Friday, November 30, 2012

Colleen and John Marzluff & Reese, Digit and Bellatrix

Who is in the photo at right?

Colleen and John Marzluff. I volunteer with my dogs and work on writing when I can. I also volunteer for Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue with Siberian Husky rescue and education. John is a professor at University of Washington and the author of several books including one that he co-authored with his wife about life in rural Maine with Siberian Huskies and ravens (Dog Days, Raven Nights).

The dogs are border collies, Reese – 8 (F), Digit – 3 (M), and Bellatrix – 5 (F) (except for Digit who is ½ border collie and ½ unknown).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Everyday is coffee with my crew.

After a 4 mile walk they join me for my second cup of coffee and the paper.

What's brewing?

San Francisco organic rainforest from Costco, regular drip, with some creamer.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

They get their “breakfast” which is dry kibble that is ½ lamb and ½ salmon based.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Reese – as a rescue dog, she came with her name. Apparently she was named after the street where she was born. Reese’s Pieces, Miss Reese, Reesie.

Bellatrix – for fans of Harry Potter you should recognize this name. I was not too keen on it until my daughter who named her told me it is a star in a constellation. Bella, Bell (and she does wear a bell all the time so we can keep track of her), Bellie, Smellie Bellie, Red Dog.

Digit – he had 4 extra toes on each of his back feet so this was an obvious choice according to John who had naming rights. Diji, Dijimon, Dwij, Doodlebug, Digiredoo, Little Man, Freckle Face.

How were you and your dogs united?

Reese was found when she was 11 months old by our younger daughter, online from Pacific Northwest Border Collie Rescue after her 3-legged Siberian Husky had died. Her full story can be found on page 63 in To the Rescue, Found Dogs with a Mission by Elise Lufkin.

Bellatrix was one of three pups in a litter that a friend was fostering for Pacific Northwest Border Collie Rescue. The friend needed someone to care for the litter when she went on vacation. My oldest daughter begged to help and adopt one of the pups. I told her if she was successful taking care of the pups when my friend was gone, then she could adopt one.

Digit was in a litter of 8 pups that a friend in an agility class was fostering for Pacific Northwest Border Collie Rescue. We volunteered to help socialize the litter and fell in love with the biggest pup. He continues to see 2 of his brothers from the litter who are very different, so we suspect multi dads for the litter. They all had the extra digits.

We had 11 Siberian Huskies at one point in time when we were active with dog sledding (some of them are featured as the “Third down dogs” at the U of WA football games), so having 3 border collies is no problem.

You know quite a lot about crows and other corvids; are these birds smarter than border collies?

This is a tough question since each is at the top of its species for smarts.

They do well in each of their environments. So, to dodge the question, we have invented the “Crowdog” [photo left].

What is each dog's best quality?

We used to have Siberian Huskies who are notorious for running off, so having three dogs that will stay with you off leash is a quality that I really appreciate.

Reese is a real cuddler and great for when you need a dog fix which is why she makes a great pet therapy dog [photo right].

Bellatrix is good for a laugh, especially when she watches tv or the computer or chases random flashes of light when she is in the car or herds the waves at the beach.

Digit is a clown and loves to cuddle too, so he is a little of both of the others.

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

Reese – Zooey Deschanel: a little sweet, a little snarky.

Bellatrix – Ellen DeGeneres: a little OCD and goofy.

Digit – Robin Williams: just plain goofy.

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

For Reese – “Where do you go and what do you do when you disappear in the yard by yourself in the morning?

For Bellatrix [photo left] – “What are you thinking when you are watching TV/computer?”

For Digit – “Who was your father?”

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

Reese and Bella – more time for more off leash walks/hikes.

Digit – faster brain and body for agility.

Read about John M. Marzluff and Colleen Marzluff's Dog Days, Raven Nights.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Jennifer Au & Nutmeg

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Jennifer Au. I am a veterinarian (DVM), an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (DACVS). I am also a Certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT) and the director of the Canine Rehabilitation Service at OSU.

With me is Nutmeg, a 5-year-old female, spayed mixed breed who is probably part spaniel, part pit. Since everyone nowadays likes to have 'hybrid' dogs I like to call her a Spitt-bull for fun.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine? What's brewing?

Nutmeg and I just completed a 5K run hosted by the veterinary students at OSU called Vets for Pets. They help raise money for a local charity as well as promote fitness and welfare of pets and people.

Nutmeg decided to jump in the pond on the route twice. She doesn't need the coffee to warm up but I do. It's a Starbucks Venti skinny carmel latte to get me warmed up.

How were you and Nutmeg united?

While I was on faculty at Michigan State University a few years ago a couple of the 4th year veterinary students on the shelter medicine rotation brought me an injured dog to be evaluated. She had an injury to her hock or ankle causing lameness and instability. I recommended surgical stabilization but unfortunately the shelter was unable to pursue it due to financial constraints.

Back to the shelter she went but I kept thinking about her. One of the students was going back to the shelter later that week to check on another patient. I asked to ride along 'just to see the shelter' since I had never had a chance to visit. Needless to say Nutmeg came home with me that night. She is doing great on her 'ankle' nowadays.

Your OSU biosketch says you have "a strong background in ferret emergency and surgical procedures." What led you to ferrets?

As a kid I was very interested in all sorts of animals, starting off with gerbils and hamsters as pets, moving on over the years to all sorts of 'exotic' pets; rabbits, chinchillas, reptiles, etc. A friend gave me a ferret for my birthday one year and it was love at first sight. That love and interest continued though veterinary school and the early part of my career. During this time I progressed from having a single pet ferret to running a ferret rescue, showing ferrets (yes, there are ferret shows) and breeding ferrets.

After veterinary school I did a 1 year internship at the Animal Medical Center in NYC. My initial intent was to pursue an exotic animal residency and specialize in exotic pets and ferrets primarily. I realized, however, that I was finding myself interested in things outside of the exotic field such as dogs, cats, emergency medicine and surgery. Instead of applying directly for a residency in exotics I took sometime to work in the veterinary field doing primarily emergency work, This allowed me to continue my exotic pet interests but also allowed me to experience dog/cat medicine, emergency medicine and surgery. Ultimately I pursued a surgical internship followed by a 3-year surgical residency at Texas A&M in part because I felt it gave me the best of all worlds: exotics need surgery and a I can help a large number of patients (dogs/cats) by not limiting myself to just the exotic field.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

I'm not exactly sure how I came up with Nutmeg but it just seemed to fit. I think part of it was her color reminded me of nutmeg. My Tante (Aunt) Dine tried very hard to dissuade me from the name fearing we would end up calling her Nut for short. She was right, we do call her Nut for short but it fits her perfectly. Along with Nut there is The Nut (more formal), Nutter, Nut-butt and Nutter-butter. In addition there are the descriptors of 'Spitt-bull' and 'the elusive long-haired pit bull'. If my orange cat, Brooklyn is around, nicknamed Peanut, the pair are Nutter-butter - Peanut–butter.

What is your dog's best quality?

Nutmeg is pure love and happiness. She thinks everyone is her friend and goes belly up to every new person so they can rub her belly.

Her pure joy in the world makes me happy. It doesn't matter what kind of day I had -- she makes me smile and that is priceless.

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

She would want people to judge her, and other dogs, individually rather than making a judgement based on a particular breed. She is an ambassador of love and happiness in a (part) pit bull body. She thinks breedism is similar to racism, sexism, etc.

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

I think I would say Julia Roberts but more for her laugh. I just think of Nutter as happy and laughing with a joy about life.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 26, 2012

Julie & George

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Julie the Wife, I document burning dinners and ruining childhoods at A Day in the Wife. Enjoying coffee with me is George the Superpet, a six-year-old 110 lb. Standard Poodle who is regularly featured on the blog. George is a little bit excited that he is among first Standard Poodles on Coffee With a Canine.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

George likes to be where I am, and I am usually drinking coffee. If I would allow him to curl up on my lap while drinking it, he would do it. George knows when he hears the cabinet door open to get a coffee cup, it’s time to get out of his chair and start a hard day of begging.

What's brewing?

We are drinking “Rocket Fuel” from our favorite coffee shop, “fuel” in Mount Vernon, Iowa. They use Small World Roaster’s beans from Princeton.

My cup is usually about 25% Creamate Caramel Macciatto creamer. Yes, George and I are coffee snobs. Todd, not so much. But he’s nuts.

Any treats for you or George on this occasion?

Lemon cookies made by my 15-year-old daughter. George and I both love that the kids are starting to cook, particularly since they are better sharers than I.

How did George get his name? Any aliases?

George is named after George Harrison, because his guitar gently weeps. It’s a medical condition. He is occasionally referred to as George the Superpet, but we try not to say it in front of him so as to not inflate his ego.

How were you and George united?

We met in a bar, but for the children’s sake we tell them we were looking for a non-shedding dog due to allergies, and saw George in the classifieds. He was a 16-week-old puppy named Max living with a couple of teacup poodles and a Scottie, and things weren’t working out. The family who owned him realized quickly that he was too big to safely place with teacups. This is why he drinks coffee in our house now.

Who are George's best pet-pals?

George used to play with Zeus and Jaxson next door, both Labrador Retreivers, but they moved a few weeks ago and he’s been a little depressed. He’s been growling to himself, and the kids are starting to campaign for a companion dog. I don’t know that we can handle another gargantuan Standard Poodle, but perhaps there is room for a nice Wheaten or Boston Terrier sibling.

Rabbit, postman, cat....?

There are about 30 feral cats that live in our neighborhood, and every window and door in our house has a streak of dried saliva and rage about two feet up from the floor.

But the postman is a close second. We don’t have rabbits, due to 30 feral cats in neighborhood.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?.

George can gut and eat a squeaky toy in less than two minutes. He has no interest in sticks, and no longer has balls. If he gets a rawhide, he will walk around with it in his mouth crying for a day before he breaks down and eats it.

What is George's best quality?

He hugs. He also picks pockets, so you have to be careful with all the hugging. He is a voracious reader – in this picture [at left] he is reading, The Girls From Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow.

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

He would have me work from home again so we can take our 3 p.m. nap before the kids get home. He’s a spooner. (Don’t tell Current Husband, it’s our little secret.)

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

The voice of Abominable Snowman from Bugs Bunny, who says, “I will love him and pet him and squeeze him and call him George.” If he is unavailable, it will be Adam Sandler, paws down.

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

What’s the deal with you and Tampax?

Visit the A Day in the Wife website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 23, 2012

Heather Huffman & Kali, Charlie, Shoeshine and Po

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Heather Huffman, author of seven romantic suspense novels. My latest, Devil in Disguise, was released in June.

My family lives on a small homestead in the Missouri Ozarks, where we’re attempting to become more self sufficient. Our dogs are both our beloved pets and an essential part of the farm.

Kali is a six-month-old female Anatolian Shepherd/Great Pyrenees named after a character from my novel Jailbird.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Our dogs are LGDs (Livestock Guardian Dogs); their primary job is to guard the homestead. Since predators are most active at night, that’s their busiest time of day. In the morning after my boys are off to school, I let them in so we can enjoy a coffee break together.

What's brewing?

Yuban coffee because it’s Rainforest Alliance certified, with a dash of sugar and a splash of French vanilla creamer.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Does the heater count?

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Charlie [photo left] and Kali are both named after my favorite book couple. Charlie is a four-year-old Newfoundland/Lab mix.

Our newest additions are two Great Pyrenees/Corgi cross puppies named Shoeshine, after Underdog, and Po, after Kung Fu Panda.

How were you and your dogs united?

Charlie was adopted from a shelter when we still lived in suburban St. Louis and happily turned out to be an amazing farm dog. Kali was a gift from my sister. Shoeshine and Po [photo right] came to us when a friend took in a Great Pyrenees only to find out she was pregnant by a Corgi.

Do your dogs have any influence on your writing?

They certainly influence my productivity! How can you resist the “love me” eyes? Many of my characters have dogs, so my affection for them definitely comes through in my novels!

Rabbit, postman, cat....?

Trash man. Kali flipped out the first time she saw the trash man emptying our bin. I told her to calm down and she kept giving me this look that clearly said, “But Mom, he’s stealing the stuff in that big black box!”

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Stick, all the way. Squeaky toys and balls are a light snack for my dogs. Every so often I get them a toy because I want to spoil them. Within minutes, it’s shredded and I’m picking up little pieces from all over my yard.

What is each dog's best quality?

I love that Charlie is intensely loyal to the entire family. He sleeps in the hallway so he can equally protect all of his people. He’s so stoic and rarely expressive, but when it’s just me and him, I can see the complete and total adoration in his face.

I love to watch Kali joyfully bound through the pasture; her zeal for life and her love for her home is catching. I think it’s amazing that even at six months old, and despite her happy-go-lucky demeanor, she never hesitates to protect those under her watch, and she’s good at what she does.

I love to watch the puppies’ different personalities develop. Po is a total couch potato and he’d rather be inside with Charlie, guarding the people. Also like Charlie, he comes across as aloof to a stranger. Now that he’s figured out we’re his, he graces us with that same look of adoration.

Shoeshine [photo left] is rambunctious and fearless. He has an amazing puppy smile and he’s incredibly smart. When I took him outside for his first training session, he watched me for a minute until he figured out what I was doing (herding ducks) before falling in line beside me to help as if we did that together every morning.

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

The amount of time I spend in front of the computer.

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

Hmm… Charlie would be Liam Neeson, Kali should be Anne Hathaway, Po should probably be Jack Black in keeping with his name, and Johnny Depp as Shoeshine.

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

Because Kali spends a large portion of her time curled up on her “perch” (a lawn chair) watching over the homestead, I’d love to ask her what’s going through her mind as she watches them.

Visit Heather Huffman's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Mimi Schroeder & Piper Lee

Who is in the photo at right?

Piper Lee is on the right and Mimi is on the left. My name is Mimi Schroeder and my company, Max Communications, provides publicity for authors and their books. Piper is a very calm West Highland white terrier, an 8-year-old female as well as I can guess. She is a rescue dog. My company was named after Max, my first Westie.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Piper and I enjoy coffee on the balcony every morning. She can’t wait for Fed Ex to roll by.

What's brewing?

A hot cup of Starbucks Verona coffee with cream.

Any treats for you or Piper on this occasion?

We’re really enjoying the Halloween candy this morning; Piper gets Pupperoni.

How did Piper get her name? Any aliases?

Piper was named after the first Westie I ever knew and has had me hooked on Westies ever since. She was given the middle name Lee so she could be a proper Southern belle and have two first names.

How were you and Piper united?

Found her through a wonderful rescue group for Westies.

Who are Piper's best pet-pals?

Piper loves a little white poodle named Mr. Horton who lives in our building.

Rabbit, postman, cat....?

Quiet little Piper gets very loud when she sees the postman, Fed Ex or UPS.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Favorite toy is a little pink bear attached to a tiny blankie. It came with her from her foster home.

What is Piper's best quality?

She’s very copacetic, very zen-like.

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

Make her a faster walker.

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

Audrey Hepburn.

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

What was your life like before you were rescued?

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 19, 2012

Alison Pace & Carlie

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi, that's me, Alison Pace, I'm a writer living in New York City, and that's my dog, Carlie. She's a 7-year old West Highland white terrier.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We're celebrating the release of my new book, You Tell Your Dog First. It's about life with dogs and the many ways in which dogs connect people to the world. It's also a lot about life in New York City and how it feels to live here. Carlie features very prominently in the book. That's her on the cover.

What's brewing?

Green Mountain Coffee Nantucket Blend that I make in my mini Keurig (a life changing purchase), 2% milk, and 1 packet of sugar in the raw.

If not that, Carlie and I walk around the corner to Joe. They have excellent, excellent coffee there, and a designated spot to tie your dog up right outside.

Any treats for you or Carlie on this occasion?

As I type this, Hurricane Sandy is headed toward New York City so we're looking forward to peanut butter sandwiches and wine if the power goes out.

Carlie is actually a little anxious in advance of the storm so she appears to not be eating anything.

How did Carlie get her name? Any nicknames?

I got Carlie when she was about a year and a half old so she already had her name. I'd spent years trying to think of the perfect dog name for when I finally got a dog but she really knew her name so I didn't want to change it. Change, as we know, can be hard, and Carlie had had a lot of it. I'm not sure how it started but Carlie's nickname is Noodle. Also, Noosie, Noo and The Noo.

You write about a few bad dates in You Tell Your Dog First, your first nonfiction book after five novels. Who is first to sense a relationship is doomed, you or Carlie? And when Carlie is unenthusiastic about a friend or date, is she likely to give that person a second chance?

Ha. I'd have to go with Carlie on that one. I have a pretty big optimistic streak which might just be a nice way of saying that I'm not super fast on the uptake when it comes to identifying doom. Carlie can definitely warm up (a little) to someone to whom she was initially cool. But if she is really fond of a person, it happens right away.

How were you and Carlie united?

Fate! Timing! Also I was looking for a dog and Carlie was a show dog who was not winning and needed a home.

Who are your dog's best pet-pals?

Carlie is very popular. We live in a building that is home to many, many dogs so she has a lot of pals here.

And we go to off-leash hours in Central Park every morning and she's got friends there as well. Her favorites, off the top of my head: Emme, a French Bulldog; Cooper, a pug; Jacko, a Labradoodle and Lizzie, a Havanese. Also, Ian, a fellow Westie.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

She has one of those balls that has little feet on it. Hers is bright green and she loves it.

What is Carlie's best quality?

She is very sweet and kind. And also very smart.

If Carlie could change one thing about New Yorkers, what would it be?

They would all carry treats to give her.

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

Michelle Dockery who plays Lady Mary Crawley on Downton Abbey.

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

Are you happy? (I hope the answer would be yes.)

Visit Alison Pace's website.

Pace's novels include If Andy Warhol Had a Girlfriend, Pug Hill and its sequel, A Pug’s Tale, and City Dog.

Read more about You Tell Your Dog First.

The Page 69 Test: City Dog.

The Page 99 Test: You Tell Your Dog First.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 16, 2012

Kristina Zambrano & Kovack

Who is in the photo at right?

In the picture is me, Kristina Zambrano, and my dog, Kovack.  I'm a pet photographer. Kovack is a 7-year-old golden retriever.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I usually don’t drink coffee when I take Kovack to the park but this time actually was a golden retriever meet-up and we have snacks and drinks (I already drank mine when I got my photo taken).

What's brewing?

Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha.

Any treats for you or Kovack on this occasion?

Sure, we have a dog treat and human treats.

How were you and Kovack united?

Let’s say he came just at the right time when I need it the most. I had loss my 3-month-old Siberian husky puppy, who was killed by a veterinarian. So my parents made arrangements for me to get a mysterious envelope on my birthday, and the envelope said meet at 5pm and get me a name ... Oh it was the most wonderful b-day I ever had.

How did Kovack get his name? Any nicknames?

We made a sort of clerk (the kind of Catholic Pope does to choose their new Pope?): we gathered many theme names. He was to be named after a TV series character. We had to go with the flow so since my family are pretty much Doctors (MD) and the other half Engineers; we choose The X-Files and ER TV shows for names ... Kovack’s dog momma was named Dana (X-Files) and his Dad was named by a monarchy Kings (Angus). We had several names such as Mulder, Skinner, Doe, Krycek etc etc; for the other side Carter, Noah, Luka, Green, Kovac. So I looked at the meanings of those names and there he was--Kovac(k): almighty visitor from the 4 elements, fire, water, air and air ...and his name was chosen ... Nicknames: oh yes, we call him the Croatian, Mr. Fuzzy pants, the blondy, Galan (Handsome in Spanish).

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Poodles ... yep, he hates them and we don’t even know why.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Wilson’s, tug ropes, did I mentioned he loves Wilson’s Balls? ... He kinda obsessed with those balls.

Does Kovack have a favorite place to go for walk?

Yes--parks. He loves a good romp at the park, the bigger the better ...

Who is Kovack's best pet-pal?

A cocker spaniel named Irusha, a Yorkie named Dino, and a Rottweiler and a Dalmatian (I keep always forgetting their names).

What is Kovack's best quality?

I so totally think he was a Runaway model in his past life or a Celebrity; really, you get the camera out and he’s ready to pose...

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

He already did ... now I am a volunteer photographer at the local rescue to help those lonely furry hearts in need.

What is your dog's proudest moment?

He hasn't had one...yet.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Kovack could talk, who should voice him?

Definitely Tom Hanks or Robin Williams.

Visit Kristina Zambrano's website and the [K9] Studio • Photography website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jehanne Dubrow & Argos

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Jehanne Dubrow (poet, essayist, Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House, and Assistant Professor of creative writing at Washington College). My most recent collections of poetry is Red Army Red, published in autumn 2012 by Northwestern University Press. And, that polar-bear puppy on the right is Argos. He’s a six-year-old Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

On days when I don’t have meetings or student conferences, I’ll sometimes bring Argos with me to my office on the second floor of the Rose O’Neill Literary House. I have a “puppy gate” that prevents him from wandering, a stuffed purple octopus, and a good supply of treats. Argos likes to lie under my desk and curl around my feet while I answer emails.

What's brewing?

My husband and I love Nespresso; we have machines at our separate offices as well as ones at home. When I’m at work, I usually make a few shots of espresso using my shiny red Nespresso machine. I add a little bit of sugar-in-the-raw. It’s important to have a secret supply of cookies as well.

Any treats for you or Argos on this occasion?

Again, cookies are essential, not only for maintaining blood sugar levels but also for keeping up morale. Argos gets little salmon bites: stinky, delicious, and also good for his morale. If I’m being extra silly, I let Argos drink his water out of a porcelain espresso cup.

How did Argos get his name? Any aliases?

Argos is named for the loyal hound of Odysseus in Homer’s The Odyssey. When Odysseus returns to Ithaca in disguise, after a twenty-year absence (first ten years in the Trojan War, followed by another decade trying to get home), Argos is the first one to recognize him. Because my husband and I met and fell in love at St. John’s College, often referred to as “The Great Books School,” it’s almost a requirement of our degree that we name our dog after some character from a classic of Western literature. Even more fittingly, my husband is now career Navy—a sailor like Odysseus—and Argos often functions as the main companion to my modern-day Penelope.

Argos goes by many names: Mangy Dog, Nutters, Fuzzy Nutkin, the WonderPup, the Wheat-a-bixen, or just Bixen.

His official, full name is Argos Dubrow The Wheaten Terrier Lambikins Schaub.

How were you and Argos united?

I had just reached the stage in my PhD program where I was now “ABD” (All But Dissertation), my coursework done, my writing supported by a wonderful research fellowship. My husband and I had been talking for several years about the possibility of a dog: something fuzzy for me, something sturdy enough for my husband to walk without humiliation. I remember that I was sitting on the living room floor, drafting a poem, when my husband slowly opened the front door and a tiny brown body entered the room: all black button nose and dark paws. That was my first meeting with Argos.

Does Argos contribute to your writing?

Argos always keeps me company when I’m drafting or revising; he likes to lie under the couch or slowly steal the corner of my blanket, a I tap-tap on my laptop. Argos is an essential figure in my third book, Stateside (Northwestern UP, 2010), which addresses my experiences as a military spouse through the Before, During, and After of a deployment. At least four poems in the collection mention Argos directly. Here’s one from the opening section of Stateside:


     You lead the puppy past the moored boat.
He nuzzles sand, runs to where the waves break,
     snaps at lacquered fish that swim near shore.
You let him off the leash, because you like
     to see the freedom of a loosened thing,
a ball releasing from a hand, a voice
     untying from the collar of the throat.
Each day you walk a little farther, then bring
     him home to me, his tail a muddy spike,
his body soggy as a kitchen mop.
     We don’t wring him dry but watch him shake
the ocean out, watch him rub his face across
     the carpet until he falls asleep, sopping,
curled tightly as a seashell on the floor.

Who are Argos's best pet-pals?

My parents have a madcap Tibetan Terrier named Metro (we call him Turbo). Although Metro is three years younger and is small enough to run under Argos’ belly, the two dogs play as if they’re littermates. Their games seem to have mutually agreed upon rules. For instance, the kitchen is a “safe zone” and the dining room table must be circled at least a dozen times at speeds no less than a full-out run.

Rabbit, postman, cat....?

Argos is a lover not a hater. He’s never met anything that he didn’t want to lick. I believe that Argos sees the world as made up of different sizes and shapes of dogs. Men?—tall dogs. Squirrels?—fast-moving, tree-climbing dogs. Rabbits?—shy, nose-twitching dogs. Girls?—flower-scented dogs.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

For years, one of Argos’ favorite toys was a two-dollar stuffed polyester bone from the drugstore. My mother bought it for him for Hannukah, and the toy was embroidered with the word “KOSHER.” This bone became the only toy he would acknowledge in a pile full of expensive, boutique toys made from natural lambs wool, organic cotton, and indestructible ballistic nylon. He loved that Kosher bone so much that it eventually smelled like a real bone, the squeaker lost its squeak, and the blue and white fleece turned brown.

is Argos's best quality?

I call Argos “The Ambassador,” because he makes friends with everybody. He wags first, asks questions later. When we walk the streets of Chestertown, people often call out “Hi, Argos!” He’s a celebrity at the Saturday Farmer’s Market, a regular visitor to the local businesses, and a greeter on all the sidewalks in downtown.

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

I am his groomer. Every three weeks we hop in the shower together, after which I pour medicine in his ears, force him to towel dry in the sun, and eventually spend two hours cutting and brushing his hair. I suspect Argos would rather I allowed him to roll in a pile of moldy leaves or let him rub his face across the lawn until his beard turned green.

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

You mean Argos can’t speak? To whom have I been speaking for the past six years?!

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

I would ask Argos, “What are you dreaming about when your legs start to twitch in sleep and you make that little, close-mouthed bark?”

Visit Jehanne Dubrow's website and blog.

Writers Read: Jehanne Dubrow (April 2010).

Writers Read: Jehanne Dubrow (November 2012).

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, November 12, 2012

Kathy Opie & Dillon and Dublin

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Kathy Opie, wife and mother of three children, twenty-three, nineteen and seventeen. I am a writer who also works part-time as a receptionist at Microsoft.

My dogs Dillon and Dublin are black pugs. Dillon is a seven year old male and Dublin is the female and she is four and half years old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I promised myself a Starbuck’s pumpkin spice latte now that they are back in season. We are on our way to Luther Burbank dog park on the shores of Lake Washington near Seattle.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

We always bring a couple of treats for our puggies. This time it’s Zuke’s Mini Naturals; high in flavor low in calories. As you can see our Dublin [photo left] is a tad overweight. We call them “potty treats” because we are trying to reinforce not “going” in the house but outside on the grass. It was difficult training Dublin, whose breeder had taught her to potty in a kitty litter box inside a dog pen. Once outside the pen and away from her box, she felt any surface made for a good place to “go”. She also didn’t like going outside where it was cold and wet. Dillon soon followed her example. We’ve found the treats and lots of praise have greatly improved the amount of “accidents” we have in the house.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Dillon was a surprise birthday gift for our three children. My husband Paul researched black pug breeders and found one outside the Portland, OR area who would be having a litter of puppies born around the end of November. All three of our children have their birthday within the same week, so the timing was perfect! Paul discovered he was interviewed as much as a potential pug parent for our new puppy as he was asking questions of the breeder. We didn’t care if our puppy was a boy or girl, just healthy. Then a very sad thing happened. Paul’s mother fell seriously ill and he was called home to see her at the hospital. During his visit he called to tell me of her sudden passing. The phone rang minutes later and I heard the catch in Paul’s voice as he wistfully informed me that the puppies had been born. It was August. I told him we would name the puppy Dillon after his mother. “She would have liked that,” I could feel Paul’s smile and then I heard him hang up the phone too emotional to continue our conversation. Dillon [photo right] came home to us all six wiggly black wrinkly furry pounds of him late in November, much to the squeals and shrieks of our delighted children and exchange student. We call him Dilbert or Dill pickles sometimes.

After a year or so we realized that we didn’t have enough pug for our family. Everyone kept fighting over lap time, cuddle, snuggle and play time. We decided Dillon needed a sibling and so I asked my husband for a new pug for my birthday in May. I wanted a fawn pug to match our black pug and again Paul found a breeder. This time our breeder lived in Olympia, WA. The visits were easier and this time weren’t in secret. Deciding on a name this time was easy. Our kids decided they wanted a name that would match Dillon’s. It needed to be Irish and begin with a D. Our eldest daughter found Dublin on an internet list and it stuck. We often call her Dubs, or Dubbie. Dublin’s mother was a beautiful apricot fawn, her father a strong show black pug named Dillon. Her mother threw seven pups all black except one male. Our breeder insisted with an alpha male like Dillon we needed to chose a female for our next dog. We ended up with two black pugs. We picked her up at the breeder the end of may and it was love at first sight. Dublin although a black pug has a slight sable tinge to her coat, especially in summer. Dublin is generally the “alpha” of our dogs except when it comes to food, where Dillon will exert his “alpha” tendencies.

Do your dogs contribute to your writing?

This is my first writing about my dogs, but it has been so much fun that I will continue doing more of it.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Dublin loves her brother Dillon and our youngest cat Misha. I will catch them napping on the back of the couch soaking up the sun in the afternoon. Dillon loves his soccer ball and most any furry squeaky toy. They both love playing with all of us.

What is each dog's best quality?

Dillon is a very handsome pug who struts with confidence and is loyal to his family. He will bark and sniff at anyone new who comes to call. Dublin is a very friendly dog who loves being with people. She seems to have a continual “smile” on her face and makes you feel like you are the most favorite person she has ever seen, even if you’ve been home several times in one day.

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

They would ask for more walks and probably more treats. The first we should grant, the second we should do less of.

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

I think Dillon being a handsome compact pug with attitude would make a great Mark Wahlberg. Dublin’s voice would definitely be Ellen Degeneres. I can imagine her friendly perky voice coming from Dublin. Dublin is definitely larger than Ellen but the personalities are too great a match for me to dismiss.

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

Dillon: “What do you think of us?” With those large pensive, eager eyes, I would love to know what you are thinking.

Dublin: “What would you like to do or be if you were a human being? With that winning personality you could do just about anything.”

Visit Kathy Opie's A Little Something to Chew On blog and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 9, 2012

Emily McClelland & Dante, Daisy Boo and Sampson

Who is in the photo at right?

Hello, I’m Emily McClelland. I recently graduated in Aerospace Technology but somehow fell into working for my local newspaper. To the right is Sampson, my 17-month-old Great Dane; the handsome jet black man is Dante, the 4-year-old Labradoodle; and the gorgeous blonde is Miss Daisy Boo who is 2.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I try to take at least one member of the pack out each weekend for coffee, or a meal. We are quite lucky to live in a fairly dog friendly part of the UK; I even took Sampson to a dog friendly car museum last month!

What's brewing?

I’m partial to a nice milky latte; the dogs, however, if they are lucky and after cold wet walks, might have a nice bowl of hot sugarless tea.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Unfortunately not this time. Dante is on a diet, much to his disgust- so we don’t treat the others when he is around. When they get a treat it's normally in the form of a big fat juicy raw marrow bone from the butchers or some homemade ‘pup cakes’.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Dante was named by my younger brother after one of his favourite video game characters at the time, it was either Dante…or Leon. I preferred the former! Dante is called ‘Dants’ or ‘Allamants’.

Miss Daisy Boos name came out of the blue on my 7 hour journey back home with her. I was trying to think of floral names to suit her and Daisy seemed the best for her personality--the Boo was added shortly afterwards! We called her ‘Lil’ Boos’ or ‘Boo Boos’ the most often.

Sampson’s name came after a few days with him; I originally was going to call him Dufresne but after I picked him up his name didn’t fit him. Sampson spent the first few days with me down at my Uni in London before I moved out, so me and my house mates just called him ‘Pupster’. I eventually decided on Sampson after my late rabbit who had gone to the bridge a year early. Sampson actually wears the rabbit Sampson’s British rabbit council foot ring on his dog tags. His nicknames are ‘Sana’, ‘The Sana-Man’, ‘Sampy Sana squashed Banana’and ‘Butt-butt’…don’t ask.

How were you and your dogs united?

Dante was my first dog and I was suffering terrible allergies at the time so we opted for a ‘ hypo-allergenic dog’ but we were adamant we wanted a large sized one, so I travelled 2 hours to the border of Scotland to pick him up. After 2 years I wanted to get Dante a brother or sister and after a few months of deliberation and when I was working in Southampton at the time, there was a local advert for large labradoodles--I went to have a ‘look’ and as they say the rest was history!

Sampson was actually a gift from my Mum; I had wanted a Great Dane for some time and was planning to get one after I had finished my degree. Whilst I was studying for my final exams I had a phone call from a Great Dane breeder saying she had been given my number by my Mum, a very nice surprise. The mother pups were born a few days later and I was given pick of the litter, so I chose the only harlequin boy, my Sampson!

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Definitely each other, but they do have a lot of other doggy friends we meet for walks too.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Cat, cat cat!

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

All of them, preferably at once!

What is each dog's best quality?

Dante is the most caring, well-mannered relaxed dog I have ever met, nothing ever phases him--I often joke he is everyone’s dog because he loves every stranger he meets.

Daisy Boo is insanely sweet with a tail that never stops wriggling; along with that she has a everlasting smile plastered to her face.

Sampson is a perpetual pup; I honestly don’t think he will ever grow up. His daft antics always brighten up my day.

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

I think they would change the fact that I work full time; I think they would love it if I was at home constantly. I also think Dante would love it if I took him off the diet he was on and fed him a bit more!

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

Dante would be voice by Christopher Lee: there is something old and wise about it that would seem to suit him.

Daisy Boo would be voiced by Mellissa Rauch-- but her in voice in the role of Bernadette in The Big Bang Theory: it definitely suits Daisy Boo’s sweet yet shy nature.

Sampson would be Adam Sandler every time.

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

I would ask them if I was doing right by them and if I could make them happier.

Visit Emily McClelland's Smile With Your Tail blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Dayna Lorentz & Peter and Kerry

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Dayna Lorentz, author of the Dogs of the Drowned City series from Scholastic and No Safety in Numbers, the first book in a trilogy from Dial. With me are Peter, the handsome yellow Pug-Boston Terrier mix (or Pugston, as we call him), and Kerry, the lovely if marginally overweight Pug-Jack Russell Terrier mix (or Jack Puggle Terror, as we call her). They’re both shelter rescues, and we think they’re around nine years old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Peter enjoys an outing, and Kerry’s trying to work off a caffeine addiction. Just kidding! They love to follow me around wherever I go.

What's brewing?

That would be a Caramel Macchiato for me, a black coffee for Pete, and a Mocha for Kerry.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

I’ll take a multigrain bagel toasted with cream cheese, Pete and Kerry will split an egg sandwich.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Peter got his name from the foster mother who cared for him. We liked the name and kept it. He is most commonly referred to as Peetles or my Bud-dog, though recently I’ve taken to calling him Budsy-woofer.

Kerry’s full name is Kerry Edwards because we got her right before the 2004 election and were hoping that naming the dog this way would swing the election in our favor. She is called the Bird-dog because when we first got her and tried to crate train her, she would whistle like a bird when left in the crate. It was bizarre, completely undogly!

How were you and your dogs united?

Internet dating, also known as

Do your dogs contribute to your writing?

In the sense that they contribute to my sanity, yes.

What's the connection of your dogs to the dogs in your Dogs of the Drowned City series?

I based two of the dogs in Dogs of the Drowned City on my pets! Callie, who is Shep’s loyal friend throughout the series, is based entirely on Kerry. Any time I wondered what Callie would do, I merely looked at the Bird-dog and immediately got an idea. Frizzle, the tough French bulldog, is based on Peter. He will pick a fight with any dog in the park, even if they outweigh him by fifty pounds. He’s not afraid to hump the leg of a Rottweiler to show that dog who’s boss.

Rabbit, postman, cat....?

Kerry has a thing for squirrels and chipmunks. She loves to hunt little rodents. However, she has not, as of yet, had much success in that department. As for cats, her best friend is our Maine Coon cat, Oscar.

Peter is not terribly interested in hunting. He’s more of a couch snuggler.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Peter will go nuts for a plastic squeaky toy. Kerry loses it for Red Dot, a laser pointer.

What is each dog's best quality?

Peter is the best friend I could have hoped for. Kerry is an excellent guard dog and my exercise buddy.

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

They would make me let them upstairs so they could sleep on the bed.

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

My brother does this voice for Peter which seems totally wrong to me, but has kind of infected my thinking on the matter. Still, Pete’s a tough guy—maybe Bruce Willis? For Kerry, I think maybe Felicia Day or Alyson Hannigan.

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

I’m not sure I have any questions for Peter. We understand each other without words.

Kerry: From whence does the extreme anxiety come?

Visit Dayna Lorentz's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue