Who is in the photo at right?
I'm Marion Winik, a writer, and with me is Beau -- a not-so-miniature-dachshund, though honestly I haven't been sticking to my diet lately either. He is eight years old.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
This morning we stopped by Atwater's on Falls Road in North Baltimore on the way to visit my friend Ken in rehab. He was run over by a car in April and has been laid up ever since. Though the rehab is pretty nice, they don't have decent coffee so we bring him a latte whenever we visit. It's great that they allow dogs in, too. Pet therapy is great for people who are stuck in a hospital bed.
When I want to treat myself right, I get an Americano, short, with a little cream. Otherwise, just black and straight up.
Any treats for you or Beau on this occasion?
Atwaters has great baked goods and awesome huevos rancheros but I need to get into a sexy dress tonight for my book launch party so not today. We'll bring a pastry to Ken and maybe one home to my daughter Jane.
Your new book is dedicated to Beau, so I'm guessing he has made a significant contribution to your writing. Would you tell us about that?
Highs in the Low Fifties is about my adventures -- misadventures, really -- trying to find new love after the demise of my second marriage, and it's one train wreck after another. Beau plays a key role in the story as the loving constant in my life. Kids can be bratty and friends can be busy but Beau is always there for me, ready to bound up the stairs and burrow under the covers to snuggle. His sweet doggy smell and long velvet ears are natural Xanax. I truly believe a close relationship with a dog is one of the keys to being happy as a single person, and this becomes ever more clear over the course of the story.
It may seem strange to dedicate a book to a dog, who could never read it or even know of the gesture, but in that way it's sort of emblematic of the odd romance between a human and a canine.
Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?
Beau is a ball-man. His favorite thing is to roll them under couch where he can't reach them and then whimper until someone helps him out.
Who are Beau's best pet-pals these days?
Beau and I recently had a two-month affair with a man and his super-crazy one-year-old rescue dog. Dixie was a beautiful, leggy, golden-eyed girl, at least part pinscher and about five times Beau's size. The guy was gorgeous too, and a lot bigger than me too, and both were very manic in their affections. She literally couldn't stop licking Beau and nosing him and trying to get him to play. He's not the playing type, so he would discipline her with growls and nips, which didn't stop her at all -- she interpreted them as part of the game. Bit by bit, he got used to her and by the time they dumped us I think he was sort of enjoying it. Here are Beau and Dixie [photo left]. Maybe we were all wrong for each other but we miss them a lot.
What is Beau's best quality?
He is so loving, and he can really sense when someone comes over who needs comfort. He is incredibly tuned in to people, not just me, but especially me. For example, guy I was seeing last fall and I had the occasional ritual of getting together for tea after we dropped our respective kids at school. One Monday morning, I breezed in with Beau, stuck a container of homemade beef stew in his refrigerator, and settled down on the couch. Of course Beau climbed right into in his lap.
After a minute or two of chitchat, he said, "I have something serious I need to tell you," then informed me that he was going to get back together with an old girlfriend. I was so blindsided by this news, I went blank. I didn't know what to say or do.
But Beau did. He rocketed from the couch, marched to the door, and looked back at me as if to say, You coming? My brand-new ex-boyfriend and I couldn't help laughing. Meanwhile, I took the dog's cue, got up, and followed him out the door.
Oh honey, don't be sad, he told me in the car, assuming his customary position in my lap, paws hooked over my arm, nose out the driver's window. Three's a crowd.
If Beau could change one thing about you, what would it be?
I would never go on a trip without him. When he sees the suitcases come out, he gets very anxious -- unless he sees me put his leash and food in the bag too. Often when I fly Southwest I do take him along, since he can fit under the seat in a pet carrier.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Beau could speak, which actor should do his voice?
Tom Waits. He is just that masculine.
If Beau could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?
Do you feel sad and lonely when you're home alone for many hours straight, or is it true that dogs have very little sense of time and it's like, poof! She's back already!
Visit Marion Winik's website and read more about Highs in the Low Fifties.
Check out--Coffee with a Canine: Marion Winik & Beau (December 2009).