Friday, December 31, 2010

Ann Daugherty & Pearl, Gracie, Pogo, and Jane

Who is in the photo at the right?

That’s me, Ann Daugherty, with Pearl, my seven-week-old Border Collie.

My other dogs are Gracie, 11 ½ year old Samoyed, Pogo, 7 year old Samoyed, and Jane, almost three year old Border Collie.

When I’m at work, I sell super premium dog food and supplies. I love meeting concerned pet owners and helping them make good choices about nutrition for their pets...and hearing all the success stories of how changing the diet helped fix existing health problems.

What’s the occasion?

Every morning is an occasion for Coffee with Canines! This morning was just a few days after I brought Pearl home. I took her to a local ranch to show her off to some of my friends.

What’s brewing?

Blind Dog Sumatra, drip coffee. Black. Roasted here in Northern Nevada.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

This time of year, my favorite goodie with my morning coffee is pumpkin pie with a little whipped cream.

Any treat for the dogs?

Coffee time usually coincides with dog breakfast time. I pour my first cup as I’m weighing and assembling the dogs’ raw meat diet.

How were you and your dogs united?

All of my dogs are from good breeders who breed for working ability, temperament and health. My Samoyeds came from a wonderful breeder, with whom I became great friends after meeting two of her dogs. Aside from being great family dogs and show dogs, Brenda’s dogs have been fantastic sled dogs.

When I decided to “go to the dark side” and get a Border Collie, I consulted with my local herding trainer and after talking to her about what I wanted in a Border Collie, decided to go look at Jane’s litter. Jane made the decision that I would take her home. She didn’t let me look at any other pup!

After Jane persuaded me that I need Border Collies in my life, I chose Pearl’s litter, after seeing both her parents several times, and seeing the dogs they have produced. It’s a pretty special breeding and I am honored to have one of these pups. You featured Pearl’s dad, Riggs, in an earlier blog post.

How did your dogs get their names?

Gracie is Kriskella’s SunTrip T’First Base MX MXJ NA, named after my then favorite Chicago Cubs’ firstbaseman, Mark Grace.

Pogo is Kriskella’s Pogonip’d SunTrip HCT, named after the most beautiful winter phenomenon in the west, pogonip frost.

Jane was named in the traditional way a Border Collie is often named: single syllable human name, and I have always loved reading about Calamity Jane.

Pearl as named for another notorious woman of the west, Pearl Hart, the first woman stage coach robber in Arizona.

Squirrel, cat, postman?

Jane is absolutely obsessed with the Chuck-It Flying Squirrel, when she can’t have sheep.

Pogo is my hunter. She will take out any rabbit, quail, lizard, or other creature in our yard.

Tennis ball, Frisbee, squeaky toy?

The Samoyeds love the faux sheepskin squeaky toys. Pearl is at the age where she is into everything! I don’t think she’s yet met a toy she didn’t like!

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

I like to think they would want me home more. But, really, the Samoyeds would like to go to work with me more... so they could steal more treats. Jane would like to work sheep every day, so lots of land, and lots of sheep. Pearl would like me to let her chew and tug my shoe laces and pant legs.

What is the most amusing thing about your dogs? Frustrating thing?

My dogs make me laugh every day! I love watching the Samoyeds play with one another. I love watching Pearl do anything. I love to watch Jane work...nothing makes my heart sing like watching her run out 500 yards to the sheep and get behind them softly and bring them to watch the amazing genetics at work ...there is nothing like it.

What are your dogs’ favorite outdoor destinations?

My dogs love going out into the Nevada wilderness to run free. They love to play in Lake Tahoe in the summer. And, for Jane, any place there are sheep, is the place she wants to be!

Who are the dogs' best pet pals?

Gracie loves Pogo. Pogo is the peace maker; she loves everyone. She especially loves intact Border Collie and Aussie boys. The Super Flirt comes out when she meets those herding boys! Jane loves Pogo and occasionally thinks about usurping Gracie’s reign of power. Pearl loves everyone.

Read more about Pearl, Gracie, Pogo, and Jane at their blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Kristine Tonks & Shiva

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Kristine. My day job is at a non-profit organization but what I really love to do is eat cheese, read pretentious novels, and post photos of my dog on the Internet. It's too bad I have yet to find a way to get paid for the latter but I'm working on it! My dog's name is Shiva. She is around two and a half years old. I say around because we're just going off the basic information the SPCA gave us. We have no idea what breed she is but I love hearing other people's opinions! One of the popular search terms for my blog is "merle jack russell whippet mix." It's a little long but I like it.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I took the day off work to do a little Christmas shopping. Now that I'm home from fighting the hordes at the mall, it is refreshing to spend some time relaxing with the puppers in our cozy living room.

What's brewing?

Actually, my mug is filled with tea instead of coffee. I'm trying to get in the spirit by drinking a Christmas blend from my favourite tea brewery in Mahone Bay, NS. It's helping ward off the cold rain outside that's for sure.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

I bought some chicken livers for Shiva at the mall but nothing for me. Yet.

How were you and Shiva united?

It is all because of Before we adopted her, I was pretty obsessed with getting a dog. It had been a long time since I'd lived with one and while I love our cat, I really missed the companionship of an energetic canine. I started checking Petfinder religiously, like six or seven times a day, just to see if there were any new dogs available in our area that would suit our lifestyle. We were already pre-approved for adoption at the NS SPCA. It was just a matter of finding the dog for us. I wanted a dog that was house-trained and that would have some energy. At the time I was looking for a great walking and hiking companion. If only I knew what I was in for! It was the evening of Good Friday back in 2008 that Shiva's photo appeared on the screen. She was all legs and spots and I suggested to my husband that we should go to meet her the next day. My husband fell in love with her right away. I tend to be more cautious and was a little unsure as her energy levels seemed a tad over what I expected. She literally pulled me across the parking lot, bouncing instead of walking. I knew she was going to be a lot of work. But there was another couple there who wanted to meet her at the same time. The pressure of having to make a quick decision or lose the chance forever, was what made me give in.

We know very little about Shiva's life before the shelter. Just that she was found wandering alone by the man who brought her to the SPCA inside a cat carrier. Since she has been living with us for a lot longer than she was on the street, we like to say that time of her life doesn't count any more.

How did Shiva get her name? Any aliases?

The SPCA had named her Tessa and while that was a sweet little name we wanted to give her something completely new. We spent over a week writing a list of different options. We just wrote down every possible name we could think of and then went through and eliminated each one. For some reason Shiva stood out the most. It suits her; I couldn't think of calling her anything else now.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Cat, definitely the Cat. Luckily, he's been around a lot longer than Shiva and has no trouble putting her in her place if need be. She also loves chasing birds. Especially the poor ducks that live in the lake in our backyard.

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

Shiva loves them all! When we first adopted her, she seemed to have very little interest in toys. We couldn't even inspire her to chew on a bone. After we stuffed a Kong for her, she suddenly found the joy that can be gained from destroying things. There was no going back. No stuffed animal is safe any more.

Where is Shiva's favorite place for an outing?

There is a dog park not too far away with dozens of off-leash hiking trails and a whole beach area designed just for dogs. This is one of my favourite places to take her as she gets to run and run and run as much as she could ever desire. Since we don't have a fenced backyard, she doesn't get to relieve her zoomies nearly as often as I'd like. Nearly every time we go she is able to meet another dog who appreciates the thrill of the chase as much as Shiva does. It is an amazing thing to see.

Who are Shiva's best pet-pals?

Shiva has a few friends at agility class. There is a Bernese Mountain Dog named Jenna who is kind of her go-to gal when other dogs tell her off for being to wild. And a Shiba-Inu mix named Robin who has a similar energy level. They play really nicely together and we're hoping to meet up with him outside of class one day. There is also Toffee the Sheltie, who is her sometimes-friend, sometimes-nemesis for agility points.

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

I'm pretty sure she thinks I spend way too much time on the computer. Time that could be better spent going into the treat cupboard or playing a game of tug.

What is Shiva's proudest moment? Most embarrassing?

This is a hilarious question! Those who know Shiva know she is insane. She does everything at top speed - there is no middle ground. She is also super smart and picks up on new behaviours too fast for my liking sometimes. I'm sure Shiva's idea of her proudest moment was when she figured out she could turn the trick of walking on her hind legs to her advantage. If I had known teaching her that would turn her into a counter-surfer extraordinaire, I may have reconsidered!

In my opinion, however, Shiva's proudest moment was just a few weeks ago when we went to the bookstore to get her photo taken with Santa. As she can still be a little stressed around strangers I wasn't sure how the day would go. At the first sign of reactivity I was ready to bolt. However, not only did she sit on Santa's lap but she also sought out attention from the staff and other dog owners. She is so brave and I felt so proud to see how far she has come in the last year.

As a hyper-active klutz, one can imagine Shiva would have a lot of embarrassing moments to reflect on. She is constantly crashing into things and knocking stuff over. However, one of my favourite stories is about the day after we brought her home. I returned from work to find Shiva's crate empty. Naturally I panicked. Thinking she had somehow escaped or that the neighbours had gotten fed up with her yelping and carted her away, I called my husband to make sure she wasn't with him. That was when I heard a soft whine coming from the down stairs. When I headed down to investigate I found our cat sitting in the hallway licking his paws as if nothing abnormal was going on. I turned to look in the direction of the whining and that's when I found my new dog. Shiva was cowering in the bathroom between the toilet and the wall. The cat had obviously had chased her there when she got loose from her crate and was making sure she stayed put. If I hadn't of been so worried and if she hadn't of looked so pathetic, I could have laughed. Poor little fifty-pound puppy, trapped by a fuzzy eight-pound cat. What would her old friends back at the shelter say if they found out?

Learn more about Kristine and Shiva at the Rescued Insanity blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 27, 2010

Wendy Orr & Harry

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Wendy Orr, author of children’s & teenage books, (including Nim’s Island, Peeling the Onion and The Princess and Her Panther) and Harry, a 3-year-old Poodle X Bichon FrisĂ©.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Celebrating the first spring day warm enough to have coffee outside on our regular morning walk.

What's brewing?

Long Black Coffee – the Australian term; in the US it would be an Americano.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

This café (Mocha My Day) always serves a tiny gingerbread star with the drink.

Any treat for Harry on this occasion?

He shared the gingerbread!

How were you and Harry united?

My son’s girlfriend’s mother had rescued him from The Lort Smith Animal Shelter. He’d visited our house, and been shown around the garden by our late Border Collie; I was struck by what a nice little dog he was. When I heard that she’d had to surrender him again, because of ill health, I was on the Shelter’s doorstep first thing next morning.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

He was apparently named Harry in his first, abusive home, which he was removed from. When he was returned to the Shelter he had been renamed Petal… but we didn’t think that suited. His full name is now Harry Petl, which he thinks sounds like the soccer star he is.

Does Harry have any influence on your writing?

His story, transposed to a cat, has wiggled its way into Missing: A Cat Called Buster, the second book in the Rainbow Street Animal Shelter series, which will start being released in March 2011. He also makes a brief appearance as himself at the end of that book. And he makes up two dogs, in different ways, in a short story, "The Digging Detective and The Poodlenapping Perplexity," which Henry Holt will be publishing in an anthology of dog stories.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Cats, oh yes! (Or “Oh no!” I should say.)

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

He is fixated on tennis balls. He finds at least one a week on his walk.

Where is Harry's favorite place for an outing?

The beach.

Who is your dog's best pet-pal?

Pippa, the pugalier, who was adopted by neighbours the same week as we adopted him.

What is Harry's best quality?

His cheerfulness and resilience.

What is Harry's proudest moment?

Conquering his fear and walking past the house where a vicious dog had rushed out and attacked him a few days before.

His most embarrassing?

Coming home quite nude the first time I had him clipped. He hid for several days. He now goes to a different groomer and though he hates the experience, is always very proud of the haircut and wants to go immediately to show Pippa.

Visit Wendy Orr's blog.

Writers Read: Wendy Orr.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 24, 2010

Karen Ramstead & her dogs

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Karen Ramstead and I am a 'professional' dog musher. I have around 65 purebred Siberian Huskies (aged anywhere from 6 months to 15 years), a Great Pyr rescue, and a neurotic little border collie.

I had 16 dogs with me today - Jinx and Casey, See and Meg, Smartie and Boo, Kelly and Tramp, Wolvie and Crunchie, Wifi and Utin, Astro and TopDog, Roscoe and Shooter!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Taking a break on a training run. At this time of year I am running dogs about 6 days a week on runs anywhere from 25 - 40 miles.

What's brewing?

On the trail anything tastes good as long as it is warm. I think this was Folger's Black Silk drip coffee. If I had my druthers it would be a Starbuck's nonfat venti latte, but there seems to be a lack of Starbucks in the woods of Northern Alberta, Canada.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Not today, although I occasionally pack along a granola bar when the runs are really long.

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

Not today, although on long runs their favorite snack is a whole frozen herring!

How were you and your dogs united?

All but one of the dogs on my team today were born in my house!!

How did the dogs get their names? Any aliases?

All the litters are named in 'themes' - Crunchie is out of our 'Chocolate Bar' litter, Jinx out of the 'James Bond' litter, Smartie the 'candy' litter, Astro out of the 'cartoon' litter....

Oh yes, a million nicknames and aliases - most of them embarrassing to mushers and rough tough sled dogs.

What's the most challenging part of the Iditarod? The most fun?

I think the most challenging part is maintaining a positive attitude regardless of how tired and beat up you get on the trail. The dogs pick up on your attitude, so being positive is very important.

The most fun is watching these dogs that I watched being born and taking their first steps rise to the challenge to become these amazing, capable athletes that are completely at home in the harsh environment and the task at hand. I am constantly in awe of them!

Have you ever encountered polar bears during a race?

No. Although there are occasionally polar bears in the area, there is no documented cases of mushers encountering them on the trail. I have seen wolves, foxes, caribou and moose. Moose are the most dangerous animal we encounter, as they will often stand and fight rather then give up the trail to a dog team.

Do you have an off-season, or do the dogs train all year?

The dogs train year around - although we never train when temperatures go above 10C.

Do your dogs' have pet-pals that aren't huskies?

Yes. We have a Great Pyr cross, Cricket, that protects the kennel and keeps wildlife at bay - and Bet, a crazy little border collie (who was a flunk out from a top herding kennel) that free runs puppies with us and holds down the couch.

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

They would probably wish I was as tough and capable as they are. I have no illusions, I am the weak link on my team. They are much more amazing creatures then I could ever hope to be!

What is your team's proudest achievement?

No one thing stands out. I'm proud of our Iditarod finishes, for sure, but I'm also proud when get through a tough storm or overcome difficult obstacles in training.

Learn more about Karen Ramstead and her dogs at the North Wapiti Kennels website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Maryglenn McCombs & Garcia

Who is that in the photograph at the right?

That’s me, Maryglenn McCombs, and my beloved Old English Sheepdog, Garcia.

What’s the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We’re celebrating the release of a new mystery by Don Bruns, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (Oceanview Publishing) in which Garcia plays a major role.

What’s new since we last checked in with you and Garcia?

All sorts of things! Every day with Garcia is an adventure. Garcia is still blind, still enormous, still not bothered in the least by being blind, and still amazing.

Late last Fall, Garcia started really struggling with his arthritis, a condition that has plagued him for years. He got to the point where he had a difficult time standing up long enough to eat. I was uneasy about using medication to treat the arthritis, so our vet suggested we try alternative approaches.

We started seeing a Canine Rehab specialist, Rod Newman, of Canine Rehab of Nashville and a veterinary acupuncturist, Dr. Terry Brockman of Richland Animal Clinic. Within a few weeks of treatment—underwater treadmill therapy and acupuncture—Garcia started showing definite signs of improvement. After about a month of treatment, Garcia started demanding morning walks again. He can now walk for up to an hour at a time! (I don’t call him Amazing Garcia for nothing.) His progress has been nothing short of miraculous. He loves walking in the underwater treadmill and while he was a little uneasy about acupuncture at first, he’s come to love it, as he knows Dr. Brockman will reward his good behavior with lots of treats.

More recently, though, Garcia has taken to Twitter to share news about his book, musings on life, and stories about what it’s like to be the BBB (Big Blind Bobtail). You can follow AmazingGarcia on Twitter (Please note that Garcia, what with his lack of opposable thumbs, has to rely on some of his friends for the actual typing.) You can also find Amazing Garcia English Sheepdog at Large on Facebook.

Our friends at BookPage magazine ran a story about Garcia in their Book Case blog. Garcia relishes being called “Nashville’s Top Dog.”

So, yes: we’ve had lots going on!

You succeeded in getting Garcia a role in Don Bruns’ new novel. Would you explain how you waged that campaign?

I begged….and begged…and begged. I believe this is the seventh book of Don’s I’ve represented. We have a ball working together, and once Don told me the premise for the new book (James Lessor and Skip Moore getting tangled up with a traveling carnival show that featured a petting zoo) I just knew Garcia needed to be in the book. Surely the petting zoo proprietor, Winston “Winnie” Pugh needed a good Old English Sheepdog to guard his “flock.” It sounded logical to me!

Once Don agreed, I had to educate him on all-things-Sheepdog: no tails, fun, shaggy, mischievous, etc. (And I get to call this ‘work’…)

What are the biggest similarities and differences between the real Garcia and the fictional one?

While the fictional Garcia and real Garcia are quite similar, the biggest difference is that the fictional Garcia can see, while the real Garcia is blind. Both the fictional and real Garcias have similar personalities: clownish, impish, smart, mischievous, and funny.

I give all the credit to Don, though: aside from writing a fantastic (and hilarious) book, he managed to capture the spirit of Garcia, which is not easy to do.

When I found out that Garcia made it through editing and earned himself a sizeable role in Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, I had a picture of Garcia photo-shopped into Don’s author photo, so the real Garcia does grace the book jacket. I think Don is telling people that Garcia is his dog, but I can’t say that I blame him. Garcia’s a cool dog!

We’re certainly enjoying Garcia’s new-found fame. Our next task is to convince Don that he needs to get an Old English Sheepdog of his own. I’ll report back on that.

Maryglenn McCombs is an independent book publicist who lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband Tim Warnock and Garcia. Visit her website.

Read about coffee with McCombs and Garcia in the summer of 2009.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 20, 2010

Pat St. Onge & Jack and Moo

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Pat St. Onge, and these are my two Siberians, Jack and Moo.

I'm an artist and work from home doing digital illustrations for a publisher of educational materials. I also paint – watercolor, acrylics, and ceramic glazes. I have a website at

Jack and Moo are both 5-year-old Siberian Huskies. Jack is our handsome male, and Moo is our cute little female.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

No special occasion, I often drink my coffee on the deck with my pups. Our yard is surrounded by trees, so its private and very peaceful.

What's brewing?

Freshly ground Costa Rican coffee, with a splash of 2% milk.

Any treat for Jack and Moo on this occasion?

An apple-bran muffin. Jack & Moo get some peanut butter on a doggy biscuit.

How were you and your dogs united?

We've adopted all our dogs from wonderful breeders with small family-run kennels.

Jack came to us 3 years ago after we lost our Sherman at only 4 yrs. old from lung cancer. He had been the companion to Star, our first Siberian, and she was heartbroken at his loss. Jack came from the same kennel in Ohio as Sherman (Destiny Siberians). I had worked with an animal communicator during Sherman’s last days, and later showed her a pic of Jack when we were considering him. She said he was one of the very nicest dogs she’d ever come across, and run, don’t walk, to go get him. I drove from RI to OH to bring him back here to live with us. And she was right, he’s super-sweet. He loves being a good boy.

Moo joined us at the end of last January, after we lost 2 Siberians last fall. (Star, (12), who’d been with us since she was 5 weeks old, and Sherman’s sister Tori (7), who we adopted after losing Star, & then lost her 8 weeks later due to a ruptured intestine.) I found Moo through the Internet, and it turned out her kennel is only 50 miles from us. We went to see her and it was love at first sight! She looked at us like “Hey, where have you been? I’ve been waiting for you to come get me!” and came home with us that night. She's been like a ray of sunshine in our home, always happy and ready to play. She's a charmer, everyone loves her.

How did the dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Both dogs already had names that fit their personalities. Jack’s AKC is Destiny’s DaVinci. Very fitting - this boy is soooo handsome, and very photogenic. Nicknames: Jack a-roo, the Jackster, & Jackeral-Mackeral.

Moo (AKC Liyaza’s DQ Moolatte) got her name from her all-white face which reminded her breeders of the face of a little calf. (They also raised cows) I do sometimes call her Moo-na Lisa, because it goes nicely with our Jack DaVinci. Nickname: Moosie-Moo.

What influence do Jack and Moo have on your art?

Besides supervising everything? I find that more & more of my art (and social activities) revolves around dogs.

I do a blog for them called Cybersibes. I really enjoy photographing them, and using photoshop to create little visuals for stories about their adventures. I’m studying Flash animation, and have featured Jack in most of my animation projects. I’ve painted their portraits, and recently got involved with a pet portrait exchange. That kicked off my new blog, Paint & Pixel Paws, featuring my pet portraits.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Squirrels, rabbits, moles, birds…. Jack has a Siberian’s typical strong prey-drive. He hunts every night. Moo’s a little more easy-going. They both adore children and are very popular with the locals on our walking route.

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

Jack has a thing for squeaky Penguins, he used to play for hours and hours with them by himself. Eventually he de-stuffs them, so we have quite a Penguin collection in various states of disrepair.

Moo: Nylabones, cow hoofies, and sticks. I’ve had to remove all the stuffies since her arrival, as the first thing she did was eat a stuffie-- which fortunately, all came back out.

Where is Jack and Moo's favorite place for an outing?

They like nothing better than going outside to play in the snow! When there is no snow, they enjoy walking by the ocean on the beaches and rocky coastline. But they don’t go swimming, they prefer their water frozen.

Who are Jack and Moo's best pet-pals?

Jack’s best buddy was Moon, a big male Sibe that used to live near by. His family moved, and we went to visit. He & Moon were wildly ecstatic to see each other again. Now, Moo is his best buddy.

Moo’s best buddy at the kennel was a pug. Jack is her best friend now.

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

I work from home, but I think Jack would like it if I spent less time in front of the computer and more time taking him places. Moo would like me to take her everywhere I go & never leave her. She’s usually within 10 feet of me no matter what I’m doing.

What is each dog's proudest moment? Most embarrassing?

Jack bursts with pride when he’s caught something. I think he’s most embarrassed when the vet’s taking his temp, his expression says it all.

Moo is happy no matter what. I think she should be proud that she’s learned how to be a house dog: no counter-surfing, stay off the furniture, ask to go out, and sit before you get your dinner. Most embarrassing? When Jack turns the tables on her & gets the upper paw when they wrestle. Doesn’t happen to often, but you can see the Princess is not pleased.

View a portfolio sampling of Pat St.Onge's artwork. Visit her Paint & Pixel Paws blog featuring her pet portraits, and check out Jack and Moo's Cybersibes blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ann Littlewood & Murphy

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Ann Littlewood and I write zoo mysteries. The latest, Did Not Survive, stars pregnant zoo keeper Iris Oakley and a pair of elephants at Finley Zoo in Vancouver, Washington.

With me is Murphy, who keeps me connected with real animals. He’s about a year and a half old and might be a Corgi mix or a Tibetan spaniel or part Sheltie. No idea. He’s never tried to herd anything and he seems to be a talented lap dog.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I need my caffeine and he needs his pets before either of us gets rolling. Neither one of us is a morning creature.

What's brewing?

Courier Coffee, roasted by a friend. Portland is a great city for coffee.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Mush. Five-grain cereal with walnuts and fruit. Is that a goody? I don’t think so.

Any treat for Murphy on this occasion?

No, just his kibble. Of course, he won’t eat it without a dab of gravy or a little melted cheese. I get mush and he gets the gourmet fare.

How were you and Murphy united?

My cousin went to a lot of trouble and expense to adopt him from a rescue center. For some reason, her three older cats did not take well to a bouncy puppy who wanted to play all day. The cats were really, really upset and my cousin was at her wits end. So we said we’d foster him until she found a new home. That was over a year ago… He ain’t going nowhere now.

Have your dogs had any influence on your writing?

Well, sure! My protagonist, Iris Oakley, has two dogs with different temperaments. They both had strong roles in Night Kill, my first zoo mystery, and they’ll be back in the others. Iris is all about animals and she pays close attention to how people treat their pets. In addition, zoo staff train animals in what they call “husbandry behaviors,” such as showing their teeth and feet for inspection. I practice training Murphy so to keep my descriptions realistic.

How did Murphy get his name? Any aliases?

He came to us named Murphy. We sometimes call him the RLD—rotten little dog—if he’s chewed up anything lately or run into the street after a squirrel. Other days, he’s the HLD—hairy little dog. I’d never had a dog that had to be styled. I mean, he can grow some hair! I had to trim five inches off his tail and about the same off his rump. And there’s plenty left.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Definitely squirrel. Cats are forbidden pleasures and he likes the postal carrier.

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

Yes to all, but mostly tennis balls in the park. He’s not a natural retriever, but with liver treats, he learned, and now he’s as obsessive as a lab, no treats required. He’s big on sticks as well. Drags them into the house through the doggy door and chews them into bits. Our living carpet, covered with forest duff… But it beats chewing on other stuff, like shoes and gloves, so we put up with it.

Where is Murphy's favorite place for an outing?

Any place he can chase a ball. Any place that doesn’t require getting into a car.

Who are Murphy's best pet-pals?

My sister has an older cattle dog, Sally. She is amazingly tolerant of him. He will pester her to play long after she’s tired out. She’ll finally jump to her feet, snarl savagely at him, and start to romp. I don’t get it, but it works for them. He’s got another buddy, Leila, a black lab who is a neighbor. They trade play dates often. When Leila gets tired, she copes by lying down on him.

What is Murphy's best quality?

He’s always up for petting. He’ll lie in a lap for hours as long as you keep messing with him a little. Perfect for watching TV on a cold night. He also loves dog training. We call it Circus Dog and he starts nudging me during dinner to get it rolling. He knows the usual: sit, stay, lie down, hop on the footstool, shake hands, speak, roll over. He also likes a game where he sit/stays while I hide a toy. Then I say “fetch”. His diligent search throughout the house never fails to charm me, and he is so delighted to find the thing and come bouncing back to claim his liver treat.

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

You should see this little guy levitate, all four feet up in the air, and snag his ball. For a short-legged guy, he’s very athletic. His most embarrassing moment? He was hot after a squirrel one day when the squirrel lost track of what he was doing and fell from the tree, almost landing on him. Murphy didn’t know what to do. Squirrels run, you chase them. This was all wrong. They finally pulled it together and the squirrel made a reasonably graceful escape.

Read an excerpt from Did Not Survive and watch the video trailer.

Learn more about the book and author at
Ann Littlewood's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ann Crowder & Sage and Toby

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi, I’m Ann Crowder and these two are Sage and Toby. After years of Federal service as an accountant, I’m enjoying retired life with days full of dogs, volunteering and quilting. After Sage came into our lives almost a year ago, I decided to write a blog about her adventures growing up. Actually, she writes it—I just help with the big words.

Toby is our old guy. He’s 11-years old and is an Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler) mix. He’s been with us since he was rescued at 15-months old. Sage came to us as a puppy from a local shelter when she was 10-weeks old and will have her first birthday on November 27. She’s an Australian Kelpie/Border Collie mix (our best guess), and, as you may have surmised from her breed, keeps us busy!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Coffee at home is a must, but there’s always something brewing at our favorite indoor dog park-Fido’s. The raining season is here in the Pacific Northwest and taking Sage for a walk is like an appetizer. We don’t know what we’d do without Fido’s! There’s even a coffee bar there.

Sage at 10 weeks
What's brewing?

My favorite coffee is Stumptown, a local roaster. It’s the best! I like my coffee black, but occasionally, I’ll succumb to a latte or maybe a mocha.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Generally, not. Even when I go out to coffee with my yoga friends, I keep it to black coffee.

Any treats for Sage and Toby on this occasion?

They get their treats either before we go to the dog park or when we get home. I try to keep their treats high-value—like a carrot chew or a pumpkin & apple cookie.

How were you and Toby and Sage united?

Toby came from the Dumb Friends League in Denver, Co. He was 20 pounds underweight, had a big hematoma on his head and had been dumped several times. But he had a big smile on his face and we fell in love with him at once. He had no social skills and didn’t know how to play, but with a lot of training and love, he’s become a great dog. He never lets me out of his sight to this day!

We didn’t plan on getting another dog after Maggie (a Border-Aussie) succumbed to cancer in January, but I saw this little ball of fluff on She was originally in a shelter south of here and was transferred to our local shelter through the second chance program. Along with Toby, we went in to see what we thought. How could you resist her, we decided. Toby also put his stamp of approval on the deal--he was tired of being lonely.

How did Toby and Sage get their names? Any aliases?

We kept Toby’s name that was given him at the shelter. He had so much to learn that he didn’t need to learn a new name. Sometimes we call him “The Tobster” though!

Mystic & Sage in the cat tree
The name Sage was an inspiration of my husband’s. She can be called Sager-Wager-Pager, or SWP, or sometimes “The Brat,” depending on her latest puppy antics.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

We have two cats that grew up with Toby and are around 8-years old. He’s very tolerant of them and I’d often find them sleeping together. However, Sage is another story. They currently co-exist and one cat, Mystic, will even tolerate her to some extent. One of Sage’s favorite spots is the lower level of the cat tree and often she will be there with Mystic in the upper level (the penthouse). As Sage gets older, we are sure their relationships will continue to improve.

Now, squirrels are a different matter. Both Sage and Toby are on constant guard against invaders into our yard. The squirrels love to taunt them by either running along the top of the fence or chattering at them from the trees. Fortunately, the squirrels always seem to outrun them!

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

Sage has a knack for chewing up most toys, so what she gets now is limited. I think her destruction record is 5 minutes! So we only have certain rubber balls and deer/elk antlers lying around. Sage does love to play ball though—so much so, that I think she’s a bit ball-obsessed! We generally play ball for at least two hours a day and sometimes more. Usually this is at Fido’s where we have room to let her run.

Sage at the river
Toby used to carry around a plush toy and would go to sleep with it in his mouth. That was a “game” he played with Maggie, who thought every toy was hers. It was a type of keep-away, I think.

Where is Sage and Toby's favorite place for an outing?

There is a very large park near here that is the delta between the Sandy and Columbia Rivers and is around 1400 acres full of trees, meadows and, best of all, the river. This is where Sage discovered water, and, during the summer, spent as much time as she could in it. We never had a dog that likes water as much as she does, so it gives us endless hours of enjoyment. She can find water even if it’s a mud hole! Toby loves long hikes and, as long as he’s with us, he’s happy.

Who are Sage and Toby's best pet-pals?

Sage met my friend’s Great Pyrenees mix when she was about 4-months old and it was love at first sight. The size didn’t matter to her—she doesn’t seem to be afraid of much. Every time they are together, they love to have a good romp.

Toby's proudest moment
When Toby was younger, his best friend was Maggie. About a month after Sage came to live with us, he decided this little pest was going to stick around and he became her teacher. Now that he is older, he is selective in who his friends are and occasionally will find a dog at the dog park that he likes.

If Sage or Toby could change one thing about you, what would it be?

I bet they’d like me to quit rationing their treats and find some juicy bones for them!

What are Sage and Toby's proudest moments? Most embarrassing?

Sage was very proud of herself for digging out under our fence and rolling in something very stinky and dead. Her most embarrassing moment was the bath she had afterward. That stink was all washed off and she couldn't even let her friends get a whiff!

When Toby was young, he loved to sit up tall and proud with a pink octopus in his mouth. I don't think he's ever gotten embarrassed.

Check out Sage’s latest antics at The (mis)Adventures of Sage.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, December 13, 2010

Samantha Daley & Rugby

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Samantha Daley, and my dog Rugby. I am a full time student at UMBC, majoring in biochemistry. I am also an apprentice at Applewoods Dog Training.

Rugby is a two-year-old Maltese. His full name is Mister Rugby Sevens CDX RN.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We were taking an early morning training trip to Sunset Park. We brought along Diesel the German Shepherd too. Rugby is showing him the ropes.

What's brewing?

No coffee for us, we stopped on the way for some hot chocolate instead!

Any goodies to go with the beverage?

Nope. Just hot chocolate, a couple of smart dogs and a successful training session!

Any treat for Rugby on this occasion?

SAND! The playgrounds at this park have sand as the footing and Rugby loves to run and dig there! He had a blast tearing around in the sand.

How were you and Rugby united?

I bought Rugby from a breeder in Alabama at 12 weeks old. I took a day and flew down to Alabama and back. His breeder met me at the airport with Rugby and a couple of his favorite toys!

How did Rugby get his name? Any aliases?

Rugby was a suggestion from a friend. We thought it suited him well - cute but still tough! No nicknames, or second identities for Rugby. He does respond to Rugs, Ruggers, and 'Hey You.'

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

None of the above. The squirrels don't even run when they see Rugby anymore. A couple of the mean ones will hiss and throw stuff at him.

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

Yes, yes and yes. He is most attached to his stuffed toys, but sticks and tennis balls will do in a bind.

Rugby seems to have quite a few costumes: which is his favorite?

I think Rugby enjoyed his Panda costume the most. It was worn like a jacket, so it was comfy and warm for Halloween. The Killer Whale is a close second, but it didn't fit as well.

Where is Rugby's favorite place for an outing?

Applewoods Dog Training for sure! He goes lots of places with me, but going to training is his favorite since all his friends are there.

Who is Rugby's best pet-pal?

Cabot! Named after the cheese, Cabot is a smooth, black and tan Brussels Griffon. They are close in age so they had lots of bonding time when they were both puppies.

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

Rugby would change my busy schedule so that I could spend all day fussing over him.

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

Rugby's proudest moment was being the Highest Scoring Dog at the American Maltese Association's National Specialty this year. He loved being the center of attention, and that everyone clapped after every exercise!

Most embarrassing would be back when he was a puppy. I snuck him into one of my classes and one of the chairs moving put him on the alert - he barked! Luckily the class was being taught by a teaching assistant that day. She did stop the class to inquire about the dog in the room. OOPS! We apologized, but she didn't mind and said he was cute. I'm glad those puppy days are behind us!

Visit Rugby's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pascal Inard & Bella

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Pascal Inard, I’m an IT project manager and co-author of a book called Paw Steps to Happiness.

Bella is a Westie aged 2 and a half.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It’s spring now in Australia and the days are getting warmer, so I have my breakfast with Bella outside; it’s a very pleasant start to the day. I listen to the birds singing in the garden and Bella watches them attentively, ready to chase any who dare to enter her territory – luckily she’s not fast enough to catch them.

What's brewing?

I don’t drink coffee, so it’s hot soy milk.

Any goodies to go with the beverage?

Home made bread (baguette) with almond spread and honey, my favourite!

Any treat for Bella on this occasion?

Bella loves her liver treats, and I always give her some bread as well.

How were you and Bella united?

My wife and I both love dogs; we always had a dog when we were children. However, when we lived in France we were in an apartment and didn’t want to have a dog who would be inside all day. We moved to Australia 9 years ago and had to wait until we bought our house (with a well secured back yard) to get a dog.

We found a Westie breeder in country Victoria and went to get Bella with our 3 children -- what a happy day that was, and she has brought us so much happiness since then.

How did Bella get her name? Any aliases?

Her name was given by her breeder, and it fits her so well; in Spanish, the name Bella means Beautiful; it is a diminutive of Isabella (a Spanish variant of Elizabeth) which means Devoted to God and is also my wife’s name.

We love to find new names for her; currently it’s “little baby seal” and “little white cloud.”

You've got a new book: please tell us about it.

Dogs bring a lot of happiness to our lives, but I have found that they can also show us how to be happy, with their playfulness, unconditional love and carefree live-in-the-present attitude. My wife and I wrote a book Paw Steps to Happiness to illustrate this, with many photos of Bella and our other dog Ollie, but also of more than 60 of their dog and cat friends, many of whom we’ve known through Bella’s blog, and our favourite inspirational quotations.

When we started Bella’s blog, we found that it was bringing joy and happiness to many readers across the world, so we wanted to reach more people by publishing this book.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

There are lots of possums in the trees in our garden which make Bella go crazy because she can’t climb up the trees to chase them.

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

Her favourite toy is a stuffed Eeyore, she has eight of them!

Where is Bella's favorite place for an outing?

The local park; she loves running off leash and races anyone who is doing their jogging - she always wins.

Who are Bella's best pet-pals?

This year we added a little Papillon named Ollie to our family; it’s heart warming to see how well they get along. One minute they’re snuggling together, Bella using Ollie as a pillow, the next minute they are chasing each other in the garden – they sometimes get a bit rough but they never hurt each other.

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

Bella would love me to work from home every day. I usually work from home once a week, and when I get dressed in the morning and Bella sees that I’m not putting my business outfit, she says “woo-woo-woo” until I take her for a walk.

What is Bella's proudest moment?

Although she wasn’t there, we went to give a box of books to cheer up children at the Royal Melbourne Children’s hospital and they loved the funny and cute photos of Bella and her friends.

And her most embarrassing moment?

When our second daughter Anais did her work experience week at a doggie day care, Bella smelled all the dogs on Anais’ clothes and felt so jealous that she relieved herself on Anais’ bed!

Visit Bella the Westie's blog and read more about Paw Steps to Happiness.

--Marshal Zeringue