Saturday, February 24, 2018

Leslie Connor & Atticus and Broomis

Who are in the photos at right and below?

That human is me; I’m Leslie Connor and I am a children’s book author.

The blonde canine is Broomis. He’s a shepherd mix and he’s about eight years old. The “cookies and cream” dog is Atticus. He is seven. Until very recently, we thought he was a Border Collie/Great Pyrenes mix. But a doggie DNA test, says he’s neither! He’s a super-mix—Golden Retriever, Labrador, Australian Cattle Dog, with traces of Terrier and Guard breeds. (We figure all of this means he can do anything.)

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We are back from our walk and today is another writing day. It’s just what we do: daydream along the trail, stoke the fire, fill the mug, and get to work.

What's brewing?

It’s tea—Earl Grey, loose leaf, which we order in bulk from Frontier. It’s brewed here at out house in a stylish handmade pottery teapot, which was a gift from a dear friend. (I happen to know that she purchased it at the Blue Hill Farmers’ Market in the great state of Maine.)

Any treats for you or Atticus and Broomis on this occasion?

They get wheat-free treats while the tea brews.

I might be having a chunk of dark chocolate before noon. Maybe. It happens.

How were you and your dogs united?

We adopted one another. Broomis came first, one Valentine’s Day at a big rescue event for dogs from Tennessee. One year later, I found Atticus on Petfinder. He came from Kentucky.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

We landed on the name Broomis after a few other names including, Pancake, Chickpea, and Sun Bear, failed somehow. (I know. What were we thinking?) Broomis was the name of a “roly-poly” bear in an old children’s song—spelled Brumus, actually—but we changed that because our guy is the color of broom straw. Atticus was named by his foster-family. We thought he’d been through enough changes in his young life already (picked up running in the wilds of Kentucky…) so we kept it. We like it, but he’s really more of a Scout.

Aliases? You bet. Nicknames happen endlessly at our house. Broomis is also known as: Broo, Broo-bacah-soda crackah, Hummus (oh, that chickpea thing), Hummy-ding and Hoy-ding. (I can’t believe I’m confessing this.) Atticus is also called: Atti-kissy, Attri, Pat-pat, and Little Man With a Hat.

Do Atticus and Broomis do more to help or hinder your writing?

Well, there is that hourly business of me being a dog door. But by way of keeping my mood elevated and giving me so much love, they help immeasurably. Also, both dogs take dictation and type one hundred words per minute, so there’s that.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

Yes! My new middle grade title, The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle, features a dog named Moonie Drinker. Moonie is modeled on my Atticus. I’m working on something new now and there is a dog with a mysterious past—a thread based on the guesses we’ve made about Broomis’s life before he landed with us.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Atticus: avoid, kiss, chase.

Broomis: fear, cautiously curious (there have been biscuits…), chase (but not like he means it).

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Atticus: six catches and we’re done, not offered (because my ears), proud to carry one but only for a hundred feet.

Broomis: What ball? (rolls by him), not offered, too scary!

Who is each dog's best pet-pal?

Since they have each other there’s a lot of canine brotherly love. Both our dogs welcome canine and human visitors; nothing is better than when one of our grown human kids comes home to visit.

What is each dog's best quality?

Atticus: enthusiasm!

Broomis: quiet reserve.

If Atticus and Broomis could change one thing about Connecticuters, what would it be?

More funds for no-kill shelters!

If Atticus and Broomis could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

Name one thing you wish we’d stop doing to you? (Not that we’ll stop…)

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

Atticus: Gaten Matarazzo. Broomis: Steve Carell.

What advice would Atticus and Broomis give if asked?

Shut down the device, get down on all fours, and smell every inch of the eighty-acre wood.

Visit Leslie Connor's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

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