Thursday, April 3, 2014

Helen Peppe & Pilot, Dancer, Runja, and Skye

Who is in the photo at right?

Helen Peppe, author of Pigs Can’t Swim and equine photographer, with her 7 yo female boxer, Pilot.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have 4 dogs, and I don’t take them to dog parks anymore because I don’t want them to pick up viruses, but I do walk them in the woods and fields nearby my home in Maine, and at a family’s cabin in New Hampshire. They do ride with me in my truck, however, and if I stop to pick up a drink and donut for my daughter, they always get a dog biscuit or two.

What's brewing?

I understand it is odd. Very odd. But I have never even tasted coffee. Occasionally, to try and fit in at social events, I will drink tea, but I don’t enjoy it. I drink ice water. Although, I do not have an attachment to the coffee bean, I do have an unshakeable attachment to the cocoa bean. I eat chocolate everyday, usually in the morning and at night. Sometimes in the afternoon, too, if it’s been one of those days.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

I feed my dogs raw. They love their meals. I divide their food so they can have a breakfast and a supper. Who would want to eat only once a day?! For treats, I feed them liver snaps, Canidae kibble, pieces of hotdog, and organic dog biscuits.

Do your dogs help or hinder your writing? Have they inspired any dogs in your fiction?

My dogs help and hinder. After I take them for a long walk, they’ll settle in my writing area, and I love them to be near me sleeping. If, however, it is rainy or too snowy and they don’t get a walk, they interrupt me constantly for attention.That’s when I break out the meat bones. They probably have caught on, which is why they continue to push their noses at me and climb onto my keyboard.

Yes, I always include my dogs in my writing. They inspire me to write. Period.

You are a photographer as well as a writer. Which are easier to photograph: dogs or horses?

Horses are easier to photograph because they don’t usually jump on me, get in my lap, or lick my face.

How did your dogs get their names? Any nicknames?

All females: My boxer’s name is Pilot. She is named after the Elton John song “Take Me to the Pilot.” My rescued dachshund/miniature schnauzer/poodle mix is named Dancer [photo right] after Elton John’s song “Tiny Dancer.” Skye, my youngest rescue, a dachshund/terrier mix, is named after Elton John’s song “Skyline Pigeon.” My three year old black German shepherd is named Runja. She is from her breeder's R litter and her name means run yes. I got her hoping she would be my running companion. She has some arthritis issues however, so she is just my all-around companion.

I used to have a pit bull mix named Wizard after Elton John’s version of “Pinball Wizard.” He died of a bone disease. He was supposed to be my running partner, too. I’ve since decided that it’s better for all of us if I have no job expectations for my dogs.

Regarding nicknames, I sometimes call Pilot, Pi and Runya, Run, but I think that’s more of a time shortage issue than an intentional nickname. Most often I don’t have to call them anything. They are always with me.

How were you and your dogs united?

The two rescues are the result of me failing at fostering. I bought Pilot when my daughter was 4 because I wanted an excellent dog with children and boxers are amazing that way. They happily put up with tons of gentle and not so gentle physical attention. I bought the German shepherd to run with because I wanted protection when I was out exercising in the evening.

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

They love to go to New Hampshire, my husband’s family’s cabin. There are hundreds of acres of fields and woods and a lake for them to swim. I put life jackets on them and we paddle all over the lake together.

Do the dogs have any non-canine pet pals?

Skye [photo left], the youngest rescue, loves the cats. She wrestles with them (sometimes they win), and they often sleep together on my bed.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick…?

Pilot is ball obsessive. I can’t let her have them for long or she’d never eat or sleep. She invents games where she puts the balls in shoes or buries them in a scatter rug and then finds them again. It’s not just balls, actually. She will obsess over apples, tomatoes, and rocks, too. Anything round. So I guess she is round obsessive. She talks to her squeaky toys.

Runja will chase anything. She’s not picky. The two little rescues will chew anything. They are not picky, but they clearly prefer dragging my clothes out of the laundry basket and into my writing studio.

What is each dog's best quality?

Runja’s loyalty and obedience.

Pilot’s goofiness.

Skye’s and Dancer’s playfulness. They are very funny.

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

That everyone in Maine would love to see them off leash having fun.

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

Runja – Tina Fey.
Pilot – Janeane Garofalo.
Skye – Ellen DeGeneres.
Dancer – Marisa Tomei.

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

Why can’t you ever let me sleep past 6:00 AM?!

To read more about Pigs Can't Swim, go to

To see more of Helen Peppe's photography, see Helen Peppe Photography on Facebook.

–Marshal Zeringue


  1. I would love to see all of you in the boat with your life jackets on. What fun!

  2. What an interesting crew you have.