Who is in the photo at right?
That’s me, Brooke Johnson, steampunk author extraordinaire, and my dog K.K., a five-and-a-half-year-old Jack Russell-Chihuahua mix.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
Curled up on the couch for some one-on-one snuggling while the little one is taking a nap. Or maybe I took him with me on some errands and stopped for a cup.
At home, Dunkin’ Donuts original blend with a dash of caramel flavoring, sweetener, and almond milk. Abroad, either a caramel latte, whatever the seasonal blend is for the month, or a chai latte if I’m not in the mood for coffee.
Any treats for you or K.K. on this occasion?
I’m likely to get myself a scone. I can’t turn down a good scone. For K.K., I might share. Maybe. If it’s an ultra-big scone.
How were you and K.K. united?
I’ve always had dogs growing up and love their snuggly company, so I really missed that when I moved off to college, where I couldn’t have pets. When my now-husband and I got engaged my last year of college, we decided that we wanted to get a dog and then searched for puppies for sale nearby. We found a listing on Craigslist and drove almost two hours to see them. There were two puppies left when we got there. One was really energetic and playful, and the other shy and a bit on the small side. My husband and I both played with each of them, but the second pup was the one who came back for more snuggles once we set them both down. So he’s the one we took home.
How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?
On the drive home, my husband and I discussed names, going through the usual gamut of Norse gods and fictional characters for naming pets, as you do. I wanted to name him after the dog Waif in the Diana Wynne Jones novel House of Many Ways, but my husband wouldn’t go for it. In the end, we settled for K.K., after K.K. Slider, the guitar-playing canine songster from the game Animal Crossing, which I was binge-playing at the time. As for aliases, we call him lazy-bones, stinky-bones, Killer Khan, and other choice words when he’s not behaving himself.
Does K.K. do more to help or hinder your writing?
He’s a source of constant company when I’m writing. He has a bed right next to my desk, and sometimes, he takes up residence at my feet or in my lap. He’s less of a hindrance now than he was when he was younger, when he’d crawl up onto my desk and lay on my arms like a cat. Now he just sleeps nearby, keeping me from getting lonely.
Has K.K. inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?
Absolutely yes. There is a fantasy novel that I’ve been working on since we first brought him home, in which he inspired a magical dog in the first draft that has since evolved over the course of several rewrites into a loyal animal companion for the main character. If I ever finish that novel and get a chance to publish it, I plan to dedicate the novel to him.
Cat, postman, squirrel...?
He hates pretty much everyone and everything—squirrels, birds, rabbits, cats, postmen, joggers, children…. If someone or something is outside and in his sight, they are an enemy that must be vanquished, and he will not rest until they have gone. Luckily, he only thinks he’s vicious.
Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?
K.K. prefers furry animal toys to anything else and loves a good game of tug-of-war.
Who is K.K.'s best pet-pal?
My husband’s grandparents have a dog that wandered onto their property last winter, a white curly-haired mix named Molly. They love to romp around and chase each other around the yard.
What is K.K.'s best quality?
His concern for all of us and eagerness to comfort. When one of us is feeling down, whether it’s after a hard day at work for my husband, an emotional breakdown on my part, or the little one falls and bruises her knee, K.K. is there for some top-notch snuggles and loving doggy kisses. He knows just how to make us feel better.
If K.K. could change one thing about Arkansans, what would it be?
That they allowed pets to go places humans do! He hates being left at home. Most businesses aren’t at all dog-friendly around here, so he doesn’t get to leave the house very much, unless we’re going to the park, visiting family, or camping—which he hates.
If K.K. could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?
Are you happy? Ever since we added a baby to our family, I often wonder if he resents us for it. His mood has gotten better now that my daughter is older and no longer pulls his ears or fur, but we still have a ways to go before he’s back to the way he was when he was our only child. I just wish I knew if he was content, and what I might do to make him happier if he’s not.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which K.K. could speak, who should voice him?
My husband and I have joked around that if he could talk, he probably has a Morgan Freeman voice. I think a deep, suave voice for such a tiny dog would be comically absurd, and yet also perfect.
What advice would K.K. give if asked?
Don’t give up. He’s annoyingly persistent at times, so I think his advice would be something along those lines. Whatever it is, don’t give up if it’s something that you want. Eventually the world will cave and give it to you.
Visit Brooke Johnson's website.
My Book, The Movie: The Brass Giant.
The Page 69 Test: The Brass Giant.