Monday, August 23, 2010

Jenny Nelson & Clarabelle

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Jenny Nelson, and my not-quite-two-year-old Australian cattle dog mix, Clarabelle. I’m a writer whose first novel, Georgia’s Kitchen, about a chef in New York who travels to Tuscany to open a trattoria and, incidentally, has a lab retriever mix named Sally, came out earlier this month.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

No special occasion, just a lovely morning for coffee on the back porch. The kids are playing with my husband and Clarabelle’s doggy pals haven’t yet arrived at my husband’s office, so it’s just me, the pooch and the butterflies flitting around the garden.

What's brewing?

An even keel: half caf, half decaf, milk, sugar. I prefer Starbucks Italian roast bold and Espresso decaf, but since I ran out of the Italian I’m using Dean & Deluca’s French Roast.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

My breakfast – a couple pieces of toast with raspberry jam.

Any treat for your dog on this occasion?

Clarabelle generally doesn’t have much of an appetite until evening. Her food sits out for her all day and then at around seven, when we’re having dinner, she digs in. However, if I were to offer her a slab of salmon, she’d be eternally grateful.

How were you and your dog united?

Clarabelle was a rescue dog from Georgia who came to us by way of Perfect Pets Rescue in Red Hook, NY. Apparently there are a lot of kill shelters in Georgia and Perfect Pets travels there and scoops up as many as they think they can find homes for. They’re a great organization. Anyone looking for a dog in the Dutchess County, NY area should check them out!

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

My daughters Flora and Ava, then five, named her. There’s a kid’s book with a cow named Clarabelle, and I’m pretty sure she’s her namesake (sort of appropriate, since she’s part cattle dog). I think it’s a terrific name. We call her Clarrie, Clarabellie and Nutty.

Does your dog have any influence on your writing?

Taking Clarabelle for a walk is a great way to work through plot problems. Whenever I need to clear my head, I’ve got a partner who’s always ready for a bit of fresh air. Sometimes, I talk to her as we walk (we live in the country, so no one sees us!), though I’m pretty sure she ignores me.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Squirrel, absolutely. She is a gentle dog who turns into a rabid killer around squirrels. It’s a bit unsettling (for her humans and also for her belly).

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

She loves a good tug of war, but is also a fan of fetching tennis balls. Dropping them, however, is not her strong suit.

Where is your dog's favorite place for an outing?

Her yard. Fortunately, the property where we live is entirely fenced and she roams it all day long.

Who is Clarabelle's best pet-pal?

Roscoe, a black lab with a giant head and a heart of gold.

What is Clarabelle's best quality?

She is incredibly smart. And she gives great hugs (seriously).

What is Clarabelle's proudest moment? Her most embarrassing?

Catching a Frisbee, which she’s since forgotten how to do. Not sure about her most embarrassing moment -- she’s pretty cool.

an excerpt from Georgia’s Kitchen, and learn more about the book and author at Jenny Nelson's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue