Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ellen Jackson & Abby

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Ellen Jackson, children’s author, dog-lover, and member of the fellowship of flawed human beings. On my lap is Abby, a 14-year-old schnoodle (schnauzer/poodle), also known as dogface and pupcakes.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Coffee and canines are two of my favorite things. Santa Barbara has many dog friendly places where people can dine with their pooches. One of our favorites is the Mesa Cafe.

What's brewing?

Just the house coffee. Did I say “just”? It’s quite good.

Any treats for you or your dog on this occasion?

Abby gets special low-fat dog treats, which she loves.

How were you and your dog united?

Abby’s mother was found wandering the streets without any identification. A very nice dog rescuer took her in and soon discovered that she (the mother, not the dog rescuer) was pregnant. Abby was the last to be adopted from that litter. In my case, it was love at first sight.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

She came with her name, and I didn’t want to confuse her by giving her another one. She was confused enough, having first been adopted by someone who could not provide for her—and then returned to the original dog rescuer.

Does Abby do more to help or hinder your writing?

She warms my feet when she snoozes under my desk in the morning. And she looks cute on my webpage. Definitely helps.

Have any actual dogs inspired fictional dogs in your writing?

Ah, yes indeed! A homeless dog named Boozer (sorry about the name) wandered the streets of a small town in New England many years ago. The dog just couldn’t seem to settle down with any one family. Everyone in the town loved Boozer. The towns folk finally took up a collection, got Boozer a license, paid his vet bills, and declared him to be the only dog in history who belonged to–himself.

I wrote The Ballad of Booster Bogg a few years ago. Boozer’s name was changed to protect the innocent, and also to give him a handle that rhymed with “dog.”

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Definitely cats and squirrels. My most recent book, Beastly Babies, features a number of naughty animals and their antics, including a few kittens and puppies. My book, Tooling Around, highlights a number of animals who use tools or objects from their environment in their daily lives, including a certain species of squirrel.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Some of each.

Who is your dog's best pet-pal?

Abby, unfortunately, thinks she’s a human and doesn’t associate much with her own species if she can help it. She’s had two doggie friends in her life: Wookie and Bucky. Sadly both moved away. But she absolutely loves people and will eagerly jump into the lap of anyone she sees sitting on a park bench, sprawled on the grass, or otherwise available for canine companionship.

Where is Abby's favorite outdoor destination?

Any outdoor vacation we go on suits her just fine.

What is Abby's best quality?

She loves people–all people. But especially children. She’s the most affectionate dog I’ve ever known.

If Abby could change one thing about Californians, what would it be?

More supermarkets that allowed doggie customers. There’s actually one up in the Tahoe area that we know of.

If Abby could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her?

What’s it like to smell in technicolor? What’s it like to hear the squeaks of cockroaches and detect people’s emotions with a sniff or two?

What advice would your dog give if asked?

Abby: Well, Ellen, you’re a pretty good dog owner, all things considered. But you could hold off on some of those baths. Sheesh! Just when I’m starting to smell like a dog you put that goop all over me. I’d like to have less of that and more rotten garbage and dead fish to roll in.

Visit Ellen Jackson's website.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. So good to see Ellen here, or anywhere she is kind enough to share herself. She is a generous soul par excellence. Seeing Abby is a bonus.

  2. I love seeing the photo of Ellen and Abby and learning more about how Ellen comes up with her wonderful stories for children. She has such a warm, caring, creative and intelligent personality and can tap into how children think and what makes them curious, hence a fantastic author of children's books. Keep them coming!

  3. Wonderful interview Ellen and beautiful photo. I haven't read Booster Bogg yet but now even more interested in his story. Love Beastly Babies!!!

  4. Thanks so much--Vijaya, Marian, and Mirka. I'm lucky to have friends like you.

  5. What a fun interview, Ellen. I've heard you mention Abby for years, but now I feel like I know her a bit. No problem understanding why she's a favorite with you. For those of you who haven't read Booster Bogg, I can vouch that it's a really fun story. Ellen is a wonderful writer and I say, "Amen!" to everything Marian said above about her.

  6. Too funny. Love the self-deprecating humor and the doggie insights. Ellen, you rock!

  7. So nice to meet you and Abby, Ellen. Your interview really made me smile.

  8. So nice to meet you and Abby, Ellen. Your interview really made me smile.

  9. Thanks, Dionna, Nancy and Ev. I'm glad you liked the interview.

  10. Thanks for sharing, Ellen. Our library has 2 copies of your fun and beautifully illustrated Beastly Babies. Good luck!!

  11. That's nice to know, Andria. And thanks so much for telling me.