Friday, August 28, 2009

Eileen McVety & Shamrock

Who is in the photo at right?

Eileen McVety, owner of Spot-on Writing and author of the humor book "Welcome to the Company (or what it’s really like working here)" with Shamrock, her 2-1/2-year-old male golden retriever.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

The sun is out, the weather is warm, and the back porch glider beckons.

What's brewing?

Folgers Breakfast Blend with a generous serving of half and half. I know … it’s not cool. But it tastes good and I can get 240 cups out of a $9 plastic container. At least that’s what it says on the label and we all know that advertising copy never lies.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Coffee was prefaced with a heaping bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats.

Any treat for Shamrock on this occasion?

Yes. Slivers of cheddar cheese that he found lying on the porch by the grill and devoured instantly.

How did Shamrock come to be united with you?

We found a wonderful breeder of golden retrievers in suburban Philadelphia. The breeder picked him out for us but I like to think that there may have been some unnamed spiritual force guiding her decision.

How did Shamrock get his name?

Our last name is McVety and our daughters are Molly and Erin. We knew we wanted our dog to have an Irish name. Initially, we searched a map of Ireland to find a town name that might work but nothing seemed appropriate. I couldn’t imagine hollering across the yard, “Come here, Killarney!” or “Here, Cork, fetch!” One day, I was flipping through a catalog that featured St. Patrick’s Day decorations when I stopped to inquire of my husband and kids, “What do you think of the name Shamrock?” The rest is history.

Tennis ball, Frisbee, stick,...?

Tennis ball, for sure. Shamrock is an excellent retriever but a pathetic releaser. We spend a great deal of time every day trying to wrestle slobbery balls from the vice-like grip of his jaw. You’d think he’d get the hang of the whole fetch-and-release thing after 2 years, but no such luck.

Has your dog influenced your writing in any way?
My husband thinks that Shamrock has calmed me down, allowing me to be more focused. I think he’s opened my eyes to the silliness of the every day. One thing we can agree on: he keeps my feet warm on cold days at the computer.

What's an ordinary day like for Shamrock?

Mornings are usually spent with his chin on the laps of my daughters as they eat their breakfast, eagerly awaiting the wayward drop of a morsel of waffle. There’s a lot of lying around beneath people’s feet throughout the day and sniffing around the yard. Shamrock and I usually get a 2-mile walk in after dinner when the temperature’s a little cooler. As soon as the dinner dishes are washed, he follows me around from room to room like a furry stalker.

Who is your dog's best pet-pal?

India, a neighborhood boxer, who always stops by our yard for a visit during her daily walks. India and Shamrock sniff each other frantically, then India and her owner head off up the street. The encounters are brief but full of adrenalin and joy. Soon after, Shamrock returns to his preferred state of calm.

What's Shamrock's best quality?

His genuine (and sometimes heartbreaking) belief in the inherent goodness of others.

What's your dog's proudest moment so far? His most embarrassing?

I’d say that his proudest moment was the first time he barked. He was about 6 months old at the time and was initially startled by the rich guttural sound that his throat produced. That feeling was quickly replaced by a proud glow of accomplishment, like, “Hey, I just became a dog today.”

His most embarrassing moments happen anytime we’re taking a walk and he cowers in the presence of a small passing dog. He has no concept of being 85 pounds with lion-like paws. In his mind, he’s the size of a hamster.

Eileen McVety is a professional writer with more than 20 years of communications writing experience. At Spot-on Writing she has developed award-winning branding campaigns and communications materials for clients in both the pharmaceutical and business-to-business sectors. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago and is a published essayist and short-story writer whose work has appeared in the "Chicago Tribune," "Tiny Lights," "Career Woman," "Philosophical Mother," and "The Minetta Review."

"Welcome to the Company (or what it's really like working here)," McVety's first book, was published in March 2009.

Learn more about Eileen McVety at the Spot-on Writing website.

--Marshal Zeringue