Sunday, May 22, 2022

Ben Jones & Sloopy

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Ben Jones, a researcher at Penn State and author of Apocalypse without God, and with me is my pal Sloopy, a female Border Collie mix that is just under a year and a half.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

This is probably blasphemous to say on the blog, but I don't drink coffee. So all her coffee dates are with my wife Mackenzie [photo below left]. I take Sloopy out for her morning run or walk, and then she crashes on the couch with mom while she's drinking her morning cup of joe.

What's brewing?

Cold brew with Hazelnut flavored almond milk creamer from Califia Farms.

Any treats for you or Sloopy on this occasion?

In the morning she has her breakfast kibble, usually with some salmon jerky -- one of her favorites.

How were you and Sloopy united?

She came up north from a shelter in Kentucky through the organization Homebound Houndz.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

The inspiration for Sloopy's name is "Hang on Sloopy" by the McCoys -- the official rock song of the state of Ohio and a favorite of the Ohio State University (my alma mater) Marching Band. It yields no shortage of nicknames: Sloop, Sloop dog, the Great Sloop, the Sloopster.

Does Sloopy do more to help or hinder your writing?

Our Lab Shar-Pei mix Barlow [in photo, right] was my writing partner for my first book. He was always by my side, which made writing less lonely and much more enjoyable. He sadly passed away last fall at 13 and a half years old.

Like Barlow, Sloopy jumps up beside me and settles in while I'm writing. With the weather getting nicer, I've been spending more time working on our porch. Sometimes she hangs out there, other times in the back yard next to the porch. She's only been with us a few months and occasionally gets into something in the yard and needs to be called off it, which can interrupt my writing. But she's a quick learner and, overall, far more of a help than a hindrance.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Her great nemeses, right now, are deer and groundhogs. A bouncing fluffy white deer tail strikes her as the most perfect thing to chase, and utterly irresistible.

What is Sloopy's best quality?

Probably her confidence. In my previous experiences with rescue dogs, they have had various fears that they needed help working through. That's not Sloop. Her attitude is: What are we doing? Awesome -- let's go! Her gentle enthusiasm for children is also endearing.

Who is Sloopy's best pet-pal?

My co-worker's dog Utah. She loves to play with any dog that's up for it. But large, energetic, submissive dogs are her absolute favorite. Utah checks all those boxes.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

She's a tug toy enthusiast -- rope, flexball, and the like.

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

Allow her to meet every dog we see on our walks.

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

From your perspective, what aspect of the world is the most bewildering and difficult to understand? I probably would try to cajole whoever has this magical power to also allow me to ask Sloopy to explain, in vivid detail, the joy and experience of spontaneously herding the wheel barrel as a I roll it through the back yard.

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

Kelly Macdonald (voice of Merida in Brave).

What advice would Sloopy give if asked?

Let's go find me a canine brother or sister that I can play with every day! (Mom and dad are working on that...)

Learn more about Ben Jones's new book, Apocalypse without God: Apocalyptic Thought, Ideal Politics, and the Limits of Utopian Hope.

--Marshal Zeringue

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Adele Myers & Chipper

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Adele Myers and I'm the author of The Tobacco Wives, my debut novel about a young seamstress in 1946 North Carolina who uncovers dangerous truths about Big Tobacco. The cute little guy next to me in this photo is my sidekick Chipper. We believe is about 8 years old. When my husband, son, and I adopted him from a kill shelter in Tennessee, he was believed to be two years old. He's a Chiweenie, a Chihuahua and Dachshund mix, and a southern transplant, just like me, living in Brooklyn, NY.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We call Chipper our Velcro dog. He has to be right next to one of us at all times, and if given the choice, he hangs out with me. He's a momma's boy. He had a tough life before coming to live with us, so I don't blame him for wanting to stay close.

What's brewing?

Latte from my favorite local coffee shop, Konditori in Park Slope, Brooklyn. It's a Swedish Espresso Bar where I spent many hours writing in the pre-COVID days.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

Chipper came with his name, which we quite like. Sometimes we call him Chip, Chippie, and occasionally Cujo when he gets overprotective.

Does Chipper do more to help or hinder your writing?

When I'm writing or editing, Chipper sits right by my side. He's an excellent co-editor. When I'm on a Zoom call ... totally different story. He likes to be in on the conversation, which is a bit of a hindrance.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Squeaky toy. [photo left]

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Postman and neighbors, any noise in the hallway outside our apartment.

Who is Chipper's best pet-pal?


What is Chipper's best quality?

He loves his people fiercely.

If Chipper could change one thing about Brooklynites, what would it be?

He'd like them to clear the street when he goes out for his walks. He wants the whole block to himself.

Visit Adele Myers's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Leanne Kale Sparks & Zoe

Who is in the photo at right?

Leanne, writer of mystery thrillers, and Zoe, an 18-month-old German Shepherd, showing off Momma’s new book.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We just finished an afternoon Nespresso with Dad, which is a treat because Dad is always on the phone.

What's brewing?

Our usual brew is Vanilla Macadamia Nut Kona coffee with two pumps of toasted marshmallow syrup and a generous pour of cream.

Any treats for you or Zoe on this occasion?

Zoe has a homemade puppuccino (whipped cream). Sometimes Dad adds some cereal milk to it for a little added bonus.

How were you and Zoe united?

We lost our gorgeous white GSD, Patch, during the quarantine in 2020, and we knew we needed to have another dog. We opted for a breeder and picked Zoe up at the beginning of October 2020, and life has been hectic and entertaining ever since.

How did your dog get her name?

We came up with a list of potential names, and the family voted for Zoe Matilda.

Any aliases?

Puppers; Honey Bun, Bun Bun, ZoZo, Petunia, Sweet potato, Zoe McGillicudy…and probably a few I’ve missed. Honestly, it’s a wonder she knows her name.

Does Zoe do more to help or hinder your writing?

She is not so helpful in my office. Too many distractions and things she ought not to be chewing. Daddy’s office has windows to the front yard. Much more to entertain and keep her out of trouble.

Has Zoe inspired you to create any fictional canines?

I didn’t have Zoe when I started writing this last book, but I can definitely see her in some future books.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?


Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Squeaky ball and frisbee.

Who is Zoe's best pet-pal?

My granddog, Nala (but she lives in another state, so they don’t see each other often). She loves running the fence line in the backyard with the neighbor dog, a border collie.

What is Zoe's best quality?

She’s a big morning snuggler in bed.

If Zoe could change one thing about Texans, what would it be?

Big loud pick-up trucks that pass her while taking a walk.

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

What is so enticing about eating your poop?

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

Reese Witherspoon.

What advice would Zoe give if asked?

If the answer to life’s questions don’t involve loving on a dog, it’s not a question worth asking.

Visit Leanne Kale Sparks's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, January 29, 2022

Rosiee Thor & Tess

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Tess, 13-year-old black lab/springer spaniel mix and snuggler extraordinaire. I'm her trusty human, Rosiee, semi-dependable source of food and walkies. I'm also an author and garden enthusiast.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We always start the day with a warm beverage for me and a warm snuggle for Tess before we get to work. Writing is a fairly focus-heavy job, so I always make sure Tess gets lots of attention during my morning routine before I sit down to write--and I get a little caffeine.

What's brewing?

I sadly had to give up coffee about a year ago for health reasons, so I start the day with black tea. Today's is spiced fig loose leaf.

Any treats for you or Tess on this occasion?

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, which Tess ate in record time. I'm snacking on a sliced pear and some rice crackers.

How were you and Tess united?

Tess used to be my partner's brother's dog, but when he expanded his family and started having kids, Tess didn't do well with the little ones. She really prefers to be the baby herself, so it wasn't a great environment for her. She's got some sensitivities with her ears and kiddos don't always respect boundaries, so we offered to take her instead, since we have a child free home. She's been the perfect dog for us and we love her more than we ever could have imagined.

How did your dog get her names? Any aliases?

Tess came to us with her name, but we've taken great joy in nicknaming her. Sometimes we call her Tessaroo, Tessaroni, Tessaroni and Cheese... you get the idea.

Does Tess do more to help or hinder your writing?

Tess is an old girl, so she naps for much of the day, which allows me to get lots of work done. She does get a little antsy if I don't take breaks, so we always take a walk at lunch, and sometimes I have to end my day early to play with her, but overall she's very good about letting me work.

Has Tess inspired you to create any fictional canines?

Not yet, but there's still lots of time and lots of books to go!

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Skunk, actually. We have a family of skunks living in our neighborhood and she looooves to chase them. We decidedly don't love the smell.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Squeaky toy! Tess knows her toys as her "babies" and loves to squeak and thrash them around. In her old age, she's gotten a little deaf though, so sometimes she picks a toy with a broken squeaker and she can't tell the difference.

Who is Tess's best pet-pal?

Definitely Prince the Pomeranian. Sometimes Tess gets to go to work with her other mom, and Prince, the mostly toothless pomeranian, is her old man buddy at the office. He can't eat his treats because of his toothless situation, so his mom collects cookies from drive throughs and gives them to Tess instead.

What is Tess's best quality?

How can I choose?! She's so good! I will say I'm partial to her little white toes--it makes her look like she's just pranced through some flour or something.

If Tess could change one thing about Oregonians, what would it be?

Definitely our cold winters. She gets a little arthritic and it's hard for her to go for long walks in the cold.

If Tess could answer only one question in English, what would you ask her? I would ask her if she knows how much we love her. It's a common occurrence in our house that we worry she doesn't know, so that would put our minds at ease for sure.

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

Maybe Maya Rudolph or Kate McKinnon... definitely someone from SNL!

What advice would Tess give if asked?

When in doubt, sit on the couch! Preferably next to her!

Visit Rosiee Thor's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Nikki May & Fela and Lola

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m the human (Nikki May, author). The beast draped around my shoulders is Fela, my standard schnauzer. He’s seven and a real mummy’s boy.

Fela’s sister, Lola (standard schnauzer) is out of shot, she’s looking at us both disdainfully and rolling her eyes.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My first coffee of the day, I usually have four or five. As always, it’s made by Peter (husband, editor, plot advisor and barista).

What's brewing?

We live in the middle of nowhere, our nearest coffee shop is a fifteen minute drive away, so husband has become an expert at making my iced coffees. His recipe: One shot of espresso made with a Nespresso Firenze Arpeggio capsule, four squirts of sugar-free vanilla syrup, a dash of skimmed milk and five ice cubes. Chuck all of that in our KitchenAid blender and pulse a few times. Served with a paper straw.

Any treats for you or the dogs on this occasion?

Today was a good day. Husband served my iced coffee with a slice of white sourdough toast with butter and marmite – just the way I like it. Of course I shared it with Fela, he adores toast.

How were you and the schnauzers united?

I first saw Fela when he was six weeks old and it was love at first sight. That dome head, those gorgeous eyes, that button nose. His sister Lola joined us a year later, they are distant cousins.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Fela is named after the late and great Fela Kuti, the pioneer of Afrobeat, a Nigerian hero and a political insurrectionist. I also call him Roo for reasons even I cannot fathom.

Lola is a proper little madam, she’s ruled the roost since she was nine weeks old, she’s a showgirl and her name was inspired by "Copacabana."

[photo right: Fela at six weeks old]

Have your dogs inspired you to create any fictional canines?

Yes! My first dog, Tosca (he’s now chasing squirrels in heaven), got a walk-in part in my debut novel, Wahala.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?


Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Squeaky ball for Fela. We have to have five minutes of chasing the ball around the bedroom every morning.

Lola doesn’t do toys, she’s all about squirrels.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Fela fell in love with Kiwi, my neighbour’s chocolate lab, when he was a puppy. She was a bit of a cougar – about eight years older than him. She’s now in heaven but he still wags his tail when we say, “Kiwi”.

Do the schnauzers do more to help or hinder your writing?

Mostly help – my best ideas come on dog walks and they insist on a ninety-minute trek every morning. They are less good at editing though – this is Lola [photo left] interrupting me at work.

What is each dog's best quality?

Fela is loyal, Lola is a comedienne.

If your schnauzers could change one thing about Dorset, what would it be?

Slower squirrels. Ideally snail-paced and unable to climb trees.

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

‘Do you really think that if you sit at the foot of the tree barking for forty-minutes, the squirrel will jump into your mouth? Seriously?’

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

Fela – Will Ferrell (doing his Elf voice).

Lola – Jodie Comer (as Villanelle).

What advice would your dogs give if asked?

There is no problem that can’t be resolved with a long walk on the beach followed by fish & chips.

Visit Nikki May's website.

Learn more about May's new novel, Wahala.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Teresita Dovalpage & La Niña

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Teresita Dovalpage, college professor and author of three theater plays and twelve novels. The last four belong to the Havana Mystery series published by Soho Crime. Death under the Perseids is the most recent one, set on a cruise ship headed for Cuba. And then there is La Niña, a five-year-old English foxhound mix with some heeler and husky. A girl with an attitude!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

The beginning of a new day. My husband and I love to have our morning coffee with La Niña in the sitting room. She plops down on a chair and watches us. When she considers that we should be done with the cafecito, she rolls over on the rug and demands a tummy rub. Naturally, she gets it.

What's brewing?

Café Bustelo. Espresso. Muy Cubano, unsweetened and super strong for me so I can start the day energized. With half-and-half and tons of sugar for my husband.

Any treats for you or La Niña on this occasion?

She adores fruit peels—mango, pear and apricot peels are her favorites. In the summer, our orchard provides fresh pears and apricots, but at this time of the year, store-bought fruit has to do.

How were you and La Niña united?

When we adopted her, she was a bit skittish at first. But one day she came over and put what we now call her “possessive paw” on my hand. She left it there for what felt like ten minutes, and I didn’t move. Perhaps it was some kind of a test. Afterwards, she became more comfortable and began to offer kisses on a daily basis.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

I have always called her Niña, Spanish for “girl.” Sometimes we also call her Miss Fluff—tongue-in-cheek, because she has no fluff at all.

Does La Niña do more to help or hinder your writing?

To help, definitely. She sits on an armchair and takes long naps while I write. It’s a comforting, quiet presence, until she sees a squirrel outside. Then tranquility goes out the window! But usually she is just there, snoring softly. When I get tired, I take ten minutes off to snuggle with her—very relaxing. Inspirational, too. That’s how she made a cameo in Death under the Perseids. I was on “her” chair, proofreading a printed copy of the manuscript (it’s too easy to miss errors on screen) and La Niña placed her aforementioned possessive paw on a page. It was a scene where the protagonist’s grandmother, Mamina, complains about being lonely. So I gave Mamina a puppy and named her Nena—an affectionate Spanish term for “girl.”

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Squirrel! She has never caught one, though not for lack of trying. We have plenty in the backyard, but she has gotten a little Rubenesque lately, which makes chasing squirrels (and anything else for that matter) somewhat difficult.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Pillows. Of course, she has her own, but if she can get hold of some else’s, much better. Early on, she’d chew on books. La Niña mala! I am happy to report that she has outgrown that stage.

Who is La Niña's best pet-pal?

It used to be Maxx, our Rhodesian Ridgeback [photo, left] who is now in puppy heaven. Maybe it’s time to get her a new friend!

What is La Niña's best quality?

She is a people’s dog. She rarely meets a human she doesn’t want to play kissy face with.

If La Niña could change one thing about New Mexico, what would it be?

I think she would say something like: “The wind wouldn’t blow so hard here. It gets awfully windy in this corner of the world and it scares me!”

If La Niña could answer only one question in English or Spanish, what would you ask her?

Why do you always take bones to a rug and not, let’s say, the backyard, chica?

What advice would La Niña give if asked?

When offered treats or compliments, accept them graciously.

Visit Teresa Dovalpage's website,

Learn more about Death under the Perseids.

Writers Read: Teresa Dovalpage (April 2018).

The Page 69 Test: Death Comes in through the Kitchen.

My Book, The Movie: Death Comes in through the Kitchen.

--Marshal Zeringue

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Ann Garvin & Peanut

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Ann Garvin, author, speaker, teacher, Tall Poppy Writer founder, and general nice lady. This is Peanut and he would never use his legs if I would only give in and carry him everywhere.

He is a mix from the humane society and is nine going on no idea. My newest book I Thought You Said This Would Work is a road trip book with dogs and sort-of friends. It’s funny and sad like all human beings.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Peanut and I have a standing coffee date. Every morning, I sip and he barks like a penned-in, irate New York cabbie at all mammals that walk past my house. We are not the wake up slowly couple, we are the wake up and shout at people couple seen in all romantic comedies (not really).

What's brewing?

The brew is whatever comes from Imperfect Produce where all the oddball foods that are too miss-shapen to get into the supermarket (Prom) go. I like their strange coffee because Peanut and I like a good weirdo.

Any treats for you or Peanut on this occasion?

He gets his antidepressant (not kidding).

How were you and Peanut united?

I went to the Humane Society on a whim and he was there, with a crazy look in his eye that I identified with. I said, I see you, dude. Let’s do this.

How did Peanut get his name? Any aliases?

It was the name he was given when I got him. He was so stressed out, I didn’t think it would be fair to change his name on top of a big move.

Does Peanut do more to help or hinder your writing?

Both. He makes me more compassionate but he has to pee no less than 100 times a day. It’s lovely and terrible but great exercise.

I don't imagine that it's a coincidence that the over-sized diabetic Great Pyrenees in your new novel is also named Peanut. How are the real and fictional Peanuts alike...and different?

I liked the idea that a Great Pyrenees would have a diminutive name. Also, it was a stunning moment of a lack of imagination on my part. They are alike as they both have serious issues with personal space. Peanut is constantly asking with his eyes, is this too close? Peanut from the book understands so much more than my Peanut. Book-Peanut is much wiser.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Absolutely apoplectic at the mailman. I made Peanut give the mailman a check for Christmas in apology. My mailman seems unfazed. He must be a very secure person.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

He only has eyes for me.

Who is Peanut's best pet-pal?

Asked and answered (see above).

What is Peanut's best quality?

Loyalty and major cuddle skills.

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

That I have friends.

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

Why is he so mad at other dogs?

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

Someone with a lisp. Peanut would have a lisp.

What advice would Peanut give if asked?

Never let your person go anywhere without consulting you.

Visit Ann Garvin's website.

Writers Read: Ann Garvin (July 2014).

My Book, The Movie: The Dog Year.

The Page 69 Test: The Dog Year.

--Marshal Zeringue