Who is in the photo at right?
My name is Steph Cha, and I’m the author of Follow Her Home, a new noir out with St. Martin’s Minotaur. My son here is named Duke, and he’s a two-year-old basset hound.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
Duke and I drink coffee at home when we drink coffee. My fiancé Matt is a real addict, so we have a machine here that I’ll use now and then, just for a taste. Right now I’m sitting on my couch with a blanket and Duke is on the floor, licking himself.
I’m drinking a basic black coffee, no cream or sugar, though I object to neither. The beans are from Peet’s. They were in our refrigerator.
Any treats for you or Duke on this occasion?
Well, now that you mention it, I have some Greenies for Duke and part of a sticky bun for me. It’s a little cold because it came out of the freezer and I didn’t heat it long enough, but I am too lazy to put it back in the toaster oven. It’s still delicious. My mother got it for me as a souvenir from Flour Bakery in Boston, and it is just…I mean it’s kind of cold, but I wish you could taste it.
How were you and Duke united?
Matt had wanted a basset hound since he was a little boy, and when I made the decision to spend six months writing at home, we started looking around for a dog, with the idea that I’d be around for his adjustment period. We found a marvelous rescue called the Basset Hound Rescue of Southern California, and we put in an adoption application. It was a pretty rigorous process, with paperwork and a home visit before we could meet any dogs. Once we were cleared, we kept our eye on the site, and when Duke came up, we watched his youTube video a dozen times and asked to meet him. We drove to Fountain Valley to his fosters’ and fell in love.
How did Duke get his name? Any aliases?
Duke came with his name, and truthfully, it’s a little regal for this fifty-pound bag of poop. Still, we wanted a short, silly human name, and Duke fits that description. Aliases…oh yea. Dukie is not allowed (per his anti-scat father), but we have Mr. Basset, Dukers, Duke Poop’em (I am pro-scat), and when he limps (ugh, don’t even ask about his health – he must be a puppy mill dog), Hobble D. Duke.
Does Duke do more to help or to hinder your writing?
Oh boy, that’s a good question. Duke is a huge distraction, obviously, and I spend at least an hour or two a day walking and feeding and training him. That said, I’ve spent a few days without him, and those days have been sad and lonely and I end up just wasting a lot of time on the Internet.
Cat, postman, squirrel...?
He’s fascinated by cats, but he doesn’t do well with them. There’s a black cat on our block I consider his nemesis, but she wins every one of their weird staring contests. He also has an unrequited love for Frannie, the cat at Skylight Books. She won’t give him the time of day, and he’ll just whimper after her like he’s the saddest dog in the world. He loves postmen because they are people, and squirrels make him crazy. Have you ever seen a basset hound try to climb a tree? It’s pathetic.
Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?
Tennis ball squeaky toy attached by a short stick.
Does Duke have a favorite place to go for outings?
We live in Los Feliz, which is a very walkable neighborhood, especially for L.A., and Duke gets lots of attention every time we go out. I mean he is mega good-looking, a real supermodel dog, and he might not know it, but he knows he loves the love. Sometimes I feel like I’m his agent. When I notice people staring and cooing at him I’ll say, “He’s very friendly,” and they’ll come over and shower him with attention. So he likes the streets of Los Feliz just fine.
Who are Duke's best pet-pals?
His best friend is a basset he met at school (K9 Loft Elementary) named The Stig. I saw them playing when I went to pick Duke up one day, and the guy who brought him out told me the two bassets had been playing all day. I left a message for The Stig’s parents, and now we get together for basset play dates, which are just the best.
What is Duke's best quality?
He must be the sweetest dog I’ve ever met. Friendly and playful and not a mean bone in his body. He doesn’t even lift his leg when he pees – he just dips into this cute little parallelogram stance with his tail sticking up like a flag. (I guess I answered your next question, which was definitely going to be, “What does Duke look like when he pees?”)
If Duke could change one thing about Californians, what would it be?
Every time they stopped to pet him, they would also give him treats.
If Duke could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?
There is no record of Duke before March of last year, when he was found wandering the desert streets of Hemet, alone, untagged, and unneutered. I’d love to ask him what his life was like before he was found by the shelter, whether it was happy or sad, if he remembers his mother and siblings.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Duke could speak, who should voice him?
I want to say Jake the Dog from Adventure Time, but Patrick Starr would probably be more accurate.
Read more about Follow Her Home, and visit Steph Cha's website and Twitter perch.