Friday, August 31, 2012

Karen Elkin & Gus, Bobby, and Finlay

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi! I’m Karen Elkin, happily retired for the last 5 years, but still busy looking after home, husband and most important of all - 3 Scottie dogs. We have three boys. Gus is now thirteen, Bobby and Finlay are both nine years old. [Update: Gus sadly passed away this summer.] They are full brothers, but born 4 years apart. Sitting with me is Bobby. I can never sit outside on a chair without him needing to join me. At least one of us is comfortable!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It’s part of the usual morning routine: Take Scotties for hour plus walk around our local countryside and immediately upon returning, brew a pot of coffee. Every day. Without fail!

What's brewing?

Because I drink black coffee I prefer it filtered. I sample quite a few, but this week I’m drinking a “Fairtrade” Colombian Roast and Ground Coffee.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

After the boys “half baths” they get a treat. I alternate each day with either a Bonio biscuit or a whole carrot each. Here they are, still wrapped up in their towels, with Bobby draped over the back of Gus!

How were you and your dogs united?

When our house was populated with girlie scotties I used to breed them. Gus, Bobby and Finlay are the product of those beautiful creations!

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Our Scotties have always had Scottish Names and therefore we couldn’t have a boy dog without him being called Angus, or Gus for short. He doesn’t actually answer to Angus as he’s practically always been called Gus. Bobby was named after Greyfriars Bobby, the book written by Eleanor Atkinson. I know there’s doubt over whether “Greyfriars Bobby” was a Scottie, Cairn or Skye Terrier, but we’re gonna believe he was a Scottie! And Finlay, well, such a lovely name for a lovely little boy - who’s since grown up to be a lovely little man. No real aliases, other than the usual ones like Bobba, Findal, Fingal, Gussiedog....

Do your dogs have a favorite place to go for an outing?

Gus loves to walk around our Nature Reserve. Sniffing every single blade of grass! Takes hours to do a circuit - but what better way to start any day! Finlay prefers our Reservoir walk, lots of twisty paths and the possible hope of stumbling across a squirrel. And Bobby, well Bobby loves all walks, or rather “runs” as he runs every where, forwards, backwards, sideways; he must run twice as far as the rest of us on our walk!

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Usually any squeaky toy is destroyed within minutes. Their poor de-stuffed bodies laying around the house for a few days. However, there one stuffed toy that Finlay cherishes. We call it his “baby.” It sits on the settee with him and when he feels the need, he’ll reach over and pick up the stuffed toy and gentle “clean it” by licking it for hours! Gus, on the other hand prefers Tennis Balls. They last about 5 minutes on a good day. And there’re bits of rubber scattered about the place.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

It's the squirrels for Bobby and Finlay. Gus is too interested in sniffing the grass. We always walk around the countryside, seldom on the pavements and we’ve developed a game/competition. It’s bi-peds versus quadrupeds in finding out who can spot the most squirrels on a walk - and usually it's the Scotties that win!

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

They are all their own best friends. Although we regularly meet up with their brother (William, Gus’ litter brother) and niece (Poppy, one of their sadly departed sister’s offspring) for a “clan walk.”

Here [photo left] you can see 5 Sparhawk Scotties: from left to right William, Gus, Finlay, Bobby (all brothers) and their niece Poppy!

What is each dog's best quality?

Gus: He’s a gentle giant. When Bobby & Finlay are barking at other dogs on our walks, Gus will just walk up to the dog, with his rudder-like tail swaying merrily and greet the other dog as a friend, then move on - such a balanced lad!

Bobby: He loves to learn. We did obedience training together for a couple of years and he took to it like a “duck to water.” We did a demonstration to Scottie Breed club once, and boy were they surprised - a Scottie that was obedient and trained - never!

Finlay: He’s the a-typical Scottie lad - a lap dog. He’s also extremely loyal, especially on walks. He’ll stay by my side whilst I’m looking at the wildlife, waiting for me to move on to catch up with the other two who have become bored and carried on wandering!

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

To forget about grooming. They despise it. Despite Bobby and Finlay doing a stint as show dogs for a couple of years where they were groomed practically every day, they will hide away when they see the grooming bag emerge.

If your dogs could speak in the movie about your life, who should do their voices?

Keeping with the Scottish tradition, I’ve gone for the following:

Gus: Sean Connery.

Bobby: Billy Connolly

Finlay: Gerard Butler

Visit the Sparhawk Scotties website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Peter Abrahams & Pearl

Who is in the photo at right?

Here we see me (Peter Abrahams, but known as Spencer Quinn when it comes to my Chet and Bernie mystery series) and Pearl, a one-year-old golden retriever who so far is getting by on looks alone.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We're out on the gazebo in the morning. I'm on my way to work. Pearl has something on her mind.

Any treats for you or Pearl on this occasion?

Yes. I've got some small treats in my hand that you can't see. That's what Pearl has in mind.

What's brewing?

The coffee is Valparaiso (Guatemalan) from Barismo, a great coffee roaster in Arlington, Mass. I'm drinking it hot and black, as usual.

Any dogs--besides Chet, of course--in your new novel?

Yes, but in A Fistful of Collars, the most important supporting role by a four-footer is that of Brando - a cat that Chet is forced to get along with. Sort of.

What is Pearl's proudest moment?

We have another dog here - Audrey, much more senior in residence. Pearl's proudest moment is always when she gets hold of something of Audrey's - an antler treat, for example - and prances around with it.

Who is Pearl's best pet-pal?

In a frenemy sort of way: Audrey [photo right].

If Pearl could change one thing about her fellow beachcombers, what would it be?

We live near a beach on Cape Cod but dogs aren't allowed in summer. A bad rule and Pearl would change it today if she could. So would I.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Pearl could speak, which actor should do her voice?

Marilyn Monroe.

If Pearl could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?

I'd ask if anything hurts. Dogs are so stoical it's sometimes hard to tell if a vet visit is in order.

Visit Chet the Dog's blog and Facebook page, and Peter Abrahams's website.

See-- Coffee with a Canine: Peter Abrahams and Audrey (September 2011).

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 27, 2012

Susie Kelly & Tally and Dobby

Who is in the photo on the right?

I'm Susie Kelly, a travel writer living in south-west France, with Tally (Talisman de la Sylve de Janus to give him his full name), a 10-year-old Hungarian Vizsla, and 8-year-old Dobby, a very large dog whose only known parent was the cardboard box in which he was found at the gates of the orphanage.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Just stopping by to have a chat before we plan our next misadventure.

What's brewing?

I'm not a great coffee drinker. My preference is for Earl Grey tea – with milk.

Any treats for you and your dogs?

The dogs' biggest treat is a run on the beach, but as we live far from the sea, the next best is to take their memory-foam mattresses out in the garden so they can sunbathe in absolute comfort. My best treat is watching them enjoying themselves.

How did your dogs get their names?

Tally came with his full name from his breeder, who was passionate about the Hungarian Vizsla breed and has imported the stock from all over Europe in his quest to breed the perfect specimen.

Dobby was christened after Harry Potter's house-elf, because when we first got him he was very small with disproportionately large ears.

How were you and your dogs united?

I drove two hundred miles to collect Tally, a fat little bundle whose coat was far too big for him. He curled up tightly on my friend's lap and slept all the way home. Dobby came from an animal sanctuary who had found him abandoned at their gates in a cardboard box. We wanted a small companion for Tally, and Dobby was expected to grow to about Beagle size. Instead he grew to about the size of a Great Dane.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

They're best friends with each other, although Dobby also adores our feral cat, Tigger.

Do your dogs contribute to your writing?

They are essential to it! Tally and Dobby are the stars of Travels with Tinkerbelle – 6,000 miles around France in a Mechanical Wreck. Our original plan to take Tally on holiday with us in the car, with a tent, turned into a major logistical challenge once we acquired Dobby to keep him company on our travels. We had not anticipated just how huge he would grow, nor how quickly, and had to change our plans radically and buy a camping car to accommodate us all. Dobby spent most of our 7-week journey trying to eat his way through the camper and all its contents when he and Tally weren't galloping around on the beach or in the hills.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick?

They have special blankets made of Merino wool, which they take everywhere. They bring them wherever we are in the house so that they can lie in comfort, and drag them to the car when we are going out. Sometimes Tally takes his with us on our walks, but usually abandons it somewhere en route, so we have to go back and hunt for it, because when he's ready for bed at night, he can't settle without it.

Even when we go away on holiday, the blankets must come too.

Rabbit, postman, cat?

Both are very sociable dogs, and they get on with most other creatures as long as they don't run. Running is an invitation to play chase....

What is each dog's best quality?

Tally's most endearing traits are his sense of fun and enthusiasm, while Dobby is outstandingly loyal, never more than a few inches away. Like Tally he is very sociable, and he's also very protective of us.

If your dogs could change one thing about the French, what would it be?

It would be to ensure that so many of them do not keep their gun dogs living in cages outside the shooting season. They don't like to see dogs imprisoned in small spaces for months at a time.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, which actors should do their voices?

With Dobby's dark good looks and fine singing voice I think Joaquin Phoenix would be a great choice. As Tally tends to hit the very high notes when he's excited, then Maria Carey would play him well.

If your dogs could answer only one question in English – or French, what would you ask them?

What I'd like to ask the dogs is this: "Is it to test how much I love you that as soon as I've cleaned the house you go and find sticks to chew up all over the place?"

Visit Susie Kelly's blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 24, 2012

Susan Dennard & Asimov and Leia

Who are in the photos with this Q & A?

Well, there's Asimov (Irish Setter, 3 years) in the chair and Leia (terrier mutt, 10 months) gazing lovingly at the camera.

I'm Susan Dennard, a reader, writer, animal-lover, and cookie-eater. My debut novel -- a YA gothic mystery called Something Strange and Deadly -- came out this summer.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Oh, I have coffee with my pups every day. They're my constant companions since I work at home.

What's brewing?

I always have plain coffee--no sugar, no milk. As for the brand, it's from a coffee shop called Uncommon Grounds. They work directly with their farmers in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. I only buy fair trade coffee.

Any treats for you or Asimov and Leia on this occasion?

They usually get one or two carrots throughout the day. Not sure why, but they both love carrots!

How did the dogs get their names? Any aliases?

photo by Amanda Plavich
Asimov is named after Isaac Asimov, the prolific science fiction writer (and one of my heroes). He get's called "Asimovich" quite a lot…

Leia is named after Princess Leia (also a hero of mine!). I call her "Lay-Lay" or "Lady-Loo"--though I have no idea why I started saying that!

How were you and Asimov and Leia united?

I wanted a puppy after my first dog didn't make it to Germany (the airline lost her!). But adopting a dog in Germany is very hard since--unlike the US--there aren't very many stray dogs. Plus, adopting was about the same cost as getting a purebred. So, we finally settled on getting a dog like I'd grown up with: an Irish setter.

Leia came from a shelter in Georgia. My mom volunteers at it, and I went one day to help her with all the poop-cleaning and dog-walking. I took one look at little Leia and knew I had to bring her home.

Do Asimov and Leia have any non-canine pet-pals?

Well, we have 2 cats--Duma and Mowgli. Leia and Asimov both adore the cats, but the feeling is definitely not mutual.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Squirrel! They love to chase them, though I'm not sure they'd have any idea what to do with it if the ever actually caught one.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

All three! They love furry, squeaky toys for chewing and wrestling. Balls are great for chasing, and sticks are great for eating (though I'm not inclined to agree).

What is each dog's best quality?

Asimov has a ton of personality. He's a pretty grumpy dog (in a good-natured way), and he's very vocal when he's annoyed. (Of course, I definitely go out of my way to annoy him because it's just so darn funny!)

Leia is the sweetest, sweetest dog on the planet. She is all kisses and cuddles, and she will do anything to make me happy.

If Asimov and Leia could change one thing about you, what would it be?

I think both dogs would like to get more walks and be let off leash more often. dice.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, which actor should do their voices?

Hahaha--great question. I think that Michael J. Fox and Sally Fields in Homeward Bound would make a great Asimov and Leia, respectively.

If Asimov and Leia could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

Why do you guys keep eating the cat poop?!

Visit Susan Dennard's website, blog, and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kim Kavin & Blue

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s my dog Blue and me, Kim Kavin, at a park near our home in Long Valley, New Jersey. A friend of mine took the photo for me so that I’d have it for the jacket on the hardcover edition of Little Boy Blue. We brought the dog as well as my friend’s 2-year-old daughter to the park on an overcast winter day and hoped for the best. We got lucky when a couple walked by with a pair of dogs. Blue made this great, attentive face, and I tried to just keep smiling at the camera while holding him back, lest he leap off my lap and chase those dogs into the nearby lake. The 2-year-old thought the entire situation was highly entertaining.

What’s the occasion for coffee with a canine?

Actually, I haven’t had a cup of coffee in at least ten years. I quit cold turkey after I got out of the newspaper business, where I worked as an editor on the night shift and got addicted to the stuff. Now my hot drink of choice is African Rooibos red tea, which is naturally decaffeinated. I enjoy a cup before bed, when Blue is usually snuggling with me on the sofa.

Any treats for you or Blue on this occasion?

I will admit that there is still a little bit of a caffeine junkie in me, because a little piece of dark chocolate with that cup of tea (or, really, with anything) is hard for me to turn down. Blue obviously can’t have chocolate, but loves a good deer antler or rawhide bone or bully stick at night. I think he enjoys gnawing those things even more than he does eating real food.

How did Blue get his name? Any aliases?

I wish I could say it’s some great literary reference, but the truth is that my ex-husband named Blue back when we were still married. He’d just seen the movie Old School starring Will Ferrell, and there’s this scene where Ferrell is shouting over the grave of a dead 90-year-old fraternity pledge, “You’re my boy, Blue!” My ex thought it would be hilarious to shout this around the house. I actually love the name Blue for a hound mix from the South, though I did ditch the quote just as soon as I ditched the husband.

Squirrel, cat, postman…?

Where we live, it’s squirrels, deer, and the occasional black bear. My house is on five and a half acres at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac, surrounded by untouched woods. Blue loves to “guard the perimeter” by walking along the fence line and looking into the woods to see who’s around. He is never disappointed. If not a squirrel or deer or bear, there is always the neighbor’s cat.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick…?

Honestly, whatever toy is in the mouth of whatever foster puppy we have in the house for Lulu’s Rescue, which is one of the groups that helped to save Blue’s life. We’ve had 19 fosters in the past year, since I learned about the need while writing Little Boy Blue. All of the sudden, all of these toys Blue used to be bored with are suddenly hot stuff and in demand. Whatever the foster dog picks up, Blue wants it. And if the dogs have nothing in their mouths, then he wants their full attention to play.

Who is Blue’s best pal?

Blue loves my parents’ dog, an AKC Champion Doberman named Quincy. I swear Quincy outweighs Blue by a solid 50 pounds at least, but the two of them run and wrestle and play like they are a perfect match of size and strength and speed. Even when Blue was still a puppy [photo left], they bonded like glue.

What is Blue’s best quality?

Resilience. Blue’s first owners hit him. Then the second person who had him put bleach all over a rash. Then he endured a journey of some 500 miles in the back of a dark RV before finding his home with me. When I first met him, he was a shy and frightened boy. He now holds an AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate for obedience, is wonderful with humans of all ages, and makes friends with just about every dog he ever meets. He never let bad people ruin the great dog inside of him.

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

He’d want me to sleep at the foot of the bed. Every single night when I climb into bed, Blue is on my pillow. He waits for me to pet him and tell him what a good boy he is, and then I have to move him to the foot of the bed so I can sleep. He grumbles and moans as if I’m taking his spot. The king of the king-size mattress, Blue is.

If Hollywood made a movie about Blue, which actor would do his voice?

I think Jake Gyllenhaal. I hear that he has rescue dogs, plus he’s almost as cute as Blue himself.

If Blue could answer one question in English, what would I ask him?

I’d ask, “What can I do to make your life even better?” Because this awesome boy truly deserves it.

Visit the official site of the book Little Boy Blue and the wonderful dog who inspired it.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cece Bell & Tuna, O.D., and Sue Bee

Who is in the photo at right?

The dogs are all lady dogs. Tuna (14) is some kind of dingo mix. O.D. is a hound and we don't know how old she is. (She is missing an eye because she had cancer in that eye and had to get it removed.) Sue Bee (12) is a beagle.

My name is Cece Bell and I am an author and illustrator of books for children. My books include Bee-Wigged, Itty Bitty, and the Sock Monkey series for Candlewick Press; stuff coming out soon includes Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover (also for Candlewick Press), illustrations for Crankee Doodle (written with my husband, Tom Angleberger, for Clarion Press) and for Bug Patrol (by Denise Mortensen, also for Clarion Press). I am currently working on a graphic novel for Amulet.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It's a mandatory office meeting called by Tuna. She will be giving an extensive Power Point presentation (yeah, she's still using Power Point, believe it or not) that maps out the various walks she would like for us to take in the Fall.

What's brewing?

Nestlé brand hot chocolate with a dash of Folger's crystals. Topped with Cool Whip. So wrong, and yet so right.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

They've got Cool Whip in their cups.

How were you and your dogs united?

Tuna showed up in our yard on July 4th, 1998. We had just gotten home from watching fireworks. I think she got spooked by the fireworks everywhere and just happened to greet us as we pulled up. We tried to find her owner, but never did. Thank goodness! She is a great dog.

We adopted Sue Bee in 2003 from the Montgomery County Humane Society animal shelter after our beloved dog Henry passed away.

And O.D. just showed up, too, about four years ago, and put on such a show of sweetness that there was really no way to deny her a place in our home.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Tuna got her name because her fur looks kind of like what canned tuna looks like: gray, tan, speckled, etc. Nicknames include: Tuna Marie, Tuna Fish, Fishy-fish, Fish Head.

Sue Bee was "Susie" at the shelter. But I kept singing the Scooby-Doo song to her when we got her home; Susie + Scooby = Sue Bee. It works because she is a honey of a dog. Her nicknames are Sue Beast and Beasty.

O.D. stands for "Other Dog." We were really, really, really trying to avoid naming her, because once you name an animal, you're pretty much keeping it. We already had three dogs at the time (Louise was another of our hounds; she passed away at the beginning of this year), and the thought of having four dogs at once was too much (and it generally is too much). But O.D. is a name, isn't it? Suckers! Her nicknames are Odoriferous, Dee, and Smellody.

Do your dogs have much influence on your writing and illustrating?

My book Itty Bitty was very much based on Henry. He was not a tiny dog, like Itty Bitty is, but he had Itty Bitty's sweetness and some of his can-do attitude, too.

Do your dogs have a favorite place to go for an outing?

They love going on hikes in the more rural areas like where we live. They are not too fond of venturing out into the city. The noises and general hubbub make them skittish.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

They love my mom with a love that just won't quit.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

I never thought about it before, but none of them like toys. Weird, eh? But they do have favorite chairs and sofas throughout the house. And someday, Tuna will have licked all of them down to their sofa-and-chair foundations.

What is each dog's best quality?

Tuna: She acts tough and would (hopefully) protect us if necessary. She is also an excellent dancer.

Sue Bee can balance on top of a stack of pillows as high as the Empire State Building and not fall off. And look extremely comfortable doing so. Like Tuna, she is an excellent dancer, especially at feeding time. (She is a bona-fide movie star, too, as seen in this video.)

O.D. has High Quantities of Super Sweetness. She loves to love.

[art at left: a (already painted) paint-by-number painting, to which Bell has added her dogs through the years]

If your dogs could change one thing about Virginians, what would it be?

Their smells, I reckon. They've gotten too clean and fresh-smelling in recent years.

If your dogs could speak in the movie about your life, who should do their voices?

Tuna = Frances Bavier in her Aunt Bee period.

Sue Bee = Sally Field in her Gidget period.

O.D. = Minnie Pearl in her Hee Haw period.

If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

Does it frustrate you as much as it frustrates me that you are aging way too quickly?

Visit Cece Bell's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 17, 2012

Michelle Taute & Zoey and Henry

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Michelle Taute. That’s me with my dog, Zoey. She’s a 9-month-old Bluetick Coonhound who still chews everything. (That stops at some point, right?) I also have a 3-year-old Treeing Walker Coonhound named Henry. He only chews food and treats, thankfully. When I’m not coonhound wrangling, I’m a writer who is obsessed with cootie catchers.

What’s the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

This is a standard Saturday morning at our house. Roll out of bed (yes, I even wear snowflake pajama pants in the summer), make some hot tea and hang out in the backyard. Yep, I drink tea—not coffee. Though my husband, Tom, snapped these pics, and he probably was drinking coffee. Henry had to be coaxed out here for the photo shoot, because he prefers to hang out on the sofa. Zoey will follow you anywhere.

What’s brewing?

I had English breakfast tea with a teaspoon of sugar. My husband had some sort of Starbucks blend he makes in a one-cup coffee maker.

Any treats for you or the dogs on this occasion?

Not really. The dogs did get some extra scratches on the ear, since they were being such good sports about the pictures.

How were you and your dogs united?

I fell in love with Henry when we went to the pet store to buy cat food. He was in cage out front with a rescue group and those brown eyes and long ears looked so sad! We weren’t even planning on adopting a dog, but once I took him out of that kennel, it was all over.

About a year later, I decided Henry needed a friend. Zoey came from Petfinder. She was my 36th birthday present. (Best gift ever when she’s not chewing my shoes … or, err, the sofa.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

When the rescue found Henry, he had pneumonia, so he spent a lot of time at a no-kill shelter getting well. They were already calling him Henry, so we stuck with the name. It fits him. He’s an old man in a young dog’s body.

My husband named Zoey. It’s a happy, sunny name that matches her personality. She’s also known as the Zoe-bot, because like a robot, she’s always on the move, and her batteries rarely rundown.

We also refer to them both as, “country dogs trying to make it in the city.” Technically, they’re both hunting dogs, but they’ve adapted to Cincinnati life pretty well. The soft couches, tasty treats, long walks and dog-park trips help a lot.

You recently wrote about having a robot mow your lawn. What did your dogs make of the mechanical beast?

Henry was too busy napping on the couch to care much about it. Zoey loves all lawn-mowing tools—the weed whacker, our old-school push mower and the lawn bott. She barks at them and chases them around the yard, bowing into play pose often. We have to shoo her away, so she doesn’t get hurt. If only we could get her to actually mow the lawn.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

We have a very fluffy white cat name Austin, who bosses Henry around but runs away from Zoey. Both dogs perk up at the site of a squirrel, unless there’s an abandoned chicken bone nearby. But, you know, coonhounds really live for raccoons. We used to have two raccoons trying to live on our roof but they were scared off by the dogs.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Zoey loves all of the above. She drops her ball down the steps in our backyard and plays fetch with herself. As for sticks, the bigger the better. A storm dropped a fairly big tree branch in our backyard, and we left it there because she loves it so much. Henry loves his Nylabones best.

Who are your dogs’ best pet-pals?

My dogs are BFFs. Zoe cuddles up with Henry for naps and cleans out his ears. They also love to wrestle, play tug-of-war and generally run around looking for food like the Bumpus hounds from Christmas Story.

What is each dog’s best quality?

Zoey is happy all the time. She’s ready to go anywhere with you, and if you take her for a walk, she looks up at you every three steps to make sure you’re still there. Henry is super chill and loves to sleep in (like me). They’re both champion snugglers.

If your dogs could change one thing about Ohioans, what would it be?

There’s a guy on our regular walking route who howls at them, because he wants to hear the classic coonhound howl. They don’t think much of this and refuse to perform. Howling is for raccoons (sometimes squirrels) and strangers at the front door. But since we’re not hunters, it’s mostly for random people walking by the house.

If your dogs could speak in the movie about your life, who should do their voices?

That’s a tough one. Zoey would be voiced by some high-energy tween star from Disney or Nickelodeon for sure. Henry is super stubborn and a (slightly) grumpy old man at heart, so I’m thinking Walter Matthau.

Visit the websites for Michelle Taute, writer and Michelle Taute, cootie catcher enthusiast.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Michelle & Goose

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Michelle. I am a pastor for the United Methodist Church. I serve a church in Utah. In fact I serve the church that I grew up in. That is a rare thing to happen, but I could not imagine being anywhere else. And that is my companion Goose. He is a male Weimaraner who is 12 1/2 years old.

At the church I serve every 3rd Sunday of the month we have Bring Your Dog to Worship. It is very popular and the people, and the dogs, really enjoy it. For some people it is much easier to attend a worship service if they can bring their dog, their companion. It is most certainly something I look forward to.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every morning Goose and I get up at 4:45AM and sit on the patio to watch the sun come up, pray, read a devotion and listen for what God has to say. It is our special time together. We do this each morning no matter what the weather. Well, except if it is raining; Goose does not like to be out in the rain.

What's brewing?

I have whatever kind of coffee is in the cupboard. Usually it is some sort of hazelnut brew. In the dog days of summer it is iced. Before I go to bed I get it ready and when I get up it is brewed and all that is needed is to grab a cup and head to the patio.

Today's selection is a Blue Mountain brew that was a gift from a friend.

Any treats for you or Goose on this occasion?

No treat for me, per se, just my Greek yogurt, pomegranate. The treat for Goose is he gets to lick out the cup. I always leave a little extra in there for him.

How did Goose get his name? Any aliases?

Goose came with his name. Twelve years ago I walked into a pet store to get some rocks for two Gecko lizards, Spot and Bob. New Hope foundation was there with puppies for adoption. I hurried past them and headed for the rocks. I had no intention of getting another dog. My last dog, Pete, had been my companion for over 14 years. He was a Lab Great Dane mix, 140lbs on love. When he went to the rainbow bridge the day before Thanksgiving I vowed to never have another dog. And for years I held to that. Then I walked into that store. When I walked to up to pay for the rocks there was Goose, 6 months old, in a wire cage that he was too big for, his tail sticking out. The checkout line was long. So there I stood, next to Goose, trying not to look at him. The volunteer noticed me and started talking with me, finally saying "would you like to walk him outside, I'll hold your rocks." So I did and I fell in love. But I was still determined to not have another dog. When I came back in and she put him back in his cage, something happened. I took my rocks and walked to the back of the store. I called a colleague and simply said, "Do you think it is time?" I did not tell her what I was talking about, but she said, "Yes it is time. It is time that you let another dog into your heart." What could I do? I went back up front and the volunteer handed me the leash. We talked some more. That's when I found out they were asking $600 for Goose's adoption because he came from a championship line of Weimaraners. I handed the leash back, there was no way I could afford that. I got back in line to pay for the rocks. Then the volunteer tapped me on the shoulder and said, "I know you will give him a good home. He is meant to be with you. If you will take him home he is yours, no charge." Goose's full name is Sir King Goose the III. I was not sure if I would keep the name. But it quickly became apparent that he was a Goose. The reason is because whenever he wanted my attention, or wanted to play, he would "goose" me. Yep, poke me in the butt with his nose. So Goose it was. He is also known as Gooseberry, Bubba Goose, and Gooie.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

For Goose all are on the list, well, except postman. He loves the postman. He also has a fondness for skunks. Last year he "kissed" six of them.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

This is a no-brainer: sticks. Goose is the King of Sticks. No matter the size, from twigs to fallen trees. They are all pure enjoyment for him.

Who is Goose's best pet-pal?

Goose has so many friends. But I would have to say it is Bert from Four Legged Views. He goes to Bert's place several times a week while I am at work. And they go on great adventures in the mountains and at the Fort a couple times a week. Of course he has a special fondness for his gal pal Belle. They have known each other for a long time and have had some great camping and backpacking adventures together. She is his beautiful Belle.

What is Goose's best quality?

Hummmm. He has many it is hard to choose. His devotion and commitment to me is incredible. He is very in-tune to me, even when I am not aware of what is going on. Because of some medical issues I have there are times that I will start to slip into a coma. Sometimes I am not aware that it is happening, but Goose does and he does everything he can to make me aware what is going on so I can take some meds to bring me back. Even when I am sleeping he will try to pull me out of bed, jump on the bed, bark in my face and so forth. He was not trained to do this, he just knows what is happening and makes sure I am OK. It has been a life saving connection we have that I can only explain as a gift from God.

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

Being Goose and who he is, I think he would say he would not change a thing. He loves me for who I am.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Goose could speak, which actor should do his voice?

I don't know why but I would have to say Morgan Freeman. Maybe because when we watch something with Mr. Freeman in it Goose goes up to the TV and stares at the TV tilting his head from side to side. It's like he is listening to his own voice.

If Goose could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

Just one? I would ask him why he enjoys sticks so much. Why they bring him so much joy.

Visit the Gospel of Goose blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, August 13, 2012

Amanda & Nola

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Amanda, and my crazy beautiful dog Nola. I'm a student, photographer and blogger.

Nola is an almost two year old, purebred female Miniature Dachshund.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I hang out with Nola every morning; publishing that day's blog post, relaxing and having breakfast.

What's brewing?

No coffee for me, just ice water with lemon or a cold Coke. I can't stand the taste of coffee!

Any treats for you or Nola on this occasion?

Usually waffles or pancakes for me, and of course Nola gets a taste. She has yogurt and/or pumpkin for an after breakfast snack.

How did Nola get her name? Any aliases?

Nola is named after New Orleans LouisianA. My Mom actually named her on the car ride home from her breeder. To date, we've met exactly 5 people who've gotten the meaning behind her name.
Her aliases include: Noly, Noly Canoli, Bugs, Buggy, Weenie, Bean, youlittleshitIcan'tbelieveyoujustdidthatIdidn'tmeanitI'msorry, Princess, Demon, Schnitzel, Dachshund Nola, and Pooki.

How were you and Nola united?

I got Nola on December 9, 2010 during one of the hardest times in my life. My black lab had recently died (she was very young), and my dad was fighting hard against Bipolar Disorder and Depression.
After my lab past, I started researching different breeds that would fit my life. I'd narrowed it down to either a Dachshund or a Pug, but decided against the Pug because of the ridiculous weather here.

I started my search for a Dachshund in August of 2010, and like I said finally got my Nola in December. I found no shortages of Dachshunds, but they were all males and I was dead set on a female. I was put on multiple waiting lists for different breeders, scoured the internet, papers, asked friends and family if they knew of anyone who had a female. I searched all over Florida, and even looked in Georgia and Alabama to no avail.

I was almost ready to give up, then one night my mom brought home a tiny little female Dachshund puppy. I was crying so hard, and laughing and looking a bit insane I'm sure. It was an instant bond that grows stronger every day.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Anyone and everyone who walks by our house! And on occasion, my chickens.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Hm, Nola loves sticks but her favorite toy would have to be her tailless, earless, and eyeless stuffed opossum.

Who is Nola's best pet-pal?

Nola's more of a people oriented dog then anything else, but her best canine friends would have to be her "brother" Augustine or her blog BFF Lily Belle.

What is Nola's best quality?

Nola has so many good qualities I'd be here forever trying to decide on her best one! So I'll tell you her top three.

One is her incredible intelligence. Two is her outstanding loyalty. Three is her stubbornness, haha! It's a good thing I'm just as bullheaded as she is.

If Nola could change one thing about Floridians, what would it be?

She'd probably change all the tourists we have every summer! I have to agree with her on that one....

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Nola could speak, which actor should do her voice?

Lea Michele from Glee!

If Nola could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?

I'd ask her if she knows how much I adore her.

Visit the Dachsund Nola blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, August 10, 2012

Monika Schröder & Frank

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Monika Schröder and I write books for young readers. Two of my books are set in Germany, where I grew up. My second novel, Saraswati's Way, is set in India, where my husband and I lived for eight years. I’m here with Frank, an Indian Pariah Dog. We met and adopted him when we lived in New Delhi. He was a street dog. We think Frank is about 3 and a half years old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I am actually a tea drinker and only recently have begun to drink coffee. Now I usually drink a cup after my nap, to get ready for the afternoon writing session. Frank joins me on the porch, in hopes of getting a morsel of food.

What's brewing?

I prefer mild roasted coffee with lots of foamed milk.

Any treats for you or Frank on this occasion?

Frank is always ready for a treat. He likes Milkbones but prefers ‘high-end’ snacks such as Well Bites. If I don’t offer him anything he gives me “the look.” And who could resist these eyes…

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

We couldn’t come up with any Indian name we liked and so my husband suggested “Frank,” a name that is easy to pronounce in German as well as English. We have taken Frank twice to Germany. He likes it there.

How were you and Frank united?

My husband and I used to work at the American Embassy School in New Delhi, India. We lived on the school’s compound and during winter break 2009/10 we noticed a honey colored street dog “hanging out” outside the school gate. Many dogs live on the streets in India. They often attach themselves to a guard post or a construction site, waiting for handouts. This beautiful, smart looking dog showed up every morning and then began to accompany me on my morning jog. He had the most expressive face and on the last day of winter break we decided to take him in.

It was very challenging for all of us. Frank was still young and in addition to being a puppy he also was a wild animal. He didn’t know how to be a pet. At first, he resented being restrained by a leash or living in an apartment. He chewed up everything and when we smeared soap on the leg of our furniture he found it tasty. Then we bought toys and a “Kong,” which he liked very much. So over time he calmed down and trusted us more.

Now we have moved to North Carolina where we have a house with a garden and he is very happy. He loves watching the cows in the pasture adjacent to our yard.

Does Frank make any contribution to your writing?

He is my main muse. I love watching him curl up and sleep, dream, stretch or lounge around on his pillow or next to me on the sofa. It relaxes me. I also still hope to one day make him the hero of a picture books for kids.

What is Frank's best quality?

He is very independent and smart. I guess he had to develop these qualities when he lived on the streets of Delhi. (As proud parents we even think he might be ‘gifted.’) He also is very strong-willed which can be exasperating. But he also has a good sense of humor and makes us laugh often.

Frank loves being outside. Even in the winter he insists on staying in his bed on the porch, but he needs to be wrapped in a blanket.

Does Frank have a best friend?

Frank did not get along with other dogs at first. Probably because of his bad experience on the streets he stays away from other dogs, or growls when he encounters them on our walks. Off leash, it is a bit easier for him to play. In our new neighborhood lives Bucky, a Jack-Russell Terrier with lots of energy. He loved Frank on first sight and when Frank growled at him at their first encounter Bucky flipped on his back but also quickly got up, wagging his tail and squeaking in delight about having met Frank. He followed us to our house and when I opened the garden gate, Bucky hopped right in. Now the two of them are friends and we pick up Bucky frequently for play dates. They make an unlikely pair, but they are fun to watch when they “play wrestle.”

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

he had a magic wand I’d love for him to make me more patient.

If Hollywood--or Bollywood--made a movie about your life in which your dog could speak, which actor should do his voice?

I think the comedian and actor Aasiv Mandvi would be a good choice. Many might know him from The Daily Show. Frank would obviously speak with an Indian accent and Aasiv could also deliver the dead-pan lines I’d expect Frank to say. You did not ask me, but I think the role of Monika should be played by Isabella Rossellini. I am sure she could speak in a German accent.

If Frank could answer only one question in English--or German--what would you ask him?

I would like to know what he thinks of having a sister. I would like to adopt a second dog, preferably another young, female Indian street dog. But my husband thinks that Frank would not like to live with another dog. Maybe it’ll be best to let Frank decide.

Visit Monika Schröder's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Anne Marie Pace & Harry and Honey

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Anne Marie Pace. I write books for kids. My new picture book, Vampirina Ballerina, is from Disney-Hyperion with fabulous illustrations by the talented LeUyen Pham. I have also published a couple of books with Scholastic Book Clubs.

My dogs are Harry (3 1/2) and Honey (2 1/2); Honey is the littler one. They're both mixed breeds from the SPCA. They have similar coloring and we think both have some beagle in them, but that's about all we know for sure. People always ask if they're related which we think is hilarious, because to us, they look nothing alike apart from their beaglishness.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I drink a lot of tea, and my dogs are with me all day long, so this wasn't an occasion. It's just a lovely part of my life. The mug in the picture is one of my favorites; it's a gift from my daughter and it reads "Dogs are like chocolates. It's hard to have just one."

What's brewing?

I go through phases. Right now, I need to be thrifty so I use Kroger brand tea bags (I realize the tea purists are cringing in horror). But I also go through long stretches of preparing loose tea of various types with my tea infusers, worrying about water temperature and brew time and all that. For less thrifty times, I like PG Tips; and for indulgent times, I like different Taylors of Harrogate blends or breakfast-type teas . Anything more indulgent than that is out of my budget.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

My dogs want treats all day long, and I try to say no. For this picture I was trying to get them to stay with me so there is peanut butter on the bottom of my mug. It sort of worked.

How were you and your dogs united?

For many years, we were cat people, but I know kids and dogs have special bonds, and I wanted my kids to experience having a dog. When we were ready to get a new pet, we decided to go for a puppy. I stalked the SPCA website until there were puppies and then applied for Harry. Harry adores other dogs, and I knew a friend would make him happy, so about a year and a half later, I began stalking the SPCA website again and found Honey.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Harry came with the name John Quill (his sisters were Tulip and Redbud). But these days, all pet names in the Pace house must have some Harry Potter to them, so Harry was an obvious choice. He also just looks like a Harry. Honey came with the name Honey Pie, which we shortened to Honey. Can you guess the HP reference?

Do your dogs have much influence on your work?

They disturb my work, if that counts as influence! Harry is highly excitable so I have to stop working frequently to correct his behavior (he barks at people and dogs walking along the sidewalk, squirrels, deer, etc.). I do have a manuscript about the dogs, but it's sort of a character sketch in search of a plot. I'll get it right eventually.

Do your dogs have a favorite place to go for an outing?

They stick pretty close to home. They love their friends Talus and Snickers, so they're always up for a romp at our house or theirs. And of course, any walk is a good walk.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Skunks and groundhogs get the most attention, unfortunately.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Absolutely squeaky toys. Harry is a destroyer of all things toy, but it makes him incredibly happy to run around with a squeaking stuffy.

What is each dog's best quality?

Harry is fiercely loyal and protective of me, and Honey is happy. Can dogs be happy? She just exudes joy.

If your dogs could change one thing about Virginians, what would it be?

I think Harry would like a law banning ball caps and moving vans. And Honey would like a law requiring all people taking walks along the sidewalk to give chicken to any dog they pass.

What is each dog's proudest moment?

Harry is happy every day when he scares those terrible horrible no-good very-bad ballcap-wearing passers-by off our sidewalk. I think he takes credit for the fact that they walk away. For Honey, it's probably the time she used the new stool to climb onto the kitchen island. She's not a big dog, so that was quite an accomplishment. I think she ruined an entire loaf of bread before we found her.

If your dogs could speak in the movie about your life, who should do their voices?

Harry should definitely be Casey Kasem. I've never heard a dog sound as much like Scooby Doo as Harry does. I'm not sure about someone to play Honey, but it would have to be an actress with a high-pitched voice who talks really, really fast.

Visit Anne Marie Pace's website.

--Marshal Zeringue