Friday, March 29, 2013

Lauren & Claire

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Lauren, a medical social worker and pet lifestyle photographer. Next to me is the love of my life: Claire, a lab/whippet mix and therapy dog extraordinaire. To put it simply, we are the very best of friends.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Currently, I'm at my favorite cafe (The Well in Green Hills, Nashville TN). Unfortunately, Claire has been pretty sick for the past week, so she's at home resting up instead of spending this morning running errands around town with me. I'm hoping that she'll be feeling well enough when I get home to go for a walk, but we shall see!

What's brewing?

I'm drinking a hot cranberry apple cider which is amazing. But the girl sitting across from me is drinking an iced cocoa cream freeze with whipped cream... so I think I'll be grabbing one of those before I leave!

Any treats for you or Claire on this occasion?

I'm snacking on a vegan oatmeal apricot muffin. Poor Claire can't keep anything down lately with whatever bug she's caught, so no treats for her until she's all better! But usually, her special Saturday snack is a raw frozen marrow bone. It brings her hours of happiness - she's easy to please!

How did Claire get her name? Any nicknames?

Claire already had her name when I adopted her as a puppy, and it fits her perfectly! I couldn't dream of changing it once I got to know her personality!

As for nicknames, she responds to "Baby" just as quickly as she responds to "Claire." Her full name is Claire Baby Butterworth because the top of her head always smells like maple syrup.

How were you and Claire united?

I did not grow up with pets, but I'd always wanted a dog. A week after I moved to Nashville in 2009, I decided that it was time. I went to the Nashville Humane Society to ask some general questions about adopting a dog, and then Claire found me and chose me. For the whole sweet story, read about it here.

Who are Claire's best pet-pals?

Claire is funny when it comes to other dogs. She goes to day care (or "school" as we call it) three days per week and has a ton of friends there. We recently stopped going to the dog park because it started becoming a source of stress for Claire, so we now have to schedule play dates with her very best friends, Tucker (golden/aussie/setter), Chase (a golden/dingo), and Rylee (husky/shepherd). Her friend Asya (beagle/hound) moved away last year, and I hope they can be reunited soon!

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Claire loves her stuffies - though after a few months of snuggling with them, she rips them to shreds. As she gets older, I find that she enjoys tennis balls more and more.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrels and rabbits. The girl's got quite a prey drive! She has both a fascination and fear of cats.

What is Claire's best quality?

Oh there are just so many! She is so sweet but she has a mischievous side too. She is hilarious and makes me laugh all the time. She loves to explore. She hates when people are sad; whenever someone is crying, she stops whatever she's doing and goes right over to them to give them some love and make them smile.

If Claire could change one thing about Tennesseans, what would it be?

She would probably want them to get better about obeying leash laws. Claire is a little reactive when she's on a leash, so when off-leash dogs run right up to her and get in her face, she gets really spooked. On the other hand, perhaps she'd want everyone to let their dogs off-leash so that she could be off-leash too!

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Claire could speak, which actor should do her voice?

Rachel McAdams. Because she is awesome. Only the best for Claire!

If Claire could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?

"Do you know how much I love you?" I ask her that all the time, so it would be nice to finally get an answer to go along with that tail-wag!

For more about Claire's adventures, visit the Life with Claire blog, on Twitter at @LaurenFerzoco, or on Facebook!

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Jim and Marsha Bean & Susie and Sidebite

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi, my name is Jim Bean, I manage a quick lube oil change and a retail tire shop, the major part of the tire business is that we service drag races for Mickey Thompson Race Tires.

Pictured: my wife Marsha, who works for a major financial brokerage firm, and Susie, our puppy mill rescued female Scottie Terrier.

We found Susie at a rescue place on Friday after Thanksgiving; the lady got her from the city doggie pound, and she was scheduled to be put down because she was a mess--very scared and unsociable. At that time she was 9 months old. Now she is one silly, stubborn, Scottie-tute, crazy five year old girl who runs the place.

The other half of our blog is Sidebite, an AKC registered Male Scottie Terrier [photo below left]. We went to a breeder and picked him out of the pile of seven at three weeks, because he never whined. Then we had to get him at five weeks old and he wobbled around on unsure legs. He is now seven and claims everything in the house and Susie as his. He is the most happy, tale wagging little guy I have ever had.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Coffee with my dogs is usually on the weekends only and very early. On Saturday I go riding bicycles and it’s just a quick pot brewed and a small biscuit which I have to share with them, so it’s warm up two so I get some of them. Now on Sunday we are up early, make a pot of the same, fix a full breakfast and have the guys watching closely for their part and it’s our special share and bond day!

What's brewing?

My favorite is French Silk that I grind for each pot; during the week is a coffee service provided by work. Now out riding our little group always stops at various coffee shops, so we tend to try something different each time, and I will go for a good cappuccino, but only certain places on our rides have what I like!

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

No, nothing special, they love to eat anything we are eating; their treat time is in the late evening, and then it’s their favorite, Puperonni!

How did your dogs get their names? Any nicknames?

When we came home with Susie she was shaking and all she wanted was to be held. “Susie Q” by “Credence Clearwater” was playing on the radio, and Marsha said “That’s You Sweetie.” As for nicknames, I call her my “Sweetie Petunia” and “Little Miss Stubborn”.

When we brought Sidebite home I raced a Sprint Car on dirt. When you ran sideways through the corner, you would work on how much “Sidebite” the tires had. Well, with those wobbles when he walked and tried to run, it was sideways. So I looked at him and said “Sidebite that’s you, trying to keep the rear end under control!” Now he goes by “Bites” or “Dude” because he has become one!

How were you and your dogs united?

I had 3 Scotties prior to these two nuts. The previous Scottie was with us for eleven years, when he passed away; we began our search within a couple of weeks and found Bites. I took off work for six months to change jobs just before we found him; well, being home with him we developed a very special bond ... he’s my Technical Adviser. He never took up with Marsha, still doesn’t do anything she says.

Marsha always wanted a Scottie that was hers, so about two years after Bites, she sat down at the computer and after a whole week saw this messy little gal listed at the rescue. So, off we go to the rescue place, a two hour drive. When we saw her she was a huge mess, a very underweight starved puppy. Marsha held her and they both seemed to know they belonged to each other. Now Susie owns Mom!

Where do your dogs most like to visit on an outing?

My bunch is not much for going anywhere except the Vet and Groomer. We live on an acreage, and our back fence has a farm on the other side with all kinds of stuff that keeps them busy, and we make every effort we can to go out and play chase and soccer ball with them.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

You name it, it's game on: first the running around, then the barking begins. If they do catch something it's like a war zone with stuff everywhere. A Scottie has the attitude that if I can see it, it’s on my property and does not belong here, thus Scottie-tute.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

As far as Susie is concerned, it's only soccer ball out in the back acre and a good game of “Chase Me Dad”.

Now Bites, he goes for the ball playing in the house; he has a collection of over 20 different ones. His other passion is his stuffy bear collection, and he loves to chew and lick them.

What is each dog's best quality?

Susie’s love and loyalty for Marsha. You go to bring her in a night and all you have to do is say “let’s go see Mom”, and she is on the run to the couch to sit with Marsha and watch TV together, or straight to Marsha in bed if it is that time.

Bites is so happy that he has never met a person he didn’t like, always full of wiggles, but he will not answer to or do anything anybody asks, but me.

If your dogs could change one thing about you, what would it be?

That we were home all day with them, or go with us to work, because they really love the weekends and always are wanting to be inside with us!

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, which actors should do their voices?

Easy for Bites: “The Dude” John Wayne, because he has a deep mean bark and he has a very obvious swagger when he walks.

Susie [photo right] would have to be Cyndi Lauper, because she has a high pitched bark and loves to sing when she howls at the weekly storm siren test.

If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

Can you teach us to speak doggie so we could communicate all the time?

Visit Susie and Sidebite's blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 25, 2013

Beth Bodenstein & Gizmo

Who is in the photo at right?

Online I'm usually known as Gizmo's Momz. My name is Beth Bodenstein. I've been a gypsy most of my life and have at times been an attorney, a chef and a cable splicer for the phone company. The furry one is Gizmo.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My family are all coffee addicts...our motto is a day without coffee is a day without sunshine. I favor iced coffee and start every day with a 20 oz. glass while reading through emails. Gizmo sits with me at the computer and helps me answer the mail.

What's brewing?

After many years of grinding beans I've lately switched over to using either Cuban expresso (Cafe Bustelo) or Community coffee with chicory. I brew in a Bunn pourover for instant gratification. It's always iced and I use almond milk that I foam with an Aerolatte. I do have an espresso maker for rare days when I want something hot.

Any treats for you or Gizmo on this occasion?

Since it's early morning, Gizmo has just had his breakfast. If I've treated myself there might be a chocolate croissant, but usually just coffee.

How did Gizmo get his name? Any nicknames?

Gizmo chose his name. On the day I brought him home we were sitting together and I just called out that came to me. When I said Gizmo he looked up at me perking his was a done deal. He's got lots of nicknames, but usually "G", "G-Man", "Giz" or "Gizzer."

How were you and Gizmo united?

His full story is on our blog under the "My Story" tab. The short version is that after losing my Bruno I visited a local shelter and Gizmo stole my heart.

Who are Gizmo's best pet-pals?

Giz makes friends with everyone but he has lots of fun with his Doggie Social Group friend Winter, and his pals Sparky, Annie and Cooper. Oz the Terrier is his best blogging buddy and we've had some fun meetups.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?


Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Our postlady Pamela is a great friend. He greets her every day and goes outside to say Hi! if I'm around. She even bought him a Christmas treat. Giz is great with cats. Squirrels are for chasing....

Does Gizmo have a favorite place for an outing?

Giz loves off-leash hiking and we're lucky to have a number of places nearby where he can run and explore. Probably his favorite is the Teneroc Trail at Saddle Creek Park.

If Gizmo could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Hmmm, probably have me take him for long hikes every day instead of spending time on the computer.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Gizmo could speak, which actor should do his voice?

Hervé Villechaize? Apu from The Simpsons? Our friend Terisa does the best Gizmo voice... It's a cross of those two and it's perfect for him.

If Gizmo could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

What was your life like before I found you?

Visit the Terrier Torrent blog and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 22, 2013

Margarita Engle & Maggi and Chance

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Margarita Engle. As the Cuban-American author of young adult novels in verse about the island's history, I never imagined that I would spend a great deal of my time hiding for dogs. Yes, that's right, hiding in Sierra Nevada forests, to help wilderness search and rescue dogs practice finding lost hikers. My husband is a volunteer trainer and handler, and I am a "volunteer victim." Our SAR dogs, Maggi and Chance, live with us as our own personal pets, but they are also working dogs. Chance is a four year old Yellow Labrador Retriever, fully certified as an active SAR dog for local and statewide search and rescue canine organizations in California. Maggi is a thirteen year old Australian Shepherd/Queensland Heeler mix, recently retired from SAR work.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

After a good hide and seek game (also known as search and rescue training), we love to share caffeinated candy bars in a cup. Maggi and I have notorious sweet teeth, so we like caramel macchiatos, but we also have to watch our weight, so we make sure we order the guilt-free (not calorie-free) "skinny" versions, without whipped cream. Chance is fit and slim, so he never worries about sugar or fat grams, but as usual, athletic dogs don't have sweet teeth. He drinks his Cuban rocket fuel full strength, in a tiny espresso cup, because he's really too busy chasing tennis balls to slow down and enjoy nature's outdoor cafe.

What's brewing?

Maggi's cattle dog instincts are strong, so she loves any drink that contains dairy products. Chance cares more about the container. He likes round things, so cups small enough to fit in the mouth are favored, especially if they're chewable.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Maggi is observant and pays attention to detail. A single peanut, or a motionless grasshopper, can fascinate her for hours. Chance sees the big picture. He gulps his food, so it really doesn't matter what he eats, since he never tastes it anyway. While waiting to be found in the wilderness, I always pick the candy out of trail mix.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

My husband chose Maggi's name because he was convinced she was born to be a Maggi, and he felt certain that it should be spelled without a final e. It was really very awkward at the time, because our daughter's best friend was named Maggie, so we were constantly embarrassing everyone by barking orders to "Come here, Maggi!" or "Drop it, Maggi," and of course, our daughter's well-behaved friend thought we were yelling at her. Chance was much harder to name. He started as Chase, and changed to Chance as a way of remembering that lost people do have a chance of being found, thanks to search and rescue volunteers, both human and canine. On ordinary days, he often gets called Booger Brains instead.

How were you and your dogs united?

Maggi was a starving stray who moved onto a farm my husband was managing, and announced her intention to stay. She did this on my husband's birthday, so he really couldn't argue, and it didn't matter that we already had 3 dogs at home. She introduced herself to the others, and they accepted her immediately, after she explained (in canine and English---she's quite fluent in many languages, both spoken and body) that she would be the boss from now on.

How do your dogs help, and how do they hinder, your writing?

At various times, dogs have moved into my stories, and stayed, so I have no choice. I have to include them. My newest novel in verse for young adults is The Lightning Dreamer, Cuba's Greatest Abolitionist, but while I was writing it, Chance inspired me to write a middle grade novel in verse called Mountain Dog. Around the same time, Maggi helped me write an extremely cute, sweet poetry picture book for young children, called When You Wander, a Search and Rescue Dog Story. Amazingly, all three books will be released within a few months of each other, starting with The Lightning Dreamer.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Our dogs are friendly, except for the time at a Sheriff's auxiliary training, when Chance ran away from a bomb squad officer who was wearing an outfit that made him look like a robot. As far as chasing animals, they wait all day, every day, for something interesting to chase, but when two wild peacocks finally landed in our backyard, they chickened out and sat perfectly motionless, birdwatching without binoculars.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

When Maggi was a stray, she had to hunt for her dinner, so she still loves anything that sounds like a squeaking ground squirrel. Chance is passionate about round objects of any sort. If you don't have a ball to throw, he'll pick an orange off a tree, and give it to you. He has tried, on occasion, to chase the moon, but he never quite catches it.

What is each dog's best quality?

Maggi is sweet, sensitive, and more intelligent than most humans. She actually cares about the lost hiker, and wants to make sure he is found. Chance is athletic and enthusiastic. He cares about winning the hide and seek game so he can get back to playing fetch.

If your dogs could change one thing about you, what would it be?

They would like me to spend more time without a book in my hands. They wish I understood that from a dog's point of view, opposable thumbs evolved to open refrigerators, not volumes of poetry.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, which actors should do their voices?

Maggi would be Angela Lansbury. No mystery would ever go unsolved, and all the proper herding dog etiquette would be followed in every delicate situation. Chance is definitely Ashton Kutcher, because he's tall, lanky, handsome, goofy, and unlikely to ever grow up.

If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

I would ask Maggi to tell me the story of her first year, before she found us. Did she ever have a chance to herd cattle? Was she abused, and if so, how did she manage to be so forgiving? She loves people, and tolerates our failures, patiently training us to serve as reasonably acceptable companions. I would also love to ask Chance what it feels like to have such a smart nose, instead of a smart brain. Is it the scent that makes him swallow inanimate objects, or does he just enjoy watching us panic and rush him to the veterinary emergency room?

Visit Margarita Engle's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Amy Sue Nathan & Mitzi and Lizzie

Who is in the photo at right and just below?

That’s Mitzi and Lizzie. They’re two rescued mutts. I mean, princesses.

Oh, you mean me? I’m Amy Sue Nathan—an author, editor, blogger and mom of two college kids.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have coffee with Mitzi and Lizzie every morning, when it’s still dark, on most days.

What's brewing?

I take my coffee with half and half even though I know I should use skim milk. During the week I drink all-American Folgers. On the weekends I treat myself to Starbucks Blonde Roast brewed at home.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Absolutely! They’re sitting in front of the treat cabinet waiting. What? Not everyone has a treat cabinet? Lizzie and Mitzi say, “Aw, too bad.”

How were you and your dogs united? And how did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Lizzie is over eleven years old. She was rescued by our vet from owners who neglected and abused her as a tiny puppy—because when we got her she was only 12 weeks old. She went to the vet with the name Phoenix but the office staff renamed her Lizzie and we kept it.

My family adopted Mitzi after she’d spent a few weeks with another family who’d rescued her from a trash can, but couldn’t keep her. We couldn’t bear the thought of them taking her to a shelter and at that time we already had two dogs. The name Mitzi is short for Mitzvah, which in Hebrew means commandment or sometimes “good deed.”

Both dogs answer to their names, to being called Princess, and they both come running when the refrigerator opens.

How do your dogs help, and how do they hinder, your writing?

Lizzie sleeps on her, I mean, my, I mean her, bed all day. Mitzi is my shadow. She is wherever I am and is good company, until she wants to play. And then, she’s a good playmate!

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Dog next door. Don’t get me started.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Ball. Ball ball ball. And by ball I mean anything that can be thrown across the yard and retrieved.

What is each dog's best quality?

Lizzie is sweet and subdued (except when she’s not). Mitzi is sweet and totally loyal. Almost guard dog loyal. I feel very safe with Mitzi in the house. I think Lizzie would show an intruder the goods. (You know, the stash of chocolate.)

If your dogs could change one thing about Chicagoans, what would it be?

Chicagoans love their hot dogs, and don’t usually share. The dogs would totally change that if they could.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, which actors should do their voices?

You mean my dogs don’t really speak? I should get my ears checked.

If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

I’d ask Lizzie if she was okay now. She’s a happy dog but was really mistreated. When she was tiny I carried her around with her head on my shoulder. She didn’t bark for two years. I’d just like to know for sure that we did a good job making her feel safe, since she can still be a little timid.

I’m pretty sure Mitzi is happy and well-adjusted, I’d ask her why she insists on dropping the ball anywhere but right in front of me when we play fetch. I always make her get it and bring it to me, so maybe it’s just part of the game. I’d like to be sure. And find out where she put all those socks I’m sure she’s hidden.

Visit Amy Sue Nathan's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch, and learn more about her forthcoming novel, The Glass Wives.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 18, 2013

Coralee Robichaud & Finn

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Finn and me. My name is Coralee Robichaud, and I run a web site for dog enthusiasts called Bark and Chatter.

Finn is my constant companion, as well as my chief adviser and muse. He’s a sweet-natured 18 month old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We’re enjoying the early spring sunshine on our porch swing. It’s freezing, but it’s so nice to be outside without snow!

What's brewing?

This morning I’m drinking Sips Pumpkin Chai.

Any treats for you or Finn on this occasion?

Finn’s enjoying a peanut butter stuffed Kong at the moment.

How did Finn get his name? Any nicknames?

Finn’s original name was Philius, after a Harry Potter character. He came to us when he was nearly a year old, and Philius just wasn’t a name I could get used to. I changed it to Finnius, because it was close enough to make for an easy transition.

Now we all just call him Finn.

How were you and Finn united?

I had been searching for a long time for the right ‘fit’ for our family. We always had super-high-energy dogs in the past, and never seemed to be able to satisfy their needs. I did a lot of research and finally decided on a Cavalier.

By coincidence we met a woman who used to breed Cavaliers, and still had a lot of connections. She put us in touch with Finn’s breeder. It was serendipity.

Who are your dog's best pet-pals?

Finn’s best pal is Toby, our big orange tabby. Toby is a Man of Mischief, and the only one of our three cats who calls Finn his friend!

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Finn arrived here knowing how to fetch, which was just awesome for us. Our other dogs loved to chase things but would never give them back! Finn loves any kind of ball.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Oh, boy! We have three cats. Finn harasses them all – only Toby tolerates it.

And he really hates squirrels.

If Finn could change one thing about Nova Scotians, what would it be?

Nova Scotians complain a lot about weather in general, but especially our winters. I am probably the worst culprit.

Finn loves snow, partly because he has such a luxurious built-in fur coat.

I think if he could change something about us, he’d make us all stop whining so much about the white stuff.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Finn could speak, which actor should do his voice?

Bruce Willis. Definitely. Finn has a bit of a subversive/sarcastic streak that Bruce would capture perfectly.

If Finn could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

If I could ask Finn one question, it would be “Do you really have to pee on everything that doesn’t move???” When we’re out for a walk, no stationary object is safe. After the first block, Finn’s bladder is bone dry, but he doesn’t even notice – he lifts his leg anyway. Maybe it’s a salutation?

Visit the Bark and Chatter website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 15, 2013

Flea Christenson & Flash and Patches

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Flea Christenson, the all-natural, slightly crunchy blogger for Jones Natural Chews, maker of dog smiles (via all-natural chews). My babies are Flash and Patches, brother and sister (litter mates), both eleven years old and Australian shepherds whose German shepherd father dug under the fence.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I need an excuse for good coffee? My duck, Petey, needed a fresh cup, so we stopped in for his fix. He has a sweet tooth, and no artificial stuff, please.

What's brewing?

Always brewing is a French Roast in the press, cream and sugar. Flash asks for half-caff, since he's an old man now. He mutters something about his prostate nearly every morning. Patches prefers Earl Grey, but I don't stock that, so she makes do.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

I'm strictly a coffee for breakfast girl, but Flash and Patches love a good pig ear or Jones Bandit's Bone with their java. The dogs insist that pork or beef and coffee are a great combo for starting the day. *shudder*

How did your dogs get their names? Any nicknames?

Flash and Patches came with their names. They were three years old when they came to us. According to their "birth" mama, Flash was a speedy puppy, and Patches - well, she's rather patchy looking. I call them puppy and other puppy, depending on who walks into the room first.

How were you and your dogs united?

Our first family dog, an Australian shepherd, died of cancer at twelve and a half. We mourned, then looked for two Aussies via rescue organizations. Flash and Patches have a long, sad story prior to finding us, but happy, sunny stories over the last eight years. We love the breed, love having two dogs instead of one, just love these two pups. We will definitely be rescuing our next pair of dogs.

Your menagerie includes ducks and chickens--how well do they get along with the dogs?

Oh my. Two years ago a well-meaning friend bought us a baby chick. It's morphed into a little farm in my backyard. The dogs had to be trained not to bite the chicks, which was a gradual business. Aussies are intelligent dogs and it didn't take them long to understand that the chickens were pets and off limits.

Ducks? Whole different ball game. I'm constantly refereeing fights between Flash and Jimmy, my white Aylesbury. Flash has managed to pin Jimmy to the ground, since Jimmy has a bad habit of biting Flash's posterior. It's a hate-hate relationship with the dogs and ducks, but the dogs are very careful not to harm any of our birds.

Where do your dogs most like to visit on an outing?

Outings are a toss-up between anywhere in the car (mostly picking up teenagers from school and work), and camping. Camping probably wins. Flash and Patches each bring their beds, and we always camp near water, since they love to fetch rocks and swim.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?


Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Patches loves the squeaky toy for about an hour, then is done. Flash will occasionally catch a soft Frisbee. Neither really plays with toys, which I attribute to having two dogs. They spend hours licking each other's ears and eyes. Which is really gross to listen to. They also love a good game of bitey face.

What is each dog's best quality?

Flash is incredibly loyal and protective of his mama (me). Almost to a neurotic level as he ages. But he's all bark and very little nip. Patches is protective of the entire family, patrolling the yard, keeping bunnies at bay.

If your dogs could change one thing about you, what would it be?

They would probably get me out for walks, off the couch, especially when they bark. Which means I would be a yo yo on a string.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, which actors should do their voices?

Flash would be spoken by Clint Eastwood. It suits his personality and his old man-ness. My husband says he hears Richard Kind, Dr. Mark in Mad About You. Patches would be spoken by Mae West. Totally her attitude.

If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

Why do you bark at everything?!

Visit Flea Christenson's Jones Natural Chews blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Crystal & Pinch

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Crystal, a Canadian expat in France here with my 6-year-old miniature pinscher/dachshund mix, Pinch. I'm currently a stay-at-home pet mom of 4, as well as a freelance writer for and its sister site,

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I make a pot of coffee every morning after my walk with Pinch. I'm not picky, but it has to be filter coffee and not too strong! When I'm in Canada, I love stopping by Tim Horton's and Starbucks.

What's brewing?

This week it's a Peruvian blend with a bit of vanilla sugar and a dash of milk.

Any treats for you or Pinch on this occasion?

He and my cats get a bit of flaked tuna on top of their kibbles every morning, and Pinch always gets a little cookie when we come in from our morning walk.

Right now, he's working his way through a bag of peanut butter treats I picked up during my last trip home to Canada.

Since you were last guests here on the blog you've relocated from the suburbs of Paris to a tiny town in the French Alps. Has that changed your pets' lives much?

We live in a much bigger apartment now, so they have more room to run around. It's also a lot quieter outside, and I'm at home more which Pinch really loves. Unfortunately, many of our neighbours in the building have dogs, and Pinch didn't make the best first impression when we moved in because he can be a bit aggressive towards unfamiliar people & pooches. We're working on it though! He's been, and is going back to a kennel run by a woman who specializes in working with dogs who have behavioural issues.

You've added a couple of striking Sphynx cats to the household. How's that going over with Pinch?

The sphynxes love to bully Pinch because he lets them! He is completely submissive to the cats, and I'd say that everyone gets along for the most part. They aren't exactly friends, but they certainly aren't enemies, either.

Skinny Mini, the older sphynx, loves to sneak up and swat Pinch on the head so she can steal his spot!

Has Pinch made any new canine pals in your town?

There is one much bigger dog in the building that Pinch will tolerate. We've been on a few hikes with Cooper, and it's very funny to see such a big dog alongside my little dog. Usually we just try to avoid other dogs outside so nobody starts barking or fighting. Everyone here thinks Pinch is adorable, but happy he's always kept on a leash!

Where is Pinch's favorite outdoor destination?

He loves to go anywhere that I can take off his leash so he can run free. Thankfully, there are many more places to do this here in the Alps than back in Paris. We took him on a 13km hike in the mountains a few months ago, and he had a great time exploring. Pinch has always loved grass, and will roll around in it the first chance he gets!

I enjoyed your article "Dog Ownership Is Killing Me -- And I Don't Mean Softly"; will you be doing more writing for Dogster?

I hope so! I've been working with them since February, and I've got a couple of articles up on the site already, as well as one on about my sphynx cats. It's been great being able to combine my 2 passions in life -- writing & my pets!

If Pinch could change one thing about you, what would it be?

That I would never leave him alone, even for a minute, and also that I'd never put him in the bathtub again.

If Pinch could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

What can I do to make you more social and less anxious around other people and dogs?

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Pinch and the cats could speak, who should voice them?

Well, even though he's French, I think Pinch would speak English, so I can see maybe Tobey Maguire? Noé, my big fluffy cat, would have the same voice as Garfield; Skinny Mini, the calico tabby sphynx has the fun, goofy personality of Jennifer Lawrence or Miley Cyrus, and I see Fly -- the dainty, yet mischievious sphynx -- with the voice of Kristen Bell.

Visit the Crystal Goes to Europe blog.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Crystal & Pinch (July 2011).

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 11, 2013

Luke Murphy & Costner

Who is in the photo at right?

This old, chubby guy is my ten year-old pug, Costner. He`s a loyal companion, who sleeps in his bed all day, which is strategically placed beside my writing desk.

My name is Luke Murphy. I’m an elementary school teacher who just released my debut novel, Dead Man's Hand.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

When I write, I need two things: a hot, steaming mug in front of me and my loyal companion in his bed, watching over me.

What's brewing?

I usually drink tea, but since my wife received a new Keurig for Christmas, I`ve been tempted by her French Vanilla flavoured coffee.

Any treats for you or your dog on this occasion?

I’m spoiling myself today. My wife just received a Keurig at Christmas, and I help myself to her selection of brews.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

I think you know where the name Costner comes from…that’s right, the actor, Kevin Costner. My wife and I love his movies, and he’s one of my favourite actors. We just call him Cos for short, and my daughters are crazy about him.

How were you and your dog united?

My wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, had always wanted a Pug. I was playing professional hockey in Georgia, and my wife got lonely when I went on road trips, which sometimes lasted for days. When my mother-in-law saw an ad in the paper for the dog, she called me up and together we bought it for my wife. That was in 2003, so he’s been around a lot longer than my kids.

Does your dog make any contribution to your writing?

He’s a trusty, loyal companion. He sleeps in his bed, which is situated in my writing office beside my desk, while I write. For my novel Dead Man's Hand, one of my main characters has a dog and I transferred many of Costner’s quirks and habits to the fictional dog in my story.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

He’s actually getting old now (and lazy), just celebrated his tenth birthday and has grown out of his toys. But he still enjoys my daughters’ stuffed animals.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Costner is one of the friendliest, outgoing dogs I have ever seen. He loves everyone, and wants to be friends with anyone (cats, squirrels, bigger dogs, etc.)

What is your dog's best quality?

Loyalty. That’s an easy one. He’s been with me for a long time, through thick and thin. He sleeps in our bed every night and is a big cuddler. He loves the warmth, hates our Canadian winters, and spends as much time in bed under the covers as he can.

If your dog could change one thing about you, what would it be?

His diet. I’m very strict when it comes to Costner’s food and portions. He is on weight-control food, and only gets two servings a day.

I also monitor his treats. Being a small dog with short legs, his weight is always a concern.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dog could speak, which actor should do his voice?

I’m sure you’ve seen the Pug in Men in Black, and everyone we meet calls him Franklin from that movie. If there was a movie on my life and we needed a voice over for Costner, I’d say the best candidate would probably by Clint Eastwood—with that old, hard-edged, husky voice.

If your dog could answer only one question in English what would you ask him?

Who do you like better, mommy or daddy?

Visit Luke Murphy's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 8, 2013

Kim Boykin & Wylie, Molly and Toby

Who is in the photos at right and below?

Kim Boykin, fulltime writer and author of The Wisdom of Hair and her trusty canines Wylie, Molly and Toby.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have coffee every day with Molly under the kitchen table, Wylie watching over me from the couch he’s not supposed to be on, and Toby in his bed by my husband’s chair acting aloof but taking everything in.

What's brewing?

Seattle’s Best #4, dark roast coffee at home. At Jumpin’ Java, a bone dry cappuccino, not so hot, about 120 degrees.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Nope, they’re all on a diet and only get treats at bedtime.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Molly-standard issue lab name.

Wylie-we live on Lake Wylie.

Toby-named after his dad who had some long funky registered name with Toby tacked on the end of it.

How were you and your dogs united?

We had three older dogs at the time when we got Molly almost 10 years ago. She was the puppy you get to distract you from the fact that the old guys weren’t going to be around much longer. They lasted three more years. So what did we do? We got a fifth dog, Toby, who was a 25th wedding anniversary present to my husband. The old guys, Shadow, Fuzzy, and Milo passed away within a year of each other. We thought about being a two-dog family, but that didn’t last long. Wylie was a Christmas present from my husband two years ago.

Are your dogs more help or hindrance to your writing?

Wylie is 2, so his job is to get the older dogs off their butts as much as possible. Most of my time is spent letting Wylie in or out about every 10 minutes for the better part of the morning and settles down around noon. I’m so ADHD, it doesn’t affect my writing and it gets me off my butt.

What is each dog's best quality?

Molly is sweet and she sings with my husband. Molly’s the better singer.

Toby is the weirdest dog we’ve ever had. He is Jack Russell terrier smart; he’s aloof most of the time but can be a world-class snuggler.

Wylie is the happiest dog we’ve had and is the poster child for enthusiasm.

If your dogs could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Because of problems some of our other dogs had in the past, I’m a stickler about not giving them table food. If they could, they would sit down to breakfast and dinner with my husband and I. Truth be told, Toby’s been caught a time or two on the table, most notably on the buffet table, this past Thanksgiving when no one was looking. Got himself a turkey leg and ran.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, which actors should do their voices?

The part of Molly will be played by Melissa McCarthy, napping. Toby, on a bad day a young Pacino or De Niro on a bad day, on a good day an old Pacino or De Niro. And Wylie, Seth Rogen.

If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

Why in the world do you eat the deer poop in the garden and then throw it up on my white couch?

Visit Kim Boykin's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Wisdom of Hair.

My Book, The Movie: The Wisdom of Hair.

Writers Read: Kim Boykin.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Virginia Morell & Buckaroo

Who is in the photo at right?

Virginia Morell. I'm a correspondent for Science magazine, a regular contributor to National Geographic and other publications, and the author of four books. My latest, Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures, came out last month. I'm with Buckaroo, our 6-year-old male American Working Farm Collie, or more simply, Scotch Collie.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We stopped by Noble Coffee Roasting, 281 Fourth St. in Ashland, one of our favorite coffee houses, for an energy hit before taking a hike in Oredson-Todd Woods.

What's brewing? Any treats for you or Buckaroo on this occasion?

I'm having a Cafe Mocha using Noble Coffee's "World Tour Blend"; my husband (not pictured because he was taking the photo) had a cup of French pressed Kenyan "Kia Oro."

We're about to devour the chocolate and apricot croissants. Buck would like to sample both, but because chocolate can make dogs sick, we'll only let him taste the apricot one.

How were you and Buckaroo united?

We wanted a mixed collie pup after our first dog (a collie, Australian shepherd, husky mix) died, but couldn't find one. So I googled "mixed collie puppies" one day, and up popped a site about American Working Farm Collies, and the farmers and ranchers who are trying to bring back a healthy, working farm collie (like the original Lad and Lassie). There were links to breeders; some were in Oregon, but all their puppies were already spoken for. I eventually found a breeder and goat farmer (Angela Smith of CartAngel Acres) in De Queen, Arkansas. She had a banner on her website--"Our American Idol Puppies Are Here!"--which made me laugh. She'd named all the puppies after some of the more famous American Idol contestants. There was something so touching and funny about that, I thought she must have good dogs--and she did. She wasn't running a puppy mill. She had one sire and one dam (and they were both working dogs, caring for the goats), and this was their second litter. It turned out to be their last, too, because the dam died two years later. Angela picked out a puppy for us and sent us his photograph showing his "cheesy smile," as she called it, and as strange as it sounds--we fell in love with him.

How did your Buck get his name? Any aliases?

His breeder, Angela Smith, named him Reuben for Reuben Studdard, the American Idol contestant with the big-hearted smile. She told us her pup Reuben had that same sunny, "live-happy attitude"--and he does-- but we decided to rename him; maybe it was a way of making him our own. We chose 'Buckaroo' because it's an Oregon name, and captures his happy, energetic spirit--plus the "roo" at the end reminds us of Reuben. We call him Buck most of the time, but also Bucky, Beautiful Buck, Mr. Buck--which sometimes, when he's being particularly mischievous and playful, gets transformed into Mr. Bugs.

Does Buckaroo have a favorite place to go for outings?

One of his favorite hikes is along Clay Creek in the Oredson-Todd Woods [photo left]. He meets many other dogs, including some of his best dog-pals, on this trail, and the forest is rich with the scents of squirrels, deer, foxes, black bear, and cougars.

Does Buck do more to help or to hinder your writing?

He is essential to my writing; he keeps me grounded, and makes sure that I take breaks. Usually he lies at my feet, patiently waiting for me while I write. But if I'm in danger of spending too much time writing, he gently nudges my hand away from the keyboard. Buck has also given me "story material"--things he's done or adventures we've had together have led to some of my best stories. He's one of the main reasons that I wrote Animal Wise--I wanted to know more about how he and other animals think; what their emotional lives are like; how they experience the world.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Buck loves tennis balls, especially the four that fit into the mouth of one of his stuffed toys (the Big-Mouthed Dog); with that toy, he can carry four balls to us. He has two favorite stuffed squeaky toys, "Santa Teddy" [photo right] and "Mr. Bill".

Buck loves fetching sticks, and often brings us sticks on our hikes to throw for him. Sometimes when he's trying to get another dog to play with him, he'll pick up a stick and toss it around, and then let the other dog steal it from him.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

His breeder told us that it was a farm collie's nature to protect any animals that his/her owner cares for. We put out peanuts-in-the-shell for our resident Steller and scrub jays, so Buck guards them as if they were his flock. He's always on the look-out for neighborhood cats and chases them out of our yard. But he doesn't chase our own kitty, Nini. He likes the postman because he often gives Buck a biscuit; also, Buck helps to carry in our mail (it's one of his jobs), and we give him a treat, too. He likes to chase squirrels in the woods, but has never caught one; we don't want him to, and call him back from any chases that look as if they're not going to end well.

Who are Buckaroo's best pet-pals?

He loves Maya, a Bernese Mountain Dog, that a neighbor owns. They played together as puppies, and adore each other. He also is fast-friends with Kobe, a pit-bull mix, and he absolutely hero-worshipped Blue, a beautiful golden retriever, who (it breaks my heart to write this) died just a couple of days ago. We haven't been to Blue's home with Buck since Blue passed away; I don't know how Buck will respond. I'm sure he will wonder "Where is Blue?"

What is Buckaroo's best quality?

It's hard to pick one. Buckaroo is such a good, loving, loyal, and protective pal, and he has such a sunny, happy personality. He loves to make us laugh.

If your dog could change one thing about you, what would it be?

He would change the amount of time I spend sitting in front of my computer; if it were up to Buck, I'd probably be at my desk for 1 hour a day, and 8 hours in the woods, instead of the other way around.

If Buckaroo could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

What is it like to see through your nose, to see the world via scents and odors? I know he's reading intriguing stories with his nose, but I can only guess at them.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Buckaroo could speak, who should voice him?

Sean Connery.

Read more about Animal Wise: The Thoughts and Emotions of Our Fellow Creatures.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 4, 2013

Jacqueline Resnick & Maple

Who is in the photo at right?

This is me, Jacqueline Resnick, with my dog, Maple, who is a seven year old toy poodle. I'm a children's book writer, and she’s great at keeping me company during long hours of writing!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We are celebrating the release of my first novel, a book for 8-12 year olds called The Daring Escape of the Misfit Menagerie. It's especially exciting because the book is about a friendship between children and animals, so Maple was a big inspiration for me while writing.

What's brewing?

A vanilla chai latte! Preferably the sugary Big Train brand. It's a drink I have long been obsessed with.

Any treats for you or your dog on this occasion?

Since we’re celebrating…a chocolate chip cookie for me, and a banana flavored bone for Maple. Maple loves all things banana.

How did Maple get her name?

My childhood dog was named Willow. When I got Maple—my first dog of my own—I wanted to name her after a tree as well, in honor of Willow. Unfortunately there aren't many trees that make good dog names! It was my cousin who suggested Maple, and I immediately loved it. It fit her perfectly.

How were you and Maple united?

She was a gift from my parents when I graduated college. I'd pretty much been dreaming of getting a dog since the first day of freshman year. I didn’t expect her to be so small, though! Maple was the runt of her litter, and is actually about half the size she was supposed to be.

Please tell us about your new book.

In The Daring Escape of the Misfit Menagerie, a group of four unusual animals (a sun bear, a hairy-nosed wombat, a Komondor dog, and an angora rabbit) are abducted into a cruel circus. There, they must band together with the ringmaster's nephew and a young acrobat to try to save an entire circus of captive animals.

Does Maple make any contribution to your writing?

I call her my writing partner because she's constantly by my side when I work at home. [Literally: check out the photo, right!] I'd bring her to coffee shops too if it wouldn't get me kicked out...

Who are your dog's best pet-pals?

Maple is a bit of a lone wolf, but she does love (most of the time) my sister and parents' dogs. She's the smallest of the group, but definitely the bossiest!

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Maple has a stuffed bear that she loves, probably because it’s light enough for her to actually pick up. She also gets very excited when I take out her t-shirt. She loves wearing that t-shirt.

What is Maple's best quality?

Her love is unconditional. I can always count on her to cheer me up and make me smile.

If Maple could change one thing about Brooklynites, what would it be?

She'd probably ask that they ignore her more. She gets stopped a lot on the street because people are amazed she's so tiny. Sometimes I think she just wants to get back to her walk!

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Maple could speak, which actor should do her voice?

Sarah Silverman.

If Maple could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?

How does the world look from so low down?

Visit Jacqueline Resnick's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue