Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kristina Riggle & Lucky

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Kristina Riggle, a writer and occasional freelance journalist and my dog, Lucky. Lucky is going on two years old, he's a boy, and our best estimation as to his breed is that he's a border terrier-chihuahua mix. It's hard to tell from this picture, but he weighs 12 pounds and is about the size of a largeish cat. His coat is wiry, which is good for my husband's allergies. Another distinctive feature is a curlicue tail which makes a complete circle in its normal, happy-dog position.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Lucky and I took a walk to our local coffee/ice cream/car wash place (yes, really, drive-through or walk-up service) because tonight is the launch party for my debut novel ("Real Life & Liars") and it seemed like a nice, relaxing thing to do before all the excitement.

What's brewing?

I don't normally go for frou-frou coffee but it's so bloody hot here, today. It's not even noon and it's already almost 90 degrees, so I ordered a frozen blended drink. But it is mocha flavored, so at least slightly reminiscent of actual coffee.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Not this time! So hot I don't have much appetite (or maybe it's launch party nerves).

Any treat for Lucky on this occasion?

I gave him a dog treat upon our arrival home for being a good sport while trying to take our picture. Too much "people food" makes him barf, and he always seems to do that when I'm the only one home to clean it up.

How did Lucky come to be united with you?

I was initially against getting a dog. I was always a cat person, and anyway, I felt I had my hands plenty full with our toddler and older son. But I relented after my book deal, partly because my husband has been so supportive of my writing career, I felt it was a way to repay him. Also, my son really wanted a dog. The things we do for our kids.

At first I was too skittish about adopting a rescue dog, fearing unpredictability. But after some more research, testimony from friends, and the sticker-shock of a purebred border terrier, we found Lucky via, identified as a border terrier mix who was good with kids and already housetrained. He was seven months old at the time.

Now I'm really glad we adopted a dog and I would recommend the same for anyone. Also, look at that face! He's so cute.

How did Lucky get his name?

My son Sam named him. We surprised Sam with the dog; my husband went by himself to go pick the dog up. As soon as Sam saw him, he lit up with pure joy and said, "I'll name him Lucky, hi Lucky!" and that was that. Sam had been reading a bedtime story about a boy with a dog named Lucky. I always liked the name Frodo for a dog, so in my next book, I named a dog Frodo (and also gave Lucky a role in the book, too!).

Where do you usually take Lucky out for fresh air?

We go around the block, usually with my son on his bike and my 2-year-old daughter Avery in the stroller. He also likes to harass the squirrels and birds in our backyard, and there's mutual harassment going on with the feral cats who live in a patch of woods behind our fenced-in yard. They taunt him from just the other side of the fence.

Where is the best nearby dog park?

I'm too nervous to take him, because as a novice dog owner, I'm just not good at knowing when harmless roughhousing turns serious. Also, Lucky has a bit of "short guy syndrome" and he can only be friendly with a bigger dog for about 30 seconds before getting intimidated and trying to nip. Since most dogs are bigger, that can be a problem. I need the Dog Whisperer's help with this one!

Is Lucky's bark worse than his bite?

Oh much worse. He has a deep voice for such a little dog and everyone's surprised by it. He sounds terribly fierce but he's actually very cuddly and friendly (except with bigger dogs, see above).

Tennis ball, Frisbee, stick, ...?

Lucky loves to chase a stick, but then he sits down to eat it. We're working on "fetch."

Would Lucky rather chase a squirrel, a cat, a car, his tail, the mailman, ...?

Squirrel, no contest. And we have lots of them.

Would Lucky rather catch a squirrel, a cat, a car, his tail, the mailman, ...?

He does his best to catch those squirrels and frankly I hope the squirrels always stay one step ahead of him.

Which TV dog is Lucky most similar to?

He has his "Lassie" moments where he barks up a storm, runs to us and then whines and dances around in place, making this face: "Timmy fell down the well! You've gotta do something!" though he's typically just alerting us to some dangerous interloper like the paperboy or another neighborhood dog walking by. Or a squirrel.

What's the most embarrassing thing Lucky ever did?

I don't know if it's embarrassing really, but he gave us all a fright shortly after we got him when he dashed out through our back fence, which my son had left open only briefly. I suddenly heard Sam screaming Lucky's name frantically and I ran out to find Sam in tears and hysterical because he'd run away. We already had a microchip in him so I tried to reassure Sam we'd find him. Meanwhile, our lovely neighbor had heard the commotion and she and my husband ran off to search the neighborhood. Some OTHER lovely neighbors had seen him wandering, knew he was lost, and had scooped him up. They were carrying him when the first neighbor saw him. All told, he was only gone about five or ten minutes, but I had to admit those five or ten minutes were agonizing, even for me, a supposed cat person.

Groucho Marx said, "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside a dog, it's too dark to read." Was he right?

I'll take his word for it. Lucky is too small for any books except maybe mass market paperbacks.

"'Real Life & Liars', Kristina Riggle's sumptuous and rich debut novel, examines the complications that arise in family and marriage, love and heartbreak," according to New York Times bestselling author Allison Winn Scotch. "With lush writing and nuanced, relatable characters, this book is a must-read for anyone who has ever been both grateful and driven mad by the people they love most: their family."

Visit Kristina Riggle's website.

--Marshal Zeringue