Who is in the photo at right?
Thanks for asking! The handsome canine is Magic, a 9-years-young German Shepherd boy who still acts like a delinquent doggy. He lets the cats run all over him, and is best friends with the chunky cat Karma, and is still trying to make friends with the 20 year old Siamese, Seren. Oh, and the human is me, Amy Shojai. I'm the "woman behind the pets" in this house, taking virtual dictation and keeping the food bowls filled and Frisbee handy.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
It was time for our daily Puppy Latte for Magic (that's a cup-'o-whipped-cream) and a caffeinated beverage for moi. I'm a coffee-a-holic, and admit it freely.
For me, it's a double espresso, definitely. At least one and sometimes two a day. It helps me type faster!
Any treats for you or Magic on this occasion?
Well yes, it's always treat time for the Magical-Dawg. He generally wants anything that I'm having (hence, the Puppy Latte) but enjoys his healthier dog-specific treats as a chaser. We have some fat-free ones and (shhhh, don't tell the cats) he also enjoys Kitty Kaviar...extra stinky fish flakes. A dog's gotta do what a dog's gotta do, doncha know.
How were you and Magic united?
Magic was my much anticipated 25th anniversary present from my husband--and we were on a 2 year waiting list before he arrived so actually he arrived in time to celebrate my 26-1/2 anniversary. We're so fortunate to have met his breeder, a professional tracking dog trainer and AKC judge, and got to visit Magic only a few days after his birth. Since that time, I've even had the honor to help with puppy temperament testing with some of his breeder's subsequent litters.
How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?
Magic's litter was the "M" litter, since GSD often are tracked by this type of system. So we were encouraged to christen him with a name beginning with that letter--and it was a no-brainer. He's black magic, so it fit perfectly.
From the beginning, he has been "magical" for us, just a total joy making us smile. He's the smartest dog I've ever met, learns things so very quickly. So the folks on Facebook and elsewhere know him as "Magical-Dawg" and his breeder knows him as Mr. Magic and Magic-Man. And for me, he'll always be my Baby-Dog, even now at nearly 90 pounds.
Does Magic do more to help or hinder your writing?
Magic is my furry inspiration. In his younger days, he'd interrupt me and let me know when I (or he) needed a break. Now that he's older, that doesn't happen so much. He's slowed down considerably, with white sprinkled across his muzzle now. It helps me enormously just to have him nearby while I'm writing, as a furry muse.
Has Magic inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?
Yes! My hero dog, Shadow, in my pet-centric thriller series is based directly on Magic. I channeled my "inner dog" and Magic helped me create this marvelous character that has touched so many readers. Shadow debuted in Lost and Found as a nine-month-old service dog in training to an autistic child. In the sequel, Hide and Seek he'd chosen to instead partner with his trainer, September, a behaviorist who suffers from PTSD. And in the most recent book Show and Tell, he also has become a tracking dog of lost pets.
I really believe dogs have their own wants, desires, and emotions, and so Magic inspired the personality and abilities of his fictional counterpart, Shadow--who knows when a "good-dog" knows better than the human, and makes the right choice. Shadow doesn't "talk" in the books, any more than Magic "talks" to me, but has his own viewpoint chapters in which he has his own goals, understandings (and misunderstandings), and character arcs. Since I'm a behavior consultant, I wanted Shadow to be portrayed as a real dog, and act/react (and think!) based on my perception of canine behavior and motivations. It's been gratifying to hear reviewers say that Shadow is one of their favorite characters--and if so, I have to say it's because of my love for Magical-Dawg!
Cat, postman, squirrel...?
Cat! Magic loves playing tag with his buddy Karma-Kat.
Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?
Ball, all the way. Magic will fetch forever, and must have a dozen or more balls from tiny to a huge field-ball tug toy filled with water.
Who is Magic's best pet-pal?
Oh that's Karma, the cat. Actually, Magic rescued him when the kitten showed up on our back patio about a year ago just before an ice storm. I thought Magic alerted to a bunny, and was surprised to see the abandoned cat. And as soon as the two of them met, they've been inseparable ever since. That's wonderful for Magic especially, since the old kitty has never liked him and Magic has always been frustrated wanting to have a furry friend.
What is Magic's best quality?
Magic is smart, very quick, and he's a comedian. He's learned how to make us laugh, and keeps us constantly entertained.
If Magic could change one thing about Texans, what would it be?
I guess Magic would prefer that Texans fed more treats. And gave dogs driver's licenses, so he could drive the Magic Mobile (he's sure the car belongs to him!).
If Magic could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?
He's getting older and he's given me so much for nearly a decade...so my one question would be, "What can I do that would make you as happy as possible?"
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Magic could speak, who should voice him?
Gosh, that's hard to say. A young sounding voice, because Magic is a perpetual adolescent. Maybe Dev Patel?
What advice would Magic give if asked?
Live, love, wag and play--all the time!
Visit Amy Shojai's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.