Monday, December 6, 2010

Gini Koch & Harley Quinn, Mileena, Goulash, and Baraka

Who is in the photo at right?

My husband is with our Dalmatian, Harley Quinn; my daughter is with our American Staffordshire Terrier, Mileena; and I’m with our late Komondor, Goulash.

In the photo just below, left: the girl dogs with their new little brother, our Pit Bull, Baraka, who we got after Goulash went to the Great Dog Park in the sky.

I’m Gini Koch, an author -- I write the Alien novel series for DAW Books. Touched by an Alien released April 6, 2010; Alien Tango releases December 7, 2010; Alien in the Family is coming April 5, 2011; and Alien Proliferation will hit the shelves Winter 2011. Alien Diplomacy and Alien vs. Alien have just been bought, and they’ll publish in 2012. I have two short stories, written under my Anita Ensal pen name, coming out in two DAW anthologies -- "Wanted" will be in Love and Rockets, releasing December 7, 2010; and “Being Neighborly” will be in Boondocks Fantasy, releasing January 4, 2011.

How did the dogs get their names? Any aliases?

I call them the Canine Death Squad (our cats are the Killer Kitties…yeah, it’s a theme). Komondors are Hungarian dogs, so Hungarian Goulash (yes, note that this is our family’s level of humor).

Harley Quinn is a double -- harlequin and named for the Batman villainess who’s a total ditz but cute in her way.

Mileena and Baraka are both named for Mortal Kombat characters.

Their aliases are The Big Fella (Goulash), Li’l Leader (Mileena), The Spotted Fiend (Harley), and Big Baby (Baraka). I realize it’s kind of morbid to be talking about The Big Fella since he’s gone, but I still miss him (and our two late Greyhounds, too).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We have a morning ritual. I crawl out of bed (the hubs is already up 99.9% of the time), and Dalmatian yodels that Treat Giver is awake. I give the Killer Kitties their canned food and the Canine Death Squad get their breakfast, then it’s out back for a drink, a roll, to sun themselves, or whatever strikes their fancy.

What's brewing?

Varies depending on what the hubs has brought home from Trader Joe’s or if I’ve picked up Starbucks or another brand at Costco. The hubs drinks his black, I drink mine with a lot of fat free half and half. Only “regular” drip coffee/Mr. Coffee maker stuff in the mornings -- I’m not coherent enough to make anything cool or interesting before noon. After noon, however, there’s always a chance for specialty coffees -- I can and do make everything from espresso through to Vietnamese Coffee and everything in between. Yeah, we’re coffee addicts here.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

For me, it’s whatever I can choke down and call breakfast. For the Canine Death Squad, it’s their morning meds (The Spotted Fiend requires several, the others don’t) with cheese, and then Milk Bones.

Coffee with a Canine?
Hurry it up, we’re starving!
Eating morning breakfast goodies

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

Every morning and before-bed-feeding is a treat, since they get cheese and biscuits. Sometimes they get gourmet cheese, like brie, if we have some we’ve been eating that’s too old for human consumption. Then it’s outside for the morning romp.

How were you and your dogs united?

All our dogs, other than The Big Fella, are rescues. We got The Spotted Fiend through Petfinder. We got Li’l Leader through Petsmart rescue. And we got Big Baby through the friend who helped us with Li’l Leader‘s adoption.

Eating morning breakfast goodies
Li’l Leader and Big Baby were both home abandonment dogs -- different times and places, but still, abandoned with their cats and no food or water for weeks. Neither one of them hurt their cats (who were taken by different rescue, or I would have adopted them, too). Both of them are awesome dogs. The Spotted Fiend was found abandoned on the streets, starving, and was in the pound for over a month and then in four foster homes before we got her.

Now all three of them have doggie beds in our bedroom and the living room, they get four squares a day, and lots of love and playtime. So, their lives might have started out badly, but they’re all living large now.

Waiting to go romp
Cat, squirrel, postman...?

The Killer Kitties don’t hold with dogs chasing or attacking cats, and neither do I. Squirrels and birds are fair game -- both pitties have caught at least one bird that we know of. They all think they’re scaring off the postman, but The Spotted Fiend really loves the UPS delivery men and likes to go out with me to claim packages and get pets.

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

Any damn thing you want to throw. The Big Fella was never a fetcher, but the current crop all are. They love anything, but their favorite is the super sturdy dumbbell toy they sell at Petsmart. All the “indestructible” toys
Baraka with the favorite toy
are quite destructible, but at least the dumbbell lasts a little longer than most (yes, all 3 dogs have destroy Kong toys, more than one each).

Where is your dogs' favorite place for an outing?

Probably Petsmart because of all the attention and extra goodies. But really, they like to go anywhere, be it around the block, to the park, for a ride, etc. They even like to visit the vet, again, for the extra attention and treats.

I take Li’l Leader with me to the Post Office late at night because she’s the best trained of all our dogs. She’s the only one I’ll allow to ride in the front seat of any car, because she’s the only one who “gets” that she’s not supposed to do anything other than sit there. This is her sitting in the front seat, on one of our most recent USPS excursions.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

They love each other very much, and their cats. And of course, all of us.

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

All walkies and all treats, all the time. Oh, and the permanent removal of the “no dogs on the beds or couches” rule. (That’s the hubs’ rule. If it were just me, they’d be up on the couches and beds with me. Only the Killer Kitties are allowed this privilege, though.)

Big Baby likes to rock the cool. He’s our big goofball, basically
What is each dog's proudest moment? Most embarrassing?

When he was 7 months old, The Big Fella scared off an escaped criminal who was in our back yard. Li’l Leader and The Spotted Fiend learned from him, and are teaching Big Baby the ropes. They all do a great job of being good protectors as well as fun, loving pets. Otherwise, not a lot of “big” moments, at least that I’m aware of. Per the Canine Death Squad, they protect us from invisible enemies at all times, but per the Killer Kitties, it’s really only about 25% of the time.

Visit Gini Koch's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue