Who is in the photo at right?
That's me, Jackie Bouchard, and Rita. I'm a Southern California gal, married to a Canadian, with a dog from Mexico. We are our own little United Nations. I'm on my third career: I was an accountant, then a business analyst, and now I'm a writer. My novel, What the Dog Ate is available as an e-book wherever e-books are sold, and in paperback from Amazon.com. Rita is a one-year-old German Shepherd/Beagle mix (as far as we know).
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
We have coffee together every day after "Daddy" heads off to work. I go through emails, etc. and watch the news while sipping my coffee, and Rita hangs out with me until it’s time to head out for our walk.
Don't know the name of it, but it's the organic stuff from Costco with a lotta milk and some Stevia sweetener. On the weekends we make big mugs of café au lait. Our previous dog used to like to try to steal the frothy milk off the top, but Rita’s not interested.
Any treats for you or Rita on this occasion?
I'm a one-cup-in-the-morning gal, so no treats. Just breakfast.
How were you and Rita united?
Six months ago, we lost our beloved German Shepherd/Collie mix, Abby [photo left], at the ridiculously young age of 2 1/2 to bone cancer. She was a gorgeous, amazing dog. We had to have her leg amputated because of the cancer, but she lived half her life with cancer – and she lived large. Prior to having Abby, we'd had a beagle, Bailey, who we also lost to cancer at age 12. After losing Abby, we talked about taking a little break, maybe do some traveling before getting another dog. But just a few days later, my hubby and I were sitting outside watching the sunset. He looked up at the sky and said, "Abby and Bailey, if you are together now, please let us know." I had my iPad with me, and I went on PetFinder and typed in "Beagle" and our zip code. I don't even know why I did that! On the first page of hits was an adorable picture of Rita. She looks pretty much exactly like what the result would be if Bailey and Abby got together and had a puppy. She had the funniest little suspicious look on her face. We kept looking at her picture; we couldn't resist her. A week later we got to meet her, and she came home with us.
How did Rita get her name? Any aliases?
Rita was named after Rosarita beach, the beach in Baja Mexico where the rescue group found her. When she came to us, her name was Peaches. (Which was a funny coincidence, because there is a minor dog character in my novel named Peaches.) Anyway, my hubby makes a mean peach margarita, so in addition to being named after the beach, she's also named after peach margaritas. She has several aliases - the main one is Bunny, but we also call her: The Bubzer, The Baby, Rita Bergita and Rita-Rita-Gopher-Eata'. (Which will make sense if you keep reading…)
Does Rita play any role in your writing?
At the moment, she doesn't influence my novel writing so much, although I do blog about her at Pooch Smooches. But Bailey and Abby both very much influenced another novel I'm working on right now. I started it after we lost Bailey, and Abby is pretty much the star of that book, although under a different name.
Squirrel, cat, postman...?
Going to have to go with squirrel, although really the answer is gopher for her. There are a lot of gophers at the huge off leash beach/park I take her too. Unfortunately, she thinks they are delicious. She especially loves the long-dead ones that have turned into gopher-jerky. It’s very gross and I am often seen at the beach attempting to wrestle them away from her. I’m sure it harkens back to her time spent foraging for herself. Poor kid.
How is Rita like--and unlike--Kona, the dog in your novel, What the Dog Ate?
Rita is like Kona in that she's a major chow hound. She’s extremely food-motivated, which helps with training. But she's not like him in that she'll only eat things that count as food (as long as you consider bugs, birds, and small mammals as food), whereas Kona will eat pretty anything that isn't nailed down… including shoes, cassette tapes, and panties.
Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?
Squeaky toy, definitely.
What is Rita's best quality?
Outside of the obvious/usual doggy qualities (she’s super sweet, loyal and loving), one of our very favorite things about her is that she loves to sleep in as much as we do. We were worried about getting a puppy, especially after Abby. We thought we'd lucked out with Abby because she loved to sleep in (whereas Bailey was the “fuzzy alarm clock,” up at 6:45 every day no matter what). We were afraid we’d never have another puppy that loved to sleep in as much as Abby did - but Rita is even better about it! On the weekends, she and my husband sleep and sleep, and I hang out with them in bed with my book or my iPad.
If Rita could change one thing about Californians, what would it be?
She would ban “mow-and-blow” gardeners. She hates all the noisy, scary stuff that gardeners work with! I keep telling her “Gardeners mean treats.” And I shove a bunch of treats into her every time we see a “scary” gardener. Hopefully she’ll come around soon.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Rita could speak, which actor should do her voice?
That's a tough one... Since she's only one and still very much a pup, I think she'd have the voice of whoever the actress is that voice Lisa on The Simpsons.
If Rita could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?
“Do you love us?” My hubby and I are so needy! We ask her this all the time, along with, “Are you happy with the house you picked?” I'm pretty sure she realizes she won the doggy lotto, but like Abby, Rita is not much of a smiler. Rita tends to look very serious around the house and only smiles when we go to the beach or on walks, and Abby was exactly the same. So, with only one question, I'd want to make sure she's happy with how things have turned out for her!
Visit Jackie Bouchard's website, Facebook page, Twitter perch, and the Pooch Smooches blog.