Friday, April 1, 2011

Larry D. Sweazy & Brodi and Sunny

Who is in the photo at right?

That would be Brodi, age 9, and Sunny, age 4, both full-blooded Rhodesian ridgebacks.

I’m Larry D. Sweazy, a full-time writer. I write a Western series, Josiah Wolfe, Texas Ranger for Berkley (the third novel, The Badger’s Revenge, comes out April 5th), as well mysteries (that novel will be out next February), short stories, and non-fiction articles. I also write back-of-the book indexes for major publishers like Pearson and Cengage. You can find out more about me at my website.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We have coffee every morning. It’s always brewed and waiting for me when I awake. I make a cup, and head to the office to check my email and start work. Both dogs usually follow me, and argue about who gets the soft, comfy chair that day. Brodi usually wins, but not always. The loser lays under the desk at my feet.

What's brewing?

A couple of years ago I had some serious stomach issues, and one of the recommendations was that I give up caffeine. So, I did. But being such a creature of habit, and lover of the taste of coffee, I switched to decaf. I don’t get a jolt, but I still get the comfort of my routine and the pleasant aroma of coffee filling the house.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Usually not. I like to enjoy the coffee, and then eat some breakfast about an hour later.

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

They get a treat after we get back from our morning walk, and I get my second cup of coffee.

How were you and your dogs united?

We owned a basenji for 16 years. When she died, the house was empty, so a couple months later we went looking for another dog. I was spending more and more time at my desk, so I knew I needed a bigger dog that could hold up to some serious walks. I wanted a reason to get out of the house and exercise, so we settled on Rhodesian ridgebacks as a breed. We were already familiar with African dogs, so it seemed like a good fit, and it has been. Brodi was an easy adjustment, and became an integral part in my exercise routine, and really, so much more. Sunny came along five years later to keep Brodi and I moving at a good pace.

Have your dogs had any influence on your writing?

Good question. They are a comfort, always present, and always ready for a walk. I work out a lot problems when I walk, so they’ve probably helped me plot a few novels.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Brodi is really Baruti, which is Swahili for Teacher. It’s been an appropriate name. Brodi is calm, a thinker, a protector, and is always pointing the way to a mellower, more fulfilled life. He is my ambassador. Sunny is actually named after an Audie Murphy movie, Seven Hours Until Sundown, and because his effervescent personality has been sunny from the first moment we saw him. He’s the happiest dog I’ve ever met. And happier if he’s touching you. He’s an 85 pound lap dog.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Wouldn’t be a cat. We have a black cat, Nigel, that we rescued. Both dogs love Nigel, and I’m sure Nigel truly believes he is a ridgeback. Which is odd, because ridgebacks hunt lions in Africa. Postman, no way, especially if he is a giver of attention. Squirrels, oh yes, Sunny loves to chase squirrels. Brodi thinks about it, but the thought is usually gone by the time Sunny chases the squirrel up a tree. No squirrels were harmed in the making of that statement. Ever.

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

Ridgebacks are funny, they’re not really toy kind of dogs. They have bones they chew, but that’s about it. I bought all kinds of stuff for them to play with when they were puppies, and after a couple of fetches, they were just bored. Now, if I tie a white plastic trash bag onto a fishing pole (ala lure coursing) and toss it, spin it, whatever, Sunny will play until he drops. Such nonsense is beneath Brodi, though.

Where is your dogs' favorite places for outings?

That’s easy. We have a woods close by with trails through it that runs along a nice creek.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

That would probably be Fritz, a schnauzer, who lives in the neighborhood.

What is each dog's best quality?

Loyalty, and they don’t bark a lot. Just when something is out of the sync.

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

A few years before Sunny came along, and it was just Brodi, he proved himself greatly. Along with hunting lions, ridgebacks are known as really good watchdogs. Now, Brodi has always slept downstairs…at his own choice. He could have slept anywhere he wanted to. One night, at two in the morning, Brodi came up the stairs, stopped at the landing, and barked. He had never done that before, and I woke up instantly. He barked again. Just once. And I got out of bed. By the time I made it to the landing, he had already went back down the stairs, and was standing beside the front door, staring out the side glass window. I asked him what the problem was and he didn’t acknowledge me, he just kept staring out into the darkness. So I stood there with him, and sure enough about two minutes later, two guys edged alongside a vacant house across the street, and broke into the garage. I called up to my wife, and told her to call 911. She did, and police caught the guys. So, how Brodi knew what was going on across the street, and was smart enough to wake up still amazes me. He’s never done anything like that since, but I trust his bark, and I trust his instinct with people. Sunny has never done anything quite so amazing, other than not tear up anything important, but his constant companionship and love is something to behold. Neither one of these dogs could ever embarrass me, they’re both just really cool, and I’m happy to share my life with them.

Watch the trailer for The Badger’s Revenge, and learn more about the book and author at Larry D. Sweazy's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Badger’s Revenge by Larry D. Sweazy.

--Marshal Zeringue