Thursday, April 21, 2016

Karen Odden & Rosy

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Karen Odden, freelance editor and writer; my Victorian mystery novel A Lady in the Smoke was just published as an e-book by Alibi. And this is Rosy. She’s a true beagle—one of the smaller, 13” variety—and we’re not sure how old she is because we got her as a rescue. The vet took a look at her teeth and guessed she was five; so Rosy is probably around twelve years old now. You can see the white of her muzzle. But she’s still spry! And she’s so darn cute that a few weeks ago, a stranger stopped me and asked if she could take a photo of Rosy for her grandchildren. Really.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Rosy and I have our daily routine. The mornings in Arizona are just stunning—in the 70s and breezy, for another few weeks—so we usually walk then. I have a Keurig, and after I get the kids off to school, I make some flavored coffee (hazelnut, pumpkin spice, or vanilla) and put it into my reusable mug. Then I say, “Rosy, do you want to go for a walk?” She bounds around, ears flapping. I say, “Paws,” and she rolls onto her back, so I can put on her harness. Coffee in my right hand, leash in my left, we head out for a three-mile walk that she knows by heart.

What's brewing?

My favorite fancy drink is an iced vanilla latte if I’m out, especially as it’s beginning to heat up in Arizona. But I usually just make myself my Keurig cuppa with milk and a bit of French Vanilla creamer in the morning.

Any treats for you or Rosy on this occasion?

Oh, yes. When we return, Rosy gets her Greenie Bone. If I forget, she follows me around until I get the message.

How were you and Rosy united?

It was all my daughter Julia’s doing. I have never had a dog growing up, never had a roommate with a dog, never really understood the charm of dogs, although I have met some nice ones. But Julia Wanted A Dog. Being eight years old, she launched a clever and persistent campaign. First, she recruited her father to her cause. Next, she started taking quizzes with him on-line to find out what sort of dog would do well with our family. Then she started sending me pictures of cute beagles. Then my husband found out about BeagleFest. (Who knew there were enough beagles in Arizona for a three-day festival?!) Well, we went down to Tempe; Julia found the Beagle Rescue Society booth; and somehow I found myself with a clipboard that had papers on it, and a pen in my hand … and … well … Rosy was perfect. A week in, and I was charmed. She’d hike with me, curl up on the couch with us to watch TV, never howled annoyingly, and made my son Kyle feel like he was no longer the “baby” of the family. Kyle was five, and he’d measure her food very carefully and earnestly, to be sure she was getting just the right amount, as (he would soberly remind us) beagles have a tendency to gain weight. Yes, Rosy kicked out the walls of all our hearts to make a spot for herself.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Rosy was the name she came with. No aliases. She would no doubt travel incognito because it’s more glamorous, except that she gets carsick.

Does Rosy do more to help or hinder your writing?

Oh, she definitely helps. She sits in the chair in my office and offers moral support. And I’m in the habit of working out scenes and characters’ back-stories while I walk. She’s a good listener.

Has Rosy inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Not yet, but she may!

Cat, postman, squirrel...road-runner?

She’ll bark when there’s someone at the front door, but it’s just a lot of noise. She’s a nose-down road-runner herself. Someone told me beagles are noses on four legs. It’s true. Sometimes she’s like one of those Iditarod dogs, nose to the ground, tearing along.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

She turns up her small black nose at them. They’re undignified.

Who is Rosy's best pet-pal?

Probably Henry, my friend Cindy’s dog. (In the photo [left], you see the pair of them suffering the indignity of Santa outfits in December. Their third friend, Benji, offered to call PETA on their behalf.) But Rosy has never really connected with other dogs. She’s more of a people dog.

What is Rosy's best quality?

She’s totally game. For hiking. For walking. For sitting on the couch. For following us from room to room. For trying new foods. Salmon is a current favorite.

If Rosy could change one thing about Arizonans, what would it be?

She probably wouldn’t change anything about Arizonans; but she’d change the heat of the summer pavement that burns her paws.

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

What makes you happiest?

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Rosy could speak, who should voice her?

Abigail Breslin! Love her.

What advice would Rosy give if asked?

Wag more. Bark less. Pay attention to the people around you. Always be ready for a walk. Relish soft pillows. And don’t be afraid to show someone your underbelly. Usually they will rub it.

Visit Karen Odden's website.

Writers Read: Karen Odden.

The Page 69 Test: A Lady in the Smoke.

My Book, The Movie: A Lady in the Smoke.

--Marshal Zeringue