Who is in the photo at right?
The three creatures fighting over the coffee cup are (in order of self-importance): Sean, my four year old male Havanese; Susan Bordo (that would be me, author and teacher); and Dakota, our one-year-old female Great Pyrenees/Border Collie mix.
First cup: French Roast or Espresso, made on my Keurig (an invention I bless every morning.) That’s the wake-up cup, and I drink it watching either Morning Joe or (if Joe Scarborough gets me too angry) one of the DVRs of Bravo shows from the night before. My doggies on either side of me. The rest of the morning it’s usually half-caf.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
Sean and I have a regular early morning ritual, organized around the first cup of coffee I make (the blast-my-eyes open cup). As soon as I head for the Keurig, he jumps off the couch, toddles over to me, puts his paws up on my legs and looks beseechingly/adoringly. That’s my signal to pick him up and put him on my shoulder, the way I used to carry him around when he was a baby. As soon as the coffee is ready, I put him down, ruffle his fur a little, add my seasonings, and we head for the couch together, where Dakota is waiting. (By the way, the cup you see in the Keurig has an image of the cover of my most recent book; I have availed myself of zazzle to get my whole life decorated in this shamelessly self-promoting way.)
Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?
Doggies get their treats after they have done their stuff in the backyard or on a walk. Right now, it’s walks because we have a nest of bunnies in the backyard who Dakota thinks are doggy-toys. They get Milk-bones. I get another cup of coffee.
How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?
Sean is a purebred and was named that by his breeder; we liked it, and just kept it. Dakota is a rescue, and my daughter Cassie named her. For perverse reasons of her own, she sometimes calls her “Puff”—which is the last thing she looks like. Sean is my baby, and I sometimes call him “Seannie” or “Sean Baby”.
How were you and your dogs united?
Sean: After our precious Jack Russell Vinnie died, we eventually stopped crying and started looking for another dog. At that time, Jenny our beloved border collie (who lived to be 18!!) was still with us, and her vote counted a lot. We took her around to the local shelters, and she growled at every doggie we put her with. But we knew she would get along with a Havanese, as my sister had two that Jenny had spent some time with. So we sprang for the big bucks, found a great breeder, and waited patiently for Sean’s mom to give birth.
Dakota: Cassie (now fourteen) loves Sean, but wanted a big dog—the bigger the better—of her own. She is of the “If I can’t wrestle with it or ride it, what use is it?” school of pets. I wasn’t so certain. Then, one day, Cassie and I were riding home from the mall and saw a dog right in the middle of traffic, seemingly about to get hit. We careened into a nearby driveway (bashing the side of my car on a trash can en route) and she ran out to the road to rescue the dog. He had a collar and tag, so we called the owner, who promptly came to get him. Having been raised by a very superstitious father who saw omens in the most pedestrian events, I felt this incident was telling me something, so next morning I started looking online at local shelters. As soon as I saw Dakota’s picture (I think she was called Rosie at that point) I knew she was the one. And she is, she is!
Do your dogs do more to help or to hinder your writing?
I’ve learned to ignore the barking at whatever/whomever passes by the front of our house, but the mommy in me is torn when I know that they’ve been inside for too long. If I’m on a writing roll, and my daughter or husband isn’t around, it’s a toss up as to whether the paragraph or the doggies come first.
Squirrel, postman, cat....?
Sean believes the mail carrier is a terrible threat to our safety—unless he/she actually is let in the door, at which point all is well. Dakota loves everything and everyone, and wants to jump up/knock down/put her mouth on/fondle anything that comes into view. They are both, shall we say…interactive doggies?
Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?
Dakota likes to run after things and sometimes will bring them back, but especially enjoys anything with stuffing that can be “killed” and scattered all over the house. Sean is fairly indifferent to anything that isn’t actually edible. He is embarrassed by Dakota’s lack of discrimination.
What is each dog's best quality?
Sean: Unique mixture of cuddliness and refinement.
Dakota: Sweet beyond belief. You’ve seen the movie Marley and Me? That’s Dakota.
If your dogs could change one thing about you, what would it be?
They think I’m perfect—which is of course, a major reason why I love them.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, which actors should do their voices?
Sean: Jesse Eisenberg.
Dakota: Sandra Bullock.
If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?
What are you thinking?
Visit Susan Bordo's official The Creation of Anne Boleyn website.
My Book, The Movie: The Creation of Anne Boleyn.