Who is in the photo at right?
My name is Camille Griep, and I’m an author and editor, living just north of Seattle. Pictured with me, is my girl Dutchess Marie Siefker-Griep, a 4-year-old Olde English Bulldogge. (They’re a bit different from standard English Bulldogs.)
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
As is standard for our morning routine, I take a couple hours (and a couple cups of coffee) to catch up with the news, literary and otherwise, so I can attempt to write without the distractions of social media and the 24-hour news cycle. Dutch has her own miniature office in the form of a fluffy grey bed underneath my desk. She’s here to ensure I stay on task.
I’m not as much of a coffee snob as many of my fellow Pacific Northwesters, but I’m drinking the quite wonderful Bistro Blend by Café Vita, run through our Braun espresso maker on the 2XL cups of coffee setting. (The regular-sized cups of coffee must be for hobbits or something.) I add heavy cream to the first cup of the day and drink the remaining cups black. (Did I mention I’m a Gemini?)
Any treats for you or Dutch on this occasion?
Summer has brought some amazing strawberries and blueberries to the store, so I’ve thrown some in a bowl of yogurt.
Meanwhile, Dutchess is also having a seasonal snack: peanut butter and bacon doggie ice cream from The Bear and the Rat. This summer has been abnormally hot for us, and so I try to start her day with something cool. In the afternoons we work from the basement.
How were you and Dutch united?
My grandmother, who still lives in my hometown of Montana, had wanted a puppy and the one she picked out was very ill, so the breeders offered her one of their adults who hadn’t been successful as breeding dogs. However, my grandmother’s boxer, who is very much a one-person sort of dog , didn’t appreciate the arrival of another adult female and she and Dutch fought terribly, requiring stitches for them both more than once.
Last summer, while helping my grandmother move to a smaller house, complicating the situation for the dogs, I offered to take Dutchess home with me instead. She’s been here for a year now and is doing a great job adapting.
How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?
When my grandmother received the dog her name was Nova. Coincidentally, her boxer nemesis was also Nova, My grandmother settled on Jade, but my uncle kept referring to her as Dutch Chocolate aka Dutchie because of her rich brown coat. For whatever reason, I like two syllable dog names, so it was natural to stretch it into Dutchess. Her nicknames are Dutch, Button, and Muffin, for no particular reason.
Does Dutch do more to help or hinder your writing?
Most of the time she is very quiet company. But there are rare days when she’s an insatiable snacker (mooch) and we have to do a good bit of negotiating before I can really settle in and get work done.
Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your fiction?
In my satirical, epistolary fairy tale, Letters to Zell, Rory (Sleeping Beauty) adopts an English Bulldog named Snoozer. Snoozer is modeled directly from my late friend Wynnie. She was a traditional English Bulldog, whose talents were sleeping and stealing sandwiches from improbable heights.
I also wrote a short story called “Robodog” in which the Wild Dog in the story was modeled after my mother’s mixed breed sweetheart, Festus.
Cat, postman, squirrel...?
Dutch will chase cats, raccoons, and, apparently, the terrier who sneaks into our yard from next door. She doesn’t take much notice of squirrels, but she loves the Chinese food delivery driver. The feeling seems to be mutual: occasionally we’ll find things accidentally tucked into our order for her.
Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?
Though Dutchess does not deign to play catch or fetch, she does love squeaky toys. She had one caterpillar with six or seven squeakers in it, and she was in heaven. Her other favorite activity is bouncing on the guest bed. (Don’t tell the guests.)
Who is Dutch's best pet-pal?
We haven’t had a whole lot of pet dates, but I’d say it’s probably her writing retreat friend, Buddy. He’s a Boston Terrier who belongs to another local writer, G.G. Silverman.
What is Dutch's best quality?
Even though she’s a super low maintenance dog, I think my favorite thing about her is how much she loves the humans in our house equally. Growing up in a household of one person dogs, I was afraid she wouldn’t bond with Adam since she spends the days with me. That hasn’t turned out to be true. She loves us differently, yet equally, and I’m thankful she and Adam have grown so close, as she’s his very first dog.
If Dutch could change one thing about Washingtonians, what would it be?
She would take away their insatiable appetite for the fireworks that remain maddeningly legal in our little unincorporated enclave.
If Dutch could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?
Are you happy?
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Dutch could speak, who should voice her?
Perhaps Kat Dennings, Eva Amurri, or even Zooey Deschanel – ladies with a bit of snark and edge, yet still able to be languorous and playful.
What advice would Dutch give if asked?
Sniff everything with one nostril then the other, just in case the first one leads you astray.
Always eschew presents for the box they come in.
When possible, hold out for a hamburger.
Visit Camille Griep's website.
The Page 69 Test: Letters to Zell.