Monday, November 26, 2018

P. J. Vernon & Chauncey and Mikko

Who is in the photo?

The human is me, PJ Vernon. I’m a suspense author (When You Find Me is my Southern Gothic debut, and everyone should buy twelve copies from NY Times-reporting bookstores). These are my dogs, and they’re pretty grand, too.

In the foreground and half outta frame, we have Chauncey the eight-year-old English Bulldog.

Above him, is our three-year-old rescue, Mikko. Half-Husky, half-German Shepherd, half-Bolto, and half-White Fang. That math adds up; no follow-up questions.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

When it comes to my dog-children, I’m a pageant mom. I’ve forced this publicity upon them in an emotionally-fraught attempt to live vicariously through their impending celebrity.

What's brewing?

I’m no coffee snob [coffee not pictured for safety reasons]. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve got a collection of great beans—and one of those fancy-shmancy hand-crank grinders—but ain’t nothin’ wrong with Maxwell House in the morning. The addition of sweetened condensed milk, however, is an absolute must.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?


Mikko already indulged in sweet manna from the heavens (magpies dropped orange peels in the backyard this morning while I wasn’t paying attention).

Chauncey’s treat-less because he knows what he did.

How were you and your dogs united?

Chauncey was a poorly-advised-but-totally-worth-it-and-no-one-can-tell-me-otherwise purchase. In grad school, I emptied my entire checking account to bring him home. The bank teller’s face as I withdrew everything to acquire a puppy? Priceless.

Bless her heart.

Mikko’s a rescue. He hails from the far north of Alberta. Brrr. He has a prison [shelter] tat on his left ear, bum hind leg, and a heart o’ pure gold.

He’s also in doggie therapy working on his fear reactivity towards strange dogs (we all have a past). He’s making fabulous progress!

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Chauncey’s name just came to me. He often goes by Chaunpoo. My partner Barry named Mikko. Mikko also goes by Mikkiepoo.

Do Chauncey and Mikko do more to help or hinder your writing?

A mixed bag. I’m very productive in the mornings when they play the role of white noise machines (soothing snoring punctuated by an occasional fart).

However, once noon rolls around, they engage in mission creep but for dinner. At one point, feeding was 6 PM. They’ve now collapsed the dinnertime window to between 3 and 4. Success!

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

Oh god no. I wouldn’t let them anywhere near my dark and twisty plots.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Baby strollers.

Our house is a downtown, so there’s always a flurry of activity outside. When—and this actually happened—drifters were having sex in our back alley? Not a peep from either of them.

But the menacing clickity-clack of a squeaky stroller wheel on an uneven sidewalk? Not havin’ it.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

All of the above for Chauncey. It’s unlikely Mikko had access to traditional dog toys as a pup, so he’s in the process of learning how to play from his brother. Although, he does have a serious sock fetish we have to watch out for.

Who is each dog's best pet-pal?

Chauncey is not self-aware when it comes to his status as “pet”, so he’d likely say Mikko. His dog.

Circling back to Mikko’s fear reactivity, he’s made great furry friends in therapy (huge shout out to Dogma in Calgary). But at the end of the day, he loves Chauncey the most. He’s protective of his sibling.

What is each dog's best quality?

Chauncey spent his formative years with me as a single gay man, so his special power is the neediness I deliberately and carefully cultivated in him.

Mikko’s best quality is his ability to play the big spoon to my little spoon on the couch.

If Chauncey and Mikko could change one thing about you, what would it be?

They’d like to see the final remnants of my sand castle-like resolve wash away when it comes to staving off dinner until [currently] 3:30 PM.

If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

How much more do you love me than Barry? If the answer’s not what I want to hear, I forfeit my question.

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

Mikko could be voiced by Michael J. Fox who played Chance in Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey.

Chauncey could be done by Sally Field a la Sassy.

Neither has the gravitas for Shadow (played by the late Don Ameche).

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

Strollers belong in zoo enclosures where they can be appreciated from a safe distance. Not just… feral… in urban centers.

Visit P. J. Vernon's website.

The Page 69 Test: When You Find Me.

Writers Read: P. J. Vernon.

My Book, The Movie: When You Find Me.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. PJ - you are hilariously funny, and wry, and I love your dogs! Just ordered your book (don't be sad, I ordered it from the library. I had a "one click" habit that got me into BIG trouble with my Hubs!) Can't wait to read this. I don't ordinarily read mysteries, or thrillers, and your writing in this piece just drew me in. Seriously.

    1. Hi Karla! Thanks so much for these kind words & for ordering the book! Bonus points for supporting libraries in the process <3 Chauncey and Mikko say hello!

  2. Congrats on your published work. LOVE those two 4-legged editors. šŸ˜Š

    1. Thank you! And me too - they are the absolute tops :)