Friday, June 3, 2011

Jennifer & Moxie

Who is in the photo at right?

The human in the photo is me, Jennifer, and the dog is Moxie. I'm a writer/screenwriter from New York who moved to Paris a few months back to see if I could carve out a life for myself here. I don't think I would have lasted this long if I didn't have Moxie with me. I also write the blog Jennyphoria.

As far as this photo goes, this is what happens every time I attempt to take a picture of us together. This was the best of the ten or so photos I took.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Unfortunately, I don't get to spend as much time with Moxie as I'd like to during the week, so when the weekend comes, I try to do something special with her. As friendly as Paris is to their dogs, allowing them in most restaurants and shops, they bizarrely don't allow them in many parks. We live near the Jardin des Tuileries, which is one of the few where dogs can go. So, this weekend I took her to the Tuileries for a few good games of catch.

And I never need an excuse to drink more coffee.

What's brewing?

I made a Peruvian blend using my French press.

Any treats for you or Moxie on this occasion?

Paris has been very lucky for Moxie in the treats department. When I lived in the US, I never ate cheese. But here, it's a completely different story. There are so many varieties and they are so fresh.... Moxie never misses a chance to perform for a piece or to lick my plate clean.

How were you and Moxie united?

I had wanted a dog for as long as I could remember, but I didn't want to get one until I knew for sure I would be able to take on the responsibility. When that time finally came (just over three years ago), I went to nine different shelters looking for my perfect dog.

Coincidentally, I found her at the shelter my mom volunteers for, which was the last one I visited since it was farthest away. I thought I wanted a small dog, but I fell for her as soon as I saw her. The rest is history.

How did Moxie get her name? Any nicknames?

Moxie was named Candi by the shelter. I knew for sure I didn't want that name. So, the night before I was to take her home, my mom and I stayed up discussing names. We jokingly went through all the celebrity baby names we could think of - Shiloh, Moses, Maddox, Apple, Suri, etc. - and then we went on to the stranger baby names - Pilot Inspektor, Bronx Mowgli, etc. - and it was here that we got lucky. Penn Jillette, of Penn & Teller fame, had a daughter named Moxie CrimeFighter. I thought that was the perfect name for a dog, so Moxie's moniker was born.

What are the biggest differences in Moxie's Parisian life from her American days?

Sadly, I think the biggest difference is that she got to play with more dogs in America. We knew a lot of local pups and we lived near Prospect Park, which is huge and has great off-leash hours. She was also able to play with my Mom's dog fairly often. Here, dog encounters are fewer and farther between.

But it's not all bad. People are very friendly with her. She gets stopped and petted and fussed over by strangers more here, which is lovely. It seems like there's a natural kind of reverence for the companionship of a dog in France. She also gets to come with me to more places than she did in America. I'll often bring her with me to nearby cafes for lunch or dinner.

There are definite trade-offs, but I think as we meet more people and more dogs, she'll only get happier.

A friend once told me about meeting an Australian dog who didn't offer his paw to shake unless the request was made with an Australian accent. Does Moxie recognize her name when spoken with a French accent?

Fortunately her name sort of sounds the same with a French accent, so that's good. But I think if but if you were to ask her to shake in a French accent she probably wouldn't understand. She has difficulty even with native speakers if their accents are different from mine, say Southern or British. If they give a command and I repeat it, she'll usually understand what they mean when they say it again. She really attentive and tries very hard to please.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Oh, she loves cats. "Kitty" is one of her favorite words. I think if she could find a cat who wanted to be friends she would be in heaven. Squirrels are a different story. Those she likes to chase and tree. As for the postman, it would depend. If she met them on the street, she'd happily lick their hand. If they knocked on our door, she'd bark like crazy.

What is an ordinary day like for Moxie?

She wakes up and stares at me until I also wake up. We go for a walk around the block and then we have breakfast. After that, it's different day-by-day. Generally, I leave for a while, she works on the Great American Novel or solves crimes or does whatever it is dogs do when you leave them alone, and then I return and she pretends she's been napping.

I'll take her for another, longer, walk, and play a few games of catch or our version of soccer. I feed her and then go out again. This is when Moxie practices her you've-broken-my-heart puppy face. She's very talented.

When I come home for the night, we go for one more walk and then go home to chat about our days.

What is your dog's best quality?

She is the sweetest dog imaginable. She just wants to make me happy. She's never mean or malicious or vengeful. She's friendly and loving and shy and trusting. She's smart and she tries really hard. Her best quality is how sweet she is, but the best thing about her is how loved she makes me feel.

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

One of the best things about having a dog, particularly one that hasn't had previous owners, is that she thinks everything I do is normal. If I burst out into a musical in my living room or dance around like a crazy person, she just thinks this is what people do. There's no judgement.

But what would she change about me? That's easy. I would never, ever go anywhere without her.

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

She's so funny, my dog. She often gets a pretty proud look on her face for the simplest things.

Moxie was born with a birth defect that left her with under-developed shoulder muscles. For a long time she couldn't sit with her front paws touching the ground or raise her paws high enough to give you a "high five." Through a careful collaboration with the vet and a change in her diet, we were able to seriously increase the mobility in her arms. All of this is to say, I think her proudest moment was the one where she realized she could use her arms to get toys that had fallen under tables and couches.

Moxie does not understand embarrassment. But I can tell you my most embarrassing moment with her in it.... It was a couple years back, when she was still a little puppy. We were on the way to the park to have a picnic to celebrate my birthday. We passed a group of small girls, maybe 5 years old. They, too, were having a birthday picnic. As we were walking past, Moxie suddenly dropped down and pooped. The looks on those girls' faces was sheer horror.

Visit the blog Jennyphoria.

--Marshal Zeringue