Friday, January 15, 2010

Diane Whiteside & Honey, Coffee, and Gentle Ben

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Diane Whiteside, in the center with Honey and her two best friends, Coffee and Gentle Ben. Amazingly, Honey is the only one who is not staring at the piece of chicken in Uncle Dragon’s hand. My sister Viki is seated on the left, having just run out of dog treats.

What’s the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Honey, Coffee and Gentle Ben all arrived in our lives through the good auspices of Virginia German Shepherd Rescue. All three are pure black and we have regular play dates to celebrate finding them. We even wear shirts emblazoned “The Black Shepherd Society: Not just for black sheep anymore…”

Our play date was held at Coffee’s home, since her humans fostered Honey for more than four months.

What’s brewing?

Irish cream coffee, thankfully very hot on a crisp fall day. We enjoyed a spirited conversation about brewing techniques, given that our hosts’ kitchen is brand-new and still being equipped.

I have also been known to mark big occasions with a hazelnut latte (decaf, sugar-free, quad, iced on a hot day).

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Pumpkin bread and an apple tart. Yum!

Any treats for your dogs on this occasion?

Are you kidding? Of course, they got treats! Honey’s nickname is “Cookie Monster” and I have no idea how she’s managed to maintain the same weight.

To distract them, we gave the dogs some nice, tasty morsels of chicken rawhide.

How did your dogs come to be united with you?

Honey is a stray, found on the South Carolina streets with a dozen puppies and a bad case of heartworm. VGSR brought her up here. After her puppies were weaned, her foster mom nursed her through killing off the heartworm. Uncle Dragon, a VGSR volunteer, thought she’d be a good match for us, and suckered my sister and I into babysitting her for two weeks. Honey took one look at Viki and the rest, as they say, is history.

Gentle Ben is an enormous German Shepherd and the sweetest, kindest dog I have ever met. He’s a very good match for Uncle Dragon, a human who likes to masquerade as a curmudgeon.

Coffee was originally one of our hostess Erica’s foster dogs.

How did they get their names?

Honey was originally called Candy but she never, ever answered to it. Viki began to toss endearments at her, trying to catch her eye. One day, Viki said, “Honey Bunny” and the dog’s head whipped around to look at her.

Bingo! Our new addition had finally paid attention and thereby given herself a name: Honey.

Gentle Ben was named that because he is so very big and gentle.

Do the dogs have any influence on your writing?

I am an inveterate animal lover and they do keep showing up in my books.

Honey is a very black dog and you absolutely cannot see her in any kind of shadows, let alone a dark house. One night, I came up to bed late and happened upon her strolling down the upstairs hallway. I never knew she was there until she gave me a big, toothy, doggie grin – and my heart almost leaped out of my chest.

That moment was the inspiration for a scene in Kisses Like A Devil, my latest historical novel, where my heroine’s beloved dog comes out of the shadows to stop an attack on her.

What’s an ordinary day like for Honey?

Every morning, a toll of one dog cookie must be paid for each car to depart the garage. Every evening, she goes for a very long romp in our huge backyard, which involves much wild racing around.

Stick, tennis ball, Frisbee…?

Her only apparent interest in toys is to rip out the guts from stuffed animals, strew it around her, and then recline gracefully among the remains as if to say, “Aren’t I the most elegant lady you ever did see?”

Squirrel, cat, postman…?

Death to all squirrels and chipmunks, especially the rude chipmunks who run inside the downspouts then bark at her!

What’s Honey’s best quality?

Honey has the eternal ability to give ever increasing amounts of love and hope.

What’s Honey’s proudest moment so far?

The first time she overcame her shyness enough to walk all the way around the block, a full mile-and-a-half.

What’s Honey’s most embarrassing?

Honey has the unshakable conviction that she was meant to be a lapdog. To see her wiggle fifty pounds of German Shepherd across a human lap, roll over, while keeping one paw on the ground and look up with big brown eyes –– is always endearing and funny. But then she’ll wag a free paw hopefully, overbalance, and slide to the floor with a thump.

Only to pick herself up and smile at us again.

Diane Whiteside's many books include Kisses Like A Devil, a new chapter in the Donovan family saga (also known as her “Devil” books), which comes out in February. It’s about Brian, the second son of William and Viola Donovan, from The Irish Devil.

Other books include the Texas vampires’ trilogy, which began with The Hunter’s Prey.

Learn more about the writer and her work at
Diane Whiteside's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue