Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Elizabeth Cody Kimmel & Henry

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Beth Kimmel. My daughter Emma and I are picking up six-month-old Henry the beagle to take him home for the first time. As a writer of children's books, I know Henry will have plenty of company in his new home (most of it me). He's now a year-and-a-half old, and all who meet him maintain that he must still be a puppy, and that he can't be all beagle. I do affirm and testify herein that Henry is, in fact, all beagle.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

The occasion is emergency caffeine intake to prevent acute sleepiness on my part. It's 8 in the morning, and I have to start writing.

What's brewing?

I love the Turkish coffee from the local whole foods store, extra strong, made in a French press, and liberally dosed with half and half. I've lived long enough to realize one compromise that should not be made in the world of coffee is half and half.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

For me, none.

Any treat for the beagle?

For Henry, to occupy him on the front porch where I'll be writing, an oinkie. There is an 80% chance of him enjoying the oinkie, and a 20% chance of him burying it in the yard, thereby vexing me. But either way, I find the name oinkie hilarious.

How were you and Henry united?

The universe brought us to Henry a year after our beloved beagle Milo died. We got a call about a breeder with a whole brood of gorgeous, show-winning beagles, who had decided to part with a few 6-month-old pups. We went to have a look, and were instantly smitten.

Your website bio claims you try to communicate telepathically with your beagle. How is that going?

Only someone who works at home alone all day would engage in this activity. I will swear up and down that I used to be able to get Milo up from a sound sleep downstairs and trotting up to my bedroom by mentally calling his name. Henry has not yet responded to my thought beams. I can't make him levitate, either.

Does your dog have any influence on your writing?

Henry appears in a book I'm currently working on, as Milo appeared in Lily B. On the Brink of Love. He remains unaffected by his potential for literary fame.

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

Henry already had his name when we got him. If he'd been named something awful, like Satan... Or Spanky Cheeks, we would have changed it. But he is clearly a Henry, through and through. We sometimes call him Henwen, Hanky, and when we're on a walk, Buddy. If there is a cookie involved, he will respond to any name.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Does the squirrel have a cookie? Does the cat have a cookie? Does the postman have a cookie? If so, the answer is yes.

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

No toys survive long enough in Henry's jaws of doom to identify a favorite. He has made some interesting chewing-related modifications to several pieces of furniture in my house. His longest lasting bone was a deer antler. He carried it around clenched between his teeth like a cigar, reminding me of George Peppard in The A-Team.

Where is your beagle's favorite outdoor destination?

The Country Goose, in Cold Spring, New York, where Leonora always has a cookie waiting for him.

Who is Henry's best pet-pal?

Maddie the miniature Australian shepherd.

If Henry could change one thing about you, what would it be?

My ability to ignore him when he is staring intently at me.

What is your dog's best quality?

Living absolutely in the moment.

What is the most amusing thing Henry does? The most frustrating?

He is highly amusing when he sleep-barks. He is very frustrating when he produces enormous pools of drool in the six seconds it takes for me to pour his food into his bowl.

Beth Kimmel's
books include The Reinvention of Moxie Roosevelt (for readers age 10 and up).

Elizabeth Cody Kimmel's website.

--Marshal Zeringue