Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Paula Fraker & Lily

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Paula Fraker and my husband and I own a small farm in Tennessee where we raise Suffolk sheep and Silkie chickens. Taking care of the farm and the animals is a full time job, especially during the summer, but I also have a small in-home embroidery business and sell handmade items online in my ETSY shoppe to keep busy during the winter months.

My dog, Lily, is an English Bulldog and she has lived with us since she was 10 weeks old. Lily turned 1 year old this past October and she is my little farm helper.

(Not really, but I let her think that.)

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I usually take Lily with me on my weekly trip to the farm store for feed if the weather is not too hot for her to ride in the car. Pets are welcome so she gets to go inside and see everyone, which is always a treat for her. Today is extra special- we’ve already made our stop at the farm store and now we’re both getting a treat at the coffee shop in town.

What's brewing? Any treats for you or Lily on this occasion?

A white chocolate mocha treat for me, and doggie carob cookies for Lily. Lily doesn’t take treats from strangers- she would rather have them give her attention and hugs so I have to put treats in her little travel bag and take them along wherever we go.

[Lily and Silkie chick, photo left]

How did Lily get her name? Any aliases?

Lily was named before we got her and was already answering to it at 10 weeks old, so we decided it would be best to keep it. Other nicknames for her are: Lily Belle, Pumpkin, and when she passes gas, Stinky Butt. (Which does quite frequently.)

How were you and Lily united?

Very much by accident…. I was looking up a friend on MySpace one day and came across a person of the same name who just happened to have a litter of bulldog puppies. She had pictures of the pups posted on her page, and I went gaga over the picture of Lily because she looked so much like a bulldog my family had when I was growing up named Samson. We weren’t even looking for a dog at the time, but I couldn’t get her little face out of my mind and as it turned out, the lady also lived in Tennessee, about a four hour drive from us. (Fate?) So the week before Christmas, we took a little trip and brought her home with us.

Does Lily have a favorite place to hang out on the farm?

Lily loves to hang out at the sheep barn; in fact, she goes with me on my morning feeding routine and has even been known to try to stick her head through the gate to get a closer look. (Thank goodness it won’t fit…)

She also likes to go to the chicken coop with me and is very good around the Silkies… it took a while for her to learn not to try and “play” with them by swatting at them with her paw, but now she is very protective of them thinks of them as her birds.

Who is Lily's best pet-pal?

That would be Tiny [photo left], our little wether (castrated male) sheep-- she will try to make him run up and down the fence and chase her, and he in turn will try to lick her nose. This game will go on forever until I break it up, even after both of them are completely out of breath.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

I would have to say rabbits-- we see lots of them around here and she will try to chase them… but I really don’t think she wants to hurt them, just inspect them a little closer and find out why they run from her.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

Lily has one of everything, but her favorite things are stuffed animals, one in particular we call Puppy [photo right].

Puppy has to go everywhere Lily goes- especially in the car- and when Puppy starts to smell, he gets thrown in the washing machine and she will wait in the laundry room and whimper until he comes out of the dryer.

What is Lily's best quality?

Her best quality would have to be her sweet nature… she is a little baby doll and so gentle around everything and everybody she meets. She is also very quick to learn so she was easy to potty train, but she is also very sensitive and sad if she thinks you’re upset with her.

If Lily could change one thing about those sheep, what would it be?

She would love to be able to get inside the barn with them so she could inspect them better, but for her safety and theirs, she has to be kept on the other side.

And I’m sure she wishes they weren’t so tall… she can’t inspect anything but their legs.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Lily could speak, which actor should do her voice?

Oh, boy-- that’s a tough one… sometimes I can just imagine her saying things to me in a Roseanne Barr kind of voice….

What is Lily's proudest moment?

I think up until now it would have to be when she finally learned she could jump up onto the couch… I don’t think she realized how strong her back legs were until then. But that’s created a problem of sorts- now we can’t keep her off the couch!

Visit The Fraker Farm blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 27, 2012

Anita Welsh & Gracie May

Who is in the photo at right?

Anita Welsh and of course, Gracie May. Gracie May is a five year old dachshund. we think she may have mixed breed lineage somewhere, but for the most part, she is a dachshund.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It's been cold and snowy lately, but Gracie was starting to get restless so here we are!

What's brewing?

A chocolate chip cappuccino and a iced latte.

Any treats for you or Gracie May on this occasion?

No treats. Gracie is allergic to something in dog biscuits. We don't know what it is, but every time we give her one of the biscuits, she throws up. She is fine with soft treats, just not biscuits.

How were you and Gracie May united?

We got Gracie after losing another dog, Bossley. We went to a nearby shelter, and there was this adorable little cinnamon colored dog, bright eyes shining, entire body wagging. How could we refuse?

How did she get her name? Any nicknames?

Gracie May's full name is Gracie May Sausage Bottom Roxie la Doxie. We never call her by her full name, just Gracie May. Her name just came to us. She has way too many nicknames. Dog breath, Grace, Fuzzball, Attacker, Dogzilla, ect. The list goes on forever.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

All of the above.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

All of the above again. She chases everything! If she sees something she starts making this weird high-pitched yelping sound that makes it sound like we are torturing her.

Where is Gracie May's favorite outdoor destination?

Gracie May definitely like the dog park best. She will flatten herself on the ground, and hurl her little body at any unfortunate dog going past. She will also charge dogs from behind and leap at their face snarling, then run way. Classic bully.

Who are Gracie May's best pet-pals?

Gracie doesn't really like other dogs, but there is this one she just goes crazy for. He is a wiry gray shih-tzu with a wild mop of hair and an underbite. His name is K.J, but we have nicknamed him Chubacca. Gracie follows him around, her whole body wagging even more than when we get home. She hurls herself at him. It's like K.J is covered in bacon grease and gravy! K.J usually just keeps walking throughout Gracie May's crazy assault.

What is Gracie May's best quality?

Gracie May's best quality is probably how adorable she is, followed by her unbelievable loyalty.

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

I've always pictured her with a very high-pitched voice, but not quite like the Chipmunks. She also has a kind of girly girl voice. I don`t know who would do it.

Visit the Shining Star Ranch blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lacey & Peatree and Abigail

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi! My name is Lacey; I own a dog walking business in Seattle, Washington.

Woof! My name is Peatree or Princess Peatree if you like. I am a 2 year old Great Dane. My Mom has had me since I was 7 weeks old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It's Saturday morning, Abigail (our other amazing dog) is on her way to work with her Dad. She greets customers at a hair salon. Meanwhile Peatree and I take a morning stroll and then head back to the house to snuggle, read, and have some coffee.

What's brewing?

I am enjoying the best coffee out there from Kaladi Brothers Coffee. I make it at home in a little old coffee maker.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Peatree and I are just enjoying the company of one another. I love spending time with both of my beloved dogs but it is always nice to have some one on one time.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

I adopted Abigail over 10 years ago. The shelter had given her an awful name so I spent a few days trying different names and Abigail is what fit her. Abigail is my baby! She is the inspiration behind me starting my own dog walking business and also the tattoo on my right shoulder. I wish I could clone her!

Peatree is named after the little pterodactyl dinosaur on Land Before Time. My husband and I grew up watching it as kids. Since we knew she would grow up to be very large dog we wanted a wimpy and small name to contrast her size. She is also known as Peach, Peachy Pea and just good old Pea.

How were you and your dogs united?

I adopted Abigail in College at a shelter in Idaho. Someone had dumped her in a field and she was covered in ticks. I took one look at her and knew she was mine!

I have wanted a Dane since as far back as I can remember. I begged my husband for one and so we found a local breeder and picked her out.

I know that you are among that small percentage of dog walkers who are actually C.D.W (Certified Dog Walkers). What are some of things that you learned while training toward becoming certified?

You learn a lot in the program! The most beneficial part for me was to learn all about dog body language as well as how to appropriately touch and approach a dog. I thought I was already knowledgeable. Man was I wrong! I have been able to apply my knowledge and the methods I learned to each one of my amazing clients.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Squirrels and birds for both my girls!

Squeaky-toy, stick, tennis ball...?

Abigail is obsessed with tennis balls and Peatree likes any stuffed animal she can get her paws on.

What is each dog's best quality?

To pick one is so hard! Ummm….

Abigail’s best quality is her devotion. She loves to be my shadow and keep her eyes on me at all times. It is important that she sits right next to me on the couch.

Peatree’s best quality is her zest for life! You will not meet a happier, goofier, go with the flow dog.

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

Honestly, nothing: Seattle is the most dog loving city! It is the place to be!

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

Peatree would be played by Zooey Deschanel because she is beautiful, goofy, sweet, and a bit spacey.

I would pick Taylor Swift for Abigail because she is super talkative, hard working, and polite.

Visit the StrollRover website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Shannon & Rama

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Shannon and I am a SAHM to 3 children and a host of critters. I am a former veterinary technician and obedience instructor. I love to write and compete with my dogs.

My dog’s name is Rama. She turned 15 months old on the 23rd of this month. She is a Cane Corso (pronounced kah-nay kor-soh).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have coffee with Rama every day here at home, after the older kids have gone to school and we have done our walk. We also frequent a local café on Saturday mornings after dog obedience class.

What's brewing?

Every morning and evening I have a large coffee from McDonald’s, one cream and eight Splendas. When we go out—usually after dog class on Saturdays-- it’s a Peppermint Mocha Latte with soy milk and no whipped cream.

Any treats for you or Rama on this occasion?

I usually have an omelette. By this time Rama has consumed a bunch of liver treats in class and shows no interest in what is on the table.

How did Rama get her name?

One day while watching my favorite soap opera, they introduced a beautiful character named Rama. I am also very interested in Hindu dieties and art. Rama is an incarnation of Vishnu—a Hindu diety celebrated for his unending compassion and courage. I immediately said to myself that my first Corso would be named Rama.

Any aliases?

Rama Mama, Rama Llama, Rama Llama Ding Dong, Pup-Pup, Puppy.

Please tell us a bit more about the Cane Corso breed and what attracted you to it.

The Cane Corso (also called Italian Mastiff) is descended from the Roman war dog canis pugnax. They are a leaner, more athletic dog than other mastiffs and can have either natural ears and tail or cropped. They were just accepted into the AKC last year and came to this country from Italy in the late 80’s.

I love molossers. I had Rottweilers for several years and am attracted to large, powerful guarding and working breeds. I am quite stubborn myself; I have been told that I attract dogs with the same qualities. I was attracted to the Corso’s reputation as a loving family dog and low key house dog.

How were you and Rama united?

I had been looking at a few different breeders for a show pup and found one whose dogs I liked. She happened to be near me so I went out to her place a few times to look at her dogs. About a week later she emailed me some photos of an older pup she had. Apparently a gentleman out of state had put a deposit on Rama and never showed to pick her up. She offered her to me. I took the kids back out to her place to visit with Rama. She was about 5 ½ months old, gentle, sweet and happy, immediately playing fetch with my middle child. She did not jump on the children and was very well behaved, not to mention beautiful. Her face reminded me of my very first Rottweiler in that there was a lot behind the eyes. I was sold. She went home with us that day.

Does Rama have a favorite place to go for an outing?

She loves to walk around our neighborhood. We do about 3.5 miles every day. She also enjoys going to the beach.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Nope. She is a very non-reactive dog. She is not overly barky and shows no interest in chasing squirrels or cats or anything, really.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

She does like sticks, legos (much to my chagrin) and squeaky toys.

What is Rama's best quality?

Her solid temperament.

Who is Rama's closest pet-pal?

Sadly, my other dogs (they are little) will not play with her so her closest pet-pal would probably be her litter sister Lily, whom she sees at shows and when we go to visit her breeder. She loves to play with her.

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

She would prefer I pet her constantly.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Rama could speak, which actor should do her voice?

I envision her with the voice of a small child. Sort of like those Subway commercials where the adults have little kid voices.

Visit the Raising Rama blog and learn more about the Cane Corso breed.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mary Beth Hall & Blaze, Cooper, Halle, and Benelli

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Mary Beth Hall and I am a Chief County Dog Warden in Ohio. I have authored several blog spots at Coonhound Companions and quite a few professional articles, but I have no books to my credit…never enough time in the day.

With me is Blaze the coonhound.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Blaze came to work with me today in Marysville, Ohio. I love a cup of coffee to warm me up on cold days. There’s nothing quite like the feel of that warm cup in your hand to bolster your soul.

What's brewing?

My favorite! Carmel Latte Light! I am a sucker for that treat. Blaze gets the whipped cream.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Not today. Blaze is very focused on the tennis balls resting in the door of my truck that I use to capture strays. Perhaps a game of fetch is at hand for lunch time.

What is Blaze’s best quality?

Blaze is a clown. He can always bring a smile to my face and make me life. He’s also incredibly affectionate without any personal boundaries at all. He loves to be picked up and held on his back like a baby…all 59 lbs of him! My dogs work hard to take care of me and make sure I’m happy.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

My sister named Blaze for me. Everyone was encouraging me to give him a Harry Potter type name, but I kept focusing on the lightning blaze marking down his back. My sister said, “well, Harry Potter got his blaze thanks to Voldemort.” I instantly grabbed his papers and wrote Blazn’ Thanks to Voldemort. Blaze has many nicknames like Bob, Blazn’ Bobby G, Blaze-O, and more.

Cooper, aka, Grauschattens Ghostly Encore, or Super Duper Pooper Scooper, or Soup, picked his name. I had other ones picked out that didn’t suit him. Someone was reading the paper and saw the name “Cooper,” said it out loud, and the sleeping 9 week old puppy jumped up and came right to them. I gave up. He got the name he wanted.

Halle [photo right] was named for Halley’s comet. She recently succumbed at age 15 to laryngeal paralysis.

Benelli was named for a favorite shotgun. His nickname is Ben Jammin’, Bennihanna, Hanna, etc.

How were you and your dogs united?

I captured Blaze, a Treeing Walker Coonhound, at 4 months of age on a frigid day in February. He laid his head on my shoulder and snuggled up, and I’m sure you can figure out why I became a “foster failure” for the first time, even though I’ve fostered hundreds of other shelter dogs and never kept one. Perhaps that day out on patrol in the freezing cold was my best day on the job ever!

Ben is Cooper’s son.

Halle was a boyfriend’s dog who totally and completely stole my heart.

Cooper [photo left] was the “chosen one.” I had a Weimaraner that was my search and rescue dog that I lost to cancer at 8 years of age. I was so crushed that I made a search to find the healthiest, smartest, best Weimaraner in the world. That was Cooper!

Who are your dogs' best pet pals?

Cooper’s best friends have all passed away. He had lots of girlfriends including a Weimaraner, a Rottweiler, and a German Shepherd. Blaze adores me, but equally loves to play with anyone anytime. Ben is pretty happy go lucky and doesn’t play favorites. Blaze and Ben often sleep on one dog bed together. Halle and Cooper had a very special relationship.

Do your dogs have a favorite place to go for an outing?

Aunt Lynnie’s house or to go for a flat out run across the farm fields and through the woods behind my property.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Blaze unfortunately has an affinity for deer that I have to be very watchful about. Cooper has declared war on all groundhogs. The cat runs the house! And with all of them being therapy dogs, even the postman is welcome.

Squeaky-toy, ball, Frisbee...?

For Blaze it's squeaky balls. He is ball crazy! Ben and Cooper like soft fuzzy toys.

What role have your dogs played in your job?

They go to nursing homes, youth jail programs, schools, and libraries when I have a free moment from my law enforcement duties. They also helps me catch stray dogs with his winning personality. I once chased a dog through a pen with a bull and his lady friends. I was very concerned about the stray harming these very expensive and loved cattle. I basically tagged along behind this dog forever without making any progress at convincing the dog to come to me until I got Blaze out. I grabbed Blaze and a tennis ball and some treats. Blaze play bowed and wiggled and within less than a minute I had the stray on a leash and safely in my truck.

In your capacity as the County Dog Warden, what are three things about which people need reminding?

Everyone needs to license their dogs! It doesn’t matter if “my dog always stays in the house.” Bad things happen to good people and good dogs, and that dog license is great protection for those situations. Not only that, it’s a small price to pay to support local shelters and their work.

Second would be that being a Dog Warden doesn’t mean that you don’t love dogs. Au contraire, 99.9% of Dog Wardens adore dogs! We do this difficult job because it’s a way we can help the critters we love and a way to give back to the community every day.

Third, I would recommend people have patience with their neighbors. We always believe that Fluffy can do no wrong. Rarely do neighbors allow their dogs to bark, run loose, fight, get in trash, etc with the intent to drive their neighbors crazy. They believe in their heart that their dog is perfect and have a difficult time seeing their own dog’s shortcomings. These situations are often fixed by some education.

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

Cooper, my Weimaraner would definitely be David Hasselhoff. He’s 100% Baywatch lifeguard in his personality (and he is both a show champion and very athletic with performance titles). Halle the Lab that I recently lost would of course been the beautiful & talented Halle Berry. Benelli, my Weimaraner puppy is a total goofball. He’s always happy and I swear he rarely has a thought in his head. Pick your favorite dog cartoon character and that would probably be him! Blaze, the Treeing Walker Coonhound would have to be portrayed by someone who is a clown yet has a booming voice. Blaze’s songs can be heard over a mile away!

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

Legislatively, it’s been difficult to make improvements in Ohio’s animal cruelty and dangerous dog legislation. The legislators and interested parties work hard at it, but national organizations seem to stop up the good works with their lobbying. My dogs would love to see better laws to protect them and their friends!

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

My dogs like to be happy all the time. They absolutely melts under stress. I stress at competitions and sometimes bring the stress of the job home with me. They would like me to always “Seize the Day” and be happy go lucky.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 17, 2012

Charlene Straw & Storm

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Charlene Straw and I live and work in Nottinghamshire, Great Britain as an administration assistant.

My furry friend is Storm and he is now 10 months old and he’s a blue merle collie cross or I like to call him a Colzu. His Granny was a shih tzu and his grandad a border collie so his mum looked a bit like a big grey shih tzu and his dad was a border collie so most people just think he is a proper border collie but he’s really dainty and cute.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My husband gets up with Storm each morning at 6am to let him out for a wee and give him his breakfast of puppy biscuits, rice and a blob of yoghurt. Then he makes us both a cup of tea and brings it back up so we can all lay in bed and listen to the radio for a while before I have a shower and Dar takes Stormy for a little morning stroll.

What's brewing?

Sorry, it's not coffee -- me and my husband are tea mad. We have at least 4 or 5 a day in big mugs. I like it with half water half milk and 1 sugar. Dar just has it like a normal person.

Any treats for you or Storm on this occasion?

Sometimes if Storm’s yoghurt pot is nearly empty Dar lets him have it after breakfast and he carries it round making sure he gets every single bit of flavour out of it.

How were you and your dogs united?

We’ve had 2 dogs so far. Deefa has been gone 8 months now but it still feels so fresh. He was a very happy accident when two of my friend’s dogs were left alone in the kitchen for too long. Me and Dar had just got our first house together so I leapt at the chance to have our first dog. I chose the blackest dog of the litter and as he grew up his eyes turned gold and black speckles appeared on his 2 white front legs. It was hard work to begin with but he grew to be the reason me and my husband had for living. Life was perfect with him for 6 years and 11 months.

I got Stormy the day after we had to put Deefa to sleep when he got meningitis. The vets tried for a week to save him but nothing worked and we had to let him go. It broke our hearts as we loved Deefa like he was our little furry son. We took him wherever we went. If we weren’t at work we were with him. We took him on special weekend adventure walks and we even took him on holiday to Cornwall with us twice a year. He loved to swim, even without us throwing a toy in first. He was a dream dog and did whatever we asked of him. He didn’t even need a lead on most of the time, he was so good it was like he read our minds. He was such a loving dog, most nights he would sit on my husband’s knee as we watched TV.

That week when Deefa was in the pet hospital was horrific. At first we had hope, then as the days went on it started to dawn on us that we were actually going to lose the one person that meant most to us in the world.

That’s when I started looking on websites at puppies, because I knew if the worst happened I couldn’t have a home with no dog to greet me when I got back.

The very next morning after Deefa was put to sleep me and my mum went to pick up the first available collie puppy I’d found on a pet website. I still wanted another collie boy but not a black one like Deefa. He had to be a bit different and I’d found a blue merle with blue eyes. I knew he was the one.

How did Storm and Deefa get their names? Any aliases?

Deefa’s name was easy, I’d always known that was going to be the name of my first dog ever since I was a kid when I first met a springer spaniel with the same name; I thought it was a brilliant name really clever but really simple.

His cute names were Special Deef or Baby Deef because he was such a special loving cuddle bum. He was so happy to see me whenever I got home at night he would weave through my legs in a figure of eight like a cat while I stroked him as we waited for the kettle to boil so I could make his dinner.

Storm’s name was because I really loved all the names you hear for sheepdogs like fern and mist and Rain so I wanted a cool nature name for him too so I ended up choosing Storm. They say a dog grows into his name and wow he really did. He is wild like a hurricane.

We sometimes call him Stormy-Pie or Stormy-Sausage, no idea why that popped in my head -- I think its just cos hes so cute I want to eat him up.

Does Storm have a favorite place to go for an outing?

Stormy seems to like wide open spaces to run like a nutter.

Deefa was happy wherever we took him, he would run on the beach or sniff through all the paths in the woods we live near. Storm is totally different. Maybe as he gets older he will be the same as Deefa but right now we don’t take him in the woods or anywhere that’s not just a great big open space or he just gets a bit crazy and shoots off out of sight and scares the life out of me. So for now he seems to love being either on the beach or in a big field and he has to take his frizbee along too.

Storm’s not done bad with his life so far: he’s 10 months old now and we are soon to go on our third trip to Cornwall with him for a week of playing frizbee on the beach and paddling in the sea all day long. It’s a dog’s life alright!

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Cat. Storm sits in the window seat in our front bedroom watching the world go by and if he sees a cat walk up the street he goes nuts. Starts to whine and runs down the stairs hoping to find them down there and then runs back up again to watch them some more. I’m pretty sure he’ll calm down with time and realise that the cats are not in the house and running down the stairs gains him nothing.

He also hates blackbirds when they make that chirping noise to each other to say this is their territory. He watches them in the back garden and as soon as I open the back door he goes running out and barking if he knows they are out there to tell them this is his garden not theirs.

Deefa was quite similar, but he liked to chase squirrels in the woods and starlings in the garden because they made too much noise when they all came at once to eat on the bird table.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

All the above. He has a big plastic dog bed full of toys. He loves his soft squeaky toys to carry round and shake about. He has several tennis balls that squeak and we play fetch with while I get to stay sat on the sofa, and he has a few different frizbees that we take out on the field or to the beach and my husband can throw really far which Storm loves and goes racing after them. He also has a big pile of sticks in the house just to make sure he doesn’t eat the furniture while I’m at work which he loves to sit and chew on. My house is like a flower bed, covered in wood chips.

Deefa just loved his frizbees. He would come up to you all the time begging you to throw it with it hanging off just one of his big front teeth. He also had three toy ducks that quacked when you squeezed them and he would carry them round too. Two of them were a bit beaten up and didn’t quack anymore but he still loved them all the same.

But his favourite toy was my husband who would roll round the floor with him and they would bite each other and play fight like a complete pair of idiots. Dar was definitely Deefa’s favourite.

What is Storm's best quality?

His smile. No matter how gloomy or down your feeling. I’ll be there on the sofa watching TV and he’ll come up to me with that great big crazy grin on his face and you just can't help yourself -- you have to smile back. It really is amazing. When we’re out walking people just can’t resist him, they have to come up and say hi to him because he’s just so adorable.

Deefa was far more aloof. He was quite a nervous dog and wouldn’t make friends with just anyone. I think that was the bit I loved about him best. He wasn’t interested in other people or dogs he just wanted to be with me and my husband and walk for miles on the beach or in the woods. It was just us, no one else mattered. To Deefa it was like they were invisible.

It's quite a shock to the system having Stormy, he’s making me be more sociable again because he wants to go up to people and say hi so I have to go too. I’m starting to get used to it now and find it quite fun. My husband might take a bit more working on though; he and Deefa were the two grumpy old men.

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

Probably just that me and Dar wouldn’t have to go to work so we could be together and have fun all day long.

What is Storm’s proudest moment?

Deefa would of said bringing his orange shark toy back to us after we threw it in the water for him to swim and fetch time and time again. He never wanted to stop, even when he got so tired he started to sink and I had to say that’s enough. Then he would drop it on the sand and wriggle all over it and get himself covered in the stuff and end up looking like what we called a sand pig.

Storm’s only 10 months old and hasn’t had very long to make many moments yet, but probably his proudest moment so far was when he leapt into what he thought was a big puddle to fetch his floating kong only to realise it was deeper than he thought. His head went totally under and then he just bobbed up and started swimming for the first time ever like he had been doing it all his life. He brought his toy over to us and expected us to just throw it again like nothing out of the ordinary had happened. He was only 6 months old at the time and my heart was in my mouth, I’d been about ready to rip off my boots and dive in after him but he didn’t have a care in the world.

He also has crazy-o-clock about 8pm each night where he runs round the house with a toy for about 5 minutes like a maniac bouncing off everything in sight. His speciality is kicking off from the sofa like he’s pushing off from the side of a swimming pool. It’s like something you would see in a matrix slow motion film.

If Storm could speak in the movie about your life, who should do his voice?

My husband would have to do that, he’s always done our dogs' voices.

Deefa’s was a slightly snobby looking-down-on-you low voice most of the time except when we went round to visit Dar’s mum and stepdad and then he would shout excitedly NANNY!!!!!!! GRANDAAAAD!!!!!!!!! And go running at them and nearly knock over Dar’s mum and jump all over Grandad cos he was normally laid out on the sofa watching TV.

Storm’s voice is a more high pitched whiney crazy voice, he’s not finished growing yet though so that might still change as he ages. I think the best way to describe his voice would be something like Scrappy Doo “Ta dadada ta daaa! PUPPY POWER! LEMME AT EM!!!”

Visit the official Charlene and Storm blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Molly Fiore & Lucy

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Molly Fiore, I am the author of the recently released Opting In: An Inspirational self-help story for women who feel misunderstood, isolated or living in fear to find empowerment, courage, confidence, and self love.

And this is Lucy Fiore. Lucy is a 6 year-old Black Lab.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Lucy and I enjoy our early mornings during the week together on the couch... with a hot cup of tea. Our ritual is always the same. We come downstairs together and I start the hot water boiling as she stretches and makes her way to the door. She goes outside to check on the yard, take inventory of her toys, and search for any visitors that may have come in the night. As the tea is ready, she comes back in and we both settle on the couch. I enjoy my morning reading while she counts down the hour (she has become a master) until it is time for our morning walk or run.

What's brewing?

I feel a bit guilty on the Coffee with a Canine blog admitting I am a tea drinker. Every morning it is the same- Awake tea with cream.

Any treats for you or Lucy on this occasion?

Although I know this is not what the question implies, this is our morning treat. We sit together and I love on Lucy. She always sits right next to me, always touching. If she needs her ears scratched, belly rubbed, or just to be close she always lets me know.

How did Lucy get her names? Any aliases?

My husband and I have one child--Lucy. She is our princess and goes with us everywhere. We named her after someone equally as special, my husband's mom. I have always loved the name Lucy and adore my mother-in-law. She is loving, giving, easy going, kind hearted, and does have a bit of a mischievous side. A perfect fit for our Lucy Girl.

How were you and Lucy united?

Unbelievably enough, I first laid eyes on Lucy on My husband and I had agreed that we were ready to bring a dog into our home, but hadn't started looking. A friend was also searching and had scoured the website in her own search. She came across Lucy's photo and told me I had to check it out. I was very resistant to searching on a website but finally agreed to take a look. Once I saw her, there was no turning back. Lucy was actually only a few hours away, out on a ranch in Eastern Colorado. I called the owner and learned he had only listed the dog on the urging of a friend. A lady in New York had put a down payment on Lucy and did not come through with the final payment. The owner was ready to keep her, but decided to see what would happen with listing her. We agreed to meet a few days later. When I pulled up and saw little Lucy (her name was Pink at the time) come around the corner my heart melted. It's been melting ever since.

You have a new book just out. Please tell us about it. Does Lucy make any contribution to your writing?

Opting In is a story about getting free. It is my yearlong journey going within. As I went deep within exploring my darkest secrets and shame, I found clarity and solace running in the mountains of Colorado. Lucy was always by my side. We found answers, peace, freedom, and inspiration on our runs together. Lucy always served as an example to me of living in the moment, being free, and utterly joyful.

Does Lucy have a favorite place to go for an outing?

Lucy loves outings period! As to her favorite place? Ticaboo, Utah. We spend a fair amount of time in the summer at Lake Powell on my dad’s boat. We have a place 13 miles away at Ticaboo. Lucy loves it all! She loves running and chasing lizards in the open desert. She loves riding on the boat and knows as soon as my dad cuts the engine she is free to jump in. She spends hours swimming around and one of her very favorite games is jumping off the rocks. You have to be careful cause she’ll jump right on top of you!

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Lucy’s list looks more like lizard, rabbit, UPS driver (yes--only UPS), sandpiper birds.

Squeaky-toy, ball, Frisbee...?

She is a retriever. You name it--she’ll retrieve it. Her absolute favorite is to retrieve a water toy off a dock. A close second is her Frisbee, followed closely by a tennis ball.

What is Lucy's best quality?

Unconditional love. Lucy will absolutely let you know how much she loves you. Once she knows you, she will whine, spin in circles, and run circles around you whenever she sees you. It is an amazing greeting that has you feeling so special.

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

My travel schedule. Lucy’s head and ears go down every time she sees the suitcase come out. She does her very best to invite herself along. She follows me everywhere and will do anything in her power to jump in the car. When she knows she is not going she gives you the saddest look. It breaks my heart.

What is Lucy's proudest moment?

On a walk in Breckenridge, Colorado. It had snowed several feet over night and Lucy was ecstatic playing in the snow. She grabbed her tennis ball and carried it on the walk. She invented a game with herself of burying her ball in the snow and then digging it up again. One time the ball disappeared. Lucy frantically dug up snow in search for her ball. It was gone. I tried to get Lucy to leave it, to continue our walk. She was having none of it. After 15 minutes she was still at it. As I was about ready to drag her away she stuck her entire head in the snow and rooted around. To my amazement she came up with her face completely covered in snow (only her two little eyes sticking out) with the tennis ball in her mouth. She has never looked so proud.

If Hollywood had made a movie last year about your life in which Lucy could speak, which actor should do her voice?

With no question or hesitation, Ellen DeGeneres.

Visit Molly Fiore's website and blog, and read more about Opting In.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pam Houston & Fenton Johnson

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Pam Houston, I am the author of five books including Cowboys Are My Weakness, Sight Hound, and most recently, Contents May Have Shifted. This is Fenton Johnson the canine, named after the writer Fenton Johnson, who around my house we call Fenton Johnson the Human. Fenton the canine is 8 ½, which is a very good number for an Irish Wolfhound to make. (Average lifespan, 7 years)

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

When Fenton and I are in Davis, California, where I teach part of the year and direct the Creative Writing MA Program, we often stop at the north side Peets on the way home from the Big Square, Fenton’s favorite walk in Davis because of all the opportunities for rabbit chases it affords. (Fenton doesn’t think of them as rabbits, he thinks of them as bunster fun boys.)

What's brewing?

Large nonfat latte for me, water out of the community bowl (kind of like an Italian soda, Fenton tells me, with all those other dogs’ saliva for flavoring) for Fenton.

Any treats for you or Fenton on this occasion?

A Noah’s cinnamon sugar bagel, lightly toasted with honey almond cream cheese. I get the top half, he gets the bottom.

How were you and Fenton united?

I got Fenton from a lady named Margo Coombs who lives in Grand Junction, Colorado. I got my first Wolfhound, Dante, (the dog that the novel Sight Hound is about) from her by answering an ad in the Denver Post. Her dogs are very special. After spending the last 15 years with them, it is hard to imagine not having their energy in my life.

How did Fenton get his name? Any aliases?

He is named after my dear friend and fellow writer Fenton Johnson, author of Geography of the Heart, and Scissors, Paper, Rock, among other books. Fenton has no children himself, but he has eight brothers and sisters who all have kids and not one of them named a child Fenton. Fenton the canine and I tried to make that right for him.

Aliases? Fenster. Fenton baby. Fentonian. Big man. Nose. Fellow-fellow. Wagmaster. Wagalicous. Wagamuffin. Fentaroonio. Fentonburger. Mr. Jonson. Mr. Johnson I presume. (And what’s funny is that sometimes I will call Fenton the human one of these names too.)

What role has Fenton played in your writing?

Fenton figures quite prominently in my writing. I would call him a major character in Contents May Have Shifted, and he figures into several essays I have written over the years. Much more importantly, I believe spending as much time as I do out in the world with my dogs generally, and with Fenton in particular, makes me a better noticer. Fenton is a great noticer, and all of my writing begins in my noticing, rather than in my imagining. Also, one of the things that gets me down on the couch with my laptop in my lap and really working on something is the knowledge that he will very likely join me up there on the couch, rest his chin across my ankles, keep me company while I work. Having a wolfhound rest his chin across your ankles is probably one of the top ten best feelings in the world.

Does Fenton have a favorite place to go for an outing?

In Davis, he likes the Big Square, a quarter section of durum wheat that the farmer lets us walk the perimeter of. In Creede, Co, our other home, there are 5 million acres of designated wilderness right out back door. Most mornings in Creede we go up into the National Forest behind the house to a spot we call Coyote Rock. When Fenton takes himself on an outing(which he occasionally seizes the opportunity to do even though it is not “allowed” in the strictest sense) he goes two miles down the road to the Bristol Head neighborhood, where he knows exactly which houses have the milk bones.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

He is very zen about the postman. (I originally read the question as possum, which is a different story…) Squirrel, absolutely, and the only thing better than a squirrel is a cat.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

No interest in sticks or balls. Where in my name, he often says, do you see the word retriever? A squeaky toy maybe, especially if the young dog, William, wants it. But even then he mostly just cuddles it up against him and rests his chin on it.

What is Fenton's best quality?

His self-possession. He has always been utterly non needy without being at all aloof. He is the friend who is always there, keeping track of you across the room if you need to meet his eyes for courage, but never demanding more than you have to give. I thought when Dante died I would never have another dog who would teach me so much about how to be a person. But Fenton has continued my education, with a slightly different set of lessons than Dante’s.

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

My travel schedule first, and then the amount of psychic energy I spend worrying, although truth be told, he is a worrier too. What the hell are the humans doing now?, you can often hear him saying, especially in the car, where he believes he has to keep all the other cars on the other side of the yellow line with his mind.

What is Fenton's proudest moment?

Once outside of Marfa, Texas, Fenton got on a herd of antelope. The antelope were either really bored, or really tired, because they did four loops around this giant fallow field in about third gear, giving Fenton the illusion that he was keeping up with them. Now Fenton is fast, mind you, but not fast like an antelope. Eventually they got sick of him, and found another gear and left him in the dust, but during those twenty minutes that they toyed with him, he kept looking back at me, like, can you believe I am keeping up with these SOB’s?

If Fenton could speak in the movie about your life, who should do his voice?

Morgan Freeman. No contest. And if Morgan Freeman were busy, Anthony Hopkins. And if they were both busy, Richard Ford.

Visit Pam Houston's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, February 10, 2012

Laurie Hertzel & Riley

Who is in the photo at right?

The dog is Riley, a 10-year-old male springer-lab-beagle-coonhound. Today (Jan. 22) is the 10th anniversary of our bringing him home from the pound in Forest Lake, Minn. We got him in order to keep our Border collie, Boscoe, company after our other dog, Toby, died--we always said that Riley was Boscoe's puppy. The other creature in the picture is me, Laurie Hertzel, the books editor at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and a writer. My memoir, News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist, was published in 2010 by the University of Minnesota Press. Riley, sadly, is not in the book, although Toby is.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

My husband, Doug, and I take Riley on long walks through our St. Paul, Minn., neighborhood every Saturday and Sunday morning. At about the halfway point, we stop at the Coffee Grounds on Hamline Avenue. This winter has been so mild that we have been able to drink our coffee outside at their patio table all through November, December and into January.

What's brewing?

Doug always gets dark roast, with lots of cream, and I go for the hazelnut blend, with cream. Always lots of cream.

Any treats for you or Riley on this occasion?

They have a little jar of miniature milk bones by the cash register, and Riley always gets two.

On your blog you've shared the sad news that your dog Boscoe very recently died at age 17. How is the household adjusting?

Oh, it has been hard. We got Boscoe the summer we bought our house, so all of our memories here are tied up with him. He was a gregarious, friendly dog with tons of personality--he could work a room like Bill Clinton, greeting everyone, remembering their names, and their children's names, and winning over the dubious. He developed diabetes when he was 14 and lived two and a half years with the disease, but he did great with it--went hiking with us, and stayed cheerful and friendly to the end. He adapted, you know? And he never complained. Our house seems very quiet without him.

Riley has never been a solo dog, so we're interested in watching how he adapts. We might have to get him a puppy in the spring.

How did Riley and Boscoe get their names? Any aliases?

Naming Boscoe was tough. He was a tiny puppy when we got him from a farm outside of Pine City, Minn.--black and white, with beige eyebrows. He was just eight weeks old. We went through a lot of names before we settled on Boscoe--we tried "Smudge," and we tried "Archie" (as in Archie Manning--the beige looked sort of gold), and we tried "Stout" (as in Guinness Stout) but none of those seemed quite right. Boscoe was the name we just kept coming back to.

Riley was easier to name. At the pound, they called him Miller, and he was advertised on their website by the perky slogan, "It's Miller time!" But I didn't want a dog named after a mediocre beer, and besides, we were getting him to rile things up after Toby died. And rile things up he did.

He does have many aliases--when he's being sweet and cuddly, which is hardly ever, we call him Chester. I don't remember why. His other names are Pinecone, Porkchop, and Riley T. Coyote.

How were you and Riley united?

It's funny--we went to the pound that January day to look at Border collie puppies. The website had mentioned six eight-week-old Borders, and we thought one of them would be a great friend for Boscoe. When we pulled into the parking lot, I saw a small black and white dog sitting there next to one of the pound workers. He had short, speckled, slightly bowed legs, a white chest, a red collar, and an absolutely impassive face. When I slammed the door of our Jeep, the little dog looked at me, and that was it; I was a goner. He held my gaze as I walked across the lot and into the building.

We brought the Border puppies out, one at a time, and tried to get to know them. But in the cage next to them was that standoffish puppy with the red collar, staring solemnly, watching my every move. Even as I brought him into the playroom, I was thinking, "This dog is going to be a lot of trouble," but we adopted him anyway. And he was a lot of trouble, at first. He had been rejected by his first family, and he was a very serious, shy, mistrustful puppy--the exact opposite of Boscoe. He didn't play. He didn't wag his tail. It took a long time for him to trust us.

What role have your dogs played in your writing?

They have long been characters in many of the things I write. Toby, as I mentioned, is in my memoir, and his picture is on the back of the book. I have written many essays about all three of them for magazines and newspapers. And I started a blog about five years ago called Three Dog Blog where I write about them quite often. When Boscoe died, people were weeping all over the world.

Does Riley have a favorite place to go for an outing?

Riley has all kinds of favorite places. The first day he came into our house, he claimed under the kitchen table as his, as well as the burgundy wing-back chair in our living room. I don't think anyone has sat in that burgundy chair in 10 years, except him. In the yard, he likes to hide under the bridal veil bush, which has big drooping branches that come down almost to the ground. He gets way back there, and all you can see is the whites of his eyes. He likes to spy on people from there.

But most of all, he loves being out in the woods. He's never happier than when we take him up north and he can run free along the trails up the North Shore of Lake Superior. He's a great trail dog. We all love it up there, but there's something really wonderful about seeing Riley running flat-out down the trail, ears straight back, legs a blur. He is the epitome of happiness.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Oh, man, all of the above. And: vacuum cleaners, rabbits, roller bladers, bicycles, small squealing children. Riley is extremely prey-driven, and he'll chase anything that is small, loud, fast and close to the ground.

What is Riley's best quality?

He's hard to get to know. He's suspicious and shy. But once you get through to him, once he trusts you, there's no sweeter dog. He wants so much to please us he practically trembles. Boscoe loved everyone he ever met, and there's great charm in that. But Riley--you have to work for his affection. And that makes it so worth it.

He also has the amazing ability to run straight up the side of trees after squirrels. When he was a little younger, he could run up the side of a tree higher than my husband's head--and my husband is 6'4". Now that he's 10 he doesn't run quite so high, but it's still very impressive.

If Riley could change one thing about Minnesotans, what would it be?

They would be much quieter. They wouldn't roller-blade. They would always whisper. They would only play cello music, never acid rock.

What is Riley's proudest moment?

He's killed a couple of squirrels in his day. I remember the first time, he chased the squirrel around the yard, caught it, and started swinging it around by the neck. After he dropped it, he seemed absolutely astounded that it would no longer move.

If Hollywood had made a movie last year about your life in which the dogs could speak, which actors would you have suggested for Boscoe and Riley's voice?

That's such a great question. But the voices would have to be done by Doug--he's been channeling those dogs for years. Boscoe's voice is kind of warm and gravelly and friendly, and Riley's is high-pitched and timid. I think anyone who doesn't talk for their dogs isn't a real dog-owner.

Read more about Laurie Hertzel and her memoir, News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist, and visit the Three Dog Blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Heather Piedrahita & Jack

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Heather Piedrahita and I work (and play!) in San Diego, CA. I work for an online high school and play as the Event Director for Pit Bull Rescue San Diego. Jack is three years old, a "purebred shelter mutt" as I like to call him. They sold him to us as a "German shepherd mix" but who knows what that means?! No matter what he is, we love him!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I've taken to exploring Coronado Island quite a bit more now that my husband is stationed down here and I've just come to love it. This time we stopped at Cafe 1134 so I could read the second book in the Hunger Games series. It actually turned out to be such a wonderful day that there were lots of people on the street and we spent most of our time visiting and chatting. Oh well, I read the whole book the next day instead!

What's brewing?

Today I enjoyed a nonfat Cafe au Lait. Delicious!

Any treats for you or Jack on this occasion?

Yes, of course! I brought along a Natural Balance roll for Jack to munch on but it turns out my yogurt was pretty appetizing for him as well. Besides the yogurt I also had a hardboiled egg and a banana. The best part? For all of my snacks plus my coffee, I didn't spend more than $7! Yeah, and in Coronado that's unheard of. Score!

How were you and Jack united?

I have wanted a dog since I was very young but my brother's allergies gave my parents an easy way out on that one. After going to college I moved in with my then boyfriend [now husband] and started looking for a dog. People, by this time I'd wanted a dog so badly I'd gotten a fish and named it dog. Twice. OK, so boyfriend and I went to the county shelter to do our part and rescue some needy little thing. On Christmas Eve we walked around once and weren't caught by any particular dog. It was rainy and we had to get to a family party but we decided to take one more lap. There, in the second row, was my little ball of fur! He hadn't been there on our first lap but once I saw him, I knew the teeny whiny little rascal had to be mine! I ran up to the front desk to put a "hold" on him but they had literally just brought him in as a stray so he wasn't even in the system yet. We waited, got our playtime, and fell in love. We officially adopted him a week later!

How did he get his name? Any nicknames?

That's a good story! I was taking Italian classes when we adopted a dog and I mentioned to Steven [the then-boyfriend] that I loved the name Giacomo if we were ever to have a boy child. It's pronounced "jauck-a-mo" so I figured we would call the boy Jack for short. His face didn't exactly light up at the idea and he so nicely suggested that we use the name on the dog. So Jack is technically Giacomo but yelling that mouthful at the dog park isn't exactly convenient so most of the time he's Jack. He's also Scout for the way he peeks over our balcony, and he's been known to be called Dingo, monkey boy, love muffin, Mom's best friend and sweetie baby. Yeah, if it's possible, he's over-loved.

Who is Jack's best pet-pal?

You mean besides me? Haha! Jack's best friend is nine-month old Lilah, another rescue mutt. [Jack and Lilah, photo left] She's a handful but he's been very good and helping her learn the ropes. Lilah's mom keeps a blog too.

Does Jack have a favorite place to go for walk?

His favorite place to walk is probably anywhere busy where he can meet many people and dogs. He's a little social butterfly!

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Yeah, he's not such a fan of large, high energy dogs. Funny enough he is exactly that but he likes to be big man on campus, so to speak. However, with some gentle corrections he eventually settles in with whomever he is around. He's ultimately just a lovebug.

What is Jack's best quality?

I'd say he always knows how to have fun. He's always up for a game of catch, he loves kids, and he can have an hour of fun with just the cardboard roll from the paper towels. He reminds me every day that life doesn't always have to be so serious.

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

He probably wishes I could be home more!

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

Jack's proudest moment was probably when he got to be the ring bearer in our wedding. He even had his own collar complete with purple flowers to match the bouquets. [All together now...awwww!] His most embarrassing moment was probably when he tracked dirt all throughout my parents' house, up onto their bed, and into their white carpet. *sigh*

If Jack could speak in a movie about your life, what actor should do his voice?

Whenever we make Jack's voice it's a little bit Yogi Bear and a smidge of Fred Flintstone. Neither of those are real actors but it would give us a jumping off point for a casting meeting right?

Oh one more thing! We highly recommend Cafe 1134! They had dog treats and water out for visiting pets and the crowd was very welcoming.

Visit Jack's Blog.

--Marshal Zeringue