Who is in the photo at right?
These are my two rescue dogs, Maggie and Pita. Maggie is a Boston terrier and Pita is a Chihuahua/Italian Greyhound mix--at least that's what they told us at the shelter, though we people often tell us she looks like all sorts of breeds. No matter--she's sweet Pita to us!
I'm Natalia Sylvester, author of Chasing the Sun, which is my first novel and will be published in Spring 2014. I'm also a full-time freelance copywriter/journalist, and I blog at www.nataliasylvester.com/.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
I admit I'm not much of a coffee drinker---tea is my drink of choice! On this afternoon, Maggie, Pita, my husband and I went to one of our favorite tea spots. The pups love people-watching and the fact that the staff puts out water bowls for them; I enjoy that it's the perfect place to go for a long walk afterwards.
It's starting to feel more like summer here in Texas, so I opted for a Black Peach iced tea.
Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?
Pita loves chewing on baby carrots, and Maggie likes meatier treats like jerky. These two could not be more opposite!
How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?
Before we adopted Maggie, we were convinced we'd name her Daphne. But when we met the woman who was caring for her, she mentioned she'd been calling her Momma's Girl, and Maggie for short, and it just seemed so perfect for her. We call her all sorts of things--Maggie girl, Magster, Maggielicious, Maggie Moo, Magdalena--basically anything we can come up with! Pita also came with her name (she was an owner surrender at our local shelter). I used to joke and call her Pita bread, which sometimes becomes Pita breath. But my favorite alias is Senorita Pita.
How were you and your dogs united?
Maggie was an owner surrender; she'd been left with a dog trainer whose client could no longer care for her, and when we found out about her we knew we wanted to give her a home. That was about 5 years ago. For a while our little family was just us three, but last year we decided it was time for Maggie to have a companion of her own. We went to the Austin animal shelter and adopted Pita on $5 Friday. I still remember the look she gave us through the glass, the way her tiny head turned over her shoulder as we walked by. That's all it took---we knew she was our Pita.
How do your dogs help, and how do they hinder, your writing?
My dogs remind me that I can't sit in front of a desk all day and expect to feel inspired. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten stuck on a scene or a plot point that isn't coming together, only to have Maggie and Pita remind me it's time for their walk. Getting fresh air, feeling the breeze against my skin, and just slowing things down to let them sniff around gives me new perspective on my work every time. I've had many, many writing epiphanies while spending time with my girls. I truthfully can't think of a way that they hinder my writing. Even having Pita randomly bark at strangers that walk by makes me smile and feel less alone.
Squirrel, postman, cat....?
Squirrel?! Where?! Wait, what was the question?
Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?
They love their ball. We learned very early on that stuffed toys wouldn't work...Maggie could set the world-record for time it takes to destuff even the toughest toys.
What is each dog's best quality?
I love that Maggie is all about attitude. She has such an expressive face and so much personality, and she has a soothing energy about her. Because she's usually so laid back, seeing her getting truly excited about something is a huge treat, and it makes my day every time. Pita is all sugar...she wants nothing more than to cuddle up next to us, and to play. She's the one who wakes up every day as if it's the best day ever--I love starting my days with such a great outlook. She fills our home with joy.
If your dogs could change one thing about Texas, what would it be?
The heat! Come summer, they get so excited for their walks and then immediately regret the decision as soon as their poor paws step outside.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, which actors should do their voices?
I always imagine them as Pinky and the Brain, because Pita is so eager to follow Maggie along in everything she does. Maggie would definitely be the mastermind in their squirrel-hunting and treat-stealing schemes.
If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?
The only question I care about when it comes to them: Are you happy?
Visit Natalia Sylvester's website and learn more about her forthcoming novel, Chasing the Sun.