Who is in the photo at right?
I’m Renee Swindle and I wrote the novels Please Please Please and Shake Down The Stars. With me are Mocha (brownish, mocha-colored) and Nikki.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
My girls and I have tea together every morning, usually after a nice long walk.
Tea! I love it. I don’t spend money on much except books and fine teas. My dogs and I are total tea snobs.
Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?
Today they’re getting their favorite treat, rawhide bones. Nikki and Mocha don’t get treats very often so when they get a rawhide bone it makes for a fun time.
I’m having a croissant, straight out of the oven. Baked by Julia Child.
How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?
My dogs came with their names so I didn’t get the opportunity to name them. I sometimes call Mocha Mochiata or Mochiata Chocolita. Nikki is Nick, Nikster or NickFlix.
How were you and your dogs united?
Mocha belonged to a neighbor. She was extremely shy and never wagged her tail. My neighbor never took her on walks and I noticed she sometimes went without food. The guy also mentioned he liked to breed her and sell the puppies. I couldn’t stand seeing her mistreated so I very kindly asked if I could start walking her so that I could have company. (I didn’t need the company I just hated to see her so sad.) Over time, I started walking her and feeding her daily. Soon, she was sleeping on my porch. Now—I own her!
Oddly enough, Nikki came to me almost in the same way. My upstairs neighbor moved in with his dog, but he would leave her alone for days at a time. It was horrible. One day I asked if I could start walking her so she could keep me company. (The lie seemed to work with the other guy so I used it again!) I had to walk Mocha first and then I walked Nikki until they finally got used to each other. I soon started feeding them both as well. When the upstairs neighbor said he was moving he asked if I wanted her. Since Nikki and Mocha were spending all their time together anyway, it was a no-brainer.
Is there a dog in your new novel?
There aren’t any dogs in Shake Down The Stars, but I have a new novel coming out and July 2014, A Pinch of Ooh La La, and I’m very happy that I was able to fit a dog into the story.
Do your dogs do more to help or to hinder your writing?
My dogs make sure I take three walks a day, which is the best fix for helping me daydream about ideas or giving me time to away from what I’m working on.
Squirrel, postman, cat....?
Both Nikki and Mocha have learned that cats are their friends. Squirrels, though? They go nuts. They also love to chase gophers at the Amtrak station where we sometimes walk. The station has a dog area that is full of gopher holes and Nikki and Mocha love to dig there.
Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?
Nikki loves any toy, anywhere, anytime. Mocha, however, is all about finding a good spot to sit and contemplate the existence of Life. Squeaky toys bug the hell out of her. Nicky and I have to keep them from her or she’ll destroy them within seconds.
What is each dog's best quality?
Nikki behaves as though every day is the best day ever. I’m thankful she doesn’t own pompoms, or I imagine her kicking her legs and cheering nonstop. When I first started taking care of her, she barked at everything and had an anxious disposition. Now she’s an incredibly happy dog.
Mocha was shy but now she acts like a yogi or meditation master. Nothing riles her—except squeaky toys.
If your dogs could change one thing about you, what would it be?
I raise my voice when they find something on the ground or something minor like that. I’m sure they’d prefer a calm “No” instead of me raising my voice.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, which actors should do their voices?
That’s tough. I don’t know about Hollywood, but Mocha probably sounds like Terry Gross. There’s not an actress out there who could pull off Nikki’s unbridled yet heartfelt enthusiasm.
If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?
My dogs and I talk all the time and I know everything there is to know. They love your site, by the way. Sometimes when I get home they’re on the computer reading the latest Coffee With A Canine post. They’re addicted.
Visit Renee Swindle's website and blog.