Who is in the photo at right?
In the photo I'm with Milo - a wonderful rescue dog. I'm Laura Hobgood-Oster. I teach religion and environmental studies at Southwestern University, but am also very involved with dog rescue. The dog here is about 7 years old, he was surrendered to the county shelter close to the college where I work and had some serious health issues. I'm happy to say that Milo is on the road to recovery! We have him on thyroid medication and have had a large tumor removed. He's lost 30 pounds and is a happy boy - and he's been adopted!
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
I have coffee with my dogs Codi and Cooper every morning at home - but on the special occasions when I take them to work with me we stop at Cianfrani's Coffee Shop in Georgetown to get our second cup of coffee. It's a great little, local place that roasts coffee right in the back of the store. Cooper loves people, so he has a great time when we sit in front of the coffee shop since he gets to visit with everyone who passes by.
Black coffee - straight up! One of the Cianfrani specials - Antiquity French Roast.
Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?
Probably not terribly healthy for them, but I did get a bagel and cream cheese - they got half of it of course.
How did Codi and Cooper get their names? Any aliases?
Codi and Cooper have lots of aliases! Codi is frequently called "Bean" (appropriate for a girl who is a coffee buddy of mine) and Cooper is also known as "Deuce" (little deuce coupe). Jack, my husband, came up with both of the names - not sure why he went with "C" names for them. Codi had been named "Tundra" at the shelter and Cooper was "Paddington" - neither of those stuck.
How were you and Codi and Cooper united?
Both are shelter dogs. Codi came from the Humane Society in Austin, Texas - we adopted her shortly after our old border collie (who lived until he was 16) died. Cooper came from the city shelter in Georgetown where I was volunteering at the time. He had been dumped outside one of the local social service agencies and animal control brought him in. The first time I saw him I knew he was my dog.
How do your dogs help--or hinder--your writing?
Well, all of my writing these days is about dogs - the book I just finished is a history of dogs and humans. So all of the dogs around me inspire me in the writing efforts. Cooper, though, does make it a little bit of a challenge. If I'm on the sofa with my laptop, he gets right next to me and puts his big old paws right on the keyboard - I've lost a few pages of writing because of this nice little habit of his!
Please tell us about your new book.
A Dog's History of the World tells the 30,000 year story of humans and dogs - how we have impacted each other, changed each other, helped each other. Frequently this is a touching story - dogs have been healers and have accompanied us into the afterlife (in myths and in real burials). Other times it's not as nice of a story, humans have used dogs to create empires and fight wars. But I contend that we would be a very different species if we hadn't hooked up with dogs all of those millennia ago.
Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?
Codi and Cooper are best pals with each other. They play together and cuddle up next to each other all the time. Sometimes Cooper drives Codi crazy because he's younger and is sort of a goofball. But overall they adore each other. Neither is terribly fond of cats unfortunately.
Where is Codi and Cooper's favorite outdoor destination?
There are a couple of great parks in the Georgetown and Austin areas that they both love - San Gabriel Park in Georgetown and Emma Long Park in Austin. Both have wonderful trails and cool water. And San Gabriel Park is full of squirrels - very exciting.
What is each dog's best quality?
Cooper is a clown, he makes me laugh all the time just through his silly antics. Codi is a lovebug, she's a sweet cuddler.
If Codi and Cooper could change one thing about Texans, what would it be?
It gets wickedly hot here in the summer, and those nasty fire ants and scorpions. But both of them have learned to alert us to scorpions in the house - Codi will make a funny growl-bark sound that is unique to spotting a scorpion. She taught Cooper how to do this too.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Codi and Cooper could speak, which actors should do their voices?
Cooper, has to be Sylvester Stallone in his Rocky voice. Codi would be Meryl Streep in her August Osage County role.
If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?
A very general question I think - "what makes you the happiest?" I think we assume (or I do) that my dogs are happy, but it would be great to find out.
Learn more about Laura Hobgood-Oster's books: Holy Dogs and Asses: Animals in the Christian Tradition, The Friends We Keep: Unleashing Christianity's Compassion for Animals, and A Dog's History of the World: Canines and Human Domestication.