Who is in the photo at right?
My name is Colleen Shogan, and I’m a political scientist at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. I also write mystery novels. My dog is Conan, who is supposedly a beagle mix. He’s 5 ½ years old but he still thinks he’s a puppy. In the photo, we’re at our favorite vacation spot, the Outer Banks in Duck, North Carolina.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
On the weekends, Conan and I go for long runs. When we return home, I make myself a nice cup of coffee before sitting down to write. He knows the ritual and waits for me to retrieve my laptop and mug of java.
Starbucks Guatemala Antigua is my favorite. We have a Keurig so each cup is fresh.
Any treats for you or Conan on this occasion?
Conan always gets something, like a Heartyhide chewy treat. It takes him a while to eat it, and when he’s done, he’s happy to snooze while I write.
How were you and Conan united?
We got him from “Lost Dog, Lost Cat” rescue in northern Virginia. My husband spotted him at the dog adoption event. He’d grown up with beagles and instantly liked him, especially his name!
How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?
He came with the name “Conan.” It fit him so well we didn’t dare change it. He also truly seemed to like it. Conan is a classic alpha dog – he’s the first to do anything and very self-confident.
Does Conan do more to help or hinder your writing?
If he wants attention during a weeknight, he will actually try to stop my writing. He’ll put a paw on my hand to prevent me from typing. But if he’s not antsy, he’s content to lie next to me while I work. In the summertime, he loves going outside on our deck with me while I write.
Has Conan inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?
Yes, Conan is the inspiration for the dog in my “Washington Whodunit” mystery series. His character’s name is Clarence. In the first book, Stabbing in the Senate, he played a small role. However, Clarence plays a much bigger and pivotal part in the sequel, Homicide in the House.
Cat, postman, squirrel...?
Rabbit, actually. It’s springtime and Conan is all about hunting them. Fox season is wrapping up and now it’s time for the rabbits.
Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?
He loves to play ball outside. He chases, catches, chews. I must have bought him over a hundred tennis balls. They last for a few days and then he needs a new one.
Who is Conan's best pet-pal?
We participated in “Dogs on Deployment” last year and hosted a dog named Honey whose owner had to spend eight months in the Middle East for the Army. Conan could get a little jealous at times but in general, he liked playing outside with Honey and jogging in the mornings with her. She still comes to visit several weeks out of the year so Conan still gets to spend time with her.
What is Conan's best quality?
He’s loyal and quite affectionate. But he’s also extremely intelligent. I’ve never owned a dog as smart as Conan. We taught him a number of tricks the first couple of months we had him. We can tell him what to do and he understands our commands. Every once in a while, he doesn’t listen. But we know he understands!
If Conan could change one thing about North Virginians and Washingtonians, what would it be?
Less working, more time playing with dogs!
If Conan could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?
“Is there anything you don’t like to eat?”
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Conan could speak, who should voice him?
What advice would Conan give if asked?
Legalize fox hunting.
Visit Colleen Shogan's website and watch the Stabbing in the Senate promo video featuring Clarence the Dog.