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