Who is in the photos at right?
Jo Perry. Lola Perry and Lucy Perry.
I'm a writer who lives in Los Angeles. My first novel, Dead Is Better, will be published in January, 2015.
The canines are Lola and Lucy. Lucy is a soon-to-be 7 year old 50 lb. mutt, probably part black lab and part spaniel or flat-coated retriever.
Lola is also going to be 7 in a few months. She is a 16 lb mutt as well, part Chihuahua and part––we think because of her barkiness––Jack Russell.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
The dogs and I are celebrating my new novel. Since I am something of a late bloomer, we are celebrating early, before the actual publication date. But we don't need an excuse to celebrate: my dogs have taught me that every day should be celebrated.
Starbucks French roast fresh ground and made at home. Strong and dark. With soy milk. In a big cup.
Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?
Dream Bones (non- rawhide chews).
How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?
Lucy, who came into my life first, is sweet in an old-fashioned, straightforward way: "Lucy" matched her personality.
"Lola" is Lola because she is willful ("Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets"), and because of the alliteration.
How were you and your dogs united?
It was a terribly hot day in August, 2008. I was registering voters at a large store in the San Fernando Valley. Lucy—a puppy then—was wandering in the dangerous and very busy parking lot. She was dirty, dusty, scared and confused. No owner around—I took her home in my car. She fell asleep immediately—that’s how exhausted she was.
About nine months later, a neighbor found Lola in the alley behind our house. He tried to find a home, then took her to the pound. We rescued her. Lola and Lucy have been best friends and constant companions ever since.
How do your dogs help--or hinder--your work?
My dogs inspired my novel—which features a man and a dog in the afterlife. I could never have written this book without them. My dogs have enriched my life, enlarged it, and brought me joyful companionship.
They also interrupt my work—barking at squirrels, leaf blowers, or reminding me that it is time for (a walk, a snack, a treat, or just a pat on the head).
Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your writing?
Yes. My dog Lucy is the model for Rose, the canine heroine of my novel. Rose is a setter and Lucy isn’t—but they share the same sweetness and intelligence.
Squirrel, postman, cat....?
Squirrels are to be chased but never caught.
Mail carriers are to be barked at.
The dogs live with three cats. It’s sometimes tense, but we are one family.
What is your dogs' favorite outdoor destination?
My dogs love a park we visit daily. They run free, dig holes, chase balls, visit with other dogs and enjoy the delicious smells of food trucks that assemble nearby around lunch time. I am not going to name the park. It’s a secret.
Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?
The dogs have many canine friends in our neighborhood: Lucy the lovely yellow lab, Lucy’s first and oldest friend, and her boisterous canine brother, Boomer; Zeus, a serious and handsome boxer; Griffin, a charming Norwich terrier; Bailey, terrier mix and Bonita, a champagne poodle, who are always excited to see them; and Lacy and Rascal (both Chihuahua mixes) and Wally, a friendly Wheaton. A neighbor hosts a canine happy hour every weekday evening. The dogs socialize and munch on milk bones. The humans merely socialize.
What is each dog's best quality?
Lucy is all sweetness.
Lola is absolutely and unwaveringly loyal. She isn’t so sure how she feels about other people and other dogs. Her mood changes with the weather.
If your dogs could change one thing about Californians, what would it be?
Lola hates skateboards. They are an outrage. Skateboarders have to go!
Lucy is not fond of leaf blowers. Perhaps they can be banished with the skateboarders.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which your dogs could speak, which actors should do their voices?
Let’s see. Meryl Streep could do a great Lucy. Rita Rudner would be a perfect Lola.
If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?
Only one question! I have so many questions—what happened to you before we found you? Where did you come from? But I suppose the most important question—and the one I would ask is––what am I missing that I need to know about you? Or, what is it you’ve been wanting to tell me?
What advice would your dogs give if asked?
I learn from my dogs. Not the other way around. Perhaps that is why I am well-trained and they are not. My advice would be to worry less: I will return! I will never leave you!
Visit Jo Perry's website.
My Book, The Movie: Dead is Better.