Friday, June 10, 2011

Man Martin & Zoe

Who is in the photo at right?

Zoe, a Chow-Golden Retriever mix. And me, Man Martin, author.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Whenever I have a free day, I enjoy sitting on the patio in the morning drinking coffee and writing with Zoe and my chicken, Sorche. She’s a barred roc bantam.

What's brewing?

Very strong Colombian coffee. My wife and I are somewhat coffee snobs and feel coffee’s too weak unless you can stand a spoon upright in it.

Any goodies for Sorche, you, or Zoe to go with the coffee?

Sorche pecks at some beet greens nearby or scratches for earthworms. Being a true omnivore, she must eat a certain amount of sand and pebble as part of her regular diet. Zoe licks herself. Me, I just stick to coffee.

Rumor has it that Zoe knows how to spell. What's the story?

When Zoe was little, if we said the word “walk,” she’d go crazy running around in anticipation. To save her disappointment, Nancy and I took to spelling it out. For a while that worked, but then she’d go crazy when she heard W-A-L-K. As a result, Nancy and I had to re-arrange the letters, throwing in Qs and Xs just to throw Zoe off track. K-L-A-W, Q-W-A-E-R-L-K. Like that. Consequently the poor dog never did learn to spell, a shortcoming for which Nancy and I have only ourselves to blame.

Does Zoe have any role in your books and writing life?

My new book Paradise Dogs has nothing to do with Zoe or canines at all; it refers to hotdogs. I don’t worry about Zoe being disillusioned, however, because, as I have already mentioned, she can’t spell worth a lick.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

Zoe loves to chase squirrels, but fortunately for the squirrels is not very good at it. The squirrel invariably dashes to the backside of the nearest tree and then straight up. Zoe is infallibly mystified by this maneuver, and is left staring stupidly in the wrong direction like a yokel who’s been duped ten times in a row by the same magic trick.

Where is Zoe's favorite place for outings?

We have a wonderful park nearby with a trail that winds around a lake and with plenty of other dogs, not to mention geese and ducks. In the springtime the goslings hatch and we watch them mature day by day as we walk. In the summer, it’s the ducklings’ turn. There seem to be a certain number of snapping turtles or some other predator, because there’s always considerable inventory shrinkage among the young ones. Harsh, I suppose, but otherwise the lake would pretty soon be wall-to-wall ducks and geese and besides, snapping turtles got to eat too, you know. In the springtime, there is also a plant, which a friend says is a variety of privet bush, with such sweet-smelling flowers, it’s not an exaggeration to say the fragrance almost makes you dizzy.

Who are Zoe's best pet-pals?

Our next-door neighbor has a Morkie named Mia (a cross between a Maltese and Yorkie) that frequently comes to visit. She and Zoe get along famously which makes life very good when either we or our neighbor have to go out of town.

If Zoe could change one thing about your wife, what would it be?

Nancy has very severe opinions on the topic of Dogs-Sleeping-in-Beds-with-People. I am inclined to take a more latitudinarian view, which Zoe finds broad-minded and reasonable. When Nancy is out of town, there is a sufficient shift in the balance of power that Zoe gets to sleep where she likes.

What is Zoe's best quality?

This is corny and something every dog owner will say, but love. She has a sense of humor and a joie de vivre, that fills your heart to see. She is an athlete, and in good weather, will run circles in the front yard, pivoting with one shoulder so low to the ground, the grass blades must tickle it. She is very good at sitting and will “stay” most of the time, especially if she has reason to believe there’s a treat involved. But her best quality is love. I defy anyone who has felt the utter, un-self-conscious love of a dog not to feel love in return.

Visit Man Martin's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue