Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Edie Jarolim & Frankie

Who is in the photo at right?

Edie Jarolim. As my website puts it, I’m a writer, editor and dog slave. I’ve written three travel guides but I’m proudest of my latest book, "Am I Boring My Dog?: And 99 Other Things Every Dog Wishes You Knew."

The dog I am enslaved to, pictured here, is Frankie, a rescue who is now about 10 or 11 years old. He is part terrier for sure; as for the rest, your guess is as good as mine.

For a small dog, he wields a LOT of power.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

This interview. I can be rather literal minded, so I had my friend Jackie take a picture of me and Frankie at a favorite coffee place [below left].

Unfortunately, we don’t have coffee together very often, except at home. The logistics are a bit complicated for coffee with a canine because you generally have to order at an indoor counter. Cute as Frankie is, he’s not welcomed inside places that sell food. But when I enlist a friend to go in to get the coffee or to watch Frankie while I go inside, the patio of Beyond Bread is a prime choice.

What's brewing?

Cafe Feminino, a shade-grown, organic dark roast from a women’s farm co-op in Peru. I get my caffeine and social-consciousness fix at the same time.

I take my coffee straight up, with a little low fat milk.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

It’s practically impossible to just get a cup of coffee at Beyond Bread. Though there are lots of menu items “beyond” it, bread -- fresh baked every morning -- rules here. And while waiting to put in your order, you’re faced with a sampling bin of various breads of the day and a tub of fresh, soft butter. Resistance is futile.

Any treat for your dog on this occasion?

No, I’m afraid Frankie’s on a strict diet because he has diabetes. Even whole grain bread-- my favorite -- isn’t good for him.

How did your dog come to be united with you?

I became friends with Rebecca, a fellow food writer -- I’m the contributing dining editor for "Tucson Guide" magazine -- who also happened to be a dog rescuer. Talk about resistance being futile. I had wanted a dog for as long as I could remember, but hesitated for a variety of reasons, the foremost of them being fear that I wouldn’t know how to take care of a pup because I didn’t have one while I was growing up. Rebecca convinced me that I could do it, and that working at home made me a great caretaker candidate.

I still held out for a while, but then Rebecca emailed me a picture of the world’s cutest dog. That was that.

How did he get his name?

Frankie came pre-named, after the golf partner of Rebecca’s friend’s husband (how’s that for an obscure connection?). Frankie’s not a duffer-type pup -- although he has been known to pee on the greens at resort courses -- but the name nevertheless suited the little guy to a tee.

What's Frankie's role in your new book, "Am I Boring My Dog?"

Frankie was instrumental. He was my inspiration for writing it, and serves to illustrate many of the points I make. Because I was a first-time dog owner and thus clueless about dogs in general and Frankie in particular, I panicked when I first got him. As a result, I read lots of books and asked lots of questions.

Once I felt I had finally succeeded with Frankie -- if you can call having an 11-pound alien take over your life a success -- I realized I was in a unique position to help others who were as clueless as I was when I first adopted him. Unlike those who grew up with dogs, I knew just how much I didn’t know. That’s how "Am I Boring My Dog?" got started.

Who is your dog's best pet-pal?

Ouch. That’s a touchy question. Frankie is a shy guy. There was a time when I thought he’d be friends with Archie, my best friend’s dog, but after an initial bout of adoration, Frankie apparently decided he wasn’t interested in any having any pals, canine or human, besides me. I’ve described Frankie’s evolving position on friendship in two stories that I posted on my blog: Doggie Chic, Doggie Chakras, Scottsale and Sedona and Palm Springs Break: A Tale of Two Dogs.

Frankie does peacefully co-exist with Angel, a poodle that he walks with a couple of times a week and who is even shyer than he is. My friend Jackie, who took the pictures at Beyond Bread, is Angel’s caretaker, so that’s Angel you see with Frankie in my lap [photo, above left]. They don’t usually get that close, though Frankie did sniff her butt the other day -- a first!

What's Frankie's best quality?

Perkiness. I generally loathe that quality in people but in a dog it’s extremely endearing. Frankie likes to cock his head inquisitively, as though asking me what’s on the agenda and trusting me to come up with something great. He also has a little prancing walk, like a tiny Lippizaner stallion. All in all, he exudes optimism and makes me want to live up to his expectations.

What's your dog's proudest moment so far? His most embarrassing?

Frankie’s proudest moment is being the spokesdog for my book on a series of videos posted on YouTube. He’s a natural in front of the camera.

As for an embarrassing moment, I’d say it also happened recently, on our first vacation together since Frankie was diagnosed with diabetes. Every morning and evening, I have to collect urine samples in order to test his blood sugar. The pee collection is usually done in the privacy of my backyard, but that wasn’t possible in San Diego. Although there was a nice, discreet park close to our hotel, Frankie insisted on peeing as soon as we arrived in front of the hotel’s sidewalk cafe, in full view of the evening dining contingent. Couldn’t he hold it until we were a few feet away? Nooooo!

Edie Jarolim got a Ph.D. in American literature from New York University (which explains the occasional literary allusion in her restaurant reviews); worked as a senior editor for Frommers and Fodor’s travel guides (not simultaneously); and translated guidebooks from British to American English in the London office of Rough Guides (proof that the U.S. and England are indeed separated by a common tongue). After moving to Tucson, Arizona, in the early 1990s, she became a freelance writer, editor, and ... slave to Frankie.

Her new book, Am I Boring My Dog?: And 99 Other Things Every Dog Wishes You Knew, is published by Alpha/Penguin.

Visit the Will My Dog Hate Me? blog and Edie Jarolim's website.

--Marshal Zeringue