Friday, February 26, 2010

Alyson & Chase and Mattie

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Chase and myself (Alyson). There are some pics of Mattie below as well. Chase is almost a year and a half and Mattie is just 9 weeks old. They have the same parents but are from different litters. We just got Mattie yesterday and are absolutely in love! I teach high school English.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Coffee is a must to begin my day and I love to share that time with my two pups!

What's brewing?

French vanilla coffee ... mmmm ... I usually make my own coffee at home but sometimes I'll splurge and get something from Starbucks.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Usually a bagel with butter for me.

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

My pups love dog biscuits and anything with bananas.

How were you & Chase and Mattie united?

My fiancee and I were looking for a puggle and found a great breeder in Oklahoma. We fell in love with Chase and when we moved out of our apartment into a house, I knew we had to get another one. Mattie worked out perfectly since she is a true sister to Chase! We had both Mattie and Chase shipped to New Jersey.

How did Chase and Mattie get their names?

To be honest, and I know this is boring, we decided to keep the names the breeder gave to both of them. We loved the name Chase and Mattie was the only girl in her litter and we loved her name too!

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Definitely the postman...Chase will bark at him everyday, the poor guy!

Frisbee, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Mattie sounds like a squeaky-toy right now! For Chase, I would definitely say a stick. When he was a pup, he would bring them inside and make a mess on the carpet. He loves to chew on them.

Where's the dogs' favorite place for an outing?

Anywhere that involves the going in the car is fine for Chase. He loves the dog park or just going to the local pet store. Mattie doesn't have a favorite place yet.

Who are Chase and Mattie's best pet-pals?

Chase's best pet-pals are Bijou and Banjo from his blog. Mattie hasn't had a chance to get to know any pups yet besides her brother.

What's each dog's best quality?

Chase loves to snuggle and give kisses. Mattie is spunky and doesn't fear anything! She loves to play.

If Chase and Mattie could change one thing about you, what would it be?

I would guess that they would wish I was home more with them. They always greet me with kisses and licks and that makes my day!

What's each dog's proudest moment? His or her most embarrassing?

Chase's proudest moment was when he finally learned down. That was a tough one for him and we were so proud of him! Mattie doesn't have one yet. As far as most embarrassing, for Chase it would have to be when he chewed up my cell phone! I'm sure Mattie will have her fill of proudest and most embarrassing moments as she grows up.

Visit the official "Chase the Puggle" blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Magazine Man & Blaze

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m the Magazine Man, a semi-anonymous writer and editor who, since 2004 (and despite an egregious three-month absence recently) writes the blog “Somewhere on the Masthead.” Unconfirmed rumors have linked me to a fellow by the name of Stephen C. George, who is also a writer and editor—who is in fact the editor-in-chief of The Saturday Evening Post. But really, how much stock can you put in these rumors?

With me is my dog Blaze. He’s a purebred male mutt: part Rottweiler, part beagle (we think), with a little lab thrown in. He’s about 8 years old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Well, this is what we look like before coffee. Blaze is something of an alarm clock, slowly nudging me to the end of the bed until I get up and go make the coffee.

What's brewing?

Whatever happens to be available in bulk from Costco. This week it’s Dunkin’ Donuts’ house brand.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

For me, it’s only breakfast, and the recovery of higher-brain functions, which I would otherwise lose without caffeine.

Any treat for Blaze on this occasion?

Blaze usually spends breakfast hovering around my son and two daughters, who provide a rich and abundant source of treat material.

How were you & Blaze united?

Through a convoluted turn of events, Blaze was abandoned by his old family, staked out in a back yard (with no food or water) in the middle of July. He was found by a friend of a friend. This person already owned a dog and had no room for him, so she put the word out among her female friends (she warned people that Blaze didn’t seem to like men). By this time, my elder daughter, the Brownie (3 years old at the time) [photos, below right and left], had overheard me talking about the dog and lobbied hard for me and my wife to go meet him. My wife bailed at the last minute, so I went by myself, expecting to be torn limb from limb. Instead, Blaze acted like I was his long-lost brother and that pretty much clinched it.

How did Blaze get his name? Does he have any aliases?

His previous owners (about whom I was eventually to learn way more than I wanted) had named him “Blazer.” The Brownie, for reasons known only to herself, started calling him “Blazey Bellow Hoska Boo Boo Ba Doo.” I have no idea what it means. Our youngest, the Éclair, calls him “Bazey.” Mostly, he just answers to “Blaze.”

Cat, squirrel, paperboy...?

Delivermen, repairmen, men of any kind (except me). Also birds. And cats—my brother had four and when we went to visit him, there was a famous fight.

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

Oh, squeaky-toy. But alas, sometimes he steals stuffed animals too.

What's the story behind Blaze's cancer scare?

A year or so after he came to live with us, I noticed he had a weird red spot growing right on top of his snout. Went very quickly from being a tiny dot to a lump about the size of my thumb. Turned out to be benign, but for a couple of days, we didn’t know. I wrote about it (the first time Blaze appears on the blog), then later this George fellow (who I mentioned earlier) took my story and ran a version of it in his magazine (Jan/Feb 2010 Saturday Evening Post, on newsstands now). I hear it was a very popular story.

Where's Blaze's favorite place for an outing?

Despite the cats, Blaze loves to visit my old hometown in New Hampshire. After our parents died, my brother and I inherited 110 acres of hilly timberland there (it’s been in the family since the 1600s) where Blaze spent many happy hours wandering about. But we only get up there about once a year. The rest of the time, he has to make do with the walking trail near our house.

Who is Blaze's best pet-pal?

Before we moved, he enjoyed hanging out with a rather hyper little dog named Gordon. These days I think he harbors a secret crush on the German Shepherd that patrols the grounds near where we live.

What's Blaze's best quality?

When he “guest-blogs” for me, I give Blaze a rather aloof and haughty voice (somewhere between Shakespeare and The Mighty Thor), but the truth is he’s a very laid-back, friendly, loving dog. At least to women and children. And especially to my children. His love and devotion to them is unflagging. I’ve had a few dogs in my time, and they’ve all been faithful and devoted, but this is a whole other order of magnitude. I’ve never had a dog like him (and probably never will again).

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

He would probably tell me to speak less and listen more. He has an uncanny knack for yawning dramatically whenever I’m telling a story at the supper table. And he really doesn’t like it when I scold the kids.

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

Well, I’ve been proudest of Blaze whenever he’s leapt to the defense of my family, which has happened about a dozen times. I suspect Blaze’s finest hour (aside from a nasty moment last year with his former owner, which is a story I’m not ready to tell yet) was the time he saved the Brownie from a crazy blackbird that was dive-bombing her (and many of our neighbors). Blaze caught the bird in mid-air and bit its head off. People came out of their houses to watch and made a big fuss over Blaze when it was all over. You could tell he was proud of himself, the way everyone ooh-ed and ahh-ed and he stood there, looking off into the distance like none of it mattered (except that he kept looking back over his shoulder to make sure we were all still looking at him). It was a sweet moment.

As for most embarrassing, I’d wager that was the time he ate an industrial-size bag of Tootsie Rolls (wrappers and all), then promptly threw them up.

Or perhaps the time he was being chased by the kids and my son ran into him, accidentally poking him in the rear-end with his thumb.

Neither incident would score high on his list of Good Times, I think.

Visit the Magazine Man's blog, Somewhere on the Masthead.

Watch two YouTube videos—links
here and here—both involving Blaze and his interactions with the Éclair, the Magazine Man's youngest. You can hear her calling him “Bazey.”

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 22, 2010

Leslie Larson & Leyla

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Leslie Larson, a writer who lives in Berkeley. My second novel, Breaking Out of Bedlam, came out the first month of 2010. Slipstream, my first novel, came out a couple of years ago. I’m working on the third, of course! I’m holding Leyla when she was a young gal. Now she’s seven. They told me at the shelter that she was a rottweiler mix, but I think she’s mostly shepherd. A guy on the street told me she’s a World Dog. If every dog in the world mated, their offspring would look like Leyla.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

After we’ve walked for an hour or so, we usually have coffee at home. Leyla lies under my chair while I read the paper. It bugs her if I get out of the chair. Once in awhile we have coffee outdoors at Hudson Bay in Oakland. Trouble is that Leyla is protective, and if anyone gets within five feet of the table, she barks.

What's brewing?

Trader Joe’s Bay Blend dark roast from my stove top espresso maker if we’re home. Double latte if we’re out and about.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Toast with avocado. Oatmeal if I’m feeling fat. If we go out for coffee I have a bagel.

Any treat for Leyla on this occasion?

Nope. She has her own breakfast before I have mine. I avoid giving her treats while I’m eating so she won’t learn to beg—with mixed results. And she wants to maintain her girlish figure.

How did Leyla get her name?

I wanted to name her Lila or Lola, but my partner objected. There were only two vowels left and I didn’t want to copy Eric Clapton, so she became Leyla. (Though I do play the song to see if she’ll react.) I think it’s a beautiful name. I later realized, though, that with those two “L’s” I was naming her after myself. Disturbing.

How did you & Leyla come together?

We had gone to an appliance warehouse to look at refrigerators. On the way home I casually suggested we stop at the SPCA—just for fun. Leyla and her five brothers and sisters were romping in a room together. They were six weeks old. Who could resist? Leyla and I locked eyes and that was it. I think stopping at the shelter was like couples who get pregnant “accidentally on purpose.” I fell deeply in love right away. I honestly fantasized about being stranded on a desert island with her.

Who is Leyla's best pet-pal?

Her sidekick Jade, who came to live with us when she was a puppy and Leyla was five. No question Leyla’s the boss, but she protects Jade, who’s terrified of other dogs. Leyla loves to tease her by “accidentally” dropping a toy or chew right in front of her, then snatching it up the minute Jade makes a move for it. They spend pretty much every moment together.

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

Retrieving is not her thing. She can squeak her toy approximately two thousand times per minute. She runs to get it when the phone rings, then stands next to me and squeaks while I try to have a conversation.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

She’s not allowed to chase squirrels or cats. When the postwoman comes, Leyla sticks her head out the cat door and barks. Same with Jehovah’s Witnesses and the UPS guy. It scares the heck out of them. Neighborhood kids bring their friends by to see her. She looks like a mounted head.

What does Leyla do while you’re writing?

She and Jade pretend they’re wolverines. They wrestle and snarl on the floor beside my desk, then they take a nap, then they go outside and bark, then they come in and expect a treat. I would say they interrupt my writing about every 20 minutes.

How has Leyla influenced your writing?

If I get stuck or frustrated with my writing, I lie on the floor next to her. Her dog energy pushes my reset button.

What secret about you does only Leyla know?

How much time I spend walking aimlessly around the house, spying on the neighbors, and reading “Dear Abby” when I’m supposed to be writing. She doesn’t tell anyone that I constantly sigh and curse at the keyboard and ask her questions like, “What in the world am I doing?”

What's Leyla's best quality?

Hard to say. Her beauty? Intelligence? Devotion? Sense of humor? Maybe the way she looks me in the eye like she recognizes my divine essence. Can you tell I’m besotted? I’m afraid to say any more because someone might try to kidnap her.

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

Her proudest moments come when I send her to her room, hide her toy somewhere in the living room—between the cushions of the couch, in a houseplant, or under a chair—then scream, “Find the drugs!” She comes running and searches madly until she sniffs out the contraband. She takes the job very seriously and is extremely proud when she prances over and drops the toy at my feet.

Her most embarrassing moment is gross but not unusual. It’s when I caught her snacking in the cat box. She was mortified. She knew that it was not only forbidden, but beneath her dignity.

Among the early praise for Breaking out of Bedlam:
"Few women have kept me as worried and curious and awake at night as Cora Sledge…. Read Breaking Out of Bedlam to see redemption."
—Susan Straight, author of Highwire Moon

“Delightful… Plenty of heart and humor.”
Publishers Weekly

"Heartwarming and funny with nary a slip into sentimentality."
Kirkus Reviews
an excerpt from Breaking Out of Bedlam, and learn more about the book and author at Leslie Larson's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: Breaking Out of Bedlam.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 19, 2010

Susan Breen & Tino and Spencer

Who is in the photo at right?

The human looking one is me, Susan Breen. I’m the author of the novel The Fiction Class. Tino, my Golden Retriever, is twelve years old though in disposition he’s more like a puppy. Spencer, nine year old, is the alpha dog in this relationship. He’s a somewhat fat Maltese who everyone mistakes for a Bichon.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We were tired and cold.

What's brewing?

I like to heat up a cup of milk and then add coffee to it.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Chocolate chip cookies. Always.

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

You can, quite literally, eat off our floor. They find treats all the time. Alas.

How did your dogs come to be united with you?

I had a Golden Retriever growing up and knew I wanted one for my family. We got Tino from a breeder. Spencer, I have to confess, I saw in a pet store window. I fell in love with him the moment I saw him.

How did they get their names?

Tino is named for Tino Martinez, who was a first baseman for the Yankees at the time. Spencer is named for Shane Spencer, who was a Yankee outfielder.

Do the dogs have any influence on your writing?

Absolutely. For one thing, they give me a subject. My first novel (unpublished so far) was about a woman whose Golden Retriever bit the weatherman. Trouble ensued. My second novel (also unpublished) was about a little white dog who kept getting his owner into trouble. Come to think of it, the only novel I’ve had published so far was my third one, which did not have a dog in it. I’ll have to think over what that means.

What's an ordinary day like for your dogs?

On a good day, I’ll sit and write for a few hours and my dogs will sit at my feet. The thing I do that drives them crazy is pace around when I’m writing. I stand up, they stand up. I roam from room to room. They follow me. Then I sit down, they sit down. Then we all pant and then it starts all over again.

Do your dogs have a favorite place to go for walk?

Our house is set next to a plot of woods and Tino loves to run there. Poor Spencer prefers the road because he has a more difficult time navigating the paths in the woods. He doesn’t like leaves and he sinks in the snow. So when it’s time to go for a walk we all go tearing out the front door: Spencer running for the road, Tino running for the woods, me trying to corral them. We’ve been doing this for years and we can’t seem to agree.

Stick, tennis ball, frisbee...?

Frisbee. They’re great on catching. Not so good about returning.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Deer, which has got me into a lot of trouble. Tino loves to chase deer but he doesn’t know what to do when he’s caught one. It turns out that deer get quite hostile when cornered and they make a huffing sort of noise. I’ve spent some anxious moments trying to blend in with the bark of a tree.

What's each dog's best quality?

Tino’s very protective and, except for certain incidents involving deer, he makes me feel very safe. Spencer is devoted. He makes a cozy snuffling sound that is more inspiring than music.

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

Most of our embarrassing moments have involved roast chicken and Italian subs. The proud moments are too many too be listed!

Susan Breen's novel, The Fiction Class, is the story of a woman's relationship with her ailing mother and the offbeat members of the creative writing workshop she leads.

Breen's short stories have been published by a number of literary magazines, among them
American Literary Review and anderbo (which lists her story “Triplet” as an anderbo classic).

Susan Breen's website and blog.

Writers Read: Susan Breen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Reyanna Klein & Ruby and Amber

Who is in the photo at right?

Well, that's me, Reyanna Klein. I'm a simple gal who loves to scrapbook, organize (I work in Sales at The Container Store), write, cook, stand on my hands, and hang out with my super-fun hubby and our two cutie-puppies, Ruby-Monday and Amber-Lamb. Ruby (left) and Amber (right) are Shih-Tzus from the same litter. They'll be seven years old this coming May.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It's been really rainy lately, so we thought we'd get out of the house! We love Starbucks.

What's brewing?

When I'm not ordering tea, I usually get a Pumpkin Latte... skim milk, no cinnamon or whip.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Oh, Starbucks has this really yummy Orange-Almond Gluten-Free cake! SO delicious!

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

Well, they don't get any human food, but I bring along some ZuZu's treats, so they don't feel left out.

How were you & your dogs united?

We got them from a breeder in Missouri (Glory Ridge). We were only planning on getting Ruby, and we named her the day she was born. Then, two weeks later, one little pup was still available. Hubby thought it would be a good idea if we each got a puppy (so we each had one to cuddle), and then Ruby would have a playmate.

How did Ruby and Amber get their names?

I've always loved the name Ruby, and she ended up being red and white, so it was perfect! She was born on a Monday, so instead of Ruby-Tuesday (like the Rolling Stones song), I thought Ruby-Monday would be cute. I let my hubby name the other puppy, since she was deemed "his." We decided to choose another jewel name, so we'd have a theme, and since she was a golden color, he came up with Amber. When Amber came home to us, she was SO sweet and timid... just like a little lamb. So she was named Amber-Lamb... still is.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

All three! We have a cat (Kissa), whom they love to chase around in the house. (They all sleep together too!) They'll chase the squirrels out in the backyard. And as for the postman... well, they pretty much just want to lick his face off.

Frisbee, squeaky-toy, stick...?

They are VERY picky about toys. Ruby ONLY likes rope toys (ANYthing with a rope!) and Nylabones. She'll play fetch for all of five minutes before she goes back to napping. LOL. And Amber is not really into playing. But on the rare occasion, she'll chase your hand or a sock that we tied to a wire clothes hanger. She will NOT fetch. EVER. If you throw the sock for her, she looks at it, and then looks back at you like, "Now look what you did! Go and get it, so I can keep playing!" LOL.

Where's Ruby and Amber's favorite place for an outing?

Ruby loves anywhere with people... especially if there are children there. She freaks out when she sees (or hears) a child. She loves licking their hands and faces. She loves car rides. I'll bring Ruby to The Container Store with me, and she loves it. Amber LOVES the backyard and walks in the park, but she's very timid, so she doesn't like it if there are lots of other dogs or people.

Who are your your dogs' best pet-pals?

Each other. They also love our cat, Kissa (who adopted us... she was abandoned by her family and used to follow us on our walks each day, and one day, she came home with us). Kissa loves them a bit more than they love her though. LOL. She wants to snuggle, and they just want to chase her... until they're tired... then they'll go cuddle up with her on the couch.

What's each dog's best quality?

Amber is such a cuddler... the epitome of a lap dog. She'll sit on your lap for HOURS. She'll give you kisses... or just sleep. And she's just perfectly content to be loved on. Ruby is just the sweetest. She LOVES to be held by adults and kids alike, and she'll just lie her head on your shoulder. She has a knack for knowing when something is wrong... she's always ready to kiss it all away.

What's each dog's proudest moment?

Ruby is my kitchen helper. If the oven timer goes off or the pasta is boiling over, she'll run in the other room to get me. She gets all excited and seems pretty proud to keep me on my toes when it comes to cooking!

A few years ago, we were babysitting for a kitten, and it was the kitten's first night away from its mom. It took right to Amber. Even though the kitten wasn't getting anything, she was perfectly fine to suckle on Amber [photo above left]. And Amber was perfectly happy to oblige. It was her one day of being a "mother."

Her most embarrassing?

A friend of mine left chewed gum on the floor, and Ruby found it. Poor thing... it was stuck to her mouth, so she really didn't know what to do. My mom taught me that peanut butter gets gum out of hair, so that's what I used. And she had peanut butter AND gum stuck all over her face [photo right]. I laughed SO hard!

And Amber?

Well, she had a tumor removed a couple years ago, and they bandaged up one whole leg. She wouldn't put any weight on it, so we didn't think she'd walk much. We were wrong. We took them to the beach, and Amber felt so good to be free and out of the house. She just picked up that front leg, stuck it straight out to the side and took off running... on only three legs! It was one of the funniest things I've ever seen!

Visit Reyanna Klein's blog, Sunshine and Wonder.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 15, 2010

Joyce and Jim Lavene & Rudi

Who is in the photo at right?

Mystery writer Joyce Lavene and her new puppy, Rudi. Rudi is about 3 months old, male and no one is quite sure what breed he is. He looks part boxer and part something else.

That's Jim Lavene with Quincy in the other photo [below, left].

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We have coffee every day when we write. Jim has a nice espresso machine and he makes awesome mocha lattes. Rudi is starting to know the sound of the machine and that it is time to go in and write! He'll be a mystery loving pooch in no time!

What's brewing?

Jim has a double shot latte, whole milk, no foam, 2 Splendas. Joyce has mocha latte with soy milk. YUM!

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Not usually. We try not to eat and write. Bad habit. It happens sometimes though.

Any treat for Rudi on this occasion?

Rudi gets his dog biscuit made by Debbie Clineff at Uwharrie Books and Café.

How did Rudi come to be united with you?

We got him last Monday from the Stanly County Animal Rescue people. He was abandoned in the park. He's still a little nervous when we take him outside but he's adapting.

How did he get his name?

His name is short for either Rudolph the red nosed reindeer or ex-Minnesota governor Rudy Perpich. We're not sure about that yet.

How is Rudi getting along with Quincy?

Quincy ignores him for the most part. Rudi likes to run up to him and make little growling noises. It's become a game for them.

Squeaky-toy, tennis ball, cherished keepsakes...?

Green pull rope with ball on it, green and white fish toy. He loves his bed!

Squirrel, postman, birds...?

Not yet though he did learn to bark yesterday.

Did Bear, your previous dog who died in 2008, have any influence on your writing? How about Rudi?

Bear was always in the office with us when we were writing. It was part of the ritual. We hope Rudi will feel the same.

What's an ordinary day like for Rudi?

He gets up with us at about 6 am, we go outside then we have breakfast. He plays for a while then takes a nap. Then he goes outside and plays for a while and takes a nap. There's a pattern developing here. His favorite time is when we are sitting down and can hold him. One of us holds Quincy and the other holds Rudi. Then we switch off.

What's Rudi's best quality?

He's very laid back. I think that's why Quincy adjusted so quickly.

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

His proudest is probably actually walking in the house on his leash from outside for the first time. His most embarrassing is probably falling on the floor when Quincy hissed at him. He recovered quickly.

Joyce and Jim Lavene are really two people who write together, not just one disguising herself with two names. They have had over 40 books published, including the recently released Ghastly Glass from their Renaissance Faire Mystery series.

View the Ghastly Glass trailer, and learn more about the authors and their work at Joyce and Jim Lavene's website and the Carolina Conspiracy blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 12, 2010

Al Riske & Bodie

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Bodie (the cute one on the right) and this is my life-long companion, Al Riske. He's a writer and would probably like to tell you all about his first book, Precarious, which you can get from Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, and fine book stores everywhere. I'd tell you about it myself, but he refuses to let me chew it.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Occasion? No occasion. Al drinks the stuff every day and I generally join him, on his lap. But for me? I prefer water —filtered though. It's gotta be filtered. Cool but not cold.

What's brewing?

It's Peet's Italian roast. Al has been raving about Italian roast ever since that trip he took to Italy with Joanne (my other life-long companion), which was before I was even born. Sheesh! Apparently dark roast has more flavor but less caffeine, so he doesn't get all jittery.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Not for Al. Unless you count the mound of whipped cream he put on top of his coffee.

Any treat for Bodie on this occasion?

I get a big breakfast biscuit every morning — I love the taste of bacon, cheese, and eggs all in one biscuit. You should try it.

How did you come to be united?

As far back as I can remember, Al and Joanne have always been with me. They say they adopted me, though, from a nice woman Joanne works for. I heard them talking once and Al admitted he had wanted a bigger dog (which is probably why I've always preferred Joanne), but I won him over. That's what he said: I won him over. And I wasn't even trying, you know. I was just being me. Being Bodie.

How did you get the name Bodie?

I was named after a famous skier, Bode Miller, but spelled different so people can pronounce it better. I guess I was pretty laid back as a pup, nursing while lying on my back and stuff like that.

Favorite place for a walk?

Anywhere, man. Preferably someplace new — that really gets me going, you know? — but I still like the old routes, too. Like to say hi to my old friends.

Stick, Frisbee, tennis ball...?

Actually, I don't want to be "naughty" but, well, there's this stuffed bear ... I know it's not real, and yet I see that thing sometimes and I just ... I get excited, you know?

Cat, squirrel, postman...?


Do you have any influence on Al's writing?

I like to think so, yeah. I try to slow him down if I can — sit in his lap and make him type with one hand so he has to think about each word.

What's an ordinary day like for Bodie?

I won't lie to you, man. I like to snuggle. Yeah, you heard me. Snuggle. So what? I can run and bark with the best of them, and I'm not afraid of anybody, but pick me up and hold me — I love that!

What's Bodie's best quality?

Bodie's a good boy. Just ask Al. He's always saying, "Who's a good boy? Bodie is! Bodie's a good boy!" Just like that, a dozen times a day.

What's Bodie's proudest moment so far?

Proudest? Graduating from puppy school. I was prancing like a show dog!

Most embarrassing?

Hmmm, I don't embarrass easily. I'm a dog, you know? We do what comes naturally. It's all good.

Al Riske was born in Shelton, Washington, and earned a degree in communications from Linfield College in Oregon. He has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, copywriter, and ghostwriter.

His short stories have appeared in the Beloit Fiction Journal, Hobart, Pndeldyboz, Switchback, Word Riot, and the Blue Mesa Review, where his story "Pray for Rain" won the review's 2008 fiction prize. He is currently working on a novel.

For more about Al Riske, go to alriske.blogspot.

Read more about his new short story collection at the official Precarious website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Michelle Styles & Tess and Hardy

Who is in the photo at right?

The photo at the right has me (Michelle Styles, historical romance novelist. I have written 14 novels for Harlequin Mills & Boon. My latest North American release is Sold & Seduced in February 2010, My next UK release is Compromising Miss Milton in May 2010. You can read more about me at my website – and my two 9 month old border collies – Tess and Hardy. Tess has the single patch. They are brother and sister. The picture was taken by Katie Lee during a photo shoot for Living North magazine.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It was the photo shoot for Living North magazine’s February edition. After posing, I had coffee with the photographer and the dogs joined us.

What's brewing?

It was plain old filter coffee with a little milk.

Any treats to go with the coffee?

Just the coffee.

Any goodies for the dogs on this occasion?

They were being kept in place with treats! Bribery and corruption is all when you want the dogs to look at the camera. They had markies after the shoot was finished and then pig’s ears because they had been so good. The dogs adore pig’s ear and know that they are real treats. After being the star of anything is hard work!

How did you come to be united with your dogs?

We got the pair after our ten year Border collie suddenly died last May. Within hours, it was blatantly obvious that the house was too quiet. We decided to get two because my husband worried that our 13 year Labrador would go soon as well. So far, so good and he remains with us. The neighbour of a friend had a litter and we were able to go and get them. It was not until about mid way through the second week that I twigged why most books and experts say – do not do two puppies at once. It is doing twins voluntarily! Lots of fun but if one dog doesn’t think of it, the other one will.

How did they get their names?

Tess was named because it is the name of my daughter’s favourite book and Tess was her 16th birthday present. And if you are going to have Tess, you might as well continue the influence and so Hardy got his name.

What's an ordinary day like for the dogs?

They wake up just after 6 when I get up. We have cuddles and they go out. If it is light, we will go on an early morning walk, else they come back in. They help let the ducks and hens out. Tess seems to think it is important to hurry the ducks along. Then they have their breakfast. They tend to lounge around/play in the house while I do some writing and then later in the afternoon we go for another walk. The dogs do make regular checks on the ducks during the day. They help put the ducks to bed at dusk and are very good at making sure any stray ducks are rounded up. Then they are fed and play until bed time. Collies are not stick them in a corner and forget them dogs. They like to be involved in everything, including "helping" to prepare dinner, getting any tasty titbits the kittens might have left.

If they have rolled in anything foul, they have a bath. For some reason Tess and Hardy do this and the other dogs had enough sense not to. They are not fond of baths!

Do your dogs have any influence on your writing?

I love having animals in my novels and do try to have at least one dog or cat. It makes the book much nicer I think. I love researching what sort of dog would have been a part of a household in a given time. So for example, my Roman books have had greyhounds, my Viking Elkhounds and finally with a Victorian I was able to have sheep dogs.

Where is their favorite outdoor place?

They adore going to the National Trust property – Allen Banks because they are allowed to run free and there are lots of interesting smells.

Stick, Frisbee, tennis ball...?

Tess loves to fetch anything. Hardy is more of a tug man and Chile just likes to be an elderly gentleman and let the pups get on with it.

Cat, squirrel, jogger...?

Ducks. They are duck dogs.

Duck dogs?

Border collies need a job. They are highly intelligent and never happier than when working. We do not have sheep so they can’t be sheep dogs but we do have late night party ducks who do not like to go to bed. Both Tess & Hardy know their job is to get the ducks in their house at night. After they do their job, they are fed.

Who are the dogs' best pet-pals?

We just acquired two black kittens – Heathcliff and Mr Darcy and they are rapidly becoming friends. The dogs have discovered the joys of cat food. In the outside world, their best friends are Daisy Emma and Jackson – 3 Labradors who belong to a friend where we go and have a coffee most weeks.

What's each dog's best quality?

Their best quality is that they are intelligent, loyal and loving.

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

Hardy’s most harrowing moment was when he ate raisins at about 10 weeks. Raisins are potentially fatal to dogs as they can cause renal failure. Cue an overnight trip to the vet’s on a drip. Hardy also managed to chew up his discharge papers. The raisins have been kept on a top shelf ever since.

For Tess, it came when she and her brother escaped. I was cleaning out the duck houses and they found a hole in the back fence and wriggled through. The first I knew about it was when the farmer’s wife called and said she had two puppies whom she thought belonged to me. I was about to leave home when Hardy appeared, looking smug, having escaped and made his own way home. Tess on the other hand was attached to a chain and feeling sorry for herself. She refused to have anything to do with Hardy for several weeks afterward! I am very glad that they wear dog tags as well as being microchipped.

Read an excerpt from Styles' new book, Sold & Seduced, and learn more about her and her work at Michelle Styles' website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 8, 2010

Patti Kelly & Mighty

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi, I am Patti Kelly and am a retired utility company worker who for about 15 years ran a no-kill animal rescue facility. To occupy my free time now that I am down to one dog and two cats, I started to blog and I just had my one year anniversary. The New Sixty is my blog site and I have met such a wonderful group of people through cyberspace.

My dog is the wonder dog, Mighty. He is an almost male, terrier mix approximately 12 years old. He came to me as a stray so age is a guesstimate. Mighty has two separate appearances dependent on the season. Winter, he is in full shaggy, long hair attire while the rest of the year he is closely shaved and macho looking. I really like the buzz cut look but appreciate his need for the longer coat in the cold.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Mighty and I share space every morning as I have my coffee. Usually I am on the computer tending to my blog duties while he is on the bed quite near me. Each time I roll back in the chair looking for that just right sentence, my hand seeks his head to stroke and I use that time to search for the elusive words. He is a great muse and is frequently the subject of my posts.

What's brewing?

I NEED coffee to make the morning all better but do not have sophisticated taste buds. I sometimes grind my beans, sometimes stoop to Instant but really can't tell the difference. I have been known to rave about someone's coffee only to learn it was the Walmart store brand. However, DO NOT take those two cups of tasty caffeine away from me in the AM. Serve it in a Razorback mug, black and hot, and I am happy.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Not really. Don't know why. I suppose if a tray of donuts walked by, I would snag one but normally it is just me, the mug, the computer and Mighty.

Any treat for Mighty on this occasion?

Aww, Mighty can't have treats due to a newly discovered gluten intolerance. Quite by accident I learned that his frequent idiopathic seizures he has had since I found him were caused by gluten intolerance. Last June, Mighty ruptured the ACL tendon in his knee (this was his second knee to collapse). Since he was on pain meds for a while, I gave him wet food to make it easier on his stomach and to reward him for the painful therapy. Oddly the whole three months of therapy, he did not have one seizure. At the end of the 90 days, I returned him to his dry food and he had a seizure that same day. After discovering which was the harmful ingredient, I now feed him gluten free food and NO seizures. If this helps anyone having the same problem with their pet, that would be wonderful.

How did Mighty come to be united with you?

I ran a no-kill animal shelter for 15 years. People knew where I lived and would drop dogs off in my general area hoping we would find each other. One day a really cute terrier mix stood patiently at my gate by the road. I opened the gate and let him in. Ignoring me, he marched on ahead, past the penned up dogs, right up my gate to the house and waited while I opened it for him. He then sat by my door, again waiting for me to open it. Dutifully I did, he marched in and launched himself onto the couch. That little fellow chose me and let me know in no uncertain terms, he was to be my house pet. I had no say in the matter.

How did he get his name? Does he have any aliases?

I usually let my dogs name themselves. After a couple of hundred dogs take up temporary residence, one loses creativity in names. "Spot" starts looking original. He was tearing around the pasture one day at full speed. His ears and coat were flying in the breeze. "You look like Mighty Dog." I said and he slammed on the brakes and perked up his ears. Perhaps he just thought I was discussing dinner but regardless, I decided he liked the name. He recently earned a middle name that he is now getting called a lot.

While on a recent vacation, I was walking with my brother and Mighty. My brother Jim could not believe how many times the dog could pee on everything he saw over 6 inches high. Jim watched as Mighty managed to squeeze a drop out each time. Eventually though, Mighty just ran dry.

Jim looked at me and said. "I see you have a French dog."

"French dog?" I asked puzzled.

"Yes... pee air."

Well, that totally cracked me up and the little fellow now answers to Pierre as easily as Mighty.

Where is Mighty's favorite place to go for an outing?

I have one acre fenced so he can run free here but he does like new smells and the city park or the National Forest supply those. I try to take him on leash to either place at least once a week.

Tennis ball, stick, Frisbee...?

He gives me a very superior look if I even try one of those toys. He finds no joy, no reason, no sense in retrieving something only to have it tossed away again. He is too much the intellectual for such falderal.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Rabbit, now that is different. That is alive and varies its running patterns. It has smell and one can only imagine it also has great taste unlike a Frisbee. Mighty totally understands the logic of pursuing game. Of course since he is running on two repaired knees, the rabbit has no fear. It is all done in slow motion but he doesn't care. Mighty rules and rabbits run.

What's an ordinary day like for Mighty?

His first thing of course is his morning toilet. The frigid weather lately has really taken the fun out of that. When your belly is only 4 inches off the ground and the snow is four inches deep, anyone can easily see the problem. Everything he holds dear is dragging through the snow. After he hurriedly takes care of business, it is breakfast and then on to the bed to be my muse as I post. He is getting up in years and his bladder retention is not so good, so we go for walks about every two hours. I say walks but all I have to do is stand on the porch and watch. He won't go out without me but I don't have to walk with him. He just wants me within eyesight. At night we snuggle on the couch for a little TV then off to bed.

If Mighty could change anything about you, what would it be?

Those rare occasions when no matter how hard he pleads, nor how cute he looks, I force him to stay home while I galavant.

Who is Mighty's best pet-pal?

Probably Mickey, who is an old cat he has grown up with. Ninety percent of the time they ignore each other but on occasion they have a spontaneous romp like youngsters.

What are Mighty's best qualities?

His slave like devotion and his totally nonjudgmental attitude towards me. He sees none of my faults. God love him.

What's Mighty's proudest moment? Most embarrassing?

Proudest would be recovering from such severe surgeries and being able to actually chase creatures out of the yard on those bionic knees which are held together with pins, screws and 80 pound test fishing line.

His most embarrassing is still rankling in his belly. I took him to the city park while he was still in therapy. He was on a leash, minding his own business when a 3 pound Miniature Pinscher pounced on him and threw him to the ground. The dog then stood on Mighty's face and shoved it in the dirt. If only it had been a big dog -- and with the excuse of being lame -- he might not have felt the dreadful shame he still carries. But it was an old, white muzzled dog, one third his size and a female to boot. Each time we go to the park now, he looks for the terrible Fifi. He really wants a rematch.

Read more about Mighty and Patti's adventures at The New Sixty.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 5, 2010

Diana Chiew & Santa and Minnie

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Diana Chiew. After being employed for more than 20 years, I now stay home to care for my mum. With me is Santa, my first dog. She's a 3 year old miniature schnauzer.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I needed that cup of coffee to jumpstart my day. My day starts with a cup of coffee at my pc checking out emails and reading blogs. Santa and Minnie [photo, below left, with Christmas] are lying around me, still snoozing away while I enjoy my cup of coffee.

What's brewing?

My cup of coffee is just Nescafe Classic with coffeemate and no sugar.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Sometimes a piece of cake that I have made the day before or some biscuits or pastries.

Any treat for Santa and Minnie on this occasion?

No, they will be snoozing away while I am having my coffee.

How did you come to be united with Santa and Minnie?

Well, Santa doesn't actually belong to me. It's hard to believe that I have never been a dog-lover before. I have been terrified of them!

One day in January 2007, my sister, Cindy and her son, Jerry, brought Santa to visit me and mum. They knew I have this thing about dogs and they've kept Santa, who was then about 8 weeks old, all wrapped up in a towel and tried to hide her from me. When I asked what that was, Jerry put the bundle down and out came this furry ball that made me squeal!!

Cindy spent most of her time outside and didn't want to leave Santa home alone and so she has been taking Santa with her everywhere and sometimes leaving her in the car while she meets up her clients. That was when I took a big step forward to offer to doggie-sit Santa for her and was when I started my love for dogs and how Santa came to stay with me.

In early 2009, we felt Santa was rather lonely being the only dog in my home and, as I have come to love dogs, I wanted to have one of my own and wanted a playmate for Santa.

I had been looking and found this picture of two cute puppies staring at me from the computer. Immediately, I showed it to Cindy and she made the call and a week later, Minnie arrived. Minnie, a silky terrier, is now 9 months old.

How did they get their names?

Jerry named Santa saying that she looks like Santa Claus and I named Minnie because of her size.

Cat, rodent, postman...?

Oh...they just despise those cats and rodents! They bark at those cats that walk past our back door and those squirrels running by our small backyard.

Stick, ball, Frisbee...?

Surprisingly, they don't prefer to play with sticks or balls. Santa prefers stuffies and Minnie prefers squeaky toys.

What's an ordinary day like for Santa and Minnie?

An ordinary day would start with me giving their coats a good brushing and cleaning their ears! Then they get their treats for being good on the grooming table. A little training and playing their favourite game of hide and seek.

We've just passed Christmas: is it a fair guess that Santa enjoyed the holiday more than Minnie did?

I would say that both of them enjoyed the holiday as they both enjoyed company; we had relatives coming over during the holiday and the kids love playing with them.

Where do Santa and Minnie like to go for walks?

Santa and Minnie love to go to the park. They don't get to go out during the week and during the weekends Cindy and I will try our best to find time to take them out to the park for them to have a run and to meet other doggies.

Who are Santa and Minnie's best pet-pals?

Santa and Minnie are best pet pals to each other.

What's each dog's best quality?

I would say both of them are friendly, especially Minnie, who likes to kiss anybody whenever she gets the opportunity.

What are their proudest moments? Their most embarrassing?

Santa's proudest moments should be coming out a winner in the Ear-resistible Contest; her most embarrassing must be the times when she is mistaken for a goat!

As for Minnie, her proudest moments are showing off tricks that she has learned and the most embarrassing must be her aggressiveness, protecting her bone.

Lastly, we have another addition to the family. She is a female white miniature schnauzer about 2 years old. We adopted her as her previous owner does not have time to care for her any longer. Since she arrived in December, we named her "Christmas."

Visit Santa's blog and Minnie's blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kelli Stanley & Bertie

Who is in the photo at right?

Well, I’m Kelli Stanley, San Francisco-based author of City of Dragons, Nox Dormienda, and upcoming sequels to both series, along with a few short stories. The handsome spotted Springer Spaniel with big red eyes is Bertie.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Bertie goes everywhere with us—he’s a great road dog. And his favorite places to go are drive through coffee huts. There are quite a few of these in Northern California, where my parents live, so I thought I’d share some pictures of Bertie’s favorite coffee activity—apparently all the coffee drive-throughs in Humboldt County provide dog treats.

Unfortunately, Bertie develops habits very easily, and he’s taken to demanding treats at any kiosk that looks (to him) like a drive-through coffee hut. This makes crossing the Golden Gate Bridge a little embarrassing.

What's brewing?

Humboldt County coffee is uniformly delicious. I normally drink a latte—double shot if I’m tired—and during the holidays, an eggnog latte, since the coffee places up there make it with real eggnog from Humboldt Creamery. One of my favorite coffees is called Konaboldt—beans grown in Kona, dried in Humboldt. Bertie likes mocha, so we can’t leave old coffee cups in the car.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Only for Bertie! But I’ve eaten lunch at the Gettiup in Garberville, and can unhesitatingly recommend their fries and veggie burger.

Any treat for Bertie on this occasion?

He loved getting pictures shot for Coffee with a Canine, because we needed multiple takes with multiple treats! I only wish these favorite coffee places—the Jitterbean in Fortuna, CA and the Gettiup—were closer to home.

How were you and Bertie united?

We lost our first Springer Spaniel to cancer a few years before Bertie came into our lives. I was visiting my mom and dad for my birthday, and mom—who volunteers at a hospital—saw an ad in the hospital newsletter about a family needing to giveaway a one-year old Springer Spaniel. Mom told us about it, we met him, and that was that. He’s my best birthday present. So when we take him up to Humboldt, he’s really coming home!

How did Bertie get his name? Does he have any aliases?

My mom named him—Bertie is short for Prince Albert. Sometimes we sing “I’m Burlingon Bertie, I rise at ten-thirty ..”—it’s an English music hall number. Yes, we’re goofy for him.

Does Bertie have any influence on your writing?

He helps me think through things. When I’m stuck on a page, he’s always ready for a good game of ball.

Where is Bertie's favorite place to go for an outing?

Any place with grass. Any surface, really—he likes the beach, too. As long as he can run and retrieve a ball, which next to eating is his favorite activity.

Who is his best pet pal?

Petula, our cat. She curls up next to him and he rests his big head on her. She seems to like it.

Tennis ball, stick, frisbee...?

Most definitely ball. He’ll chase anything, but prefers something spherical. He will pick lemons off my mom’s lemon tree and drop them at my feet if no ball is handy. He’ll chase apples or lemons, and when he gets too tired, he eats them.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Bertie uses a special “postman” bark. We have very nice postal people, but for some reason, he distrusts them anywhere he sees them—even on other streets. On the other hand, he loves UPS!

Want to share a favorite dog story?

Bertie is a sweet hound, so we have to be very careful not to leave any chocolate, etc. within snout’s reach. When we first adopted him, I stepped outside to talk to neighbors for a few minutes and left a box of fresh pain au chocolat on the dining table (from my favorite French bakery, no less). I came back to crumbs and Bertie with a smile on his face. Luckily, there wasn’t enough chocolate to hurt him. He’s also been known to whine for bananas.

What are Bertie's best qualities?

He’s a very positive dog. He makes people feel good to be around, because he’s upbeat and sweet and puts out a lot of positive energy. And he absolutely loves people … except for the postman. He’s not a bloodthirsty dog, and we never permit him to chase other animals. In fact, he’s grown pretty tolerant of the raccoons that camp out in our back yard.

What is his proudest moment? Most embarrassing?

Proudest moment was when we could finally take him out of his crate and trust him to stay in the house by himself without tearing things up. He’d had three different homes by the time he was a year old, and that left him with terrible separation anxiety. Springers are very emotional and need a strong, secure bond. He’s much better now, but he still has to be confined to less tempting areas of the house (i.e. no kitchen access).

Most embarrassing? Paying toll at any bridge.

Kelli Stanley is the author of the critically acclaimed Nox Dormienda, which won the Bruce Alexander Award for best historical mystery and was nominated for a Macavity Award.

Her new novel,
City of Dragons, debuted this week.

Among the early praise for the novel:
"Beautifully imagined and beautifully written--this book does everything great fiction is supposed to."
--Lee Child

Read an excerpt from City of Dragons, and learn more about the novel and author at Kelli Stanley's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue