Who is in the photo at right?
I'm Cindy Knapper and I'm a retired R.N. I worked in the operating room of a local hospital for twenty-three years. Now I'm enjoying my retirement by writing every day in my blog, A Slice of Life. I'm also working on my memoirs, but in my spare time I enjoy quilting and singing in our church choir. Above all, I think my favorite thing to do is play the piano. I just began taking lessons in 2014 at the age of 57, but you know what they say: "Better late than never!" It's been a lifelong dream of mine and finally my dream has come true.
The darling little dog that I'm holding in my arms is my little Lucy. She is a toy poodle who became a member of our family in 2005. She is the sweetest little dog you'd ever want to meet. And even though she's now nine years old, everywhere we go, people think she's a puppy because she's so little and she still acts like a puppy. They always gush over her and say, "Aw...she's so cute!" because she is. Just look at her!
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
Lucy loves to be outside, and our back yard is her favorite hang out. So as soon as spring time arrives and my husband places the outdoor furniture back on to our deck, Lucy and I like to spend the early part of the morning out there. It's the perfect time of day because it's so peaceful. I love to listen to the birds as they sing their morning song and watch the squirrels as they scamper among the tree branches. In the meantime, Lucy is chasing those very same birds and squirrels. Sometimes I think she believes that she can fly like the birds when she chases them! And the squirrels just taunt her as they scoot away from her.
I've never really cared for coffee, although my three children are addicted to it. My beverage of choice is tea. I do not, however, drink tea that is brewed from tea bags. Oh no, not me. I brew my tea from tea leaves. I think tea brewed from tea leaves has a better taste and I think it's fresher, too. I also use a French press to brew my tea. Today I'm drinking green chai tea which is a spicy green tea blended with cardamom, ginger, cloves, pepper, cinnamon, and spearmint. It's just the thing I need to get my day started. As for Lucy, she loves ice water. However, if I do happen to spill my tea, she is there in an instant to slurp it up!
Any treats for you or Lucy on this occasion?
I'm enjoying a blueberry muffin today. It's one of my favorite morning treats and the sweet taste of blueberries pairs very nicely with my spicy green chai tea. Lucy is having a dental dog snack, although she is eyeing my blueberry muffin and I can see that she keeps smacking her lips every time I take a bite of it.
How were you and Lucy united?
In 2004 I was forced into retirement by a serious medical condition. It was quite a blow to me because it came out of nowhere and it seemed as though my world came crashing down. I felt as though I didn't know who I was any more. I felt as though I had lost part of my identity. I was bedridden and all alone during the day. My kids were in school and my husband was at work all day so I was lonely and depressed. So my husband thought it might be a good idea for me to have a dog to keep me company during those seemingly long hours. We found Lucy at a local pet shop. She was only eight weeks old when we brought her home and she was the sweetest little puppy I'd ever seen. It was love at first sight for me and for the rest of my family. She was constantly with me: while I was in bed, while I sat in my recliner, and she followed me everywhere I went. She helped to lift my depression and made me smile again. I believe she helped to make me feel better. I even believe she helped to heal me because gradually my health improved. Studies have shown that dogs do improve the health of their owners and I believe it's true.
How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?
We named her Lucy because the name Lucy means "light" and "light bringer." And to me, a "light bringer" is one who brings happiness, love, cheer, and life. And that's exactly what Lucy was meant to do for me. That's the reason she was brought into my life and that is exactly what she did. Bless her little heart! As for nicknames, sometimes I call her "Lulu" or "Louie-Lou" or even "Lucille" and my daughter Sarah likes to call her "Louie-Goose."
Does Lucy do more to help or hinder your writing?
I don't know if she does one or the other, but I can tell you one thing that she does when I'm writing, and it's this. Lucy is a "people" dog. This means that she always wants to be near me, and if not me, then someone else in the family, usually my husband. Therefore when I'm writing, she has to be close to me, no matter where I am writing. So, if I'm sitting on my recliner with my laptop on a little lap table, she insists on lying between my legs with her head on the lap table. This makes it a little crowded sometimes! Or if I'm sitting on my office chair at the desktop computer, then she has to sit on that same chair behind me. Yes, that's right - behind me. Talk about being crowded! Okay, so maybe she does hinder my writing a bit.
Cat, postman, squirrel...?
Lucy loves to chase squirrels. All you have to do is say the word "squirrel" and she'll race to the nearest tree, look up into the branches, and look for a squirrel, barking the entire time. The squirrels will run along the side of the fence and when they see Lucy coming, they'll stop, look down at her, and it seems as though they're laughing at her, knowing that she can't reach them at the top of that fence. I honestly think they enjoy teasing her. As far as cats go, the other day I noticed that Lucy was at our garage door with her head underneath the garage door. For some reason our garage door won't quite shut all the way. I called out to my husband and he rushed outside and opened the garage door manually for fear that if he used the automatic garage door opener it might malfunction and come crashing down on her head. As soon as the door opened, Lucy raced into the back of the garage and chased out a cat who was hiding behind some boxes. This cat was bigger than our little poodle, but Lucy was barking so madly at him that he sprinted out of the garage as though afraid for his life. I've never seen a cat climb our fence so fast before! And let me tell you about the postman. Every day for the past nine years, ever since Lucy came to live with us, whenever the postman arrives in his truck to deliver the mail at our mailbox on the side of the road, Lucy barks at him. She sits on the back of the sofa, where she can survey what she deems as her kingdom (which is the entire front yard including the mailbox) and as soon as that mail truck pulls up, she just does not think it belongs in her little kingdom. Period. And so she barks incessantly until the postman drives away from our mailbox. You would think that after nine years she would be resigned to the fact that the postman comes every day for just a few minutes and then leaves, right? But no, not Lucy. She doesn't want him there. End of story.
Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?
Lucy loves nothing better than to be in the back yard, have us throw a ball, and then chase it down. The only problem is that after she fetches the ball, she will not bring it back. She just has never learned the concept of bringing it back. No, that's not quite right. Let me put it another way. She refuses to give up the ball. She wants to keep it for herself. I think she figures that she did all the hard work of running after it and catching it, so why should she have to give it back? She's a funny little pooch. She also enjoys stuffed toys that have squeakers in them. When she gets a stuffed toy with a squeaker inside, her first goal is to get the squeaker out. And she works hard at it. Once she accomplishes that task, then she sets out to remove all the stuffing out of the toy. Before long, there are little mountains of white fluffy cotton from one end of the house to the other and I get the job of picking it all up. But sometimes the white fluff sticks to her black curly hair and I can't help but laugh at the sight of her.
Who is Lucy's best pet-pal?
As I've mentioned, Lucy truly is a "people" dog, meaning that she'd much rather be with people than with other dogs. On occasion, when I've watched my son's dog Lola over the weekend, we've taken Lucy and Lola to the dog park and all Lucy wants to do is sit on my lap. She has no desire to play with the other dogs. As a matter of fact, sometimes she's afraid of the other dogs and she'll get nervous when they try to socialize with her. But I would say that her best pet-pal is my son's dog Lola. Lola is 3/4 black lab and 1/4 boxer and is really a sweet and rather goofy dog, which is why I do love her. When she comes to visit, she's so big compared to Lucy, and it's though she understands this so is very gentle with Lucy and I think that's why my little dog enjoys her company. They get along great and do have fun together.
What is Lucy's best quality?
Lucy has so many great qualities that it's difficult to choose just one. She is highly intelligent, which makes sense because poodles are ranked second in intelligence, with border collies being ranked first. Her vocabulary is huge. It is so huge that it had gotten to the point that when we were going to take her for a walk, but we didn't want her to get excited too far ahead of time, we'd have to spell out the word "walk." But to demonstrate just how smart she is, now she actually knows what we're talking about when we spell that word! And whispering it doesn't work either, because when we whisper, she still knows that something exciting is about to happen. She is also loyal and the entire time while I was so ill she never left my side. Even now, because I am still recovering, when I have my bad days, she always seems to know, and on those days, she stays particularly close to me. It's as though she knows I need extra comfort. She has a cute and quirky little personality and always manages to makes me laugh on a daily basis. But most of all, she gives her unconditional love, and really, what more could anyone ask for?
If Lucy could change one thing about Minnesotans, what would it be?
Minnesotans are a hardy breed because of our bitterly cold winters and therefore, we're used to it. Because of this, we've become accustomed to lower temperatures in our houses, even during those cold winters. I think Lucy would want us to raise the temperature in the house during the winter because she is a little freeze-baby. We even have to put sweaters on her during the winter months because she'll shiver, even in the house. At bedtime, she loves to scoot underneath the blankets in our bed so she can snuggle close to us and she won't peek her head out until the alarm goes off in the morning.
If Lucy could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?
I believe I know the answer to this question, but I would ask her: "Are you happy?" Lucy is a member of our family and we love her, so naturally her happiness is important to me. She is like my baby and if there was something that I could do to make her life better, I would. I love her. It's as simple as that.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Lucy could speak, who should voice her?
Kristen Bell in the voice-over of "Anna" from Disney's movie Frozen.
What advice would Lucy give if asked?
She would tell me: "Just breathe. Relax. Enjoy today while you can and remember that tomorrow will come soon enough. And one more thing - don't forget that everything is better with cheese!"
Visit Cindy Knapper's blog, A Slice of Life.