Who is in the photo at right?
My name is Gail Whitmore. I am the author of A Place to Call Home, the first book in my new series The Rescue Dog Tales. With me in the photo is Zeus, a white German Shepherd I adopted from South Carolina through the Echo Dogs White Shepherd Rescue group. Kadee isn’t in the picture because she’s camera shy. Anytime I have a camera or my cell phone in my hand, she takes off, so I have to trick her to get a picture of her. Kadee is a Border Collie/Shepherd mix I adopted from a pound in my area. She is 15 years old and going strong. As of a few weeks ago, Zeus is no longer with us. He had an aggressive form of cancer, and I had to have him euthanized. He was so brave during his ordeal. I wonder if I would be that brave.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
Kadee and I are relaxing on the deck. It is eleven o’clock in the morning, and I am having my second cup of coffee. If Zeus were still here, the two of them would be exploring in the back yard, but now, Kadee just stays on the deck with me. Kadee and I both miss Zeus tremendously, but we have great memories of him, and we still have each other.
This is the first warmish day after what’s been the longest winter ever! Kadee is lying on the deck in the intermittent sunshine, while I sit on the lounge chair listening to the birds sing. Spring must be just around the corner, right??
Black coffee straight up for me. As long as there’s caffeine, I’m happy!
Any treats for you or Kadee on this occasion?
No treats this morning. Kadee, being a senior doggie, is on a fairly strict diet. I am on a diet, too, as I am also close to being a senior.
How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?
Zeus had his name when I adopted him, and since he was three years old, I decided to keep it. Kadee’s name just popped into my head the day I was getting ready to bring her home from the pound. Her aliases are Kadee Kins and KK.
How were you and your dogs united?
I found Kadee after my first dog Toby passed away. I wanted to open my home up to another rescue dog and give Ripley (another white German Shepherd I adopted) a doggie companion. I kept going out every weekend to the local pounds and found Kadee a few weeks after I started looking. She was six months old and had been found homeless, roaming the streets in the city of New Haven. I brought Ripley with me to meet her, and she went and sat down right underneath his head and started licking the bottom of his chin. It was love at first sight!
After Ripley died, I read about Zeus online and flew down to South Carolina to meet him. When our eyes locked, I knew we were meant to be together, so I rented a Lincoln Continental (he was a big dog!) and drove back to Connecticut with him. He ate a couple of McDonald’s hamburgers on the way back. I told him not to get used to it. We arrived home just after midnight, and Kadee and Zeus hit it off immediately.
Please tell us about your new book.
A Place to Call Home is the first book in my series The Rescue Dog Tales. The story was inspired by my first dog Toby, who I adopted from the Connecticut Humane Society. He was seven months old at the time and had been severely abused. The details given to me about his past both horrified and intrigued me. He was found in a box next to a dumpster with another female puppy in northern California. The vet that examined them out there thought they might be part wolf. The physical abuse started when he ended up in Connecticut through a series of ill-fated events. I couldn’t stop wondering how him and his sister pup ended up in that box, and was he really part wolf? And more importantly, what would drive someone to abuse a defenseless puppy? My musings turned into a story. The story turned into my book. If you want to know more, you’ll have to read it!
How do your dogs help--or hinder--your writing?
My dogs inspire me. One of the reasons I decided to write A Place to Call Home, was to raise awareness in our youth of the plight of rescue dogs in this country. It took me a number of years to complete the book, and there were times when I didn’t think I would ever finish it. But when I felt like giving up, I would think of Toby and all that he had been through in the seven short months before I adopted him. He gave me the strength and motivation to continue writing.
Sometimes Kadee will come up to me when I am sitting at my desk and nudge my hand or stick her head under my arm, which usually means she wants some attention. I stop what I’m doing and give her a bunch of pets, then she usually lets me get back to writing until she’s ready for more pets!
Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your books?
Toby was the inspiration for my first book in The Rescue Dog Tales, and Kadee is the inspiration for the second book in the series, which I am working on now.
Squirrel, postman, cat....?
Kadee and Zeus both loved to be on the lookout for squirrels when they were younger. They’d sit at the bottom of a tree long after the squirrel that had escaped up the trunk was gone. They never quite figured out that squirrels can hop from tree to tree!
Who were Kadee and Zeus's best pet-pals?
Kadee and Zeus were each other’s best pals. Kadee doesn’t like other dogs, but she loved Zeus. I told Kadee I would be her best pal now that Zeus is gone.
What is each dog's best quality?
Kadee is extremely intelligent. It must be the Border Collie in her. I find myself talking to her in full sentences and most of the time she seems to understand what I am saying.
Zeus was the sweetest dog ever. He wanted love, love, and more love, and he gave back as much as he received.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Kadee and Zeus could speak, which actors should do their voices?
Kadee would be played by Meryl Streep and Zeus would be played by Jimmy Stewart.
If Kadee and Zeus could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?
Though I would be curious to know what transpired in their lives before I adopted them, I wouldn’t want to dredge up the past, so I think I would ask them what they dream about. Zeus especially, since he was always very active when he slept. His legs moved as if he were running, and he made all kinds of different sounds. Sounds I never heard him make when he was awake. Kadee makes more subtle motions and sounds when she sleeps. Maybe she’s trying to solve the world’s problems!
Visit Gail Whitmore's website and Facebook page, and read more about A Place to Call Home.