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