Monday, January 30, 2012

Dorris Heffron & Yukitu and Ike's Hope

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Dorris Heffron. I'm a novelist, sitting with my Alaskan Malamutes, Yukitu and the pup, Ike's Hope.

Yukitu, female, is 5 years. Ike is 3 months in the photo with totem pole -- now he is 6 months.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every morning I hike the trails on our 50 acre country property with my dogs then brew a mug of fresh coffee before sitting down to my desk.

What's brewing?

I make cafe au lait from freshly roasted beans bought from Ashanti Coffee Brewery in nearby Thornbury, Ontario. Ashanti imports the beans from their plantation in Kenya.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

My dogs get Ashanti dog cookies.

How were you and your dogs united?

We got Yukitu as a pup from Wolfrunner Kennels and Ike from Shelaskan Kennels.

How did they get their names? Any aliases?

Yukitu is named after my first malamute, Yukon Sally [photo left]. Ike's Hope, aka Ikey, relates to a character, Ike, in my recent novel, City Wolves. At the heart of the novel is the ancient story of how a Malamute speaking Inuit couple, Ike and Piji, steal wolf pups and eventually produce working sled dogs of the breed now known as Alaskan Malamutes.

What role have your dogs played in your writing?

I was so intrigued by the wolf-like traits of my first malamute, Yukon Sally, that I researched the history of the breed, which led to researching wolves. Then I took Yukon Sally to the Yukon, where we got interested in the Klondike gold rush. Upon return we sold our Toronto house and bought the country property (which I named Little Creek Wolf Range) and got Jake [photo right, with Yukitu], a companion malamute for Yukon Sally.

The dogs kept taking me to the local woman veterinarian, ostensively to get porcupine quills removed so they could go back and teach the porcies a lesson...until I clued in and got the real message from Yukon Sally. She wanted my novel to be about how wolves became sled dogs, their glory days in the Klondike gold rush and have the main character a woman vet, the first woman vet. So I researched veterinary history and eventually wrote my fifth novel, City Wolves. It was a ten year project. Yukon Sally had become old and ill. After I got news that the novel would be published, a few days later, on the darkest day, December 21st, Yukon Sally was laid to rest in my arms.

Do your dogs have a favorite place to go for an outing...and do they get there very often during winter?

Thanks to an invisible fence system, our dogs run free on 30 acres of Little Creek Wolf Range. In winter they can pull a sled or lead me round on my snowshoes.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

Malamutes prefer live toys, like chasing rabbits or running raccoons up a tree.

What is each dog's best quality?

I love the sensitivity and independent thinking of malamutes. They are not obedient but highly co-operative if respectfully treated, like very intelligent teenagers.

Though a strong male, Ikey is also a cuddle monster. Though regal and dominant, Yukitu is also very playful.

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

Nothing. Malamutes are super friendly and tolerant of most any human trait, except cruelty.

What is each dog's proudest moment?

I'm not sure. It would have to do with winning the race, cutting off at the pass, or, I'm loathe to say...actually catching a rabbit.

If your dogs could speak in the movie about your life, who should do their voices?

Paul Gross for Ike, please. And Margaret Atwood could do Yukitu.

Visit Dorris Heffron's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 27, 2012

Christine & Bogart and Brando

Who is in the photo at right?

This is a photo of me, Christine, and Humphrey Bogart. I'm a homeschool parent of four children. Our four year old has epilepsy and autism so my family helps with the blog, too. I'm a pet parent to 4 dogs (three Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, and one Border Collie.) Marlon Brando is a year old, Humphrey Bogart and Ziggy Stardust are 8 months and 7 months old. Cleopatra is at best guess 2 years old. We've just adopted her from the shelter, and she's only been with us three weeks.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

First agility drill after the holidays.

What's brewing?

Maxwell House Breakfast Blend.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Cadbury Roasted Almond bar.

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

Dick Van Patton's Natural Balance Dog Food Roll. (All of our dogs will do any trick for it! High value treat!!)

How were you and your dogs united?

Well, it was love at first sight. I had to wait 20 years to get a Cavalier, and the passing of my mother who wanted nothing to do with dogs. Our Marlon Brando came from a breeder in Missouri. He had a very long 12 hour flight to New Mexico. We adopted Humphrey a few months after Brando, and Ziggy a few months after Humphrey.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

We love old movies. Aliases are My Dinkin' for Brando, and Humfee Dumfee for Humphrey.

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

Marlon Brando has a collection of 40+ stuffed animals that he brings outside, and buries. Our yard is full of holes! Humphrey loves all toys!

Where is Bogart and Brando's favorite place for an outing?

Sonic's Drive In where they always get treats from the carhops, and a grilled chicken sandwich from my husband.

Who are Bogart and Brando's best pet-pals?

Ziggy, Cleopatra, my son's cat, Elvis Purrssley, my daughter's dog, James Cagney.

What is each dog's most endearing quality?

Both Brando and Humphrey give hugs. They nuzzle right around your neck.

If Bogart and Brando could change only one thing about you, what would it be?

I would wake earlier to feed them sooner!

What is each dog's proudest moment?

Brando walking through Petsmart for the first time. He's no longer afraid of shiny floors! Humphrey is an AKC STAR PUPPY. He's working towards CGC, and hopefully, will be a therapy dog soon.

If Bogart and Brando could speak in a movie about your life, which actors would you have doing the dogs' voices?

Of course, Humphrey Bogart and Marlon Brando!

Visit Brando and Bogart's blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Terri Jacobson & her greyhounds

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Terri Jacobson and I am one of the servants at Greyhound Gardens. By day I am a graphic designer at a community college, by night I take photos and everything in between I spend with the dogs. The greyhound snagging the treat out of my hand is Minnie. She’s eight years old and is one of the spunky ladies that keeps the rest of the hounds in line.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My partner Karen and I actually have coffee twice a day, every day with the hounds. Our back patio overlooks a fenced acre and we spend an hour every morning and an hour every evening out on the patio having coffee.

What's brewing?

Fresh ground and home brewed, strong with a splash of cream.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

During the summer months, the dogs love to eat the fresh fruits, cherries, plums and apples as they ripen on the trees. They have also discovered bully stix, they are a coveted favorite.

How were you and your dogs united?

I’ve been involved in greyhound adoption for a long time. Some of our hounds we adopted because they were seniors or shy or had other issues that made it harder for them to be adopted. Minnie was three months old when we met her at a greyhound farm. I really wanted to see what the racing side was like, so we bought her and her half-brother Flocko [photo left] as puppies to follow them through their careers. When they retired, we brought them home to be our pets.

Timber [photo right] is a fluffy greyhound, a borzoi. He was a complete surprise for us. A friend of ours knew the family that had Timber and the allergies had kicked into full swing with a borzoi. In November 2011 he called and asked if we would be interested. I thought for sure that our friend was kidding, who would give up a one-year old borzoi? Two weeks he called me back and asked if we’d thought about it. He gently reminded me that most of our pack was getting older and it might be nice for us to have a younger dog around. Enter the borzoi at Greyhound Gardens.

When Mickey was born, the kennel owner called me because she knew I had a secret obsession for white and black dogs. Mickey was two days old when we held him for the first time. I think I may have named him Mickey so that I would have “Mickey and Minnie.” He came home from the track only having raced once or twice.

How did your dogs get their names?

Any nicknames? Most of the greyhounds kept their kennel names when we adopted them. We named Talley after one of our veterinarians, we got to name Minnie and Mickey when they were pups. They all have nicknames and a song to go with their name.

You've got some beautiful photos on your website. What's the biggest challenge in shooting dogs?

My hope is to someday become a pet photographer. The more photos I take of the dogs, the more challenges I encounter. The natural light outside is rarely perfect. Most of the time I am either fighting direct harsh sunlight or because we live in Oregon, I deal with a lot of really flat, overcast skies. I’m an eye person, so if the eyes are perfectly focused with a highlight, the photo rarely makes the first cut. I’ve dumped a lot of great action shots just because of the eyes.

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

Anywhere with a leash attached is a favorite place to walk. Since photography is my second passion after the dogs, nearly every week-end we take one dog on an adventure. Sometimes we go to the beach, sometimes we hike in the mountains and sometimes we just go for a drive to see where we end up.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Surely you jest, the squirrels drive the dogs crazy. Our property is surrounded by tall cedar trees, perfect squirrel villas.

We used to have a significantly large population of feral cats, but I think they all got the memo and no longer come around. Or, they have each other to chase around.

Squeaky-toy, stick, Frisbee..?

Squeaky toys rule for most of the dogs. Flocko lives to play with his ball and Timber is quite the tug-o’-war king.

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

Definitely, without a doubt quit the day job and get a bigger bed.

If your dogs could change one thing about being Oregonians, what would it be?

Actually, I think being Oregonians suits us perfectly.

The occasionally potty break out in the rain is not always welcome, but the standing water afterwards is a favorite to run through.

The temperature is almost always livable. We are only an hour from the coast and an hour from the mountains. It’s perfect.

If your dogs could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

You live in a multi-hound household and that isn’t going to change. We’ve given each of you your own cushions, kennels and bowls. We’re always available for ear scritches. What else do you want from us to make this the best life ever?

Visit the websites for Greyhound Gardens and Terri Jacobson Photography & Design.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kirsten Stade & Lamar, Fozzie, and Sandy

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Kirsten Stade and I work for a nonprofit environmental group helping defend public employees who blow the whistle on agency environmental misdeeds. I also teach dog training classes, groom dogs out of my home, and volunteer at my local humane society.

In the photo I am with my old friend Lamar, a 12-year-old Anatolian shepherd mix I rescued as a young dog from the Santa Fe Animal shelter when I lived there years ago. My intention was to foster him, and that lasted about 3 days.

I currently have two foster dogs as well as Lamar. Fozzie Bear is a Mastiff mix I rescued from a nearby shelter two years ago with every intention of finding him a home quickly. Sandy is our newest foster; she is pictured with my sweetie and co-conspirator Florian Rouiller.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Lamar and I celebrated my birthday on the outer banks of North Carolina with my family last year. We are an outdoorsy lot and love to explore new places with all the dogs!

What's brewing?

Unlucky for Lamar, I'm afraid the beverages I enjoyed for my birthday were not dog-appropriate! Fozzie is rather particular with food and drink; he likes mountain spring water better than anything.

Sandy will try just about anything; she wanted to try some Leinenkugel's Berry Weiss [photo right] but don't worry, Florian stopped short of allowing her to guzzle his brew.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Lamar and I got to share some birthday carrot cake.

How were you and your dogs united?

I met Lamar when I visited the shelter with my co-worker to take his wife, who worked there, out to lunch; I saw Lamar, who was named Toby, and Toby extended his paw to me repeatedly, and I told the shelter staff that if his time ran out, they should give me a call.

I met Fozzie after I got permission from the rescue group I volunteered with to pull a dog from a high-kill shelter in Maryland. I wanted to pull an older, calm, medium-sized, female of some easy-to-find-a-home for breed. I brought Florian with me, and Florian stuck his tongue between the bars of the cage that contained Bullet, a massive, powerful, adolescent male who was on death row because he'd failed his evaluation due to an overabundance of energy and poor impulse control. Bullet exuberantly returned Florian's overtures, which is how he came to be named Fozzie Bear and living with us.

Sandy is the result of my receiving an email about a dog who was stressed out at the shelter where I volunteer, right when I was in a vulnerable mood.

How did your dogs get their names? Do they have any nicknames?

Lamar Latrell is named after the famous nerd in Revenge of the Nerds, one of my favorite movies of my youth.

Fozzie Bear was the furthest thing I could think of from Bullet and the perception some people might have of such a large, powerful, muscular dog.

Sandy's name was given her by the shelter.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Fozzie's prey drive is through the roof. Lamar has some interest in prey species but is nice to the postman. Sandy seems pretty good around other species, especially humans. I don't completely trust her around my parakeets yet, but she may be able to be placed with a family with a cat--I can get back to you on that one if anyone's interested!

Where is your dogs' favorite place for an outing?

Our favorite places are hiking trails all over Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia and the pups love any place they can run free and get wet.

Our favorites are all on our blog.

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

Lamar is a Frisbee star--he can catch them behind his back in midair. Sandy and Fozzie haven't figured out how to catch yet, but Sandy is an amazing jumper [photo right].

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Lamar is not a huge fan of any other pets, though surprisingly he sometimes plays with Sandy the annoying little pup. Fozzie and Sandy usually have a lot of fun together, though Fozzie gets tired of Sandy's constant harassment.

What is each dog's most endearing quality?

Lamar likes to take his Frisbee and place it on the grass and then throw himself down on it and roll around on his back, making happy groaning grunting noises.

Fozzie is the most sensitive dog I have ever met, and if any human is ever upset Fozzie is on that human's chest or lap. Generally he can't get close enough to his people.

Sandy grunts and snorts a lot when she chews on things, but also when she kisses you and when you pet her.

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

Probably the fact that I have this compulsion to acquire other dogs! I think each of them would prefer having us humans all to themselves.

What is each dog's proudest moment?

I'm pretty proud of the progress Fozzie and I have made on his leash reactivity. We still have work to do, but we've learned a lot.

Sandy does great at adoption events--we've been proud at every one I've taken her to.

It's hard to pick one proud moment from 11 years with my main man Lamar. I'm proud of him for his incredible athleticism at the age of 12, his airborne Frisbee catches, his love of swimming, and his paws, which were the reason I rescued him and are still so expressive.

Visit the Peaceful Dog blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 20, 2012

Jessica & Chester and Gretel

Who is in the photo at right?

That is me, Jessica, and my two miniature Dachshunds, Chester and Gretel, from

I live in the outdoor Mecca of Seattle with my fiancé and two Dachshunds. We are avid hikers, travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. I work in an office but I like to pretend that managing our blog is my only job. Maybe one day it will be.

Chester is a 9 year old male. He is the black and tan tweenie. Gretel is 2 years old girl. She is the mini Chocolate Dapple.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We tired ourselves out hiking the day before so we decided to take it easy today. I wanted to check out the dog lounge at Bark Espreesso, and my fiancé can’t function without his morning coffee, so we decided to stop before we headed out for a little urban hiking.

It is a treat for me too because I don’t usually drink coffee. I do really enjoy it on occasion though.

What's brewing?

Bark Espresso serves Café Del Sol espresso from the Café Vita Roasting Company. Café Vita has roasted coffee right here in Seattle since 1995! They describe their Del Sol blend as rich and complex with hints of dark chocolate and praline and a caramel finish. I ruined that buy making it a Mocha. Once you add chocolate, that is all you taste.

To be specific, I am having a tall, single Mocha with no whip.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Not this morning. They do serve one of the best gluten free chocolate chip cookies ever. Skydottir Epic Cookies taste about as close as you can get to a normal cookie. They’re good but having a cookie (which I also don’t eat often) and a Mocha would be way too much sugar for me in one sitting.

Any treat for your dogs on this occasion?

I brought Zuke’s Mini Naturals to distract them from harassing other patrons and doggies if I have to. It’s one of their favorites. The treats are also a good way to get them to look at the camera for photos.

How were you and Chester and Gretel united?

I inherited Chester from an old roommate. She got Chester as a tiny puppy for Christmas one year. A couple of months later she had to go out of state for work. I had wanted a dog but wasn’t ready to fully commit to the responsibility. I thought it would be a great opportunity to try dog ownership out. I said I would take care of him for the month she was gone. One month turned into a couple of years of her mostly being gone.

I really felt like I raised him. When I parted ways with my roommate, she moved to a place where she couldn’t take him. I offered to take him so he could stay in state and she could visit him when she wanted. He just never went back with her.

My fiancé and I adopted Gretel last year from a local rescue. I had been thinking of getting a friend for Chester for a couple of years but not seriously. I would occasionally browse Petfinder to see what was out there.

One day I came across Gretel’s photo. Her coloring was beautiful and I couldn’t resist her eyes. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing – that someone didn’t want this gorgeous dog! I immediately contacted the adoption agency.

Then I got cold feet. Committing to a second dog was not something I took lightly. It was not normal practice, but the rescue thought we were the best fit for her so they held her for a week for us while we decided. We ended up taking her and couldn’t be happier. She is the love of our lives.

How did your dogs get their names? Do they have any nicknames?

It’s not a very exciting story. Both dogs were named by someone else and we just didn’t change them.

Our next dogs will have hiking-related names like summit or something.

Chester and Gretel are adventure dogs. Can you give us an example of their outdoor prowess that people don't expect from small dogs?Link
Well, they hike. And I mean steep hikes that make me sore the next day! They also snowshoe with us. There is not a hike or snowshoe we go on when we don’t get several questions like “Did you have to carry them up here?” or comments like “look at that poor dog with those little legs” (like we are being abusive or something). I have to assure every person that they love it and they can out hike us any day!

I don’t know if it will happen, but one of our goals this summer is to hike to the top of Mount Adams with them. Mount Adams, at 12,276 feet, is the second highest peak in Washington State. We would take them up the first highest peak but dogs are not allowed on Mount Rainier.

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

Squeakie toy...for about 5 seconds…because that is as long as they last before they chew them up and kill the squeakie.

Where is Chester and Gretel's favorite place for an outing?

In the Cascade Mountains. Well, really anywhere we hike in the woods but that is where we go most often.

Who are Chester and Gretel's best pet-pals?

Gretel has a BFF named Sienna. When we go out of town, Sienna and her Mom watch Chester and Gretel for us. Swift and Kool from the blog Life with Doxies, and our hiking buddy Marshall, are also some of our regular partners in crime.

We have met a lot of other Dachshund through the Adventureweiner Club we started. As a matter of fact, two of them, Bambi and Yogi, showed up with their Mom and Dad while we were sitting in the café! There are over 150 dogs in our group and we consider all of them to be our friends.

What is each dog's most endearing quality?

Just one each?

Well, with Gretel it is her crooky face. She has so many silly expressions. One look at her and you just melt.

With Chester it is his friendly, cool demeanor. He is my rock. I always know what to expect from him. He loves all people and people always comment that he is the calmest, friendliest Dachshund they have met.

If Chester and Gretel could change only one thing about Seattleites, what would it be?

Chester would want all of them to line up in one long line so he could do nothing but go from person to person for the rest of his life getting pets.

Gretel honestly probably wishes they would stop having kids because she is not a fan. Ha, ha.

What is each dog's proudest moment?

Chester’s proudest moment is when he wins over a stranger (which really takes seconds and almost no effort on his part) and gets to hang out in their lap. He looks so content and smug.

I am not sure Gretel has a “proud” moment. She is more of the sleeper type – she does amazing things all of the time but doesn’t even know it.

If Chester and Gretel could speak in a movie about your life, what actors would you have doing the dogs' voices?

Gretel would definitely be Sid from Ice Age. She kind of looks like him too.

Chester would be some high society English speaking gentleman.

Visit the You Did What With Your Weiner blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Paul M. Barrett & Beau

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Beau the Handsome Dachshund and me, Paul M. Barrett, coffee drinkers and literary sophisticates. We recently completed the nonfiction book, Glock: The Rise of America's Gun (Crown), which is officially out this month. I reported and wrote the book, a narrative history of the iconic handgun; Beau slept on my lap while I wrote it.

What's the occasion for the coffee break?

Nothing special, actually. Saturday afternoon, and we're just relaxing at home. Beau enjoys a nice cup o' joe, and I'm an addict. The truth is Beau likes plain milk more than coffee, but he's flexible.

What's the house favorite?

New Orleans style, with chicory. Just a little milk. No sugar.

Any snacks?

Beau is having some dental treats that help with his plaque. It's too close to dinner for me (chicken, mashed potatoes, and Brussel sprouts on the way!)

How did Beau join the family?

We adopted him from Dachshund Rescue of North America, which found him wandering the streets of Greenwich Village, of all places, without a collar. He is very bohemian, obviously. Beau is about five at this point (we think).

How did the canine get his name?

The rescue people told us that was his name. He acquired it from one of the people who fostered him. Originally it was spelled "Bo," but we changed it to "Beau." He answers to both.

Any aliases?

Beau-ski and Handsome Boy.

Where is his favorite place to walk?

The streets of Brooklyn. He's more of a policeman than a pedestrian, though. No other dogs allowed on our block. And no big dogs allowed anywhere. The lab next door is going to get his one of these days!

Favorite toy?

Nyla bone, for sure. That plastic is delicious!

What is Beau's best quality?

Devotion. He loves well, possibly to well. Dachshunds are known for attaching fiercely to their pack-mates. Beau is no exception.

What's Beau's best skill?

Singing. He has a lovely singing voice and is always ready to have a family choir session. Actual words not necessary, just good old fashioned high-pitched howling. We discovered his talent when he spontaneously began singing to some opera on television. He also likes classical violin. Mahler is a favorite.

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

We would never leave the apartment. Maybe never leave bed.

If your dog could speak in the movie about your life, who would do the voice?

Beau is a sensitive, funny lover of the arts. David Hyde Pierce would be perfect. He is one of our favorite actors in any role.

Visit Paul Barrett's official website for Glock: The Rise of America's Gun.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 16, 2012

Pamela Douglas Webster & Honey

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Pamela Douglas Webster. I work as a housing counselor for a nonprofit and in my free time publish two blogs: Hands on Home Buyer and Something Wagging This Way Comes. Honey is a two year old Golden Retriever. She works at being cute.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

After playing ball in the park, we need a little something to warm us up.

What's brewing?

I go for herbal tea, maybe Wild Berry Zinger.

Any treats for you or Honey on this occasion?

I’m happy with just the tea. But Honey feels much better chewing on dried sweet potato treats.

How were you and Honey united?

After 18 years with highly reactive dogs we adopted from shelters, I wanted to raise a puppy who was likely to get along well with other dogs and people. My goal was to volunteer as a puppy raiser or foster dogs with Honey as my partner.

Honey came from an excellent hobby breeder who started off strong socializing her to other dogs and people.

When we fostered our first puppy recently, Honey was a great foster sister.

How did she get her name? Any nicknames?

Honey’s full name is Painting Life’s Sweet Moments but she’s Honey to us. It suits her well because she’s very sweet.

Her nicknames include Hunny Bunny, H-Boo, Fur Gurl, and whatever else come to mind.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

Yes. Toss in a pair of dirty socks and we’re covered.

Where is Honey's favorite outdoor destination?

The dog park.

Who are Honey's best pet-pals?

Honey is a love slut who adores everyone. She’s particularly fond of Riley, the Golden Retriever who lives two doors down and my friend, Diana.

What is Honey's best quality?

She has so many it’s hard to decide. I guess I’d have to say it’s her gentle acceptance of nearly everything. It came in handy when our foster puppy stole the bone right from our mouth.

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

Honey wishes I’d lose the computer. Evidently I stink at games of one-handed tug.

If Hollywood made a movie in which Honey could speak, who should do her voice?

Because she’s so adaptable, Honey would be played by the British actress, Jane Horrocks.

Visit the Hands on Home Buyer and Something Wagging This Way Comes blogs.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 13, 2012

Susan Adcock & Stella and Diesel

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Susan and I've been a professional photographer in Nashville for the last eighteen years. I have one dog Stella who is a three and a half years old. She's the spotty pit bull sitting next to me and one foster dog Diesel sitting to her left. Diesel is a lab mix, four years old who (as I write this) is two hours away from his forever home. Stella and I plan to be in mourning for the next couple of weeks.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We went for coffee at my friend Beverly's house. She asked us over so she and her husband could say goodbye to Diesel. He's made a lot of friends over the last five months.

What's brewing?

Chock full o' Nuts coffee with the works.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

No treats for me or Diesel. Stella helped herself to an entire bowl of dog food, none of it hers, in the kitchen.

How were you and your dogs united?

I met Stella at the Tennessee State Fair. She was tied to a truck just behind the Starship ride. I asked her owner if he would let me have her and ten days later as the carnival was about to move on to Louisiana, he said yes.

Soon-to-be farm dog Diesel, grew up across the street, so he was my neighbor. I liberated him this past July.

How did your dogs get their names? Any nicknames?

After considering a lot of different "carnival" names for Stella (i.e. Corndog, YoYo) I wrote a bunch of names down on a slips of paper and picked one. The first name out of the hat was Stella. I called it out and she came running so it stuck. Nicknames: Stelly, Corndog, Pearl Bianco (a wonderful old friend from the fair).

You've got some beautiful photos of dogs on your website. What's the biggest challenge in shooting dogs?

Thanks. I think the biggest challenge is patience. A lot of people go overboard trying to get their dog to look or behave a certain way and often it just gets the dog over-excited and they give up. Photographing dogs is a lot like children. You just have to wait for it to happen and throw away everything else.

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

Stella's favorite walk would be either downtown Nashville (with all of the tourists) or on the trails at Percy Warner Park. Diesel has only just learned to walk so any walk at all is fine by him.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Squirrel. Definitely. They both love cats. Stella actually lived with eight foster kittens over the last year.

Squeaky-toy, stick, Frisbee..?

Stick. Always the stick.

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

Table food.

If your dogs could speak in a movie about your life, which actors should do their voices?

That would be Jennifer Lopez and the guy who plays Ray's brother on Everybody Loves Raymond (Brad Garrett).

Visit the Susan Adcock Photography website and the Carny Dog blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Leslie Olyott & Bella

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm the human, Leslie Olyott and that's my beautiful, crazy dog Bella with me. I'm a computer programmer specializing in web applications. Bella is my 4-year-old scared-y dog and the star of our blog, Bringing up Bella. She's a mixed breed sato (slang for stray or street dog) rescued off the streets of Puerto Rico by a group called Save a Sato.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

During the summer, Bella and I have a little tradition of dropping by Dunkin Donuts drive-thru for coffee and a crueller so she can get more comfortable with people. Then we travel to a local school field and she gets to romp while I sip my coffee. However, since we're doing this interview in January, and it's a whopping 6 degrees outside, today we're just having coffee in our living room at home.

What's brewing?

Green Mountain Lake and Lodge medium roast. 1 Truvia, a little half and half.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

Just an English muffin.

Any treat for Bella on this occasion?

She gets a nibble of the muffin.

How were you and Bella united?

Bella found me while I was perusing pups at Buddy Dog Humane Society shortly after having lost my 14 year old Labrador Retriever, Beau. She was huddled in the back of her cage so I knelt down and quietly called her name. She came right up to me so wiggly and kissy that I had to take her out for a visit. When we heard that she had never done that to anyone before, that she only cowered in her cage and wouldn't even approach the shelter staff, we knew we had to bring her home with us.

How did Bella get her name? Any aliases?

Bella came to us from Puerto Rico already named. Since Bella is the Spanish feminine of 'beautiful' and my Lab's name (Beau) was the French masculine of the same, it seemed like fate that she should come to us and we never considered changing her name.

Nicknames, however, we've given in abundance: Bella Boo, Boo Boo, Bella Boop, Pumpkin, Princess, Duckling, Sweet Pea... If it's a term of endearment, I've probably used it.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

All of the above. In fact, if I may, I'd like to publicly and profusely apologize to our mail person, as well as the UPS and FedEx guys. Bella doesn't think anyone (or anything) should be in her yard without permission and is not bashful about saying so.

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

None of the above. Bella likes to chew and loves her bully bones but her favorite toy is me, really. We play chase and wrestle although she's beginning to outgrow the rough-housing. This is a dog that is afraid of people and my rough-housing with her never ran the risk that she would associate doing this with other people. She doesn't let other people get close enough to pet her, never mind rumble with her. It is a game only she and I play, even my husband doesn't get a turn.

Where is Bella's favorite place for an outing?

Anywhere, really. She just likes to be included. She especially loves going to my mom's house because there's a big fenced-in yard and she can run and romp to her heart's content.

Who are Bella's best pet-pals?

Bella is largely afraid of other dogs but she does have a boyfriend - a beautiful, patient Borzoi named Gus. He backs off when she gets scared and that has done so much for her confidence. He's in love with her and she loves telling him what to do. It's a match made in heaven.

What is Bella's most endearing quality?

Bella is really silly and is learning to be cuddly (in her own way) with us. She's also quite charming when she wants to be. She comes to us for protection when something frightens her which is terribly sweet and yet she still has so much curiosity and zest for life. I guess it would be that - her resilience and joie de vivre even in the face of all she's seen that I find most endearing.

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

Well, I'm sure she'd like us to pronounce our "R's" so she could understand us better. But short of that, I think she'd like us to adopt "island time". We tend to be a pretty quick paced bunch up here and I think Bella would rather we slow down and chill with her a little more. She likes to let me know when I've been working at the computer too long and will sit behind me mumbling. If that doesn't work, she steals my stuff.

What is Bella's proudest moment?

Bella has had a lot of proud moments because she's had to overcome so many fears but I think the one that stands out is when she conquered the stairs. Bella was born on the streets and, until she came to live with us, had never encountered stairs before. It took a few weeks of carrying her part-way down the staircase before she decided one evening to take the plunge and do the whole set by herself. She barked when she got to the bottom so we would know she was down there and the pride on her face as she stood there looking up at us was unmistakable. She then proceeded to run up and down the stairs 12 times. (Seriously, 12. I counted.)

If Bella could speak in a movie about your life, what actor would you have doing her voice?

Rita Moreno. She is warm and wise but can also capture that street-smart sass which would be absolutely necessary for Bella's voice. (I'm thinking circa 1961 West Side Story's "Anita".)

Visit the Bringing up Bella blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sherri & Scrappy

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Sherri with Scrappy from Yorkie Tails. I am fortunate to have a job in the ski industry that allows me to work mostly from home with a few ski trips mixed in now and then. I have a loving husband, one daughter married to a great guy, a son in college and one son in high school.

Scrappy is a Yorkshire Terrier, a female, but most definitely a Tom-boy. She will be 10 years old this summer, but she acts like a pup!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We are at the lake having a relaxing day off, a rarity this time of year.

What's brewing?

Maxwell House International Suisse Mocha Cafe’ frothed with skim milk and a touch of hazelnut in the Froth au Lait.

Any treats for you or Scrappy on this occasion?

Just the coffee this morning. Sadly, no treats for Scrappy today. She can only have bites of bread for treats, as she has pancreatitis brought on by a bad mushroom. Curious? Read her Toxic Hike post.

How were you and Scrappy united?

We already had a Black Lab. My husband and I were more or less tricked into getting Scrappy. As a young teenager, our daughter just had to have a little dog. I said “sure, but your Dad will never agree to it” She had already got Dad to say “if it’s okay with your Mother.”

So, our daughter started the search and found a cute little female yorkie on the internet. She paid half the price with her hard earned babysitting money. The one she wanted was a little female born in Ireland who made her way to a farm in Minnesota. The pup was then carried on board a flight to us in faraway Montana. When she arrived, she fit in the palm of our hand. Within days of arriving, she became very ill with kennel cough. It was a rough go at first, but she was--and still is--a “fighter.” She slept in her crate on our daughter’s bed every night and was supposed to be our daughter’s dog, but when school started up in August, Scrappy bonded to me. Bonded might even be an understatement. My husband often says she is drawn to my magnetic forces.

How did she get her name?

Our youngest was crazy for the cartoon Scooby Doo and that name just seemed to fit. Still does, actually.

Any nicknames?

Scrappy Doo, Scrapster, Doozer, Missy, Lil Monkey, and Houdini...because a few times she has mysteriously escaped from her Pet Carrier.

Cat, squirrel, postman...?

She is crazy for birds, squirrels, and especially chipmunks. Her favorite toy is her Bunny...or anything that squeaks. Favorite games - Tug of War and Fetch. She lives to hike, camp and especially fish. She will stand in the lake or river up to her belly in the water and just paw at the fish as they swim by. She is as tough as they come. Don’t let her size fool you.

Who is Scrappy's best pet-pal?

She still looks downstairs and out in the kennel at the lake for her sister Shadow (the Lab), who we lost over a year ago. Now, her best friend is our daughter’s Lab/Border Collie Kootenai, but sadly they recently moved far away. She also has a Twitter-furiend - Jakey - a virtual admirer.

What is Scrappy's best quality?

She has a heart of gold and a most unique personality.

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

She would want me to work less and spend all day just playing with her.

If Hollywood made a movie in which Scrappy could talk, who should do her voice?

Since she is from Ireland, I would say she would have Roma Downey’s accent, but Kathyrn Hepburn’s voice.... She is compassionate, very intelligent, but at the same time feisty and headstrong.

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

What ever were you thinking when you swallowed that toxic mushroom?

Visit the Yorkie Tails blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 6, 2012

Leslie & Stymie, Darla and Sharky

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Leslie from Baltimore, mom of two fantastic daughters ( 20 & 13) and three very entertaining dogs. I just turned 40 a few weeks ago and I still can't believe it!! For over 10 years I worked as a dog groomer-- needless to say, I love dogs, especially the big fuzzy ones. I gave up grooming because my achy back couldn't take the lifting and bending any longer. Now, I work part time at Michael's arts and craft store. If I can't be surrounded by dogs... then craft supplies is the next best thing.

Our dogs are Stymie, a very lovable 8 year old male Black Lab. Darla, the very bossy female Boston Terrier who is also 8, and Sharky, the rambunctious 3 yr old male Golden Retriever. This is their house... they just let us live here.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Everyday is an occasion with these guys. Let's say that today... it is coffee in bed with the three of them and I am fighting for my spot as usual.

What's brewing?

Nothing fancy here, just a Folgers Dark Silk K-cup from my Kurig.

Any treats for you or the dogs on this occasion?

Milk bones for the big guys and some teddy grams for Darla who has a sensitive stomach.

How were you and the dogs united?

We got Stymie a few days after we lost a pit bull that we got from a rescue. Our hearts were broken when we realized that we just couldn't keep her. She was super sweet but very dog aggressive. Twice, she jumped through the glass storm door to get out; it was a very sad, stressful and expensive experience. My husband, who was trying to mend our sadness found an ad for Lab puppies. It was love at first sight. Little puppy Stymie was just what we needed.

We got Darla just a few months after Stymie, We wanted him to have a buddy. Darla was a Valentines present to me from Paul. I had always wanted a Boston Terrier. My mother passed away just two weeks after we brought Darla home, I swear it was that little tiny stinky puppy that held me together during that tough time.

Sharky was a 10th birthday gift for our youngest daughter Sally.

How did the dogs get their names? Any aliases?

How did they get their names.... Stymie: we were in the car making the two hour drive home with this adorable black puppy and none of us could come up with a name other then frilly names like Cupcake and Sparkles ( the kinds of names that your pets get when you have two daughters). Then my husband blurts out, Stymie! (named after the kid on The Little Rascals). We all loved it and laughed the whole way home.

Darla's name also came from The Little Rascals. I thought that it was be cute to match Stymie. Her full name is Miss Darla Lewinsky (after Monica), and yes... she even has a blue dress.

Sharky's full name is Sharky Blagojevich... just look at his crazy hair and you'll see why he got the name. We like to call him Chucky (as in the chucky doll) when he is misbehaving.

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

All of the dogs love to take walks... they don't care where they go just as long as we take them somewhere. Stymie loves to walk up to the neighbors' house. Some days I call the neighbor and tell him to open the door. I let Stymie out and he runs straight to his house. He loves it there! I think that it is because the neighbor feeds him beer and cheese. Shhhh, don't tell the other dogs.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

As sweet as they are, these dogs aren't big fans of squirrels, cats or the mail and garbage men. My oldest daughter has a pet Dove named Pearl, the dogs love to watch and play with Pearl just as long as the bird stays on the floor. If he starts to fly away... look out! The retrievers first instinct is to try to catch him.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

They all love toys, but I have yet to find the "indestructible" toy. They destroy everything! Their favorite thing to do is swim. The boys (big dogs) will stay in the pool all day long. Although, Darla is a good little swimmer too, she would much rather be floating around on a raft with me.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Although all of the dogs are buddies, Stymie is more of a loner and Sharky and Darla are constantly together. Since Darla is a mama's lap dog we thought that the Golden would be great company for the lab ~ and we were a little worried about how Darla would accept the new puppy. It was completely opposite and Darla and Sharky took to each other from the start.

Whether it is sleeping, playing, giving each other a disgusting tongue bath, or fighting... they are always together.

What is each dog's best quality?

Each of our dogs has a unique personality and it is those personalities that are their greatest quality and gift to our family. Stymie is the typical tail wagging lab who always has to have something is his mouth.

Sharky is the gentle giant. He truly is the sweetest dog whose happiness radiates through the house. He constantly makes us smile.

Darla Lewinsky, with her pretty painted toe nails is the princess of the house... with a major case of little dog syndrome.

They have brought so much pleasure to our home, however chaotic it may get, it's a happy place to be.

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

I think that that dogs have changed me. Having three dogs is a lot of work and I have learned how to just relax and not sweat the small stuff. I think that if the dogs could change something about me that they would want me to sleep on the floor... so that they would be more comfortable sleeping in my spot of the bed.

If your dogs could speak in the movie about your life, who should do their voices?

What a fun question. Since Stymie is the oldest and wisest I think that James Earl Jones would be the best voice for him.

Keanu Reeves would be the perfect Sharky voice, I can just hear him now... "Narly dude!"

Estelle Getty from The Golden Girls would be the perfect voice for the sometimes grumpy Darla.

Visit Leslie's A Spoonful of Everything blog.

--Marshal Zeringue