Friday, June 4, 2010

Christie Ridgway & Hank

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Christie Ridgway, author of 30+ contemporary romances, and our 14-month-old yellow lab, Hank.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Hank and I have coffee at 6 a.m. every morning. He gets fed first, as well as Goblin the cat. We call Hank a "creature of habit," because it's 6 a.m., whether it's a work day or a weekend. Oh, and then I let him out front and he retrieves the paper and brings it inside. Finally, it's really coffee time.

What's brewing?

It's 6 a.m. people! I confess that my first cup of coffee for the day is the Starbucks instant stuff with half-and-half. The water is on to boil while I feed the animals.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

It could be toast or strawberries or a granola bar once the caffeine kicks in.

Any treat for Hank on this occasion?

Hank expects to get a little taste of whatever his Human is having. He doesn't beg...he just waits, and the universe complies. (Hank's mantra: "Everything always works out for me.")

How were you and Hank united?

We lost our beloved 13 year old yellow lab summer before last. After a year of mourning, we were ready for another dog. My husband found him listed on the internet one Saturday--and we were the first family to call. He was four months old and the people who had him since 8 weeks discovered their young Rottweiler didn't appreciate a frolicsome pup. We drove an hour to see him, worried he might be sort of cowed by his experience with the older dog, but he came rushing up to us, clearly saying, "There you guys are! I've been waiting! Let's go be together!" It was love at first sight.

Does Hank have any influence on your writing?

Hank isn't much into love stories. Action-adventure? Now that's his bag. But he's a fabulous companion. He moves with me throughout the house as I go about my day and is always ready to listen or offer kisses when the going gets tough. He also suggests strongly that walking a dog is good for the plotting process.

How did Hank get his name? Does he have any aliases?

The people we adopted him from had named him but didn't want to tell us what it was, because they thought we should get to pick our own name. However, on the drive to see him, I mused aloud, "I like names that are real people names, and it would be nice if it started with an 'H' in honor of our previous dog, Harlow." When we insisted they tell us what they called him and they said "Hank," well, you can imagine it just seemed like Fate. As to aliases, obviously Hanky Panky is one we use a lot. And Hankster.

Where is Hank's favorite place for an outing?

Hank loves to go on adventures! Dog beaches, long walks anywhere, even an off-leash hike up a local mountain. He doesn't wander far if he's off leash. He'll go ahead a bit and then come back to encourage us along.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

We have a cat, Goblin. There was some initial feline-to-canine hostility, but they've gotten past that. Now she tolerates him shaking his favorite toys in her face and he ignores her occasional swipe. He'll chase anything that moves fast--including birds--but he's very tolerant of the slow-moving desert tortoise that shares the backyard with him.

Tennis ball, Frisbee, squeaky-toy...?

Hank loves any kind of toy. He likes having things in his mouth and when you come in the door he will rush off to find a favorite (currently it's a stuffed moose) to share with you. He also likes my sons' socks. Doesn't tear them up, just wants to carry them around.

Who is Hank's best pet-pal?

Hank's best pals are my sons and their friends. He likes to do whatever they're doing, whether it's swimming or playing volleyball in the yard or just hanging around the TV watching sports. He's also enamored with the neighbors' beagle, Daisy, and loves to encounter her on our morning walks.

What is Hank's best quality?

Hank is a friendly, optimistic soul. I think his beginning weeks were a bit rough with the more dominant older dog, but he has never let that get him down. "Things always work out for me," is his mantra, as I said above, and he encounters life with a big doggy smile.

What is Hank's proudest moment? His most embarrassing?

Every morning he's extremely proud of his newspaper retrieval skills. His most embarrassing moment--we were on a walk and he was suddenly paralyzed in fear of the "monster" rolling toward him. He tried to run the other way but I made him hang tough and then showed him it was merely a double-stroller with two little kids inside. He loves little kids! He was mortified that he thought they were a threat to him in that weird contraption.

I'll tell you when we knew that Hank was the most wonderful dog. We'd had him just a few months and one of my sons was preparing for a trip by gathering what he was going to take with him and setting the items by the front door. A while later we noticed that Hank was preparing too--by the sleeping bag, etc., he'd set his bowl, his favorite stuffed toy, and a tennis ball. He loves being one of the boys!

Christie Ridgway is a USA Today bestselling author and five-time RITA finalist. Her new book, from Berkley Books, is Crush on You (read an excerpt).

Christie Ridgway's website, blog, and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue