Monday, September 28, 2009

Tricia Stohr-Hunt & Sydney

Who is in the photo at right?

This is me (well, the back of me!) and Sydney. My name is Tricia Stohr-Hunt and I am on the faculty at the University of Richmond. I have the honor and pleasure of preparing future teachers. I also have the not-so-fun job of chairing our department. (I love teaching, but the administrative stuff is my least favorite part of the job.) Sydney is a doberman-terrier mix. She'll be 12 at the beginning of November.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Saturday mornings are my special time with Sydney. I get up early to write and she always joins me. I settle into a comfortable chair and she lays at or ON my feet. If I don't give her enough attention, she unplugs my laptop (I'm convinced she knows what she's doing) and puts her paws on the keyboard. If I'm writing in a notebook, she tries to grab my pen. Did I mention she's sometimes ill-behaved?

What's brewing?

I don't drink coffee, so it's always loose tea. It's made in Harney & Sons teapot and is either Supreme Breakfast or Earl Grey (also Harney & Sons). In the winter I sometimes drink Hot Cinnamon Spice or Indian Spice. If I'm feeling really energetic, I'll make up my own batch of masala tea.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

I don't usually eat while I'm drinking tea, but afterwards I often whip up a batch of banana muffins.

Any treat for your dog on this occasion?

Sydney gets an extra-big milkbone or peanut butter slathered inside an old bone.

How did Sydney come to be united with you?

We'd been living in Richmond for more than three years, but I'd refused to get a dog while we lived in an apartment. During spring break 1997 my husband and I went to the local shelter. The day we went was cold and rainy and there was no heat in the kennels. The poor dogs were all crying and shivering. I saw a puppy that was sitting up, wagging her tail, and licking folks through the bars. I was immediately smitten. She only had one day left before she was due to be euthanized, so we took her home right then and there. (BTW, I'm happy to report that our local SPCA no longer puts dogs down.)

How did Sydney get her name?

She came to us with the name Honey, but we couldn't see calling her that, so we changed her name to something that sounded a bit like it.

Stick, frisbee, tennis ball...?

Actually, her favorite is a stuffed wiener dog. I can't tell you how many she's had. She loves to fetch it when it's thrown, though she never gives it back. She much prefers to play tug-of-war with it. It's the first toy she brings to all our guests.

What's an ordinary day like for Sydney?

Sleep, sleep, sleep. I swear that's all she does. Her favorite place to sleep is our bed. She does have a dog door, so she can come and go as she pleases. When she was younger she ran outside to chase squirrels, but now that she's older, she's not as active. If we forget to close the bathroom doors she'll wait until she's alone and then dig through the trash and pick at the Kleenex.

Who is your dog's best pet-pal?

Sydney is a big baby when it comes to interacting with other dogs. She acts tough but they frighten her, so sadly, no other pet-pals.

What's your dog's best quality?

Sydney loves to be in the middle of things and with people. If I'm cooking, she's lounging in the middle of the kitchen floor. When I talk to her she thumps her tail, sometimes without opening her eyes. When I'm writing, she's on the floor next to my chair. If we're watching a movie, she's in the middle of the living room rug. It's rare that she's not close by. If we forget she's there, she reminds us by nudging a newspaper or book out of the way, licking any patch of bare skin, and sometimes doing her best lapdog impression (which at 50+ pounds, she's not).

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

Sydney's a wonderful dog, but she hasn't done anything particularly special beyond putting up with us and loving us. That in itself is pretty amazing. There are lots of most embarrassing moments, but throwing up on my husband's shoes when he was carrying her outside is probably at the top of the list!

Tricia Stohr-Hunt blogs about poetry, children's literature and issues related to teaching children and their future teachers at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

--Marshal Zeringue