Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Nancy Anderson & Rupert

Who is in the photo at right?

Well, that’s me, Nancy Anderson (dog herbalist/artist/hiker), with Rupert, a six-year-old Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Since I’m distracted by anything and everything at home, I go to my local café (True Grounds) to study and/or write about the application of medicinal herbs in treating health conditions in dogs. Rupert’s schedule is free this morning, so he joined me.

What's brewing?

An Americano made with a George Howell espresso called “Alchemy.”

Any treats for you or Rupert on this occasion?

For me, an outrageously delicious cinnamon scone. Rupert schmoozed a dog biscuit from the barista.

To wash it down, I bought him a Doffee (a funny little cup of coffee for dogs – but really just beef broth).

How were you and Rupert united?

Six months after my last Swissy died, I contacted a breeder friend in Virginia to ask if she had any senior dogs that needed a retirement home. As an herbalist and having dealt with senior issues for the previous few years, I saw myself always having older dogs to help transition. She replied with a picture of a 7 week-old puppy. I didn’t want a puppy. But, he was returned to her after the other dog in his first home tried to eat him – repeatedly – and so I said I would meet him the next time she came up to New England.

How did Rupert get his name? Any nicknames?

The poor guy came to me at 4 ½ months with the name of William. After exhausting every conceivable form of William, I googled “least common boy names.” When I got to “R” and saw ‘Rupert,’ I realized that there could be no other name for him. Distinguished, but in a really dorky way.

At the school that he visits, he goes by “British Super Agent Rupert D. Anderson.”

What makes Rupert such a great cafe companion?

He just lays there, unobtrusively, and smiles at passers-by -- who then feel compelled to stop to greet him. I’ve had many interesting conversations with unexpected strangers while sitting with him here, and he makes them smile.

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

Nothing makes him happier than going hiking in the woods. His tail starts wagging a mile before we get there.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Cat. The cats in the neighborhood seem to enjoy this, sprawling across the sidewalk or following us on a walk, while he strains at the lead and I grumble and threaten him.

What is Rupert's best quality?

If I can name only one, it would be his contagious smile. He smiles a lot. But also, Rupert is an extremely laid back kind of guy (when there are no cats around), and he gives off this vibe to other dogs of calmness and approachability – which is pretty helpful when we’re working a new dog into our hikes. He shares with the others, too. Of his own accord.

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

That I feed him more often and in larger quantities.

What's Rupert's proudest moment so far?

Rupe is a dog of many talents (therapy dog working with adolescents, READ dog, AKC Champion, Canine Good Citizen) but he was recently the carting dog at the annual Somerville Dog Fest. Leading up to the event, he pretended that he had absolutely no drafting genes, and I was prepared to make a total ass of us both. Once we got there and I hitched him up to the wagon, he realized that there were crowds of people watching him, and suddenly became an expert carting machine. He’s a Leo.

Most embarrassing?

I used to manage a dog wash and store, and had a little more fun than I should have in trying out the new merchandise on him. I know that clothing does not belong on dogs, but the peace sign turtleneck sweaters, Doggles, hooded raincoats, hiking boots with matching socks… it was all too tempting, and sent us into peals of laughter. He was a trouper for allowing me to squeeze him into these, resigning himself to yet another embarrassing display in front of other dogs, and then he would inevitably do the walk of shame.

If Rupert could answer only one question in English, what would you ask him?

How can I repay you for the fashion sessions?

Visit the Canis major Herbals website.

--Marshal Zeringue


  1. Thanks for the introduction! canine herbalist - that is very cool an area I have a lot of interest in. Plus, Rupert is darn cute!

  2. I love Rupert's smile!! Great Photos