Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Rebecca Hodge & Tess and Kalen

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Rebecca Hodge, an author whose debut novel, Wildland, releases in February. I’m a veterinarian and have worked for the past twenty years in clinical research, focusing on drug development for metabolic disease in humans. The two crazy dogs who are ‘helping’ me unpack my Advance Reader copies of the book are Tess, the brown mixed breed, who’s twelve years old, and Kalen, the white mixed breed, who’s eighteen months.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Although I love the way coffee smells, I’m actually a hardcore tea drinker. It’s the way I start my day, and there’s usually a mug at my side when I’m writing. The dogs are my writing assistants and are generally underfoot at all times.

What's brewing?

My favorite go-to tea is Republic of Tea Vanilla-Almond Black Tea, but I also love their Golden Yunan.

Any treats for you or the dogs on this occasion?

They’re very good at giving me long pitiful looks to get Milk Bones.

How were you and Tess and Kalen united?

Both dogs were rescue puppies. At Tess’s age, I was hesitant to add a second dog, but it was a great decision--- she acts five years younger with Kalen around to keep her on her toes.

How did the dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Tess was named by my sons, and I picked Kalen’s name out of a baby name book. I occasionally mumble ‘idiot dog’ under my breath, but no true aliases.

Do your dogs do more to help or hinder your writing?

One of the best ways for me to get unstuck in my writing is to go for a walk, and since these two are firm believers in long walks, I think I have to admit they help more than hinder.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

My fictional dogs are truly fiction, but since I’ve been around dogs all my life, hopefully their characters ring true.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

All elicit strong interest if they come close to the house, but what really gets things going is if they spot a deer out front. [photo left]

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Balls and stuffed toys that can be dismembered are the favorites.

Where is your dogs' favorite outdoor destination?

Shelley Lake, a nearby city park with walking paths.

What is each dog's best quality?

Tess is the calm snuggler, and Kalen is the high-energy spring-loaded crazy dog—except when sound asleep in bizarre pretzel-shapes. [photo right]

If Tess and Kalen could change one thing about North Carolina, what would it be?

Too hot in the summer!

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

What do you dream about at night?

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

Yeardley Smith, who does an awesome job with Lisa on The Simpsons.

What advice would Tess and Kalen give if asked?

They are not allowed on the furniture, so I think they’d advise it’s time for their own couch.

Visit Rebecca Hodge's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Arlene Gillo & Bruce Wayne and Jean Grey

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Arlene Gillo. I’m an acupuncturist for people and animals. But I’m also a writer of my Bruce Wayne books. The sweet boy with me is Bruce Wayne, age 9. He is an American Staffordshire or pit bull, and the main character of my book.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I’m here because I enjoy a good cup of coffee after taking these guys on a morning hike. We usually do at least 3 miles and then I get to relax with my coffee while Bruce Wayne and Jean Grey chill out with the treats and water that I bring for them.

What's brewing?

I’m having a cappuccino. I love a good cappuccino on special occasions, and today is a special occasion.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

The dogs will be having their beef jerky. My treat is the cappuccino...yum!

How were you and Bruce Wayne and Jean Grey united?

I adopted Bruce Wayne from the Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation. I just fell in love with his adoption picture when I saw it on Petfinder. I adopted Jean Grey from the cattle dog rescue site. I wanted Bruce Wayne to have a sister so that the wouldn’t be alone when I went to work.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

When I adopted Bruce Wayne, he was just called Bruce. I told my boyfriend that his name was too ordinary. So, we thought of all the interesting people/characters named Bruce and we came up with Bruce Wayne. When I found out that Jean Grey was a red Merle, my boyfriend and I thought of a superhero who was a red head, thus Jean Grey from the X-Men. My last three dogs were also named after a superhero.

Please tell us about your book, Bruce Wayne Is Insane: Meeting Ninja Kitty.

It’s about Bruce Wayne, a young pit bull who is newly adopted and therefore, new to the neighborhood. He meets a cat in his backyard. They decide to be friends, and the cat ends up teaching him martial arts. It’s about acceptance, friendship and having fun while learning something new.

What is each dog's best quality?

Bruce Wayne is so patient and tolerant. He will let me do anything to him, i.e. brush his teeth, clean his ears, etc. Jean Grey won’t allow me to do those things to her. However, Jean Grey obeys the commands I give her. If I tell her to go outside, she’ll run out. If I tell her to wait, she will. Bruce Wayne won’t do that. He’ll look at me as if to say, “I’ll think about it.”

Tennis ball, stick, squeaky-toy...?

Bruce Wayne isn’t into toys. Jean Grey loves squeaky toys and tennis balls. She can play fetch for a long time.

Postman, cat, squirrel...?

Bruce Wayne is a natural predator. He likes to chase the squirrels and birds. Of course, both he and Jean Grey bark at the postman, UPS guy and any person near the front gate.

If Bruce Wayne and Jean Grey could change one thing about you, what would it be?

They would want me to relax. They know I work a lot. And, possibly, Bruce Wayne would want me to vacuum only once a day.

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

I would ask Jean Grey if shares the food she finds on the kitchen counter with Bruce Wayne when I accidentally forget to put food away when I go to work. She jumps on the kitchen counter and sink when I leave for work to look for food. I’ve seen her do it.

Then I would ask Bruce Wayne to confirm her answer.

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

Seth Rogen would do Bruce Wayne, and Anne Hathaway would do Jean Grey.

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

They would say, “Have fun...stick your head out of the car window some time and feel how good it is.”

Visit Arlene Gillo's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Patrick Chiles & Frankie and Beanie

Who is in the photo at right?

Frankie is on the right, Beanie is on the left. They are both 10-year-old male dachshunds. Beanie is a purebred, long-haired mini and Frankie is a rescue dog. We thought he might be part Beagle but we’ve seen pictures of Basset / Dachshund mixes that are dead ringers for him. And he has kind of a Basset howl when he wants attention.

(I'm Patrick Chiles, author of Frozen Orbit.)

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Who needs an occasion for coffee and dogs? If I’m awake I’m never far from a cup of coffee, especially when writing. And these two follow me everywhere, Beanie in particular. Frankie can be hard to pull off of his blanket pile on the sofa. We attribute that to him having had a hard life on the streets before we adopted him.

What's brewing?

Starbucks French Roast is my go-to home brew.

Any treats for you or the dogs on this occasion?

The coffee is the treat!

How were you and Frankie and Beanie united?

We got Beanie from a couple we knew who bred Dachshunds. He was about six weeks old, which we found out later was probably too young for us to take in. It’s made him extremely attached to us and he probably has some separation anxiety. We found Frankie a few years later at the Franklin County (OH) animal shelter. He’d been a stray for most of the winter and was half-starved. When we brought him home, he immediately got settled in on a pile of sofa pillows and decided he was going to relax for the rest of his life. He’s pretty much the opposite of half-starved now.

How did the dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Beanie got his name because he was literally the size of a Beanie Baby. Frankie’s was a friend’s suggestion: “Franks and Beans, the Weiner Dogs.”

Do your dogs do more to help or hinder your writing?

Beanie thinks he helps. I can’t sit at the keyboard without him wanting to be in my lap or by my side. He’s been there for every book I’ve written. I should probably give him co-author credit at some point.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

Audrey, a character from Farside, has a dachshund named Wernher (for Von Braun, and she’s a rocket scientist. Original, I know).

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

We have a Maine Coon kitty named BeeBee (for Big Butt). She’s affectionate towards Beanie but doesn’t like Frankie. It’s quite sad.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Frankie doesn’t much care about toys as long as he’s got his blanket pile on the sofa. Beanie is obsessive about playing fetch with a Kong first thing in the morning. I toss it around until the first cup of coffee is done, then give him some peanut butter. That’s his signal that Dad needs a break for the second cup of coffee. He also has this ceramic chew bone he won in a Halloween pet costume contest something like nine years ago (dressed as a banana). He’s worn it down to the nub but is obsessively protective of it, like Gollum with The Precious. We just call it the Crack Bone.

Where is your dogs' favorite outdoor destination?

Anywhere we can take them for walks is pretty much their favorite thing.

What is each dog's best quality?

Both are very affectionate, sometimes too much so. Dachshunds like being close to their humans. And as a breed they’re hilarious by nature.

If Frankie and Beanie could change one thing about Ohioans, what would it be?

If we were still in Columbus I’d say obsessive Buckeye fandom. We live in Tennessee now so I guess that’s kind of a moot point.

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

Why do you like digging through the bathroom garbage? Never mind, I probably don’t want to know.

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

Mel Blanc. He could do anything.

What advice would Frankie and Beanie give if asked?

Belly rubs are the key to inner peace and contentment.

Visit Patrick Chiles's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Carlie Sorosiak & Dany

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Carlie Sorosiak, author of I, Cosmo, a middle-grade novel told from the perspective of an ageing golden retriever who’s trying to hold his human family together through a tumultuous year. With me is Dany, my one-and-a-half-year-old American dingo. She doesn’t like the camera very much!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every Tuesday, I take Dany to Starbucks. We go through the drive-thru, then have our goodies in the car before shopping at Hollywood Feed, her favorite pet food store. There, she picks out her treats for the week. Yes, she’s spoiled.

What's brewing?

I’m a sucker for chai lattes with almond milk.

Any treats for you or Dany on this occasion?

I always get Dany a pup-uccino with biscuit topper (basically, a cup full of whipped cream).

How were you and Dany united?

My husband and I picked her up from the Atlanta Humane Society. She was the last puppy left at 5 pm on a Saturday, because she looked terrible. Her face was bleeding. She had four different types of worms. And we said, we’ll take her!

On her forms, she was labeled “shepherd mix.” Turns out she’s a dingo. Who knew?

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

My husband and I are huge Game of Thrones fans. Dany’s full name is Daenerys Dogaryen, Queen of the Iron Bone. She also responds to “dingo.”

Does Dany do more to help or hinder your writing?

Hinder. One-hundred percent hinder. She wants to play, play, play, play… I do love this about her.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

All of the above.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Again, all of the above. Dany does not discriminate when it comes to playtime.

Where is Dany's favorite outdoor destination?

She really loves national parks. If I had to pick, I’d say that her favorite is Cowpens National Battlefield. Lots of great smells! Squirrels aplenty!

Who is Dany's best pet-pal?

A pocket-lab named Chloe. They love to stretch out in the sunshine together.

What is Dany's best quality?

Her intelligence. Funnily enough, that is also her worst quality.

If Dany could change one thing about Georgians, what would it be?

They always want to pet you! Dany is afraid of strangers, so I think she’d prefer if they were much more aloof.

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

I’d ask her what happened before I met her.

She was found alone on the streets of South Carolina. How’d she get there? What happened to her mother, father, siblings?

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

Emilia Clarke, because it’s only fitting.

What advice would Dany give if asked?

There is no such thing as too much chicken.

Visit Carlie Sorosiak's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Jacqueline Firkins & Ffiona

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Jacqueline Firkins, a costume designer, theatre prof, lit geek, and author of the YA rom-com, Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things, a modern retelling of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park. With me is Ffiona, my 14-year-old Welsh terrier. She spells it with 2 effs because she's Welsh. And pretentious.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

This photo was taken in my office. Ffiona has come to work with me since I got her as a puppy. She hangs out in costume shops, helps with college recruiting events, and provides stress relief for students who are away from their own pets. I made it an unofficial condition of my hire that my dog would basically be glued to my side everywhere but in the classroom. So far no one's dared to challenge that.

What's brewing?

Tucked just off screen is my usual afternoon cup of Earl Grey. I've never been a coffee drinker but I consume boatloads of tea in all varieties. The smell of bergamot feels right in the afternoon.

Any treats for you or Ffiona on this occasion?

Treats are never far away, and Ffiona knows it. As a very good sport for posing for this photo, she nipped into a salmon square.

How were you and Ffiona united?

I freelanced for many years. When I finally got a fulltime job I knew I could handle taking care of a pet. I grew up with big dogs, but I was living in a building with a 25 lb. size limit on pets. Despite having fostered dogs and fundraised for shelters, I wanted a puppy and I couldn't risk a rescue that grew larger than 25 lbs. I looked for a breed that had a big dog personality in a little dog body. I found a breeder on a wonderful farm, drove out to meet the whole terrier family, and came home with my new life partner.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Before picking Ffiona up, I scanned a long list of Welsh names. Many I couldn't pronounce. Ffiona seemed recognizable enough that I wouldn't have to explain her name to people, while the double eff gave her a unique twist. Aliases: Little Ffi, Supercute-a-potamus, Wee Ffi Beastie.

Does Ffiona do more to help or hinder your writing?

A little of both. She's a demand on my time, but one I wouldn't change for anything. The walks help clear my head. The quiet company lends me support.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Skateboard. 100%.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

For years she was obsessed with tennis balls. Lately she prefers the ball with the treats in it. Smart dog.

Where is Ffiona's favorite outdoor destination?

I'm lucky to live within a couple of miles of dog friendly ocean beaches and forest preserves. But Ffiona's favourite destination is probably beneath my parents' kitchen table, where she's bound to get handouts.

Who is Ffiona's best pet-pal?

Ffiona had a great group of dog friends when we lived in Chicago. "We're" still in touch with some. She also has 4 coworkers at my university and a walking buddy, so she's in good company.

What is Ffiona's best quality?

Cuteness. And love. And quirkiness. And patience with my inability to stick to parameters.

If Ffiona could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Slower walking speed so she could smell everything.

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

She's getting old, so at this point the thing I'd most want to know is when/if she's in pain or discomfort. Watching a dog age is hard, but I'm going to take advantage of every day I have with her.

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

I don't know many Welsh actresses, but I think the accent would be essential. And plenty of attitude.

What advice would Ffiona give if asked?

The world needs more bacon more than it needs more books.

Visit Jacqueline Firkins's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, November 29, 2019

Jennifer Roberson & Cassie and Luka

Who is in the photo at right?

My Cardigan Welsh Corgis, Cassie (L) and Luka (R) with me, Jennifer Roberson, at Ventura Beach following a day in the show ring. Cassie is a champion and a mom, while Luka is a young boy just starting his show career.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It’s a chilly day at the beach and I’m just across the street from the Ventura Fairgrounds letting the dogs just be dogs, wandering along in wet, squishy sand after strutting their stuff in the show ring.

What's brewing?

On the way back from walking the dogs along the beach I’ll grab a hot mocha latte with whipped cream and caramel from a beach vendor!

Any treats for you or the dogs on this occasion?

I will most definitely give each one of them two fingertips full of the whipped cream from off the top of my drink!

How were you and Cassie and Luka united?

Cassie’s mom is a Cardi girl I bred who went to live in Oregon from Arizona. When she had a litter of puppies, her owners gave me pick of the litter—Cassie!

Luka came to me all the way from Russia. I bred his father and sent him to a wonderful home in Finland. Dad went on to make beautiful babies in Europe, and Luka joined me a year ago in Tucson in November 2018, after he and I spent 24 hours at LAX waiting for a new flight after missing our original flight home because of a hold-up in Customs. Luka slept. I didn’t.

How did the dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Cassie’s registered name is Ch. Cheysuli’s Pocket Full of Sunshine. Cheysuli is my kennel name, based on my first fantasy series called Chronicles of the Cheysuli, and Sunshine is the kennel name of her breeders. She’s Pocket Full of Sunshine because she’s bright and shiny all the time. Her nickname is Cassafrass.

Luka’s registered name is Keksband Trade Secret at Cheysuli. Keksband is the kennel name of his breeder, in Moscow, and of course Cheysuli is mine. He’s a Trade Secret because he’s made of 11 secret herbs and spices—wait, that’s KFC. His nickname is Lukachu.

Do your dogs do more to help or hinder your writing?

They help! They are goofy and silly, have a tremendous sense of humor, and they make me smile after writing a demanding scene.

Have any actual dogs ever inspired dogs in your fiction?

Not as yet, but there will be a boy in one of the upcoming Blood & Bone books inspired by a dog I know.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

They would rather chase lizards. Luka’s best friend is a cat—or, rather, Luka is the cat’s best friend--so he wouldn’t chase felines. Just lick them.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

My dogs always de-squeak the toys. And Luka has disemboweled four squeaky ducks. Mostly they love to chew on antlers.

Where is your dogs' favorite outdoor destination?

The show ring! Seriously! They love to go bouncing around meeting other Cardigans at ringside, and to say hello to all the humans showing the dogs. It’s always a challenge keeping them all spiffed up when they want to roll around in the grass with their canine buddies right before they go in the ring. It would be like someone dressed up for a job interview who decides to go through a car wash. Without the car.

What is each dog's best quality?

Cassie is absolutely devoted to me. I am her world. It’s pure unconditional love. Luka believes the world is his oyster, and the oyster’s full of fun. He’s irrepressible!

If Cassie and Luka could change one thing about Arizonans, what would it be?

They would want us to have shorter legs so it’s easier to inspect ears and clean faces.

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

“If there’s anything I can do to make you even happier, what would it be?”

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

Cassie: Meryl Streep. She can affect a wise, been there/done that tone, laced with affection.

Luka: Any young male actor who can speak with a Russian accent, as Luka arrived in the US speaking no English. I had to not only translate dog-speak for him, but Russian dog-speak.

What advice would Cassie and Luka give if asked?

“Feed us. We’re starving. Yes, you fed us an hour ago, but we’re starving anyway. Please rectify that at once or we will be forced to resort to fisticuffs, even though we’re too short to do any damage except maybe to your kneecaps.”

Visit Jennifer Roberson's website.

The Page 69 Test: Life and Limb.

My Book, The Movie: Life and Limb.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Margaret Mizushima & Hannah

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Margaret Mizushima, author of the Timber Creek K-9 Mystery series, and I’m pictured here with our German shorthair pointer, Hannah, also known as Hannah Boo. Hannah is about eight years old, and she’s thin-skinned and almost hairless. Years ago when my husband brought her home in December as a puppy, she shivered like a tiny Chihuahua, and I couldn’t bear for her to be raised outside even though all of our dogs have access to a heated doghouse. So Hannah became our housedog and hangs out with me while I write.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Hannah and I are taking a break from work to cuddle with a book. Whenever I sit on the couch to read or watch television, Hannah is right there by my side with her head on my lap. Having her ears stroked puts her to sleep every time, and it also relaxes me.

What's brewing?

I had to give up coffee and tea years ago so I drink a variety of herbals, my favorite being Yogi brand Egyptian licorice or peppermint. This summer I became hooked on LaCroix sparkling water, especially the flavors Pamplemousse (Grapefruit) and Key Lime. I drink one every morning while I write.

Any treats for you or Hannah on this occasion?

Whenever I approach the pantry where her treats are stored, Hannah begs for a treat by barking and going into her play pose. This is a result of my misguided attempt at teaching her to speak. Consequently, she now speaks up several times a day whenever she wants a treat but doesn’t say a word when we ask her to “speak.” The patrol dog in my mystery series, German shepherd Robo, is sort of a wonder dog and very obedient—but I’m evidently not as good a trainer as my protagonist, K-9 handler Mattie Cobb, because Hannah has me wrapped around her little toe and pretty much runs the place.

Readers can learn more about Hannah from our 2018 Q&A. Anything notable happen with her in the last year?

Hannah is very much a creature of habit. As long as she has her food, treats, water, and daily run, she’s happy. She wakes up at the same time every morning, gets up from her bed on the couch, and lets us coax her outside at the same time each morning, afternoon, and night. Frequently she goes with my husband out to hunt birds or run at a nearby lake, but otherwise her life runs like clockwork. No notable changes this past year for her, but I’ve noticed the days certainly do slip by faster the older we get.

Please tell us about your new book.

Tracking Game is the fifth book in the Timber Creek K-9 series. It starts out with a bang when Deputy Mattie Cobb and her love interest Cole Walker have their first public date interrupted by an explosion near town. When they arrive at the scene of a burning van, they find Cole’s best friend injured and a local rancher dead, shot twice in the heart at close range. Mattie’s investigation begins, eventually taking her and her patrol dog Robo into Colorado’s mountain wilderness where they encounter not only a killer but also a dangerous creature. This mystery stands alone, but if you want the full character arc over the series, start with book one, Killing Trail.

I've heard that Hannah is averse to going outside unless she knows she's going out to hunt or going for a run. She sounds exactly like some human introverts I know. Do you have a theory of your own about why Hannah is like that?

I once thought it was because her thin skin made her susceptible to hot and cold weather, but she’s this way year round. We found it interesting when we learned that her mother is just like her, and her family says they could barely get her to go outside to do her business. Hannah is exactly the same way, which I thought might be because she was perhaps…could it be…spoiled? But now I have to ask, what part of this quirky behavior is nature and what part is nurture? (Please tell me I didn’t create this problem child myself.)

You've done some search and rescue training with past dogs. What was that like?

When our kids were toddlers, my husband and I took two of our dogs (an Australian shepherd and a Rottweiler) to search and rescue training sessions through our county. Although neither of us had the time to continue with the certification process, we and our dogs learned enough so we could have ready access to a SAR-trained dog if one of our children wandered off while we were camping or hiking. I learned a lot about tracking and trailing behavior in dogs and techniques for handlers, never knowing that someday I would use this knowledge base for a mystery series. Serendipity.

Have your experiences with watching bird dogs hunt influenced your writing?

Bird dogs have given me a sense of what it’s like to watch a dog air scent, quartering the field as they ping back and forth to narrow in on the bird’s scent cone. I was able to watch air scenting dogs trail humans during our days of search and rescue training as well, while some dogs like to put their noses down and track the scent of a human on the ground. Some dogs do both. All of these observations of doggie behavior have influenced my writing.

Readers of this site met Bertie, Lily and Tess last year. Are there any new dogs in the pack these days?

No, we have the same foursome. Lily is still with us, and though she’s become quite elderly, she still likes to putz around the yard and will play with the other dogs in short stints. She no longer likes to go for runs with the pack and prefers to stay home. Tess and Bertie are still their lively selves and enjoy going to the vet clinic with my husband. Our Tess has become quite the cattle dog and is a big help when moving the Angus cattle that we raise back and forth from the pasture. She’s also a sweetheart and likes to cuddle close to my husband when they get into the feed truck to feed each morning, a trait that we find endearing.

Visit Margaret Mizushima's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Margaret Mizushima & Hannah, Bertie, Lily and Tess.

Writers Read: Margaret Mizushima.

The Page 69 Test: Tracking Game.

--Marshal Zeringue