Monday, November 5, 2012

Jessica Pierce & Maya

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Jessica Pierce and I’m a bioethicist and writer. With me is Maya, my little German Shorthaired/English pointer Mix. She’s about 9 and a half, and the sweetest thing you’ll ever meet. We’ve just finished a run together.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I go to The Stone Cup almost every day, and almost always with Maya at my side. We stop there on our way back from a morning run and I arm myself with caffeine before I head to work. The motto of The Stone Cup is “Lyons’ Front Porch”—it is a hub of activity in this little town. My day doesn’t really feel complete without a few minutes on the Porch.

What's brewing?

I am a creature of habit. I have a flat macchiato, little extra milk, small sized cup, and a piece of the Stone Cup’s most excellent pumpkin-walnut bread. They know me well, so I just have to walk up and say “The usual.” The Stone Cup uses organic and fair trade coffee beans, and they compost or recycle almost every scrap of trash they produce.

Any treats for you or your dog on this occasion?

Maya shares my pumpkin bread. She doesn’t really like walnuts, so I have to pick those out for her.

How were you and your dog united?

Maya’s father, Buzz Lightyear, belonged to a friend of mine. This friend just happened to mention that Buzz had sired a litter of pointer-mix pups and that there was one little puppy who still needed a home. My daughter and I went out to visit the mom, Ocho, and her two remaining pups, Maggie and our little Maya. (Maggie remained with Ocho’s family.) Pointer puppies don’t yet have their spots, so Maya was pure white except for her solid brown head. She looked like she had been dipped upside-down in a bucket of brown paint. She was fat as a sausage and, of course, totally irresistible.

How did she get her name? Any aliases?

Maya is named after a guinea pig. Said guinea pig belonged to one of my daughter’s kindergarten friends. Our Vizsla, Odysseus, had been invited inside this friend’s house one day, during a play date. Ody proceeded down to their basement to visit the guinea pig. Later that night, the poor guinea pig died mysteriously. My daughter’s five year old friend was convinced that Ody had caused the little creature to have a delayed heart attack. Ody was branded a murderer. We adopted Maya shortly after the guinea pig debacle, and it just seemed fitting to honor the life of the deceased guinea pig. Maia is also a goddess in Greek mythology, and so the name seemed like a nice complement to the great king Odysseus.

Maya’s nickname: Meep. Don’t ask why.

Please tell us about your new book, The Last Walk: Reflections on Our Pets at the Ends of Their Lives.

The Last Walk is about the final year of Ody’s life, and about the practical and moral challenges of caring for aged animals and helping them die well.

Does your dog have a favorite place to go for an outing?

Maya loves to go running with me, and it doesn’t matter where we go. But she especially loves a place called Button Rock Reservoir. There are miles and miles of mountain trail where Maya can run off leash.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

She has a stuffed collie which she likes to use for tug-of-war. Actually, it isn’t stuffed anymore—she pulled out all the fuzz.

Who is your dog's best pet-pal?

Thor the cat. Who really thinks he’s a dog.

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

Oh dear… so many choices. She would probably make me be a little less conscientious, that way I would feed her more treats and worry less about her getting a little round about the belly.

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

Natalie Portman.

If your dog could answer just one question in English, what would you ask her?

I would ask her if she likes being an only dog or if she would rather we got her a sibling or two.

Read more about The Last Walk: Reflections on Our Pets at the Ends of Their Lives at Jessica Pierce's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

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