Monday, May 28, 2012

Kevin Loud & Murphy

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Kevin Loud, and Murphy. By day, I’m a high school social worker. When I work in the garden or write my gardening blog, I’m the Nitty Gritty Dirt Man. And my trusty sidekick is an 8-year-old female Tibetan Terrier.

What’s the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

There are two occasions. The first is an early morning stroll around the yard. I’m very much a morning person, which works out well for Murphy, since she’s ready to go – and when I say go, I mean go. The other occasion is after work, when I let Murphy outside and I get the chance to breathe – and if there are some weeds to pull out, even better.

What’s brewing?

In all honesty, I was never much of a coffee fan. Then, I tried a Dunkin Donuts mocha latte and I think I need to have one of those wheely IV stands with me at all times. Hot or over ice, I really enjoy the taste of coffee and chocolate. But for home brewing, it’s Lavazza espresso, which I turn into cappuccino. It’s a medium roast that’s rich, dense, sweet and full-bodied – and it’s from Italy, so it’s actually a vacation in a cup.

Any treats for you or Murphy on this occasion?

Hmmmm. My favorite treat with coffee is biscotti or a slice of apple pie. As for Murphy, she demands to eat what I eat and to drink what I drink. I always have to leave some coffee in the bottom of the mug for her.

How were you and your dog united?

My partner and I had sworn that after we put our Lhasa Apso down, we would never get another dog. A few years passed, and that need for canine companionship returned. We had watched a lot of dog shows and did some research and discovered Tibetan Terriers, which aren’t terriers at all. The actual name is Dhoki Apso, but when the British met the breed, they thought it looked like a terrier. We found a breeder in New Jersey, and she sent us photos of a newborn litter. From that email, we spotted this brown puff and fell in love. A few weeks later, we drove to New Jersey to meet her. She was in a cage with her brother and sister – and while they were jumping around, Murphy just sat there watching every move we made. It was like she was looking for us as much as we were looking for her. We were hooked.

How did Murphy get her name?

Any aliases? Before we picked her up, we tried out a lot of names to hear which felt natural. Because she was brown, we had to go with Murphy – a nod to one of our favorite television shows, Murphy Brown. We love the title character for her wit and independence and strength. Of course, we don’t always call her Murphy. Sometimes it’s Murph or Murphetta or Murph the Turf – whatever that means. And then we have some names which are not appropriate for print.

Does she have a favorite place to go for an outing?

As soon as we say bye-bye in any kind of sentence, she gets excited. It doesn’t matter if it’s a walk or a car ride. Sometimes, we even have to spell things out because an innocent use of one of her familiar words can get her excited. But now she’s catching on to that trick.

What role has Murphy played in your gardening and in keeping a cool gardening blog?

It’s great to be outside with Murphy. She tends to follow me wherever I happen to be planting or weeding or writing. That kind of companionship helps me to overlook the yellow and brown patches in the lawn. Then there are the moments when I’m photographing a peony – or any flower – trying to zoom in and get a nice shot. She sort of looks at me and tilts her head and seems to say, “What are you doing? I am so much cuter.”

Squirrel, postman, cat?

While she’s in the house, she’s all bark whenever any animal or person walks by. She even barks at neighbors who live three or four houses away and who are getting into their cars. She is the queen of her domain.

Who are Murphy’s best pals?

I also have a cat, a one-year-old female Ragdoll, Muffola. It was so interesting when we introduced them to each other and they had to work out their schedules and needs and behaviors with each other – and it’s not like they speak the same language. People can learn a lot from cats and dogs.

What is Murphy's best quality?

She loves people. She gets excited when we come home or when friends and family come for a visit. But it’s when anyone leaves that she puts on the biggest show, crying and barking and begging everyone to just stay a little longer. She’s a little needy that way.

If Murphy could change one thing about New Yorkers/Long Islanders what would it be?

Everyone seems so rushed and harried here – and while there are many pleasant people, it’s during the daily chores that everyone seems a little too close to the brink of an all-out nervous breakdown. But bring Murphy into the picture and everyone slows down and becomes more pleasant.

What is Murphy’s proudest moment?

She has two. The first is when the groomer is finished with her. Murphy knows she looks good. She’s clipped, perfumed, has had a pedi-pedi, and is wearing a bandana around her neck. Then there is her other proud moment, when she finds some cat poop in the lawn and eats it and rolls around in it. She’s in absolute ecstasy. That’s when I use those aliases that aren’t printable.

If your dog could speak in the movie about your life, who should do her voice?

Candice Bergen, the original Murphy Brown.

Visit the Nitty Gritty Dirt Man blog and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. Hi Kevin---I'm so glad I read this post today. I found a new gardening blog...yay! I just added Nitty Gritty Dirt Man onto my blogroll.

    Love the photo of you and Murphy in your garden. :^)

    Hi Marshal--Happy Memorial Day!

  2. Happy Memorial Day to you, too, Penny...

  3. Thanks for interviewing the Nitty Gritty Dirt Man (neat blog) and Murphy (adorable pup). It's wonderful to meet them both, and I love what Kevin writes about Long Islanders.

  4. Marshal, I again wanted to thank you for this honor. It was definite blast -- and my only regret is that I do not have another dog for the chance to do this again. Be well!

  5. So enjoyed this post - and enjoy your blog as well Kevin. I couldn't let my dogs read over my shoulder on this one. I don't let them have coffee, and if they found out that other dogs are allowed that sinful pleasure, there would be no dealing with them!

    Great concept Marshal.... I've enjoyed browsing through your blog this AM, enough so we're following now! Have a great summer, everyone!