Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jenny Smith & Angus

Who is in the photo at right?

Hello! I’m Jenny Smith, and I am a British author who writes comic fiction for teenage girls. My novel Diary of a Parent Trainer, published by Scholastic, is out on 12th June.

My canine companion is Angus. He is going to be seven in August, and he is a West Highland White Terrier. This seems appropriate as it is a Scottish breed, and I am originally from Scotland.

What’s the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

There is a beautiful country walk along the Chilterns Ridgeway between my village and the village of Chinnor, where there is a fantastic little tea-shop called ‘Lotte’s Kitchen’ run by the British food writer Lotte Duncan.

We walk along the footpaths, and admire the Red Kites flying overhead. There are long views over fields and farms. It takes about forty minutes to walk to Chinnor.

As a special treat, Angus and myself can enjoy a little rest and refreshment at Lotte’s Kitchen before our walk home.

What’s brewing?

To be honest, here in England it’s usually tea! But Lotte’s Kitchen also does coffee and I would choose a cappuccino. Angus would order the house water.

Any treats for you or Angus on this occasion?

If I’m feeling naughty, I will have some of Lotte’s famous Passion Cake. Angus would munch a doggie treat.

How were you and Angus united?

When Angus was six weeks old, we visited some local kennels specializing in West Highland Terriers and Jack Russell Terriers. There he was, looking up at me with his big brown eyes, with his huge pointy ears which made him look slightly like Yoda. It was love at first sight for me.

How did Angus get his name? Any aliases?

Angus was named by the kennels and we liked the name so we kept it. No aliases.

What role has Angus played in your writing?

The dog in Diary of a Parent Trainer, who is called Rascal, is based on Angus. Like Angus, Rascal is very friendly and loving.

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

Angus loves the brideway walks around the fields surrounding our village, where there are streams to drink from, woods to run into and other dogs to meet and greet.

Squirrel, postman etc?

The postman is Angus’s nemesis. He thinks that it is his duty to bark and jump around each time a letter pops through the door. Luckily, Angus is all bark and no bite.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick?

Definitely the tennis ball.

Who are Angus’s best pet-pals?

Angus walks most regularly with Billy Bonkers (who is a labra-doodle) and an Irish terrier called Pixie. I think Angus has a crush on Pixie.

Angus also spends weeks at a time with my parents-in-law’s canine companion, a miniature schnauzer who is nearly 2 years old, called Toby. When we have to go away, he has a holiday at Toby’s house and if they go away, Toby comes to us. They get on very well.

What is Angus’s best quality?

His gentle nature (apart from when the postman arrives).

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

He would stop me hosing him down if he has rolled in some fox poo!

What is Angus’s proudest moment?

Angus is always very proud when he has just buried something in the garden. He looks incredibly smug and secretive.

If Angus could speak in the moving about your life, who should do his voice.

It would have to be Ewan McGregor!

Visit Jenny Smith's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Writers Read: Jenny Smith.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 28, 2012

Kevin Loud & Murphy

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Kevin Loud, and Murphy. By day, I’m a high school social worker. When I work in the garden or write my gardening blog, I’m the Nitty Gritty Dirt Man. And my trusty sidekick is an 8-year-old female Tibetan Terrier.

What’s the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

There are two occasions. The first is an early morning stroll around the yard. I’m very much a morning person, which works out well for Murphy, since she’s ready to go – and when I say go, I mean go. The other occasion is after work, when I let Murphy outside and I get the chance to breathe – and if there are some weeds to pull out, even better.

What’s brewing?

In all honesty, I was never much of a coffee fan. Then, I tried a Dunkin Donuts mocha latte and I think I need to have one of those wheely IV stands with me at all times. Hot or over ice, I really enjoy the taste of coffee and chocolate. But for home brewing, it’s Lavazza espresso, which I turn into cappuccino. It’s a medium roast that’s rich, dense, sweet and full-bodied – and it’s from Italy, so it’s actually a vacation in a cup.

Any treats for you or Murphy on this occasion?

Hmmmm. My favorite treat with coffee is biscotti or a slice of apple pie. As for Murphy, she demands to eat what I eat and to drink what I drink. I always have to leave some coffee in the bottom of the mug for her.

How were you and your dog united?

My partner and I had sworn that after we put our Lhasa Apso down, we would never get another dog. A few years passed, and that need for canine companionship returned. We had watched a lot of dog shows and did some research and discovered Tibetan Terriers, which aren’t terriers at all. The actual name is Dhoki Apso, but when the British met the breed, they thought it looked like a terrier. We found a breeder in New Jersey, and she sent us photos of a newborn litter. From that email, we spotted this brown puff and fell in love. A few weeks later, we drove to New Jersey to meet her. She was in a cage with her brother and sister – and while they were jumping around, Murphy just sat there watching every move we made. It was like she was looking for us as much as we were looking for her. We were hooked.

How did Murphy get her name?

Any aliases? Before we picked her up, we tried out a lot of names to hear which felt natural. Because she was brown, we had to go with Murphy – a nod to one of our favorite television shows, Murphy Brown. We love the title character for her wit and independence and strength. Of course, we don’t always call her Murphy. Sometimes it’s Murph or Murphetta or Murph the Turf – whatever that means. And then we have some names which are not appropriate for print.

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

As soon as we say bye-bye in any kind of sentence, she gets excited. It doesn’t matter if it’s a walk or a car ride. Sometimes, we even have to spell things out because an innocent use of one of her familiar words can get her excited. But now she’s catching on to that trick.

What role has Murphy played in your gardening and in keeping a cool gardening blog?

It’s great to be outside with Murphy. She tends to follow me wherever I happen to be planting or weeding or writing. That kind of companionship helps me to overlook the yellow and brown patches in the lawn. Then there are the moments when I’m photographing a peony – or any flower – trying to zoom in and get a nice shot. She sort of looks at me and tilts her head and seems to say, “What are you doing? I am so much cuter.”

Squirrel, postman, cat?

While she’s in the house, she’s all bark whenever any animal or person walks by. She even barks at neighbors who live three or four houses away and who are getting into their cars. She is the queen of her domain.

Who are Murphy’s best pals?

I also have a cat, a one-year-old female Ragdoll, Muffola. It was so interesting when we introduced them to each other and they had to work out their schedules and needs and behaviors with each other – and it’s not like they speak the same language. People can learn a lot from cats and dogs.

What is Murphy's best quality?

She loves people. She gets excited when we come home or when friends and family come for a visit. But it’s when anyone leaves that she puts on the biggest show, crying and barking and begging everyone to just stay a little longer. She’s a little needy that way.

If Murphy could change one thing about New Yorkers/Long Islanders what would it be?

Everyone seems so rushed and harried here – and while there are many pleasant people, it’s during the daily chores that everyone seems a little too close to the brink of an all-out nervous breakdown. But bring Murphy into the picture and everyone slows down and becomes more pleasant.

What is Murphy’s proudest moment?

She has two. The first is when the groomer is finished with her. Murphy knows she looks good. She’s clipped, perfumed, has had a pedi-pedi, and is wearing a bandana around her neck. Then there is her other proud moment, when she finds some cat poop in the lawn and eats it and rolls around in it. She’s in absolute ecstasy. That’s when I use those aliases that aren’t printable.

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

Candice Bergen, the original Murphy Brown.

Visit the Nitty Gritty Dirt Man blog and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 25, 2012

Doniene & Bess, Pete, Tate and Liesl

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi, I'm Doniene and this is Bess and Pete, my young Border Collies - Bess is one year old and Pete is 9 months. I also have two other BCs - Tate who is four and Liesl who is 2 1/2.

I'm a rancher's wife and we live on a ranch in central Texas where we raise cattle, meat goats and horses. Due to the drought, our cattle numbers are down, but we have been able to keep a good number of goats. Hence, the need for the Border Collies, who are a great help to us.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Because Border Collies are working dogs (and will work any time, all the time!) they spend their time with out me in their dog runs. So coffee break time for us is "free play" time in the garden.

I love to sit in the swing seat under the tree, drinking my favorite brew, watching the dogs play!

[photo left: Tate on the trial field]

What's brewing?

I love any Gevalia coffee, but Hazelnut is my all time favorite! Brewed and with a touch of real cream. (I milk a cow, so always have the real stuff!)

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

No treats for the dogs - they are just happy to run and play!

How were you and your dogs united?

That's a long story, but the shortened version is: I raised Tate - he was one of a litter of 8 of which 7 died, so I became his "mama". His birth mama was our first BC to use here on the ranch and was a wonderful asset. Tate proved to be as good as his mama, and I have even ventured into Sheep Dog Trialing with Tate. We are still "Novices", but are learning a lot!

I received Liesl [photo right, checking out a grasshopper] as a birthday gift from my kids. Bess is a half sister to Liesl, and wanted another female. Bess and I are a perfect fit, and we are doing very well in our training, not only to be a ranch dog, but also a trial dog. Pete was "payment" for taking care of his mama when she whelped. Pete was one of five and I had so much fun taking care of that bunch! Pete comes from a line of Sheep Dog Trial Champions, so I am very excited about beginning his training!

What is each dog's best quality?

Tate - total devotion to me - if I ask him to do something - he will do it to his utmost ability!

Liesl - her joy for life - she is always happy!

Bess - her biddability - quickness to obey!

Pete [photo left] - so smart - learns things very quickly!

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

I like short names, and like different vowel sounds for all the dogs that I am working ie, each name needs to sound distinct - no rhyming names,and no names that start with the same sound. It makes it easier for us to "know" exactly who is being given a command!

Sometimes when working on the ranch, we will work more than one dog at a time.

Do your dogs make any contribution to your quilting?

None what so ever! But I'm passionate about both - and I think having diverse interests keeps me fresh in my thinking for both activities.

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

Anywhere there is sheep, goats or cattle to work!

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

As young dogs they all wanted to "work" anything that moved. But it is part of their training to ignore squirrels, cats, chickens...

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

Tate: Robert Redford

Liesl: Whoopie Goldberg

Bess [on the lookout, photo left]: Ellen DeGeneres

Pete: Kirk Cameron

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Because they are working dogs - no other animals like them!!

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

That I would never do anything unless it is with them!

Visit Doniene's 365 Days and just border collies blogs.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Patrice Kindl & Dante

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Dante, a four-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. He is a major character in my new novel, Keeping the Castle, only his fictional alter ego is named Fido. He’s pictured alone here because he is so dark that it’s hard to see him properly when he’s photographed with anybody else.

I'm Patrice Kindl [with husband Paul, in the photo below left].

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every morning my extremely nice husband Paul gets up, goes downstairs and makes coffee for two (fancy coffee for two, mind you, with whipped cream and cinnamon and chocolate shavings and so on). Then he brings the result upstairs to Dante and me, who are in bed. Paul has been doing this for years. No, he is not available; he is my husband.

Normally I am pretty informally dressed for this date, but I preferred to appear in this photograph fully attired, with my hair combed.

What's brewing?

Café mocha, cappuccino, lattes, and so on. My husband is an ex-Oregonian. He does not regret leaving the rain behind but definitely shares the regional addiction to caffeine.

Any treats for you or Dante on this occasion?

Well obviously yes, for me, but none for Dante. He likes to burrow under the covers. When my husband sits on the bed I have to yell, “Watch out for the lump!”

How were you and Dante united?

I got him when my husband was out of town (he travels a lot). My husband knew I was looking for a puppy, and thought he’d be home three days after I acquired one. In fact, he was unable to return for three weeks. When he did come home, Dante was horrified that I expected him to share a bed with this obviously deranged homicidal drifter.

Dante loves my husband now, but he’s still my dog.

How did Dante get his name? Any aliases?

Dante looks exactly like an Italian poet, with those sort of soulful, bulgy eyes. Aliases? Oh, yes. We have “Dante-delicious,” “Dante-de-lion,” “Commandant” (“Come on, Dant!”), “Dante-esque,” and so on. And then there are totally out of the blue ones like, “Pundlestump” and “Banana Boat.”

Does Dante play any role in your writing?

As mentioned, Dante is a major character in Keeping the Castle. It is a comic Regency romance, and a miniature spaniel was exactly the right breed to be a gift from a gentleman to a lady he was courting in the early 1800s. Dante’s character also is amply described by the traditional name which he bears in the novel, “Fido,” meaning “fidelity.”

Who are Dante's best pet-pals?

When we got Dante we already had a dog, a 165 pound Newfoundland named Boufe. They were very funny together. I am sorry to say that Boufe is no longer with us. Dante loves all dogs, everywhere, of whatever size or breed. We also have a Panama Amazon named Bree, and they often gingerly share my lap.

What is Dante's best quality?

All of them. Dante is the best dog in the world. If there are dogs on other planets he is better than the whole lot of them put together. He is highly intelligent, loyal and adaptable. I can take him anywhere and he is beautifully behaved.

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

Oh, that’s easy. I should immediately and permanently cease all trips to the grocery store, restaurants, doctor’s office, and any other destinations which do not allow dogs.

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

Antonio Cupo. Actually, I just think the actor looks like Dante.

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

Okay, honey, we’ve established that you don’t want to go out, you don’t want anything to eat or drink, you don’t want to play, you don’t want to get up on my lap, so why are you looking at me like that?

Visit Patrice Kindl's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kirsty & Strauss

Who is in the photo at right?

This is me, Kirsty a.k.a ‘SV’, 35-year-old modern day nomad currently living in Italy, blogger on Status Viatoris, writer for the Overseas Guides Company and wannabe author in general. With me is the love of my life and centre of my universe, Strauss a.k.a ‘Pooch’, an 11-and-a-half year old male Podenco (Spanish hunting dog) cross.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Our day always starts at 6:30/7:00 with an enormous mug of tea in bed; I read whichever book I have on the go and Strauss snoozes on under the duvet like a lazy teenager - although when we are in the UK at my mother’s house he will be sitting eagerly at the end of the bed keeping watch for squirrels out of the window.

What's brewing?

Tea, of course! Nothing beats a mug of strong builder’s tea with a splash of milk. PG Tips pyramid tea bags are the only essential item on my list of must-haves from the UK – the Italian equivalent simply doesn’t cut it; gnat’s pee is gnat’s pee no matter how exotic the location.

Any goodies to go with the coffee?

I shall probably have another mug of tea with my breakfast – a bowl of oats with blueberries and milk. Yum!

Any treat for Strauss on this occasion?

Strauss has his brekky after our morning walk; doggy biscuits for ‘dogs d’un certain âge’ with a bratwurst sausage cut up into them – an excellent way of disguising his cod liver oil/glucosamine capsules which he needs for his achy joints.

He tends to have his treats in the evening, and any kind of dental chew makes his day – although I have to say that they never seem to make much inroad into his halitosis…

How were you and your dog united?

I adopted Strauss from a rescue centre in Estepona whilst I was living in Southern Spain. He was about three months old at the time, extremely skinny and full of worms. The first year was slightly up and down, but we settled into a mutual love-fest soon after that which has done nothing but increase in intensity since then.

When he was two, we moved to Southern France for five years; Strauss was especially thrilled as we exchanged a concrete jungle for a mountain village in the process.

When he was seven, we went back to the UK for a while for family reasons and then up to Scotland for seven months, he also stayed with my mother for four months whilst I backpacked round New Zealand – it worked very well at the time, but I simply couldn’t consider such a long separation from him again.

When Strauss was nine, we moved to Italy and another mountain village where he is thoroughly spoilt by everyone there due to his charming little ways.

How did Strauss get his names? Does he have any nicknames?

My family has a history of naming dogs after classical music composers and with the theory regarding single-syllable names for dogs ruling out Rimsky-Korsakov, Strauss he became!

When he was little I used to refer to him as Straussy, but a young Spanish boy I was teaching English to at the time misheard and began calling him Trousers; Trousers then got a Scottish makeover and was shortened to Trewsy or Trews. In France some of my friends rechristened him ‘Stras’ which mean scrap of cloth in dialect, and then when we got to Italy he became ‘Squisi’, short for squisito (exquisite) or ‘Stronz’ short for stronzo (idiot).

He is also variously referred to as ‘Mummy’s Ickle Soldier’, ‘Angel of Luvy Wuvy’ and ‘Mummy’s Fluffy Wuffy Baby’, all of which he has strongly requested I refrain from using in public.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Definitely squirrel, but only when we are in the UK. He’s perfectly happy to bark up at them when they’re in the trees, but can’t be bothered to chase them when they actually come down to his level, so contents himself with staring at them for hours whilst shaking with excitement.

He used to have a thing about cats, but Italian cats are seriously tough, so he has given up trying to provoke them and now even counts a couple among his besties.

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

None of the above, in fact rocks have always been Strauss’s thing, and the bigger the better.

Once he finds the perfect specimen, he enjoys carrying it around between his long-blunt teeth or sitting with it between his front paws and licking it incessantly or dropping it in long grass then madly uprooting the grass to uncover it – the games are endless and apparently very entertaining, and although he would be perfectly happy to hand over a fresh lamb bone if it were requested of him, parting him from one of his rocks is a job for someone with a lot of time on their hands and an almost endless well of patience.

Where is Pooch's favorite place for an outing?

Strauss loves swimming, especially in the river that runs along the bottom of my Italian village. Unfortunately due to his achy back legs, swimming no longer loves him; so this summer will almost certainly have to be a water-free one. Luckily he is made pretty happy with any sort of outing, even a spin round town can be satisfyingly packed with interesting sniffs and stuff to gawp at.

Who are Strauss's best pet-pals?

Strauss is definitely more of a people-dog. He rarely shows much interest in other dogs, probably because he doesn’t consider himself to be one; however he doesn’t mind the odd wrestling match with Sugar, the Brittany spaniel puppy. He also enjoys mooching round the garden with Olive the whippet, and the occasional bounce with Lady the beagle cross. Bruschetta the black cat and Stella the multi-coloured cat will also get a brief wag and an affectionate sniff if their paths cross.

His human friends, however, are many and varied but listing them here would constitute an invasion of privacy and would certainly make their own pets jealous.

What is Strauss's most endearing quality?

Strauss is a truly wonderful dog and I would find it practically impossible to choose just one quality; he is affectionate, friendly, communicative, funny, happy, goofy, loving, chatty, waggy, and expressive, and he manages to charm most people who meet him.

In fact I strongly suspect that a lot of people I count amongst my friends are probably only using me in order to spend quality time with him… Oh well.

What is Strauss's proudest moment? Most embarrassing?

Strauss’s main purpose in life is as a sort of canine ack-ack gun, and he is never prouder than when he manages to chase a passenger jet out of our airspace with a volley of fierce barks accompanied by some threatening bouncing and a spine-chilling display of hackles.

His most embarrassing moment could well have been the time he raced helter-skelter into our balcony window in Marbella trying to get to a bird that had alighted on the railings. Sheepish was not the word…

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

He would almost certainly request that I refrain from making a fuss of other people’s pets, thank you very much Mummy.

Visit the Status Viatoris blog and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 18, 2012

Peggy Mullins & Ika

Who is in the photo at right?

This is me Peggy Mullins, and our twelve-year-old Pit Bull, Ika. I am an author with a book (Everybody Loves Ika: One Woman’s Memoir of Her Dog, an American Pit Bull Terrier) due out this summer. Ika is featured in my book.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every morning Ika goes out on the deck to be greeted by our blind cat Marble. She insists on waiting for him so she can give him a big kitty rub as she walks in and out of his legs. He’s a little embarrassed by all the kitty attention but never makes a fuss. After that I join him, providing the weather permits, and have my very strong cup of tea or coffee. We especially like to sit and watch the sun rise over the trees. After that we make our way to the barn.

What's brewing?

I usually drink tea but when I do have coffee I like a thick Grecian coffee, extra strong and not too sweet, grounds and all. That’s what was in my cup this morning. It’s a coffee called Bravo and comes directly from Greece. Yum.

Any treats for you or Ika on this occasion?

No treats for me today. However, if I’m not watching, Ika makes a treat for himself out of the horse poop around the barn. What is it about horse droppings that taste so good? If I catch him scoffing one down I tell him to “drop it”. Sometimes he complies but more often he just swallows it. Yuck! No doggie kisses from him on those days.

How did Ika get his name? Any aliases?

Oh my, this is a direct question for my book. When my husband (Ron) and I adopted our rescue dog his name was Zeus. It just didn’t fit him. Every depiction of the Greek God Zeus I had ever seen was of an angry deity hurling lightning bolts across the sky when things didn’t go his way. But our dog is the gentlest, sweetest animal there could be. He never barks growls or jumps on people. He is content to sit quietly next to someone, anyone, and have his head scratched. He has large golden and green eyes that are soft and loving. They are outlined in what looks like thick mascara giving them an Egyptian flare.

An excerpt from chapter eleven:
I found lists of names for other people’s Pit Bulls. Not surprisingly, Zeus was a favorite. For male dogs there were names like Spike, Hulk, Killer, Bravo, Tank, and Rush. None of the names fit our new dog. I sat at the computer and thought of names that were less descriptive. I came up with Pete, Laddie, Max, Boris, and Marty. None of these names even came close to matching his personality and enthusiasm. What kind of name would best describe a puppy with a tail that wagged so fast it went in circles? What title would be appropriate for a dog that was always happy to see people and that smiled and snored really loudly? I pondered this for some time. I picked up a pencil and just started to write down letters. Some letters just stood there, all alone, meaningless scribbles of pencil marks. Some came together and formed words but none that described our new family member. Boxy, Seven, and Bink found their way out of my pencil and onto the paper. “Nope,” I said in a whisper.

Then I wrote down the letter ‘I.’ Next came a ‘k’. “Hum,” I said out loud. “I have it!” I added an ‘a’. “That’s it. We’ll call him Ika,” It wasn’t a word. It wasn’t even English, French, German, or Spanish, which are the languages I speak. Although he’s a male and most names that end in an ‘a’ are female, I didn’t care. Ika didn’t describe anything or anyone, which was what I liked about it. There wouldn’t be ten other dogs with that same name. There wouldn’t even be one other.

Ika was a name whose owner had a circling, wagging tail, smiled a lot, and snored. Its owner also ran around really fast and fell on his chin because his head was too big for his body. He would grow into the name and, in time, his head. His name didn’t describe the dog, he would describe it. It was perfect, and I ran down the stairs to tell my husband our puppy’s new name.

Over the years I would be asked many times where I got his name. “It just showed up at the end of a pencil,” I would always reply, which really was the truth.
How were you and Ika united?

I went on a horseback ride with a club I belong to. Every rider had to sign out as she/he left for the trails. The woman who was writing everyone’s name down had a baby carrier strapped to her shoulders. I asked her if she had an infant in the carrier. She had a puppy and he was up for adoption. After some initial resistance from my husband about having a Pit Bull we adopted Ika.

Please tell us about your new book.

My book (Everybody Loves Ika: On Woman’s Memoir of Her Dog, an American Pit Bull Terrier) is written to educate and dispel the fears and misconceptions people have of Pit Bulls as it travels through his life.

I grew up in a hellish adoptive home. After surviving two disastrous marriages I found myself emotionally devastated.

Ika, a beautiful Pit Bull Terrier pup, was spared at the last moment from being born into a similarly hellish life—one where dogs were viciously abused for pleasure, sport, and profit. Though his mother and many of his siblings didn’t make it out of their gruesome home alive, Ika survived thanks to a skilled vet and a few big-hearted volunteers.

In time, Ika found his way to me. I gave him a loving home. In return, Ika would teach me the kindness, patience, and unconditional love that had long been absent from my life. In addition to Ika, there are several horses, all with their own unique and entertaining personalities that interact with Ika in various ways. Along with the surprising affection of a special man and a spectacular family of animals, Ika’s book poignantly guides readers through my difficult journey toward healing and peace through the devotion of a wonderful dog.

Does Ika have any non-canine pet-pals?

Ika has Marble our old, blind cat who shares his bones with him. He also has several equine buddies each with their own special relationship with him.

What is Ika's best quality?

Oh my, he has so many good qualities. I suppose the best is his very gentle and loving spirit.

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

Ika would love for me to give him unlimited treats not just a few at a time. And he would much prefer to go bye-bye in the car all the time instead of just on occasion.

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

I think Robin Williams would be a perfect voice for Ika because Ika has as many outfits that he wears as Robin Williams has voices. A different voice for every outfit.

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

Why don’t you just bark to go out instead of standing in front of the door and looking at me to let you out? Who has who trained here anyway?

Visit the Everybody Loves Ika blog and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Flynn & Roxy

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Roxy and me, Flynn. We live in Melbourne, Australia. I am a student and have a passion for writing. When I am older, I would like to be a journalist, novelist or editor.

Roxy is an 8 month old Cavoodle. If you're wondering what a Cavoodle is, it is a King Charles Cavalier X Mini Poodle. She loves going for long walks and visiting her friends at the dog park. Roxy and I both love the weekends because for her it means ‘time to play’ and for me it means ‘time to rest’, so we have to do both.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I’m just sitting on the couch with Roxy while relaxing from the stress of life. Roxy is sitting on my lap and her heart beat is very fast.

We would usually go out to a café on the weekend on the way to the park, but we have too much going on this week.

What's brewing?

I’m having hot chocolate. Sorry if it’s against the rules because it’s not coffee, but I have a sweet tooth and a craving for chocolate.

Any treats for you or Roxy on this occasion?

I am also having Flake chocolate bar, like I said; I have a craving for chocolate.

Roxy is munching away on a Schmackos liver treat. I don’t want to give her any chocolate because it might make her sick; also, she is fat enough as it is. I don’t want to give her any coffee in case she goes wild, which most of the time she already is.

How did Roxy get her name? Any aliases?

When we bought Roxy, we had to come back the next day to pick her up. We had already been thinking of some names. We came up with: Micky or Roxy. When we were driving to the breeders, we stopped at a red light and on the back of the car in front of us there was a sticker that said ‘ROXY’ on it. We decided then that it was fate and that we had to name her Roxy.

How were you and Roxy united?

I have wanted to get a dog for years but we never ended up getting around to it. About 6 months ago, we started looking around for a puppy. After some advice and research, we decided that a Cavoodle would be a good dog for us, especially since it is half poodle which is great for me since I am an asthmatic. We weren’t planning on buying her; we were planning on buying a dog at another shop but stopped in at this breeder anyway. When we walked in, we saw Roxy sleeping. There was a bunch of other people looking at Roxy, so we decided that we had to buy her before anyone else did. That was the day that changed my life.

Rabbit, postman, cat...?

Rabbit? Not many rabbits around where I live.

Postman? She occasionally barks at the postman but I am not home when he comes to drop off the mail, so I don’t know.

Cat? Roxy has an ongoing battle with our cat, Puss. They are always fighting and attacking each other but they are finally starting to get along. They sometimes share the leftovers, I know that we probably shouldn’t feed it to them! Roxy’s enemy is the cat, Puss but hopefully they will soon be friends.

Squeaky-toy, ball, boomerang...?

Boomerang? Sadly, no boomerang for Roxy.

Squeaky toy? Roxy loves her squeaky toy. She is always running around with it in her mouth which gets extremely annoying but also very cute. It also happens to double as her tug-of-war toy, even though it is not designed for that.

Ball? Of course! Whenever we take Roxy to the park, we take her ball and ball-thrower. She is also very fast for her small size -- she runs like a bolt!

However, Roxy has also had a very bad experience with her ball. She once ate it, yes, she swallowed all of the rubber; we then found it the next morning in her vomit… Ew.

What is Roxy's best quality?

Roxy’s best quality is her loyalty and love towards everyone. Whenever we come home she is always jumping all over us and running around in circles.

She will always love us whenever we need someone, she is always there; that’s what dogs are for.

She also happens to love everyone, even people that don’t like her. Whenever I take her for a walk in a crowded road, she is always jumping up at strangers and trying to lick them on the face. Roxy also loves life and is always happy to be where she is or do what she is doing, especially if she is at the park.

If Roxy could change one thing about Victorians, what would it be?

If Roxy could change something about Victorians, it would be that everyone would pat her and give her lots of attention, that is what she loves.

What is Roxy's proudest moment?

Roxy’s proudest moment would probably be when she kept on winning best dog and prizes at Puppy School when she was only 10 weeks old. All of the other dogs where much older and bigger than her, but she stood her ground and won a whole load of prizes at the exams.

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

What a tough question. Roxy is a very little lady with a big attitude. She's a King Charles Cavalier which (I am pretty sure) are from England, so probably someone with an English accent. I would have to say Kate Winslet. Funny, I know.

Visit the Destructive Puppy blog and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, May 14, 2012

Marika S. Bell & Cooper and Ripley

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Marika S. Bell, a CPDT dog trainer and dog behaviour blogger.

Cooper is a 7 year old Lancashire Heeler male. Lancashire Heeler are a rare dog breed from the NW UK used (like corgis) for herding cattle.

Ripley is a 3 years old SPCA-special. We would love to get him genetically tested to see what his closest breed is, my guess is English Mastiff/GSD.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

After breakfast we head to the local dog park where we get to sniff the pee-mail and stretch our legs. Then I lead the way to our favourite coffee shop. Next stop is home to read email and write. I love this part of the day where we can relax in the office with the heater on, drinking my coffee while the boys lounge on their beds around the office.

What's brewing?

A half strength flat white from my much-appreciated baristas at GroundUp cafe in Pauahatanui.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

The best treat for all of us is the toastie-warm office when the heat is on. It isn't a big office so two dogs, two cats and me, fill it up pretty well.

How were you and your dogs united?

My husband grew up with Lancashire Heelers so when we decided to get a dog, 7 years ago, he wanted another heeler. Cooper was chosen for us by my husband's mother in the UK and he flew with her (first class) to Seattle where we lived. He has since travelled with us to Singapore for two years then here to New Zealand.

Ripley was a pup at the local SPCA at 8 weeks old, I met him at 4 months old and decided he was the one! He is my big New Zealand Frankenstein dog (he doesn't seem to fit together very well).

You may be the only dog trainer I've come across who also has a background in big cat training. How similar are those two areas of expertise?

I was first introduced to clicker training when I worked with a Puma named Tum-Tum. That experience has greatly affected my methods of dog training through positive reinforcement. If you wouldn't smack a tiger on the nose, why would you need to do that to a dog? All training with the cats was behind a safety fence so you had to be able to communicate well and you couldn't use force even if you wanted to. The animals has to trust you and that only happens through positive training.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Cooper was named on the impulsively, when I saw his little head poking out of his soft-sided carrier at the airport.

Ripley was named after one of my favourite movie characters "Ripley" from Alien. Also he was very wrinkly as a puppy so it seemed to fit.

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

They love the local dog park, but their unequalled favourite is the beach!

Rabbit, postman, cat...?

Due to Ripley's lack of early socialization just about anything out of the ordinary needs at least one good bark. They have a very tolerant relationship with their own two cats, even sleeping on the bed together if given the chance in the morning.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Molly and Max, a Labra-doodle and a Mini Snauchzer are their good friends from the dog park. They are also one big and one small dog so they are a good match for my mis-sized boys.

What is each dog's best quality?

Ripley is a snuggler, he stares up at me lovingly and the Oxytocin hit is instantaneous.

Cooper is a courageous soul, and a proper gentlemen at heart. All the airs of stateliness go out the window, however, when a guest comes to visit and he can't stop his butt wiggling faster than his front.

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

All the beaches in NZ would be dog friendly and off-leash!

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

Cooper would be voiced by Pierce Brosnan, and Ripley would be Jemaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords.

Visit Marika S. Bell's Dancing Dogs website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, May 11, 2012

Lois Alter Mark & Jessie

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Lois Alter Mark, co-founder of StyleSubstanceSoul, Flicks for Kids editor at NickJr. and blogger on The Huffington Post. Jessie is my sweet old – very old – Newfoundland. She will turn 12 in June.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every day that Jessie is still here is an occasion for celebration. She’s so old – the vet says she’s around 100 – that she’s pretty much just living on love at this point.

What's brewing?

For me, a trenta-sized black iced tea, unsweetened with no water and extra ice from Starbucks. With two Sweet ‘n Lows. For Jessie, a nice, cold bowl of water.

Any treats for you or Jessie on this occasion?

Yes! It’s hard to get her to eat these days but she has to have a specific amount of food at specific times of the day because she has diabetes and needs insulin shots after both meals. So, today, I brought home a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit from McDonald’s, which we shared. Her nose still goes right up in the air when I walk in the house with that bag, and she gobbled up every piece I gave her. She needs the calories way more than I do!

How did Jessie get her name? Any aliases?

We had just moved to California from New York two years earlier and our beloved chow chow, Sophie, had passed away on the trip cross-country at age 11. We wanted to give our new dog a Wild West kind of name and couldn’t help thinking about Jesse James. We named her Jessie and looked for a middle name beginning with the letter “S” to honor Sophie. We chose Sage because it felt West Coast-y.

As far as aliases, there are many! We often refer to her in third person as “the Jess,” and say “hi, Puppy” to her when we walk into the house. My son calls her “the Newfoundlander;” my husband, who has studied Buddhism, calls her “the rinpoche,” which means “precious one;” and my daughter calls her “Gibson.” They’re all nuts.

How were you and Jessie united?

It took two years for us to feel ready to get a new dog after Sophie passed away. We were at the Del Mar Fair and they had a “meet the breed” event with Newfoundlands. We immediately fell in love. We became great friends with Sharon Gilbert, the wonderful woman behind the table, and she eventually led us to the breeder where we got Jessie. She was one of the two smallest puppies of the litter of six, and, all these years later, she’s the only one still alive.

Does Jessie have any non-canine pet-pals?

Only her fuzzy green frog squeaky toy. She loves him.

What is Jessie's best quality?

Jessie has a heart that’s as big as her body – and that’s saying a lot. She is pure love, and she brings the most incredible sense of peace to the whole house just by being there. Sometimes we swear she smells like a fresh baked good.

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

She would want me to spend all my time petting her. When I sit on the floor with her, she puts her paw on my knee, then throws her head back so I can rub her neck. When I stop, she gets mad and barks. She would like to change the fact that I stop.

For a dog her age, Jessie must have many proud moments. Care to share about a couple of those?

Well, she graduated puppy school with honors and won special recognition for her ability to “stay” longer than any other dog when there was a treat in front of her. She was also awarded a ribbon for “Miss Congeniality” because she was always friendly and welcoming to everyone.

She is probably very proud of the fact that, when she was confined to the family room after knee surgery, she somehow managed to end up in the kitchen – a feat we have never been able to figure out.

I am proud of her amazing spirit. Even though she has been almost completely blind since developing diabetes three years ago, she still manages to get around without a complaint and is as loving as ever. She used to make a crying sound when she couldn’t get up, and I would go help her. One time, she must have leaned all her weight on my arm, and I ended up with a torn tendon. Since that day, she has never again “asked” for help. She manages to get herself up, and I am awestruck and touched by her sensitivity and compassion.

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

My husband talks for Jessie all the time, and he would have to be the one to do her voice in a movie.

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

How in the world did you ever get out of the family room that day?

Visit StyleSubstanceSoul, and read Lois Alter Mark's blog posts on The Huffington Post.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Penny Watson & Lucy

Who is in the photo at right?

Human: Penny Watson, writer/reviewer/obsessive reader of romance novels, and super enthusiastic dachshund owner.

Weenie Dog: Lucy, 4 year old, 8 pound, long-hair black-and-tan mini dachshund.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine? What's brewing?

Lucy and I have coffee together every morning. I brew my own Starbucks Dark French roast.

Lucy prefers a latte with foam and cinnamon. She’s a bit prissy.

Any treats for you or Lucy on this occasion?

Lucy begs for Cheddar Cheese Goldfish. That’s her favorite.

How did Lucy get her name? Any aliases? How were you and Lucy united?

Lucy was already named when we adopted her. She was part of a litter of smooth doxies, with 2 smoothie parents, and she showed up with long hair. The breeder was stymied, and no one wanted her. She looked like a little bear cub when we got her….all fluff. You couldn’t even see her eyes.

You're a fiction maven with a particular interest in paranormal and romance novels. Do you have any favorite fictional canines?

My favorite recently was Oyster the pug in Eloisa James’ novel A Duke of Her Own. That book is fabulous, and the scene at the end with Oyster is a tear-jerker.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Chipmunks and bunnies.

Squeaky-toy, ball, Frisbee...?

Lucy loves to play soccer. She is wicked good.

What is Lucy's best quality?

She is a complete love-bug. All she wants to do is hang out and give kisses. She is the only dog I’ve had who hates walks.

She is super lazy. She really just wants to sit on your lap all day and try to lick you to death. She’s adorable.

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

She wishes I would fill up her dog bowl with Goldfish.

What is Lucy's proudest moment?

Hanging with the big dogs in the neighborhood. Especially Kenzie, the Viszla down the street.

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

Ann Hathaway? She is a fellow Vassar College alum and also has shiny dark hair, like Lucy!

Visit Penny Watson's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue