Friday, January 29, 2010

Anne Love & Luna

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Anne Love, a dean at a small college in NYC. Luna joined me and my two sons two months ago; we adopted her from the local shelter. They said she is about a year old, and a "bassett mix". I think she's a combination of bassett (her front legs), dachsund (rear end), and folks in the know say some pit bull terrier (head). I call her a hybrid!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every morning Luna and I have some bonding time - lots of petting, chasing a ball, tug-of-war. I have my coffee, she gets a wake-up work-out.

What's brewing?

In the morning I have my version of cafe au lait - a mug of hot milk with coffee. I'm pretty much a coffee wimp - I prefer it not too strong, and with milk and sugar.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

For breakfast, usually cold cereal or oatmeal. On the weekend my favorite is waffles.

Any treat for Luna on this occasion?

Luna gets dog food - lamb and rice kibble, and dog treats.

How did Luna come to be united with you?

Last June our dog of 14 years, Lacey, died. We were heartbroken. We missed her sweet welcomes at the door, her company, her soft fur. We talked about getting another dog, and what kind, and finally started looking at the local shelters. Luna had just arrived the day we visited the shelter in our town, and as they say, she picked us out. The staff member let Luna out of her crate, and she trotted right over to us, stuck her head under my arm, and that was that!

How did Luna get her name?

Since she is small we thought about long names - I was suggesting "Nasturtium," "Chrysanthemum," "Delphinium." One of my sons said that if it had to be a flower, he liked "Lilly." It didn't have to be flower, and we liked Lilly, but then I thought of Luna Lovegood, the character in the Harry Potter books. Since our last name is Love, it sort of fit. So she's Luna. Also turns out it's short for Lunatic, which she is now and then when she gets wound up and races around the house or the back yard.

Does she have any influence on what your write?

Yes! She filled the hole in my heart left by Lacey, and I wrote about that in my blog. See my blog entries for November and December. She also keeps my company when I write - she likes to be curled up nearby.

Where is Luna's favorite place for a walk?

All around our neighborhood. There are lots of friendly people, some friendly dogs, and plenty of squirrels to chase. We haven't ventured out beyond our town yet.

Stick, Frisbee, tennis ball...?

Tennis balls are great! One inside, one outside. She's also fierce at tug-of-war with the rope toy.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Squirrels are the favorite, but cats are very interesting too. She loves people, and doesn't bark at the postman (at least not yet).
What's an ordinary day like for Luna?

Play, eat, walk, nap while the family is at work and school, get walked by my sons or her dog-walker, nap, eat, play, walk, sleep, repeat until the weekend, then play lots more!

Who is Luna's best pet-pal?

Gracie-lou, a hound-mix, not quite a year old, also a shelter dog. They've played together only once so far, but it was very funny to watch short-legged Luna take on long-legged Gracie, and vice versa. Luna would run circles around Gracie, and then Gracie would sit on Luna.

What's Luna's best quality?

Her friendliness - she is happy to see everyone, and her whole body moves when she wags her tail!

What's Luna's proudest moment? Her most embarrassing?

Proudest moment - finding her first toy, among the cast-offs of my son's toys in the basement. It was a stretchy green frog. When she grabbed it in her mouth, shook it, and threw it to the floor, it bounced (much like a real frog might, without any interference on Luna's part!). She pounced on it, and repeated the process. She derived much joy from the frog until its demise.

Most embarrassing - none yet!

Care to share a Luna story?

The photo of Luna under the Christmas tree is funny, we think. She likes to curl up in something or near something, and as soon as we put the tree skirt under the tree, she went for it. She scratched at it, trying to get it just right, then she flopped down. It's been her favorite place since then. We bought a dog bed for her as a Christmas present, so now she likes to be in that, under the tree. She may be very confused when we take the tree down!

Visit Anne Love's blog, "Inspired by Love."

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Laura L. & Buzz

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Laura L, a wife, mother, and Montessori preschool teacher. My dog's name is Buzz. He is a male dog. We estimate that he is about 3 years old. He is a mixed breed and so far no one has been able to determine exactly what mix!!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Buzz and I are just hanging out in the living room here. He is a really mellow guy who loves his family.

What's brewing?

At the risk of shocking everyone who may be reading this, I'm not much of a coffee drinker. Sitting next to me on the desk right now is a mug of green tea ... my absolute favorite tea in the world ... Ginger Peach from The Republic of Tea. I've stirred a little honey into it and it doesn't get better than that for hot beverages as far as I'm concerned.

Any goodies to go with the brewed beverage?

Usually I have my tea without any additional goodies. If I were to order tea in a shop I would probably get a biscotti to go with it.

Any treat for your dog on this occasion?

Buzz's treats are pretty much restricted to the Milk-bone variety. He loves rawhide chews too.

How did Buzz come to be united with you?

Our first dog, Magic, died in April of 2009. He adopted us a few years prior to that by showing up in our yard. After some investigation we realized that we could adopt him so we did. In January of 2009 he developed a bad cough and it turned out that he had lung cancer. Making the decision to have him put to sleep was the hardest thing my husband and I have done. It was a horrible decision to have to make. A few weeks after Magic died, my two sons and I stopped at a new PetSmart on a Sunday afternoon just to browse. Unbeknownst to me, a local animal shelter was having a pet adoption day there that afternoon. We walked in and I casually asked if they had any dogs. I instantly fell in love with Buzz. He was so sweet. We drove home and told my husband about Buzz. My husband is a HUGE dog lover so he quickly agreed to accompany us back to the store. Buzz was still there and he became ours that same day.

How did he get his name?

When we adopted Buzz he had been at the animal shelter only a short time. In fact, up until the day they brought him to PetSmart he hadn't been given a name. The shelter volunteers decided to name him so as not to have to refer to him as "Dog #5" to potential adoptive families. According to the volunteers, they called him Buzz because he has a tuft of longer fur along the top of his head that can be spiked into a faux-hawk. Once we brought him home we felt like the name Buzz fit him so well that we just kept it.

Where is Buzz's favorite place for a walk?

We live on an acreage in the country and Buzz loves to be walked on the gravel roads around our home. My husband always walks Buzz, even now when it is barely zero degrees here in the midwest. We have a huge yard for him to roam in as well. And he loves to go to the local park and on some local nature trails when the weather is nicer.

Stick, Frisbee, tennis ball...?

Buzz does not play with toys at all, although he sometimes "stalks" his rawhide chews before he eats them which is really cute. About 3 weeks after we adopted Buzz he had a very bad seizure, then continued with seizures about every 3 hours throughout the next 24 hours. Of course we immediately consulted a vet and took him in. Since then he has been on medication to control this problem. He has now gone about 6 weeks with no seizures which is the longest stretch since we adopted him so we are hoping the combination of medicines he is taking are finally working. Because of the meds, however, he is not a very playful dog. To be honest, they make him a little daffy. However, the alternative is not an option ... anyone who has watched their beloved pet have a seizure knows what I'm talking about. So, we love him just as he is ... sweet ol' Buzz.

Cat, rodent, postman...?

We have three cats which were already members of the family before Buzz came onto the scene. He gets along with them pretty well and really doesn't pay a whole lot of attention to them. Also, Buzz very very rarely barks. He was like that when we got him and we fear that he may have been "reprimanded" for it in his former home or homes. At any rate, we rarely hear his voice.

What's an ordinary day like for Buzz?

My husband is the primary caretaker of our dog. He takes Buzz out around 7:00 a.m. every morning for a walk, then gives him breakfast and his morning medicine. Buzz gets a rawhide chew to gnaw on before we all leave for work and school every day. From what we can tell, he sleeps for most of the morning after that. He goes out again around noon then has his lunch and spends the afternoon dozing again. He gets another walk around suppertime and one more before bedtime.

Who is your dog's best pet-pal?

My husband is Buzz's best pal. He loves Buzz very, very much and takes great care of him. The feeling is mutual.

What's your dog's best quality?

Buzz is very sweet-natured. He is easy-going. It's impossible not to love Buzz.

What's Buzz's proudest moment? His most embarrassing?

That is hard to say. Hopefully becoming a member of our family is a happy moment in his life. Most embarrassing? I guess you'd have to ask Buzz!

You teach children. Is there anything kids can learn from dogs (or caring for dogs)?

Before teaching in the school I am at now I taught special education in a public school. The guidance counselor at that school had a therapy dog, Cisco, that came to school with him each day. Cisco accompanied the guidance counselor into classrooms and made rounds of the hallways before school. The children LOVE Cisco. I know that he had been a great comfort to many children and has helped many open up about rough situations they are going through. So ... I think dogs are good for children. In our family, our pets have helped us teach our sons about compassion and responsibility. I am so thankful that we have been blessed to find the perfect pets for our family. I know our sons will always have fond memories of the time they have spent with the canine and feline members of our family.

Visit Laura's blogs, Our Random Acts of Reading and My Montessori Journey.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cindi Myers & Snoopy and Katie

Who is in the photos?

Author Cindi Myers and her two spoiled pooches, Snoopy (beagle mix, 13) [photo, below left] and Katie (Chow/Lab/Newfie/?? mix) 3 1/2 [photo, right].

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We stopped at The Knotty Pine on our way to snowshoe in the National Forest in the mountains of Colorado.

What's brewing?

Green chai for me -- I'm not much of a coffee drinker.

Any goodies to go with the chai?

A cranberry/orange scone. Yum!

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

The dogs are having Mother Hubbard biscuits. Snoopy likes the Carrot Cake flavor. Katie is a beef girl.

How did you come to be united with your dogs?

Excuse me, but I think we should be allowed to tell our own stories. Snoopy here. I ended up with Mom and Dad all because of romance. (And I didn't even know she was a romance author at the time.) Here's how it went down: when Mom and Dad lived in Texas, I lived across the street with five WILD children. To escape from them, I'd go across the street to hang out with their dogs, Gretchen and Shelby. Shelby was a gorgeous blonde -- a Belgian Malinois. Very regal. It was love at first sight, I tell you. She didn't usually get along with other dogs at all, but she flipped for me. One day during an ice storm I followed her right into the house. Mom found me eating out of Shelby's dish and after that I just sort of moved in. Mom must have worked it out with the neighbors, because when Mom and Dad moved to Colorado, I made sure I was the first one in the front seat of that moving van.

Katie: Snoopy says it's my turn now. I'm a little shy. I have a tragic past I don't really like to talk about. Let's just say my puppy years were not all good times. I ended up at an animal shelter, where I stayed for a month. I was really depressed, beginning to think I'd never find my forever home. Then one day, Mom and Dad and Snoopy came in. They seemed like really nice people. Snoopy said if I threw my lot in with them I wouldn't be sorry. He'd been living with two older lady dogs who passed away and he was lonely. So, even though I have issues about trusting people, I decided to trust Mom and Dad. And boy am I glad I did. I've been with them over two years now and life is good! I'm even learning to deal with some of my trust issues, thanks to them. And Snoopy has taught me a lot of things, like how to catch squirrels and how to do a beagle howl!

How did your dogs get their names?

Snoopy was named by his former owners, I suppose because of a certain famous beagle. Katie had another name when we adopted her, but it really didn't fit her. We thought a pretty girl deserved a pretty name, and Katie seemed to fit.

Do your dogs have any influence on your writing?

Katie and Snoopy are my constant writing companions. In my office, Snoopy has his own chair and Katie has a dog bed by my desk.

Where is your dogs' favorite outdoor space?

They love going hiking or snow shoeing in the woods, where they don't have to be on a leash.

Stick, Frisbee, tennis ball...? Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Katie likes chew toys, but Snoopy thinks he's above all that. But Snoopy is a Mighty Hunter. So far his tally is six squirrels, a ground squirrel and a rabbit. Katie is following his lead and has managed to dispatch a squirrel and a ground squirrel. Fortunately, they leave the deer and elk alone.

What's an ordinary day like for Snoopy and Katie?

Up at 5:30 with Dad, breakfast and a nap. Mom gets up at 6:30 and writes until 8, then has her breakfast and reads her email. They bug me for the next hour to take them walking, so finally we go for our walk, which takes about an hour. Back at home, more napping for them until noon, when they get a treat. More naps, with forays into the back yard to patrol. Dad gets home about 4:30, an occasion for much rejoicing. Dinner, playtime with Dad, another patrol of the backyard and a treat before bed. It's a good life!

Who are their best pet-pals?

Wesley, the black dog next door, is Katie's age and they were adopted about the same time. He occasionally hops the fence between the yards and comes to play. Kai and Rusty are our pet sitter's dogs and Katie likes to play with them. Snoopy prefers to observe the children from the top step.

What's each dog's best quality?

Snoopy is super smart and very obedient. Katie is so sweet and loving and gentle.

What's each dog's proudest moment? Most embarrassing?

Snoopy: I am the mighty hunter. We don't have to worry about any squirrel infestations at my house. And the UPS man hasn't broken in yet, though he keeps trying. I scare him away every time. If Mom would only let me out the front door I could keep those guys from stealing our trash every week, too.

As for embarrassing moments -- I did not steal that whole chicken carcass from the garbage in the kitchen. It crawled out of the can, down the stairs and out the doggy door all by itself. And that incident with the potting soil -- I had no idea if I ate the stuff it would swell up inside me and I'd have to go to the hospital.

Katie -- I'm really proud of the way I'm getting over my fear of people. Mom can take me places now -- like this coffee shop -- and I'm not terrified the way I used to be. I still am not sure about strangers petting me, but I'm getting better.

Mom and Dad make fun of me for being scared of the dragon in the basement (central heat blower) but that thing breathes fire! Who wouldn't be scared?

If Snoopy and Katie could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Snoopy: Mom sits in front of that computer too much! She should go for more hikes with us. And she shouldn't be so stingy with treats. She says she doesn't want us to get fat but Duh -- if we went hiking more that wouldn't be a problem.

Katie: I wish Mom and Dad would stay home ALL the time with me. I would be happy if they never went anywhere without me.

What's one secret about Cindi only her dogs would know?

Snoopy: She reads dialogue and stuff to us and asks our opinion.

Katie: Snoopy and I think she should write a book with a dog as the hero or heroine, but so far that hasn't happened.

Cindi Myers worked as a newspaper reporter, travel agent and medical clinic manager before turning to writing full time. She's written both historical and contemporary romance, as well as dozens of short stories and nonfiction articles.

Her latest books are
Her Christmas Wish, Harlequin American Romance (December 2009), and A Father For Her Son, Harlequin Superromance (January 2010).

Cindi Myers' website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 22, 2010

Matthew Dicks & Kaleigh

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Matthew Dicks, and I am an author, a fifth grade school teacher, the owner of a mobile DJ company, a husband, and the father of a beautiful one-year-old girl named Clara. My first novel, Something Missing, was released in July, and my second book, Unexpectedly, Milo, is due out on August 3, 2010.

With me is Kaleigh, my seven-year-old Lhasa Apso and my best friend.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My wife and I have spent the last two days traveling to Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York to visit friends and family. Kaleigh spent time with friends, and so when I picked her up this morning, I decided to lavish her with love and attention.

What's brewing?

I don’t actually drink coffee. In fact, I’ve never had a cup. But I’m enjoying a slice of coffee cake and a glass of caffeine-free Diet Coke. My usual drink.

Any goodies to go with the cola?

The coffee cake is the goodie.

Any treat for your dog on this occasion?

Kaleigh enjoyed a taste of the coffee cake and a dog biscuit after I put her down. She can have a treat whenever she likes. I fully support the spoiling of one’s dog.

How did your dog come to be united with you?

I met Kaleigh’s sister seven years ago and instantly fell in love with her. I then discovered that the Lhasa Apso breed has hair rather than fur and therefore does not shed. I was hooked. Two weeks later, Kaleigh arrived in Connecticut after a regrettable flight from Iowa.

How did she get her name?

My ex-wife named Kaleigh, and though she grew to not like Kaleigh very much (no patience for training a puppy), the name still fits.

Does she have any influence on your writing?

Writing is a solitary and sometimes lonely process. While my wife is sleeping upstairs or running an errand, I am writing. I love to write, but there are many times when I’d love to have someone sitting by my side, reading my words as they appear on the computer screen or just keeping me company. Kaleigh fills that need for me. When the witching hour approaches and the only sound is the pattering of fingers on a keyboard, Kaleigh keeps a silent vigil by my side, letting me know that I am not alone.

What's an ordinary day like for your dog?

Kaleigh and I climb out of bed around 5 AM for our morning walk. This often involves me convincing her that a walk would be a good idea. This can include nudging, tugging, pleading and the declaration of imaginary squirrels.

I leave for work an hour or so later, and Kaleigh finds her way back upstairs, where she naps until my wife and daughter climb out of bed. She spends her day puttering around the house, napping, eating, and chasing our cat.

Kaleigh and I walk again when I get home from work, usually a more enthusiastic jaunt, and then she takes up a position beside the dinner table, waiting for the leftovers that will eventually come. During the evening, my wife and I are usually working on our laptops, engaged in other projects, and occasionally watching television. Kaleigh hangs out with me, scratching on the trash can and washing machine for treats from time to time. Both are metallic and indestructible, so this is where I have taught her to scratch.

I’m a firm supporter of spoiling your pets. Unlike my daughter, Kaleigh is never expected to leave the house someday and make it on her own. She has no career goals or lifelong aspirations. So what harm is there in spoiling a creature who only gives me love and affection? None, I say. So she gets more treats than she probably should.

As the day comes to an end, I carry Kaleigh up the stairs and place her on the bed. As we fall asleep, she will take up a position between my legs or at my side, her chin resting on my leg or elbow. I’d have it no other way.

Where is Kaleigh's favorite place to go for outing?

Mill Pond Park in Newington, CT, a location that figures significantly in my first two books. Kaleigh doesn’t walk as much as she once did, but when she was younger, we spent hours in the park each week, circling the pond, running in the fields, and taking a dip in the water. Kaleigh would walk into the water until just her head was showing above the surface, and then she would wait as ducks and geese eventually return to the spot, surrounding her. She would just sit there in the water, amidst the water fowl, and smile as only a dog can.

Who is Kaleigh's best pet-pal?

Bailey is a mutt who looks very much like Kaleigh, and the two of them get along famously. Bailey is owned by Jane and Tom, the parents of former students who I have become my good friends. In fact, their names are used in Something Missing and Jane is my daughter’s goddaughter. Whenever either family goes away on vacation, we are thrilled to take one another’s dog, and I always recommend establishing a relationship like this before adopting your first dog. It makes life so much easier. And Kaleigh and Bailey couldn’t be a better match. Kaleigh doesn’t get along with most other dogs. She tolerates them but doesn’t enjoy their company. Bailey is the one exception.

What's your dog's best quality?

Kaleigh wants nothing more than to sit on my lap, lie down between my legs, and plant her chin upon my legs. There’s nothing better than having a friend who simply wants to be with you at all times. But my wife would say that Kaleigh also makes an excellent guard dog, barking at strangers until the moment we make it clear that they are friends. At that point, Kaleigh instantly loves them as well.

What's Kaleigh's proudest moment?

About four years ago we discovered that Kaleigh suffers from a degenerative spinal condition that required surgery. It was expensive and life-threatening, and if she survived, we were told that Kaleigh would only have a 50/50 chance of ever walking again. As Kaleigh went under the knife, my wife and I began investigating doggy wheelchairs and envisioning a lifetime of catheterizing our dog. Kaleigh survived the surgery, remained in the hospital for about a week, and was finally ready to come home. She had yet to walk when we left the hospital, but about fifteen minutes after arriving home, she struggled to her feet and ambled across the dining floor, bringing my wife and me to tears.

Visit Matthew Dicks' website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Matthew Dicks.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tim Brazier & Miss Jean Brodie

Who is in the photo at right? And what's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

That's Miss Jean Brodie, who has been snuck into One Liberty Plaza on a Saturday and is awaiting a Hazelnut coffee. She’s an eight-year-old Scottish Terrier rescue. My name is Tim Brazier and I’m the Publicity Director at Kaplan Publishing. I have snuck Brodie into HarperCollins and Basic Books during my time with those two companies. Along with coffee, we’ll be working on our 2010 budget and chasing a very bouncy ball. The floors are carpeted for great traction and there are not as many breakable things here as there are at home.

You can tell Brodie has executive potential. Doesn’t she look at home [photo left] in the boss’s corner office? That is the Woolworth Building in the background.

How did you come to be united with Brodie? What's her background?

I don’t know the details of Brodie’s first family but she was dropped off at Pets on Lex right after 9/11. Our west conference room overlooks the World Trade Center site [photo, below right]. Looks like they are really building something down there. The woman who found Brodie at the pet store languishing away in a cage for four months was calling her Sweet Pea. I wanted something with a little more edge and a Scottish connection. Lady Macbeth seemed a little too dark and something we might regret. A theatrical director suggested Brodie, as in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. It fit although now I call her all sorts of shorter versions: booby, Miss B., Little One.

Do you and Brodie have a favorite place to go for outings?

Brodie enjoys all outings whether by foot, bike, boat, car, train or plane. We used to go to Central Park early so she could legally be off-leash. Now we live close to Gracie Mansion on the Upper Eastside of Manhattan so we enjoy views of the river and a special dog run for smaller dogs. Our first week on the Upper Eastside we got a ticket for being off leash because that park does not allow dogs off-leash at any time. Maybe we’ll write Mayor Bloomberg after we figure out our budget.

There's a rumor going around that Brodie has defied public ordinances and actually visited a restaurant or two. Without confirming or denying the rumor, how would a dog Brodie's size hypothetically get away with such an active social life?

How did you hear about Brodie’s restauranting? Look, in Germany people bring their dogs into restaurants and they seem to be fine. Brodie is so calm and quiet we just put her in a gym bag and put her under the table, then open the zipper once we are all settled and mask her with our legs.

Who is Brodie's best pet-pal?

Since moving to the eastside two years ago I don’t think Brodie has made a best friend. She really likes everyone. We used to have play-dates with a neurotic weiner-dog that lived one floor below us. In our new building we have not found such a good situation.

What's Brodie's best quality?

She really has so many good qualities: affectionate, playful, quiet, and cuddly.

What's her proudest moment? Her most embarrassing?

We had a lovely moment this summer visiting my 95 year-old Grandmother who is in a wheelchair and is dog-crazy. Brodie sat in her lap and kept her company. We are not so proud when she growls at small children. I’ve never understood her discomfort with children. It makes me laugh that the woman who gave her to me was really trying to promote her and said Brodie was good with children. Fortunately we are not around small children that often.

How did you wind up take-your-dog-to-work-Saturday?

Back at my desk we do a self-portrait [photo, above right].

Feeling very productive it is time for a break and to chase that bouncy ball around. Maybe it is the coffee buzz but Brodie needs to work off some tension and take it out on the little ball. She’s well trained and will give up the ball. Unfortunately somewhere along the way “drop it” was replaced with the less attractive command of “spit.” She drops it but we get some interesting looks at the dog run when we tell her to spit. Speaking of dog runs, it must be time to leave the office and get some fresh air.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 18, 2010

Angela & Lois Lane

Who is in the photo at right?

Lois Lane aka "Laney" is a female Sharp Eagle (Shar Pei/Beagle Mix). She's probably almost 4 years old now. I'm Angela aka "SciFiChick." I'm a proposal analyst for a wellness company by day, but run on the side.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

On Saturdays, I love sleeping in with Laney, and having a slow cup of coffee and sharing breakfast with my Super Pup.

What's brewing?

Millstone Gingerbread flavored coffee.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

On weekends, I tend to take time to make better breakfasts. This morning, I'm having French Toast.

Any treat for Laney on this occasion?

Any time eggs are involved, you can bet that Laney will score some!

How did Laney come to be united with you?

I was looking at my local Humane Society to see if they had any dogs that caught my eye. I wasn't too serious about getting one. But when I came across this incredibly cute stray that had already been trained, that happened to be my two-favorite-breeds-in-one, I couldn't pass her up!

How did she get her name?

I had already decided that a cute name for a female dog would be Lois Lane, since I'm more than a bit of a geek at heart. But when a volunteer at the Humane Society heard what I was going to name her, she said, "Laney would be a cute nickname." And when I got her home and saw more of her personality come out, "Laney" just kind of stuck.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Laney loves to chase small animals: cats, bunnies, birds, etc. But she barks ferociously at the mailman and any delivery men that come to the door. She takes her guarding job seriously!

Stick, ball, Frisbee...?

Laney really isn't into toys too much. But when she's in the mood, she likes stuffed, squeaky toys the best. And she usually brings her toys to me to play tug.

What's an ordinary day like for Laney?

Wake up with some tummy rubs and a kiss for mom, a sniff around the yard, watch mom get ready for work, sleep, a walk or trip to the dog park when mom gets home from work, sleep, maybe play tug for a while after a sniff around the yard, a patrol around the house when mom gets in bed, then jump into mom's bed for the night!

Where is Laney's favorite place to go for walk?

A local nature preserve and state parks... pretty much anywhere with new smells to smell!

Who is Laney's best pet-pal?

Laney has lots of great pals at the dog park; but Sandy, a sweet Bassett Hound and Gizmo, a Golden Retriever mix are her oldest and dearest friends. Lately, Laney loves to play with a new best friend though, another Shar Pei/Beagle Mix that never lets her rest! They play for hours with only short breaks in between.

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

That I would work from home, and never have to leave her.

What's Laney's best quality?

Besides her cute, wrinkly face? She is great with people of all ages. My little niece takes Laney's leash and drags her all around the house, and Laney is a trooper. I've also taken her to a nursing home several time and she is great with the elderly as well. At the dog park, she'd much rather sit up on the bench and get attention from the human owners, rather than get down and play with the other dogs!

What's her proudest moment so far? Her most embarrassing?

Proudest: Last year, we participated in Mutt Strut, an annual fundraiser for the Indy Humane Society, where we had to walk around the Indy 500 racetrack in 80 degree heat and humidity! I was exhausted and sweating from head to toe. But Laney never tired, and practically had to pull me across the finish line!

Most embarrassing: Because of Laney's Shar Pei side, she has super sensitive skin and the most accident prone dog I have ever known. She has gotten into a few fights, but sometimes its simply an accident. Once, she was trying to play with a Old English Sheepdog who doesn't realize how large he is. Laney was jumping at him, while he was playing with another dog, and he pushed her away with one of his huge paws. I heard a yelp at the same time, and she came cowering over to me. I thought she had just been scared. Instead, I saw blood pouring from her ear. It seems that one of his nails must have caught the tip of her ear, and made a clean slice. It was actually just a little nick that stopped bleeding soon after. But she gives him wide berth any time he's at the park now.

Does Laney have any favorite tricks that she likes to do?

Laney will almost always automatically sit and raise her paw in a "shake" for any food that smells appetizing to her. But our favorite "trick" is dancing. When Laney gets super excited, she'll jump in the air and walk around on her back legs, front paws way up in the air, swishing her rear end back and forth. I'll hold her front paws and we'll dance around the living room!

Learn much more about Laney at her blog, Adventures of a SuperPup, and visit Angela's website,

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 15, 2010

Diane Whiteside & Honey, Coffee, and Gentle Ben

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Diane Whiteside, in the center with Honey and her two best friends, Coffee and Gentle Ben. Amazingly, Honey is the only one who is not staring at the piece of chicken in Uncle Dragon’s hand. My sister Viki is seated on the left, having just run out of dog treats.

What’s the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Honey, Coffee and Gentle Ben all arrived in our lives through the good auspices of Virginia German Shepherd Rescue. All three are pure black and we have regular play dates to celebrate finding them. We even wear shirts emblazoned “The Black Shepherd Society: Not just for black sheep anymore…”

Our play date was held at Coffee’s home, since her humans fostered Honey for more than four months.

What’s brewing?

Irish cream coffee, thankfully very hot on a crisp fall day. We enjoyed a spirited conversation about brewing techniques, given that our hosts’ kitchen is brand-new and still being equipped.

I have also been known to mark big occasions with a hazelnut latte (decaf, sugar-free, quad, iced on a hot day).

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Pumpkin bread and an apple tart. Yum!

Any treats for your dogs on this occasion?

Are you kidding? Of course, they got treats! Honey’s nickname is “Cookie Monster” and I have no idea how she’s managed to maintain the same weight.

To distract them, we gave the dogs some nice, tasty morsels of chicken rawhide.

How did your dogs come to be united with you?

Honey is a stray, found on the South Carolina streets with a dozen puppies and a bad case of heartworm. VGSR brought her up here. After her puppies were weaned, her foster mom nursed her through killing off the heartworm. Uncle Dragon, a VGSR volunteer, thought she’d be a good match for us, and suckered my sister and I into babysitting her for two weeks. Honey took one look at Viki and the rest, as they say, is history.

Gentle Ben is an enormous German Shepherd and the sweetest, kindest dog I have ever met. He’s a very good match for Uncle Dragon, a human who likes to masquerade as a curmudgeon.

Coffee was originally one of our hostess Erica’s foster dogs.

How did they get their names?

Honey was originally called Candy but she never, ever answered to it. Viki began to toss endearments at her, trying to catch her eye. One day, Viki said, “Honey Bunny” and the dog’s head whipped around to look at her.

Bingo! Our new addition had finally paid attention and thereby given herself a name: Honey.

Gentle Ben was named that because he is so very big and gentle.

Do the dogs have any influence on your writing?

I am an inveterate animal lover and they do keep showing up in my books.

Honey is a very black dog and you absolutely cannot see her in any kind of shadows, let alone a dark house. One night, I came up to bed late and happened upon her strolling down the upstairs hallway. I never knew she was there until she gave me a big, toothy, doggie grin – and my heart almost leaped out of my chest.

That moment was the inspiration for a scene in Kisses Like A Devil, my latest historical novel, where my heroine’s beloved dog comes out of the shadows to stop an attack on her.

What’s an ordinary day like for Honey?

Every morning, a toll of one dog cookie must be paid for each car to depart the garage. Every evening, she goes for a very long romp in our huge backyard, which involves much wild racing around.

Stick, tennis ball, Frisbee…?

Her only apparent interest in toys is to rip out the guts from stuffed animals, strew it around her, and then recline gracefully among the remains as if to say, “Aren’t I the most elegant lady you ever did see?”

Squirrel, cat, postman…?

Death to all squirrels and chipmunks, especially the rude chipmunks who run inside the downspouts then bark at her!

What’s Honey’s best quality?

Honey has the eternal ability to give ever increasing amounts of love and hope.

What’s Honey’s proudest moment so far?

The first time she overcame her shyness enough to walk all the way around the block, a full mile-and-a-half.

What’s Honey’s most embarrassing?

Honey has the unshakable conviction that she was meant to be a lapdog. To see her wiggle fifty pounds of German Shepherd across a human lap, roll over, while keeping one paw on the ground and look up with big brown eyes –– is always endearing and funny. But then she’ll wag a free paw hopefully, overbalance, and slide to the floor with a thump.

Only to pick herself up and smile at us again.

Diane Whiteside's many books include Kisses Like A Devil, a new chapter in the Donovan family saga (also known as her “Devil” books), which comes out in February. It’s about Brian, the second son of William and Viola Donovan, from The Irish Devil.

Other books include the Texas vampires’ trilogy, which began with The Hunter’s Prey.

Learn more about the writer and her work at
Diane Whiteside's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Lauren Hagerman & Crackers

Who is in the photo at right?

Meet Crackers, a lovable mutt who was officially labeled an “English Shepherd Mix” at the pound. This 6 year old sweetheart is most likely an Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix with some English Beagle thrown in for good measure. I also refer to her as a “Toy Burmese” since I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked if she’s a straight hair Burmese Mountain Dog pup. Oh, and the human with her? That’s me, Lauren Hagerman. By day, I am a city government employee who tries to make a difference one complaint at a time. By night, I am a scrapbooker, amateur photographer, book worm & movie lover. Mostly, I enjoy my life with my husband, Andy, and our little sweetie, Crackers.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

There’s nothing like a good cup of joe to raise my spirits and get me in a feisty mood. Since Crackers tends to mirror my mood, she loves it when I get a cup of joe too. Not to mention, that the dog likes coffee! Don’t worry, I never intentionally give her coffee. After I caught her drinking out of a cup on the coffee table, I pay close attention to where I leave my cup, but she’s always on the look out.

What's brewing?

Nothing beats a Starbucks Peppermint Mocha with half the syrup and no whip, extra hot please and hold the sprinkles. There is one exception, though it requires a 90 minute drive to Coal Creek Coffee in Laramie, Wyoming. They make the perfect mocha. Not too sweet, no whip and occasionally topped with a pretty design in the foam. Mmm.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Nope! The stresses of life have added a few too many pounds to my once lithe frame. The scrumptious coffee is my treat!

Any treat for Crackers on this occasion?

Usually a walk, since Starbucks tends to frown on non service dogs in their stores. But when we get home at night, she is usually treated to a small rawhide square.

How did Crackers come to be united with you?

I always wanted a dog or cat growing up. I begged and pleaded for a puppy many a Christmas. The answer was always “no.” As I grew up, my requests began to include other exotic creatures, such as an iguana and a snake. No dice. Eventually, I was given a parakeet for one Christmas. And while I was ecstatic, I still longed for a dog to call my own. Fast forward to 2004. I was single, living by myself and then one day I realized there was no reason why I couldn’t have a dog. On break at work the next morning (I had no home internet at the time), I perused the local pound website and decided to go “take a look” over lunch. Crackers was the first dog I asked to see. A worker brought her into a little fenced enclosure with a bench, just outside the building. She ran around the tiny area several times, tail high, grinning from ear to ear and eventually landed in my lap, giving me a big lick across the face. Everything I knew about how and why to choose to a dog went out the window. Crackers came home with me that very day.

How did she get her name?

When I brought Crackers home from the pound, she came with the name “Gorda,” which means “fat” in Spanish. That had to go and besides, she was a healthy, fit 6-9 month old puppy. So for weeks everyone and their dog (pun intended) had a suggestion. I wrote the best down on a list and would try some out to see how they fit. Then I went to add Crackers to my lease, as I lived in an apartment and if you didn’t make a deposit and pay a small monthly fee you could lose your brand new best friend to the same place I just rescued her from. So I took Crackers in to meet the apartment manager. While we were filling out the paperwork, my new little dog jumped up an empty chair, put her front paws on the desk and ate half a plate of saltines before anyone could even react. The lady helping me looked me straight in the eye and said “You should name her Crackers.”

Your dog Hailey died very recently. How is Crackers doing with the change in the household?

It’s been tough on all of us losing our sweet Hailey [photo, left] suddenly and unexpectedly to cancer a few weeks before Christmas, but it’s been the hardest on Crackers. At first, she would look for Hailey throughout the house. Whenever she went out in the backyard, Crackers would wait for Hailey at the end of the patio. Eventually, she began to get used to Hailey being gone. Crackers has become more loving and will happily hop in your lap for a long cuddle, if you let her. Crackers is a rather shy dog. Hailey’s confidence rubbed off on her whenever she was around. You can definitely tell Crackers is now missing that presence.[photo, bottom left: Crackers & Hailey]

Where is Crackers' favorite place for a walk?

Anywhere, anytime, any place. From the dust bowl plains of West Texas to the peaks of the Colorado Rockies, this little dog loves to walk or hike. Most days, we just walk around our local neighborhood, but every other weekend with nice weather I make it a point to take Crackers for at least a mini hike in the foothills.

Stick, Frisbee, tennis ball...?

Toy hedgehog! Crackers has never really been big on the whole “fetch” concept, but she loves to play with her stuffed hedgehog. On occasion you can get her to bring a tennis ball back once or twice and you can even get a quick game of tug, but she would much rather climb into your lap for some love.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Rabbit! Followed closely by squirrel. She sure loves to chase those critters!

What's an ordinary day like for Crackers?

Easy and full of love. She hops up on the bed sometime in the early morning and when my alarm starts to buzz, Crackers is right there to make sure I’m up. We go for a quiet morning walk around the neighborhood, as I gather my thoughts for the day and she marks her turf. From there, it depends. On work days, she is crated. Thankfully, she loves her crate and feels safe in it. And given how much she loves to “eat first and ask questions later,” it makes me feel better too. On non work days, she usually gets to go for a ride in the car as I run some quick errands (weather and temperature depending) and then I try and treat her to a mini hike. Either way, at the end of the day, you can bet there will be some play time and love time for all of us.

What's Crackers' best quality?

She’s a lover and cuddle bug. She also is happy to let little kids play with her and when she’s had enough, she simply gets up and leaves the room.

What's Crackers' proudest moment? Her most embarrassing?

Her proudest moment so far would be getting kicked in the nose by a rabbit. She’s not much of a hunter, but she loves to chase rabbits. That’s probably as close as she’ll ever get, but she was so cocky after that, you couldn’t help but smile.

Crackers most embarrassing moment was probably the story I told above of eating the crackers off the desk. Although, I would also have to say that her most embarrassing moment happens every time there is a door bell on TV and she jumps up, barking at the front door only to realize no one is there and then slink off back to her spot next to the couch, only to do it again in another 10 minutes. Usually, by the third time, she finally starts to catch on.

How pleased was Crackers with her Christmas present?

Not too thrilled...just sniffed at her shiny new toy and let it lay. But the special homemade dog treat? That, she loved!

Visit Lauren Hagerman's blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 11, 2010

Kyla Duffy & Bill

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Kyla Duffy and among other things (flying trapeze artist, gymnast, editor, teacher, foster mom, etc), I'm the founder of Happy Tails Books, a publishing company on a mission to raise awareness of, and funding for, private dog rescue organizations. I started the company after realizing how many people weren't aware of the important work private dog rescue organizations do, and I'm hoping to reach out to people through our books and let them know that there are wonderful purebred and mixed-breed dogs (and puppies) available for adoption from rescue organizations all over the country other than local shelters (not that there is anything wrong with local shelters, it's just that some people are only interested in one breed and it's much easier to find that breed from a breed-specific rescue).

My Boston Terrier, Bill, was the inspiration for Happy Tails Books. He was my second and fifth foster... How? He came to me after being adopted and then returned to our rescue group. The family didn't want him because he was too scared to move after spending the first two years of his life in a 2'x2' chicken wire cage somewhere outdoors in MO. He just sat in his crate with a lifeless look in his eyes. Unfortunately, life didn't get much better for him after he came to "live" with me, because after only an hour he escaped my yard and got lost in the woods for three weeks. Luckily a jogger finally found him splayed out, trying to eat a carcass. He was down to 13 lbs (he's a 21 lb dog) and had a gash so deep on his leg that the muscle was exposed. After narrowly escaping euthanization, Bill came to live with me permanently. Healing his physical wounds were easy compared to the psychological ones, but a year and a half (and a lot of patience) later, Bill is the best companion I could ever imagine. His whole story is at if you're interested, but suffice to say that my experience with Bill completely changed my life and I couldn't imagine a day without him now. He's my constant companion, whether drinking tea, riding in the car, or hiking big mountain trails. He's so smart and has so many facial expressions that I wouldn't be surprised if he turned to me on day and started talking, like "Brian" on "Family Guy."

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

There's another way to wake up in the morning?

What's brewing?

My favorite morning brew is Coconut Pouchong tea from adagio teas, although I do like to mix it up. The website lets people make their own tea blends and then other customers can buy them. I especially like their Zodiac blend series - Aquarius is the best, of course!

Any goodies to go with the tea?

Oh, yes! I don't think all Whole Foods carry this, but our local store has a lemon tea cake in their bakery department that is to die for. I buy one cake a week (it's like a loaf), cut it into 6 slices, and then eat one a day.

Any treat for Bill on this occasion?

Bill's favorite breakfast snack is dehydrated chicken tenders. I'll keep my chicken for lunchtime, thank you, but he seems to really enjoy them in the morning.

How did he get his name? Does he ever go by William or Mac or Buddy?

Bill's "pedigree" name is "William Shattner," and although the famous human hates being called "Bill," my best buddy prefers it. He actually came with that name, and I thought, "You're kidding me, you're sending me a foster dog named Bill? great." But the truth is, Bill is the best!

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Prairie dog!

Stick, ball, Frisbee...?

Playing tug of war with my red leash.

What's an ordinary day like for Bill?

Bill likes to wake up for a second to stretch and get out of bed (mine, of course), and then he goes back to sleep on the couch upstairs wherever he can find sun. We joke that he "takes a dip in the pool" whenever he gets too hot, but really he just goes and hides in the shade of the hallway for a bit until he's ready for more sun. Each day includes a variety of trips to the dogpark and hikes, and ultimately ends with a pig ear, bully stick, or bone at the end of the night. Sometimes my parents stop by just to ring the doorbell because they know Bill likes it.

Where is Bill's favorite place to go for walk?

Bill is really into rock climbing, so he likes to go anywhere where he can scramble up rocks. We hike Sanitas in Boulder quite a bit.

Who is Bill's best pet-pal?

He's got a few girlfriends, but his favorite is a giant shepherd-mix named Dutchess. Every time he sees her at the dogpark (which is daily), he sticks his entire head in her mouth and checks her teeth. He also gets along great with all of our fosters (we're on #19). Bill's got a magical way of understanding each dog's specific needs and he adjusts his play style for them. They usually become pretty good pals by the time they go to a new home. They always teach each other something.

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

He would probably want me to stop moving so much when I sleep.

What's Bill's best quality?

Bill's best quality is his resilience. His past is so sad, but he's been able to put that behind him and learn to trust and love people and other dogs. I love his smile - and it really is a smile. He's got a great run, too. His back right leg flies out to the side and he does a little happy dance when he gets to wherever he's going. Ok, that's three things, but he's got too many good qualities to stop at one. Oh, and I LOVE the fact that he's potty trained. A lot of people overlook how challenging it can be to potty train a dog who has been a puppy mill breeder, but Bill caught right on. What a great guy!

What's his proudest moment so far? His most embarrassing?

I think for Bill his proudest moment was when he caught on to playing ball. It took over a year, but now he chases it and brings it back, always looking so proud of himself. I think his most embarrassing moment was when he went running off through the bushes to go see a poodle-friend, but tried to take on a bush that was too big. He jumped and the disappeared because his feet caught. 30 seconds later he came running back to me with a grass stain on his head and part of the bush stuck in his collar [photo right].

Visit the Happy Tails Books website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 8, 2010

Doranna Durgin & ConneryBeagle, Belle, Jean-Luc, and Kacey

Who is in the photo at right?

There we are a couple years ago, the holiday picture we missed last year. That's Doranna Durgin, one novel writer (SF/F, mystery, franchise, and paranormal romance), and the pack at the time:

CH MACH Cedar Ridge DoubleOSeven CD RE EAC EJC CGC*, Beagle Q-Hunter (ConneryBeagle)
Cheysuli's Silver Belle CD RE MXP4 MJP3 PAX OFP EAC EJC CGC, Blue Cardigan Comeback Girl (Belle)
Cheysuli Jean-Luc Picardigan OJP NAP OJC NAC CGC, Brain-Injured but Game Tricolor Boy (Jean-Luc)
and the now dearly missed elder statesdog and spark genius, Xtacee Carbon Unit CGC (Kacey), mahogany brindle Cardi

*peek at the end for what all that means!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

A confession: I don't do coffee or tea. But the dogs and I share Propel and Go-Dog (a doggy sports drink) often enough. We like to spend our together time in the morning with some sort of training-play (and in fact, if we don't, they get pretty demanding about it), or bike together.

What's brewing?

I prefer the grape Propel, myself. The dogs are pretty adamant about their Go-Dog and they think it is FINE.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

The dogs are usually getting kibble training treats. Me, not so much. Kibble-spit fingers really discourages the urge to go for snack food.

How did you come to be united with your dogs?

Kacey was my first Cardigan. She was pure pet quality (badly put together in ways that shortened her life), but pure genius. She was a companion for my then Blue-Tick/Beagle WonderHound, Strider.

Jean-Luc arrived after Strider passed and Kacey needed a companion, and a breeder friend had a brain-injured young dog in need of rehab. Jean-Luc was a tremendous project with body, coordination, sensory, and obsessive issues, but he went on to earn agility titles no one ever expected of him. He's retired now, but sometimes he comes out to gambol around.

Belle is Jean-Luc's niece, and she showed such talent for agility from the very start that her breeder gifted her to me with that in mind, and since then she's gone on to earn the highest AKC agility title available to her running class, as well as obedience and rally titles. She is a princess who tries very, very hard to be perfect.

ConneryBeagle is a force of nature. He earned his breed championship with four high-pointed majors and, in spite of several brutal attacks by giant breed dogs, has recovered enough confidence to rediscover his glee in the performance ring -- he has obedience and rally titles, and has earned the highest AKC agility title, the MACH -- the 20th Beagle to do so. I get an endless kick out of him. On the agility course he's known for his Song of Self at the start and finish line (not to mention the tipping point of the teeter). On occasion we get a spontaneous human sing-along...

How did they get their names?

My twisted sense of humor. I mean, seriously. I wrote a Trek book, so I had to name a dog Jean-Luc Picardigan, right? And Connery's litter had seven puppies, so my author newsgroup friends and I brainstormed up Cedar Ridge DoubleOSeven. Belle was born on Christmas Eve, and Kacey...well, her call name is from a particularly sharp-witted character of mine, but her registered name, Carbon Unit, was just because it made me laugh.

Stick, ball, Frisbee...?


That's Connery's answer. The others like me to throw stuffed squeaky toys. Connery finds this acceptable, too. They all wander around the house going "SqueakasqueakaSQUEAKA!" especially in the silence of the evening.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Ravens. Holy cow, the ravens! How they tease the Beagle!

What's an ordinary day like for your dogs?

It starts pretty quietly -- out of bed, immediate breakfast, and then some yard time; maybe some "supervising the barn chores" time. Once I get my work day underway, I break for a little training--agility or obedience or tracking--or sometimes take them out for a bike ride. There's a path along the Rio Grande that they particularly like, but I find my choices are otherwise severely restricted by the presence of large loose dogs--we'd do more biking, otherwise, and hope to do more shortly when we move to a more rural area.

Do they have any impact on your writing?

Oh, they're everything to my writing. They inform it, for starters--they leave me open to places I otherwise wouldn't find in myself. They give me the necessary break-time, and the various shows/trials are the only times I take time off from work (although to and fro travel time is another matter altogether). Biking with them is when I do a lot of plotting. And of course when Connery of the Touchy-Tummy throws up on my feet as I'm working, that has a considerable impact on the moment, also...

Where is your dogs' favorite place to go for walk?

Along the Rio Grande, right now. I think within the month, my answer is going to be "the wild arroyo behind the house." But they're going to have to figure out the prickly pear cactus equation...

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

They tend to be more oriented toward me and to each other--and to the horse--than to other dogs. Connery has been attacked several times (giant breed dogs breaking free of their owners and mowing us down at full speed from a distance), and we've both been significantly hurt; he doesn't let his guard down enough to play with non-Durgin dogs. Belle would rather sit on my feet or lick Connery's face. And Jean-Luc, due to his brain-injury, doesn't have normal doggy body language or behavior; other dogs understandably struggle to interact with him. To them, he is broadcasting inappropriate messages. So we don't have play-dates, but hey, you never know...things could change, one of these days.

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

I suspect they would make me healthy so I could play harder with them.

What's each dog's best quality?

Belle tries so very hard to be perfect, and in fact she pretty nearly always is. Jean-Luc is a profoundly sweet dog. Connery has an amazing capacity for joy and silliness.

What's each dog's proudest moment so far? Their most embarrassing?

Belle: Has no embarrassing moments. Well, maybe she came close at the obedience trial where she did her novice recall (come straight to the handler, sit directly in front of the handler, wait for cue, and finish into heel position) and gleefully ran up to me and sat up on her haunches with her stumpy little front Corgi legs dangling. And then *waved* to me. (Something she does in the office when she thinks I've been working too long.) We, um, did the finish-to-heel position from there [photo, above left]. But you know, I don't think she was embarrassed by that at all, because she would never do something unless she thought it was *right,* and I never tell her she's done something wrong in training and competition. (Showing her what's right is different from telling her she's been wrong.)

For pride, any number of her rally or agility competition runs. When she's feeling confident, her tail wags all the way around the course. She's not known as "propeller butt" for nothing!

I myself am most proud of her for her incredible consistency in performance in spite of chronic physical issues that knock her out of the game as often as she's in. She's earned the highest agility title she can, qualified for Nationals this year, and has consistently been in the blue ribbons for every activity she's tried, generally going almost straight through the necessary qualifying legs to earn her various titles. She's an amazing dog who is so very quietly efficient and who works with such good heart that we're usually done with our runs before anyone even knows the day has started (we often start off the agility trial day).

Jean-Luc: Has no embarrassing moments. Has no clue what embarrassment is. Spends a lot of time going, "WUH--?"

He does have moments of special pride in particular toys, when he prances around to show them off making little snuffling noises. Then he can't stand it any longer and he drops them so he can roll on them.

Me, I was really proud of him the day he got his NADAC novice standard agility trial. He used great heart and courage in a particular situation and he made me cry!

Connery: Not easily embarrassed. He does a lot of silly things and he revels in them. I suspect he knows we do, too.

Being proud of himself is the cornerstone of Connery's life. If he's not proud of himself, he can't learn and he's not happy around the house. So he spends a lot of time asking for training so he can get that particular fix. Generally he's excessively pleased with himself at the end of an agility trial run and he has a specific little routine of baying his Song of Self as I leash him up.

This is Connery [photo, right] earning his CD, just waiting to be released from his sit-stay so he can burst into self-congratulatory song.

For my part, I'm often proud enough of him to burst, but I think most often when I see him "get" a training concept he's been struggling with, and can see how very pleased and self-aware he is of what he's done, and we celebrate together.

And I'm as proud as can be that both Connery and Belle qualified for the AKC National Agility Championships this year, although I'm not likely to make the trip. Still, it's one of those things where it's nice to say we could have!

We're hoping to acquire another Beagle next year...what do you think? Should we start brainstorming names?

*The letters: breed, agility, rally, and obedience titles, AKC unless otherwise stated...
CH: Conformation Champion. Officially Handsome.
MACH: Master Agility Champion
CD: Companion Dog (novice agility)
RE: Rally Excellent
CGC: Canine Good Citizen
EAC & EJC: NADAC Agility Excellent titles
MJP & MXP: Masters Preferred titles
PAX: Preferred Agility Excellent
OFP: Open FAST, Preferred

Dun Lady's Jess
, Doranna Durgin's first published fantasy novel, received the 1995 Compton Crook/Stephen Tall award for the best first book in the fantasy, science fiction, and horror genres. She now has over twenty novels on the shelves and more on the way.

Doranna Durgin's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Barry Good & Bella and Logan

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Barry Good and these are my dogs, Logan and Bella. Logan is a five year old English pointer and Bella is a three year old retired racing greyhound.

I have been a public safety dispatcher for over 10 years. Prior to that I managed a boarding kennel for dogs and cats for 8 years which was also home to a greyhound adoption organization. I returned to the kennel in the summer of 2008 on a part time basis, though the greyhound adoption agency has recently been dissolved. My wife, Terri, and I live with the dogs, two cats, and have a horse and 6 chickens. We enjoy gardening, camping, hiking and traveling when we can. I also consider myself an amateur naturalist, a not half-bad birder, and aspiring runner.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I'm taking advantage of Coffee With a Canine to actually sit and enjoy a cup in the company of the dogs. Things are usually rather rushed around here.

What's brewing?

Something special on this occasion. I drink a lot of coffee, but today we brewed a selection from Dean's Beans called Sirius Blend. I thought it appropriate. I have mine with a splash of 2% milk.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

None for me.

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

Logan has food allergies so he can only have a couple Hills Prescription Diet Hypoallergenic Treats.

Bella can and will eat just about anything. Today, she is sharing Logan's treats.

How did Bella and Logan come to be united with you?

We received information from one of our friends who boards her horse up the road from our place about a litter of pointer puppies that the barn owner had for sale. So, we visited with them to "just look". We were interested in a female, but she was already spoken for. One male really stuck out among the remaining pups. He was running around with a plastic water bottle in his mouth with this really proud, so-half dopey look on his face. We really liked him and decided that he was the one.

Bella was brought to the kennel sometime last year, not long after my return. She came from one of the Massachusetts dog tracks (now closed due to the racing ban in the state). The manager saw her and knew instantly that she should go to us, though she never really expressed this until after I was hooked. I think the manager knew me well enough to know that I would fall for this girl. Instantly. She was right.

In fact, she is an exceptional greyhound. She ran very few races and was apparently quite terrible at it.

How did they get their names? Do they have an aliases?

We decided on Logan after seeing the X-Men movie. My wife and I are both Hugh Jackman fans, so, at the time, it seemed appropriate.

When Bella came to the kennel, part of her track name was Rogue. I was not certain about how well the idea of a second dog would be received at home, but I sent a couple cell phone pictures to Terri and told her that the dog's name was Rogue knowing that she would get the connection. For those not familiar with the X-Men movie, Wolverine (Logan) has interaction with a character named Rogue early in the film. We thought this certainly was meant to be, though I did not really care what her name was. She was a perfect beauty and I wanted her. We changed her name to Bella soon after adopting her mainly because her track name was a bit awkward. Terri was reading the Twilight series when we were in the midst of trying to rename her. She suggested Bella and I agreed not really knowing anything about the book at the time. I still call her Rogue or Bella Rogue from time to time (among other things as you will see). In retrospect the way the dogs were named seems pretty lame, but here we are and they stuck.

Logan's aliases: Doodle, Doodle-bug, Lo-dog, Poodle.

Bella's aliases: Rogue, Bell, Bella-boo, Bucket, Banana, Bella-banana. I have no idea where some of them came from. I just started using 'B' words.

Where is their favorite place to go for an outing?

They are homebodies, but certainly enjoy tagging along when I am working at the kennel. There they are allowed a good romp in the fenced in pastures. Bella really lets loose and is quite difficult to photograph when she is running. They will also make any excuse for a car ride.

Tennis ball, stick, frisbee...?

Logan's all-time favorite is a soft frisbee, or floppy as I call it. He will chase and retrieve just about anything though.

Bella is rather fond of anything soft. She has a hedgehog plushie right now.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

They live with cats (Maggie and Sprout) and are indifferent to them. Our bird feeders are usually covered in gray squirrels, so the dogs could care less about them. Logan is a fierce watchdog and will advise us (loudly) of any perceived intruder on the property to include the UPS man, trash collectors, FedEx driver, and the postman.

What's an ordinary day like for Bella and Logan?

Mostly eating and sleeping unless they are at the kennel with me. Logan spends a lot of time on patrol keeping watch over the house. Bella plays the "I'm retired" card and enjoys hours of sleep.

Who are Bella and Logan's best pet-pals?

Well, I guess the simple answer is each other. When we are away they stay with the kennel manager at her home and get along quite well with her greyhound and chihuahua.

What are Bella and Logan's best qualities?

Aside from being fiercely loyal, Logan is, without question, the best watchdog I have ever had. He rarely misses anything and his bark, growl and appearance become quite menacing when someone approaches the house. He is also very loving and quite expressive.

Bella is, in my eyes, one of the most elegant examples of a racing greyhound I have ever seen. Her body is perfectly proportioned, she maintains her weight quite well and her musculature is just beautiful. Many greyhounds lose a lot of hair on their behinds, chest and sometimes their necks. She did not.

What's each dog's proudest moment so far? Most embarrassing?

We once brought Logan with us on a trip to Moosehead Lake in Maine. One day he accompanied us on a hike up Little Moose Mountain. I suppose if I had to choose a proud moment that would be it. He hiked well, though he did pull on the leash an awful lot.

I think Logan's most embarrassing moment was when I tried to get him to swim at a nearby pond. He was somewhat leery of the water. Eventually I carried him in and slowly lowered him into the water, but still kept hold of him. He began slapping his front paws rather wildly in what may have been an attempt at swimming. I let him go on his own and though he could still touch bottom quite easily he attempted to climb up the front of me. This was probably not the best approach at getting him in the water, but it certainly was entertaining. We never tried again.

I think Bella's proudest moment was the day she learned to sit. In my experience, it's not very easy to train a greyhound to sit. She picked up on it very quickly. Though it's not perfect, she does do it well and is quite willing to please which makes our job easy.

Her most embarrassing moment occurred fairly recently. I had her and Logan loose in the kennel compound while I was doing some maintenance work. She got up a little too much speed while chasing Logan around. As they approached the building she put on the brakes in an attempt to stop. She had too much speed going and slammed into the side of the building. She was fine, save for a few scrapes on her rear end and what seemed like a bruise on her pride.

Visit Barry Good's blog, "
Frost Bottom Farm."

--Marshal Zeringue