Who is in the photo at right?
The photo is of me, Tania Malik, and my dog, Deuce, an eight-year-old cockapoo. I am mother to a teenage daughter and a writer.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
After our morning walk, Deuce and I take up our usual positions. I am on my laptop, sitting at my desk or on the couch. Deuce sleeps nearby or is curled up next to me.
A cup of steaming hot tea, just regular old Twining’s English Breakfast. Black. No sugar. No milk.
Any treats for you or Deuce on this occasion?
Deuce is enjoying his Yeti Dog Chew. It is a long lasting, hard cheese treat made from yak and cow’s milk.
How were you and Deuce united?
When my daughter was seven she begged for a dog, promising she would walk it, feed it and clean up after it. We agreed and, opting for adoption, regularly visited our local humane society looking for the dog who would best fit in with our family. Several weeks later, I was told a one-year-old dog had come in but not been processed yet. They took me to see Deuce and his hair was overgrown--it almost touched the floor--but he had such a great attitude and the sweetest brown eyes and nose. I brought my family to see him later on that day and we were all charmed by his playful and affectionate disposition. Shortly after, we took him home. It was one of the best decisions our family made. Of course, my daughter’s promises to walk and feed him never really materialized, though she is better about it now that she is grown. But really, I love walking with Deuce and taking care of him.
How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?
He was named “Deuce” when we adopted him. It suited him. Sometimes, we call him “deucey-woosey” but I think Deuce feels this endearment compromises his masculinity.
Does Deuce do more to help or hinder your writing?
I cannot imagine my writing life without Deuce. He is a great companion. He motivates me to get off my chair and out the door for long, soul-replenishing walks, giving me time to think, reflect, and stretch my legs. For me, writing is a solitary activity and with him I am never alone. I like to bounce my writing ideas and thoughts off him. He’s a good listener.
Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your published work?
In my novel, Three Bargains, there is a white, fluffy Pomeranian named Prince. Because of their size and looks, Pomeranians are a popular breed in India, where Three Bargains is set. They are often overfed, overindulged and poorly trained. Prince, with his high pitched yip, is the archetype of those Pomeranians that nipped at me when I was in the homes of friends and relatives while I was growing up.
Cat, postman, squirrel...?
They all set Deuce off, but mostly it is other dogs who are on their walks. He will bark at them from our window as if to say, “Hey! Don’t just walk on by! Come on in and say hello!”
Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?
Deuce loves a good game of tug-of-war with a thick piece of twisted rope.
Who is Deuce's best pet-pal?
Leela is a 12-year-old Gordon Setter and Australian Shepherd mix. Along with Leela’s owner, Cathy, we hike the trails of Northern California. Leela is getting a bit slow now but we hope to go on long walks with her as long as she is able.
What is Deuce's best quality?
Deuce is very compassionate. We had the opportunity to live in India for a couple of years where there are many stray dogs on the streets. One morning he refused to move until I looked under a parked car. I found a two-month-old abandoned mutt suffering from distemper. We brought him home. Deuce was gentle and caring, staying by the pup and offering it comfort, as if aware of how sick, malnourished and scared the pup was. We were able to take care of the distemper and now the puppy lives in his forever home on a huge farm where he can run free and is well loved. Deuce has helped me more than once in this way, but not only with dogs. When my daughter badly sprained her ankle he spent all night curled up next to her bandaged leg as though he were comforting her.
If Deuce could change one thing about Californians, what would it be?
If it was up to Deuce he would vote for an end to the leash laws so all dogs could roam free, and be able to enjoy every beautiful Californian trail or open space without restraint. Recently, the park service here in our part of Northern California had proposed banning dogs from certain beaches and trails. I imagine if Deuce knew of this he would be out gathering signatures, or paw prints, to put an end to such draconian measures.
If Deuce could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?
Deuce will sniff and then settle down when a stranger, like the cable guy, comes into the house, but the moment they try to leave he will rush at the door, barking. I would ask him why he doesn’t like it when they leave. I know he is a sociable animal but we can’t keep every cable person, plumber or electrician from leaving the house.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Deuce could speak, who should voice him?
Benedict Cumberbatch who plays the perceptive Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series. The pitch and cadence of the actor’s voice as Holmes would suit Deuce who is also hyper-aware and cognizant of any changes to his environment and routine. Nothing gets past Deuce, and he is eager to be at the center of whatever is going on as well.
Visit Tania Malik's website.