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