Who is in the photo at right?
This is Link, our 5-year-old mini dachshund, running on the grass the day we brought him home.
I'm Laura McNeal, the human in the photos below and author of the recently released The Incident on the Bridge and other novels.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
Link hates to eat out, which involves sitting on concrete for hours while people consume tantalizing things he can’t have. So I’m drinking my coffee at home while he enjoys his usual place in the sun.
Starbucks French Roast through a paper cone. Then sugar and cream.
Any treats for you or Link on this occasion?
Crust from the French toast.
How were you and Link united?
I fell in love with a pair of dachshund puppies who lived around the corner from us, and although my husband Tom is a serial Doberman rescuer, he liked those puppies, too, and one day he said maybe we should get one. He was still just mulling the idea, but I found Link at a rescue place within 15 minutes and applied to adopt him immediately so Tom couldn’t possibly change his mind.
How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?
Tom said if I got to pick the dog, he had naming rights. Besides being named after a sausage, Link has a lot of completely humiliating nicknames such as Noodle, Doodle, and Linky.
Does Link do more to help or hinder your writing?
Link could also have been named Muse or Prozac or Eternal Calm. I sometimes write on the sofa in the morning to be in the patch of sunlight that falls there. Link sleeps on top of the back cushion [photo right] until he gets too hot, and then he drops down like a piece of ripe fruit and goes on sleeping in the space between me and the couch. His complete happiness with doing that all day, every day, makes it easier to feel hopeful about my work. Plus, if he has crept into my lap, I don’t like to stand up and wake him, so I work longer.
Have you ever created a fictional dog inspired by an actual canine?
The first book Tom and I wrote together was a picture book called The Dog Who Lost His Bob, and it was the life story of a bowlegged Doberman Tom found in a park. The illustrator was having trouble making a Doberman look friendly, so the publisher called to ask us to change the dog’s breed. Tom was on the phone with them, and I kept shouting, “Tell them we’ll send the money back!” but Tom, who is a practical person, said of course we could change it. The dog in the story became a light-colored, curly-haired mutt and he was perfectly adorable.
Cat, postman, squirrel…?
Nemo, the cat next door. Nemo spends all his time, night and day, sneaking into our backyard and lying on the patio furniture waiting for Link to notice him.
Ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?
Link used to chew on and throttle a stuffed Angry Bird but he has achieved Transcendence now and ignores all his old toys.
Who is Link's best pet-pal?
Link does not see the point of animal friendship. Other dogs have no access to the refrigerator.
What is Link's best quality?
The way he runs flat out for everything. Never a stroll. Always a sprint.
If Link could change one thing about Californians, what would it be?
Their obsession with portion control.
If Link could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?
Link’s best quality is his silence. We don’t ever have to think of what to say to each other, we just know.
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Link could speak, who should voice him?
Maria Bamford. She understands humans and dogs perfectly.
What advice would Link give if asked?
Stop making salad.
Visit Laura McNeal's website.
The Page 69 Test: The Incident on the Bridge.
Writers Read: Laura McNeal.