Friday, December 4, 2009

Brian Hampton & Joe Louis

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s Brian Hampton, an engineer working for the Army, and his fun-loving dog Joe Louis, a six-year-old male boxer.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Joe and I went for a late afternoon run, and this was the perfect post-run, pre-dinner snack.

What's brewing?

Pumpkin spice coffee and French Vanilla creamer. I picked up the beans a few weekends ago from our local coffee shop. I was never a coffee drinker until after my first son was born – and then I needed a caffeine fix just to get out of bed on time. Maybe because I’m a late starting coffee drinker (I’m now 37), I haven’t acquired the taste for straight black coffee just yet. I like flavored coffee, and pumpkin spice is a fall favorite of mine.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

My wife was baking bread while we were running, so I enjoyed a nice slice (um, bite) of Amish friendship bread.

Any treat for your dog on this occasion?

As seen in our picture, while I was concentrating on having my picture taken, Joe was busy eyeing my bread. Lucky for me, I at least got the first bite.

How did Joe Louis come to be united with you?

We found Joe through a Boxer Rescue organization when he was approximately a year old. He was only thirty-five pounds, but full of life. Today he is still full of life, and a much healthier sixty-five pounds.

Your blog title is "A Dog, a Stroller, and a Runner." What came first--the dog, the stroller, or the running?

I have enjoyed running since I was on my junior high track team, however, I’ve only been running regularly for the past few years. While not intentional, the title of my blog is in the correct chronological order; Joe came to live with us a little more than five years ago, my oldest son was born four years ago, and I started running regularly about three years ago.

Joe Louis is a great name for a boxer. Did you consider any other boxer names? Say, Mike Tyson? Apollo Creed?

Naming a boxer dog after a boxing champion sounded fun, and Joe Louis (the person) had many admirable qualities outside of the ring. Additionally, I grew up in Michigan cheering for the Detroit Red Wings, and the Wings play their home games in an arena bearing the Brown Bomber’s name.

Tennis ball, stick, frisbee...?

Joe is a good tennis ball fetcher, but a terrible returner. We play “fetch and chase,” or maybe it’s keep-away. Anyway, I throw the ball, Joe chases the ball, and I chase Joe.

Chickens, cat, postman...?

We got four baby chickens in September that we are raising for their eggs. Joe has not seen them yet, only heard them. The chickens are in the basement right now, and will be for another couple of weeks before moving into their coop in our backyard. Joe has never been in our basement – not because we don’t allow him to, he has just never ventured down the stairs.

Joe likes cats and he has known many since coming to live with us. Currently, there are two strays that reside on our front porch (well, I guess the fact that we feed them doesn’t actually discourage them from residing on our porch – we do, however, vet them and have had several strays that end up calling our place home spayed/neutered so that they won’t add to the stray population…).

Anyone that drives by our house learns quickly that we have a dog. Fortunately, we live on a dead-end road, so there is not too much reason for Joe to bark, but I always know the mail is here by the eleven o’clock barking barrage. Our mail carrier is wonderful. She always leaves a treat for Joe with our mail.

What's an ordinary day like for your dog?

Because both my wife and I work, Joe is at home without us for eight or so hours on weekdays. He has the run of the house and is always standing on the couch, barking out the window when we arrive home. But, we know he sleeps throughout the day too. I’ve come home early at times and made it all the way inside the house before I hear him jump out of a bed upstairs. But once we’re home, game on – he has two little boys to keep him occupied (Braedon - 4-years-old, and Brenden - 9-months-old), and maybe we’ll go for a run or play some of that “fetch-and-chase” game.

Who is Joe Louis' best pet-pal?

My mother-in-law (let me finish – I did not just say my mother-in-law). As I was saying, my mother-in-law’s Bernese mountain dog, Shona. They (Joe and Shona) are such good friends that after their first extended visit, Shona went into heat. After their second extended visit, she had a false pregnancy (too bad Joe has been neutered for years).

You and Joe go on some long runs. Who usually tires first? Do you think he dreams of hopping into the stroller while you push on?

I’ve never out-run Joe, that’s for sure. No matter how far we’ve gone, even if it is in new territory for Joe, he always knows when we’re heading home. He’ll pick up the pace and run all the way home with no slack in his leash, so I know he has plenty left in his tank.

You note on your blog that you come across lots of wildlife on your runs. What's the most interesting animal you've seen when Joe Louis was with you? What did he do?

A falling fish. We see plenty of four-legged creatures when we run: deer, feral cats, groundhogs, and squirrels. We also occasionally see eagles and other birds-of-prey. One morning we startled an eagle that was eating in a tree. The eagle flew away, dropping a fish in the process. The fish landed with a thud about thirty feet from us, surprising us both. Joe’s hackles were up.

What's Joe Louis' best quality?

Joe is a wonderful pal for my two boys and he certainly has a lot of patience. Joe plays the part of a jungle gym, noble steed, toy car obstacle course, wrestling partner, and fleeing enemy. And still he is always right beside Braedon and Brenden – and they both adore him.

Brian Hampton's blog, "A Dog, a Stroller, and a Runner."

--Marshal Zeringue