Friday, December 30, 2011

Glen Tickle & Elvis Costello

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Glen Tickle, the one with the beard. I’m a comedian and host of Pretending to be on TV with Glen Tickle. With me is my lovely wife Stephanie and our five year old English Pointer Elvis Costello.

What’s the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We took Elvis to a new dog park that opened in Easton, PA which happened to be nearby The Quadrant Book Mart and Coffee House. He was really pumped for the dog park and Steph was really pumped for the book store. We went there because they had outdoor tables, but we didn’t stay long because it was freezing that day.

What’s brewing?

I had a cappuccino. Steph had something pumpkin flavored.

Any treats for you or Elvis on this occasion?

We brought along a doggie biscotti for Elvis from home. That dude loves biscotti. Steph and I each had a bagel.

How were you and Elvis united?

Elvis used to live with a woman my mother worked with who had to give him up. She didn’t want to take him to a shelter and tried very hard to find a good home for him. Steph and I had just bought a house and I really wanted a dog, so I went to meet Elvis and the first thing he did was shake my hand. He’s very polite. When I came back with Steph so she could meet him, the woman had just gotten home as we pulled up and hadn’t had a chance to let Elvis out yet, so as soon as she opened the door Elvis bolted passed all of us and ran around the yard non stop for a solid twenty minutes at full speed before finally calming down enough to meet Steph. It took some convincing after that to get my wife on board, but she came around.

How did Elvis get his name?

He was three when we adopted him, so he already had the name. Although he originally he was named after Elvis Prestley, but because he’s an English Pointer I thought Elvis Costello was more fitting. Now he’s a lot hipper.


I tend to give his name a French accent a lot of the time for no real reason, calling him “El-vee”.

Does Elvis make any contribution to your comedy?

Constantly. I’ve written more jokes about Elvis than anything else. Some people would say I have too many jokes about him. Those people are wrong. The first thing I shot for Pretending to be on TV was an interview with Elvis, and he’s made a few minor appearances on the show since. Last year during National Novel Writing Month Elvis featured prominently in what I was writing.

Also, often when I’m writing things like guest posts for blogs like this one, Elvis will decide he’d rather I be chasing him around the dining room table while he carries his favorite toy in his mouth. Be back soon.

Does Elvis have a favorite place to go for a walk?

He doesn’t seem to have much of a preference for where we go, just as long as we go for a walk. He does it for the love of the game. He really likes walks, but he goes completely bonkers when he gets to ride in the car. He looks out the window, but pants with such vigor that the glass fogs up, so he licks it clean. The back seat of my car is coated in fur and slobber. He’s really sort of disgusting.

Squirrel, postman, cat…?

Squirrel. No contest. He spends most of his time outside in our yard running between two trees and barking at the squirrels. He loves the postman because he carries treats, and he’s afraid of my in-laws’ cat.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick…?

Elvis is a big proponent of the squeaky toy. His favorite right now is a monster I bought him for Halloween. It seems like his favorite time to really get into a good rhythm with his squeaking is when Steph and I are trying to watch TV. He's also a pretty big fan of his moose, with whom we caught him snuggling.

Who are your dog’s best pet-pals?

Elvis’ best friend is Dylan, the German Shepherd that lives behind us. Over the summer he regularly wanders over to our yard to visit.

What is Elvis’ best quality?

He’s exceedingly polite. His go-to move when he meets people is to give them a high five. When he’s around other dogs he shares his toys, his water, whatever.

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

I think he would like to see me unemployed so I’m home all the time. He does his best to break my heart every time I leave. And he reacts with the same raucous enthusiasm when I walk in the door whether I had been gone for two weeks or just walked out to get the mail.

What is Elvis’ proudest moment?

When he finally caught one of the squirrels in our yard.

Most embarrassing?

Probably when I told him that he’s not actually supposed to catch the squirrels.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Elvis could speak, who should do his voice?

I suppose it should be the human Elvis Costello.

If Elvis could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

“You’re happy you live here, right?”

Visit Glen Tickle's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Ann Elwood & Louie

Who is in the photo at right?

The human is Ann Elwood, a historian and writer, and the dog is her friend, Louie, an eight-year-old German shepherd.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Louis and I often have coffee with Pat Keller [photo below left], his dog walker (actually dog runner), at the shopping center in our town, Cardiff-by-the-Sea. While Pat and I talk about world and local events (as well as more low-down subjects), Louie waits for something edible (not lettuce) to drop from the table and happily greets the people who stop by to say, “Oh, I love German shepherds. When I was a kid, we had a German shepherd.” Louie hears not just blah-blah-blah but the sound of affection and responds by licking their faces – if they're bending low enough. If not, it's a tail wag or even a rollover, waiting for a belly rub.

What's brewing?

Whatever Seaside Market, the grocery store, has in the pot. We could go to Starbucks, which is quite close, but it means waiting in line. Besides, it's cooler to go to Seaside.

Any treats for you or Louie on this occasion?

Louie always gets something. Often it's a quarter pound of roast beef, while Pat and I usually split a tuna sandwich from the Seaside Market deli. I try to stay away from evil treats for myself, though on occasion I've been known to indulge in a red velvet chocolate cupcake.

How were you and Louie united?

After one of my dogs, Abbie, died at age 14, and my other dog, Casey, also 14, was nearing the end of his life, I decided I wanted to adopt another dog, perhaps a year-old mixed-breed, but, looking through Petfinder, I saw a litter of five three-month-old puppies, almost identical to each other in looks and personality, identified as possible German shepherds. I'll just go look at them, I said to myself, puppies are so much work. So I looked – they were so cute – and left. Then, knowing I was smitten, I came back. Louie was the puppy who came up to me to say hello. I filled out the paperwork and stowed him in the back seat of my car. Immediately, he found a way to put his paws on the console between the front seats, in copilot position, and that's how he's ridden in the car ever since. Once home, he insisted on trying to play with poor old Casey, who by then found puppies irritating, so I put him behind a child's gate, which he promptly jumped.

People kept asking, “Is he a purebred German shepherd?” So I had his DNA tested and found out that indeed he is, at least according to his saliva.

How did Louie get his name?

He's named after Louis XIV, because he is a king, and Louie Armstrong, because he has soul. His nicknames are Lou and Lou-Lou.

What is Louie's influence on your writing?

Louie has taught me a great deal about how to be in the world – to sit and really study something, to approach a stranger expecting friendliness, to ignore the insistent hostility of a bully. Through Louie, I have met many people, some of them close friends, whom I might not have gotten to know otherwise; some of them are not like me except in their love of dogs. This has given me a better understanding of life and human nature, which of course makes for better writing of fiction. My book of short stories, The Dog Park, is available on Amazon.

Louie also played a big part in my decision to learn about about the history of dogs and their relationship with people. A couple of years ago, I taught a history seminar in Animal and Human Relations. (Louie came to the last class session.) At the same time I started a non-fiction book on the history of dogs in 20th century America, which I abandoned to write my biography of Rin-Tin-Tin. Louie, of course, is its inspiration. He even looks like Rin-Tin-Tin.

Please tell us about your book on Rin Tin Tin.

You can find Rin-Tin-Tin: The Movie Star at Amazon. (I also have put up a website about the book. The first Rin-Tin-Tin, a movie star of the 1920s and early 1930s, was as famous a hero as Rudolph Valentino or Douglas Fairbanks. His athletic feats astonished audiences – he could scale an eleven-foot fence, leap over chasms, and climb trees. His acting brought tears, laughter, and amazement. At train stops, when he was on tour, crowds gathered to give him ice cream. Thousands of children wrote him fan letters, and he answered with a paw-autographed photograph. This book is a biography of both Rin-Tin-Tin and Lee Duncan, his owner and trainer. It places their lives in the context of their times, especially France, where they met, and Hollywood, where Rin-Tin-Tin became a star. At the heart of the book are the questions: “Why did a dog, at that particular time, become so famous?” and “How much of the legend of Rin-Tin-Tin is really true?” A good deal of the legend is false. For instance, I am almost certain that he was not born on a battlefield in September, 1918, but was the son of a male German shepherd found on that battlefield – I have a great deal of evidence to support that.

Does Louie have a favorite place to go for a walk?

Del Mar Dog Beach. When he was three months old, I took him there and he immediately ran into the surf. He likes to stand on the rocks and look regal. But he also plays chase and hide-and-seek games among the rocks with all manner of dogs, including the occasional pug.

Who is Louie's best pet-pal?

He's had several. There was Sprocket [photo above right], a long-legged black mixed-breed. Gracie, a very talented black lab and Gus, a sweet yellow lab. Hugo [photo left], a Hovawart, who lived down the alley from us. Now Sequoia, a Chesapeake Bay retriever, and Emily, a street dog from Texas, who has had the good luck to end up here in the care of someone who calls her his “girl.” And of course, our cats – Fred, Clio, and Arthur. Louie likes to take Arthur's head in his mouth, sometimes to discipline him, and Arthur likes it.

Squeaky toy, ball, Frisbee...?

Louie doesn't pay much attention to toys much anymore. He thinks that's for puppies. However, he does like to play with tennis balls in the surf. He thinks they are alive.

What is Louie's best quality?

Soul. He connects, and not just with me, but with all creatures, in a way that I cannot even explain. He is a therapy dog with Love on a Leash and likes to work with children. He allows a three-year-old to think she's in control when she takes him for a walk; he also lets her stroke his fur backwards and pat him vigorously on the head. However, he has a few limits on how far he will go in entering the human world. As one child pointed out when she was reading to him in an after school program, he “doesn't pay enough attention.”

If Louie could change one thing about Californians, what would it be?

One-third of them would move away so that there would be more space for dogs.

If Louie were able to speak in an Ann Elwood biopic, who should do his voice?

Richard Burton or Don Ameche (who played Shadow in Homeward Bound).

If Louie could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

“What can I do to make your life even happier?”

Visit Ann Elwood's website, and learn more about Rin-Tin-Tin: The Movie Star.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 26, 2011

Mark Condon & Dutchess

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Mark Condon, and in the photo with me is my Golden Retriever, Dutchess (“Dutchess the Dog” on Facebook; @DutchessTheDog on Twitter). I’m a biology professor. Dutchess, who is almost nine years old, is a therapy dog for The Good Dog Foundation.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Dutchess and I are on the way to Pause Dog Boutique in Rhinebeck, New York to pick up some Christmas gifts for some canine friends. We’re at Bread Alone bakery.

What's brewing?

I’m having a black decaf “Counter Culture” coffee (think fair trade and sustainable!).

Any treats for you or Dutchess on this occasion?

Dutchess is working on a peanut butter-stuffed Kong. I’m having a morning glory muffin.

How were you and Dutchess united?

Dutchess was born at Shasta Kennels in Sussex, New Jersey. She came to live with me in March of 2003, when she was ten weeks old. We’ve been best friends ever since.

How did she get her name? Any nicknames?

I teach at Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie, New York, and “Dutchess” seemed like a good, solid dog name (sort of regal without being pretentious). Nicknames include “Dutchie”, “Dutch”, and “Puppy”.

I've read about Dutchess's loss of sight. Did it take long for her to adapt to blindness? What's the biggest change in her life from before?

Dutchess was diagnosed with pigmentary uveitis, an inherited eye condition, in August of 2010. Her condition eventually required surgical removal of both eyes in February, 2011. Her adjustment to blindness was extraordinarily smooth. I had taught her a few new commands as she was losing her vision (“step up” and “step down” when approaching curbs, for example), but the seamlessness of her adjustment was due mainly to her remarkable self-confidence. Her love of life and its experiences prevented her from withdrawing from her routine, and she resumed her favorite activities almost immediately after her surgery. Within one week, she was fetching tennis balls in the back yard (sniffing them out instead of tracking them visually), and two weeks post-surgery she returned to work as a therapy dog. With the exception of no longer catching tennis balls on the fly, her life is essentially the same as before her vision loss. Her blindness certainly hasn’t dampened her warm, extroverted personality!

Please tell us about Dutchess' work as a therapy dog.

Dutchess works regularly (once or twice per week) at the Anderson Center for Autism, where she brings joy, comfort, and learning opportunities to both children and adults. She is a valued companion to many Anderson students, helping them overcome communication obstacles and build social skills, and grounding them with unconditional affection and companionship. The students love to walk, brush, feed, read to, and play ball with her, and she is exuberantly happy to participate. Dutchess has a knack for reaching the students in a manner that only a dog can.

Does Dutchess really sleepwalk?

No, but she appears to be, since her eyelids were permanently closed as part of her surgery.

Who is Dutchess' best pet-pal?

Dutchess’ best canine pal is my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Holly [photo above right]. She is just nine months younger than Dutchess, and they’ve grown up together.

Dutchess also likes to pal around with my cat, Tweak [photo left]. The two of them spend many hours each day huddled together, sleeping on the sofa. Tweak likes to knead Dutchess’ back, and I think Dutchess enjoys the massages.

What is Dutchess' best quality?

Dutchess is an incredibly loving dog, and is extremely outgoing about expressing her affection towards others. Her gregarious personality is delightful, and she is always in a cheerful mood. The positive energy that she brings to my life is priceless.

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

I think that Dutchess would like me to quit my job so that I could spend more time with her.

Though this is financially impractical, I do manage to get home at lunchtime on most days to take her and Holly for a walk.

If Hollywood made a movie in which Dutchess could talk, who should do her voice?

Dutchess’ ability to communicate nonverbally is one of her most endearing qualities. However, if she had a “human” voice, I imagine it would sound like a blend of comedienne Ellen DeGeneres’ (cheerful, with quirky, inquisitive inflections) and jazz artist Diana Krall’s (smooth, mellow, soulful, and expressive).

Visit the “Dutchess the Dog” Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 23, 2011

Elizabeth & Jon Farleigh and Dewi

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Elizabeth, and my two soon-to-be two-year-old Cardigan Welsh Corgis, Jon Farleigh and Dewi. The dogs are the stars of my pet humor blog, The Chronicles of Cardigan.

By the way, the dogs didn’t actually go in the Starbucks; I just thought it would make a good picture.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I had to run an errand at my local dog-friendly mall, which happens to have a Starbuck’s. My daughters are off camera imploring me to hurry up.

What's brewing?

Me: Christmas Blend brew with half of a pink packet and some skim milk (By the way, it was okay, but I’d have liked the Pike’s Place better.)

Daughter 1: White chocolate mocha

Daughter 2: Salted caramel hot chocolate

Any treats for you or the dogs on this occasion?

Ahem. Well, the dogs had just eaten some dog biscuits inside the Tiffany & Co. (When I said dog-friendly mall earlier, I wasn’t kidding.)

I wrote a series of articles about the dogs’ Tiffany adventures on my blog.

How were you and the dogs united?

My husband and I had wanted a Corgi for nearly 15 years. When the time came, we found two different litters and could not agree on just one puppy. The worst and yet best problem we’ve ever faced.

How did the dogs get their names? Any aliases?

I could write a short story on how we chose their names, so I’ll just give you the meanings:

Jon(athan) Farleigh (Old English): Jon from the bull pasture

Dewi Vaughn (Welsh): David the younger/smaller

Jonathan and David are blood brothers in the Old Testament.

The dogs have many aliases, but mostly they’re Jonny and Dew Dew... hee hee.

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

Yes, the dog mall.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

If allowed to, they’d try to herd the deer in our neighborhood. But since they’re not, they settle for our three cats.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

The only toys that last at our house are ropes and Kongs. Jon Farleigh tugs and Dewi fetches – all day.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Jon Farleigh and our cat, Lulabelle, have an interesting bond. They played together as babies.

Both dogs get on well with Nick (Jon Farleigh’s nephew) and Georgia (Jon Farleigh’s sister), who live fairly close by.

[photo left: Nick is the red dog on the far right and Georgia is the red dog on the far left.]

What is each dog's best quality?

They both crack me up. Cardigans are clowns.

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

That’s hard. Since they watch me write for my blog each weekday, I suppose they’d prefer for me to write it in the middle of the night, when they’re asleep.

What is each dog’s proudest moment?

Probably the time they destroyed my hand-hooked footstool from inside their x-pen. Clearly, not the same as the moments during which I was most proud of them.

If your dogs could speak in the movie about your life, who should do their voices?

Will Ferrell as Dewi and Steve Carell as Jon Farleigh. No question.

Visit The Chronicles of Cardigan blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A.J. & Bella

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm A.J., a thirty-something blogger with a pop (and pup) culture addiction. I moonlight (daylight?) as an attorney. The pup is Bella, my rescue pup. She's approximately 10 years old (we think) and is a Beagle-Jack Russell Terrier mix (we think).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Bella's not exactly what you'd call portable - she has a bad case of motion sickness. Sometimes, even a rocking chair will prove too much for her delicate stomach. So, Bella and I like to enjoy our coffee snuggled up on the couch before we begin our day. It's our weekend routine.

What's brewing?

I'm pretty low key - just regular coffee with a touch of milk and one packet of Splenda will do the trick. I usually brew Dunkin' Donuts at home.

Any treats for you or Bella on this occasion?

My above comments regarding my pup's delicate tummy still apply - however, I might sneak her a bite of my cranberry muffin. (Seriously, muffins made with leftover cranberry sauce are a wonderful creation.)

How were you and Bella united?

After I finally graduated college and no longer lived on campus, adopting a dog was first on my list of priorities. I found Bella on Petfinder, sent the photo to my then-boyfriend (now husband), we went to meet her, and the rest is history.

How did she get her name? Any nicknames?

We discussed several possible names (including Gizmo, based on her coloring), but somehow Bella just seemed right. She has a ton of nicknames - to name just a few: Monster, Bella J. Puppington the Third, Puppyface, Bellaboo, Cave Dog, Bellington...

Who is Bella's best pet-pal?

Great question. Bella can be a bit like an old person shaking her fist at the neighbors to get off her lawn. She tolerates our various canine visitors, including our friends' dog Dozer and my dad's dog Roscoe.

Does your dog have a favorite place to go for walk?

Bella's happy to take a walk anywhere. However, what she really loves is our fenced in yard - for years, we lived in an apartment, which meant that off-leash adventures were generally limited to the dog park. She loves being able to run around outside in our yard and do her own thing now that we have a house.

One of your blogs features puppies, the other features cupcakes. Is there any overlap in these enthusiasms?

Not really - other than the fact that Bella camps out in the kitchen when I'm baking, hoping morsels will fall from the sky. (Perhaps in the future, I'll make some pupcakes and really tie them together.) Both blogs do allow me to have a creative outlet and give me a chance to explore my other passions, which are writing and photography.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Bella will take one of each please! (As I mentioned, she has a "get off my lawn" mentality these days.)

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

Squeaky toy or rope bone. Bella has never been very interested in balls, sticks, or rubber squeaky toys. She's very particular - she prefers rope bones or plush squeaky toys.

What is Bella's best quality?

Honestly, she's one of the most easygoing dogs I've ever met. Other than a brief flirtation with noise anxiety (thanks to some horrible neighbors who lived above us for a month) and her issues with thunderstorms, she's one cool customer. Although she's very routine-driven, she's highly adaptable as well. I need to take a page from her book sometimes.

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

She probably wishes I wasn't so Type A. She always gives me an annoyed look when I clean up the stuffing she so meticulously removed from her toys and scattered all over the floor. (However, she can be a bit Type A herself... she returns all of her toys to her chosen Toy Corner, and they aren't supposed to be anywhere else.)

What is Bella's proudest moment?

I think Bella's proudest moment was when we moved into our new house and she settled in right away. Prior to our move, we had to send her to puppy rehab (aka my in-laws) because our horrible neighbors were driving her crazy. I was worried she would be forever changed, but she overcame her anxiety and settled into the new house like she'd lived there for years. (Bella, on the other hand, is probably proudest of the time she figured out that "six o'clock" was code for dinner.)

If Bella could speak in a movie about your life, what actor should do her voice?

Kristen Schaal.

Visit the I Still Want More Puppies blog and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 19, 2011

Jenny & Parker and Skye

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Jenny, and I'm the human element in the picture. I'm a dog trainer and the (usually) proud owner of Parker- a 4-year-old male schnauzer mix- and Skye- a 4-year-old female pit bull.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Parker, Skye, and I love to go on adventures. Today we decided to hit the beach for some serious fun. Our latest foster dog, Sinatra, was just adopted as well, so it's a bit of a celebration!

What's brewing?

Hot pumpkin coffee from Dunkin Donuts- my fall/winter addiction!

Any treats for you or the dogs on this occasion?

The lady at the drive through always gives the pups munchkins when I get my coffee. Since our adventures are off leash, I also have some soft turkey treats to aid in tough recalls.

How were you and the dogs united?

I used to work at an animal shelter while I was in college. Since I lived off campus, I was able to foster dogs that needed extra training, TLC, or a quiet place to get well physically. Parker was foster #6- a sick, neglected pup with major anxiety who, by the time he was physically recovered, had bonded so strongly to me that I never thought twice before adopting him 2 years ago. Skye was foster #9- also sick, she was a stray with a lovely personality and decent dog social skills. I wish her integration into my life was as smooth as Parker's, but if nothing else she has taught me more about patience than I ever thought possible in the past year and a half.

How did the dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Oddly enough, I grew up next to the Parker River. My Mom always said she wanted a dog named Parker, and when my little man showed up with that name already, it was perfect! He goes my Park, Parkeroo, and Bubby Lou Bear... I just wish I remembered why...

Skye was originally Skylar, but after taking an obedience class that we both hated I noticed she hesitated at the sound of her name. I wanted to give her a new name that I could give a positive association to, and Skye went along with our nature theme. She is sometimes Pookie, but usually Skye Baby Girl.

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

We have a few top spots to go- Stratham Hill Park is a big, woodsy area known as the unofficial dog park in these parts. We meet new pals and take short hikes there. The beach is the other favorite in the off season- sand and surf is fun for dogs too! But anywhere the pups can be off leash is good by us!

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Is there any way to combine them? Actually, cats terrify Skye, while Parker has an odd obsession with watching cats. Postman brings treats, and is loves by all. Squirrel... let's just say that Parker and Skye are great at chasing them, but complete failures at catching them.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

If you can throw it, Skye will chase it. If you can throw it, Parker will look at you like you're wasting your time.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Now that is a good one. Between doggie day camp, where they spend time while I work, the beach, and the park, my dogs have met literally hundreds of dogs. While Parker is a pretty equal-opportunity player, Skye is more selective. She has her inner core of pals that she is great with, but it is an exclusive club. Sparky and Rascal (aka the twins) are Golden Retrievers, River the black lab, and Mojo the pit mix all make the club. But her first ever bestie friend was Ava- they met as foster dogs and balance each other out perfectly. Ava now lives in Florida with my good friend, and we are trying to plan a reunion for all of us soon.

What is each dog's best quality?

Now this is tough! Parker is that once-in-a-lifetime dog for me. He is so intuitive- he's the dog who cuddles with you when you're sick, makes weird noises to get you to laugh, and knows from the tone my your voice what he should do. I use him in a lot of training cases because he doesn't need to be told how to behave- he just knows.

Skye is a live wire. She is game for anything fun, anytime, anywhere. It used to drive me nuts, but I've come to love her zest for life. She has had numerous medical problems, including a rare auto-immune disorder that has been an ongoing battle, but it definitely doesn't slow her down! Nothing is halfway with her, which makes her a blast to train. A close second, oddly enough, is her gift for snuggling. Man can that dog spoon!

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

They would make me more patience. My blog, Of Pit Bulls and Patience, began because I needed an outlet for the frustration I felt on a daily basis trying to fit Skye into my life. I am getting better all the time, but I imagine it is hard to live with me a lot of the time because I want perfection right now, and I don't want to work for it.

What's each dog's proudest moment?

I know I've had many with both dogs. But with Parker the most recent was yesterday. I gave him a bath, cut his nails, and trimmed his hair without a single meltdown. He wasn't groomed at all until he came to me (at age 2), so there has always been a lot of fear in that process for him.

My relationship with Skye has always been a work in progress. But when I see her playing on the beach with strange dogs, coming when I call, and greeting friendly strangers by sitting and dropping her ball, I'm so proud.

If your dogs could speak in the movie about your life, who should do their voices?

If James Bond and Harrison Ford could switch off, that would be perfect for Parker. He has British Sass, but thinks of himself as rugged and charming at the same time. He's so complex.

For Skye... I would say Ellen Degeneres could capture her fairly well. Lots of excitement, some dancing, and plenty of humor.

Visit the Of Pit Bulls and Patience blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 16, 2011

Anthea & Ponto, Percy, and Dylan

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Anthea, I supervise children at school at lunch and train dogs. The dogs are, Ponto [photo below left], aged five (on the bed on floor), who is a mongrel girl including genes from labrador, bichon frise, sheltie, staffie, border collie and Irish setter. On my right is Percy, an Irish Setter girl, aged nine and Dylan who is eight is on my left and he is a Cocker Spaniel/Border Collie cross.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

A pleasant interlude during our walk on the beach.

What's brewing?

Tea (PG Tips).

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Liver treats I bake myself.

How were you and your dogs united?

They came to me as puppies.

How did your dogs get their names? Any nicknames?

My daughter named Percy, really Persephone Sisyphus, but she is called Percy for short.

I named Dylan [photo right] after Bob Dylan. My mother named Ponto after a dog she had had as a child.

Rabbit, postman, cat...?

They all like chasing rabbits, are friends with the postman and live with my cat.

Where is your dogs' favorite place for an outing?

The beach or the Forest.

What is each dog's best quality?

Percy - goofy and good at tricks.

Dylan - was a brilliant agility dog but retired now.

Ponto - very loving agility dog.

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

Maybe become my only dog.

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

Percy's [photo left] winning the Casual Agility Class.

Dylan's doing his washing line trick.

Ponto's walking around me backwards.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, who should do their voices?

I've no idea.

Visit the Ponto's Ongoing Story blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

CeliaSue Hecht & Cici

Who is in the photo at right?

Me: Celia Sue Hecht, who am I and what do I want to be when I grow up? Freelance Writer, Book & Newsletter Editor originally from NYC, now live in California... 25+ years exp. 40+ publications (newspapers & magazines). As a professional writer, I have written everything from poetry, five romantic travel guides and a dog travel guide to press releases that get published, feature articles for print and online media (published in national magazines including E magazine, Entrepreneur magazine, Parents magazine, O magazine, Real Simple and local and national newspapers) and a blog about my dog.

I have interviewed and worked with celebrities, traveled around the world, written and led transformational seminars and workshops, as well as promoted best-selling authors, books and seminars.

Cici is a 5 year old polka dot princess ... Dalmatian pit bull mix...

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Take Your Foodie Ho Ho Ho Dog to Joe's Cafe Day.

Any treats for you or Cici on this occasion?

Egg nog and dog cookies...

Cookies... Cici loves Cookies... One time at a pet friendly winery, Cici found the dog treats, knocked them to the floor (plastic container) and demanded that she get some from the woman behind the counter.

Cici loves food/treats, especially anything edible, hot dogs, chicken, bacon, turkey, cheese, pizza... She occupies the bed and the house and basically eats everything edible that is not nailed down. Even eats at the doggie buffet (on the ground outside wherever she is).

Just did a survey and a few questions talked about owning a pet... excuse me, I don't own a pet, Cici owns me. Obviously. Pet parents who have rescued a dog or cat know what I am talking about.

How were you and Cici united?

Glad you asked. I was back in Vegas in January 2007. I was living in a house of a former landlord, and he asked me to take care of this dog. She was a pain, constantly showing off her belly and seeking my attention. The last pets I had had were cats and cats are not demanding attention all the time, so it was annoying. But then after a very short time, she grew on me. She was so sweet, loving and funny. She made me laugh a lot. And was just plain adorable and cuddly. So when I found out that he had gotten this dog for a gal with a homicidal maniac boyfriend, who had put the gal in the hospital numerous times and had put her in jail and that the dog was going to be put in the middle of this dangerous situation, I knew I had to do something. They were going to keep this dog tied up in a yard with other dogs and the maniac boyfriend would have access. No way! Since there is a known well-documented correlation between abusers of animals and people, I had to do something quickly so I rescued her!

How did Cici get her name? Any aliases?

I did not name her but the funny/ironic thing is that my first name is Celia (most of my life I've been called by my middle name Sue). Cici or Cece is a common nickname for people named Celia. So I figure it was kismet/fate. Cici and me. She is also known as the polka dot princess, cici bug, bubba, bug, piglet, and other names.

Does Cici make any contribution to your writing?

Cici is my muse. She is a constant source of inspiration for my writing. Everything that she does, eats, and is I use as grist for the mill. This includes anecdotes about our travels together including reviews of pet friendly or pet tolerant venues, products aka foods/treats, toys and other items that she likes or can live without (hah), her health, antics, relationships with other dogs aka her boyfriends, her breed, and more are played with.

Does Cici have a favorite place to go for walk?

She prefers the park one block away. It is unfenced and she likes to visit the neighbors yard that is adjacent. She also gets to sniff her boyfriend Pablo (a very handsome Aussie shepherd, 6 years old) through the fence when he is out in his yard (not often enough). And she can roll around on the grass, dig in the sand box and lick the kids playing there.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

All good for chasing, kissing/licking... although she does have major cat issues so keep her away from them. The cats usually outsmart her anyway. Her other boyfriend Milo lives with cats. One of them was on the roof of their house the other day. Cici wanted to play with Milo but became conflicted when she saw the cat. How could she get on the roof? She has tried to climb trees to get to cats. She stalks lizards, too. Anyone who comes to the door is fair game for a welcoming kiss and wagging tail.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

Cici is not big on toys. She likes the squeaky ones to tear them apart and take the squeaky and stuffing out of them. And kong-type toys filled with treats will get some attention, too.

What is Cici's best quality?

She is adorable and makes people smile/laugh. She really knows how to use her cuteness for maximum advantage (heart warmer).

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

She'd prefer if I would feed her all day long and take her to the park more.

What's Cici's proudest moment?

Being asked to model a product specifically because she is a pit bull mix (what a great ambassadog for her breed). Good dog.

If Cici could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?

Is there anything else besides food that you live for?

Visit the Have Dog Will Travel blog and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dorothy Wills-Raftery & the Five Sibes

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Dorothy Wills-Raftery, also know in the Blogger and Twitter world as FiveSibesMom!

My daughter took this photo of me with our five Siberian Huskies - also known as the FiveSibes™ - out on our back deck. Pictured left to right are: Nanuk "Harley" Mari, 6, our alpha queen; "Gibson" Les Paul, 5, who is totally in love with Harley; and then there are Gibson's younger siblings, the 3-year-old pupsters "Chloe" VanWylde, Wolfgang's White "Wolf," and "Bandit" Esmeralda. In addition to being a mom, I am an author, photojournalist, editor, photographer, and canine blogger. Our Huskies are my inspiration for my series of A FiveSibes™ Tale children's books, my FiveSibes™ blog, and the FiveSibes: Siberian Husky K9 News & Reviews community Facebook page.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every day we share breakfast time together. I really enjoy being out on my back deck with them and my coffee. A great mug of coffee with five furry babies all full of Husky hugs, woos, and lots of kisses is a great start to the day! Plus, right now we are having a bit of a celebration as this month is the pre-release of my first illustrated children's book in the series based on them titled, What's Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy. It's based on when Gibson was first diagnosed with Canine Epilepsy. The story is told via text and fun illustrations in a manner that will appeal to the child in all of us. It also sends the message that while it can be scary, it's okay to have Epilepsy. Since Gibson in an Epi-dog, this cause is very near and dear to my heart. A percentage of the book's proceeds I will be donating to the non-profit center for Canine Epilepsy Resources. So we're all pretty excited about that and have been doing a bit of celebrating with coffee for me and dog treats for them!

What's brewing?

At home, I brew Gevalia and my very favorite blend is the decaf Mocha. When out, it's only Dunkin' Donuts for me! Right now I'm hooked on their Pumpkin Lattes!

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

With my AM coffee, I enjoy a nice yogurt parfait with granola and fresh fruit. The Huskies get their breakfast, which is kibble with plain organic yogurt and sometimes I will sprinkle dehydrated fish or Blue Buffalo fruit bars on top of it.

How were you and your dogs united?

Growing up, we always had a myriad of pets. There was never a time in my entire life that we did not have dogs. My daughter always wanted a Siberian Husky. When she was in high school, we let her pick her first one, Harley, out from a litter from a wonderful breeder. At the time, my Chelsey, a German Shepherd/Akita mix was elderly, so my husband thought Harley needed a frisky young playmate. Enter my boy Gibson who was four months old and came from a local breeder. Fast forward a couple years and the folks we got Gib from wound up owing our company money, so we asked for a puppy instead of the cash. When we got to the breeder' house to pick it out, we were shocked. Our hearts broke at the condition of their dirty and lonely surroundings and we wound up leaving with three (who were firmly grasped in our arms!) That was my first introduction to dealing with an uneducated, uncaring, selfish backyard breeder. Honestly, I have always felt that we rescued them. Just recently, we heard two from that litter wound up being surrendered to a shelter and the owner put down the mother Husky because she developed seizures. That broke my heart and reinforced how glad I was we had left with all three. I then started reading about Husky rescues. I think the folks who volunteer, foster, and help these homeless Huskies are just wonderful. I try to be involved and support them as much as I can now. Someday, I'd love to start a Husky rescue of my own. To think there are so many homeless ones out there who do not live the type of life I give to my Sibes, is very distressing to me. When I watch my Husky babies all huddle, play, sing, and sleep together everyday as a family, it truly warms my heart.

How did your dogs get their names? Any nicknames?

My daughter, who is a musician by hobby, named most of them and her love of music shows in their names! And yes, they have plenty nicknames! Harley is strong and the leader of the pack. Her nicknames include Har-Har, Mama, The Queen, The Boo, Roo, Rooster & Gorgeous. Gibson, my big wooly boy, is named after the guitar. He is also Gib, Gibbie, Gibbers, G, & Mr. G., and Handsome. Wolf is named after a combo of Wolfgang VanHalen & Mozart, plus, he looks like an Arctic Wolf. We also call him Wolfie, Baby Boy, and Studs. Chloe's last name is after a combo of Zakk Wyldde and VanHalen and she goes by CoCo, Cozy, Coconuts, Sweetie, and Baby Girl. Bandit's name fits her to a "T" as she steals everything! We also call her Banda Bear, Beebers, B-Boz, Bandita, and Crazy Girl.

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

They love to go for a walk anywhere on a leash, but they love to run free on the "play" side of our yard.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

All three...only they won't eat the postman.

What is each dog's best quality?

They all possess such phenomenal qualities - love, loyalty, devotion, understanding, playfulness, patience, would be hard to pick just one! Even the occasional bout of stubborness and destructive boredom is acceptable. It's what makes them who they are. And I love them for all their qualities.

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

They would want me to take time to sing, play, sniff the air, splash in the mud, let snow fall on my face, smell the flowers, relax in a ray of sunshine, and greet each day as the gift it is.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, who should do their voices?

Harley - Angelina Jolie; Gibson - Peter Cullen; Wolf - Owen Wilson; Chloe - Amy Adams; and Bandit - Jenna von Oÿ.

Visit the FiveSibes™ blog and the FiveSibes: Siberian Husky K9 News & Reviews community Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 9, 2011

Marsha & Pocket and Foley

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Marsha, and these are my two girls. We have Pocket Dog, who is a four year old female Yorkshire Terrier, and the famous Foley Monster, an eleven year old Yorkie. My husband Ted is half cut off to my right. In the foreground is our friends Laura Lunn's dog Pokey.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We were going to get the mail in the office of the community where we live. We have to pass by the community club house and someone always has a pot of Joe on. Just regular coffee, some extra cream, extra sugar.

What's brewing?

Just regular coffee, some extra cream, extra sugar. Since we moved here in April Foley and Pocket have become famous here. Everyone wants to pet them or play with them.

Any treats for you or the Yorkies on this occasion?

Our friend Hobo Hudson and his Dad Walt from Florida recently sent us some salmon treats. They don’t smell the greatest but the girls do love them.

How were you and the dogs united?

Both girls found us through sadness. They just reached across the galaxy and plucked us up. Foley Monster [photo left] came from a farm in the north central part of Massachusetts. We got her when we found out our first dog, Blake Bear, had a tumor on her brain. We knew we could never be dogless, so we purchased Foley from a woman, who it turned out was a deaf mute. When we picked up Foley said hello she was shocked humans made noise and peed on my husband Ted. She did pick us.

In 2007 we had a dog we rescued, Jordan. She was a special needs dog. She had to have her food chopped up because she had no teeth, she was blind and deaf, she freaked out of she was on the floor, she couldn’t be left alone for long or she would rip her paws open trying to get out the door. I got diagnosed with cancer that summer and we made the hard decision that with my cancer we couldn’t care for Jordan the way she needed and we returned her to the rescue. We still wonder if we did the right thing. After my surgeries and my treatments Ted wanted to reward me with a new puppy. A woman the next town over had a husband who had passed from cancer at his house. While she was taking care of her husband two of her Yorkies who she didn’t have fixed produced a litter. She was selling them to raise some money after her husband died but mostly wanted the pups out of her house. We visited her and picked one of four identical puppies. When we went to get her the next day Pocket came over to us. We’re not sure if she is the dog we picked out, but she’s the dog who picked us out.

How did the dogs get their names? Any aliases?

My husband liked watching wrestling at the time we got Foley and, after determining on the ride home that she was a tough little dog, named her Foley after the wrestler Mick Foley, known for taking a terrible beating but always getting back up. When she was a puppy she was all ears, and before she got groomed an unruly mess, so she became the Foley Monster. When we got Pocket she was so tiny she could fit in your Pocket, and there were characters on television trying to adopt a baby they referred to as Pocket. The name seemed to fit.

Aliases: Oh my gosh. OK: Foley Monster: Foley, Monster, Mini Monster, Mini, Baby Baby, The General, Queenie.Foley Monster Attorney at Paws. Pocket: Pocket Dog, Pocket Rocket, Rocket Dog, Pokey, P Diddy, Baby Baby Baby Baby. Pocket Dog Private Dog, Pissy, Pissy Pants, and I’m sure there are other I can’t recall.

Do the the Yorkies have a favorite place to go for walk?

We moved here in April. Before that the favorite place to walk was at the State Mental Hospital across the street from where we lived. The first day we got Foley she walked there along with Blake as proud as could be. She was very popular with the patients there. Now we walk in our village. The other people who walk here just think Foley and Pocket are the cutest little things. They strut around like the own the place.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

No postman. The dogs never see them. They are big squirrel hunters, and do not like cats at all. We we were in the condo a cat used to sit on our deck and look in our unit which would drive Foley crazy. Now there is only one cat here. When the cat is seen the girls do give chase.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

Foley does not like toys, except occasionally she will attack a plush toy with great ferocity. Pocket loves to play ball. Ted sits on the floor and throws the ball from the living room into the kitchen and Pocket chases it. Sometimes she noses the ball under something, or on a grate, where she then barks until Ted has to get it for her. She can play balls for hours.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

The girls don’t have too many dog friends. There are dogs here they sniff a bit. We are blessed with too many good on line friends to mention. We have only met one, Pokey, but we hope to meet more soon.

What is each dog's best quality?

Foley knows me better than any creature on Earth. She has been with me through so many operations. My loyal nurse, keeping me company, protecting me. Sometimes her touch was the only comfort I had. She is also my clown. No matter how sad I am she can make me smile. She is my heart dog. I treasure her. Pocket [photo right] is the most loyal dog in the world. She is so sweet. She just wants to be loved, to be held, scratched. She actually seems grateful to be with us, like she counts her blessings. She is a wonderful snuggle bug.

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

They would never have us leave the house. Also Foley would make us understand that sometimes a dog just needs to chew her foot until she can’t walk on it and we should leave her alone when she does it.

What's each dog's proudest moment?

Foley’s proudest accomplishment is being an inspiration. She is such a wonderful dog she inspired us to join Doggyspace. Foley has such a sense of right and wrong that, when the former owner of DS began treating our friends unfairly or banning them from the site she inspired my husband and I to fight for our friends, which got us thrown off of DS, which was the best thing for us. We started our blog, and it led to the creation of the Ning Site The Tanner Brigade where we have about 100 great dog friends. We are administers of the site and can run it the way dog owners who love their dogs would want a site to be done. We recently rejoined DS after it was bought by new owners and connected with some many great dog owners again. Pocket too inspires us to write a lot of blogs but her proudest moment is after four years, she seems to finally getting house trained. She now only needs to wear a diaper when she plays ball and leaks excitably.

If your dogs could speak in the movie about your life, who should do their voices?

Foley would be Meryl Streep, able to make you laugh when you need to laugh, cry when you need to cry, and is still beautiful after all these years. Pocket would be Zooey Deschanel. Funny, cute, sweet and unique.

Visit Foley Monster and Pocket's blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Elizabeth C. Main & Patsy

Who is in the photo at right?

That's Patsy, my constant companion and reigning local authority on dog behavior for the past 12-1/2 years. She came from the Deschutes County Humane Society as a 12-week-old puppy listed as a “golden retriever mix.” (You can see from the picture the reason she was listed as a “mix.”) I’m Elizabeth C. Main, Patsy’s personal maid. When she allows me time off, I’m also a writer. My four novels have spanned three genres: mystery, romance, and middle grade fiction. You can find more about me at my website.

Who can contemplate life without a dog? Not I. I can’t even write fiction without including a canine. They have figured prominently in all my novels, as well as several short stories. A one-eyed dog named Wendell plays a pivotal role in my Jane Serrano Mystery series. In #1, Murder of the Month, Wendell saved the heroine. In #2, No Rest for the Wicked, Wendell took up a new career in the wedding consultant business. (Caveat: don’t leave the reception canapés on a low table.) Wendell’s character was based on my beloved Labrador retriever mix, Tar, whose eye was removed for medical reasons when he was about eight. The loss didn’t cause Tar any trouble at all, and he lived out the rest of his long life happily. Once it was time to welcome another dog, along came Patsy.

What is your morning coffee routine with Patsy? Does it include treats?

Patsy immediately proved herself well suited for life in a writer’s household by fetching the newspaper while the coffee was brewing the very first morning after she joined us. That pattern has continued ever since. First, I start the coffee by grinding the beans, usually either Kirkland Colombian Supremo or San Francisco Bay French Roast. Next, I fill the Cuisinart coffee maker—set to its strongest setting—to process the coffee with our pure Bend water. While the brewing proceeds, Patsy and I walk out to get the paper, I hand her a section, and she trots inside with it. Once she relinquishes it at the kitchen counter, she gets her favorite treat, a Synovial Soft Chew.

After that, she goes outside to eat breakfast and prepare herself for a hard morning’s work of lying at my feet while I write. I sip hot black coffee from one of several special handcrafted ceramic mugs as I settle in for yet another writing session. Some mornings the words come easily; some mornings they’re just not there, but the hot coffee and Patsy at my feet are constants.

It amazes that all of your books have dogs in them...

As I’ve stated, dogs always find their way into my writing. Our first dog, Slinger, was a Malamute/collie mix who was famous for repeatedly coming out on the losing end of fights with porcupines. His encounters provided inspiration for scenes in two separate novels.

Patsy has participated several times in the local Fourth of July Pet Parade. This picture [photo right] shows her being led by one of our grandsons. I incorporated the Pet Parade (and a fictional dog) into my romance novel, Richer by Far.

How did Patsy get her name? Any nicknames?

Patsy was named for a close childhood friend of mine. We distinguish the two by calling my human friend “Pawless Patsy” and my furry companion “PatsyPerfect.” My four-legged friend really does live up to her name. She gets along with people, other dogs, cats, and—best of all—she doesn’t bark. My husband and I love to travel and so does she. Patsy folds her 65-pound self agreeably into a bundle to ride at my feet in the truck or car with us for hours. Her idea of perfection is to be with us at all times, especially when we go camping. Here’s a picture [photo left] of her helping me write during a fall camping trip in Eastern Oregon.

Our camp coffee is a bit different from our coffee at home. We grind the beans before we set out and we take a French press along with us to make the coffee. Though I leave my special mugs at home to protect them from harm, I do take other ceramic cups along. No plastic cups or instant coffee in our camp!

What is Patsy's best quality?

Though she’s a calm dog, Patsy’s up for any activity. When we’re out camping, she’s eager for me to complete the morning writing session –and drain my coffee cup--so we can go hiking. She is totally free to explore a whole wilderness whenever she wants, but she waits patiently for me to go with her.

We lead a simple life, with lots of plain, black coffee and peaceful hours. Coffee and my canine definitely go together, every day, wherever we are.

Visit Elizabeth C. Main's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue