Sunday, August 5, 2018

Miriam Parker & Leopold Bloom

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Miriam Parker and this is Leopold Bloom. I'm the author of The Shortest Way Home, a novel about love and wine and dogs. I'm also the Associate Publisher of Ecco, where I oversee marketing and publicity. My dog is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. He is male, six years old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

The photo [below left] is of Leo with a cafe au lait in Aix en Provence France. We travel together all the time--he's been to seventeen states and to France. He's been in both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, and has also walked next to Lake Michigan. He's an excellent travel companion. I take him with me almost everywhere and he knows he has to behave or else I'll stop taking him.

What's brewing?

I love a cappuccino, but it has to be made well--it's all about the foam. So many people don't make them correctly here in the United States, but in Europe they are universally perfect. Why is that?

Any treats for you or Leo on this occasion?

Leo eats treats all the time. He's especially partial to the Old Mother Hubbard treats, which have a good crunch to them. But he'll chew on anything, even a stick. He also loves carrots, blueberries and has been known to eat raw broccoli, radishes and zucchini. Anything with a crunch. If I have a treat, it's more of a savory situation--I love cheese and crackers and butter and bread. And wine, obviously.

How were you and Leo united?

I had always wanted a dog and then one day at my last job, I got an unexpected promotion. I was living in an affordable apartment and with that promotion I finally had enough disposable income to pay a dog walker. I also was in a life moment where I needed some limits placed upon me and a dog was the perfect answer to that problem. Having a dog means you have to take care of a living being that needs you. I think I got him almost immediately after that promotion. Our first few weeks together were a little rocky--he pooped everywhere and I got no sleep and was constantly convinced that I had killed him. But we also loved each other unconditionally from the first moment he gave me a kiss.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

I read the book Ulysses in college and the line "Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowl" has been lodged in my brain ever since. When I got Leo, I considered other names briefly (Zippy was one, after Haven Kimmel's A Girl Named Zippy, but in retrospect Leo is just not a Zippy at all), but Leopold Bloom just rose up in my brain that first sleepless night and I realized it was perfect.

Does Leo do more to help or hinder your writing?

He's 100% helpful. He keeps me company when I'm working and even came on a research trip with me to California. Having a dog in a tote bag makes asking possibly dumb questions about how wine is made much less invasive. You're never lonely when you have a dog. Writing can be a solitary occupation, but dogs somehow alleviate that.

Has Leopold Bloom inspired the creation of any fictional dogs?

Absolutely, the Cavalier Tannin in my book is 100% based on Leo. His loyalty, his kisses, his neediness.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Leo is entirely Team Squirrel. Although he would love to kiss a cat or a postman.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Stick. Not really a fan of toys, my dog.

Where is Leo's favorite outdoor destination?

He loves the wine store because they have treats. We do also go to the park sometimes, but honestly we go to the wine store more.

Who is Leo's best pet-pal?

He has two friends he's had since puppyhood--a papillon named Pita Chip who he adores and a Sheltie named Aussie who is his wrestling buddy. There's also a dog called Kyle at the park who loves Leo and expresses his love for him every time he sees him. Leo accepts Kyle's love, but he prefers Pita and Aussie.

What is Leo's best quality?

He's the most loyal, loving dog in the world.

If Leo could change one thing about New Yorkers, what would it be?

They would all have treats falling out of their pockets at all times. New Yorkers pretty much are perfect for Leo otherwise--they smell delicious and they pet him on the subway and smile at him on the sidewalk.

If Leo could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

Are you in a lot of pain? He has a disease called Syringomeilia which is congenital in Cavaliers and which I give him medicine for three times a day. He handles it all so well, but I worry about him so much. I hope he isn't in too much pain and that I'm doing enough to help him.

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

We call him the Zoolander of Dogs, so I think it would have to be Ben Stiller.

What advice would Leo give if asked?

Never be embarrassed about how much you love someone. If you love someone, you should scream it from the rooftops, no matter where you see them and who is watching you.

Visit Miriam Parker's website.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. This interview is utterly wonderful. As is Miriam. As is her novel, The Shortest Way Home.

  2. Your traveling companion is adorable. I'm definitely checking out the book, sounds like a great late summer read!