Who is in the photo at right?
My name is Bruce DeSilva. I was a journalist for 40 years before I retired last year to write crime novels full time. The first, Rogue Island, was just published; and I recently finished writing the second. My best friend is a 14-month-old male Bernese Mountain Dog named Brady.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
I go out early nearly every morning for take-out breakfast and coffee and then settle down with them in front of the computer in my home office to start the day’s writing. Brady likes to sit on my feet with his head in my lap while I write.
Nothing fancy—just old reliable Dunkin Donuts regular to wash away the cobwebs.
Any goodies to go with the coffee?
An egg-and-cheese sandwich for me--and, if my wife’s not looking, I sneak a couple of glazed donuts.
Any treat for Brady on this occasion?
Nope. Brady gets fed first in the morning, so he’s already had his fill. He’s one of those rare dogs who stop eating when he’s had just the right amount.
How were you and Brady united?
I’d had dogs all my life until our family moved into a no-dogs-allowed apartment in Tarrytown, NY, about ten years ago. When we finally bought a house in a suburban New Jersey town in the summer of 2009, the very next thing we went shopping for was a Bernese Mountain Dog. Many years ago, in another life, I raised Border Collies; but my wife, the poet Patricia Smith, had fallen in love with Berners after watching them at dog shows. We bought Brady from a fine breeder in Arkansas. From the moment we laid eyes on him, he had our hearts.
Have your dogs had any influence on your writing?
You can learn a lot about people by how they treat dogs. The same thing is true of fictional characters, so I sometimes use dogs to help with characterization. Two dogs play major roles in Rogue Island; and in the sequel, tentatively titled Cliff Walk, one character owns a Bernese Mountain Dog named (surprise!) Brady.
How did Brady get his name? Any aliases?
I grew up in New England, which means I’m a Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins, and Celtics fan by birth. Brady is named after Tom Brady, the Patriots’ quarterback. Patricia sometimes calls him Bear in tribute to his size.
Cat, squirrel, postman...?
Brady can be scary at first because he is so enormous, but he loves every living thing. Occasionally he’ll chase a cat or squirrel, not because he wants to hurt it but because he hopes it will play with him. This summer he found a box turtle waddling through our yard and was enthralled. He followed it around, occasionally nudging it gently with his nose when it stopped to rest.
Tennis ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?
We’ve bought Brady a bunch of toys, but his favorite thing is to play tug of war with bath towels. He much prefers them to rubber pull toys, but he’s so strong that he tears them to shreds in a couple of days. We’ve gone through a lot of bath towels.
Where is Brady's favorite place for an outing?
He loves to take us on walks around the woodland path that encircles a nearby reservoir. Most days, the path is teeming with other dogs to play with and people eager to pet him.
Who are Brady's best pet-pals?
Brady’s best pal is Mikaila, our 15-year old. I know, I know, she's not a pet-pal; but Brady doesn't seem to know that. He loves to roughhouse with her on the lawn or the floor of our family room. Brady thinks Mikaila is his litter mate.
What is Brady's best quality?
He is incredibly affectionate, craving human touch. If no one is petting him, he’ll find someone to rub against, or he’ll sit down on someone’s feet.
What is Brady's proudest moment? His most embarrassing?
He seemed awfully proud of finding that turtle. When he first sniffed its presence in the yard, he bounded to the door to alert us to his great discovery. I don't know if he was embarrassed when when our teenager put reindeer antlers on him at Christmastime, but I was embarrassed for him.
Read an excerpt from Rogue Island, and learn more about the book and author at Bruce DeSilva's website and blog.
The Page 69 Test: Rogue Island.