Monday, August 16, 2010

Bea Smith & Findley

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Bea Smith and I'm a school librarian. My dog, Findley, is a 15-year-old male Shih-tzu. We've been together for 13 of those years.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

One Saturday morning a month, Findley and I go for a little ride to Starbucks. Findley likes riding in the car and he loves the coffee smells when we reach the drive through window. Since I had him for so long when I got his little buddy, Brendan, who does NOT like to ride in the car, it's a nice way for some one-on-one time with just the two of us.

What's brewing?

I usually get a vanilla chai latte, full size,using regular milk.When I splurge, I splurge. At home, I drink Central Market's Bavarian hazelnut coffee with milk and sugar. Findley prefers water, as caffeine keeps him up at night.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Not usually. Sometimes on our monthly trek to Starbucks, I'll get some coffee cake.

Any treat for Findley on this occasion?

For a while the Starbucks baristas would give Findley a dog treat, which he very much enjoyed. Now, I just keep one in the car for him so he doesn't feel left out.

How were you and Findley united?

It was Thanksgiving night, and I was on my way home from visiting my parents. I was on a rural highway just a few miles from town, when I saw this cute, cute, little dog running down the highway on the other side, and I just knew he would get hit. (I'd seen him a month before at a nearby convenience store as my mother and I drove past, and she said he'd been there for a few weeks. I was very worried about him then, but we didn't stop.)

That night, I thought, "I just have to help that little dog." I turned around at the next crossover. I was going very slow, but it was dark and my headlights picked up the little guy sitting in the middle of my lane just as I was about to hit him. I swerved, went into a shallow ditch, and took inventory. When I realized I wasn't dead, I got out of my car. All the warnings about stray dogs, wounded dogs, etc. went through my head as I said tentatively, "Little dog? Are you out here?" I was afraid to even look at the road, but to my astonishment, he walked up and sat at my feet, looking shaken and very puzzled. I swear, my car must have gone right over him! I put him in my car and took him to my parents' house. My mother answered the door and immediately looked very wary. I said, "I'm not going to keep him; I just need to see if he's okay and find a rescue organization."

My mother said later that as I drove away, my dad wandered in to see what the commotion had been. She brought him up to speed and ended by saying, "Bea says she's going to find him a home." My father laughed and said, "She already has!"

I named him Findley on the 45 minute ride home, and I've never been sorry I stopped.

How did Findley get his name? Any aliases?

Findley's name just popped into my head. I guess that's just who he is! I also call him Fin or The Sheriff, because he likes to patrol the perimeter of the house periodically to make sure no bad guys are outside. He walks the same route, from window to window, about the same exact times each day.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Findley hates opossums and raccoons! We have a lot of trees in the backyard, and there is a creek nearby, so we get a lot of wildlife even though we are in town. Sometimes late at night, an opossum or a raccoon will peer into the back door window, and Findley just goes ballistic. I think they like watching his reaction, knowing he can't get to them! Can raccoons giggle? I swear one night I thought one of them waved...

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

Findley has a rope toy that he loves. He makes these cute little grrrr noises when he is playing. He also likes wrestling with Brendan. Since Findley is older now, he spends a lot of quality time in his doggy bed, pondering life's mysteries and snoring softly.

Where is Findley's favorite place for an outing?

He loves going to the post office or to Starbucks. My parents live nearby, and we go visit frequently. They fuss over him, and Fin gets to play with their dog, Webster [photo above left]. My dad always has copious dog treat at the ready and my mother loves to pet him.

Who is Findley's best pet-pal?

Brendan [photo right], my three year old Chihuahua mix, both frustrates and amuses him. I think Findley likes the companionship. He likes to curl up with my cat, Kiki, and take naps. Sometimes the three of them pile on top of each other and snooze.

What is Findley's best quality?

Findley is just the sweetest dog I've ever met. He's smart and loyal, but when I look into his eyes, I can see he's just such a kind little soul. He has the most expressive face I've ever seen on a dog.

What is Findley's proudest moment? His most embarrassing?

It had rained a lot recently a couple of years ago, and my front yard showed it. When I stepped into a new gully in my yard and severely broke my wrist, I almost blacked out from the pain. Findley sat next to me and waited patiently, not barking, wandering, or pulling, until I could get up and wobble inside the house, with him following patiently behind.

Our most embarrassing moment, I think, is when my mother, writer Caroline Clemmons, talked me into taking Findley to have his picture with Santa the first year I had him. Poor Findley seemed to think I was giving him to Santa, and he was terrified! The crowds, the other dogs, and the Big Guy with a Beard just almost finished him off. The picture was pitiful, with Santa holding on to a slippery dog and Fin's expression of terror. I felt so bad!

--Marshal Zeringue