Monday, July 30, 2012

Erika Stroup & Mr. Woofles

Who is in the photo at right?

That is my Scottish terrier Mr. Woofles or Woofles or Woofie for short! I named him! He is a boy and is around six years old. My name is Erika Stroup and I run the website Moonlight Book Reviews. Where I review novels and talk about the latest new in the publishing world and host giveaways. Sometimes, Woofles helps me pick winners, when I first started I would put all the entry numbers in a bowl and have him go in and grab one! Then I would have to quick grab him so he didn't swallow it! Long process, but it was worth it! I am currently seeking a degree at Ferris State University in Neonatal Nursing and English Literature.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Well, I thought Woofles would enjoy a ride in the car! So I grabbed my father, and we hopped into my car. We headed to a local coffee shop, and then after we hit up the puppy toy store!

What's brewing?

I don't do very well with caffeine so I grabbed a green tea, but my father got a latte. So he could keep up with Woofles and I!

Any treats for you or Woofles on this occasion?

We walked the toy shelves until Mr. Woofles spotted one that held his attention. I carried him so there wouldn't be any accidents and he carried his toy! It was adorable. I set him in the backseat to play with his toy and holy smokes he went crazy. He was barking and throwing it around all the way home! When we got home he ran around the house with it! If you throw it too hard he gets upset and takes it away from you for safe keeping.

How did Woofles get his name? Any aliases?

Well, I was at my grandparents house and they were talking about sub woofers. The word just stuck with me, not the sub part. I don't know it just felt amazing. I'm a little out there guys, let's face it!! I couldn't forget Woofer and so I carried it with me for a bit.

How were you and Woofles united?

I was spending some time with my grandparents and my parents came out to see my sister and me. I went to greet them excited, and they asked if I saw anything moving. I was like, "Ughm no...." Then I proceeded to look and see a flying black ball running around the yard. He was utterly adorable even with his too large head and porcupine eyes.

You have a very active and attractive lit blog. Do you have a favorite literary canine?

Well, I really loved Wishbone! He introduced me to the classics, and I can still remember a ton of information he gave me! Again guys, I told you I was a little off! Anyways I always loved Clifford, he seemed really cool!

Who are Woofles's best pet-pals?

Hunter, a German shepherd. Woofles was half his size and yet held his own, as they chased each other or chased after toys.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Turkey! We have a herd, or is it flock, of Turkeys in our neighborhood and Woofles absolutely hates them!

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

His plastic bone! He runs around it growling with it in his mouth! Then he drops it looks at us, runs around and pounces on it. Then he does it again! He is also fond of tennis balls but after he got good with turning them into slobbery missiles that landed in our dinner plates, we had to ban them to outside.

What is Woofles's best quality?

He knows when you aren't feeling well or are sick. He will just snuggle in and look at you all concerned.

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

He'd wish I would get my nose out of my books and pet him! He likes turning the pages of my kindle app with his nose when I am snuggling with him!

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

I would have to say Jim Parsons who plays Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory!

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

How he was able to talk in English! No no hahah! I guess I would ask him, if he really thinks the pack of baby black squirrels in his yard are really little woofles.

Visit Moonlight Book Reviews.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 27, 2012

Jackie Bouchard & Rita

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Jackie Bouchard, and Rita. I'm a Southern California gal, married to a Canadian, with a dog from Mexico. We are our own little United Nations. I'm on my third career: I was an accountant, then a business analyst, and now I'm a writer. My novel, What the Dog Ate is available as an e-book wherever e-books are sold, and in paperback from Rita is a one-year-old German Shepherd/Beagle mix (as far as we know).

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We have coffee together every day after "Daddy" heads off to work. I go through emails, etc. and watch the news while sipping my coffee, and Rita hangs out with me until it’s time to head out for our walk.

What's brewing?

Don't know the name of it, but it's the organic stuff from Costco with a lotta milk and some Stevia sweetener. On the weekends we make big mugs of café au lait. Our previous dog used to like to try to steal the frothy milk off the top, but Rita’s not interested.

Any treats for you or Rita on this occasion?

I'm a one-cup-in-the-morning gal, so no treats. Just breakfast.

How were you and Rita united?

Six months ago, we lost our beloved German Shepherd/Collie mix, Abby [photo left], at the ridiculously young age of 2 1/2 to bone cancer. She was a gorgeous, amazing dog. We had to have her leg amputated because of the cancer, but she lived half her life with cancer – and she lived large. Prior to having Abby, we'd had a beagle, Bailey, who we also lost to cancer at age 12. After losing Abby, we talked about taking a little break, maybe do some traveling before getting another dog. But just a few days later, my hubby and I were sitting outside watching the sunset. He looked up at the sky and said, "Abby and Bailey, if you are together now, please let us know." I had my iPad with me, and I went on PetFinder and typed in "Beagle" and our zip code. I don't even know why I did that! On the first page of hits was an adorable picture of Rita. She looks pretty much exactly like what the result would be if Bailey and Abby got together and had a puppy. She had the funniest little suspicious look on her face. We kept looking at her picture; we couldn't resist her. A week later we got to meet her, and she came home with us.

How did Rita get her name? Any aliases?

Rita was named after Rosarita beach, the beach in Baja Mexico where the rescue group found her. When she came to us, her name was Peaches. (Which was a funny coincidence, because there is a minor dog character in my novel named Peaches.) Anyway, my hubby makes a mean peach margarita, so in addition to being named after the beach, she's also named after peach margaritas. She has several aliases - the main one is Bunny, but we also call her: The Bubzer, The Baby, Rita Bergita and Rita-Rita-Gopher-Eata'. (Which will make sense if you keep reading…)

Does Rita play any role in your writing?

At the moment, she doesn't influence my novel writing so much, although I do blog about her at Pooch Smooches. But Bailey and Abby both very much influenced another novel I'm working on right now. I started it after we lost Bailey, and Abby is pretty much the star of that book, although under a different name.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Going to have to go with squirrel, although really the answer is gopher for her. There are a lot of gophers at the huge off leash beach/park I take her too. Unfortunately, she thinks they are delicious. She especially loves the long-dead ones that have turned into gopher-jerky. It’s very gross and I am often seen at the beach attempting to wrestle them away from her. I’m sure it harkens back to her time spent foraging for herself. Poor kid.

How is Rita like--and unlike--Kona, the dog in your novel, What the Dog Ate?

Rita is like Kona in that she's a major chow hound. She’s extremely food-motivated, which helps with training. But she's not like him in that she'll only eat things that count as food (as long as you consider bugs, birds, and small mammals as food), whereas Kona will eat pretty anything that isn't nailed down… including shoes, cassette tapes, and panties.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Squeaky toy, definitely.

What is Rita's best quality?

Outside of the obvious/usual doggy qualities (she’s super sweet, loyal and loving), one of our very favorite things about her is that she loves to sleep in as much as we do. We were worried about getting a puppy, especially after Abby. We thought we'd lucked out with Abby because she loved to sleep in (whereas Bailey was the “fuzzy alarm clock,” up at 6:45 every day no matter what). We were afraid we’d never have another puppy that loved to sleep in as much as Abby did - but Rita is even better about it! On the weekends, she and my husband sleep and sleep, and I hang out with them in bed with my book or my iPad.

If Rita could change one thing about Californians, what would it be?

She would ban “mow-and-blow” gardeners. She hates all the noisy, scary stuff that gardeners work with! I keep telling her “Gardeners mean treats.” And I shove a bunch of treats into her every time we see a “scary” gardener. Hopefully she’ll come around soon.

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

That's a tough one... Since she's only one and still very much a pup, I think she'd have the voice of whoever the actress is that voice Lisa on The Simpsons.

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

“Do you love us?” My hubby and I are so needy! We ask her this all the time, along with, “Are you happy with the house you picked?” I'm pretty sure she realizes she won the doggy lotto, but like Abby, Rita is not much of a smiler. Rita tends to look very serious around the house and only smiles when we go to the beach or on walks, and Abby was exactly the same. So, with only one question, I'd want to make sure she's happy with how things have turned out for her!

Visit Jackie Bouchard's website, Facebook page, Twitter perch, and the Pooch Smooches blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ro & Maggie and Duke

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Ro, Maggie is the 4 year old redhead girl on the left, Duke is the 3 year old brindle boy on the right. They're both Satos, which is slang for Puerto Rican street dog or mutt.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We have breakfast after our morning walk if I have time before heading to the office.

What's brewing?

Earl Grey English breakfast tea with 1 sugar, the Mr. has his huge mug of Chase & Sanborne coffee brewed espresso strong.

Any treats for you or Maggie and Duke on this occasion?

I don't know if you'd call Special K cereal a treat, the Chocolaty Delight is pretty good. The dogs are huge fans of Cabot cheese; it's lactose free, which prevents the stinky dog effect.

How were you and your dogs united?

In April 2008 we went to Buddy Dog Humane Society in Sudbury, MA, as we had adopted 2 of our cats, from there the prior year. Maggie, then known as Patches, had been found in an abandoned house in Puerto Rico as a 3 month old puppy. Save A Sato, a group that has rescued almost 20,000 dogs and several hundred cats since it was founded, took care of her until she was healthy enough to come to Buddy Dog, one of their U.S. partner shelters. It was love at first sight for me, which was good, as she was a bit of a "project dog", as the Mr. says.

Maggie loves other dogs, so we went back to Buddy Dog in October 2009 to find her a friend. We were going to get a more "normal" dog, but Maggie wasn't interested in the dog we went to see. A volunteer said that they had another dog just like her, which was so not the plan, but she met Duke and they immediately clicked. Duke had fear aggression issues and had been transferred from another shelter, but he was great with Maggie, so we took him home that day. Getting Duke was the best thing we ever did for Maggie, she's so much happier since we brought him home.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Maggie is named after the shy daughter in Alice Walker's short story "Everyday Use," as she was painfully shy when we first adopted her. Her aliases are Tayta, Tate or FP, short for Fuzzy Princess, when she's being picky. It took months to find food she would eat on a regular basis, plus she has allergies.

Duke was his original name at the shelter, but we tend to call him Puppy or Pup-pup, as he still looks like a puppy when he runs. His aliases are the Boy, as in "do you have the Boy?", and Chunk-a-punk or Chunk-a-monk, as he is not picky and eats everything he can get. The Mr. calls him Marion Robert Morrison, John Wayne's real name, when Duke is being a brat.

We also refer to both dogs as the punks or crack dogs when they're trying to chase wildlife, like the skunk yesterday. My neighbors are probably wondering why I was screaming "NOT A KITTY!"

Do Maggie and Duke have a favorite place to go for an outing?

They love going to my parents' farm, where they can run around in the huge fenced garden. Duke likes to play with Griffin, their giant schnauzer and Maggie likes to beat them both up if they bother her too much.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

Maggie is obsessed with squirrels and outdoor cats and tries to get them to run so she can chase them. Duke is also interested, but he is always on alert to protect the neighborhood from everyone, including some neighbors.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

All have been destroyed. Beef bones, rope toys and tennis balls are the only items that last more than 15 minutes. Duke ripped an extreme Kong apart in less than 10 minutes.

Who are your dogs' best non-canine pet-pals?

Maggie's non-canine best friend is Lebowski, aka The Dude, our big orange tiger cat. Duke's best cat buddy is Ozzy, our flame point Siamese from Buddy Dog.

What is each dog's best quality?

Both dogs wake up extremely happy and excited every single morning. I wish I had their energy! No matter what happened to them in the past, they take every day as a new adventure.

If Maggie and Duke could change one thing about you, what would it be?

The obvious favoritism showed the cats. The cats go wherever they want in the house, while the dogs are not allowed in the living room or on the couch unless we're home to prevent destruction. They're sharing Maggie's Kuranda bed in this photo [left]; they can't have normal stuffed dog beds or blankets as they unstuff and shred them.

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

Meg Ryan should do Maggie's voice and Ed Norton should do Duke's voice. They've both shown a great mix of vulnerability and strength in their various characters.

Visit the 2 Punk Dogs blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 23, 2012

Laura & Bongo

Who is in the photo at right?

This photo is of me – Laura – and Bongo. I work as Director of Children’s Ministry at a local church and Bongo works hard at keeping up his blog. Bongo is a Pointer Mix – we’re not sure what all that mix includes – and is nine years old.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Bongo and I just returned from the trails and are ready for a refreshing drink. I’m not a coffee drinker so it’s iced tea for me, and Bongo’s happy with water.

What's brewing?

I’m drinking Arizona Iced Tea with lemon.

Any treats for you or Bongo on this occasion?

Our treat was our walk on the trails, so we won’t indulge in anything else right now.

How did Bongo get his name? Any aliases?

Bongo already had his name when we got him. The name fit him, so we kept it.

How were you and Bongo united?

Bongo was a rescue dog. We found him about six years ago at the Sedona Humane Society. I had our back yard fenced so we could get a dog and then went searching. Bongo came over to us and kept handing us balls to toss for him, so we figured he was the one. What we didn’t realize was that Bongo is a jumper and it didn’t take him long to learn that he could jump the fence.

Does Bongo have any non-canine pet-pals?

Bongo lives with a cat named Scratchy and they tolerate each other. He loves it when our mail carrier comes to the door because she loves on him, and he likes to make friends with the people we meet on the trails.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Bongo’s favorite toys are a snake that squeaks on both ends, and his Frisbee.

What is Bongo's best quality?

Bongo’s best quality is his playfulness. He loves it when he finds someone – person or dog – who will play with him.

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

Bongo would want me to drop everything and play with him anytime he’s ready.

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

I haven’t imagined Bongo with an actor’s voice and I think he’d settle for the voice of the dog who plays Marley in Marley and Me.

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

I’d ask him who he lived with before he came to live with us.

Visit Bongo's blog and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 20, 2012

Janet Bolin & Laddie and Lacy

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Janet Bolin, author of the Threadville Mystery series. Laddie and Lacy are a brother and sister pair. They're rescue dogs, about five and a half years old, with (apparently) some border collie in their ancestry.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

The three of us will take any excuse to spend time together outside...

What's brewing?

I still use Costco's house brand, actually Starbucks, and grind the beans to a very fine powder immediately prior to making the coffee. I have an electric drip coffee maker. I make the coffee quite strong and add a bit of skim milk.

Any treats for you or the dogs on this occasion?

Ooh, maybe a few unsalted walnuts and almonds. Lacy needs to watch her weight. Like nuts will help...

What's new with you and the dogs since you were last guests here at Coffee with a Canine?

Dire Threads was nominated for an Agatha Award for best first novel of 2011 and shortlisted for the Bloody Words Light Mystery Award, the Bony Blithe. I went to the Malice Domestic Conference, the Festival of Mystery, and the Bloody Words Conference, and had a great time meeting readers and other authors at all three places. Threaded for Trouble came out on June 5 this year, and I've turned in the third manuscript in the series. It comes out in June 2013.

Lacy and Laddie continue to enjoy themselves, romping around together and napping. Lacy has developed a fear of thunder, which Laddie, so far, has not caught from her. She's not yet as terrified of thunder as she is of the beep of smoke detectors. I wish I knew what went on in the first year of their lives before we adopted them from a rescue facility! Or maybe I'm glad I don't know.

Did Laddie and Lacy have any influence on your new novel, Threaded for Trouble?

Laddie and Lacy offer writing advice as you will see from the photos. To help me remember their advice, they use the acronym DOGS:
Decide whether to outline or fly into the mist.
Observe everything carefully.
Go for the road untaken.
Sniff out clues to mysterious disappearances.

What is each dog's best quality?

The first word that comes to mind for both dogs is "sweet." They are very good and also very eager to please. Neither of them challenges their humans' right to be Alpha. Lacy is usually Laddie's boss, but either of them will call the other with a short, sharp bark, and the other will race to find out what concerns the other.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

They are each other's best friends. Occasionally, Lacy will decide it's too early in the morning to go for a walk, but other than that, they are practically inseparable. In addition, they were very well socialized in the rescue facility from which we adopted them, and they really like nearly every dog they meet.

They see a lot of a mostly yellow lab, a standard poodle, a chocolate lab, and a very quick little mixed-breed who can tire Lacy out.

Laddie, the athlete, can keep up with almost everyone except for a purebred border collie, who soon has him flopping down in the shade.

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

Who's young, frisky, and eager to please for Laddie?

And young and a bit bossy yet very motherly for Lacy?

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

I'd ask them to please, in the future, raise their right paw to answer yes to a question, and their left paw to answer no...then I could keep asking them questions and expecting answers, like, "Would you like to go outside for a walk?" Oh, wait, they already know how to answer that one (wag, wag, wag.) Maybe I'd ask them what I could do to make them the happiest dogs ever. I hope there would be no time or word limit to their answers.

Dogs do so much for us, and it never seems possible to repay them as much as they deserve. Oops, gotta go now and hug Laddie and Lacy.

Well, isn't that strange? They're asking to go outside for a walk...

Visit Janet Bolin's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Janet Bolin and Laddie and Lacy (August 2011).

The Page 69 Test: Threaded for Trouble.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Victoria Corby & Flynn and Desi

Who is in the photo at right?

The two Dalmatians are Flynn, aged 8, with the eye patch standing at the back and Desi, nearly 4, with the black ears lying down and I’m Victoria Corby. I’m a British author living near Bordeaux, France and am currently getting my three print novels ready to publish as ebooks.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I stagger down in the morning, feed the cats then the dogs (the dogs do not approve of this order) then get the chance to put the coffee machine on.

What's brewing?

It’s a standard French filter machine with Brazilian coffee, nice and strong. Then just a dash of milk.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

After their breakfast they get a piece of yesterday’s bread each. They’re French, the French eat bread at every meal so they reckon they should too.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Flynn was born in Spain and came from a litter where all the puppies’ names started with H. He had been nicknamed el Pirata because of his eye patch and was named Herrol Flynn after Errol Flynn’s role in Captain Blood. He’s sometimes called the Large White because he’s huge for the breed and doesn’t have many spots, Mister, Dibs and The Mouf.

Desi’s pedigree name is Desirée which we were going to change, but when a fat spotted princess who looked as if she was born to wear a tiara and a sparkly collar arrived we realised it suited her down to the ground. She’s also known as the Baby, Little Princess, Little D and The Wee (she’s a good size but looks small next to Flynn).

How were you and your dogs united?

Flynn was my middle daughter’s 18th birthday present. We already had his grandmother Jez who had been given to us when she retired from the show ring and her previous owner, knowing that we weren’t interested in breeding or showing and were looking for a patched puppy, told us of Flynn. He was born in Malaga in the south of Spain but luckily was taken to Madrid for us to collect him – still an 8 hour drive which he spent on my daughter’s lap. They’ve been soulmates ever since.

When Jez died Flynn was so distraught – it was the first time in his life he’d ever had to spend the night on his own – that he started self harming and we realised we had to get another puppy immediately. I found an adorable little girl with black ears in Nice (as far away as Madrid) and it wasn’t until I was sent her pedigree that I realised that she was Jez’s great-great granddaughter and Flynn’s cousin.

Do your dogs contribute to your writing?

Desi keeps me company, Flynn prefers to keep his mistress’s bed warm for her. Up To No Good, my third novel, has a Dalmatian in it who was closely modelled on Plum, our first Dalmatian. I corrected the proofs while sitting next to her and nursing her through her last illness and the book is dedicated to her.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Each other.

Rabbit, postman, cat....?

Flynn doesn’t chase anything; Desi, despite her looks, is a natural born huntress, the bigger the better. Luckily the one time she came face to face with a wild boar she realised he was too big even for her. However she knows the cats are off limits and so is the very nice post lady.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Flynn adores anything that squeaks, particularly dropping his ball in the swimming pool and then bobbing for it until he can catch it.

Desi only really likes toys when Flynn has them and she can try to take them away.

What is each dog's best quality?

They are completely loyal and loving. Dalmatians also tend to be wonderfully pragmatic about their owners, they are totally focused on their soul mates then when he or she goes out they turn their attention to someone else in the family and love them wildly until the owner comes back when the second string person gets dropped like a hot brick. It means you don’t have to worry about them pining too much!

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

The French around here are very dog friendly: when our daughter take the dogs to the café in our local market town they are always given bits of bread and croissant.

However the dogs would like summers in France to be cooler – from May onwards it’s often too hot to walk in the afternoons.

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

James Stewart for Flynn, he’s laid back and tough; Cameron Diaz for Desi.

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

What is it you don’t understand about Not On The Sofa?

They’re bilingual, so do I get to ask them on in French too?

Visit Victoria Corby's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 16, 2012

Nate Hoppes & Marley Girl

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi, my name is Nate Hoppes, and I’m addicted to Adrenaline. I partake in the occasional outdoors activity such as surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, basketball, swimming, mountain biking, kayaking, running, triathlons and lately Adventure Racing. Somehow I’ve managed to turn my passions into business, as I am an Action Sports Journalist.

More importantly the gnarly dog on the right is named Marley Girl. She’s a 9 year-old Lab/Pit rescue doggy.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every morning, Marley, my fiancé Samantha, and myself wake up and check the waves. On the way it’s mandatory to make a stop at our local coffee shop Catalina Coffee to get Sam a Vanilla Latte.

What's brewing?

Sam enjoys the latte or cappuccino. Actually she likes anything warm with caffeine. For myself it’s ice coffee all the way.

Any treats for you or Marley on this occasion?

Marley never misses a morning Turkey Jerkey. No matter what she starts her day with jerky.

How did Marley get her name? Any aliases?

Most people think Marley was named after the legendary Reggae Artist, or after the book, but she was after 90’s NBA player Thunder Dan Majerle. She has several nicknames such as Super Mar Mar, Gnarly Marley, Marls, Marls Barkley and doggy dog.

How were you and Marley united?

I was in college in New Mexico heading to the horse track the day of the Kentucky Derby. We got to the track early and to kill time we went to the adoptathon happening at the fairgrounds. Not expecting to get a dog at all, I ended up not betting on Seabiscuit, but instead taking Marley home.

Who is Marley's best pet-pal?

Her cousin Ziggy, a black lab owned by my sister Kasey who watches Marley when were out of town, which can be a lot. So thanks, Kasey!

Squeaky toy, ball, Frisbee...?

Definitely… Meat.

Squirrel, cat, postman...? Squirrel.

She constantly talks with the squirrels.

What is Marley's best quality?

Mellowness…She’s the raddest and chill dog, goes everywhere I go.

If Marley could change one thing about Californians, what would it be?

Leash laws. She would tell the up-tight owners to mellow out on the leash rules as Marley is way better off the leash than she is on.

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

He’s not an Actor, but Obama would be perfect as we commonly say Marley is the El Presidente of pooches. We call her MoBama.

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

The meaning of life. I’m sure she knows the answer.

Visit Nate Hoppes' website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, July 13, 2012

Angela Hynes & Henry

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Angela Hynes, a long-time freelance journalist. I lived in California for many years but recently moved to a small ghost town called Mineral de Pozos in central Mexico to write a book. I also spend a lot of time working on my 200-year-old colonial house and garden. (You can read about some of our exploits on my blog, although I let it go dormant at the beginning of the year to concentrate on my book.)

My canine companion is Henry. That’s him rockin’ out to a drum circle on Venice Beach. Best guess is he’s a bichon/poodle mix about 8 years old. I’m not sure how to take it when people say we look alike!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have only one cup of coffee a day, after breakfast. I stroll around the garden, Henry at my heels, deadheading flowers, watching the humming birds, and generally enjoying the peace and quiet before the day gets started in earnest.

What's brewing?

Mexican coffee is excellent. I buy a locally grown organic brand and make it in a French press.

Any treats for you or Henry on this occasion?

Since I use lots of full cream and sugar in my coffee: it’s kinda coffee and dessert in one. Henry is not much of a morning dog, and doesn’t eat until later in the day.

How did your dog get his name? Any aliases?

Henry was named by the people who found him before we met. When we’re out in public, I sometimes call him dude. As in, “Let’s go, dude.”

At home, when it’s just the two of us, I call him snuggle muffin. But please don’t let that get out; he’d be mortified.

How were you and Henry united?

Henry was left chained to a fence in a dog park in California. My neighbors took him in and named him Henry. But they already had two dogs and two cats and the new addition was disturbing the established order. They asked me if I would take him and I said “no” as I’d just lost a beloved 14-year-old black lab and was still grieving. But I said I would foster him until we could find him a good permanent situation. Ten minutes after I got him home, that plan was history. We have been inseparable now for six years.

Who is Henry's best pet-pal?

Since we moved to Mexico, Henry has been missing his pal Yoda (they Skype). They went to agility school together and along with another dog, formed the team The Three Dog Knights. But the other dog dropped out so the Three Dog Knights were only two. Unfortunately, they weren’t very good and came in dead last at the end of semester contest. But a good time was had by all and they were very proud of their last-place trophies [photo right].

He’s now making friends with all species here in Mineral de Pozos.

Squeaky toy, ball, Frisbee...?

Henry’s favorite toy is a squeaky one-eared reindeer: a Christmas gift from Yoda several years ago.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Cats! But only the feral ones that try to sneak into our kitchen and eat his food. He’s very polite to our friends’ felines.

What is Henry's best quality?

Where to start? I guess I would have to just say he’s a wonderful companion. He’s well-behaved enough to take anywhere. The local shops and restaurants allow him in. And he’s adaptable. We drove all the way from California to Mexico and he’s taken it all in his stride.

If Henry could change one thing about the locals, what would it be?

Where we live, it’s customary to let off fireworks for just about every occasion: saint’s days, holidays, birthday, funerals, and so forth. Henry hates the noise and hides under the sink whenever they start. I know he’d like that to stop.

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

Johnny Depp. (Okay, this may be saying more about me than Henry.)

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

Dude, why do you pick out certain bits of kibble and spit them all over the floor, only to go back and eat them at the end of your meal?

Visit Angela's Back Pages blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Elsa Watson & Kota

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s Kota and me, Elsa Watson. Kota is an 8 year old German-shepherd/border collie mix. She’s a girl, but because of her size people often assume she’s a boy (silly people!) I’m a writer – my new book Dog Days was just published by Tor-Forge.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It’s Saturday, and our whole family is on our weekend trip to the dog park. We have a fabulous dog park about half an hour away. The dogs love it here. Kota can be shy (which is funny, given her size), but she always makes friends here. She generally spends at least half the time following a little dog around, copying everything it does.

What's brewing?

Jasmine green tea. Sorry—I gave up coffee when we joined the Peace Corps because it was so hard to get. I haven’t let myself go back to it since. I do love the smell of it, though.

Any treats for you or Kota on this occasion?

Not this time, but the last time we were at this park a dog was having a birthday party and had cupcakes for all the dogs. Kota had two! You’ve never seen a dog so excited. Her two favorite things (eating and the park) came together in one exquisitely beautiful moment.

How were you and your dog united?

Kota was adopted from a Shelter by a local family when she was a puppy. They lived in Navy housing and had another dog, so when she kept on growing—and growing—they just didn’t have room for her. (She was also pretty rambunctious.) They put a listing in the Free Cycle list serve and my husband spotted it. When Kota first arrived, she raced all over the house, dashing up and down the stairs. It was hours before we got her to settle down enough for tummy rubs. About six months later we adopted her big brother Lucky [photo right: Lucky, Elsa, and Kota], and they’ve been a team ever since.

How did Kota get her name? Any aliases?

We adopted her, so she came with the name. Her full name is Dakota, but she seems to like the short version. When our friends’ daughter was about three, she was really into nicknames. Once I asked her what the dogs’ nicknames should be. “Luck,” she said for Lucky. “And what about Kota?” I asked, thinking she’d be totally stumped. She didn’t miss a beat. “Kota should be Kote,” she said. So Kote it is. We also call her Kota Bear because she’s so big, hairy, and, well, bearish.

Please tell us about your new novel and Kota's connection to it.

Dog Days features a white German shepherd named Zoë [photo left].

While Zoë is physically modeled after a dog Kota and I met at a dog walk, her personality is all Kota. Whenever I was stumped writing the story, I would think of Kota and ask myself what she would think, do, or say in that situation. That worked almost every time!

Who is Kota's best pet-pal?

My writer friend Suzanne Selfors has a wonderful dog named Skylos (a sheltie). I think Kota has a bit of a crush on him. His passion for sticks might have something to do with it—I think she admires that in a dog. Of course, Skylos is also gorgeous. It might be that.

Does Kota have any non-canine pet-pals?

She and the cat have a wonderful relationship. They’re really well-matched sparring partners. Our kitty came home from Africa with us after the Peace Corps, and she rules the house. Kota’s the only one who challenges her authority. The cat loves air-boxing with her. Kota thinks the cat exists to make her life more exciting.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Sadly, squirrel. She spends time every day working on her sneaking technique in hopes of being able to creep up on a squirrel. For a 110+ pound dog, she sneaks really well…but she still has no shot.

What is Kota's best quality?

Her sweetness. I know everyone must feel this way about their dog, but I think she’s the sweetest dog on earth. When she looks you in the eye, it’s with incredible kindness and love. At the end of the day when I say goodnight to her, she lets me stroke the length of her nose while she closes her eyes and does doggy deep breathing. It’s the most soothing thing, hearing her breathe like that. It’s like she’s exhaling all of her worries into the night.

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

It makes me sad to say this, but she would want us to stay home with her every day. She doesn’t like to ride in the car, so she doesn’t come to work with us. In her ideal world, I think we’d all stay here together.

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

Geena Davis. She has just the right ability to be goofy or tough, depending on the situation.

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

Why don’t you like to ride in the car?

Visit Elsa Watson's website and Zoë the Dog's Facebook page.

Writers Read: Elsa Watson.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, July 9, 2012

Angie Smibert & Bridget

Who is in the photo at right?

This is Bridget. She's 11 and a half. When I got her from the SPCA, they said she was a spaniel mix and would be a medium-sized dog. I think she's really a lab-setter mix or a flat-coated retriever mix (with something bigger).

I'm Angie Smibert, and I write children's book--young adult science fiction, to be exact--and I tutor on the side. And before turning to writing full time, I wrote/designed online training at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. In fact, I got Bridget in Florida--but she likes Virginia much better. Fewer rockets, fireworks, and thunderstorms.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Since I work at home, it's always Take Your Dog to Work Day. So we're having a little coffee break on the back porch.

What's brewing?

Amaretto flavored coffee from Fresh Market. Ground at home. With sugar and half-and-half. In one of my Yoga Dog cups [photo left].

Any treats for you or Bridget on this occasion?

A Joint Max liver flavored treat. (She has hip dysplasia.)

How did Bridget get her name? Any aliases?

I named Bridget after the main character in Bridget Jones' Diary (the book, not the movie). Both have sweetly neurotic personalities. Bridget (Brigid) is also the Celtic goddess of poetry (and fire, I think.) Also, the name means "strong willed," which certainly fits my Bridget.

How were you and your dog united?

I got Bridget from the Titusville Florida SPCA. She was about 4 months old at the time. She melted my heart, but I think someone had turned her in for being too hard to handle. Just as I was walking out the door with her, the folks at the SPCA said "oh, you're taking the Monster." She's anything but a monster. But I can see how an inexperienced dog owner might not be able to handle her. As a puppy, she was hyper-energetic, slightly neurotic and really, really, really smart.

How does Bridget contribute to your writing?

When she was young, she did a lot of distracting me from writing. Now she mostly sleeps through it. (I can hear her snoring as I type.)

Actually, I did name the dog in the Memento Nora series after her.

Who is Bridget's best pet-pal?

Brick the cat (see below).

Does Bridget have any non-canine pet-pals?

We have two cats, Maggie and Brick. They're only about a year and half old. (They're also from the SPCA.) I kid that I got Maggie for me, and Brick evidently for Bridget. That cat adores the dog.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

UPS truck. Bridget recognizes the distinctive sound of the UPS (or Fedex) truck pulling up.

What is Bridget's best quality?

That's hard to limit it to one. On top of a happy-go-lucky personality, she's very intelligent, intensely loyal, and even funny. Now, I know some people may scoff at the idea of a dog having a sense of humor, but she has one.

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

I'd let her eat her weight in canned food every day. (She only gets a half can mixed in with her dry food.)

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

Somebody funny. Jane Lynch? Or maybe Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

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

What would make you feel safer in a thunderstorm?

Visit Angie Smibert's website, and learn more about her Memento Nora series.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tara Chevrestt & Lola, Pudgy, and Jazzy

Who is in the photo at right?

Lola is the black Pekingese. She'll be 8 years old in October. She's my number one sidekick. Pudgy is the pug. She just turned 7. Jazzy is the Japanese Chin and she is 6. I am Tara Chevrestt. I'm a former aviation mechanic, a dog mom, and a writer and editor.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Lola doesn't like coffee, actually. But I do. She often sits on my lap while I drink it (morning and evening). She'll give it a sniff, but balks at a sip. She does like my wine, however.

What's brewing?

I just brewed a pot of Toasted Coconut made by KONA Coffee Co. I added some chocolate caramel creamer and I've got dessert.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

A Milk Bone biscuit.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Oh yes. They go by so many names, it's a tad embarrassing for me to admit. First, Lola got her name from the Copacabana song. Her name was Lola...she was a dancer. She walks with a sashay and the name is so fitting. Pudgy was named for Betty Boop's dog. I love Betty Boop. When I got Jazzy, I was reading a book in which the heroine was named Jazzy and she opened a bar called Jazzy's Joint and I thought that was super cute, plus I always like the name Jasmine so I shortened it down.

For some reason, I've never been able to call Lola just Lola. It's Baby Lola. My husband tells me that as long as I keep calling her baby, she'll act like one. I also love to use Spanish words and names every chance I get so Lola is also Senorita Lolita (I even used it in a book!), Pudgy is Pugita Mamacita, and Jazzy is Chiquita Bonita. I know. I'm weird.

Do your dogs contribute to your writing?

Yes! I wrote a book all for them as a matter of fact: Dog Tails: Three Humorous Short Stories for Dog Lovers. They each have their own "tail." Lola's is Thank Dog it's Friday and it's about her and her mommy switching bodies for a day. Well, I wrote that and then the other two kept giving me mournful looks so I had to write stories for them as well and Dog Tails came to be.

I also bounce story ideas and plot lines off Pudgy. She does this head cocking thing and really seems interested and though she doesn't respond, talking out loud helps me work things out.

How were you and your dogs united?

I'm ashamed to say I bought them. At the time, I did not know the things I know now regarding breeders and puppy mills, but I wouldn't go back and do it any differently cause I love them so. I wanted a dog very badly and I researched toy breeds cause I lived in an apartment at the time and found an ad in the paper for little Peke puppies. It was love at first sight. She was a little black ball of fuzz. She took two steps, peed with fright, took two steps. I melted.

Pudgy was also the result of an ad in the paper. I wanted a companion for Lola. They did not get along at first and I think they still don't. But Pudgy came from a house full of pugs! Pugs everywhere! And I picked her up and she tried to hoola hoop right out of my arms! She's the stubborn one.

Jazzy was an online thing (Yes, I know now. Sorry.) Again, love at first sight. I still have her the photo I fell in love with that made me hand over an entire paycheck to fly her from Kansas into my arms. I'd always wanted a Japanese Chin, however, ever since I saw one in a pet store and played with it, but had to leave it behind.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Each other. Jazzy used to have a friend named Onyx, a Rottweiler triple her size, but she moved to Wyoming.

Do your dogs have any non-canine pet-pals?

Nope. But they sure do love when their Grandma Janet comes to visit. The girls love to play with their daddy too. Me, I'm more for hugs and kisses. When daddy comes home, they bring out the toys.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

They chase away my birds from the feeder!

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

I'm deaf and watch movies with closed captioning so I had to enlist my mother for this question. She said Jennifer Lopez would be Lola because she has a nice voice and is Spanish. (Lola's origins are Chinese, but her attitude is def. Latina. She takes after her mom.) Pudgy's voice would be Angelina Jolie because Pudgy thinks she's sexy. And Jazzy would be Phyllis Diller because according to my mother, when Jazzy does make a noise, it doesn't sound good and I guess Ms. Diller had a very horrific laugh.

What is each dog's best quality?

Pudgy is my hearing dog. And I didn't even train her to be one. She just seems to know that her mommy is deaf. When the doorbell rings, she alerts me. When I use an oven timer and I tell her, "Let me know when this goes off," she does. I would be lost without her.

Lola is the one that I hold when I'm down, when life kicks my a**. She senses my moods and offers comfort or humor when I need it.

Jazzy is my silent shadow. She never makes a sound but follows me room-to-room as though protecting me. And sometimes, when I wake up, she's sleeping almost on top of my head. I like to think she's being a dream catcher for me.

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

Pudgy would want more food. Screw her diet, she says. I'm very firm about them not overeating. She hates that.

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

I've always said...if they could talk...I would ask, "What do you think of me?"

Visit Tara Chevrestt's website, blog, and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue