Who is in the photo at right?
Me, Nicole J. Georges, and Beija Georges, my fifteen year old corgi/sharpei mix.
I'm an illustrator, cartoonist & pet portrait artist.
Beija doesn't have a job, but since she has become a teenager I've given her a sort of teen persona, so she is really into Justin Bieber and she can't wait to get her her learner's permit.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
I have coffee near Beija every day, we just decided to have it together this morning. I got an espresso machine for Christmas, so every day is a reason for celebration.
I'm having an Americano from my home espresso machine, with soy creamer. Beija does not drink coffee because of all the caffeine.
Any treats for you or Beija on this occasion?
Beija is having a bowl of turkey stew this morning. She had a cancerous bump removed in October, and since then her road to recovery has included a homemade diet. I've been vegan for sixteen years and
have never cooked meat in my adult life, so sacrificing a stew pot to my dog was something I did grudgingly. But after feeding her stew, she's got a new lease (leash) on life. She gets so excited every morning for her turkey stew, and she hangs out in the kitchen Sunday nights when I make her batch for the week.
How were you and Beija united?
I got Beija for my high school boyfriend when I was 16. I got a job at Toys R Us to afford a dog (fun fact: in 1997, minimum wage in Kansas was about $3.75 I think?), and got her from a run-down shelter in Kansas City, Kansas, where she exhibited all the qualities dog books tell you to avoid in a shelter dog. She was in the back of her kennel, scared and huddled, but when I talked to her, her tail started thumping against the metal walls. I took her out for a walk and her ears inflated, and I knew I needed to get her! Also, they said she was part dachshund, which was a lie, but it worked.
My boyfriend's family changed their minds at the last minute (about allowing their son to have a dog), and after trying and failing to rehome her several times, I was stuck with Beija. She kept getting returned to me because she was so bad, but I would never take her back to the shelter. It was fate! She is my horcrux.
How did Beija get her name? Any aliases?
My high school boyfriend named her. He said it was Polish for "stranger" (he was really into Camus), but I don't think that is actually true. But it does mean "kisses" in Portuguese, which is sweet.
How long have you been creating pet portraits? Do you have a favorite?
I made my first pet portrait in 2003 or 2004, as an apology gift for a friend whose dog Beija jumped. I started making them professionally a couple of years later. I just finished one for my recently departed friend, Wishbone [with Nicole, photo right], which is my current favorite. Other than that, one that sticks out in my mind is this dog Fred, whose person asked that he be painted with his owners each in little frames around him that said "Mommy" and "Daddy". I thought that was funny.
Does Beija figure prominently in your new book, Calling Dr. Laura?
She does. The book is autobiographical, and Beija was around for everything that happened.
When we were soliciting blurbs, we got one from Rachel Maddow, and the first line said: "I would please like to adopt Beija, or at least apply for dogsitting duties."
Does Beija have a favorite place to go for an outing?
Beija loves to go to the beach, where she can get great traction and runs like a puppy. She is actually very fast, in case you couldn't tell by her small legs.
Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?
She has a long stuffed dog toy that my mom ("Grandma") gave her probably five years ago. She takes good care of her toys, and likes to hoard them in her bed when she is not mouthing them for guests.
Who is Beija's best pet-pal?
Beija has a friend named Emmett, a pit-bull mix, who is her true love. I don't know about romance, but he is balanced and friendly and when they are together she is constantly bowing and wagging her tail, requesting play.
It's rare for her to find a dog that doesn't want to kick her butt. She throws shade to other dogs in ways that humans can't see.
What is Beija's best quality?
Beija is very intelligent & intuitive, and behind closed doors, the sweetest and most loyal dog.
If Beija could change one thing about Portlanders, what would it be?
She would ask them to please respect her boundaries and stop trying to pet her, even after I tell them not to. People love to push past my warnings with "But she's so cute", or "she's wagging her tail", and then she leaps at them, barking. I tell them, "If she was ugly, I wouldn't have to tell you not to pet her!"
If Beija could speak in the movie about your life, who should do her voice?
Someone like Taylor Swift, but more valley girl. She'd say: "Nicole's, like, really cool."
If Beija could answer just one question in English, what would you ask her?
"Will you please just trust that I am not abandoning you when I tie you outside of a place? It's been fifteen and a half years and I've never abandoned you! You don't need to bark and scream every time I walk inside to get a coffee!"
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