Who is in the photo at right?
The two pooches seated around me are our two American bull terriers, Joyce and Eddie. The two-legged character in the middle is me. My name is Michael Norman and I write crime fiction for the Poisoned Pen Press. This photo actually appeared on the cover of one of my books, On Deadly Ground. Sadly, shortly after publication of the book, Joyce was diagnosed with cancer and had to be put down. Recently we added a new female bull terrier to the family. Her name is Annie, and we believe she is about eighteen months old.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
Every morning my wife, Diane, and our dogs Eddie and Annie celebrate the new day with coffee and dog treats. We drink our coffee, chat, and sometimes read the newspaper while the dogs noisily wrestle and play tug-of-war with any available toy. Eventually they settle down with their heads in our laps. It’s become a tradition in our home and is a favorite time of day for all of us.
Call us coffee snobs but we prefer to purchase our own green coffee beans, then roast and grind them ourselves. That way we have the freshest and most flavorful coffee possible. We have tried coffees from all over the globe but have found the coffee grown in Central and South America to be our favorite. We buy coffees primarily from Columbia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Panama, and Guatemala. We prepare the coffee using a French press. Diane insists that I make her froth each morning with her coffee—spoiled isn’t she?
Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?
We stuff dog toys with treats while we simply enjoy our coffee.
How were you and your dogs united?
In a million years, we didn’t picture ourselves with bull terriers (pitbulls). Our son, Chris had two, and we were quite negative about his decision to get bull terriers. We had always owned dachshunds. We had read what the media says about them and had pretty much bought the story. Chris became ill, and he couldn’t keep his dogs. His heart was broken and we volunteered to find a home for Joyce. We fell in love with the breed and kept Joyce.
Quite by accident I found Eddie on-line at a rescue in the Grand Canyon. He had been picked up as a stray and had lived there for almost six months. I took Joyce to meet him, and it was a good match. Unfortunately, Joyce died two years ago. All of us missed her. Last November, a dog trainer friend of ours introduced us to Annie. She’s a brindle and looks a lot like Joyce. She is still a puppy and is quite a handful.
How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?
Since both dogs came to us from rescues, they already had names. We decided to leave well enough alone. The closest thing to an alias would probably belong to Eddie. He’s so flexible that we sometimes call him Eddie Spaghetti. In like fashion, we sometimes call Annie, Annie Fanny.
What role have your dogs played in your writing?
Two things come to mind. First, Eddie never allows me to write for too long at any one time. He comes over to my desk and pesters me until I stop and give him some attention. The good thing about that is that it forces me to take periodic breaks and get away from the writing if only for a few minutes. Fortunately, he doesn’t try to pester me every thirty minutes.
In my new book, Skeleton Picnic, my protagonist, who happens to be a Bureau of Land Management Law Enforcement Ranger, befriends a half-starving pit bull and ends up keeping him.
Do your dogs have a favorite place to go for an outing?
Bull terriers are a good choice for couch potatoes. They require regular (like daily) exercise and don’t much care where we take them. They love the exercise and so do we. On average, we walk each dog around three miles and always on leash. Perhaps their favorite place for an outing is a cabin we own near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. They love to go on the trail with us. For the most part, we allow them off-leash during these longer wilderness adventures.
Who are Annie and Eddie's best pet-pals?
Our dogs’ favorite pet pals are each other. They play and play and play. A neighbor dog, Taffy, who outsizes them by almost twice is a good friend. She is a brute and when they have a play date, Taffy throws them around unmercifully.
What is each dog's best quality?
Like most dogs, our bullys have wonderful canine qualities: They are affectionate, loyal, courageous, and forgiving. They live in the moment and never tire of people. Not one day goes by that we don’t laugh right out loud at something the dogs do. They add immensely to our lives.
If your dogs could change one thing about you, what would it be?
They would prefer that we not travel so much and stay home with them. The dogs stay with a professional dog handler in her home whenever we travel. We never board them.
If your dogs could speak in the movie about your life, who should do their voices?
I would choose Sylvester Stallone for Eddie and Diane would select Whoopie Goldberg for Annie.
Visit Michael Norman's website.
See My Book, The Movie: Skeleton Picnic and The Page 69 Test: The Skeleton Picnic.