Who is in the photo at right?
That’s me, Teresa Toten and Cheever Toten having our coffee date just this past week. I’m a Young Adult writer and Cheever is a 5 year old, male golden doodle.
What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?
I’d just finished my “ruff” draft of the novel I’m working on and Cheever wanted to get some points across before I started a full first draft.
We only drink espresso. We’re tough like that.
Any treats for you or Cheever on this occasion?
No, it was a serious discussion.
How were you and Cheever united?
We bought him from a family as a puppy. Cheever was the runt of his litter and was seriously bullied by his siblings. He has issues but he is very cuddly snuggly.
How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?
I named him after my favourite writer (long dead) named John Cheever. He used to write short stories for the New Yorker that I read as a kid. I loved those stories even though I had no clue what they were about. John Cheever was an absolutely brilliant, alcoholic, misogynist, closeted gay man. I should maybe have thought that one through better. As I say Cheever has issues.
Does Cheever do more to help or hinder your writing?
He is generally helpful although he can be very judgy. I have trouble sitting still when I write, so I tend to get up and walk around the house, talking out passages and dialogue. Cheever follows me around and provides input.
Has Cheever inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?
Well, there you have it, the point of our coffee. In my last book, Beware That Girl, there is a dog named Bruce and he’s wonderful. Cheever loved that! However, in this book I’ve got a cat named Cicero. Cheever is not handling this well. I think I’m going to stick to my guns though... I’m pretty sure...
Cat, postman, squirrel…?
All of the above all of the time.
Ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?
Cheever lives to destroy his toys and can never, ever, ever get enough of sticks, balls and rocks.
Who is Cheever's best pet-pal?
Cheever doesn’t much see the point of other dogs. He either thinks he’s better than they are or he's terrified of them. Except for Oscar a little Shih Tzu who used to live next door. They had a real bromance going. Cheever even shared his bones and favourite ball with Oscar when they had sleepovers. Alas Oscar moved away. Cheever has not recovered.
What is Cheever's best quality?
He loves to to be read to, he loves to love you and he’s intensely loyal. What more do you want from a guy?
If Cheever could change one thing about Torontonians, what would it be?
Everyone on the street should be carrying a ball or a stick and be read to throw it!
If Cheever could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?
How do you understand time? When we leave for 5 minutes or five hours we get the same hysterical greeting. Is there a difference for you?
If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Cheever could speak, who should voice him?
Alan Rickman. Okay so, it’ s not a great match, but I just want an excuse to hear Alan Rickman’s voice again.
Love and cuddles will fix everything.
Visit Teresa Toten's website.
The Page 69 Test: Beware That Girl.
Writers Read: Teresa Toten.
My Book, The Movie: Beware That Girl.