Friday, July 31, 2009

Mary Jane Maffini & Daisy and Lily

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Mary Jane Maffini, author of three mystery series (all with beloved resident dogs and plenty of coffee-drinking scenes) and a number of short stories. The pooches in the party collars are Daisy and Lily, both miniature dachshunds of a princessy disposition. Daisy (velvety brown) is six years old and Lily (silky black) is still a lively three-year old. They look a lot like Sweet Marie and Truffle in the Charlotte Adams mysteries, but that's a coincidence.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every morning is an occasion for coffee. We have a nice reading and coffee corner in our kitchen. I am in charge of drinking coffee and reading newspapers and Daisy and Lily are in charge of sleeping under their blankie curled up next to me. It's not easy being a dog and a lot of R & R is essential. However, this is everyday.

A special coffee occasion is a trip to The Doggin' It Café, a very unusual coffee shop in Ottawa South [below, left]. The Café is located in the Wag Pet Shop. Daisy and Lily know the way from the parking lot. Get out of their way!

We love it there. It's full of dog food, toys, clothing, gear and anything else you could think of and many things you couldn't dream up if you tried. The staff at the Café are all dog nuts. Daisy and Lily spend quite a lot of time conspiring to get behind the counter. There are extra treats there. Barista Lindsay [below, right] hasn't spotted Lily yet.

What's brewing?

Kicking Horse coffee is served at The Doggin' It Café and sold by the kilo too. However, my poison is a medium latte with a discreet dusting of chocolate.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

The Doggin' It Café doesn't serve food for humans, but dogs get their choice of yummies. Daisy might have their eyes on a chewy or a pig's ear, but they'll wolf down a homemade organic dog treat. If they're at home, they are fond of homemade dog cookies, cut in heart shapes. They like this recipe so much that I included it for Tolstoy, the pooch in "Too Hot to Handle," one of my mysteries. These cookies are easy to make:

Tolstoy’s Temptations

2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup, less 1 tbsp chunky peanut-butter
1 tbsp liquid honey
1 cup milk

Preheat oven 350

Mix flour and baking powder

In a separate bowl mix peanut butter, honey and milk.

Add to dry ingredients. Mix well. Roll out to ¼ inch thickness. Cut into heart or bone shapes.

Bake 18 minutes (or even less – they can overcook quickly) on a greased cookie sheet.

Cook and store in airtight container, if they last that long.

Any treat for Daisy and Lily on this occasion?

Daisy and Lily managed to score at least five treats from Lindsay who was quite taken with them.

How did Daisy and Lily come to be united with you?

I fell in love with a pair of doxies who lived on our street. So did my daughter, Victoria. I had dogs at the time, but she quickly acquired two. Her in-laws were instantly smitten and found one of their own, Kami. Our beloved neurotic old Corgi Smudge had a terrible crush on this little dog. In time, Kami had a beautiful pup, Daisy, no thanks to Smudge. Daisy came to live with us and she and Smudge adored each other. When we lost Smudge, some years later, Daisy was devastated. She needed someone new to cuddle with and to boss around. We knew she'd like another gal with no legs and a lot of attitude. It was a hunt to find Lily, but we hit the jackpot.

How did Daisy and Lily get their names?

I love flower names for dogs and would have a Rosie, Pansy, Jasmine and Petunia if I could. Unfortunately, this has been vetoed by 'others'.

Where is the usual place you take Daisy and Lily out for fresh air?

Our house is on the edge of an off-leash dog park by the river. We can have short or long walks there and always run into dog friends. If lucky we run into our small dog buddies. We call our gang Hell's Lapdogs. Naturally this is the best dog park in the vicinity.

Are Daisy and Lily's barks worse than their bites?

I sure hope so. Daisy and Lily sound like deranged Rottweilers. This is not an exaggeration. Doxies are bred to have big chests and they have a lot of voice. Daisy once frightened off a burglar with her bark. He never did see how small she was (twelve pounds), but fled in terror. She was a bit of a hero on our street after that. They do bark. They don't bite, except treats.

Many retrievers have encountered Daisy and Lily's barks. Quite intimidating for them! It is not unamusing to see an eighty pound dog fleeing from a pair of assertive wiener dogs. (Hey! This is our park! It's the best one! Scram!)

Tennis ball, Frisbee, stick, other?

Squeaky toys are the drug of choice. They are everywhere. Watch where you walk. Daisy has her favourites. Lily is only interested in taking these from her.

Would Daisy and Lily rather chase a squirrel, a cat, a car, their tails, the mailman...?

Daisy and Lily live for chasing squirrels. There's usually a fine crop around and chasing opportunities abound. We cannot say the word squirrel without creating pandemonium. We tried using the French word écureuil, but they have caught on to that too.

Would they rather catch a squirrel, a cat, a car, his tail, the mailman, or a few zzzz's?

Although the zzzz's are appealing, they are easy to catch. A squirrel on the other hand…

Which TV dog is Daisy and Lily most similar to: Lassie, Underdog, Scooby Doo, another?

Is there a television dog that likes to wear fashionable clothing, sleep on freshly ironed pillow cases and scare retrievers? They would be like that dog.

What's the most embarrassing thing Daisy and Lily ever did?

Aside from being puppy school dropouts (issues with retrievers), there was the matter of our having to slink out in disgrace from the Therapy Dog Evaluation Program, due to similar 'issues' with retrievers and other large and lumpy participants. On a bright note, Lily did manage to get her Therapy Dog Certificate without a bark and has redeemed the family name by volunteering. We have high hopes for Daisy dealing with her retriever issues in our lifetime.

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?

Dachshunds are pretty small, so I'm thinking there's not much room for reading inside them. But I must admit, these two are my best friends. They don't mind sharing me with the stacks of books around this place!

Mary Jane Maffini is the author of three mystery series and nearly two dozen short stories.

"Law and Disorder," the latest installment in The Camilla MacP
hee series, is due out in late August 2009.

Maffini is a former President of Crime Writers of Canada, and a former member of the board of directors of the Canadian Booksellers Association.

She's a frequent speaker on writing mysteries and on the importance of Canadian crime fiction. In real life, although she is a member of the Ladies' Killing Circle, she claims she has never killed anyone.

Learn more about the author and her work at Mary Jane Maffini's website.

--Marshal Zeringue