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