Who is in the photo at right?
Greetings! I am Catherine Reef, a hardworking author of nonfiction books for young people and adults.
The gentleman with me is Nandi, an eleven-year-old Italian greyhound.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
We are taking a break to check on the progress in our garden.
Nothing fancy. I am having my usual half-caff blend brewed with cinnamon.
Any treats for you or Nandi on this occasion?
A treat for Nandi might be a scrambled egg.
How were you and Nandi united?
Nandi was living with some relatives of ours whose situation changed. I knew him and had seen what a nice dog he was, so I invited him to come here. The move worked out well for everyone concerned: old family, new family, and Nandi.
How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?
I had been thinking about getting a puppy, and I had told my mother that if I did, I would name it after her, because I knew this was something she would like. (Her name is Pat.) But instead, Nandi came to live with us. He was two years old and liked his name, so I gave him his middle name, Patrick. He is sometimes known as the Nandster, among other pet names.
Does Nandi do more to help or hinder your writing?
He’s a big help, really. He has a bed in my office, between the desk and radiator, and I call him my associate. He doesn’t accomplish a whole lot, but I value his company because writing is such solitary work.
What is Nandi's best quality?
His loving heart.
You're the author of more than 40 nonfiction books, including many highly acclaimed biographies for young people. Which of your subjects was the biggest dog-lover?
Sigmund Freud. Are you surprised?
Freud learned to love dogs late in life. In fact, he was in his seventies when he befriended his daughter Anna’s German shepherd, Wolf. He doted on Wolf and would feed him treats or leave a light on for him when exiting a room. This led to much laughter in the Freud household and caused his family to ask if Wolf was planning to read. Freud soon had a canine companion of his own, his beloved chow, Jofi. She kept him company while he wrote just as Nandi does with me.
Who are Nandi's best pet-pals?
Nandi’s dog buddies, Gretta and Rondo, live in upstate New York with our son and his fiancée, so he only sees them a few times a year. Nandi has trouble remembering the many rules Rondo expects him to obey, but he looks forward to being with these two good friends all the same.
[photo right: The dogs, left to right, are Nandi, Rondo, and Gretta.]
Cat, postman, squirrel...?
We wait eagerly every day for the mail to be delivered, and a cat is just about the most exciting thing we can see on a walk. But squirrels? Eh.
Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?
Nandi is not a “toy” kind of guy. He would rather relax on a soft cushion and listen to beautiful music. He understands well the Italian concept dolce far niente: how sweet it is to do nothing.
If Nandi could change one thing about Marylanders, what would it be?
He would make them more generous with the contents of the refrigerator—at least the Marylanders he knows.
If Nandi could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?
I would ask, “Do you have a good life?” Because that’s what I want for him.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Nandi could speak, who should voice him?
How about Placido Domingo? Of course the movie would have singing.
Visit Catherine Reef's website.
The Page 69 Test: Frida & Diego.