Friday, April 29, 2011

Vanessa Cabban & Ellie and Douglas

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Vanessa Cabban. I am an artist and illustrator.

Learn more about my work at my website and blog.

My dogs names are Ellie (a girl of 7 years old), and Douglas (a boy of six and a half years old). They have the same father, but different mothers! They are Miniature Wire-Haired Dachshunds.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Coffee at 11 a.m. every day is our usual routine. We take a break from our busy schedules -- theirs of snoozing after a walk, mine of working. Unfortunately the cafe is the very unglamorous location of home. If we had infinite means, it would be a trip by helicopter to Laduree, on the Rue Royale, in Paris every day.

What's brewing?

Illy coffee is brewing. A smallish amount of strong coffee made in a cafetiere, added to a bowl shaped mug filled with steaming hot milk.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

On work days a morning coffee wouldn't be accompanied by anything, on days off, well.............. no, nothing on those days either. One can dream. If this was an afternoon coffee (and coffee that had turned into tea), well that's an entirely different matter. It would be biscuits (or cookies as you say in America), or even a Snickers bar. Anything that is hiding in "the chocolate box".

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

No treats for little Dachshunds I'm afraid, not at 11 a.m in the morning. They have to wait till lunch time, when they get snacks like carrot sticks.

How were you and your dogs united?

After years of searching out what type of dog would be our ideal dog, we bought Ellie from a breeder whose two dogs only have one litter each a year, so she's very reputable. Ellie, seemed to need the company of her own kind, so we then got Douglas. They are inseparable.

Have your dogs had any influence on your writing and illustrating?

Not directly, definitely indirectly. They have never appeared in any of my books, paintings or sculptures, but their constant presence, and our voicing of the thoughts they communicate to us through their eyes, actions and body language, has an influence on my life as a whole, so that must insinuate its way into my work, don't you think?

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Our dogs have official human names, by which they are addressed in public.

But in private, Douglas [photo right] is often addressed as Mr. Boogles, Baby Boy, Beautiful Baby Boy, or just, You're So Cute!

Ellie is often just Ellie, or Aren't You Independent, or No Ellie Stop Snarling At Me, and sometimes it's, Oh Ellie You're So Small And Sweet.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Postman for Douglas.

Ellie would just wag her tail at any stranger, she has this public persona where she looks adorable to complete strangers.

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

Ellie has Duckie. She likes to suck Duckie, and use him as a pillow. He occasionally goes in the wash.

Douglas just cuddles up to us; unless it's edible he's not interested in toys.

Where is Ellie and Douglas' favorite places for outings?

Anywhere people have dropped edible things.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Ellie [photo left] doesn't have best pet pals.

Douglas sometimes gets crushes on other boy doggies, and follows them around everywhere.

What is each dog's best quality?

Ellie is very independent, but it's lovely when she softens and allows you to give her a cuddle.

Douglas is the most loving ball of need, quite a contrast to Ellie.

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

Douglas saved a fish on the beach.

Ellie did a poo in the bank.

Vanessa Cabban is an artist and illustrator best known for her children’s book illustrations. She has illustrated more than 25 books, published in 23 countries and 20 languages.

She also exhibits and sells paintings, prints and sculpture in various galleries around the United Kingdom.

Vanessa Cabban's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Deb Caletti & Tucker

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Deb Caletti, author of eight novels, most recently, Stay (Simon & Schuster), and Tucker, who has never written anything. We think he’s a German Shepherd mix, but we’re not sure, and we think he’s about five and a half, although we’re not sure about that, either. When someone asks me what kind of dog he is, I usually say, “big and tan.” I like this photo, because we sort of look like business partners. He’s the serious one on the left.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Since I’m a writer and work at home, Tucker and I have coffee every morning together as I start my writing day. Before Tucker came into my life (through my husband, John), my coffee-and-everything-else companion was Jupiter, my sweet, beloved beagle. For a short while, both of them were my coworkers (although Jupiter was definitely upper management). Since she died about a year ago, it’s been me and Tuck for coffee every day.

What's brewing?

Starbuck’s French Roast. Nice and strong. A little milk and sugar.

Any treats for you or Tucker on this occasion?

I love a nice shortbread cookie with my morning coffee. A brownie does nicely, too. Tucker sits nicely for his own dog cookie. Jupiter would have snitched the treats and the paper towels they sat on. A master at the snitch-and-run.

How did your dog come to be united with you?

Tucker is actually my step-dog; he came into my life when I met John. Now Tucker has a stay-at-home writer mom, which I think he likes very much. He thinks it’s his job to guard me, which is something we disagree about. The way my kids and I became united with Jupiter, though – that story (which involves a road trip, a broken down car, a snowstorm, and a new beginning for us all) is told in my newest book, The Story of Us, which will come out next year.

How did he get his name?

John rescued Tucker from the pound. With his folded down ears and funny, friendly face (Tucker’s, not John’s), John thought the name suited him. Every now and then, when Tuck’s being a pile of trouble, I think it would have been more fitting if he swapped out that first letter (yeah, you know, to an “F”). Most of the time, though, I agree that the name fits him perfectly. He really is a sweet, funny soul.

Jupiter’s name came from the dog in John Cheever’s short story, “The Country Husband.” It’s one of my favorite stories, and I couldn’t have imagined calling her anything else.

Please tell us a bit about Tucker and Jupiter's roles in your writing?

I think dogs make great characters, and Jupiter has appeared often in my books over the years. She was the model for the beagle Milo (a guy dog – sorry dear Jupiter) in The Nature of Jade.

Tucker's manners have been cleaned up a bit for his appearance as Rocket in The Six Rules of Maybe.

My latest book, though, The Story of Us (Simon & Schuster 2012), is really my Dog Book, featuring Jupiter as herself. A major theme of the book is dogs and our relationship with them – the ways that unique partnership enriches our lives. As well, it’s a book about life, loss and change within a family. It's a book for dog lovers, definitely.

Does Tucker have a favorite place to go for walk?

I think he most enjoys his regular loop around our neighborhood of Ravenna, especially the corner by the park, where all the dogs stop, and where he can catch up with all the canine news. He likes to see his regulars out there – Joey, Winston, Black Dog, and The Crazy, Small, White Twins. He’s friendly to everyone, no matter how big or small or ominous they are.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

All of the above, with enthusiasm. I swear, Tuck can hear a Fed Ex truck starting up from the next town over.

What's your dog's best quality?

His good-willed enthusiasm. Whatever Tucker does, he does one hundred percent. Jupiter’s best quality was her steadfast devotion. She stayed nearby, whenever you needed nearby.

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

He would ask that I be more patient with the whole barking-during-writing hours conflict we have. Actually, the barking-at-all-hours conflict we have. He doesn’t see this as I do. After all, I could be in mortal danger from delivery trucks, the neighbor’s cat, and every dropping pine cone.

What's your dog's proudest moment so far? His most embarrassing?

I taught Tucker this super-cool trick, where, after his dinner, he scoots his bowl in a straight shot across the kitchen floor, to land right at the cupboard where we keep his food. When the bowl hits the cupboard, I put a bit of dessert in. He’s as proud as a little soccer player making a goal whenever he does it. Now, though, he’s begun to up the ante, scooting the bowl for round two to land at my feet. Who says dogs can’t talk?

His most embarrassing? Running exuberantly back into the house when the glass doors were still shut. Banged right into them, and looked a little dazed. Oh, dear.

Jupiter once opened the refrigerator door at my mother’s house, exposing the riches like a triumphant treasure hunter. I feel bad to mention that she sometimes barked when the doorbell rang on TV. She was a good dog.

Learn more about the author and her books at Deb Caletti's website and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ron Troke & Sophie

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi, I'm Ron Troke and I'm retired. My dog's name is Sophie. She is 4 years old and is a Labradoodle.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have my fix every morning with Sophie who makes sure that I get up every morning after whimpering and nudging me into the morning light.

What's brewing?

I swear by a fair trade blend called Espresso Blend made by the Just Us Company located in Grand Pre in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, Canada.

I always have two scoops plus... for my Italian espresso maker. The result is an Americano which is what I always choose at any local cafe.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Besides a full breakfast, my coffee is accompanied with toast, biscotti or scone.

How were you and Sophie united?

Sophie chose me and my husband Jim, one day in March 2007. She was looking out a kennel window and we spied her looking at us. It was love at first sight!

Any treat for Sophie on this occasion?

Sophie sits on her hassock while I savour my goody because she knows she will get a piece of it.

How did Sophie get her name? Does she have any nicknames?

Sophie's name comes from my husband Jim's Gr Gr Grandmother.

Sophie has a nickname for sure. It is Licker which was bestowed upon her by Jim's 94-year-old father who says she tries to lick him all the time.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Sophie totally ignores squirrels, goes bonkers when you say `kitty, kitty` and has met the post lady twice with the exuberance she shows everyone who is human.

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

Tennis balls used to excite her but she has grown to dislike these fuzzy balls.

She is very partial to the rubber orange balls. Squeaky toys make her moan and whine especially after breakfast when she is full and contented.

Where is Sophie's favorite place for an outing?

Point Pleasant Park in Halifax, Nova Scotia tops the list because there are numerous dog trails and for that matter dogs who give her a run for her money. She makes a point of sharing her orange ball with any dog that responds. Most do, and if they don't, immediately she drops the ball for them to pick up and she then encourages a chase. Smart girl, she is!

Who is Sophie's best pet-pal?

Sophie's best pal is Clancy, a Bichon Frise. He was rescued from neglectful owners.

Sophie is so good with the little guy and they have a grand time running and chasing each other.

What is Sophie's most endearing quality?

Sophie loves people and she is so kind and friendly.

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

Sophie would want me to allow her to eat seaweed every time we go to the beach.

What is Sophie's proudest moment? Most embarrassing?

Sophie's proudest moment is when she catches her orange ball on the first bounce of the first throw.

Her most embarrassing moment is when she extensively sniffs someone new in places that are very private.

Visit the blog From Sophie's View.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ellie Allen Cook & Cedar, Moss and Scully

Who is in the photo at right?

That would be me and one of my dogs, Cedar, hiking in L.L. Stub Stewart State Park in Oregon. Cedar looks annoyed that we've stopped for yet another picture, which she is, and I look just a little bit awkward, which I am. My name is Ellie Allen Cook, and I'm currently a graduate student in English, and am also teaching basic composition classes (English 101 and 102) at the university where I'm getting my degree. I'm set to finish up this year, which I'm greatly looking forward to because that means I can get back to writing! I'm currently working on a Harlequin-style romance novel for fun, and hope to finish it this year. Who knew playing with cliches could be so much fun?

Anyways, I currently have three dogs, two Border Collies, Cedar and Moss, and one rather sullen Boston Terrier, Scully. Cedar is three years old, Moss is two, and Scully is five. They are the main focus of my blog, Cedes of Change.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Coffee and my canines are the only way that I've managed to stay somewhat sane throughout the craziness of grad school!

What's brewing?

Starbucks double-shot, iced skinny vanilla latte!

Any treat for you and your dogs on this occasion?

For me? Warm pita bread, kalamata olives and roasted garlic hummus. For the dogs? String cheese. Lots and lots of string cheese. But they also really like carrots, red bell peppers and broccoli stems for treats.

How were you and your dogs united?

I've always had dogs, and have been training and competing with them for over half my life. Although my background is in conformation showing (In the past, I've gone as far as to compete at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York City and the AKC/Eukanuba Invitational in Tampa, FL), in recent years I've gotten more into performance events like agility, herding, and rally obedience. Agility is my favorite, though!

Scully was a gift from my boyfriend (now husband) shortly after we started dating.

Cedar [photo right--the day we met] was the end result of years of research and searching for the "perfect" Border Collie to do agility and other fun stuff with. She flew halfway across the country, from Indiana to Idaho, to get to me! It was love at first sight. (one of the pictures I attached is of the first day Cedar and I met)

Moss came into my life after I started herding and decided that I wanted a dog specifically for that purpose. He was bred by my herding instructor and I picked him out of the litter at two days old. He's very talented on sheep, but he's also a great buddy and a wonderful pet.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

The X-Files is one of my favorite television shows, and Scully is named after one of the main characters, Special Agent Dana Scully. She has a few nicknames, but Monkey and Monkey-face are probably the two used most often. Oh, and we started calling her Scaly after my iPhone kept autocorrecting "Scully" to "scaly." Haha!

With Cedar, I knew I wanted a nature-themed name for my next puppy. I'd always liked the name Cedar, and luckily it fit her personality when I finally met her in person. One of her nicknames-- "Cedes"-- was part of the inspiration for my blog, Cedes of Change. Her other nickname is Beat/Beats, short for Beatcakes, which was originally short for Cede-Beats. Not sure what that one is short for, though.

Moss just looked like a "Moss" to me, plus that name fit into the "nature" theme I started with Cedar. I started calling him Moss at two days old, and it just stuck. His most common nicknames are Butters (because he reminds me of the South Park character) and Mossimo (like the fashion designer).

You're writing your thesis on the works of Francis Burney. I know she mentions her dogs in her diary; do dogs figure in the novels you're writing about?

Animals appear quite often in Burney's work, from monkeys dressed up as miniature "gentlemen" to, yes, dogs. One of the novels I'm studying (Cecilia, Burney's second novel) does contain a dog quite prominently in part of the plot. Unfortunately, he doesn't really fit into what I'm writing about. But yes, there are dogs in her novels, and she writes them like she's known a dog or two in her life.

Cat, rabbit, postman...?

Squirrel. We have one that lives in our back yard and will come up onto the deck to taunt Moss while he's in the house. They stare at each other from both sides of the sliding glass door.

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

Tennis ball, especially if it's attached to a Chuck-it, and we're at the park. Moss is the most toy-obsessed dog I've ever met. He doesn't see anything else when I've got a toy in my hand, and constantly tries to get me or the other dogs to play with him. Even though he's two years old, he still has the impulse control of a puppy.

Where are your dogs' favorite places for outings?

Scully-- the park. Cedar-- agility, or hiking in the foothills near my house. Moss-- the park, or herding.

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

Hmm... right now, they would all probably wish that I would take them more places and do more fun things!

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

Hmm... hard question! Let's see....

Scully-- proudest: holding her down stay in an obedience trial while the dog next to her, a giant Newfoundland, stood up and loomed over her, drooling on her head. We ended up qualifying that day in spite of that! Most embarrassing: when she forgets that it's considered rude to lick people inside their mouths!

Cedar-- proudest: aside from the mad success we've had in our first three agility trials, I'd say our biggest victory has been conquering her fear of the teeter, or see-saw agility obstacle. That took months of hard work, and during that time, we really learned how to trust each other and become a team. Most embarrassing: how about our first herding trial, in which we never even got the sheep out of the pen to move them through the course?

Moss-- proudest: completing the course and placing third at our first herding trial, when Moss was just barely a year old and I was the most nervous I've ever been at a dog event. He was such a good boy and totally saved my butt! Most embarrassing: any time that his toy obsession causes him to run into really obvious obstacles in his way (trees, doors, fences, stairs, the other dogs... tall tufts of grass...)

Visit the Cedes of Change blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Maura Lynch & Dudley and Fergus

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Maura Lynch, a former entertainment and book publishing executive who is now writing a nonfiction book about a major health issue with an emphasis on patients’ perspectives and rights.

Dudley (male) is a 4-year-old Yorkshire Terrier.

Fergus (male) is a 3-year-old Silky Terrier.

What’s the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I pick up a coffee from my favorite street vendor on the corner of 67th and Broadway in New York City every morning when we three are on our way home from a morning walk in Central Park.

What’s brewing?

I have no idea what beans are used—this is a coffee cart on the street—but it’s the best cup of java I know! I like it with International Delights French Vanilla, no sugar.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

No, the coffee is treat enough for this tea drinker!

Any treat for Dudley and Fergus on this occasion?

We usually stop in at my TD Bank branch where they have dog biscuits for customers’ dogs.

How were you and your dogs united?

Four years ago, on Easter Sunday 2007, I found Dudley online through I was incredibly naïve, and didn’t realize that he had been born in a puppy mill in Missouri. The next day, I went to Brooklyn to get him from “the middle man,” and fell madly in love. Alas, poor Dudley was very ill, and I had to take him to the vet immediately. He had broncho-pneumonia, which is what happens when kennel cough (bordatella) is left untreated. Poor pup spent the first 10 days in the vet hospital.

In early July 2008 I stopped at a pet store in the West Village to pick up a treat for Dudley. There were puppies in the window, and I knew that these dogs were all from puppy mills. Yet in the back of the store, crated 24/7, was this sad but sweet male pup. I started visiting this puppy twice a week for three weeks. The store owner told me the puppy was a “6-month-old Yorkie.” However, he was a 4-month-old Silky Terrier. By week 3, I had to “rescue” the puppy. I named him Fergus, and he’s been the best addition to my household.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

I loved the name Dudley, probably because of my fondness for the late Dudley Moore. After I named him, I found out that in Irish Dudley means “little black warrior of the two sides.” Dudley is just that. He’s fiercely protective of our home, but when we’re out and socializing, he acts demure and timid. His nickname is “The Bubba” (which then became “The Bubba-do”).

When I got Fergus, I knew I wanted to use another Celtic name, and I liked the meaning, i.e. “fierce man; first choice.” He may be my second dog, but he definitely was my first choice when I saw him! Fergus’s nickname is “Fergie,” and I also call him “Sweetie Pea.”

Cat, squirrel, postman…?

Since they’re both terriers, they’re very protective of our home, and rush to the door if they think “intruders” (meaning anyone who walks past) may enter the domicile. Fergus would love to chase all the squirrels in Central Park, but he’s not allowed to do that. Yet, they’re both very well-socialized, and get along great with other dogs and with people.

Tennis ball, squeaky-toy, stick…?

They are the squeaky-toy kings. When the weather is bad, we play a rousing game of “Fetch” with their vast empire of squeaky-toys. After all, terriers are ratters, and I need to keep them at the top of their game!

Where is your dogs’ favorite place for outings?

Central Park.

Who are your dogs’ best pet-pals?

Each other. They also love my mother’s two Yorkies, Georgie and Seamus, their “country cousins.”

If Dudley and Fergus could change one thing about you, what would it be?

They would like to mesmerize me so that I give treats on their command, which would mean every minute of the day.

What is each dog’s best quality?

Dudley taught me about the unconditional love and loyalty a dog will give you, and he taught me about courage by battling serious illness when I first got him. Fergus wakes up every day full of joy and enthusiasm. His happiness is contagious, and he reminds me that every day is a gift, and fun can be just around the corner.

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

I think they each experienced pride when they began to learn basic commands such as, “Sit. Stop. Stay.” They’re rarely embarrassed, except when they’ve fought with me or one another. Then they want to kiss and make up.

Visit Maura Lynch's blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ashley Owen Hill & Riley and Darla

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Ashley Owen Hill, and I am an animal rescuer. I have my own animal rescue group, Lucky Dog Rescue, in Meridian, Mississippi, and I share my rescue experiences on my blog, Lucky Dog Rescue Blog. I own my own business, a boarding kennel named Lucky Dog Retreat. I am also the Co-Founder and Director for Pet Pardons.

In the photo, both dogs are to my left. Darla is the dog sitting on the bench with me. Darla is an 8 month old, female, Boxer/Beagle mix. I rescued her from death row.

Riley is the dog to my left at my feet. He is a 1 year old, male, Pit Bull mix. He was rescued from a dog fighting operation.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have a daily coffee date with my pups. It’s our special time together.

What's brewing?

Soy latte.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Just the coffee & the pups! That's all the goodies I need!

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

Yes! My dogs love Veggie Life Vitality treats! They just gobbled them down!

How were you and your dogs united?

I rescued Darla from death row as a baby puppy. She was scheduled for euthanasia the day I pulled her out. She was very sick, infested with worms, and terrified. Today, she is the sweetest, most loving, happiest girl you will ever meet!

Riley is my personal dog. He was rescued from a dog fighting operation as a puppy. He is my special angel who goes everywhere with me! He and one of my foster dogs, Darla, are best friends!

Please tell us about your rescue work.

My animal rescue group, Lucky Dog Rescue, is located in Meridian, Mississippi. Lucky Dog Rescue is focused on saving dogs from death row, abuse cases, and those who have been forgotten. I write about my rescue experiences on my blog, Lucky Dog Rescue Blog. I am also the Co-Founder and Director for Pet Pardons, the facebook application that allows users to get involved in saving the lives of real shelter pets. In addition, I am the Mississippi/Alabama State Liaison for Animal Rescue Corps, and the Mississippi Area Rep for Dogs Deserve Better.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Darla was such a sweet, innocent little puppy, and she reminded me of the precious little Darla from Little Rascals.

In choosing Riley’s name, I wanted something that sounded cute and friendly, to match his personality, and the name “Riley” seemed to fit perfectly!

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

They love to chase squirrels!

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

My pups love all toys, but squeaky toys seem to be the most popular. They love to mangle them and pull the squeakers out!

Where is your dogs' favorite place for outings?

They love walks around the golf course, but they also love our trips to the lake! Riley could play in the lake for hours!

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Riley and Darla are best friends, but they are also big buddies with all of my (many) other foster dogs! Two of their fav pals are Liberty (1 year old, female, black Lab mix) and Lucy (4 month old, Lab/Hound mix puppy). The 4 of them run and play together all day long!

What is each dog's best quality?

Darla’s best quality is her loving nature. She is the best cuddle buddy ever! She loves to snuggle right next to me on the couch and give me special kisses. That little girl can melt my heart like no other!

Riley’s best quality is his outgoing personality and love for other dogs. With so many foster dogs coming through my home, it’s so amazing to have a dog that does great with all of them! He is a big part of the rehabilitation process for many of my rescue dogs.

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

Darla’s proudest moment would be the day she was rescued. I could see it in the smile on her face… someone finally thought she was special enough to live.

Darla’s most embarrassing (and probably most painful) moment was when she ripped the stitches out of her tummy following her spay, and I had to rush her to the vet for repair. Poor baby looked so humiliated!

Riley’s proudest moment was the first day he went to work with me at Lucky Dog Retreat! He loved playing with all the other dogs and was so proud to be at work with his mom.

Riley’s most embarrassing moment was when he chewed up my shoe his first day with me. He felt really badly about mutilating that poor shoe.

Learn more about Ashley Owen Hill's rescue experiences at her blog,
Lucky Dog Rescue Blog.

Pet Pardons, the facebook application that allows users to get involved in saving the lives of real shelter pets, Animal Rescue Corps, and Dogs Deserve Better.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 15, 2011

Robert McCarty & Dafi and Nemo

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Robert McCarty and the dog is Dafi, a 10-year-old, male, Belgian Shepherd (Groenendael).

I’m the author of the Planet Of The Dogs series of early reader books for kids and dog lovers.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

For much of the year, I live in Helsinki, Finland with my wife, Stella, and we start the day, particularly during the rather long winter, with coffee. The Finns call the deep winter months, Kaamos. The days are short and darkness prevails. Coffee and a dog’s affection are mandatory.

What's brewing?

Paulig has long been Finland’s top importer of quality coffee. We drip their Presidentti dark roast and treat ourselves to an intense coffee taste, but not as heavy-handed as an expresso.

I have read that the Finns drink more coffee per person than any other country.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Several variables here. Stella enjoys crackers and jam; I enjoy croissant a couple of times a week…and good toasted Finnish bread.

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

Breakfast…maybe Hau-Hau lihaisa kanna-Risi koiran taysravinto.

How were you and Nemo and Dafi united?

They are family dogs and I married into the family. I found Dafi to be a wonderful dog and through him I have learned about the wonders of shepherds. He had already been trained as a rescue dog by my stepdaughter, Meri. That’s a photo of Stella and Dafi on the left and at right is a photo of Meri and Nemo.

Nemo is one year old big puppy. Both dogs live sometimes with Meri and sometimes with us. She lives near a forest.

We have been introducing Nemo to a wider world of other dogs, cars, and parks in Helsinki. He enjoys chasing sticks in the snow wherever he is.

Please tell us about Nemo and Dafi's connection to your books.

Actually, the idea for the books came earlier in my life, when a conversation turned to “why can’t people be more like dogs…the world would be a better place.” The dog in our life at that time was a wonderful rescued toy poodle. She was the inspiration behind Miss Merrie, Queen of the dogs.

Dafi has very much influenced my thinking and the actual writing of the books. Loyalty, courage, and unwavering focus are powerful attributes of working dogs like Dafi. These qualities play a major role in all the books; a major theme throughout is the dogs finding non-violent solutions to war, kidnappings, and conflicts.

The drawing on the left is of the first three dogs who come down to earth from the Planet Of The Dogs. One of them is modeled after Dafi.

There are more illustrations and sample chapters on our website.

More about our dogs, books, kids and therapy reading dogs can be found on our blog.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Meri gave them their names…they have a somewhat different connotation in Finnish. No aliases.

Cat, squirrel, postman...

They are trained to avoid confrontation. They will go after a squirrel in the forest.

Tennis ball, squeaky-toy, stick...

They both enjoy tennis balls and squeaky toys. Nemo loves to chase sticks. Dafi, however, after a couple of chases is bored…

Where is Nemo and Dafi's favorite place for outings?

The wooded parks in Helsinki and the forests near Meri’s house.

The photo on the right is of Dafi and me in our Helsinki apartment.

What is each dog's best quality?

Unconditional love, the basis for the human canine bond…

If Nemo and Dafi could change one thing about you, what would it be?

They are always ready for more treats, snacks and goodies.

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

I will have to ask Dafi. Nemo is still learning and would probably have a different answer every week.

Also, there would be no Christmas if it weren't for the dogs. They actually saved Christmas, long, long ago when they freed Dasher and Dancer from the Ice Castle.... The story is told in Snow Valley Heroes, volume 3 of the Planet Of The Dogs series.

See more illustrations and sample chapters from the Planet Of The Dogs series of books at at the official website.

Among the praise for the books: "It was wonderful to witness my students applying character lessons from the books in their own peer interactions…my students love them…(these books) are great motivators to encourage young people to read."
--Julie Hauck, third grade teacher, Longfellow School, Sheboygan, WI; developer of the therapy reading dog program, Pages for Preston.

Learn more about Robert McCarty's dogs, books, and about kids and therapy reading dogs at
his blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Colleen Thompson & Zippy and Jewel

Who is in the photo at right?

The not-pictured part of the equation, I'm romantic suspense author Colleen Thompson, and these are my two cohorts. Zippy, at the top, a nine-year-old incorrigible apricot terrier/poodle mix, and Jewel, a six-year-old Boston terrier mix, are valiantly guarding the backyard deck from the ravages of squirrelkind.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Oh, we're definitely procrastinating on getting to work this morning. Which makes it exactly the same as most other mornings. There's not a lot of bursting out of the gates for this writer.

What's brewing?

Though I also enjoy coffee (especially a smooth Café du Monde chicory brew) and drink it on occasion, I've gotten hooked lately on Yorkshire Red, a stout-hearted English tea. With soy or almond milk and one Splenda, please.

Any goodies to go with the tea/coffee?

Usually, a bowl of Special K with Strawberries. We really know how to live it up here in Casa de Thompson.

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

Newman's Own Lamb and Barley New Zealand Ranch Style organic dog treats are their faves. But the girls aren't exactly picky. If I claimed it was a T-R-E-A-T (can't say that aloud within their hearing) they'd probably gobble pebbles. Especially if they thought I was eating them.

How were you united with your dogs?

Back when my son was in junior high, we owned a greyhound who, while she was wonderful in most respects, basically tolerated my dog-loving kid, who wanted nothing but a little dog to rough-house and play ball with and sleep on the foot of his bed. When I was a girl, my mom read me a book about a terrier named Scruffy and his love for boys. Anyway, the idea persisted, and I went to the local Humane Society and formed an instant bond with Zippy, who definitely livened up the household and made my kid one happy campy.

A few years later, after my beloved greyhound died, the always-lively Zippy (picture a Jack Russell in a poodle suit, and you'll have an idea about her energy level) started acting out, and we decided that a friend would be good to help burn off some terrier energy. Fortunately, we were right, and Jewel, another 3-time loser from the shelter (I have a history of adopting and rehabbing dogs with issues) turned out to be a great match, at least once we talked her out of destroying our house.

How did they get their names?

From the moment I brought her home, Zippy proved herself an expert at daring escapes, zipping out doors and gates with reckless abandon. (Fortunately, she's mostly given it up.) The name definitely suited her better than her previous shelter name of Misty.

Jewel, on the other hand, came with the name, and considering her separation anxiety and fear issues (which I'm happy to report she's overcome with a lot of love and patience) we didn't want to make any more changes than necessary.

Have your dogs had any influence on your work?

Endearingly-naughty dogs have shown up in a number of my books. Peavey from Fatal Error is mostly based on Zippy's behavior, and James Dean from Triple Exposure was influenced by Jewel--at least in appearance.

What's an ordinary day like for your dogs?

It's an onerous blend of lying about, scarfing treats, chasing critters out back, playing, and demanding attention. A real dog's life.

Tennis ball, Frisbee, stick...?

It's all about the squeaky toys, although they're also nuts about Nylabone Dental Dinosaurs. I have to buy them in bulk.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

D. All of the above, with a special spot on the list for the detested UPS delivery people.

Where is your dogs' favorite place to go for walk?

To the duck pond. So much to sniff!

What's each dog's best quality?

Zippy is always up for play time, and she has this awesome move where she jumps up and whirls around in a complete 360 when she's excited about feeding time. Jewel is a major snuggler, though she loves playing, too, and can jump higher than any dog her size has a right to.

Who are their best pet-pals?

Each other, though being terrier types, there's the occasional noisy squabble between friends.

What's each dog's proudest moment so far?
The most embarrassing?

Proudest moment? Chasing off the UPS man, who despite myriad "attempts" to break into our house and steal all the biscuits, continues to be successfully warded off by their barking. Also warded off: armadillos, copperheads, and one skunk that had the misfortune to get into the yard.

Most embarrassing? See final item on the previous list (Zippy) and the near-destruction of a bathroom and hall carpeting while overcoming early separation anxiety (Jewel). Yikes! But both of them have paid us back for their shenanigans many times over in love—and of course the terrier entertainment factor that would make a more sedate dog almost boring!

Visit Colleen Thompson's website.

Writers Read: Colleen Thompson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tasha B. & Pearl

Who is in the photo at right?

Pearl is a German medium-sized schnauzer who's 10 years old this spring. I'm Tasha, and I'm a Ph.D. student and book blogger.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

After dinner wine in my jammies!

What are you poring?

I'm pretty sure the wine is pinot noir, though I can't remember the vineyard. Sorry.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Not for me.

Any treat for Pearl on this occasion?

Pearl gets one of her favorite treats, a Yam Good.

How are you and Pearl connected?

Pearl is actually my mom's dog, but she's kind enough to share her attention on occasion.

How did Pearl get her name? Does she have any nicknames?

My brother named Pearl. I don't know why, it just seemed to fit her personality. We also call her PQ and Pearly Ann.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Squirrel, definitely! We have a family of squirrels living in our backyard and they like to tease her into chasing them.

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

Squeaky toy, but only when she feels like it. She's not much into retrieving.

Where is Pearl's favorite place for an outing?

I think Pearly likes to go to Starbucks because I let her have some of my latte foam (don't tell my mom I said that).

Who is Pearl's best pet-pal?

It was probably her brother, Oliver, but he died a few years ago.

If Pearl could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?

That she would give Pearl more treats. And that she would spend less time on Facebook and more time petting her... and getting her treats.

What is Pearl's proudest moment? Most embarrassing?

When she was a puppy she dug up a vole and brought it in to the house to my mom, all proud of herself. Unfortunately both my mom and I are really scared of rodents, and immediately started screaming our heads off and jumping up on chairs. Poor Pearl! She never brought us another backyard animal as a present.

Visit Tasha's Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ariel Wulff and Taco, Maria, Lammy Lamb, Rocket Boy and Waldo

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Ariel Wulff. I am the author of Born Without a Tail, a memoir about animal rescue. I am also a freelance writer for the Cleveland Pets Examiner, and I maintain my own blog about dogs, Up On The Woof, and I am an artist - the creator of Yelodoggie art. I'm currently sharing my life with five misfit dogs. These are my girls: Taco (Chihuahua: age 10) on the left, Maria (Chi/Rat Terrier: age 2) in the middle, and Lammy Lamb (Jack Russell Terrier: Age 13) on my lap.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Celebrating the end of the long Ohio winter in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

What's brewing?

Maxwell House original roast with white chocolate mocha creamer.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Homemade oatmeal cookies.

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

Homemade oatmeal cookies. I bake them especially for the dogs.

How were you and your dogs united?

My home is the third home for each of the girls. They were all multiple owner surrenders. None of them were abused, just bounced from one home to another.

We also have two boys [photo left]. We met Rocket Boy on vacation. He was the victim of some mishandling by children at the age of four weeks, and he has shaken puppy syndrome. He also had the good fortune of looking just like a dog we had recently lost, so we took him home with us. Rocket Boy is a 3 year old Chi/Shih Tzu mix, a "Chihua-tzu", if you will.

Waldo is a 4 year old Boxer mix. We were looking for a big dog, and Waldo was part of a litter of 8 pups that were headed to the pound if they didn't get homes. He had huge paws.

Have your dogs had any influence on your writing?

They are the main influence on my writing. Both Born Without a Tail and the book I just finished, Circling the Waggins, are about my life with these crazy dogs. They also inspire most of my blog posts.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Taco came to us as "Muffin", but that seemed like a silly name for a Chihuahua, so we opted for something more Mexican.

"Lammy Lamb" came to us as Desiree'. We still call her Desi, occasionally, but she is so curly that she got the lamb nickname. Sometimes I call her "Lambchop", but lately we've been referring to her as "Psycho Boba" because she has turned into a crazy senior.

Maria came to us with that name. She is part Rat Terrier, and quite the food scavenger, so we sometimes call her "Rat Girl" or "Ree".

Rocket Boy got his name from the two unscheduled flights he took at the hands of those kids at 4 weeks, and for the way he rockets around the house. He is also known as "Little Baby".

Waldo is just a big goofball. He has several nicknames: "Mr. Velvet Ears" and "Buster Brown", but "Handsome" is his favorite.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Waldo has a real problem with cats...he loves to torment them. He also gets pretty wound up over the opossums that get into our trash. Lammy Lamb is obsessed with the tiny toads in our rock bed. Everybody else is pretty laid back.

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

Rocket prefers toys that he can shred, like stuffed animals. He's also addicted to Chew eez. We can't even say the word "Chew eez" in our house or he goes crazy. We have to call them "You-know-whats".

Waldo is all about the yellow ball. He's even learned how to bounce it on the hard floor for himself and catch it. He's one of those dogs that is not satisfied with just chasing the ball and bringing it back; he wants to jump in the air and spin around and catch it on the fly.

Maria prefers tug games, and Lammy Lamb and Taco are the cheerleaders, barking from the sidelines.

Where are your dogs' favorite places for outings?

They love one of the nearby dog parks, Bow Wow Beach. But they are happy to go just about anywhere, even if it's just driving around on errands.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Each other.

What is each dog's best quality?

They are all so full of joy. And they love me despite all my shortcomings. Also, they make me laugh.

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

For Maria, it is stealing the tennis ball away from Waldo. For everyone else, it was winning first place in a Halloween costume contest a few years ago. Waldo was a fisherman and Desi, Taco and Rocket Boy were his lobster catches of the day.

I think that embarrassment stems from a self-conscious fear of others judging you. My dogs are uncomplicated that way -- blissfully un-self-conscious. They are genuine.

Read more about Born Without a Tail at the Yelodoggie site, and follow Ariel Wulff at the Cleveland Pets Examiner and the Up On The Woof blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Teresa Rhyne & Seamus

Who is in the photo at right?

This is me, Teresa Rhyne (lawyer, writer, beagle-lover), my boyfriend Chris (Forgotten Grapes wine expert, Culinary entrepreneur and converted beagle-lover), and our beagle, Seamus.

Seamus is about eight years old and he and I are both cancer survivors. The photo was our Christmas card this year.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Seamus and I have coffee together every morning. Or, well, more to the point, I have coffee and Seamus sits next to me not so patiently waiting for me to share my toast--toast being his favorite food. Today we are also anxiously awaiting word from "our" agent on whether the latest draft of my/our memoir proposal is in good shape.

What's brewing?

Starbucks French Roast. Always. Very strong with just a little bit of cream and always in one of my perfectly sized LA Times Festival of Books coffee mugs.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

The aforementioned toast, of course, and an orange.

How were you and Seamus united?

I love the term "united." It's quite accurate. Seven years ago I went through a divorce and moved with my two old beagles to a townhome. Within five months of moving, both dogs had passed away. I was, needless to say, devastated. I went on a trip to Ireland with my brother and a cousin and when I came home the Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center, where I'd been a board member and volunteer for over 15 years, called to let me know they had a beagle in need of a home. I thought that I probably shouldn't get a beagle again since I was single, working a lot and living in a townhome with not a big yard. But I went to see the dog. And we all know what happens next. wind. The beagle was adorable and unusually colored--really red. He also made me laugh a lot. I named him after a cousin in Ireland that was...yeah, you got it, red-haired and really funny (not so unusual in Ireland).

Any treat for Seamus on this occasion?

Seamus always get's the toast crust, and long ago he trained me to share whatever I'm eating (that is safe to share with a dog).

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

Oops, I got ahead of myself on that one. So you know how he got his name. Nicknames? A ton of 'em. Theme songs too. Let's see... Moose, Da Moose, Beaglicious, Beags, Sir William McBeaglesly, Scala-moose, Seamus the Famous, Luxury-Leisure, Shay-moose, Tubby-lumpkins, Senor Cuteness, Moosey-moose, Moose-el,and they just get more embarrassing from there. Favorite theme song is "Do you know the Muffin Dog?"

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Squirrels, cats, rabbits, even the coyotes in our backyard canyon area are of no concern to Seamus. The mailman and Fed Ex are however his sworn enemies. UPS gets a pass because they once delivered five boxes of cookies which Seamus was able to tear open and eat and/or bury before we got home to discover the remains of brightly colored cardboard boxes as the only evidence of the cookie massacre. UPS then further endeared themselves to Seamus (if not me) by delivering five pounds of gourmet cheeses over our gate. The cheese of course met the same fate as the cookies. And yes, Seamus can tell the difference between Fed EX and UPS, so he howls at the first and wags his tail and jumps up and down when the latter arrives.

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

Squeaks!!!! Always the squeaks and there are never enough of them. Never. He tears their guts out and then be-heads them. It's not pretty to watch.

Where is Seamus's favorite place for an outing?

This would have to be either the dog beach in Huntington Beach, California or over to his buddy Will's house (see below).

Who is Seamus's best pet-pal?

Seamus has a huge dog-crush on our friends' dog Will [photo right]. Will is a great-dane something or other mix and your basic bo-hunk of a dog. Seamus adores him and loves nothing more than running, playing and harassing Will and Will's sister Nellie. Seamus and Nellie have a sort of love/hate relationship. They both love Will, so they try not to hate each other.

What is Seamus's most endearing quality?

He's a giant cuddle-monster. He loves to snuggle in next to us and be petted endlessly.

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

My job. He has separation anxiety and cannot tolerate being left alone--he sits at our front gate howling. Hence, our neighbors also cannot tolerate him being left alone. So, Seamus goes to work with me or is home with my boyfriend Chris who mostly works at home. Yep, Seamus would change my job.

What is Seamus's proudest moment? Most embarrassing?

Seamus's proudest moment would have to be beating cancer. He was diagnosed with cancer (a mast cell tumor--like skin cancer) at age 2 and I was told that even with surgery and chemotherapy his prognosis was one year. I went ahead with the surgery and the chemo and now, six years later, he's still here and in complete remission. In fact, he was my inspiration when I was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. Seamus stayed right by my side as I recovered from surgery, chemo and radiation--a nine month process. (This photo at left was taken the day after my first chemotherapy infusion.) That's where the blog came from...The Dog Lived (and so Will I) became my mantra.

Most embarrassing? Ah, well, he's a beagle, he doesn't embarrass easily.But once he ran out onto our back patio ahead of us, didn't realize we'd then closed the sliding glass door behind us and he turned around and ran full speed, head first into the sliding glass door. He wasn't hurt but he was stunned. And he stood there for quite some time trying to figure out what had blocked his progress (apparently the glass was really clean). He was afraid to walk through that (open) door for days afterward.

Visit the The Dog Lived (and so Will I) blog.

--Marshal Zeringue