Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Martin Kihn & Hola

Who is in the photo at right?

The tall one is me -- Martin Kihn. I work for an ad agency in Minneapolis. The shorter, better-looking one is Hola, a Bernese mountain dog. She's eight years old now, and still a bundle of unstoppable energy. In this picture, Hola had just graduated from a week-long training retreat in the woods of Virginia to prepare for her Canine Good Citizen certification.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Hola and I like to have a routine. While I was writing my book about her, she'd get me up at six in the morning, and I'd toss on a pot of coffee. Then I'd sit on her doggie bed drinking my coffee and writing her book while she snored happily next to me.

What's brewing?

Hola and I recently moved to Minneapolis with my wife Julia after twenty years in Manhattan. When I was writing Bad Dog, we lived in a Hispanic neighborhood in Washington Heights. I got hooked on a strong espresso-like drip coffee called Bustelo -- rocket fuel for the writer. By coincidence, it's the same brand consumed by my favorite fictional character: Holly Winter, star of the fabulous Dog Lovers Mysteries series by Susan Conant.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Just whole cream. Milk doesn't have enough body for my taste. Cream takes the edge off the Bustelo. I don't eat while I write because my hands are busy typing. Hola doesn't eat because she's sleeping. But as soon as she's up, after her walk, she gets the ultimate canine goody of all: raw organic black angus beef. Yum.

How did your dog come to be united with you?

Hola was my wife Julia's idea -- one I was totally against in the beginning. I'd never had a dog before, just cats. They seemed too big and high-maintenance, which of course they are. But I was traveling all the time for my job and my wife wanted a companion at home, so I couldn't say no. It wasn't easy finding a good breeder to let us have a Berner because we lived in an apartment and were first-time owners. They're surprisingly strict. Eventually we found one up in Rochester and drove eight hours each way to pick her up. The rest is history.

How did she get her name?

All the dog books we read suggested a simple name, so we wanted to go for one syllable. On the other hand Spot or Joe seemed too ordinary for such a beautiful dog. She turned out to be so friendly, my wife decided to call her Hola for "hello."

What is your dog's proudest moment so far?

Our book Bad Dog tells the story of how Hola starts as a kind of good-looking Marley -- just a badly-behaved, badly-trained dog. At a certain point, my life was falling apart and I decided we were going to train and get our Canine Good Citizen award from the American Kennel Club. This is a ten-point test of good manners and basic training, but it was totally impossible for us at first. Literally impossible. But after a lot of hard work, Hola earned her CGC in 2010. It was an amazing day -- really incredible.

Learn more about Bad Dog: A Love Story at Martin Kihn's website and the Bad Dog Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 28, 2011

Jared Cullum & Rusty

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Jared and I'm an cartoonist and designer living with my wonderful wife (Johanna) in Virginia. We have a 6-year-old, black and silver Miniature Schnauzer. He's a male and his name is Rusty. Rusty is a very sweet boy but has a reserved mysterious darker side. He's never quick to trust but as loyal as they come once you're on his good side. I say mysterious because we don't know a lot about his past. He was a rescue and is overall a happy well-functioning dog but has the occasional button we watch for not to press. In this photo we're sitting together over a cup a coffee. Rusty is a character in a bi-weekly webcomic strip I do called Pea Green Coffee Cup.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I start every morning with coffee. I can't imagine how anyone starts their day without it. I have coffee with my dog Rusty because I enjoy relaxing with him but also he follows me everywhere I go. If I take a shower, my wife will often see him sitting outside the door if he hasn't already snuck in to scratch and contort the towel into a comfortable place to lay down.

What's brewing?

I store coffee much like my friends that collect and drink wine do. I have the brew that I currently drinking or trying out, but I also keep a load of Folgers or Maxwell for in between or if I run out of the brands I prefer. I'm currently drinking a breakfast blend from Rostov's Coffee & Tea Co. I buy a lot of coffee there. When I was in art school and when I had a studio downtown shortly after I'd go there for "Cappy Hour" where they have a large cup for $.50 at the end of the day. If I'm going to draw in a coffee shop I often go to a place here called Crossroads which uses coffee from Rostov's. It's featured in the first comic strip I drew of my current series. I also go to a place called Black Hand, but I'm sort of over-answering at this point so I'll just cut it short... Rostov's. Breakfast Blend. For me, that is. Rusty doesn't drink coffee, but I guess that goes without saying.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Whenever Rusty and I go out on a coffee or park or anything date I always try to get him a small something. There are plenty of pet stores in my neighborhood with dog cookies or a small greenie if I haven't brought something from home. Today. Nothing fancy. Bowl of cheerios. Thinking about making eggs. Probably won't. Effort. I like breakfast better at non-breakfast time.

Any treat for your dog on this occasion?

Rusty is crunching away at one of those small crunchy bones. He loves those things.

How were you and Rusty united?

He was a rescue, which seems like a over-dramatic word for the simple exchange. A young family had adopted him as a puppy when they had a little girl. The young family grew into a four kid family and the mother wanted to go back to school. That's all I know of their personal story but she was taking him to the pound and looking for a home. I met her in the parking lot of a Target and that's when I first met Rusty. He was wearing a small red harness and black sweater with a small moose pattern across it. She (the owner) was very sweet and after a sobbing and saying good bye passed the leash to my wife and I. We took him home and showered him with love and he showered our sheets, pillows, space heaters, rugs, important documents and floors in pee. Eventually he came around. After having him a while my wife began to feel left out because of the bond between Rusty and I, often coming home to find us wearing matching bandana's or tiny sombreros. We have since got my wife a little Yorkshire Terrier we call Baxter who has the same relationship with her that I have with Rusty. It's good but can be frustrating as Baxter won't listen to me and Rusty often hesitates to listen to her.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

Rusty or The DogFather or Russ-Russ or Sweet-boy or Robo-Schnauz or No-Sorry-I-Can't-Pet-You-Now-I'm-Working. We thought of a thousand names to rename him on the trip to get him, but the woman that had him before us was so genuinely heartbroken at the loss of her dog going with us we decided to honor her and their bond by continuing to call him Rusty. It just felt right.

How prominently does Rusty figure in your comic, Pea Green Coffee Cup?

Rusty is a regular "cast" member of it. He pops in every now and then, usually for a joke or a thought about him. The comic strip is mainly about life and being married. Rusty's cartoon version is like him in that he's sweet but very reserved. He constantly needs love and affection but never opens up to being overly joyous. He's like a lover that has had a bad day and needs a hug but "doesn't want to talk about it." That's the feeling I get when he snuggles with me and I just do as any good friend would do. I pat him on the back and say, "I'm here and everything's going to fine."

UPS man, cat, squirrels?

UPS. Holy jeez. And squirrels.

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

Oddly enough: None. His favorite time is just cuddling or getting his back rubbed. But, for some reason at the dog park if other dogs are playing with a ball, he'll compete and chase a ball or two.

Where is Rusty's favorite place for outings?

We like to go to a particular dog park in our neighborhood. It's not a dog park, but we and the collective dog owners have decided it is ... often to the chagrin of local police. We like the dogs and the families that go there but we have to keep an eye out for cops so we can leash 'em up.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Our little yorkie loves to roam with the largest dogs he can find at the park, often rummaging around or climbing on top of a pack of Great Danes. Rusty has his reservations and often sits with me. He occupies his time by policing the park. If two dogs get in a tug match he'll dart over and bark like crazy. When they break up he'll trot back smiling at me as if to say, "D'you see that? See how I busted those guys?"

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

My need to sleep at 5 o'clock in the morning. On the same note, if I could change anything I'd change their need to pee at 5 o'clock in the morning.

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

Baxter trots around constantly in a total state of pride. I don't think he understands the concept of shame, somehow it escapes him. Rusty seems to do fine but there was this one time for Halloween we thought it would be cute to dress him in a chicken outfit. Once it was on he wouldn't move. He looked identical to the boy in the Christmas Story film with the bunny pajamas. He just sat and wouldn't even look up at us. He looked so sad and ashamed we stripped it off him as fast as possible as a little foam hot dog with a tiny dog attached to it ran circles around us and jumped in our face for attention.

Visit the Pea Green Coffee Cup webcomic.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lela Nargi & Jaffa

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Lela, a freelance reporter and book author, and my girl Jaffa, a 10-year-old mix of Rottweiler, Chow, and Lab (best guesstimate).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I actually stopped drinking coffee several years ago – I loved it, it didn’t love me. Now I drink 2 cups of strong tea every morning in order muster the courage to face the world out there on the streets of Brooklyn when I take Jaffa out for her morning walk. Or in this instance, a romp through Prospect Park.

What's the beverage du jour?

Barry’s, extremely hot and dark, with a very small drop of milk.

Any treats for you or your dog on this occasion?

Unfortunately, true to her Lab-y nature, Jaffa is completely food-obsessed. She rarely gets a Greenie or a Wellness peanut butter treat anymore, for the simple reason that having been so treated, she will beg incessantly. For days.

How did Jaffa come to be united with you?

We used to live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, back before it was fancy. Every pet owner in the neighborhood hung out at BARC, the Brooklyn Animal Resource Coalition, and bought food and supplies from its bizarre and hilarious owners, Tony and Vinnie. One day, friends called to say they’d “borrowed” a puppy from BARC for the day, did we want to come down to their shop and see it? The puppy, of course, was Jaffa. Having had no intention of ever owning a dog, we adopted her an hour later.

How did Jaffa get her name?

Being food-obsessed ourselves, we named her after Jaffa Cakes, the English biscuits topped with orange marmalade and dark chocolate, which is what her coloring reminded us of.

Does he/she have any influence on your writing?

Yes, she gets me out of the house for even just a few minutes every morning before I start to write, which ensures that I am actually a part of the world at large and not some misanthropic freak chained to her desk.

What's an ordinary day like for your dog?

Wake up at 5:00AM whining for breakfast; 5:15-5:17 eat breakfast; 5:18-7:00, lie around; 7:01-8:25, whine for my daughter’s breakfast, my breakfast, my husband’s breakfast, get some pats around the ears, wander around with eviscerated fur squeaky toy dangling from mouth; 8:30-8:45 walk around the neighborhood; 8:46-early afternoon, lie around until someone has to go out on an errand, then go out for another walk; 3:30-5:00PM, whine for dinner; 5:01-5:03 eat dinner; 5:04-8:30, whine for other people’s dinners, lie around, bark at neighbors coming home, snarf a few crumbs off the kitchen floor; 8:31-9:00, go for evening walk; 9:01PM-5:00AM, lie around.

Does Jaffa have a favorite place to go for walk?

Prospect Park in Brooklyn – although this is less of a walk than it is a fiesta of off-leash-hours ball chasing until too sore to walk. Uh, her, not me.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Oh by all means: squirrel.

What's Jaffa's best quality?

Optimism. Every day offers the renewed possibility that someone will forget to replace the lid on the garbage can.

What's Jaffa's proudest moment so far?

The time she barked at the person who was stealing my bicycle from the hallway; if only I’d listened!

Her most embarrassing?

The time we came home from a walk down by the Williamsburg waterfront and she barfed up a stewed tomato, three rocks, and a cigarette butt.

Visit Lela Nargi's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Kellie Rupard-Schorr & Buddy, Belle, and Briscoe

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Kellie Rupard-Schorr. I am a HIV/AIDS Prevention Specialist, freelance writer and comic book collector. I write a spirituality blog and a political webcomic called The Beaglez. I live with my partner Cathy, 3 beagles and 2 cats.

Buddy is a 6-year-old female lemon beagle (only tan and white).

Belle (the little one) is a 6-year-old female Tri-color beagle with black ears.

Briscoe is a 2-year-old female Tri-color beagle with big brown ears.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Sunshine!! After months of cold temperatures, rain and snow the sun finally came out and we had a warm enough day to take the whole pack to the historic Battlefield Park for a walk.

What's brewing?

Panera Light Roast with a metric ton of sugar in it (well, maybe not that much). Like most folks raised on southern sweet tea and Pepsi, I like my drinks super sweet.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Not today, although it was hard to pass up the pastries in the store.

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

No snacks on this trip, but after the long winter a walk at the park is always a treat.

How were you and the beagles united?

In 2004 one of our cats passed away and Cathy grieved terribly. I had never seen a lemon beagle before and took Cathy to go see her. They were a match made in heaven. Eventually, it became clear Buddy needed a friend so we brought Belle into the family. Two years ago we noticed our dogs were becoming big couch potatoes, so we picked out Briscoe to liven up the pack.

How did your dogs get their names? Do they have any nicknames?

Buddy earned her name because we got her to be Cathy’s “buddy”.

Belle was named after Snoopy’s sister in the comic strip Peanuts.

Briscoe [photo right] had such a wrinkly forehead and stubborn nature we named her after our favorite TV character – Law and Order’s Lenny Briscoe.

What was the inspiration for your webcomic at

I like to talk about politics, but I don’t like to fight about politics. One day I was downloading a camera card and realized I had about 100 pictures of the dogs. So I started making political cartoons out of them which got a great response from friends. I discovered people are more likely to listen and discuss rather than argue when your thoughts come out of the mouths of cute beagles.

UPS man, cat, squirrels?

Anything that moves. The beagles have a fenced in play area so squirrels frequently come up to the fence and tease them and they would love to get their paws on one! We also have a lot of deer in the area that provide a howling good time. [Belle, photo left]

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

Definitely squeaky-toy! Briscoe gets a new toy every morning to destroy while we get ready for work. Once she pulls the squeaker out we take it away and give all three girls a treat. A squeaker a day keeps the blues away.

Where are the dogs' favorite places for outings?

They love the Battlefield Park, an actual civil war battlefield. We live out in the country so any walk in the woods is always full of good smells and diversions.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Beagles love everyone and the whole world is their best friend.

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

They would want me to get up earlier so I could spend more play time with them. I’m not a morning person so I get up with just enough time to get ready and get out the door to work. If they had their way, I’d spend all day hanging out with the home beagles.

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

Proud: My partner Cathy was being treated for breast cancer and had just taken her first chemotherapy treatment. She said she felt fine and wanted to snooze on the couch and I went to the back of the house to take a nap. About an hour later Buddy [photo right] started jumping up and down frantically on the bed to wake me up. She never does anything like that. I got up and noticed Belle was running up and down the hall and wouldn’t stop. She just kept running to the bedroom door then running down the hall. Since it was unusual for both dogs to be so frantic, I followed Belle and found Cathy lying on the bathroom floor. She had gotten sick and gone in there while I was sleeping. Thanks to the dogs I was able to stay with her while she was ill.

Embarrassing: We took Buddy and Belle to a pet store to have their picture taken with Santa. They put a huge red bow on Buddy that made her look really dorky. Then while we were in line, Buddy had a “backwards sneeze” (something beagles are prone to – it sounds and looks like an asthma attack). So she starts hacking and wheezing loudly while everyone is staring at her. Cathy sat in the floor with her and tried meditative techniques so she started rubbing Buddy’s chest and saying, “Think about calm things, visualize nice thoughts, think about being at the vet. You love the vet.” It was so embarrassing Belle and I walked down the cat toy aisle and pretended we didn’t know Cathy or Buddy!

Visit The Beaglez webcomic.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 21, 2011

Alex & Nigel, Natalie, and Nash

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Alex. By profession I am a marketer/advertiser, but in this economy I am now professionally a care giver to my 3 beasts and my military spouse, and a blogger over at Laundry and Vodka. That's Natalie with me in the photo.

I have 3 lovelies:

Nigel - 5 1/2 year old Dachshund
Natalie - 4 year old Basset Hound
Nash - 2 1/2 year old Australian Blue Heeler

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have coffee with Nigel every day. He sits in my lap on the sofa while I drink my joe. But today, he is not feeling well and spent the night with the vet to get him into better shape. So instead, I have the two big dogs lounging on the floor by my feet. Nash likes when I use him as a foot rest.

What's brewing?

I am a caffeine addict, but with pregnancy has come limitation on my obsession with coffee. I am 5 months along with my first child (a girl!), so I am drinking half caf black drip. Gag! It's the only way I can justify more than 1 cup in the morning, but I miss my bold, jet fueled coffee!

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

I have the same goody every day - Nuts Over Chocolate Luna Bar.

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

Nash already gobbled his up, but Natalie is still munching on a dental chewy this morning.

How were you and your dogs united?

Nigel the weenie dog became my best friend in 2005. I had an old, ailing cat, and needed a dog that would do well with him. I also worked a good bit and needed a breed that slept a lot. Perfect solution? A weiner! He was the right fit for my family immediately!

Nash was a welcome home gift for my husband upon his return from Iraq. He just loved the breed and had always wanted a heeler, so it was the perfect gift.

Natalie is our most recent addition. We moved to a home in the mountains, one day a beautiful white basset hound showed up at my door. She was hungry and dirty, so we fixed her up. I drove around and did manage to find the owners, but they said they didn't want her anymore. I took her straight to the vet, everything that could be wrong with a dog was wrong with her... worms, bad teeth, bad skin, never been fixed, etc... A few weeks and lots of money later she was a vision of health!

How did your dogs get their names? Do they have any nicknames?

All of my animals have always had names that start with "N". It's a quirky fun thing I've done since I was a kid.

Nigel just suits him, he's a funny little devil.

Nash, we lived in Nashville at the time, so it was a great fit for our rambunctious puppy.

Natalie, her name was previously Ally, so Natalie sounded really close to that. She doesn't respond to either name (Ally or Natalie), she prefers to be called Girlfriend.

FedEx man, cat, squirrels?

Nigel loves to bark at the UPS man! Nigel is blind, so he barks his head off until the man says hello, then he runs to his feet for the pet that he knows he's due.

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

Nigel loves his babies. I've included a photo of him with his beloved skunk. He sleeps with him every night, tucked under his arms like it's his baby.

Nash is a tennis ball fanatic. As many times as we'll throw it, he'll fetch it!

Natalie just likes chewies, any kind of chewy. Unfortunately, she doesn't know the difference between a chewy and sunglasses, or a chewy and a flip flop...

Where are the dogs' favorite places for outings?

Nigel should have a sign that reads, "Have food? Will travel." He'll go anywhere, any time.

Nash loved dock diving! He doesn't quite get the hang of it yet, but he loves all of the other dogs and the special attention he receives.

Natalie is a home body, she just wants people to come love on her.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Nigel loves his babies.

Nash and Natalie love each other.

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

The big dogs would want me to spend more time in the backyard with them. Nash would want me to have an automatic throwing arm to keep that tennis ball flying. And Nigel doesn't like my growing baby bump because it is taking up his lap space!

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

Nigel went with me to the airport to pick up his daddy when he returned home from a 15 month deployment to Iraq. We had never gone so long without seeing him, and I feared that Nigel would forget his daddy. I had left Nigel in the car while I ran in to find my husband, as we entered the parking garage I ran a few steps ahead to get Nigel on his leash so he could greet his dad. Nigel had not yet gone blind, so as I hooked his leash, I turned him around and sat him on the ground. My husband didn't make a sound, he just looked at his little wiener dog. All of the sudden, Nigel let out the loudest scream I had ever heard from a dog. He started dancing in place, and peeing everywhere, and screaming and crying. My big strong military husband started crying, he tried to pick up Nigel but he was still peeing from the excitement of it all... like a sprinkler all over his boots. Finally, he calmed down enough to be held, and in that moment I am absolutely certain that Nigel was the proudest I'd ever seen him. He had kept me safe, our home safe, and he was ready for his daddy's return.

Natalie had an embarrassing moment in my car - we didn't know each other very well yet. She was crying, but I assumed she was just a little nervous in the car. Then she cried a little louder, I assured her we were almost to our destination. Then she cried louder! I was turning in to the vet... then I smelled it. She had dookied in my car. Sigh!!! I got her out, she ran as fast as she could to the grass to finish her business. I could tell she was mortified, poor little thing.

Nash is all boy, and on level ten all the time. I don't think he knows what embarrassing means. But he's awful proud of his pretty girlfriend Natalie, he grooms her all day long.

Visit the Laundry and Vodka blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 18, 2011

Rebecca Enslein & Maccabee

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Rebecca Enslein and I’m a wedding photographer. Maccabee is a 2-year-old male Doberman.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We like to go outside in our backyard every afternoon and evening for some play time.

What's brewing?

No coffee here, my caffeine drink of choice is Sugar Free Red Bull.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

I made some peanut butter and nutella bars last night for our friends who came over for dinner. Maccabee can’t have any though, because there’s chocolate in them.

How were you and Maccabee united?

My husband and I had been waiting for the right time to get a dog and finally we came across a great opportunity. The breeder who my in-laws got their Doberman from had a new litter of pups available and saved one just for us.

Any treat for Maccabee on this occasion?

Maccabee’s chewing on the remnants of a foot long rawhide he started a couple of days ago.

You've got some beautiful wedding photos on your website and blog. Which are more challenging to photograph: dogs or brides?

I’d say that brides are more challenging to photograph. They don’t respond nearly as well to treats as dogs do.

How did Maccabee get his name? Does he have any nicknames?

The story of Hanukkah involves a tribe of warriors, called the Maccabees. We liked the sound of the name and the story, so Maccabee he became. He has a bunch of nicknames: Beetle, Beetie, Snuppy, Snuparoon, Roon Head, Smelly pup…I could go on forever. We hardly ever actually call him Maccabee.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Maccabee loves to chase squirrels. We moved from an apartment to a house and basically picked our home because of the huge backyard. He has an acre to run around and chase squirrels up trees and he loves it. He loves squirrels so much that he’ll run and bark at imaginary ones when he can’t find the real thing.

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

The Waggle. I found it on Amazon one day after researching dog toys that would stand up to a strong and relentless chewer. It’s a dumbbell shaped rubber toy that dispenses treats randomly when shaken around or bounced on the floor. It keeps Maccabee busy for hours and he gets so excited when you bring it out of the toy box.

Where is Maccabee's favorite place for an outing?

He loves going to the local Pet Smart. He usually sniffs out a new toy while we’re there and the friendly cashiers always give him a treat or two.

Who is Maccabee's best pet-pal?

Boots, a bloodhound/lab mix from our old neighborhood. They still have play dates at our new house and Maccabee shows him where all the squirrels hide out.

What is Maccabee's most endearing quality?

Definitely his ears. When we got him as a puppy his ears were still in braces after having them cropped. We took his braces off of him too soon and his ears sort of touch over his head instead of standing up straight like they should. People always ask why his ears look funny, but I think it’s part of his charm and I love them.

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

He’d probably want me to let him up on the couch with us while we watch TV so that he could snuggle some more.

He’s kind of an attention hog.

What is Maccabee's proudest moment?

His proudest moment was probably making his modeling debut a few weeks ago at one of my photo shoots. It was an bridal shoot, and the night before my husband suggested that we bring Maccabee on set at the end and take some pictures of him with the model. The model was up for it and Maccabee is always happy to be bribed into doing anything for treats. He was a star!

Most embarrassing?

Definitely when he ate over 100 rocks at the dog park as a six-month-old pup. He had to have them surgically removed because there were so many and then he had to wear a muzzle every time he was outside for a couple of months afterward. He learned the hard way to stay away from eating non-food objects.

Visit The Studio B Photography blog and website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sue & Frankie and Beryl

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Sue, and Beryl. I don't have any photos of me with my other dog, Frankie. Beryl is an ex-racing Greyhound who I've had since Easter Monday, 2010 (where does the time go?) and she's 4 1/2 years old.

The flash title for my job is Wool Technician, every day term is 'rousie' or 'woolhandler'. I work in a local shearing gang where the guys shear the wool off the sheep and the rousies work with the wool once it's off the sheep. It's hard work and well paid but weather dependent and seasonal and when we're not working we don't get paid! But I love my days off cos I get to be with the kids.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Relaxing with the kids on a day off.

What's brewing?

Lipton's Vanilla Chai Latte. I don't drink coffee but I do drink way too much of this.

Any treat for you and your dogs on this occasion?

Hot Cross Buns are in the shops already so I would have one of them, warmed in the microwave with too much margarine on it and I'd be sharing it with Beryl. Frankie doesn't eat that sort of fancy stuff. He's a meat and potatoes kind of guy.

How were you and your dogs united?

I got Frankie on December 22nd, 2009 from the New Zealand equivalent of Ebay. I'm not sure of his birthdate so I made it Valentines Day and he's just turned 3. He had been rescued from the pound in a smallish country town on the day he was to be PTS! His photos on the auction site weren't very pretty but the sadness in eyes got to me finally and on the last day of his posting I emailed the rescue society to see if he was still available.

Obviously nobody had bought him and after I'd been home checked and he'd been neutered he was driven to my town where I collected him. Boy, did he look better after a couple of weeks in foster care!

And he's a very happy chappy now.

I'd been thinking about getting Frankie a mate for company while I'm at work and he got on really well with his Greyhound friends at the park. In fact the love of his life is a little Greyhound called Lucy. When I saw Beryl's photo on the Greyhounds As Pets site I fell in love with her freckles and the mischief in her eyes!

And her write up said she was showing signs of quirkiness which intrigued me. They weren't wrong either, lol! So I had to very quickly get my application in as there weren't many Greyhounds available at the time due to a bout of kennel cough at the tracks so none could be brought in to the kennels. I was very lucky to get her as she was cat friendly and I haven't got a cat! Beryl soon got the message across to Frankie that she was going to be in charge of things and he took it very well although it was probably a couple of months before he stopped occasionally asking me if she could go away for a while. Now they are best buddies.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Beryl was already Beryl. I was going to change her name as she didn't know it but it suits her and I don't know any other dogs called Beryl. It's quite a conversation starter too. She also gets called The Beryl, The Princess and Ratbag.

Frankie just looked like a Frankie in his photos and I asked for his foster parents to start calling him that before I got him. And he is a Frankie. He is The Armourguard Man at the park as he has to patrol the area and make sure it's safe for us. And Bud and Frankie Panky. Also the Greyhound Magnet. Greyhounds love him.

We have a lot to do with foster Greyhounds and most of them are obsessed with him. Frankie, Beryl, Lucy (Frankie and Beryl's BFF) and Cilla, who has now found her forever home, like to run around the park [photo above left].

Cat, rabbit, postman...?

How about cat, rabbit and possum? I have no real idea what breeds are in Frankie. I'm thinking perhaps Kelpie/Whippet and ...? He is quite a hunter and has caught 7 possums which are a noxious pest in New Zealand. He's what we call here a 'pig hunting' type dog and considering where he came from it's most likely that's what he was bred to be. He certainly likes to hunt. He won't let any cats onto my property and he and Beryl have chased them at the river and they've chased rabbits too but never caught any. But for all his hunting tendencies he's an extremely loving, clever dog and I wouldn't be without him for a second. He has no issues from his previous life. Considering he was found extremely emaciated it's a wonder he doesn't guard his food. Someone missed out on a wonderful dog when they turfed him out on the streets. Hmm, I've digressed a bit from the original question, lol!

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

Oh boy, all of the above, bring 'em on! Frankie will fetch sticks from the river for a long time. Beryl is getting confident in the river with the help of her friend, Jake and his tennis balls. His Mum throws the balls into the river and Beryl helps Jake fetch them. The river isn't deep enough for her to learn to swim in yet but hopefully that will happen before it gets too cool. Frankie tends to run off with tennis balls, he's not good at fetching. I have to have 2 sticks on the go at the river for him.

Then there are the soft toys! Some of which Frankie [photo, right] tends to disembowel!

Where is your dogs' favorite place for an outing?

They love going to the park and river which is where I take them most days.

But the beach is their absolute favourite place.

It's total doggy heaven. We had great excitement there the other day when we came across a seal basking on the sand [photo below right].

Frankie thought it was a weird looking dog and Beryl verbally abused it and told it to get off the beach.

What are your dogs most endearing qualities?

Beryl's would be what is probably a Greyhound characteristic, her teeth chattering when she's anticipating a treat or something else good. Not all Greyhounds do it ... I don't know if other breeds of dogs do it? And she 'foofs' which is what I call it when she blows her cheeks out and makes a 'foofing' noise. And her excitement and joy at new experiences. Frankie's is his all over 'Frankiness'. It's just him, the way he just seems to 'know'. Although he's not always endearing especially when he's rolled in something gross....

They both make me laugh many times a day and that's very endearing.

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

Only one thing, that's difficult. They would say I spend way too much time sitting at the computer when I'm home ... and can we go live at the beach.

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

Frankie's proudest moment is every time he catches a possum. His most embarrassing was probably the first night I had him. I'd gone to the shops to try and get him a raw bone as I had a half-day of work the next day. When I got home (without a bone!) I didn't have a dog any more!! My dog proof section wasn't Frankie proof! Talk about panic. I'd taken him for a walk around a big block that afternoon so I retraced my steps and finally found him not far from home at 9pm when it was almost dark. He was going up driveways and coming out again obviously looking for my place. I called him and he came racing up to me, total relief and embarrassment on his face.

Beryl's proudest moment was a few weeks ago when she got 4th place in a Rally O competition much to my surprise! Her most embarrassing was probably the time she was tearing around at the river with her BFF friend, Lucy and she missed her footing and did a huge face plant in the rocky ground. I even got it on video! Luckily only her pride was hurt. This would be Beryl's only embarrassing moment as she is always right and doesn't get embarrassed!

Visit Sue's Greyhounds CAN Sit blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tawna Fenske & Bindi

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Tawna Fenske, and I’m an author with three quirky romantic comedies scheduled for release from Sourcebooks, Inc. starting August 2, 2011. My trusty writing companion is Bindi, a two-year-old female Australian Kelpie.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

This is our morning ritual anytime I’m writing (which, admittedly, is most of the time). I cozy up at my computer with a steamy mug of tea while Bindi supervises from her bed under my desk. Her proofreading skills are excellent, though she does tend to get carried away with the love scenes.

What's brewing?

Most Oregonians are coffee fanatics, but I’ve never developed a taste for it. I love tea, particularly English style with lots of milk and sugar. Right now I’m sipping Earl Grey while Bindi snoozes and I brainstorm my next book.

Any goodies to go with the tea?

Not at the moment, but I usually nibble almonds or frozen peas or anything else that’s easy to snack on without removing both hands from the keyboard. Bindi is diligent about hoovering up anything that hits the floor.

Any treat for Bindi on this occasion?

She just cleaned the cat’s ears with her tongue. You probably didn’t want to know that, did you?

How were you and Bindi united?

Our twelve-year-old Akita/Shepherd cross died suddenly of an undetected bleeding tumor, leaving us completely devastated and our elderly Aussie mix confused and lonely.

Our vet recommended a companion for the elderly dog, so we found Bindi through a local rescue group. Like most Kelpies, she instantly knew what her “job” was. We’d go for hikes with the elderly dog (who was deaf and mostly blind) and Bindi instinctively knew to keep track of him and herd him back when he wandered off.

She’s also one of the most loving dogs I’ve ever known, and takes snuggling duty very seriously. When the elderly dog died last fall, Bindi and I spent a lot of time comforting each other.

How did Bindi get her name? Any aliases?

I had the opportunity to watch real working Kelpies herding sheep in Australia, which is an amazing thing to see. We knew we wanted a name with ties to Australia, but spent a few days mulling ideas. In the meantime, we kept calling her “little girl,” and according to some sources, Bindi is the aboriginal word for that. Most people just assume we named her after Steve Irwin’s daughter though.

You've got three novels coming out August 2011, January 2012, and August 2012. Does your dog have any influence on your writing?

Definitely! Bindi is parked under my desk pretty much anytime I’m writing, and I find myself distracted on the rare occasions she’s not there. Bindi requires a lot of exercise, which pretty much forces me to pry myself away from the computer take her for long hikes. It’s during those excursions that I often end up solving plot problems or coming up with my best ideas for how a story should unfold.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Bindi lives with three cats, and she’s rather fond of all of them.

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

Bindi will fetch anything, and the fact that she’s ridiculously fast makes her a challenge at the dog park. We’ve never come across a dog who can sprint faster when fetching, so Bindi ends up being the obnoxious ball-hog no matter who’s throwing or what’s being thrown.

Where is Bindi's favorite place for an outing?

Central Oregon is a recreation lover’s paradise, and Bindi is a great hiking companion. In the summertime we explore the trails near the Cascade Lakes Highway and she swims in the lakes and rivers. She also loves frolicking in the snow during the winter months.

Who is Bindi's best pet-pal?

There are three cats to choose from, but Bindi’s favorite is a big beast known as Blue Cat [photo, left]. The neighbors dubbed him “Battle Cat” for his fearless nature and habit of moving like a tank. It’s not uncommon to have both Blue Cat and Bindi curled up together on the dog bed while I write, and he grudgingly lets her clean his ears every day.

What is your dog's best quality?

Bindi lives to please, so she’s super obedient with very little training required. She comes when called, stays close when off-leash, and will run through her entire arsenal of tricks with minimal prompting.

What is Bindi's proudest moment? And her most embarrassing?

Every now and then I let Bindi sleep on the human bed instead of in her kennel. She always seems proud of that.

As for embarrassing…two days after we got Bindi, she was still trying to learn the rules of the house. I was standing in the kitchen when Blue Cat jumped up on the counter. Before I could grab and remove him, Bindi leapt effortlessly onto the kitchen counter to join him. I was almost too stunned to scold, and when I did, she slunk off into the closet and wouldn’t come out. She was mortified.

Visit Tawna Fenske's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, March 11, 2011

Bobbie Pyron & Teddy

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Bobbie Pyron and that's my 12-year-old Shetland sheepdog, Teddy. He was my inspiration and muse for my new book, A Dog's Way Home! He's one of three dogs I share my life with. I also have Boo, a coyote mix, and another adopted Shetland sheepdog named Sherlock. But in honor of my new book, I'm letting Teddy soak up the spotlight this time.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It's a snowy day here at 7,000 feet in Park City and we're celebrating the release of A Dog's Way Home.

Last time you and Teddy and Boo were here on the blog you were drinking tea: is that still your preferred brew?

Oh yes, I'm a tea girl all the way. Right now, I'm drinking a bottled jasmine tea I've become quite addicted to.

Any treat for you or the dogs on this occasion?

Teddy is having his addiction: a Greenie.

Please tell us about your new book.

A Dog's Way Home (for grades 4 and up) is about the bond between 11-year-old Abby and her beloved Shetland sheepdog, Tam. After Abby and Tam compete in a junior agility championship in northern Virginia, they are separated in a terrible car crash on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Over the next 6 months, Tam risks his life as he makes his way south, over four hundred miles, through the winter mountains to get back home to “his girl.”

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

Teddy would be very happy if I never ever left his sight. As a matter of fact, if we were Siamese twins, he'd think that was perfectly fine!

What is Teddy's proudest moment?

Teddy's proudest moment was probably several years ago when he caught his first (and only) mouse. His sister, Boo, catches them all the time, but Teddy—not so much.

And his most embarrassing?

Most embarrassing was the other night when my husband caught him sneaking his hamburger off the coffee table. Normally, Teddy is quite the gentleman but even he has his weak moments!

Learn more about Bobbie Pyron & Boo, Teddy, and Sherlock.

Visit Bobbie Pyron's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

G. M. Atwater & Nick, Gael, Jesse, and Ash

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, G. M. Atwater, and Nick. He’s a 2–1/2 year old smooth-coated border collie, and here we had just placed 2nd in Novice-Novice at the Lacamas Valley (USBCHA) sheepdog trial.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We’ve stopped by the Blind Dog Café in Gardnerville, NV, after a good day of sheepdog training. Nick and his little sister Gael, (age 1-1/2) and the old man, Jesse, (age 12) love what we do.

What's brewing?

Since I’m off caffeine these days, I’m having a delicious cup of Blind Dog’s own Decaf Komodo Dark Roast. (They roast their own beans just one block from the café.)

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

I love a fresh-baked scone or cinnamon roll.

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

They get some Waggin’ Tails Liver Cookies from Scraps Dog Company in Reno.

How were you and your dogs united?

I got Jesse [photo left] as a rescue when he was 2 years old. His previous owner had no clue what to do with a border collie, and hadn’t treated him fairly. At the time, we honestly didn’t need another dog! But I tested Jesse on sheep, and he was so nice that I couldn’t let him go. He’s been with us for the past 10 years. Jesse is a great working dog and a true pal, and I still find work for him, despite age slowing him down.

Nick came from a breeder in northern California. He was actually a gift from my sheepdog training friends, after I lost another pup to an accident. Nick has proven to be a gift in so many ways!

I got his little sister, Gael, when the breeder repeated the mating a year or so later. Gael is such a funny, busy little scamp! And like her brother, she lives to work sheep.

Our 9-month-old Australian Shepherd, Ash, [photo right] was bred by a good friend of mine. I’ve known Ash’s mama and papa all their lives, and I was right there to help when the litter was born. I was the first human being to touch Ash at her birth.

How did your dogs get their names? Do they have any nicknames?

Jesse came with his name, but it morphed into Jesse James. I had a whole list of “baby” names picked out for Nick, and narrowed it down to Nick or Joe. He just wasn’t a Joe. His nickname, for no reason at all, is “Nickety-Shoo.” I chose Gael as a classic border collie name for a pretty little girl. We call her Gael “LaRoo,” because she loves to voice a very emphatic roooo! We named Ash for her smoky blue merle coat, and nicknamed her Ashley Ann. We don’t know why.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?


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

Sheep! And ball. Gael is meanwhile Ash’s squeaky toy.

Where is your dogs' favorite place for an outing?

Anywhere that has sheep. Or wide-open spaces. They love to run!

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

They have a couple sets of pet-pals. They love to go visit Ash’s family and romp with all that bob-tailed Aussie crew. (And work sheep there, too.) Their other dog-pals live with my friend Paula. She has several border collies and when we get our packs together, it looks like a blizzard of dogs careening around the yard!

What is each dog's most endearing quality?

Jesse is honest as the day is long, and he’s also kind of a dork with his toys. It’s very cute. Nick [photo right] is a workaholic around sheep, but at home, he’s my shadow. He loves to lay near or on my feet and just be close. Gael is my snuggle-bug. First thing in the morning, she gets on the bed to cuddle close and lie perfectly still. Ash the Aussie is silly and playful and makes us laugh a billion times a day.

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

They would really prefer we kept sheep here year-around. And went on more hikes in the hills behind the house.

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

Jesse’s proudest moment was winning an AHBA sheepdog trial with a near-perfect run. It was so close to flawless that the judge later raved about it as an example of what a good dog could do.

Nick’s proudest moment was recently placing in his second-ever USBCHA Pro-Novice trial. He took 3rd place with a 76, out of 11 dogs. My boy really tried his heart out. (At our first P/N trial last fall, we came in dead last out of like 25 dogs. Heh.)

Gael’s proudest moment is pretty much every day she works sheep. She’ll show her winning style when we start trialing later this year.

Ash is proudest when she can sneak a scrap of food off the counter. We’re working to discourage that.

Visit G. M. Atwater's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, March 7, 2011

Danny and Lucy McAuley & Jessie

Who are the individuals in the photos in this post?

The photo with the boy in the blue jacket is Jessie as a puppy and our middle son Adam.

The photo with the boy in the red t-shirt is Jessie and our oldest son Angus at our local Canada Day dog show.

The photo with Jessie with a weird growth coming out of her head is actually me (Danny).

Jessie is a nine-year-old female Golden Retriever.

My name is Danny McAuley. My wife Lucy and I own Brome Lake Books, an independent bookstore in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. We have three boys Angus (14), Adam (11) and Benjamin (5).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Everyday is a perfect day for coffee with a canine. I start the pot brewing as soon as I arrive at work each morning and yes Jessie comes to work too. We have a twenty minute walk from home to our store everyday and Jessie loves it no matter what the weather. Jessie is our official greeter and has many friends that stop by regularly to see her. Jessie is so good she can tell right away if the person coming into the store is a dog person or someone to leave alone. She never barks and brings lots of smiles.

What's brewing?

I always use Virgin Hill Coffee from right here in the Eastern Townships and I prefer the Ripple Cove blend.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Goodies are always welcome. Something with a nice crunch. Like a biscotti but for today I have a granola bar with dark chocolate bits.

Any treat for Jessie on this occasion?

Jessie is a vacuum cleaner and is always on the lookout for the next treat. We keep a special stash of nibbly kibbles in the store for the occasional treat.

I learned about Jessie and your bookstore from the charming Louise Penny's blog. She and her golden Trudy were guests of Coffee with a Canine some time ago. What's Jessie's connection to them?

Jessie is Trudy’s mother! Louise, Trudy and her husband Michael live just over the mountain from us. There has been a book launch for each of Louise’s six books here at Brome Lake Books and Louise has been the stores top selling author since her fist book Still Life hit the shelves. Louise’s books have become hugely popular across North America and abroad so much so that many of her fans have made pilgrimages to our area. We have had many of Louise’s fans visit our store and when they discover that Jessie is Trudy’s mother there is lots of fawning and photo’s taken. Sometimes Trudy makes a visit and Jessie is very happy to see her but Louise is one of Jessie's favourite people. She greets Louise with tail madly wagging as she comes in and Jessie whines and talks to her, rubbing her head against Louise’s legs and there are kisses and hugs and eventually we get to say hello to Louise as well.

How were you and your dog united?

A local breeder of Golden Retrievers was expecting a litter from her Canadian Grand champion and wanted to place one of the puppies with a family with young children. We were overjoyed to welcome Jessie into the family. The breeder retained breeding rights and Jessie had two litters for a total of 14 puppies! Jessie was an excellent mother very attentive, gentle and easy going... and she had beautiful puppies.

How did Jessie get her name? Any aliases?

My mother-in-law told us that we had to have a name with an ‘s’ in it as apparently dogs hear the ‘s’ sound better than other sounds. And we all must listen to our mothers-in-law mustn't we? Jessie’s professional name is Broadway Star and so we were looking at names of artists and we had a CD of opera singer Jessie Norman so ... Jessie it was. Perhaps this is why Jessie often makes a high pitched singing tone when she is very excited. We often call her Jessie James as she is frequently the bandit who has taken our shoes and boots. She doesn’t chew them but when she’s excited she picks them up and carries them around the house abandoning them in the oddest of places! Inevitably the school bus is at the end of the driveway and the whole family is turning the house upside down searching for the one missing boot!

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

If a cat or squirrel runs Jessie will run with them but she gets very disappointed when they climb a tree or hide from her. If a cat or any animal big or small stands their ground Jessie becomes completely submissive and flops on her back to say take me I’m yours. Unless our children are there and then she becomes very protective and pushes herself in-between the children and the other animal.

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

Shoes and the smellier the better. Jessie likes to carry just about anything and she does like the occasional squeaky toy but fetching -- what’s that? Jessie might deign to go and fetch a ball once but if you’re stupid enough to throw it again you will have to go and get it yourself.

Where is Jessie's favorite place for an outing?

Somewhere wet and muddy. Grandma’s house fits the bill as there are lots of trails through the fields and forests with brooks and swamps.

Who are your dog's best pet-pals?

Grandma has two dogs that Jessie likes to bound around with but her best friends are our three boys. They are pretty much inseparable.

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

Jessie would definitely want me to feed her more and with greater frequency.

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

Jessie has won ribbons but I think her proudest moment is when she finds a nice pile of deer pooh (preferably in the fall) to grind into her fur and all around her neck, face and rump. Apparently there is nothing better!

Most embarrassing. The first time we gave Jessie a summer buzz cut she was so traumatized that she hid in the bedroom for a day. But since then she has enjoyed the experience especially being able to go in the water without getting hot spots!

Visit the Brome Lake Books website.

--Marshal Zeringue