Who is in the photo at right and just below left?
This is me, Lin Wilder, right before my reading and book signing at the Texas Medical Center Library during a two week book promotion for The Fragrance Shed By a Violet, a medical murder mystery with a TMC cardiologist as the main character. My dog’s name is Shadow--his age is somewhere between 8 and 10 or 11 and his breed a combination of Shepherd, Collie, 2 or 3 other breeds have been suggested-among them Golden Retriever, Great Pyrenees, and maybe Border Collie.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
Shadow and I have coffee together every morning- we’re usually up by 4 or 5 am (early morning is my best time to write) and 2 cups of coffee together to talk about the upcoming day’s work is a ritual for him and me.
Today though, my brain is really foggy so we went to Avila beach for a latte at Joe Mama’s Coffee so I could get a latte and Shadow [left] could run around and do his very most favorite things: meet new people, meet new little kids, and meet new dogs at the beach where we don’t need a leash before 10am.
We are currently escaping the winter of the high desert in our RV which is near San Luis Obispo so normally we are drinking SLO darn good coffee; today for my foggy brain, I got a latte at Joe Mama’s Coffee.
Any treats for you or Shadow on this occasion?
In an attempt to dissipate the fog in my brain, I broke my gluten free rule and had a biscotti from Joe Mama’s Coffee. Food is not Shadow’s thing although he politely accepts offered snacks from new friends at the beach, acts as if he is going to eat it then drops it and walks away.
How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?
When I first met my husband John back in Massachusetts, he had a female dog named Shadow with the exact colors of this guy; the similarities were so striking that we decided to name him after her.
How were you and Shadow united?
Shadow adopted us when we were beginning the landscaping that transformed our house from acres of nothing to an oasis. I was helping the people who were doing the 1st and 2nd phase--build the picket fence and gazebo [photo right] when I felt a cold wet nose in the fingers I had extended through the slats of the fence; Shadow had summoned the courage to approach after 2 days and nights of crying and hiding from us each time one of us would approach. He was starving--someone had abandoned him.
Does Shadow do more to help or hinder your writing?
Shadow is the mellowest dog in the universe. He is willing to do anything--even listen to my complaints about a foggy brain that is inhibiting my plan for today’s writing. His mere presence is calming, especially after a morning at the beach.
If Shadow could change one thing about Nevadans, what would it be?
Shadow would outlaw gun practice and hunting- he hates, detests, abhors the sound of guns.
Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your fiction?
Readers of my latest book will meet a red Doberman named Max who looks exactly Ally. The character in the book who owns Max is Rich Jansens, Chief Warden at Huntsville Prison. Max does not sit on Rich’s lap--he sticks to his beds.
[photo left: Wilder and Ally]
You've written eloquently about the unexpected death this year of your dog Ally [here, here, here, here]. What do you and Shadow miss most about him?
What Shadow and I miss most about Ally would fill a medium sized book but here are the 4 top of the very long list:
Ally was more than happy--he was enthusiastic, excited about all things whether it was chasing lizards in the spring, his food, snacks, going for a ride, hike or simply climbing up on my lap, he was a Presence. Shadow and I really miss that Presence--it’s been 8 months and the hole he has left in our lives remains gigantic.
Our two to sometimes three hour hikes in the mountains behind the Nevada house.
Ally was fearless; unafraid of gunshot, thunder--all the things that plague Shadow more so now that Ally is gone.
Dobermans are unique among dogs- the connection between them and those whom they choose to love seems deeper, therefore cuts deeper and bleed more once they have to leave us; Shadow has watched two Dobermans die.
What is Shadow's best quality? And what was Ally's?
Shadow’s best quality is his patience- he is a very patient dog.
Ally? Well patience was never one of his virtues nor was it any of the 2 Dobie’s I had before him- Ally’s was love---everyone saw it- those who could see past the prejudice that so many still have for Dobies...
[photo right--hiking in the mountains behind the Nevada house]
If Shadow could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?
I’d ask Shadow what the face of God looks like. I am sure that he—like all dogs see God on a routine basis. Unlike us, dogs don’t decide to do anything contrary to the way God made them.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Shadow and Ally could speak, who should voice them?
Morgan Freeman would speak for Shadow.
Johnny Depp for Ally.
What advice would Shadow give if asked?
When things get really bad, hunker down and wait; either things will improve or you’ll die. There are worse things than death.
Visit Lin Wilder's website and blog.