Who is in the photo at right?
That’s my son Dally, me, Erin Lindsay McCabe, author of I Shall Be Near To You, and Roxy, and our 12 and a half year old Best Dog Ever (aka American Mutt). We think she’s part Australian Cattle Dog, but really we have no idea.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
We were visiting my hometown Chico for my book launch at Lyon Books which happened to almost coincide with my birthday and my son’s birthday. So as a triple birthday bash, we decided to visit Beatniks for our coffee date.
As I’ve gotten older even decaf makes me feel… funny. So usually I stick with a chai latte or a hot chocolate, but today I decided to splurge with a latte.
Any treats for you or Roxy on this occasion?
Dally and I are sugar hounds, so we’ll take any excuse for a chocolate chip cookie or some pumpkin bread. Roxy is a cheese dog, so she’s usually out of luck at the coffee shop. But Beatniks has a delicious veggie sandwich that comes with cheese, so I shared with Roxy. I threw in a back scratch for good measure, which Roxy likes almost as much as cheese.
Are there any dogs in your fiction that are inspired by your dog?
Not really, though I imagine there will be at some point. There are two dogs that show up in I Shall Be Near To You. One was the mascot to a Pennsylvania regiment and went everywhere with them. The other is a “farm dog” and it is scavenging (to put it nicely) on the battlefield, based on historical accounts blended with something I once saw some ranch dogs do.
Does Roxy do more to help or to hinder your writing?
Roxy is a great help. Going for a walk with Roxy is one of the best ways I’ve found to jumpstart my writing. When I was working on I Shall Be Near To You, we would go for a walk first thing and by the time we turned for home, I almost always had some idea percolating. While I write, Roxy usually just curls up on her bed next to the couch and sleeps. It’s nice to have a quiet companion to keep the writing from getting lonely.
How did Roxy get her name? Any aliases?
My husband likes to joke that I stole Roxy. But what really happened was I looked out the window one morning just before Thanksgiving eleven years ago and there was this cute black dog heading down the street, toward a busy road. I ran out to catch her and ended up carrying her (which she absolutely hates to this day) back to our yard. It turned out she belonged to a man who lived a few blocks away, but when he learned we had Roxy, he told us to just keep her. We weren’t really in the market for a dog (despite the window-shopping I had been doing on black lab rescue sites), but we fell in love with her. Since Roxy seemed to know her name, we didn’t change it. We sometimes call her Roxanne, Roxy-dog or Rox or else Puppy or Little Dog.
Cat, postman, squirrel...?
Oh squirrels for sure, though she’s never caught one to our knowledge. She likes to give our mail carrier a good scary bark with raised hackles, but she doesn’t really mean it. And Roxy lives quite peacefully with our 4 cats a s well as neighbor hood cats that sometimes wander into our yard. Her ability to co-exist with all our other animals (chickens, goats, horses) is one of the many things we love about her.
Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?
Roxy loves stuffed squeaky toys that she can shake around violently before tearing holes in them and pulling out all the stuffing. And though she does enjoy chewing on sticks, she finds fetch demeaning.
Does Roxy have a favorite place to go for outings?
She loves any place where she can be leash-free. She’s very obedient and always stays nearby, but she likes to go her own pace and sniff to her heart’s content.
Who is Roxy's best pet-pal?
My son has described Roxy as his best friend, though I’m not sure she feels quite the same. She has a couple dog friends—Iris, our neighbor, an Australian shepherd, and Ginger [photo left], a tiny Chihuahua mix. She also had a (real, working) sniffer dog friend, Bart, a black lab, but he passed away recently. But mostly Roxy has always been a people dog. She knows who has the cheese.
What is Roxy's best quality?
We often refer to Roxy as almost human. She is very serious and takes things personally, but she can also be silly and playful. She is very smart and was incredibly easy to train as a young dog—we used to do tricks almost every night just to keep her mind engaged. Her best tricks were bowing, doing figure-eights between my legs, and crawling, though now-a-days, she’s too creaky to do most of those. She does still love to give high-fives.
If Roxy could change one thing about Californians, what would it be?
She would probably like them to take cheese more seriously, like the French do.
If Roxy could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?
How can we help you be more comfortable and why don’t you like your bed in our room anymore?
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Roxy could speak, who should voice her?
I had to consult my husband on this one. He suggested Amy Adams because she can be serious and playful. And I agree because she also has such sweetness about her.
Visit Erin Lindsay McCabe's website and Facebook page.