Who is in the photo at right?
My name is Matthew Buchholz and I’m a writer and artist who runs Alternate Histories, where I digitally insert monsters, robots, aliens & others into vintage historical scenes.
My first book, Alternate Histories of the World, just came out through Perigee. But more importantly, I’m having coffee with my dog Otis, who is a 4 1/2 year old male schnauzer/poodle mix (I think. He’s a rescue so who knows what he is?).
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
We come to Commonplace Voluto Coffee several times a week, since it’s just a few blocks from my house. I work from home and it’s great to have a place to come to when I need to take a break, and all the staff here know Otis as well.
Commonplace roasts their own coffee, so this is their espresso sumatra in an Americano.
Any treats for you or Otis on this occasion?
Sometimes I’ll get a muffin or cookie from the in-house baker, Drew’s Pie Supply - she makes great vegan granola bars too! Otis usually has a peanut butter cookie when he gets home.
How were you and Otis united?
When I first moved to Pittsburgh, I worked at Animal Friends, a local animal shelter & advocacy group, for about a year and a half. It was a fantastic job -- working or volunteering at an animal shelter is great because no matter how bad your day is, you can always go pet a dog or play with a kitten and you’ll instantly feel better. Otis came through our shelter as part of a July 4th rescue...the Fourth of July is one of the worst times of the year for animals to run away or get lost because of parties and all the loud noises. Otis came into the shelter and we connected right away.
How did Otis get his name? Any aliases?
He’s named after my favorite singer, Otis Redding, although the name also fits because he’s so soulful!
Does Otis do more to help or hinder your art?
Generally he’s a big help - he wakes me up each morning so I don’t sleep all day, and also gives me nice built-in breaks as he loves to go for multiple walks each day. The only time he’s a hindrance is when I’m struggling with an image and trying to concentrate, and he keeps rolling his ball towards me in an effort to get me to play with him. But as someone who works from home, it’s amazing to have a friendly little dog to keep me company, and to also force me to get outside and walk around each day.
Cat, postman, squirrel...?
Otis is surprisingly okay with the mailman, but like all dogs, he hates squirrels. When the weather is nice we sit on the front porch while I work on my laptop, and once I had to stop him from diving off the porch into the bushes because a squirrel was taunting him.
Tennis ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?
Tennis or rubber ball all the way.
He doesn’t like sticks at all, but will literally chase a ball until he drops from exhaustion.
Does Otis have a favorite place to go for outings?
Pittsburgh has a lot of great public parks, and Otis’s favorite is the trails in Frick Park. Now that the leaves are changing, it’s gorgeous and he could spend hours down in the ravine.
Who is Otis's best pet-pal?
Otis doesn’t love other dogs, but he has a changing cast of favorite stuffed toys that he snuggles with. Right now his favorite is probably his little mallard/duck toy.
What is Otis's best quality?
His endless joy for life. As someone who get bogged down by details and anxiety sometimes, it’s so wonderful for me to have Otis who is thrilled to get up and play every single morning. He motivates and inspires me each day.
If Otis could change one thing about Pittsburghers, what would it be?
Nothing! He loves everybody!
If Otis could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?
Why is he so afraid of bags? Paper, plastic, he is terrified of them! Why???
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Otis could speak, who should voice him?
This is an ongoing debate between my friends; I think he has a gruff, deep voice sort of like Orson Welles, whereas other people think he’s more light & happy, like a child actor. But I say since he’s my dog, I get to pick the voice! Orson Welles it is!
Visit Matthew Buchholz's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.