red fox, he was supposed to be a five-pound lap dog, but he didn’t get the memo. He weighs in at 19 pounds, mostly muscle. The daughter went off to college and, well, it’s a familiar story…

How did Theo get his name?

Theo is named for Vincent Van Gogh’s brother, to whom the artist wrote many beautiful letters. My daughter was in her Van Gogh period.

Does Theo do more to help or hinder your writing?

Theo is absolutely essential to my writing. I write “organically,” a fancy way to say I don’t outline. A good mystery requires a tightly woven plot, and when I get stuck, it’s usually over a crucial plot point. My remedy is to walk, and that’s where Theo comes in. He keeps me company on my treks, which can cover five miles if I’m really flummoxed. He’s right there the whole time, cheerfully keeping me company.

Cat, postman, squirrel?

In addition to taking me for walks and generally looking cute, Theo sees his job as patrolling our yard of nearly 3 acres and to chase away all manner of critters, including skunks, coyotes, and deer. I watched him bark a coyote right out of the yard once, but he’s never quite figured out how to handle skunks without getting sprayed. If he gets whacked at night, he’s banished from the castle until we can bathe him in the morning.

What is Theo's best quality?

Theo’s a tough little country dog who’s not yappy, keeps deer out of the garden, and is always up for a walk.

If Theo could change one thing about Oregonians, what would it be?

Theo would love it if Oregonians wouldn’t make such a fuss over how cute he is. And don’t pick him up and try to cuddle him, either. He’s really not much of a people-dog…

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

Theo, when are you going to learn that skunks are not black and white cats?

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

If it were up to Theo, he’d probably pick Clint Eastwood or Charles Bronson.

Visit Warren C. Easley's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 7, 2014

Angel Musk & Ellie, Kumori, Tessa, Tucker, and Micah

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Angel Musk, a Mother of 3 boys, full-time worker, and part-time writer. I am a big dog lover! I share my home with Ellie, Kumori, Tessa, Tucker, and Micah. Micah is the son of Tessa and Tucker and is pug/Chihuahua mix. This is Tucker and me working. All of my dogs are under 7 years old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My book launch, Essence of Time. This is my first novel and I am really excited about it!

What's brewing?

Well, I can't stand the taste of coffee. So my favorite beverage is McDonald's Sweet Tea!

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

I ordered my dog children a 3 Month Bark Box Subscription. So far they are loving the treats and toys.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Ellie, was already named when we got her. She is named after the mammoth from the movie, Ice Age 2. Kumori, also had that name when we rescued her from the shelter. Her previous owner were friends of ours. Tessa, was received from a friend that no longer wanted her. Tucker, was from Tennessee and we had to throw in a little Kentucky pride for his name. Micah, was born from Tessa and when he came out he looked like he was wearing a mask like a raccoon. So we searched the internet for native American names for a raccoon.

How were you and your dogs united?

We were very fortunate to have these dogs enter our lives. Most were spur of the moment that turned into forever homes. We wouldn't have it any other way.

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

They like to snuggle up next to me. Tucker, the Chihuahua tries to climb under my laptop because it's so warm.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your published work?

There are dogs in my book but they were not my main focus.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?


Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Kumori will take sticks off trees to chew and play fetch with. She will also play with Frisbees and balls. She also likes to chase UPS trucks!

If your dogs could change one thing about Kentuckians, what would it be?
Not a thing, they love Kentuckians!

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

Queen Latifah for Ellie, Robert Downey Jr. for Tucker, Sandra Bullock for Tessa, Nicole Kidman for Kumori, and Ashton Kutcher for Micah.

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

Are you happy?

Visit Angel Musk's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Douglas Anthony Cooper & Pixel, Snorkel, Manatee, and Moose

Who are you and what do you do?

photo credit: Yanick Delafoge
Well, it’s really a “we” with regard to the current project – I’m Douglas Anthony Cooper, a novelist, and Dula Yavne is a visual artist. Together we’re producing Galunker, a children’s book about a pit bull.

[photo right: Doug Anthony Cooper and a friend take his pups out for a stroll.]

For the last two years, I’ve also been writing essays on animal welfare, and in particular the No Kill movement, which has earned me the fierce enmity of people who support kill shelters (PETA, etc.).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We were in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign to fund Galunker (as no traditional publisher will go near a kids’ book about a pit bull). Galunker has been written mostly in a cafe – essentially my office. I’m there every day, with all four dogs. I live in Oaxaca, in the south of Mexico, where the dogs are treated like aristocrats. They tend to be served before the humans: they get water, and then I get coffee.

What are your dogs' names, gender, age, breed?

It’s a diverse menagerie. All girls. Moose is a mutt – probably half Chihuahua, half Jack Russell. Manatee and Pixel are Italian Greyhounds, and Snorkel is a Xoloitzcuintle – a Mexican hairless.

What's brewing?

The coffee here is some of the best in the world. One of the cafes is owned by a good friend, who ran a coffee shop in Princeton. My morning ritual is a triple latte, which comes in a bowl. (Oaxaca is the Paris of Mexico.)

Another cafe, which I’ve recently begun to frequent, is devoted to exotic methods of preparing coffee: Vietnamese drip, etc.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Well, no need for treats. This new cafe in particular prefers dogs to humans, and insists that they run wild. I’ve had to dissuade the waitresses from feeding the dogs, but my sense is that they still do it on the sly.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Moose was named for the reason that you call a basketball player “Shorty.” She’s pretty small. Manatee as well: she’s the opposite of fat. Pixel was named for her personality: dancing and bright. Snorkel was hilariously wrinkled as a puppy: she looked like a snorkel.

How were you and your dogs united?

Moose we got from a veterinarian who had a litter to be homed.

Manatee was a gift. Pixel we got her from a woman in Mexico City, who is a biologist dedicated to keeping the breed healthy. Snorkel was bought for our landlady, who wanted a Xolo, but she bonded instantly with my girlfriend, so we had to keep her.

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

They’re the reason I’ve been writing Galunker. They’re in fact the reason I got into writing about animal welfare in the first place. Absolutely central to my life. That said, they do their best to make sure that I don’t get any writing done. (High maintenance.)

Galunker had a great start Kickstarter campaign, didn't it?

The campaign has been successful beyond anything we ever imagined: pit bull advocates from around the world have supported the book.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

We don’t have squirrels or traditional postmen, so it’s cats by default. We’ve been tending a feral cat colony; the dogs have mixed feelings about this.

What is each dog's best quality?

Moose: poetic. Pixel: absurdly social. Snorkel: ridiculous. Manatee: criminal mastermind.

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

They’d prefer I didn’t write, so that I could pay attention to them full time. They’re sincerely hoping that Galunker will be the last book.

Visit the Kickstarter campaign page for Galunker.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, June 30, 2014

R.J. Harlick & Sterling and Miss Molly

Who is in the photo at right?

The silver standard poodle is 6 year old Sterling and the smaller grey, one year old Miss Molly, his baby Sis, although she isn’t really, but she can be bratty enough to be one. As far as she’s concerned he’s her Big Bro. She goes wherever he goes, sniffs whatever he sniffs and steals his favourite ball then waves it in front of his nose. And I’m R.J. Harlick, Canadian crime writer. I write the Meg Harris mystery series set in the wilds of Quebec. The fourth book Arctic Blue Death was nominated for the Arthur Ellis Best Novel Award and the 6th, Silver Totem of Shame, has just been named one of the top ten summer crime fiction reads by the Globe and Mail.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Caffe latte overflowing with foamy milk is my morning reward for having been persuaded, more like forced by two sets of pleading brown eyes to walk through rain, snow, sleet, but thankfully more often sun, though in winter it can be a tad frigid.

What's brewing?

My coffee connoisseur husband ensures I have only the best. He is particularly partial to coffee roasted by Bridgehead, a local Ottawa coffeehouse that specializes in fairly traded coffee. For my latte he uses the decaffeinated espresso. And since I am a bit of a klutz with the espresso maker, he makes it for me. He’s especially adept at foaming the milk. Add a sprinkle of nutmeg, chocolate or cinnamon, depending on my mood, and I have one perfect latte.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Too many treats may spoil the child, but they sure make for well-behaved dogs…well almost. Their extra special treat is a piece of the granola cookie my husband has with his afternoon tea. The minute they hear the paper rustling as he removes the cookie from the bag, they both come running.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Sterling came with his name. He fit it so well with his sterling silver coat, we decided to stick with it. But he has been known to be called Sterls and Bro and in extremis, Bad Dog, which doesn’t really happen often, since he is basically a well behaved dog. We tried many name variations with his Sis when we got her as a puppy. Being a poodle, we felt she should have an elegant name, but she didn’t act elegant, more like a scruffy puppy. A week or so after we got her, Molly popped out of my husband’s mouth, so Molly she became. Then we felt perhaps we needed to give her a chance at being a lady, so we added Miss. She has yet to act like a lady. Jointly they are the Guys and will even respond to the word.

How were you and your dogs united?

Sterling is our second standard. We waited only a few months after DeMontigny, our first standard passed on before seeking out another furry family member. Initially we were going for another puppy, but after seeing Sterling’s almost smiling face on the Internet, decided to check him out. He was a two year old show dog who had been intended for breeding, but a genetic test identified a problem, so that was the end of his life as a stud. I think that was his lucky day. Last year when Sterling was five, we thought it would be fun to have another dog and so Miss Molly came into our family as an 8 week old ball of squirming fur and a female to boot. The first female dog in the seven dogs I have had in my life. And what a charmer she is. Sterling thinks so too.

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

Other than getting in an uproar over squirrels or dogs passing by the windows they don’t generally bother me. Or if they want something, like dinner, going for a walk or being let outside, more Molly than her bro. Then the paw pesters and the nose prods and she won’t let up until I give in often at a critical moment in my writing.

But I tell you those morning and afternoon walks are great for the writing muse. While they are sniffing this and that and doing their de rigueur business, my mind is focused on sorting out the latest antics my heroine, Meg Harris, is getting up to.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your writing?

Readers often ask if any of the characters in my Meg Harris mystery series are based on a real person. And I say Sergei, Meg’s black standard poodle, is the only one who has a counterpart in real life, at least he did until DeMontigny passed on. And it looks as if Miss Molly will also be making an appearance in the Meg Harris book I am currently working on.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Squirrel, squirrel, squirrel. I can’t even say the word without getting a reaction. In our household these critters are commonly referred to as the S-word. Sterling is ever on the watch for them. Unfortunately Miss Molly has learned from him that they are more than fun to chase.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Each other. It’s amazing how attached they have become. Though Sterling tries to remain aloof, he will search her out and she of course clings to him, when she isn’t attacking him. She particularly likes grabbing onto one of his long ears or the scruff of his neck.

What is each dog's best quality?

Sterling has the patience of a Buddha and is just as calm. He will stare at his favourite ball for what seems like hours hoping someone will come along and throw it or wait longingly with his mournful eyes beside the door as walk time approaches. And nothing seems to bother him, other than squirrels, and his little Sis when she is being particularly bratty.

Miss Molly is everyone’s friend. Wagging her tail she runs up to other dogs to play or to people for a pat. She doesn’t have an aggressive cell in her body. In fact she is a bit of a scaredy-cat and will come running back to ‘Momma’ at the least hint of a threat.

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

What me change?! I’m perfect. But I suppose they would say I don’t play enough with them, particularly Sterling. After dinner has become playtime. The minute I put the fork down on the plate, Sterling is running to the living room to wait patiently by his ball for me to come and play grab-the-ball. But sometimes I’m too busy and will ignore him or will play only for a few minutes. He never complains, just gives me one of his mournful stares.

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

Sorry, I’m not much into movies, so I’m not up on my film stars. Maurice Chevalier is the only one who comes to mind for Sterling, but that is reaching back in time a little far. I don’t know who of today’s star contingent would be able to roll his ‘r’s with equal panache. Similarly for Miss Molly child actor Haley Mills immediately jumped to mind. But it is many, many years since she was a child.

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

Whenever Sterling or Miss Molly raise a quizzical eyebrow in my direction I do wonder what is going on inside their furry heads. Are they asking me for something or are they making a comment on life. I have asked, “What are you thinking?” but so far haven’t received an answer.

Visit R.J. Harlick's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue