Thursday, August 18, 2016

Dale Kushner & Maisie

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Dale Kushner, (the one without the lovely white coat) with beloved Maisie, our fourth Golden Retriever.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine? What's brewing?

We’re at our cabin in Wisconsin’s northwoods. I’m a break from writing my blog for Psychology Today, stimulating my synapses with a cup of Colectivo Sumatra. We’re also celebrating Maisie’s first birthday and the completion of my second novel The Lie of Forgetting. (I’ve borrowed my husband’s HERO mug for the occasion.)

Any treats for you or Maisie on this occasion?

Maisie’s treat this morning is to blissfully sniff the ripe scent of deer, coyote, and porcupine in the piney woods.

How were you and Maisie united?

We drove across the border to Michigan to get Maisie from Malagold Kennels. Connie Miller has been raising superb Goldens for over forty years.

How did Maisie get her name? Any aliases?

We played around with several names for our new puppy, but “Maisie” had staying power. We hadn’t known it’s one of the most popular names in Scotland, short for Margaret, and since the breed of Golden Retriever originated in Scotland, we thought it was a good match. (Our girl is definitely a Maisie, not a Margaret, Meg, or Peg.)

Have Maisie or Malibu inspired the creation of any fictional dogs in your novel-in-progress?

Maisie has not yet appeared in my fiction, though my new novel is set in the northwoods, and wolves and coyotes make an entrance. However, I do have in mind a children’s picture book about a Golden Retriever who thinks she’s a cow.

Does Maisie do more to help or to hinder your writing?

Maisie has not yet elevated her status to muse. At the moment, she’s still in her “I- need-to-taste-everything-in-sight-phase,” which means I have to get up and check on her if she’s in another room and quiet for too long. I now have shoes with eaten straps, rugs with chewed edges, a slipcover with a large chomp hole in the middle. Maisie’s nickname is Mighty Mouth.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Our postman is gaga in love with Maisie and visa versa. When he sees her outside, he pulls over, gets out of his truck with a treat and gets a smooch. Squirrels and chipmunks whip Maisie’s brain into a froth, but lucky for them, the little critters are still too quick for her.

Does Maisie have a favorite place to go for outings?

Maisie’s fave place these days is snuffling around the edge of the lake in the reeds for frogs and other tasty specimens. Toad hang-outs are also of great interest to her.

What is Maisie's best quality?

Maisie’s best quality is her “mushballness,” that is, her deeply affectionate nature. She’s also super intelligent, which sometimes leads to naughtiness; she can easily outsmart her people.

If Maisie could change one thing about Wisconsinites, what would it be?

If Maisie could change one thing about Wisconsinites, she might request they vote for politicians who have animal rights on their agenda.

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

I would ask Maisie why she beelined to us that day at the kennel.

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

Meryl Streep could do Maisie’s voice. Meryl Streep can do anyone’s voice. Second choice is Marisa Tomei.

Visit Dale Kushner's website, Facebook page, and Psychology Today blog.

Coffee with a Canine: Dale Kushner and Malibu.

--Marshal Zeringue

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