Who is in the photo at right?
That's me and Rondo, the latest addition to our clan. Rondo's the furrier one. I'm Bruce DeSilva, the Edgar Award-winning author of the hardboiled Mulligan crime novels including Cliff Walk, which was just published.
Rondo is a sixteen-month-old, 120-pound mutt who looks like a cross between a Red Rock Hound and a Humvee. To date, he hasn't read any of my books.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
Coffee is a morning ritual for me and my wife, the poet Patricia Smith. We take turns making it first thing every morning while Rondo and his older brother, Brady, a purebred Bernese Mountain Dog, nuzzle our legs in the kitchen and wonder why there's nothing in their bowls yet.
After realizing that we were shelling out $300 a month at Dunkin' Donuts, my wife and I recently bought a Mr. Coffee and started percolating at home. We haven't abandoned Dunkin', though; we're using their brand. Sometimes we put a pinch of Swiss Miss hot chocolate mix in the cups. That was the dogs' idea.
Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?
While we sip our coffee and read The New York Times, Rondo and Brady [on the left and right, respectively, in the photo at left] chow down on their breakfast of premium dog food--unless one of us has a muffin or egg sandwich, in which case all bets are off. They stare at us pleadingly and poke us with their paws until they realize that no people chow is forthcoming and return to their own grub. When they finish eating, they smack their lips, wander over, plop down beside us, and put their huge heads in our laps.
When you and Brady were guests here on the blog in 2010 we learned how he got his name; what's Rondo's story?
Both of our big boys are named after Boston sports heroes, Brady after Tom Brady of the New England Patriots and Rondo after Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics. We actually high-five Rondo (the dog) when Rondo (the Celtic) makes a great shot, which both confuses and delights Rondo (the dog). This naming tendency runs in the family; my oldest son named his two golden retrievers Larry and Legend, both after Larry Bird. I keep telling my wife we need to get another couple of furry behemoths and name them Chara, after a Boston Bruin, and Yaz, after a Boston Red Sox legend of our youth. Okay, she says, but we'll have to get a bigger house first.
How were you and Rondo united?
We wanted a bud for Brady, so we adopted Rondo from the wonderful folks at Rainbow Animal Rescue in North Carolina when he was three months old. He was already 35 lbs., so we knew what we were in for. If you're looking for a dog, you can't do better than check out Rainbow. They treat every animal with loving care.
Back in 2010 you said a character in Cliff Walk owns a Bernese Mountain Dog named Brady. Is there a Rondo-inspired character in the book, too?
No, but you can be sure one will show up as the Mulligan crime novel series continues. You can learn a lot about people by the way they treat dogs, and that's true of fictional characters too. Giving them pets helps with characterization. Maybe I'll have Brady and Rondo [on the right and left, respectively, in the photo at left] team up to solve a crime--I can see them as Sherlock and Watson. Maybe a cat goes missing. (Just kidding. Animal sleuths are a bad fit for my hardboiled style.)
Do Brady and Rondo have any pet-pals?
Our neighbors walk their beagle, Whizzer, every morning and always stop by our fence so he can commune with our boys. At first, the beagle was cowed by their size, but once he realized how gentle they are he started sticking his nose through the fence so they can bend down and nuzzle him. It's such a cuddly scene it should have a soundtrack.
What is Rondo's best quality?
Like Brady, Rondo is incredibly gentle and affectionate, always wanting to rub against our legs or sit beside us and put his head in our laps. He's also a rampant kisser. But what I love most about our boys is their deep affection for each other. They are inseparable, playing tug of war, chasing each other around our trees, or sleeping with their bodies pressed together. They are rarely more than a few feet apart. When we do have to separate them briefly, to take one of them to the vet, for example, Brady sulks like a lovesick teenager and Rondo wails a wretched aria until they are together again.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, which actors should do their voices?
John Goodman's resonant voice, alternately gentle and on the verge of laughter, is perfect for Brady. Chris Rock's voice has the goofy, fun-loving quality that is Rondo.
If your dogs could answer a question in English, what would you ask them?
Have you forgiven me for the ... uh ... neutering thing? Do we smell as good as you seem to think? Why is "God" dog spelled backwards? Got any ideas for my next book? How can we ever repay you for all the love and joy you give us?
Learn more about the book and author at Bruce DeSilva's website and blog.
Read--Coffee with a Canine: Bruce DeSilva and Brady.
The Page 69 Test: Cliff Walk.