Friday, September 30, 2011

Melissa & Yuki and Rocket

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Melissa. I’m just a girl from Texas. I’m a mom to a precocious daughter and wife to a brave soldier. I like to think of myself as a domestic goddess: I love to cook, bake, and craft.

The white schnauzer is Yuki, she’s a 1 year old female. The salt and pepper schnauzer is Rocket, he’s a male and 4 ½ months old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Yuki has a bit of a barking problem, and one exercise we like to do, is going through the Starbucks drive-thru. She has learned the people in the drive-thru mean no harm and give us treats from the little window. Yuki no longer barks at the drive-thru, and along with Rocket they put their little noses in the air, and sniff-sniff-sniff all that wonderful goodness that is the aroma of freshly brewed coffee.

What's brewing?

Starbuck’s Tall Skinny Vanilla Latte.

Any treats for you or the dogs on this occasion?

Just their Organix kibble they eat every morning.

How were you and Yuki and Rocket united?

They were both found through separate breeders. We had to drive a little further for Yuki, since the breeders house is in New Mexico. Rocket’s breeder’s home was closer, since it is in the same city.

How did Yuki and Rocket get their names? Any nicknames?

Yuki-- We lived in Japan for over 3 years and we fell in love with everything; the culture, the customs, the food, the people, and the names. I really liked the name Yuki and since it’s Japanese for snow, I thought it was a great name for the snow-white fur Yuki has.

Rocket-- This name actually was a nickname we had for Yuki. At the end of the evening she gets a hyper-boost of energy and runs around at super-speed. We thought she looked exactly like the rocket-dog shoe logo. My husband said, Rocket would’ve been a good name for Yuki. I told him, ‘yeah but, it’s a boy’s name. So, luckily we found a boy and had his name before we found him.

Nicknames: Yuki, I've always called her Yukipoo, My Yuki, or polar bear. Rocket doesn't have any nicknames really. My husband says he looks like a raccoon. I will usually call him mama's boy, my little man, or handsome.

Do Yuki and Rocket have a favorite place to go for walk?

No, not really. I have the world’s laziest schnauzer who runs away when she sees the harness coming out. Her little tail tucks and she fakes an injury with a limping paw.

Rocket, well, he’s Rocket … he thinks walking up the street is the most exciting thing ever.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Birds. Their prey-drive kicks in when they see birds.

What is each dog's best quality?

Yuki-- She is a little mama. She genuinely cares for you if you are sick or get hurt.

Rocket-- He is such a clown. There is something he does everyday that really makes me laugh.

If Yuki and Rocket could change one thing about you, what would it be?

Me giving them more of the human’s food.

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

Yuki-- proudest: Graduating from her advanced training class.

embarrassing: Poo’ing on her vet after her spay surgery.

Rocket-- proudest: Sitting and staying until released to eat his meals.

embarrassing: Anytime he had an accident on the carpet, inside the house. I think it’s why he was housebroken within days.

If Yuki and Rocket could each answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

Yuki-- What’s with all the loud obnoxious barking?

Rocket-- Is there a limit to the amount of food you will actually eat before stopping?

Visit Yuki and Rocket's blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kristina Riggle & Lucky


Back in the Summer of 2009, writer and occasional freelance journalist Kristina Riggle and her dog Lucky were guests at Coffee with Canine.

Part of the Q & A:
How did Lucky come to be united with you?

I was initially against getting a dog. I was always a cat person, and anyway, I felt I had my hands plenty full with our toddler and older son. But I relented after my book deal, partly because my husband has been so supportive of my writing career, I felt it was a way to repay him. Also, my son really wanted a dog. The things we do for our kids.

At first I was too skittish about adopting a rescue dog, fearing unpredictability. But after some more research, testimony from friends, and the sticker-shock of a purebred border terrier, we found Lucky via, identified as a border terrier mix who was good with kids and already housetrained. He was seven months old at the time.

Now I'm really glad we adopted a dog and I would recommend the same for anyone. Also, look at that face! He's so cute.

How did Lucky get his name?

My son Sam named him. We surprised Sam with the dog; my husband went by himself to go pick the dog up. As soon as Sam saw him, he lit up with pure joy and said, "I'll name him Lucky, hi Lucky!" and that was that. Sam had been reading a bedtime story about a boy with a dog named Lucky. I always liked the name Frodo for a dog....[read on]
Visit Kristina Riggle's website.

The Page 69 Test: Real Life & Liars.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Kristina Riggle & Lucky.

Writers Read: Kristina Riggle.

The Page 69 Test: The Life You've Imagined.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Carol Colquhoun & Stella and Rory

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Carol Colquhoun. I am a Childcare worker. My dogs are Stella, a five month old English Cocker Spaniel and Rory, a three month old Great Dane.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have been enjoying two weeks holiday and my husband and I went to our local Deli for a coffee with the pups, to help socialise them.

What's brewing?

We enjoyed a Cappuccino, not sure what brand of coffee. It tasted great whatever it was.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

I took some chicken treats for the pups to eat while we had coffee. They ate them all quickly and then settled for a nap at my feet. We had quite a few people stop and say hello (the beauty of living in a small town) so it was good for the pups to meet and greet new faces.

How were you and your dogs united?

We found both our dogs through Breeders advertising on the internet. We saw photos of them and went to 'have a look' and came home each time with a new pup. We have had the combination of Cocker Spaniels and Great Danes for the last thirteen years. Our old girl Kara passed to the rainbow bridge four months ago and we couldn't live without a dog/dogs in our lives so have started the cycle again.

How did your dogs get their names?

Stella was named after a character in a British sci-fi TV series, Outcasts. Sometimes she gets called Stellie Bellie, but usually Stella. Rory was named after a character in the new Dr Who series. He can be called snory Rory for obvious reasons.

Do your dogs have a favorite place to walk?

Not at the moment. They have had a play at the local oval but that's about it so far. We have to be careful of any undue stress on Rory's legs while they develop. My husband and I walk every day so when the pups are a little stronger they will come with us.

Rabbit, postman, cat, etc?

Definitely our poor cat Penny. She is a long suffering girl but the pups are gradually settling down and will leave her alone most of the time.

Tennis ball, Frisbee, squeaky toy?

Stella loves to chase a tennis ball but Rory just watches it roll away. He likes to conserve energy.

What is each dog's best quality?

Stella has a cheeky personality. She can be a little shy when meeting people for the first time but once she warms to them there is no stopping her. She won't leave them alone. She is wonderful with small children.

Rory just lumbers up for a pat immediately. Hopefully whoever he says hello to doesn't mind slobber.

If your dogs could change one thing about you what would it be?

I think they would make me feed them more. Being pups they are always hungry.

What is each dog's proudest moment so far?

Stella's was passing Puppy Pre School. She was a scaredy cat the first week but blossomed as the weeks went by.

Rory's is managing a very slow amble up the driveway without falling over.

Most embarrassing moment?

Stella hasn't given us any embarrassing moments, yet! Rory's was at puppy preschool not wanting to walk at all on the lead and having to be carried outside for a wee. Just hilarious.

Visit the Stella & Rory from Down Under blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chris Knopf & Sam


Back in the Summer of 2009, author Chris Knopf and Samuel Beckett, a soft-coated Wheaten terrier ("not a schnauzer or a cock-a-poodle, as some have alleged") were guests at Coffee with Canine.

Part of the Q & A:
What is Sam’s nationality?

He’s a Canadian, born in Toronto. This evidences itself in his generally easy-going nature, resistance to intense cold and preference for government subsidized health care. I was recently in Toronto on a publicity tour for my books, and made the mistake of revealing his roots to an interviewer. From there on out it was, “Okay, okay, enough about the books. Tell us more about the dog, eh?”

Sam must have found his way into your mysteries.

He did indeed, nearly in whole cloth. Sam Acquillo, one of my protagonists (no relation), has a dog named Eddie Van Halen. I got the name from my son, who growing up had a few imaginary friends, Eddie Van Halen being prominent among them. Eddie doesn’t look anything like Sam the dog. Eddie’s a mutt, with strong German Shepard leanings. He also gets to run free. Sam has to stay inside a fenced in yard. In every other respect they’re exactly the same. I did this to save my strength for making up things about the human characters, who are ...[read on]
Visit Chris Knopf's website.

Read--Coffee with a canine: Chris Knopf & Sam.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 26, 2011

Charity Dennington & Katie and Louie

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Charity Dennington, with 4-year-old Newfoundland Dog, Katie, on the day she first qualified in Advanced Rally Obedience. You can tell we were both quite proud of ourselves.

I am a purchasing manager and database programmer, but my main passion is my family which besides Katie includes my husband, Gary; our 3-year-old Newfoundland, Louie; and our daughter Natalie who we are adopting from China later this year.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We are just relaxing at home on a nice Saturday morning.

What's brewing?

Hawaiian Kona coffee, black.

Any treats for you or Katie and Louie on this occasion?

Salmon treats for Katie & Louie, Newman's Own Organic Chocolate/Chocolate Sandwich Cookies for me.

How were you and the dogs united?

Katie and Louie came from some amazing Newfoundland breeders in Cabot, Arkansas: Wilbon Newfoundlands. We have become good friends with them over the last five years and have learned a lot from them about this complex breed. Since we live close to Cabot we were able to visit the litters about once a week after the puppies were born. We wanted to get the sweetest pups of the litters and we seem to have succeeded. In both cases, Katie and Louie picked us as much as we picked them. In Katie's case it was love at first sight. However, when I heard that Louie at the age of 2 weeks old managed to climb over the wall and escape his puppy enclosure I told Gary we had to steer clear of that one because he was going to be trouble. By the time Louie was 5 weeks old though we saw that we really had no choice in the matter. Even the breeders were calling him Louie at that young age because it was apparent that he was the sweetest, cuddliest pup of the bunch just like we had requested. Louie has gotten into a few scrapes over the years, but mostly he is an eager-to-please boy.

When Louie came home at the age of 10 weeks Katie was 18 months old - still a puppy herself. She matured overnight though when she got a little brother to nurture. Katie is the best big sister ever (although her "little" brother now outweighs her by 20 pounds).

How did they get their names?

Katie is named after my favorite fictional character. Her full name is Wilbon's Katie Scarlett O'Hara.

Louie is registered as Wilbon's What a Wonderful World - He is named after my favorite jazz musician, Mr. Armstrong.

Any aliases?

Katie Sue & Louie Lou, pumpkin, sweetie, honey, tiny little puppy dog, kookoo, booboo…just about any endearment you can think of.

Do Katie and Louie have a favorite place to go for walk?

Any park-like setting is always a hit. If there is water it's even better. The very best days are when the temperature is below freezing and the ground is covered with beautiful snow.

Squirrel, postman, cat…?

Katie and Louie would love to be friends with them all, but all three are usually afraid of giant Newfs. They have met a couple of brave kitties nose-to-nose and thought they were really cool.

Squeaky-toy, tennis ball, stick?

Katie loves her water dumbbell. It is the only thing she will retrieve. Katie also adores tennis balls. She has a knack for finding balls that were left behind by other dogs when we go out on our walks. When she finds one she carries it home and adds it to her ever growing collection.

Louie likes anything that Katie has. As soon as she loses interest so does he.

What is each dog's best quality?

Louie is the sweetest dog I have ever known. Katie is very sweet also, but Louie has her beat in this department. Both Newfs are certified therapy dogs and regularly visit Hospice patients, kids at Easter Seals, nursing home residents and elementary school students (see picture of Louie giving a kiss to a second grader). Louie is truly a gentle giant. He has brought joy to hundreds of people during the last few years. He just loves giving love.

Once when we visited a special needs classroom Louie and a little boy we'll call J bonded immediately. J talked non stop to Louie. His teachers were stunned because they said J rarely speaks. Another time we were at a Hospice center and Louie approached a patient and gave her a gentle kiss. The lady had difficultly speaking, but her sparkling eyes told me she enjoyed the encounter. Before we left the building we stopped by to see her one more time and Louie gave her a few more kisses. She struggled to speak, but managed to say "Those were the best kisses I've had in my whole life". Louie just has a profound effect on people and we feel lucky to receive daily doses of therapy from him ourselves.

Katie's best quality is her protective nature. She makes friends quickly. Once you are her friend she considers it her job to protect you from all dangers. She has a photographic memory which she uses to catalog everything in our home and quite a few objects around our neighborhood. If she sees something new she peruses it to see if it might be a potential hazard. If she deems it to be dangerous she will warn you about it and try to steer you clear of it. From the age of five months old she has put herself between us and danger. Thankfully we have a word that I can use to quickly let her know that a particular object is actually quite safe - like that oddly shaped sprinkler that the neighbor down the street put on his lawn. I guess Katie thought it was going to attack us.

When Katie was still a pup she thought the diving board was dangerous. Here is a video showing Katie's concern for her Dad: First she tried to block him, then she verbally chastised him to try to stop him and after he jumped she ran to make sure he was OK.

If Katie and Louie could change one thing about you, what would it be?

I would quit my job and spend all my time with them.

If Hollywood made a movie in which Katie and Louie could talk, who should do their voices?

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan because they are good-natured, funny, cute and smart.

Visit the Welcome to the Happy Haus blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 23, 2011

Jenny Hubbard & Oliver

Who is in the photo at right?

Jenny Hubbard, a young-adult novelist, with Oliver, a seven-year-old Schnoodle (a Schnauzer-poodle mix).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every morning in bed, Oliver, my husband, and I have coffee while we read or listen to NPR. My husband prepares it: Starbucks Verona with “steamy milk,” as we call it.

How were you and Oliver united?

I saw his face on a website and knew he was the one. He had been in foster care for two months with Schnauzer Rescue of the Carolinas, who came and interviewed us for the job of Oliver’s parents. We’ve had the job for six months now and wouldn’t trade it for a hatbox full of hundreds (or millions).

How did he get his name? Any nicknames?

He came to us as Oliver. And it’s perfect for him.

He does have a nice little series of nicknames: Cujo (his persona when he’s out for his walk and sees other dogs); The White Shadow (because he follows us at every turn); and Hoover (he’s a canine vacuum in the kitchen).

Does Oliver play any role in your writing?

Yes, he sits in my lap during thunderstorms. I especially love to write on rainy days.

Does Oliver have a favorite place to go for walk?

Any walk is preferable to no walk, but we’ve learned that he prefers the country to the town. Oliver likes to feel a breeze blow through his hair.

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

It appears that toys may be beneath his dignity. He is frightened of the container in which we keep his food (a large clear-plastic bear).

What is Oliver's best quality?

Oliver is a dog that inspires superlatives.

But if I had to choose one, I’d go with his loyalty, his fierce and unwavering loyalty.

If Oliver were a talking dog in the movie of your life, who should do his voice?

Michael Caine.

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

He would like for me to be giant-size so that I could carry him everywhere in my pocket.

What's Oliver's proudest moment so far?

He managed to scavenge a chicken bone left over from a picnic during one of our walks through a park and hide it in his mouth for a good, long while.

His most embarrassing?

A bout with diarrhea on my parents’ living-room carpet.

If you could ask Oliver only one question, what would it be?

What about your past still haunts you?

Pat Conroy called Paper Covers Rock, Hubbard's new novel, “one of the best young-adult books [he's] read in years.” It’s “bold,” he says, “pitched to the very heart of boys.”

Learn more about the author/dog-lover at Jenny Hubbard's website.

My Book, The Movie: Paper Covers Rock.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Danette Haworth & Casey

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Danette Haworth, and my dog, Casey. I'm a published author living in Orlando, Florida with my family. My novels, for middle-grade readers, include Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning, The Summer of Moonlight Secrets, Me & Jack, and Two Flavors of Lucky (title might change, due 2012/2013).

A high-climbing cat named Jinx wends her way through the pages of The Summer of Moonlight Secrets, and dog lovers will be happy to know that Jack, a dog with royal bloodlines, is one of the main characters in Me & Jack, which came out this summer.

Casey is my cockapoo, my constant companion. She's one year old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Whatever time I wake, it still seems too early. I shuffle toward my cappuccino machine like a zombie. Casey tugs at my pajama bottoms, tugs and pulls, jumping, growling, dashing off and returning with a toy in her mouth and hope in her eyes, tail wagging. She makes it easy for me, pretending like she can hardly hold the toy, which I swipe in a clumsy gesture and toss. I fire up the cappuccino machine, get the milk ready, and make the morning's first important decision: How many shots of espresso? Most mornings require four, with follow-up.

Once properly fueled, I throw that toy hard, and Casey knows all my tricks, like banking it off the wall or bluffing toward the kitchen while really throwing it upstairs.

What's brewing?

Starbuck's espresso. I love cappuccino. I received a cappuccino machine for a wedding present, and I've used it (and its successors) every day since.

Any treats for you or Casey on this occasion?

Officially, we don't give Casey any treats. Off the record, not only does Casey get the scraps of eggs or little bits of bacon, she acts as a spot cleaner for the kitchen floor, letting nary a breakfast crumb fall without her immediate inspection and consumption.

How were you and Casey united?

My friend acquired a cockapoo who greeted me wildly whenever I visited. I'd hear his nails clicking on the floor during our visit, and he would, at regular intervals, slide under my hands for petting.

It had been a while since I'd had my own dog, but this dog opened my heart again. Since I couldn't kidnap him, I looked for a similar dog and found Casey! We got her when she was only two months old. She was so tiny and cute--and energetic!

Does Casey play any role in your writing?

Casey keeps me company by lying in the big, green chair in the corner of my office. She also chews up my red pens.

Does Casey have a favorite place to go for walk?

Anywhere is good if it means she's on a walk!

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Casey sits like a sentinel at our sliding glass doors, keeping an eye on the birdfeeder out back. I always know when birds or squirrels have landed, because I hear a sudden flurry of door scratching, barking, and whining. I don't ever want her to catch any of them, though, so when they've had enough time at the birdfeeder, I click open the door loudly and say, "Hi, Mr. Squirrel!" By the time Casey's leaping past the screen door, Mr. Squirrel and his bird friends are safe in the branches of nearby trees.

What is Casey's best quality?

Casey's best quality is her unlimited capacity to love and be loved. Everyone knows how loyal dogs are, but I'm not sure everyone realizes what a benefit it is to have a little personality who will accept all the love you want to give her. It can be so comforting, so restful, to stroke your dog's back, feel her softness and warmth. Casey lets me snuggle her up like a baby--I wish I could still do that with my kids!

What is Me & Jack, your latest book, about?

Twelve-year-old Joshua Reed knows how to play new kid: hang back, don’t talk too much, become invisible. Then he pairs up with Jack, a dog he rescues from the pound. Jack yanks Joshua from the sidelines to the frontlines and before Joshua can help it, he comes face-to-face with the meanest kid in school, Alan Prater. Joshua would like to be friends with Ray, but it turns out Ray and Prater are cousins, and Prater’s not letting outsiders in. Plus, being the son of an Air Force recruiter during the Vietnam War doesn't exactly make fitting in easy. When a few late night disturbances rip through town and everything points back to Jack, Joshua will have to fight for his family, his new home, and his beloved dog.

School Library Journal says, "Me & Jack is well paced and keeps readers focused and concerned about the characters and their development." Kirkus calls Me & Jack an "entertaining boy-and-dog adventure " that is "vividly depicted through [Joshua's] first-person narration and amusing interior monologues."

I hope you get a chance to read it! Thank you for having me!

Visit Danette Haworth's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 19, 2011

Lauren B. Davis & Bailey

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Lauren B. Davis, that’s my dog, Bailey. Bailey, about 2 years old – I’m not quite sure as he didn’t come with much history. And as for breed, I was told he’s a cockapoo, but I suspect some bichon frise, and a fair amount of terrier, as is evidenced by his desire to chase everything that moves in our garden – squirrels, ground hogs, rabbits, deer, and foxes. My husband, Ron, and I refer to him as The Rescuepoo.

As you can see, we’re both into books; in fact, I’m a novelist, essayist, and creative writing teacher. My new novel, Our Daily Bread, will be published Oct. 1, 2011. As well, I’ve published four other books: two novels, The Stubborn Season and The Radiant City; as well as two collections of short stories, An Unrehearsed Desire and Rat Medicine & Other Unlikely Curatives. You can learn more about me on my website.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Bailey and I have a fairly regular schedule. He wakes up about 6:00 a.m. and comes into bed for a cuddle until about 7:00 a.m.. He’d like it to be longer and would happily stay in bed until mid-morning, but I drag him out of bed. Then it’s out for the morning perambulation around the neighborhood, back for breakfast and coffee. I take my coffee sitting at my office desk, and Bailey takes up his post at Canine Command Central, also known as the window overlooking the garden. There’s generally a mid-morning writing-recharge repeat.

What's brewing?

I am particular about my coffee and drink a wonderful blend called “Excalibur” from the Burlap & Beans Company of Newtown PA. I grind the beans fresh and use a French Press. Best coffee I’ve ever had, and that’s after living in France for a decade!

Any treats for you or Bailey on this occasion?

Bailey is fond of – on this occasion and every other – of Cat-Man-Doo Dried Wild Salmon Treats, although he will forgo even this delectable for a bit of apple. I am easily seduced by pain-au-chocolat.

How were you and Bailey united?

After my friends Lisa Pasold and Bremner Duthie came to visit with their dog, Barclay (which should, of course, be spelled Barkly), the urge to share my home and life with a dog, which had been a long time low-level nagging, felt suddenly urgent. I’m not sure why, but I suspect it’s a soul thing — mysterious and hard to pin down, but no less real for all of that. I can’t explain it. It just was.

Although I’ve since heard a number of stories from people about how hard it was for them to find the right dog — months of searching, filling out applications, meeting dogs, applying for adoption, being disappointed – for me, once I’d seen Bailey’s photo on the Petfinder site, it was miraculously easy. He was being fostered with a wonderful family through an equally wonderful organization called AFEW (Animal Friends for Education and Welfare), not far from us. I contacted them and filled out an application. They wrote back a few hours later -- Did we want to meet him that Saturday at an adoption fair? You bet.

His foster mum, Mary (that’s her on the left in the photo at left) brought him. He wore a little blue sweater and flipped over on his back, tail wagging, the minute we walked in. I’d brought a toy, which he accepted with glee. He licked Ron’s hand. He’d had a hard time of it, rescued from a “kill shelter” somewhere down south, weighing only 10 lbs when he should have weighed 20 lbs — he was a little skeleton — so matted he’d been shaved a few weeks before (hence the sweater). Nobody knew where he’d come from or what had happened to him precisely. He was a bit skittish around some people, especially if they moved too fast over his head. I was told he’d probably been hit and was frightened. I asked if he could come home with us that afternoon for a home visit. He fell asleep in Ron’s arms on the ride home. He’s been with us ever since.

How did he get his name? Any nicknames?

Bailey came to us with his name, and I didn’t want to change it, since I suspected he’s had a great number of changes in his life.

Nicknames? You bet. The Rescuepoo, of course; but also, Little Pooters, Snuggles, Bailey Bug and Angel Pie (so good I could eat ‘im with a spoon).

Does Bailey play any role in your writing?

As a writer I spend a great deal of time alone. I like this. It’s not that I actively dislike people (well, not all people), but like most writers, my temperament leans toward the solitary. My writing sometimes takes me to rather dark and, dare I say, emotionally perilous places. (I’d stop if I could, but I’m actually saner when I’m writing than when I’m not, so it’s best for all concerned that I continue.) Also, as a recovered alcoholic, I have a ‘natural’ tendency to isolate, preferring to simmer in my own emotional stews. Then, too, like most of my family members, I have a history of depression, for which in the past I’ve been medicated. Whereas my husband is a glass-frothing-over-in-effervescent-excess-of-good-stuff kind of guy, I’m definitely an oh-look-I-think-that’s-a-dreg-at-the-bottom-of-the-glass type of gal.

In short, I’ve always thought of myself as moody, with a tendency to droop.

Or at least I did. Recently, I have found it impossible to maintain moody droopiness when faced with a little fur-ball who believes my coming back into the room after a five minute absence warrants a celebration worthy of visiting royalty. He’s my wee shadow. Sitting in a chair by the window, squirrel-spotting, as I write. Trotting after me from room to room. Lying on his blanket in the kitchen as I cook. Sitting on my lap like a little fur-covered hot water bottle as I read. If I get caught up too long in dark thoughts I am interrupted (as though he knows I’ve taken a wrong turn) by the sound of a squeaky toy and the thump of his paw on my leg. Time for a walk. Time for play. Before Bailey, I feel like I’d forgotten about play.

Even my husband remarks on how much happier I’ve been the past year. He’s surprised, and so am I, frankly. I didn’t realize how gray the world had felt.

I am, after a creatively fallow period, once again writing and I don’t feel so isolated. In fact, the as yet unnamed new novel I’m working on has – surprise! – a dog in it, a companion who follows a woman on her journey through the Underworld in search of her brother. Huh.

Does Bailey have a favorite place to go for walk?

We live on a big, mile-long horseshoe of a road, and three times a day we wander out to see what we might see. There are usually other dogs around, and at first Bailey barked and snarled and growled, but, thanks to the guidance of my wonderful dog trainer, Lynn Robinson, he now has some pals. And with all the wildlife around us – possums and raccoons and all the critters I mentioned above – there is no end of interesting smells out there.

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

Bailey has a basket containing all his toys – Snakey (a very loud green plush squeaky used to announce his desire for attention), Rabbit (a sort of road-kill thing), Puffy, Knotty, Tuffy, Foxy, Justin Beaver, and the blue plush squeaky he takes up to bed with him every night, given to him my Mary, his foster mum. He’s definitely a squeaky-toy kind of guy. He also knows the name of all his toys and will fetch whichever one you ask for. (Of course, he’s much smarter than other dogs, in my humble opinion.)

What is Bailey's best quality?

Do I have to pick just one? Loyal, funny, so smart (did I mention smart?) eager to please, a great listener and a better cuddler ... yes, maybe that’s it – his talent at cuddling.

If Bailey were a talking dog in the movie of your life, who should do his voice?

Maybe Stephen Colbert – funny, smart, often just having me on, and I sometimes suspect he knows far more than I do.

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

I suspect he’d like me to understand, once and for all, that although writing may be somewhat useful, tummy rubs really ought to take precedence.

What's Bailey's proudest moment so far? His most embarrassing?

Proudest – definitely his dramatic “stick-‘em-up” followed by the even more dramatic “bang!” drop dead – paw to forehead, staggering sideways and eventually falling over on his back. Absolutely the star of his Tricks Class.

He’s never embarrassed me! I wonder if I’ve ever embarrassed him? If so, he’s been too polite to mention it.

Visit Lauren B. Davis's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 16, 2011

Anna Sheehan & Madra and Finbar

Who is in the photo at right?

The one in the middle is Anna Sheehan. I’m a YA author whose debut book, A Long, Long Sleep, just came out August ninth of this year. My lovely little dogs are Madra and Finbar, my Irish Wolfhounds. Finbar is a little over a year and a half – Madra about two years.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Early morning in the garden at my ranch, Wolfstead. Have to wake up somehow.

What's brewing?

Most of the coffee at our house is kona coffee, picked by my mother on a trip to Hawaii, and roasted in our own kitchen. The interesting thing is actually the cup, which was hand thrown by my late husband.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Summer in the garden means strawberries and snap peas, lemon cucumbers and lettuces. The dogs aren’t really interested in any of this, but I enjoy slipping bites into my mouth as I stroll through. Sometimes, they have been known to snap at the slugs.

How were you and Madra and Finbar united?

Finbar was picked up from a breeder in Texas. A special road trip just to get an Irish Wolfhound puppy. Madra was from Washington, and was about six months old when we got her.

Have your dogs played any role in your writing?

Oh, yes. In A Long, Long Sleep, I gave my character Rose an Afghan. My mother was a veterinarian, so I knew a lot about different dog breeds. I knew what comfort and use a dog could be in someone’s life – a stabilizing presence. Rose needed stabilization a lot, so I had to make sure I gave her a dog.

How did Madra and Finbar get their names? Any aliases?

We tend to name our Wolfhounds after Irish heroes or Gaelic words. Finbar means Fair Headed. Madra means Princess.

Do your dogs have a favorite place to go for walk?

My dogs love running down in the lower field, racing up the gravel road, and generally getting into the dust. We have twelve and a half acres at Wolfstead, so there is plenty of place for them to run.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Calf. They love chasing the Dexter cattle. (We have Irish Dexters, too.) But mostly, they howl back at the coyotes.

What is each dog's best quality?

Madra is a devoted and wildly loyal little girl. Very shy, but very loving. Finbar is bolder, and more than a little silly. He stayed a puppy far longer than any dog has any right to, but he’s settled down now, and is a truly noble and handsome creature.

If Madra and Finbar could change one thing about you, what would it be?

I bet they both wish I would run around with them more. Mostly, that I was a dog.

What's each dog's proudest moment so far? The most embarrassing?

The worst dog moment in my household was when the silly puppy ate all the Halloween chocolate, and then proceeded to vomit it up on my carpet. I couldn’t eat chocolate for months – the smell was abominable.

My favorite dog moment is probably the one caught in the photo at left, as my daughter curls up on Wolfhound bellies, and is generally adorable.

How do you handle the sheer size?

Wolfhounds, though no one realizes this, are magical. They perform the Incredible Shrinking Wolfhound trick, and curl up into places you wouldn’t at all expect them to fit. Not only that, but the images you see in Celtic knotwork of dogs all twisted into insane positions and tangled up with each other are entirely accurate. Somehow, no one is quite sure how, Irish Wolfhounds turn their bones to rubber, and their musculature doubles back on itself. Even when they are lolling on my couch, they manage to knot themselves up into absurd contortions – thus they really don’t take up as much space as they look like they do.

Visit Anna Sheehan's website and Amazon and Facebook pages.

Writers Read: Anna Sheehan.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sally Nicoll & Dow Jones

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Sally Nicoll, author of two books. The first, Bets and the City, is a comedy memoir of my short but spectacularly disastrous attempt to make a fortune trading stocks and shares. My debut thriller, The Power Behind The Throne, poses the question: What if the genuine heir to the Throne of England were a student from Seattle? Standing in front of me in the photo is Dow Jones, my Parson Jack Russell Terrier, aged seven.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Dow Jones and I live in Primrose Hill, setting for the Disney classic 101 Dalmatians and one of London’s most dogcentric neighborhoods. We’re so fortunate this vast expanse of countryside, right in the heart of London, is right on our doorstep. I tend to bump into my friends Alison, Francesca and Eddie at about 8.30 every morning. Dow Jones goes for a romp with his friends – Dexter, Floyd and Blue –then we all go for coffee at Germano’s. It’s a daily event and part of my morning ritual.

What's brewing?

I’m such a regular – and Germano’s such a hero – that the moment I sit down, a Sally Latte is placed in my hands: a single shot of coffee, drowned in milk, with two sugars in a takeaway cup; that way, the brew stays warmer for longer in winter.

Any treats for you or Dow Jones on this occasion?

If Dow Jones is in luck, he gets a pig’s ear to crunch on. If I’m in luck (or more likely, procrastinating) I get a second latte.

How were you and Dow Jones united?

He came to live with me when he was eight weeks old.

How did he get his name? Any nicknames?

As I said in Bets and the City: “I have traded on so many dogs, I might as well get one of my own.” Dow Jones also answers (sometimes) to the name of Dow-Wow.

Which Tottenham Hotspur player does Dow Jones most remind you of?

Great question! In Britain, football is of huge importance. The manager of the England team (you guys just appointed Jurgen Klinsmann; a former Tottenham player and an inspired choice to manage Team USA ) is referred to as having the second most important job in the land. Tottenham Hotspur is my team. Dow Jones is actually pretty useful with a football: tenacious, doesn’t give up easily, powerful in defence and scores the occasional unexpected goal. I guess that makes him Michael Dawson.

Does Dow Jones play any role in your writing?

Absolutely. Both on and off the page. Writing’s a sedentary job, so our walks impose a structure on my day and punctuate my routine. While he’s off romping in the long grass, I get to think about the latest plot problems, and it’s surprising how often they’ve been resolved by the time I get back to my desk. If you happen to have read Bets and the City, you already know Dow Jones elbowed his way to center stage and became the true hero of the story. He’s still sulking because The Power Behind The Throne features a Red Setter rather than a Parson Jack Russell. Whenever I write a story, it’s not long before a four-legged character emerges…

Does Dow Jones have a favorite place to go for walk?

He’s keen on the footpath that runs alongside London Zoo in Regent’s Park. Lots of intriguing smells.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Failed squirrel hunter – he just can’t climb those trees. On cordial terms with our postman. His career ambition is to capture our neighbor’s cats.

What is your dog's best quality?

Boundless optimism.

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

If he had his way, a Parson Jack Russell would star in every book I write.

What is Dow Jones's proudest moment so far? His most embarrassing?

The day he dug a four-foot deep hole on the beach, when we lived in Spain, he was proud as a dog with four tails.

Embarrassing? What sort of an owner would I be if I disclosed any of his less-than-glorious moments on the Internet?

Visit Sally Nicoll's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Sally Nicoll.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 12, 2011

Peter Abrahams & Audrey

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Peter Abrahams - known as Spencer Quinn when it comes to the Chet and Bernie series – with my dog, Audrey, who has no other name. Audrey’s six years old, half Bernese and half Golden Retriever. She’s very strong, quite smart, kind of willful. Audrey has her own ways. For example, the wind scares her but she has to be outdoors if it’s windy. I’m somewhat older and like the wind. The Dog Who Knew Too Much is my 27th novel. The 28th, Robbie Forester and the Outlaws of Sherwood St., first in a new middle-grade series, comes out in January. The Chet and Bernie books are for adults, but I know some teens are reading them.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

The occasion? I paused on the way to the office (over the garage), about to start the workday. Any time Audrey sees a human like that is an occasion for her to sit on his feet. It’s a Bernese thing.

What's brewing?

I load the coffee maker with fresh beans every night, programmed to grind and brew at 7:30. This particular brew is Ugandan. I like the word Uganda a lot.

Any treats for you or Audrey on this occasion?

Don’t say treat in front of Audrey.

How were you and Audrey united?

My wife brought her home.

How did she get her name?

Ask my wife how Audrey got her name.

Any nicknames?

Nicknames? Did Audrey Hepburn have a nickname?

The latest Chet and Bernie mystery is now out. How much of Audrey is in Chet?

I don’t really work that way, but if I hadn’t had dogs – of whom Audrey is the latest of quite a few – I wouldn’t have been able to write or been interested in writing the series.

If the mysteries are adapted for the screen, who should do Chet's voice?

Humphrey Bogart. Rex Harrison would also work, in a crazy way. But confining ourselves to the living, usually the best policy, how about Jeff Bridges?

Does Audrey have a favorite place to go for walk?

The beach. We live very close to a nice beach and Audrey loves it. She swims even on the coldest winter days.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Chet (not a talking dog, by the way, only a narrating one – he has no human powers) mentions several times in the series that he’s responsible for home security. Audrey’s the same way. She barks at the approach of any non-family member. At the same time, she gets along very well with the mailman, UPS and FedEx people, meter readers, etc. They all bring her treats, of course, which skews the results somewhat.

What is Audrey's best quality?

She’s part of the family and knows it. Does this answer the question? Logically not, but it feels right (perhaps right here is some insight into how I’m able to write Chet).

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

She’d want me to give up on trying to get her to retrieve. But where’s the retriever part, I keep asking.

Visit Chet the Dog's blog and Facebook page, and Peter Abrahams's website.

The Page 69 Test:
Spencer Quinn's The Dog Who Knew Too Much.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 9, 2011

Elizabeth Park & Butters

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Elizabeth Park, with Butters who is an 8-month-old, 4-pound male yorkie poo. As for me, I'm a Manhattan transplant now living in Boston. I moved here 2 years ago after working for 6 years in NYC as a stock analyst at a major investment bank. Now I'm a stay at home wife and mom (just Butters, for now).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Butters and I catch up on emails and blogs together every morning at the dining room table.

What's brewing?

I actually don't really drink coffee anymore, though I'll have it once in a while. My favorite is the low-cal, soy mochaccino from Starbucks but that only happens about twice a year. I gave up coffee after I stopped working and replaced caffeine consumption with sleep!

Any treats for you or Butters on this occasion?

Butters is chewing on a dehydrated yam, which we picked up from our favorite dog bakery called Polka Dog. He loves all things sweet!

How were you and Butters united?

I picked up Butters at the airport, when he weighed 1.3 pounds. He came to us from a breeder in Tennessee.

How did he get his name? Any nicknames?

My husband and I watched a lot of South Park when we were dating, and we both loved the character Butters. Our Butters has a lot of nicknames: Mr. Bumpkins, Butt Butt, Bum Bum, Gooby, Beurre.

Does Butters have a favorite place to go for a walk?

We usually walk around our neighborhood, Beacon Hill. But Butters will walk anywhere with me. He can walk for miles and miles and refuses to be carried.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Birds! He loves chasing birds.

Squeaky-toy, tennis ball, stick?

Butters is obsessed with tennis balls, and if we play fetch in the park, he will insist on carrying it in his mouth all the way home.

What is Butters's best quality?

Butters is an easygoing and friendly dog, and I'm so thankful for that as it makes bringing him around the city so much easier. Some days it feels like everyone knows Butters. People I don't know will come up to us on the street and say to him, 'Hi Butters! How's it going?'

If Butters could change one thing about New Englanders, what would it be?

Their seemingly unanimous love for big dogs. When we walk around Boston, people point and make comments about how Butters is the tiniest dog they've ever seen.

When I lived in New York, it felt like everyone had tiny dogs, which I thought was appropriate and fitting for apartment living. A couple months ago I was visiting friends in NYC, and I went to a pet boutique looking for a carrier for Butters. I told the man working there that my dog was 2.5 pounds (at the time), and he didn't even flinch. Here in Boston, he's treated like a circus freak. A cute circus freak.

If Hollywood made a movie in which Butters could talk, who should do his voice?

Conan O'Brien. He's charismatic, funny, smart, and sometimes spastic, just like Butters.

Visit the official Butters the Lil' Yorkie Poo blog.

--Marshal Zeringue