Friday, August 14, 2009

Kate Buckley & Mac and Murphy

Who is in these first two photos?

The human is Kate Buckley (me). I'm a poet and visual artist and Internet executive. The two gorgeous pooches beside me are Mac [photo right] & Murphy [below left] (4-year-old male Blenheim Cavalier King Charles Spaniels). They are awfully good at lying at one's feet when one is trying to make sense of a sonnet or wade through obscure Victoriana.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We have a ritual: I get out of bed first (I only exist to serve them, don't you know?), and they deign to rise when they hear the kibble hit the bowl. And I may be an indulgent mother, but I draw the line at canine coffee. Particularly since I no longer partake of it myself -- it's now Yerba Mate tea for me (with organic skim milk and raw agave nectar). You get the kick without the crazy-jangles -- and it's good for you.

What's brewing?

So, this particular brand is from Guayaki. And the particular flavor I most enjoy is called "Moca Macca." It's just brilliant and fabulous for you.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Not really -- save for the aforementioned organic skim milk and raw agave nectar. I don't tend to get hungry until later and then I make my fabulous "Kate Shake" (frozen berries, flax seeds, whey protein powder, greens, orange flavored fish oil and kefir -- sounds revolting, but it's phenomenal!).

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

Ummm ... breakfast? I feed them an organic fish-based kibble twice a day ... better for their metabolism than once a day.

How did your dogs come to be united with you?

I bought Mac as a pup from an AKC & CKCSC approved breeder in North County San Diego. Murphy was a rescue I adopted when he was 11 1/2 months old. I like to tell people that I "had one and adopted one."

How did they get their names?

What can I tell you? I'm Irish.

Where do you usually take Mac & Murphy out for fresh air?

If I awaken insanely early (and I often do), I'll walk them down to the beach to watch the sun rise. Otherwise, we venture out in the early evening and take our turn around Woods Cove (my neighborhood in Laguna Beach). One of my neighbors keeps chickens and the boys are obsessed!

Where is the best nearby dog park?

The beach! But one has to observe the time strictures in the summer. Which is entirely unfair as the boys are far more well behaved than most of the tourists. Although Mac does delight in finding stray pacifiers [see photo], children's toys and engagingly stinky shells to carry home in his careful mouth.

Are the boys' barks worse than their bites?

Murphy almost never barks. He's my little cerebral Mensa-child (and currently has more degrees than I do). Mac, on the other hand, has a running vendetta with the neighbor's Siamese. However, neither has ever bitten anything other than rawhide -- although Mac does take odd pleasure in disemboweling stuffed animals. One $3000 vet bill later, he is no longer allowed squeaky toys.

Tennis ball, Frisbee, stick, ...?

Murphy isn't interested. At all. He is solidly human-oriented. At the beach or the dog park, he seeks out the "friendly/likely people" without error (the dog should work for the CIA). Mac, on the other hand, is all about the tennis ball. He's pretty much a Golden Retriever in a Cavalier's body. I have to carry a "chuck-it" in the trunk of my car, otherwise my hands get too mucky.

Would Mac & Murphy rather chase a squirrel, a cat, a car, his tail, the mailman, ...?

Mac: A Tennis Ball. Murphy: Anything Edible. (The dog catches celery bits when I chop vegetables!)

Would Mac & Murphy rather catch a squirrel, a cat, a car, his tail, the mailman...?

Mac has brought in the odd dead rat. And here's a true confession: I'm usually quite good in crises, but I draw the line at dead vermin and instead retreat to an almost Victorian hysteria and fan my forehead while I dial Animal Control (now on speed dial).

Which TV dog is Mac or Murphy most similar to?

Murphy actually reminds me of a canine Joan Collins, whereas Mac reminds me of Mr. Rogers. Or Alf.

What's the most embarrassing thing Mac or Murphy ever did?

Mac's nickname is "Mac Kerouac" for his frequent "On the Road" escapades. Once, a casual acquaintance returned him while I was out gardening and I was mortified that I hadn't even known he'd escaped! So: not embarrassing for Mac, but a little painful for me. Murphy's most embarrassing moments, on the other hand, aren't exactly fit for family viewing -- let's just say, for a dog whose been fixed, he's remarkably ignorant of that fact.

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?

As I'm not an absurdist, I don't know if I can comment on that idea on the bare face of it, except to say -- My dogs read me: They make my dark light.

Kate Buckley is the award-winning author of the critically acclaimed "A Wild Region" and the forthcoming "Follow Me Down."

She lives in Laguna Beach, California with her dogs, the extremely entertaining Mac & Murphy.

Visit Buckley's website to read selected poems and view some of her paintings.

--Marshal Zeringue