Friday, August 17, 2012

Michelle Taute & Zoey and Henry

Who is in the photo at right?

I’m Michelle Taute. That’s me with my dog, Zoey. She’s a 9-month-old Bluetick Coonhound who still chews everything. (That stops at some point, right?) I also have a 3-year-old Treeing Walker Coonhound named Henry. He only chews food and treats, thankfully. When I’m not coonhound wrangling, I’m a writer who is obsessed with cootie catchers.

What’s the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

This is a standard Saturday morning at our house. Roll out of bed (yes, I even wear snowflake pajama pants in the summer), make some hot tea and hang out in the backyard. Yep, I drink tea—not coffee. Though my husband, Tom, snapped these pics, and he probably was drinking coffee. Henry had to be coaxed out here for the photo shoot, because he prefers to hang out on the sofa. Zoey will follow you anywhere.

What’s brewing?

I had English breakfast tea with a teaspoon of sugar. My husband had some sort of Starbucks blend he makes in a one-cup coffee maker.

Any treats for you or the dogs on this occasion?

Not really. The dogs did get some extra scratches on the ear, since they were being such good sports about the pictures.

How were you and your dogs united?

I fell in love with Henry when we went to the pet store to buy cat food. He was in cage out front with a rescue group and those brown eyes and long ears looked so sad! We weren’t even planning on adopting a dog, but once I took him out of that kennel, it was all over.

About a year later, I decided Henry needed a friend. Zoey came from Petfinder. She was my 36th birthday present. (Best gift ever when she’s not chewing my shoes … or, err, the sofa.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

When the rescue found Henry, he had pneumonia, so he spent a lot of time at a no-kill shelter getting well. They were already calling him Henry, so we stuck with the name. It fits him. He’s an old man in a young dog’s body.

My husband named Zoey. It’s a happy, sunny name that matches her personality. She’s also known as the Zoe-bot, because like a robot, she’s always on the move, and her batteries rarely rundown.

We also refer to them both as, “country dogs trying to make it in the city.” Technically, they’re both hunting dogs, but they’ve adapted to Cincinnati life pretty well. The soft couches, tasty treats, long walks and dog-park trips help a lot.

You recently wrote about having a robot mow your lawn. What did your dogs make of the mechanical beast?

Henry was too busy napping on the couch to care much about it. Zoey loves all lawn-mowing tools—the weed whacker, our old-school push mower and the lawn bott. She barks at them and chases them around the yard, bowing into play pose often. We have to shoo her away, so she doesn’t get hurt. If only we could get her to actually mow the lawn.

Squirrel, postman, cat...?

We have a very fluffy white cat name Austin, who bosses Henry around but runs away from Zoey. Both dogs perk up at the site of a squirrel, unless there’s an abandoned chicken bone nearby. But, you know, coonhounds really live for raccoons. We used to have two raccoons trying to live on our roof but they were scared off by the dogs.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Zoey loves all of the above. She drops her ball down the steps in our backyard and plays fetch with herself. As for sticks, the bigger the better. A storm dropped a fairly big tree branch in our backyard, and we left it there because she loves it so much. Henry loves his Nylabones best.

Who are your dogs’ best pet-pals?

My dogs are BFFs. Zoe cuddles up with Henry for naps and cleans out his ears. They also love to wrestle, play tug-of-war and generally run around looking for food like the Bumpus hounds from Christmas Story.

What is each dog’s best quality?

Zoey is happy all the time. She’s ready to go anywhere with you, and if you take her for a walk, she looks up at you every three steps to make sure you’re still there. Henry is super chill and loves to sleep in (like me). They’re both champion snugglers.

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

There’s a guy on our regular walking route who howls at them, because he wants to hear the classic coonhound howl. They don’t think much of this and refuse to perform. Howling is for raccoons (sometimes squirrels) and strangers at the front door. But since we’re not hunters, it’s mostly for random people walking by the house.

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

That’s a tough one. Zoey would be voiced by some high-energy tween star from Disney or Nickelodeon for sure. Henry is super stubborn and a (slightly) grumpy old man at heart, so I’m thinking Walter Matthau.

Visit the websites for Michelle Taute, writer and Michelle Taute, cootie catcher enthusiast.

--Marshal Zeringue

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