Monday, December 31, 2012

Cheryl Norman & Ginger


In July 2009 Cheryl Norman, romantic mystery novelist and author of a couple of cookbooks, and her poodle Ginger were guests here on the blog.

From the Q & A:
How did the dog come to be united with you?

Good question. Just two weeks before I bought Ginger, I swore to friends I’d never have a dog in my house. Those same friends have never let me live down that declaration! My husband and I were volunteers at a camping rally, a Good Sam Samboree, and this couple from Niceville brought their poodles and babies, five puppies who were barely six weeks old. I was admiring the puppies, and one of the females latched on to me. I picked her up, she looked at me, and that was that. She picked me. Later, when I took her home, she slept all night the first night and never cried for her mother. She behaved as if she was home ... and she was!
Read the complete interview.

For more about Cheryl Norman, visit her web site. For information about her latest Route 66 stories, visit

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cheryl McLean & Coach and Willow

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Cheryl McLean and I am a high school librarian who happens to also raise guide dog puppies with my husband Fred for Southeastern Guide Dogs. This is Coach, our fourth Southeastern puppy. Coach is a male, black goldador (1/4 golden retriever, ¾ labrador) and he turned 9 months old this month.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I am sitting on my back porch relaxing with a good book (The Treachery of Beautiful Things), listening to the waterfall of the koi pond. Coach, Willow and I often sit out on the back porch and relax because being a guide dog puppy can be taxing and having some down time is good for Coach. Willow is a bit of a sun goddess and she likes to lie on the deck by the pond. I always stay under the awning, in the shade and keep Coach by my side. Florida is nice for being able to sit outside and enjoy the weather in December.

What's brewing?

I make a special cold brew with Community Coffee. I take a pound of Community Coffee with chicory (the New Orleans coffee) and add it to one gallon of water. Then I let it sit in the fridge for 24 hours. After 24 hours, I strain it and I have a great coffee concentrate. That’s what I drink with milk every morning! Some mornings I might add a dash of sweetened condensed milk, just to change it up a bit. Nice and strong!

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

I made some pumpkin treats that I found online to give as Christmas gifts to all our doggie friends and to hand out as favors at our Southeastern Guide Dog Christmas Puppy Brunch. We had 25 puppy raisers and 15 dogs all at our house for brunch! It was quite a scene! All the puppies were very well behaved.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Coach is named after Coach Dominich Ciao, our head football coach at Berkeley Preparatory School. One of our students, Austin Iglehart, raised $3500, all by himself during the Southeastern walkathon to name the puppy.

We have our own pet, a 12 year old chocolate lab female named Willow, who is named after the character in Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series.

How were you and your dogs united?

When I found out that Austin was trying to name a puppy, I told him that if he reached the $3500, I would raise it for him. I have been raising and bringing all my pups to school. The last two pups were named by Student Forum, our student government for upper division. Austin went with me to pick up Coach from the school.

Please tell us about your work training guide dogs for the blind.

Puppy raisers are the second stop on a guide dogs long journey before being matched with a visually impaired person. The first stop is the loving staff at the kennel nursery, then the puppy is assigned a sponsor, given a name and given to a puppy raiser. We usually have our puppies from 9 weeks to 13 to 15 months old. Our job is to teach them basic obedience and some very specific skills that Southeastern has trained us to do (such as directional skills, or how to get a dog to go under a chair properly). One of the most important things that we do is socialize the puppy. We take him or her everywhere with us: restaurants, movie theaters, plays, football games, etc. The reasoning behind it is that you want the puppy acclimated to the activity so that when the visually impaired owner takes him or her to the movies, it isn’t the dog’s first experience there. They know what to expect.

Consequently, all the funny, bizarre, and embarrassing things usually happen to the puppy raisers. And they mostly involve poo. Well, 50% of the time.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Coach is pretty good, but a lizard or a good sized grasshopper, he will divert his attention for that!

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

He isn’t allowed to have those toys. He can’t have a toy that he might encounter in real life and be distracted by (people throwing balls). So his favorite toy is a Kong Wubba.

What is each dog's best quality?

Coach is our first calm puppy. He is super sweet and sits to greet everyone. In fact, most people just fall in love with him and his calm nature.

Willow is forgiving and loving. If you are going to introduce a puppy to a dog, you need Willow in your house. She is the best!

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

I sing to them and I am tone deaf. I’m sure they would want me to stop!

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

Coach would need Owen Wilson, because he has a little bump on his muzzle like Owen has a bump on his nose. They aren’t classically handsome. And I have to go with Alyson Hannigan for Willow. It’s a natural.

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

Coach: Why don’t you like riding in the car?

Willow: What makes catching a Frisbee so fun?

Visit the McLean Puppy Chronicles blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Debra Lockhart & Ray-Ray

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Debra Lockhart and I am a mother, grandmother, volunteer, a manager in a large bank, and a Pit Bull advocate. I am pictured here with my Ray-Ray who just turned 1 in December, but this picture was taken when he was much smaller. Ray is, according to his DNA test, an American Bulldog, Boxer, unidentified mix breed dog but according to his block head, he is a Pit Bull. I write a blog about Ray's escapades at Peaceabull Assembly, which refers to him and his kitty siblings co-existing here.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Ray and I get up early every morning to spend some bonding time before we start the day. On weekdays that can be anywhere between 4:30 and 5:30 am. Snuggles from Ray and a big pot of coffee are just the ticket to start the day right.

What's brewing?

It has to be Starbucks French Roast, whole bean and I grind them at home fresh every day and drink it black, no sugar.

Any treats for you or Ray on this occasion?

While my coffee is brewing, Ray and his kitty siblings line up for their morning treats of Duck flavored Carnivore Crunch.

How did you and Ray first meet?

I got a call from a friend of a friend who knew I was involved in rescue and also that I had a fondness for the bully breeds. She wanted to rehome her pregnant female, Sparkles, and her male dog, Kane, both of whom were living on a chain outside. As the Rescue was looking for placement, I got another call from the woman that the female was giving birth and that the puppies were dying. It was December 1st and 32 degrees outside. I left work to pick up her dogs and we got them into rescue where Ray and his sister were born.

How did Ray get his name? Any aliases?

I had been getting the urge to have a dog for quite a while but my husband wasn't sold on the idea yet. When we actually decided to adopt one of the "Sparkle pups" I suggested we name him Ray, after my husband's favorite football player, Ray Lewis. He also goes by Ray-Ray, Baby, Fat Head and Pup-Pup-a-roni.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Yes, yes, and yes. Ray loves all of the above and will play endlessly with them all.

Cat, mailman, squirrel...?

Ray loves his cats and would like nothing more than to play with them but unfortunately they don't share the sentiment. As for mailman and squirrel, Ray has really had no exposure to either.

Does Ray have a favorite place to go for outings?

Ray knows what it means to "go shopping." We visit our local Tractor Supply for some socialization and bully sticks nearly every week. We also visit several stores in the nearby city as often as we can.

Who are Ray's best pet-pal?

That would be our kitty, Jae, who often sits near Ray. The other two keep a pretty good distance.

What is Ray's best quality?

He is very smart and learns quickly, but I'd say the very best quality is his cuddliness. I love snuggling with Ray on the sofa and watching TV. He is an excellent cuddler.

If Ray could change one thing about your cats, what would it be?

He would want them to be more playful. He loves playing with kitty toys and I know he would love to play with the cats too.

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

"Why are you obsessed with eating wood?"

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

We'd have to step into the wayback machine, but I imagine Ray's voice to be like the little boy(s) who played Dominick in Kindergarten Cop.

Visit the A Peace-a-Bull Assembly blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 24, 2012

Steven D. Hales & Sophie


In July 2009 philosopher Steven Hales and Sophie were guests here on the blog.

From the Q & A:
What was your inspiration behind the book "What Philosophy Can Tell You About Your Dog?"

There’s a recent trend in philosophy to write books that try to bring our ideas out of the ivory tower, and aim to show the philosophical issues that underlie the most prosaic activities and interests. For example, Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt’s essay "On Bullshit" was a #1 New York Times bestseller, and Stanford philosophers Ken Taylor and John Perry host a philosophical radio show. And respected presses like Open Court and Blackwell have launched whole series of books devoted to popular philosophy. I’ve tried to make some modest contributions to this endeavor, and "What Philosophy Can Tell You About Your Dog" is one. So my inspiration was to show pet lovers a way into philosophy, how the life of the mind is intimately connected with one’s life with dogs.

So what does philosophy have to say about dogs?

The classic dogs vs. cats joke is that dogs think, “my people keep me warm and dry, feed me good food, pet me, brush me, and play with me. They must be gods!” Cats, on the other hand, think, “my people keep me warm and dry, feed me good food, pet me, brush me, and play with me. I must be a god!” But what really goes on in our dogs' heads? Here's where philosophy of mind comes in, looking at questions like these: Are guide dogs for the blind literally an extension of their owner’s mind? Was French philosopher RenĂ© Descartes right in maintaining that dogs are mere automata, mindless, soulless, clock-like mechanisms without language or love? If our dogs think, then do insects think as well? If bees are just biological robots, then why aren’t dogs? There's ethical questions too: Do even dogs have a dignity that we must respect? Do our dogs really have moral rights, or is it just anthropomorphizing to think so? Why does Aristotle think that our dogs cannot be good dogs unless we are good masters? Is it wrong to shower our dogs with too many luxuries? Even logicians can get in on the act. In 1615 King James of Scotland and England (of King James Bible fame) hosted a debate on the use of logic by dogs. I'm not going to tell you who won.
Read the complete interview.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Free book: "Part Wild"

Scribner and the Campaign for the American Reader are giving away a copy of Part Wild: One Woman's Journey with a Creature Caught Between the Worlds of Wolves and Dogs by Ceiridwen Terrill.

HOW TO ENTER: Visit the Campaign for the American Reader Facebook page, scroll down, and "like" the post for Part Wild.

Contest closes on Monday, January 14th. Winner must have a US mailing address. Good luck!

Visit Ceiridwen Terrill's website.

Read more about Part Wild: One Woman's Journey with a Creature Caught Between the Worlds of Wolves and Dogs.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Ceiridwen Terrill and Argos.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 21, 2012

Barbara Boswell Brunner & Izzy and Morgan

Who is in the photo at right?

Izzy is the star of this photo! Isabella Barkalina to those who wish to be more formal. I, author Barbara Boswell Brunner, am just her supporting cast. Izzy is a 5-year-old, feisty, female Parson Russell Terrier and one of the stars of Dog-Ma, the Zen Of Slobber.

Morgan [below left], an 8-year-old mellow Rottweiler, is our other furry companion. She loves going out to the coffee shop, but folks tend to be a little afraid of her, being a “ferocious Rottie”. Those of you with Rotties will catch the sarcasm here. They are as far from ferocious as you can get. Every one I have ever met has been a big sweet couch potato.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Izzy accompanies us almost everywhere, including to the coffee shop.

She gets to check out her pee-mail and cavort with her buddies.

What's brewing?

Today we are sipping on La Colombe’s Corsica blend, black, over ice. It is hot here today and the ice coffee helps get us our day going.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Izzy cannot have treats. She has super bad allergies. Her constant companion is her Epi pen. If she could, though, she would love a croissant with lots of melted butter. Morgan’s not so picky. Anything that remotely resembles food will suffice as a treat.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Morgan was named when we were in a “car phase” of naming dogs. Her nickname is Greenbean – given to her when she was on a huge diet to get her from 165 to her current weight of 120. Greenbeans were her favorite allowable treat.

Izzy’s name took us a long time to come up with – almost a week after we adopted her. She was always so busy and the name Busy Izzy sort of stuck. She also known as Sweetpea, Peanut and Kujo.

How were you and your dogs united?

Morgan came to us through a friend who knew a home breeder who had just had a new litter. We had recently lost our sweet Sutton. We needed to fill that hole in our heart that any dog lover is familiar with, when you lose a furry friend.

Izzy was a rescue from a puppy-mill pet shop. They were going to put her down due to a bad bout of pneumonia. We took her home, nursed her back to health and the rest is history.

Please tell us about your book, Dog-Ma: the Zen of Slobber.

Barbara's vivid and dramatic stories, told with a wicked sense of humor, will make you laugh out loud. She definitely gets what living with rescued dogs (nine of them!) is all about.
When Barbara meets her future husband, Ray, it is love-and dog-at first sight. Over the course of thirty-two years, seventeen relocations and nine dogs, their mutual love of dogs guides them on their unconventional path. The love that Barbara and Ray get in return is literally lifesaving, with one dog attacking a lethal intruder and another discovering Barbara’s cancer. Her own survival story underscores the story of how her dogs become survivors themselves.

Each new dog adds its own dynamic to the family, sometimes upending it. From Turbo (whose Spock-like ears may have provided super powers), Barbara learns about the will to live; Lexington demonstrates incredible patience and an inexplicable love of golf; Madison teaches that laughter is truly the best medicine and that the whole “nine lives thing” is not reserved just for cats; Morgan should be sainted for tolerating Izzy, who is as cute as she is bad. Barbara is certain that somewhere in doggie heaven there is a poster that says “If you are sick, injured or in need of really expensive medical care, FIND THESE HUMANS!”

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

For Izzy it is geckos – those tiny little reptilian creatures Florida is overrun with. She will chase them all day long, although she never catches them.

Morgan loves to chase planes. Yep. And not the low flying ones or helicopters. Her preference is chasing the jets flying at 35,000 feet. She is hilarious and one of these days we will post a video on YouTube.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Izzy will play with almost anything. She is easily entertained, but her favorite it a 2” orange and blue basketball. She carries it with her everywhere. We have to keep spares on hand if it ever gets lost.

Morgan is not a “player”. The occasional bone or rawhide is all she ever wants. Or a United 747.

What is each dog's best quality?

Morgan’s best quality is her patience and tolerance for Izzy’s antics. Izzy’s best quality is her sweetness when she snuggles at night.

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

Since Dog-Ma is about all of my dogs, here is my list of voice-over candidates, in order of when they came into our lives.

Kashi [photo above right] – an elegant Doberman – Dame Judi Dench

Turbo – a seriously goofy Doberman – Eddie Murphy

Lexington – a wise old man Rottweiler – Morgan Freeman

Madison [photo left] – an insane Dalmatian/Lab mix – Ellen DeGeneres...Ellen are you listening??

Gus – a wanderlust Brittany – Owen Wilson

Cooper – a cerebral Doberman – Seth McFarlane as Brian

Morgan – the “voice of reason” Rottweiller – Helen Mirren

Izzy – a graceful but powerful terrier – Lucy Liu

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

Floridians, as a rule, are afraid of dogs. If I could change anything it would be their acceptance of dogs in public places, especially on the beach.

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

Izzy – “What will it take to keep you from attacking Morgan?”

Morgan – “Since you have solved the problem of peace in our home so well, what will it take to solve that pesky world peace problem?”

Visit the official Dog-Ma, the Zen Of Slobber website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The best dog books of 2012

Dorri Olds is a New York-based writer and web designer, ably assisted by her purebred Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Buddy James.

At, she named ten of the best dog books of 2012, including:
What the Dog Ate by Jackie Bouchard

Maggie Baxter was a practical, rule-following accountant who is never surprised when Kona, her Black Labrador, swallows things, weird things. This isn’t Maggie’s first schlep to the vet after an inedible object got stuck in Kona’s gullet. After paying $800 for Kona’s surgery, Maggie learns that the culprit was a pair of skimpy, sexy, lavender thong undies—that weren’t hers. This is how Maggie discovers Dave, her husband of 17 years, is having an affair. Maggie falls into a wallowing pit and Kona becomes her only companion of choice. She finds herself watching Kona’s joyful approach to life and decides the time has come to do something. Maggie sets her mind to improving life, her attitude, and to letting go of her rigid, type-A personality. Author Bourchard writes in a natural, accessible style and Maggie is a profoundly appealing character that the reader roots for. Yes, it’s about a broken heart, but it’s also quite funny.
Learn more about Jackie Bouchard & Rita.

Read about the other books on the list.

Other friends of Coffee with a Canine to make the grade:
Peter Abrahams & Pearl and Peter Abrahams and Audrey.

Teresa Rhyne & Seamus.
Learn more about Dorri Olds & Buddy James.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Joe and Cathy Connolly & Booth and Bailey

Whose in the photo at the right?

We are Joe and Cathy Connolly — both of us are retired from the Michigan Department of Natural Resource, Parks and Recreation Division.

This is a photo of us with our male German Shepherd Booth, who is 2-1/2 years old, and Bailey, our Brussels Griffon who is 10-1/2 years old.

Booth and Bailey really enjoy us being retired, more road trips for them and no time spent home alone while we're away at work.

Booth gets more time to play ball and run in the woods and Bailey gets more gardening time in.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a canine?

Planning out our play day with our furry kids.

What's brewing?

A big pot of strong French Roast coffee.

Any treats for you and your dogs on this occasion?

Oh Yes!! It is a must in this house, we all have "Honey Nut Cheerios" to start our day.

How did your dogs get their names?

Booth was named after the American novelist Booth Tarkington. He has many aliases some of which are Boopity Booth, and Goofy Boothy. Bailey got her name while we were driving 150 miles home with her and we were trying to figure out a cute name for her. Coming up to an overpass "Bailey Rd." we looked at each other and said Bailey! Then we asked her what she thought and she liked it! Her name was Wilma; she wasn't too fond of that. She too has many aliases, such as Monkey and Bay-Wee-Kins.

How were you and your dogs united?

Bailey. Cathy wanted a Monkey: we thought that wasn't such a good idea so we started looking for a small dog and ended up looking for a Brussels Griffon. When we found her she was 11 months old and had already had 5 homes — yes, 5 homes. The poor baby. She still, after 10 years, gets very worried going in the car for fear that she may be again going to another home and that we will leave her. Because of that we stay with her, for instance, when getting her teeth cleaned at the vets. When she wakes up her mom is holding her. Bless our vet for allowing this constant companionship.

We have always had German Shepherds. After the loss of our "Logan" and the big empty space that left in our house we naturally needed another one. Which always leads to a search of reputable breeders. After finding one it then becomes which child to pick. We chose Booth because of his independence: he didn't care what his littermates were doing, he was grazing grass!

Tell us briefly about your book "If I Should Die Before My Dog__".

Oftentimes when we consider the need to put our personal affairs in order we’re not entirely sure where to begin when we come to one subject near and dear to our hearts: our dogs. We worry and want them to have the best possible future—but where to begin? Theirs is a special case, one that doesn’t quite fit into any of the usual categories. Now, those worries and concerns can be alleviated in one easy-to-use volume that can give you peace of mind and your four-legged friend a comfortable, prepared-for future.

Our book is a comprehensive and interactive list of questions and information-gathering techniques; it will illuminate and help you capture all of the habits and personal information about your pet. It will supply a holistic, well-rounded picture of your dog that gives their new owner the information they need to provide a seamless transition with the utmost care and comfort. From nicknames to ancestry and medical history to microchip information, health insurance and much more, it explores the totality of your dog’s world that gives his or her new family all they need, from day one, to nurture and care for your loved one’s emotional and physical needs.

It is a helpful guide to creating a happy, loving life for your dog should unfortunate circumstances render you incapable of doing so, this book is as helpful as it is comforting. Full of intimate, specific details, it covers every aspect of your pet’s life with concern and care. Providing for the future of your dog while giving you peace of mind, “If I Should Die Before My Dog…” is your chance to revel in the joy of your dog’s life while giving him or her sound, love-filled future.

Rabbit, postman, cat?

For Bailey, none of the above — she spends her time outside "yelling" at Booth and sniffing the entire yard to find out who, what and when anything was in her yard.

Booth on the other hand, loves the postman and jumping into the UPS truck to check out what he has to deliver! Squirrels, birds anything that moves, he loves the chase but always stops short of the catch.

Squeaky toy, ball stick?

Bailey — tiny sticks and balls; for Booth — his favorite is his horse size Jolly Ball.

What's each dog's best quality?

Bailey — it's her unconditional love and devotion.

And for our boy Booth it is definitely his sense of humor!

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

When getting a pet to realize that it should be a "forever commitment" — one that lasts an animal's lifetime!

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

Bailey — Sharon Osbourne, she's funny and has a true deep love for animals and she will argue with anyone if she finds it necessary.

Booth — Nick Nolte, he's a big lumbering kind of guy with a great sense of humor.

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

Bailey what can we do to convince you that we would never give you away?

Booth — what makes you think we have mental telepathy? Because he just walks up and puts his big head on the table and stares at us as if we know what he's asking.

Visit the If I Should Die Before My Dog…” website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 17, 2012

Denny Ray & Vic

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Denny Ray, owner of Pond Wiser Inc, a lake and pond management company that offers goose control too. With me is Vic, a 2-year-old male Border Collie.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Vic and I have coffee together every weekday — and sometimes on weekends too — as we are heading to area ponds for goose control.

What's brewing?

World Market Sumatra — hot and black!

Any treats for you or Vic on this occasion?

After our goose chases, Vic is given a small "good-boy treat." He can't have many treats, b/c he must stay in marathon condition to perform his best for the job.

How were you and Vic united?

My wife and I researched goose control and decided it was a perfect fit for our company to begin offering this type of service using a specially-trained Border Collie. Through our research we came across two well-known trainers in our part of the country and after speaking with both of them, we chose to go to Big Bend Farm in Millboro, VA to see their trained dogs and at that visit decided Vic was the one for us.

How did Vic get his name? Any nicknames?

Vic was his name when we went to look at him. (He was almost 2 by then), so we never considered changing it.

Sometimes when we are talking to him, we call him Victor.

How long have you and Vic been in the goose management business?

We are completing our first season. Vic has been with us for almost a year.

How stubborn are most geese that Vic encounters? That is, once he discourages geese from hanging around pond, do they come back?

The service we offer is goose "control," not goose elimination. It is highly effective and depending on the severity of the problem, is the determining factor of their return. The goal is to not allow nesting.

Does Vic have a favorite place to go for an outing?

If there are geese, he's ready for the command.

What is Vic's best quality?

Vic is extremely intelligent and learns quickly.

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

Not sure about this one. Vic wants to please so he doesn't try to change us, he just tries to understand what we are wanting him to do.

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

Why does he seem scared of things like shovels, rakes, etc? We often wonder if before he was sent to Big Bend Farm if he had been hit by someone.

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

He's a very level-headed, intelligent dog, so I think Dr. Phil.

Visit the Pond Wiser Inc website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 14, 2012

Juliana Willems & Otis

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Juliana Willems. I work marketing and events at my local humane society, I foster mostly "pit bull" dogs and I document it all in my blog Peace, Love & Fostering. The dog with me in the photo is one of my former foster dogs Otis, a two year old mutt (American bull dog? boxer? pointer? pit bull dog?), who is currently staying with me while his forever dad is out of town.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Otis is a big baby and since he doesn't like doing anything without me I bring him along even for my morning coffee.

What's brewing?

Anything from Starbucks. Probably something seasonal - so right now a skim, no whip gingerbread latte.

Otis doesn't need coffee because he becomes instantly caffeinated whenever I return from being gone for more than 30 seconds.

Any treats for you or Otis on this occasion?

I try not to feed him in public so that his drool doesn't take over his entire being.

How did you and Otis first meet?

He was adopted by a friend of mine and it wasn't working out. I offered to dog-sit him when they went away for a weekend and, as you can probably guess, he never went back. I fostered him two separate times (one other adoption didn't work out, poor pup) until he found his perfect forever home. It was worth the wait, because he and his dad are the most perfect pair.

Would you share a bit of insight about your work with foster dogs?

In the past year I've had a handful of both long term and temporary fosters, including dogs from the rescue group I work with, Jasmine's House. Because I work at the county shelter I see how valuable fostering is to open up cage space for the homeless animals that pour in through our doors every day. My foster dogs have all picked me for one reason or another, and even though they've all been adopted, a part of each of them will stay with me forever.

How did Otis get his name? Any nicknames?

Otis came with his name. I absolutely hated it at first, but now I think it totally fits him. His full name when he was looking for a home was Honey Bunches of Otis, and some current nicknames include Oats, Otie, Otie-potie, and dumbo.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

None of the above. To quote Otie's owner: "Otis almost chased a squirrel today. When it ran in front of him he walked a little faster for a few strides."

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Again, none of the above. Your best bet is to take any of those things and cover them with peanut butter before presenting it to him.

Does Otis have a favorite place to go for walk?

Anywhere his human goes - otherwise, he prefers the couch.

Who is Otis's best pet-pal?

He shares a yard with a really cute female mutt-something. They flirt all the time, but they're still in the awkward "I'm pretending I don't really like you" phase. He also has a great BFF relationship with a cocker spaniel who is about 1/3 his size.

What is Otis's best quality?

He makes you feel like you're the coolest person in the world!

And he doesn't destroy the house when I leave (a quality you learn to seriously appreciate when you're continuously getting foster dogs who aren't used to living in a home).

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

He would probably try to make it so that I never went anywhere without him.

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

Do you really think whining makes things all better?

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

Oh, definitely whatever actor played Napoleon Dynamite.

Visit the Peace, Love & Fostering blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Peter Rork & Doyle

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Doyle with me, Peter Rork, riding a sup board on Flathead Lake in Montana.

We are taking a day off from our Dog Is My CoPilot animal rescue flight schedule. DIMC is a nonprofit organization that flies abandoned cats and dogs from kill shelters to parts of the country where they are highly adoptable.

I fly the rescue missions and Doyle, a black lab, is my copilot. Find us at Dog Is My CoPilot. 

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We are in the pre-flight planning room at the airport drinking coffee before going "wheels up" on a rescue flight. We start early in the morning as our missions usually involve seven to eight hours in the air.

What's brewing?

Black coffee, as strong as jet fuel.

Any treats for you or Doyle on this occasion?

We fly with Doyle’s favorite treat on board: dried mango.

How were you and Doyle united?

Doyle is a trained bird dog who could no longer keep up with the younger dogs, so he was thrown away at age seven. I overheard people talking about him and stepped up to make him my best friend. My lucky day!

How did he get his name? Any aliases?

Doyle was named for one of my favorite authors...Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Please tell us about DIMC.

Dog Is My CoPilot is dedicated to saving animals' lives by providing air transportation to abandoned cats and dogs. DIMC decreases the number of animals killed in shelters and increases shelter adoption by flying animals to areas where they are more adoptable.

DIMC works with established nonprofit animal rescue organizations (AROs) to coordinate flights. AROs pull animals from kill shelters (odd phrase, don't you think?) and move them to safety in humane rescues, breed specific rescues, and foster/furever homes. When the distance the animals need to travel is too great for over-the-road transport, DIMC swoops in to fly them.

Our typical mission is more than 600 nautical miles. There is never a fee to the sending or receiving ARO.

You can learn more about DIMC at our website and like us on Facebook.

Does Doyle have a favorite place to go for an outing?

Doyle's happy place is Polson, Montana on Flathead Lake. We share a house on the water.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

"Red rope" is his current favorite.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Doyle does not chase. The "knock on the door" sound on the television gets him going though.

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

Doyle would be happy if I would give him 95% of the bed.

Who is Doyle's best pet-pal?

Doyle’s best pals are the hundreds of fortunate and grateful cats and dogs who are on board the plane as we fly them to homes. Doyle tells them that they are safe and will soon be in loving families.

If Doyle could speak in the movie about your life, who should do his voice?

Tim Allen.

If Doyle could answer just one question in English, what would you ask him?

When is the water too cold for a swim?

Learn more about Dog Is My CoPilot at the DIMC website and like the DIMC Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ceiridwen Terrill & Argos

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Ceiridwen Terrill. I’m a writer and professor at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon. My dog’s name is Argos. He’ll be thirteen this year. A few years back I tested his DNA to find out what breeds went into his mix. The results came back totally inconclusive. He’s so mixed that not even a geneticist could figure him out. Based on appearances and the thickness of his coat, I’d say Argos is a mix of shepherd and husky and a few other tidbits. I call him my 100% pure American street dog.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Argos and I always get coffee on the way to teach my university classes.

What's brewing?

We stop at Anna Bannanas in the St. Johns neighborhood of Portland, Oregon and order a Doot-da-doo, a mix of espresso and chai. You ask for it by saying "Doot da doo me."

Any treats for you or Argos on this occasion?

Argos and I get a breakfast sandwich to share. We love the organic sausage with scrambled egg on a basil pesto bagel. (Argos likes the sausage best.)

How did Argos get his name? Any aliases?

Argos is named for Odysseus’ faithful dog in Homer’s Odyssey. After being away for twenty years, Odysseus returned to his home in Ithaca, but the only one to recognize him was his very old dog Argos. My Argos is an incredibly loyal companion who has accompanied me on many wilderness adventures.

How were you and Argos united?

I found Argos in the pound in Reno, Nevada. He was a few months old and very sick. He’d been living on the streets with his mother and brother. He’d obviously been kicked around because he was nervous about having his head and ears touched, and he was clearly starving out there. When I saw him in that wire kennel, wheezing and sniffling, I squatted down for a closer look at him, and he pushed one of his paws under the gate to touch me. That was it. He was going home with me.

Who are Argos's best pet-pals?

Rooben, a dachshund, is one of his best pals. They sleep on the same giant bed. William and Donald are his other best four-legged pals. William is a thoroughbred ex-show jumper and Donald is a St. Croix hair sheep. Twice a day, morning and evening, Argos walks to the nearby pasture with me to feed and visit them. Sometimes Argos has to watch out because Donald gets playful and tries to head butt him. But mostly Donald just bounces around the pasture when he’s happy and Argos chases him and barks.

Please tell us about your new book.

My new book Part Wild is about my experience raising a wolfdog named Inyo alongside two rescue dogs, Argos and Thelma. The book is framed by my personal story and explores the similarities and differences between wolves and dogs.

Does Argos ever go to school with you?

Argos loves to go to school with me. He goes into the classroom or hangs out in my office while I teach. Students love him.

Elk, deer, beaver, and coyote live near your home. What's the wildest encounter Argos has had with these animals?

The day of my wedding, Argos disappeared into Forest Park, the 5,000-acre urban wilderness surrounding my home. With the wedding cake safely stowed in the fridge, our deck scrubbed and chairs set out, the ceremony was just hours away. I’d led Argos outside to pee when he suddenly picked up a scent and dashed into the trees. Nothing like that had ever happened before—or since. I called and called, bushwhacking a four-mile loop through tangles of sword fern and vine maple--no sign of him. At dusk, sobbing and hardly able to put two words together, I was ready to call off the wedding. Then Argos trotted happily out of the woods, a squirrel in his mouth. My old pal, ordinarily perfect on recall, impervious to distractions, had gone stone deaf in the heat of the chase. I felt terrible for the squirrel, but I was incredibly relieved to see Argos. I was reminded of how much I rely on his steady presence.

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

Argos appreciates how much Portlanders love their dogs, but he wishes they were better about picking up their dog poop, particularly in our urban wilderness of Forest Park. Sometimes, people bag the poop and forget it along the trail. Or they sometimes leave their dog’s business on the open trail for others to step in. Or perhaps worst of all, they kick it off into the brush—poor etiquette and dangerous for wildlife. Argos would really like to tell Portlanders that a dime-size amount of dog poop has about 23 million fecal coliform bacteria that when left in the woods end up in our waterways and cause serious illness in aquatic and other wildlife.

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

Ben Stiller without a doubt. Argos is so much like Stiller’s character, the male nurse Greg Focker, in Meet the Parents. He wants to please so badly and gain approval, but no matter what he does he messes up.

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

Did growing up with a wolfdog turn you into a nervous wreck?

Visit Ceiridwen Terrill's website and read more about Part Wild: One Woman's Journey with a Creature Caught Between the Worlds of Wolves and Dogs.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 7, 2012

Serra Battaloglu & Alex and Zino

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Serra Battaloglu, a 19-year-old university student from Istanbul,Turkey who is training to be a yoga teacher. The dog in the photo is one of my dogs, Alex. He is a 6-year-old male Alsatian. Even though he probably weighs more than 120 lbs, he usually considers himself to be a small petite lapdog.

I also have a another Alsatian who is 5 years old, called Zino.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

A Sunday morning walk at seaside watching the ferries and sailboats.

What's brewing?

Well, I usually prefer the good old Turkish tea to any kind of coffee.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Of course! There is a small teahouse that has all these good pastries. I usually get myself some pastry from there and as soon as the dogs see the tray, they start drooling all over the place. So I usually give in and share my treats with them.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Unfortunately we didn't get to name any of them. They had already been named when we got them.

Alex [photo left] has another official name which is Vemito von der Urbecke since he was bred in a kennel in Germany. After all those years I still wonder why someone would give such a long name to a dog!

How were you and your dogs united?

When our older dog, Pasa, who was a tough rottweiler passed away, our family was left with sorrow. We had another dog who was also an Alsatian called Duman and he was also very old so we knew he wouldn't be around for long.

Personally, I felt like I had too much love in me for animals and I didn't want that love to be spent in vain. I wanted a dog that I could share this love with and eventually I got what I wanted. Actually I have to admit that since I have grown up with dogs, I don't know have a clue on how to live without dogs.

As horrible as that sounds, Alex was adopted by one of our neighbors who had very little love for dogs. Well, they had love for only puppies but not for massive dogs like Alex. As soon as they saw that the cute little puppy was growing into a massive dog, they wanted to give him up. And we were there to take Alex into our life.

Zino [photo right, with Serra's father] is a complete different story. We got Zino from a kennel in Istanbul. Before we got him, we visited his kennel as a family and I remember seeing Zino running all over the kennel and I remember hoping that this wild dog is not the one that we would be bringing home and eventually it turned out he was!

Rabbit, postman,cat....?

For Zino, definitely cats. Just the sight of a cat throws Zino's obedience training into a dustbin.

Alex couldn't care less about these three. I sometimes get the feeling that he actually likes cats! He just has a kind nature.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick....?

For Zino, I would have to say pine cones. Our house is surrounded by huge pine trees and it's not uncommon to have your head hit with the occasional pine cone while walking in the garden.

If Zino finds a cone, he will bring it to you and wait for you to throw it. And when you throw it, he will run after it like it's the Snitch from the Quidditch game. The sad part is, for me the game gets pretty boring after some point and I hate to be the one to end the game and see his disappointed face.

For Alex [photo left], tennis balls are his favorite. The yellower the better. I actually think that there is a love and hate relationship between the balls and Alex. He likes to play with them but he also likes to destroy them by eating them which is usually incredibly gross to clean after.

Which is each dog's best quality?

Alex is the world's most obedient dog as well as being a great hugger and a great kisser. He is an affectionate dog. I think his best quality is his ability to bond with humans, maybe from my selfish perspective, his ability to bond with me. He is the kind of dog that if he sees your lap empty while sitting, he will come and put his head on your lap so that you can feel his affection. I like to think of him as a dog who gives love to people. Also if he sees you crying, he will rub his body against your legs to let you know that he is there for you. I often say that if he were a human being, I would marry him.

Zino is another case. He has his affectionate moments but overall he has too much energy to be a good hugger. He is the kind of dog that can't stand still. He is so energetic. Actually calling him energetic is underestimating his level of energy. He is more like a hyperactive dog. Zino is also the joke of the family. We have lots of jokes based on his ever-cheerful character and his readiness to play games. Spending time with him is almost always fun. I always enjoy his company.

If your dogs could change one thing about the people of Istanbul, what would it be?

For some unknown reason, people of Istanbul usually think that Alex [in the distance] is a female. Actually what is worse is that they usually think he is Zino's [forward] mother. I am sure Alex would like to change that misconception for good.

Also they would both want to change the fact that there used to be a TV series about an Alsatian who was named Pulsar. While on their daily walks, it is not uncommon to have people point their fingers at them and say 'Are they Pulsar?' Sometimes getting celebrity attention like that can be intimidating.

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

Jim Carrey for Zino and Jake Gyllenhaal or James Franco for Alex.

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

Zino will you ever calm down?

Alex sometimes you can't get the angle right and you pee on yourself, do you realize that?

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Weston Ochse & Goblin, Ghost, and Ghoulie

Who are in the photos accompanying this Q & A?

I’m Weston Ochse, owned by three Great Danes. They’re all rescues. Goblin, the big old merle, came from San Bernardino. Ghost, who is deaf and was set on fire, came from Phoenix, and Ghoulie, who is blind as three bats, came from Charlotte, N.C.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We live in the desert. We are always thirsty.

What's brewing?

Goblin and me, we like ice coffee with very little cream or sugar. Ghost likes hot coffee with enough cream it’s the color of tan. And Ghoulie prefers Green Tea, although I seriously doubt she needs the caffeine.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

No. We’re all watching our weight during the holidays.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Both my wife and I are dark fiction authors. Once we had Goblin, the other names just fell into place. Their full names, for the record, are Goblin Monster Dog, Pester Ghost Palm Eater and Mad Dog Ghoulie Sonar Brain.

How were you and your dogs united?

Through Petfinder, which is an online search engine, much like eBay, but with animals who need to be rescued. Note that rescuing an animal is a lifetime commitment, and not at all buy and forget. We were vetted each time, interviewed, and our homes checked for suitability. We almost didn’t get Ghoulie. The adoption agency wouldn’t adopt out of state. But we impressed them with our bonafides. The breaking point came when they realized that a youtube video of Goblin and me, which has had several hundred thousand views, was one they’d recently watched. We drove from southern Arizona to Charlotte in two days, then drove back in two. Long, fast trip.

Do your Great Danes have anything in common with the Belgian Malinois in your new novel, SEAL Team 666?

They do in that both the Danes and the Malinois are excellent althletes.

Great Danes were raised for a singular purpose, to hunt down wild boar in a pack. They spent most of their lives laying on the castle floor, soaking in the heat from the fire, and eating scraps off the table. Then during one ferocious weekend they’d hunt and run and howl.

Malinois are very much like this except they do it every waking hour. Where a Great Dane is like a middle distance runner, a Malinois is a decathlete.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?


Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?


What is each dog's best quality?

Goblin is scent sensitive.

Ghost is forever curious.

Ghoulie is fearless.

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

They would like me to be rich so they could live the life they want to be accustomed to living.

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

What a question! I have no idea.

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

What can I do to make your life better?

Visit Weston Ochse's blog and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue