Who is in the photo at right?
I’m Laura Kenyon, and this big guy (well, little in this picture because it’s one of our first!) is my buddy, Shadow. I’m a blogger, journalist, and author of Desperately Ever After, which puts a Sex and the City spin on our favorite fairy tales. Shadow is a silver (yes, silver!) Labrador retriever who just turned four but thinks he’s still a puppy.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
We’re celebrating the fact that I finally sent the manuscript for my next book, Damsels in Distress, off to my agent. For me, that means I can come out of my hole. For him, that means a less stressed mom, more spur-of-the-moment walks, and lots of Frisbees.
Allegro Organic Breakfast Blend in the Keurig
Any treats for you or Shadow on this occasion?
I’ve got my typical yogurt and granola with bananas, and Shadow always gets a few chunks of my banana. Somehow, he knows the moment I touch one and comes racing in—even if he’s on a different floor of the house!
How were you and Shadow united?
I spent 27 years longing for a dog, but my parents just weren’t into it. My husband, on the other hand, considered his yellow Lab a second brother. So it was always in the cards for us. The day we went to pick out Shadow (ten months after our wedding, so I didn’t waste any time!) just might have been the happiest day of my life! Sitting on the floor with a whole bunch of seven-week-old puppies? Perfection. Shadow was the one who hung out with us the longest. I think he was in love with my shoelaces. It was meant to be.
How did Shadow get his name? Any aliases?
Shadow’s color was just so unique, we had to honor it. I toyed with the name Blizzard for a while, because I thought of a blizzard as gray and foggy, but most people pictured white snow. And while he does have tons of energy like a blizzard, he is definitely my shadow around the house so it fits perfectly. As for nicknames: The Dooger, Shadowbear, Monster, Buddy, Buggy, Gremlin … my husband and I are always making things up for him!
Does Shadow do more to help or hinder your writing?
Hmm. While sometimes I think he’s deliberately trying to sabotage my writing … I’d have to say at the end of the day he helps it. I’ve written two full-length books so far, and he appears in both. But more importantly, when I’m stuck, that game-changing epiphany usually comes while I’m taking him for a walk or playing fetch in the back yard. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I think writers often get so obsessed with the minutiae that they lock themselves away when really they should be getting out and clearing their heads. It’s hard, but Shadow helps me do that.
Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your published work?
Absolutely! Shadow! In Desperately Ever After, the main character (Belle, as in Beauty and the Beast) adopts a dog who’s been cast aside just like her. His name just happens to be Beast … and he becomes instant family to her.
Cat, postman, squirrel...?
Shadow loves chasing squirrels, but he never barks at them. (They’re the same color, so he might think they’re long-lost brothers.) The postman gets an earful every single day, as does UPS. And cats … well, he has an especially berserk bark for cats. His hair stands up all along his back and the noise he makes is just awful. I’m pretty sure he believes they’re demons.
Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?
All of the above, although squeaky toys get dissected in a matter of minutes, so they’re not allowed anymore! If we’re outside, he has to have a stick. And inside, it’s amazing watching him fit a bone, a ball, and a Kong in his mouth all at the same time. He’s talented like that.
Who is Shadow's best pet-pal?
My in-laws have a golden retriever, Artie, who was trained to work with autistic children but didn’t quite pass the program. As a result, he’s extremely obedient, well behaved, and reserved. In other words, Shadow is Dennis the Menace to Artie’s Mr. Wilson. But after four years, they’re starting to rub off on each other—for better or for worse!
What is Shadow's best quality?
He’s just a total goof, always wanting to play. He makes me smile even during those times when I think it’s not possible. That’s why I love him so darned much!
If Shadow could change one thing about you, what would it be?
Shadow is so easygoing and carefree, while I have a tendency to get overwhelmed by things that don’t really matter. I’d love it if he could transfer some of that roll-off-your-shoulders attitude to me!
If Shadow could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?
Why do you run away every time I wash a pan?
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Shadow could speak, who should voice him?
Steve Carell. His portrayal of the psychotic, hyper-active squirrel in Over the Hedge was spot-on.
Visit Laura Kenyon's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.