Monday, March 8, 2010

Susanne Dunlap & Betty

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Susanne Dunlap, and Betty, who's 21 months old and a Coton de Tulear. We're at Pemaquid Point in Maine.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Am I totally out of line to say tea with a canine? Betty loves to sit with me first thing in the morning when I'm drinking my tea and checking my email. Her head perks up when the whistle goes on the kettle.

What's brewing?

I love a good Assam in the morning, from a fab importer called Upton Tea Imports. Usually it's a single-estate, and I brew it 4 or 5 minutes.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Just milk (in the tea). I like coffee black, but that's for later!

Any treat for Betty on this occasion?

Sometimes she gets a dog biscuit, or her latest favorite, dried duck breast.

How did she come to be united with you?

My daughter has a Coton who's an incredible dog. I made a very conscious decision to get her from the same breeder, and she was six months old when I got her. Very timid, totally loving. She lives to cuddle.

How did she get her name? Does she have an aliases?

Betty is short for Thistledown's Babette. I love the movie Babette's Feast.

What's Betty's influence on your writing?

Betty's influence is mostly calming, and by curling up she keeps me from moving, so I have to obey the BIC rule (butt in chair!). Plus, her needs also make me take little breaks to go outside.

What's an ordinary day like for Betty?

We get up in the morning, and if it's a work day (day job), we have tea, then I get ready for work and take her to my daughter's apartment to spend the day with my daughter's dog. When I pick her up she's wriggling with joy. On a non-work day, she sleeps contentedly between my knees or calves while I sit in my chaise and write, read, or research.

Do you and Betty have a favorite place to go for an outing?

Betty hates--get that, hates!-- going for walks. Go figure! But if I can get her to a place where there's a safe, big open lawn, she loves to run around. Prospect Park is the nearest.

Stick, tennis ball, squeaky-toy...?

Betty has a knotted rope that I throw for her that she loves. She's so small I have to pretend to be struggling to pull it away from her, though!

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

She gets excited by the little sparrows that are ubiquitous on Brooklyn streets.

What's Betty's best quality?

She is so loving and cuddly, and completely loyal to the people she loves.

Who is Betty's best pet-pal?

That's Bisou, my daughter's dog. She just adores him, and will even happily go on walks if he's along.

What's her proudest moment? Her most embarrassing?

Hmmm. Perhaps the time she learned to lie down when I offered her a piece of bacon. I'd been trying with biscuits, but as soon as the bacon came out, she just flattened herself! And most embarrassing, getting loose at the local park and running all the way home across busy streets (my heart in my mouth).

Susanne Dunlap graduated from Smith College and later earned a PhD in music history from Yale University. She has taught music history at the college level, and is the author of two historical novels for adults.

Her novels for young readers include
The Musician's Daughter, a Junior Library Guild Selection for Fall of 2008, and the newly released Anastasia's Secret.

About Anastasia’s Secret:
The youngest grand duchess in the Russian imperial family comes of age during the revolution. Her family is imprisoned, conditions become worse and worse.

But Anastasia has a secret that she keeps from her family...
Visit Susanne Dunlap's website and blog, and become a Facebook fan.

--Marshal Zeringue