Who are you and what do you do?
Well, it’s really a “we” with regard to the current project – I’m a novelist, and Dula Yavne is a visual artist. Together we’re producing Galunker, a children’s book about a pit bull.
For the last two years, I’ve also been writing essays on animal welfare, and in particular the No Kill movement, which has earned me the fierce enmity of people who support kill shelters (PETA, etc.).
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
We were in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign to fund Galunker (as no traditional publisher will go near a kids’ book about a pit bull). Galunker has been written mostly in a cafe – essentially my office. I’m there every day, with all four dogs. I live in Oaxaca, in the south of Mexico, where the dogs are treated like aristocrats. They tend to be served before the humans: they get water, and then I get coffee.
What are your dogs' names, gender, age, breed?
It’s a diverse menagerie. All girls. Moose is a mutt – probably half Chihuahua, half Jack Russell. Manatee and Pixel are Italian Greyhounds, and Snorkel is a Xoloitzcuintle – a Mexican hairless.
The coffee here is some of the best in the world. One of the cafes is owned by a good friend, who ran a coffee shop in Princeton. My morning ritual is a triple latte, which comes in a bowl. (Oaxaca is the Paris of Mexico.)
Another cafe, which I’ve recently begun to frequent, is devoted to exotic methods of preparing coffee: Vietnamese drip, etc.
Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?
Well, no need for treats. This new cafe in particular prefers dogs to humans, and insists that they run wild. I’ve had to dissuade the waitresses from feeding the dogs, but my sense is that they still do it on the sly.
How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?
Moose was named for the reason that you call a basketball player “Shorty.” She’s pretty small. Manatee as well: she’s the opposite of fat. Pixel was named for her personality: dancing and bright. Snorkel was hilariously wrinkled as a puppy: she looked like a snorkel.
How were you and your dogs united?
Moose we got from a veterinarian who had a litter to be homed.
Manatee was a gift. Pixel we got her from a woman in Mexico City, who is a biologist dedicated to keeping the breed healthy. Snorkel was bought for our landlady, who wanted a Xolo, but she bonded instantly with my girlfriend, so we had to keep her.
How do your dogs help--or hinder--your writing?
They’re the reason I’ve been writing Galunker. They’re in fact the reason I got into writing about animal welfare in the first place. Absolutely central to my life. That said, they do their best to make sure that I don’t get any writing done. (High maintenance.)
Galunker had a great start Kickstarter campaign, didn't it?
The campaign has been successful beyond anything we ever imagined: pit bull advocates from around the world have supported the book.
Squirrel, postman, cat....?
We don’t have squirrels or traditional postmen, so it’s cats by default. We’ve been tending a feral cat colony; the dogs have mixed feelings about this.
What is each dog's best quality?
Moose: poetic. Pixel: absurdly social. Snorkel: ridiculous. Manatee: criminal mastermind.
If your dogs could change one thing about you, what would it be?
They’d prefer I didn’t write, so that I could pay attention to them full time. They’re sincerely hoping that Galunker will be the last book.
Visit the Kickstarter campaign page for Galunker.