Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kris Tualla & Pepper

Who is in the photo at right?

This is a year-old photo of my camera-shy mixed-breed, Pepper. I'm certain her name is self-explanatory. She was a rescue pup back in October of 1995, and we have no idea what she is!

That's me, Kris Tualla, in the photo below left.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I'm working on my 7th historical novel - the hero is a deaf private investigator in 1700's Norway - and a little caffeine does help awaken the muse! Pepper is always by my side, no matter where I am in the house or what I'm doing. She's deaf now, too. Maybe she knows.

What's brewing?

Freshly ground beans, Starbucks from Costco (I'm not a rich author - yet) made strong, drunk with half-n-half. No sugar or flavors.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

You are so cruel. I'd love a cherry fritter. What I'm having is strictly imaginary.

Any treat for your dog on this occasion?

At the risk of offending purists, Pepper always gets a bit of whatever I'm eating. She watches me and if I don't offer immediately she walks out of the room, walks back in a different door as if to say, "Oh look - here I am!" She does this expecting each "appearance" to generate a handout. She's actually 25% successful with that ploy.

How were you and Pepper united?

We had to put a 5-year-old Cocker Spaniel down and were heartbroken, as you might imagine. There was a poster in the vet's office advertising the 3-month-old rescue pups which they thought were Dalmatian and Springer Spaniel. (Um… No.) My youngest daughter and I went to see them and we fell in love with the shy little girl.

Does Pepper have any influence on your writing?

Not her specifically. But my love for dogs - and their love for us humans - inspired a chapter in my first novel. Unfortunately, I had to cut the chapter, but I released it as a short story. Your readers can download it for free here.

How did you come up with Pepper's name? Any aliases?

She's white with tiny black spots all over. "Pepper" was obvious. We call her Pepper-la-wepper… Peps-la-weps… Peeper…

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Cats. Definitely.

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

Rawhide chews. Mostly to hoard and keep away from the other dogs who have passed through our home.

Where is your dog's favorite place for outings?

My husband takes her on long walks through our Phoenix suburban neighborhood. At 16, she still enjoys it!

Who are Pepper's best pet-pals?

My son's dogs and my precious grand-puppies: Teva and Bella. Before our son bought a house and moved out, they were puppies in our home. Pepper kept them in line [Teva and Pepper, photo above left].

What is Pepper's best quality?

She is scarily smart. At 8 months old, she figured out that if she stood up and pushed down on our lever-style door knobs she could push a door open. Then a year later, she figured out how to push down with one paw and pull with the other. The first day she came out of a closed bedroom, I didn't believe it. But she did it successfully for years.

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

Pepper has always been uber-concerned with following the rules and doing the right thing. She strives to understand what is expected, and behaves accordingly. As such, there are no "missteps." True story.

Visit Kris Tualla's website, blog, and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue