Friday, September 28, 2012

Gigi Amateau & Biscuit and Cola

Who is in the photo at right?

That’s me, Gigi Amateau, and my three-year old redbone coonhound, Biscuit, when she was a puppy! I write middle grade and young adult fiction. Biscuit takes me for long walks by the river, hunts in her own private game preserve [known also as the backyard], and sleeps. Not pictured, my daughter’s pit bull, Cola. She’s sacked out on the sofa.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Every day I have coffee or tea with Biscuit and Cola, and this morning we’re celebrating the release of my new young adult novel, Come August, Come Freedom from Candlewick Press!

What's brewing?

My daughter brought my favorite coffee treat to me this morning: Starbucks’ grande no foam latte!

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Why, yes, because the general rule of the house is: a treat for me, a treat for the dogs. Of course, the world is one gigantic treat for Biscuit and Cola! I just let Biscuit outside. Such a gorgeous morning here in Richmond, Virginia. Sunny, pale blue sky, low humidity, and a hint of fall. I expect Biscuit will stay out most of the morning, but she’ll get a tasty breakfast of Organix crunchy food with a splash of chicken broth when she comes back in the house.

How were you and your dogs united?

We fell in love with the redbone breed years ago when we met a dog named Gus at our favorite mountain retreat in Rockbridge County, Virginia. We keep horses about half an hour outside of town. At the horse farm they also raise redbones and black and tans. Four summers ago, my daughter had a job of socializing the hound puppies and that’s when we met Biscuit, on the day she was born!

Cola is a rescue-girl. My daughter found her at Animal Control and pretty much fell in love on site. Both dogs are sweet and good and loyal.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

You know, the redbone breed is such a southern breed, so we wanted our redbone to have a name reflective of our region. We thought of naming her Grits, Shug, Sookie, but settled on Biscuit because of the many nickname possibilities: Butter Biscuit, Ham Biscuit, Chicken Biscuit, Baby Biscuit.

Honestly, I have no idea why my daughter selected the name Cola but it suits that little gal perfectly!

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

They both love to walk at Pony Pasture Park on the James River not too far from our house. We live in a small forested enclave in the city on a tributary of the James called Rattlesnake Creek. So, even just walking around on our home turf we’re likely to encounter deer, foxes, raccoons, opossums, rabbits, owls, and all sorts of forest-creatures.

Rabbit, postman, cat...?

Let’s just say I’ve moved all the bird feeders to the front yard.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

We try to keep things pretty even-steven with Biscuit and Cola. They each like bully sticks. Biscuit enjoys hers upstairs; Cola goes downstairs with hers.

What is each dog's best quality?

Both dogs have a deep desire to make our family happy. Biscuit’s best quality is that she’s as loyal and devoted as the day is long. And also, Biscuit is just so pretty and soft. Oh those ears! She will walk with me anywhere for as far as I want to walk.

And Cola is a smiler. I have never met a dog who smiles as much as Cola. There is such a sweetness about her spirit that even when she’s in trouble [like jumping in the frog pond again, Cola, really?] she’s not in trouble.

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

Well, because our dogs are so loyal, I’m certain that they would both say, “Change what Mama wants to change.” I would change our Virginia legislature.

What is each dog's proudest moment?

They both seem to think everything they do is worthy of a bone or a biscuit or a chewy.

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

Andie McDowell should do Biscuit’s voice and Drew Barrymore Cola’s.

Visit Gigi Amateau's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dan Macon & the Flying Mule Farm dogs

What's the story of the Flying Mule Farm dogs?

At Flying Mule Farm, our dogs are more than just pets – they are our everyday partners! As commercial sheep producers, we rely on our border collies [photo right--Mo, who’s 4; Taff, who’s 9; and Ernie, who’s 2; with Dan Macon] to help us manage our 400 sheep efficiently and humanely. We rely on our livestock guardian dogs (Buck – 8; Reno – 3; and Rosie – 1) to protect our sheep from predators!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Most days, I make my first check of the sheep with Ernie, Mo and Taff early in the morning. Around mid-morning, we usually head into town (Auburn) for an iced coffee at Java Detour – a drive-thru coffee spot. We all like Java Detour because the ladies always have treats for the dogs, and they always have my coffee ready for me when I get to the window! All three dogs sit up in the back seat when we get to the window – they want to make sure the ladies know they’re with me!

What are your dogs' tasks on the farm?

Buck [photo left], a Great Pyrenees/Anatolian mix, is in charge of our security division. As the senior livestock guardian dog, he’s responsible for protecting the ewes while they are lambing. Since he’s nearing retirement age (which means he’ll get to move home and spend his days on the back porch), he’s training Reno (an Anatolian shepherd) as his replacement. Rosie (an Anatolian/Akbash cross), our newest addition, is still a pup, but she’s already responsible for protecting 200 ewes from coyotes, mountain lions and stray dogs. Our guardian dogs do an amazing job – we’ve not lost any sheep to predators in seven years! These dogs live with the sheep around the clock – they view themselves as the alpha dog in a pack of sheep!

Taff is definitely the alpha dog in our border collie pack, although he’s by far the most benevolent ruler I’ve ever been around – he’s so mellow we call him the “Buddha collie.”

Mo [photo right] is Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky – if there’s no sheep work to be done, he loves chasing bird shadows and butterflies. Ernie is the joker of the bunch – his favorite hobby is chewing on garden hoses (he’s usually the only one who laughs at his “jokes”).

Taff came to us through our friend and fellow shepherd Ellen Skillings. We purchased him as a trained 4-year-old. Ernie and Mo are half brothers out of Ellen’s dog Emer – we got them both as puppies. Our oldest daughter, Lara, started Mo’s herding training. Our youngest daughter, Emma, shares Ernie with me. All three dogs live to work – they absolutely love to herd sheep. Because we rely on our dogs to accomplish our work, our relationship with each of them is far more rewarding than any “pet” relationship we’ve ever had – they are our partners in the truest sense of the word.

Of the three, Mo is easily the most talented. When I need to do something complicated (like load sheep into the trailer without the benefit of a pen), I always turn to Mo.

Taff has the biggest heart – he may not have Mo’s talent, but he never quits. Ernie is just beginning his working career, but I think he’ll combine Mo’s athleticism with Taff’s stamina.

[Reno, photo left]

What have you learned from your dogs?

If you asked my dogs, they’d tell you that they are trying to teach me to be patient and observant. They see and sense things when we’re working sheep that I sometimes miss.

I’m learning to pay attention to what they’re trying to tell me when we’re working – they speak human better than I speak dog at this point!

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

If a movie were made about Flying Mule Farm (maybe a reality show instead – Extreme Sheepherding!), I think Sean Connery would be perfect for Taff’s voice!

Hugh Grant would do Mo’s voice, while Ernie would definitely be played by Jim Carrey!

[Rosie, photo right]

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

Finally, I’d love to be able to ask my dogs where they prefer to ride – in the cab or in the back of the truck!

Visit the Flying Mule Farm website, blog, and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 24, 2012

Courtney Rundell & Machu Picchu and Malife

Who is in the photo at right?

The girl wearing the headband is me - Courtney Rundell. I write, advocate and speak about thriving with alcoholism, bipolar and PTSD for WebMD, International Bipolar Foundation and the North Hollywood Patch and on my personal site.

The girl in the pink sweater is Machu Picchu, my amazing Boston Terrier. Yes, she’s wearing both boots and a sweater, because that’s how she rolls when she visits her grandma in Tahoe City.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Just another lazy Saturday afternoon chillin’ at the park with the husband, baby and two doggies.

What's brewing?

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s Sugar Free Mocha Ice Blended – yummm!

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Trader Joe’s Beefy Sticks are the bomb, I mean, if you’re a dog. My treat is spending an afternoon at the park with my beasts!

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Machu Picchu was named after the ancient mystical mountaintop city in Peru. Machu Picchu is a vortex of energy and a World Wonder and if you spend 10 minutes with her, you’ll agree.

Generally, she’s referred to as Mach, but there are several variations on that theme, such as: Le Mach, Mathee, Mathu and Mathu Pithee. Then there’s always Little Dawgs and Little Person in a Fur Coat and Cow Dog (is she a cow or is she a dog? She’s a cow dog!).

Malife (mah-leaf-ay) was named after a malapropism. My husband and I were watching Scarface for the 400th time and just after Al Pacino pulled out his machine gun and delivered the quintessential line “say hello to my little friend,” the hubs asked me the most awesome question of all time.

“Say hello to Malife. What does that even mean?”

“You mean, my little friend?”

“Rewind it. He says Malife.”

“Shut up. You can’t be serious right now. How many times have you seen this film?”

“I swear he’s saying Malife. It’s never made sense to me.”

“So, let me get this straight. Scarface is a total badass, kills like zillions of people, but he nicknames his machine gun?”

(Laughter ensues - for years. I’m actually laughing right now.)

Machu needed a little friend. She was lonely and depressed. Thus came Malfe. His nicknames are Leafays, Leafay, Leafs and Mats-leaf-ars.

How were you and your dogs united?

We had to use a breeder surrogate for Machu, as my husband and I only make humans. We knew when Machu’s “mom” was trying to get preggers, when she got preggers and when she was in labor. We tried to make her stop drinking wine, but she just wasn’t willing to give up her one glass a night.

Machu was born on December 20, 2004. She was 3-hours-old in this photo [at right].

She practically came out of my womb.

Malife was rescued by Boston Buddies (a wonderful organization in Orange County, CA). He was on death row in doggy jail and his back right leg had been broken in three places and reset itself backwards. Boston Buddies made the loving decision to try and save his leg rather than amputate it – which was much more expensive and wasn’t guaranteed to work.

His leg was rebroken and reset. The surgery was successful – he was a champ, but then he sat at the kennel for 3 months. No one would adopt him because he didn’t look like a Boston, probably because he totally wasn’t a Boston.

We took one look at him and knew he was the one – Machu’s little friend.

Ends up he’s mostly Miniature Pincher and Shitzu. This makes perfect sense when you meet him. His frame is Min-Pin and his tongue and personality are totally Shitzu, but he still thinks he needs to pretend to be a Boston. He burrows in the bed and makes hilarious noises, just like Machu.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Lulu, the French Bulldog, and Cat Dog, the cat who thinks he’s actually a dog. And if you met him, you’d agree. Any cat that can chill with a Boston as hyper as Machu is a very special pussnickers.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Sometimes there’s a possum in our dog run and much barking and hair raising ensues. Malife loves chasing the bunnies when we vacation in Ojai. Machu is completely obsessed with tennis balls.

Balls and bunnies aside, the other thing they love to chase is, well, me. I always wanted to be a celebrity so the universe gave me my very own personal “puparazzi.” Sometimes I put on sunglasses and run around the house pretending like I’m Britney Spears.

Yeah, I just admitted that on the web.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

“Throw the ball, throw the ball, throw the ball.” – Machu Picchu

“Chase Machu, chase Machu, chase Machu after you throw the ball so I can chew on her back legs and steal the ball although I could truly care less about the ball in the first place.” – Malife

What is each dog's best quality?

Machu really is a little person in a fur coat. She’s scary smart. She understands everything.

Yoda, she basically is.

She makes ridiculous noises. She snores as loud as an old man and cries like a baby.

She’s stubborn, moody, hyperactive and is the light of my life.

Malife, on the other hand, is not the brightest bulb in the box. He’s clumsy and codependent. His ears and tongue are comically large for his body. He’s also super jealous, which is weird since he came into the family after Machu.

And he’s everyone’s favorite.

Malife is the sweetest, snuggliest doggy of all time. The love that comes out of his brown eyes is so intense that it’s actually palpable. It’s physical. His energy can only be described as healing.

He’s trusting and compassionate and is the light of my life.

They’ve both been a huge part of my healing process and have each saved my life at different times. When I’m in the throws of my brain disorder, most humans feel unsafe to me. When I have a hard time trusting people, my pups have always been safe.

I often join them on their dog beds and we pray and meditate together. They’re the most tangible evidence I have of a God in this world. They are my strongest connection to the Divine.

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

Only one thing? They’d take away my laptop and never, ever give it back.

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

If “the most interesting man in the world” could be a woman from Boston that would be Machu – or Gisele Bündchen. Malife? Jeff Goldblum or Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees.

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

Malife, what were the first 7 months of your life like?

Machu, who built Stonehenge?

Visit Courtney Rundell's website,

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 21, 2012

Johnny Ortez-Tibbels & Rufus and Emily Sue

Who is in the photo at right?

I am Johnny Ortez-Tibbels: Dachshund photographer, writer, breed advocate and champion.

My two dogs are Rufus, my regal red smooth male miniature dachshund, 8 years old.

Emily Sue, my black and tan smooth female miniature dachshund, 10 months.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We’re big advocates of getting out with your dog; therefore, we forewent the coffee date and instead went for a hike at Fryman Canyon in Studio City, CA: a favorite of ours. We try to hike 3-5 times a week for the last 3 years. Keeping dachshunds trim is important for their backs.

What's brewing?

Nice refreshing, clean and cool water: perfect for pre and post-hike hydration.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Rufus was named in honor of my favorite vocalist / poet lyricist at the time: Rufus Wainwright. Rufus also means “red-hair” so it was very fitting for our red doxie.

Emily Sue, often called Emmy, was named after one of our favorite actress: Emily Blunt. Sue is a family name.

How were you and your dogs united?

Rufus was carefully selected from a breeder in California and is my first dog as an adult. I got him at 10 weeks old.

Emily Sue is a rescue. Her litter was surrendered one day after she was born, and I got her at 8 weeks old.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

My dachshunds are extremely fortunate to have many friends. As a moderator of a local meetup group, LA Doxies, play dates are plentiful. However, their favorite pal is probably Milo – a red dapple smooth doxie.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Rufus is not a fan of squirrels, the postman or cats; he is a very stereotypical dog in that respect. With many mature trees in our backyard families of squirrels seemingly taunt Rufus and his mates daily. Nonetheless, Rufus continues to be vigilant and loyally guards our yard from any potential invasion.

Emily remains indifferent at this point to the squirrels, but loves surveying the yard for sticks despite my protest.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Both Rufus and Emily love their squeaky stuffed toys. Rufus is skilled at disemboweling his toys in record time whereas Emily is a little gentler with hers.

What is each dog's best quality?

Rufus’ best quality is his versatility; ability to adapt to an array of environments. Rufus has traveled the country and is comfortable almost anywhere: an outdoor café, the beach, the lake, the desert, on an airplane, in a car or just on my lap at home.

Emily's best quality is her sweet and feisty personality.

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

If Rufus could change one thing about me, he would probably want me to be less worrisome about his back. Back problems are prevalent in the dachshund community and is a constant in my mind.

Emily would probably ask that I give her a little more kibble and treats, which would probably be a common request among our chow hounds.

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

Rufus would have a standard American dialect and probably be played by an actor like Bradley Cooper or John Hamm.

Emily would be played by Anna Faris or Tina Fey.

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

If Rufus could only answer one question in English, I would ask if he has enjoyed his life. I’ve worked very hard since day one to ensure he has had a very full and comfortable life offering regular mental and physical stimulation and lots of four-legged companionship. Early training established a bond and gave us a vocabulary to communicate. Although I’m confident of what his answer would be, it would be extremely validating to hear it from his lips.

I would ask the same from Emily. Is she happy?; I just want my dogs to be healthy and happy.

To see more of Rufus, Emily and their friends please visit Rufus on the Web or follow the Dachshund Outreach Giving & Socialization (D.O.G.S) Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Jolene & Tate and Kort

Who is in the photo at right?

Hi! my name is Jolene , I live in Lethbridge AB, Canada, I am a retired dog groomer of 30 years & I now work at a Dog Day Care.

These are my 2 rough collies with me. Tate is 10 & a half; he is the tricolour kissing me, & Kort is the sable, he is 4. They are both males -- I have never owned a female the boys!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have coffee every morning after walking the boys; I brew a fresh cup and bring it to my computer where I catch up on my emails.

Kort and Tate (left) curl up beside me for a nap; they are with me right now.

What's brewing?

I'm not too fussy: if I go out for coffee I love McDonalds coffee. If I buy it's usually just the grocery store brand, but as a rule Folgers, medium roast.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

No, no treats for me. The boys did get a couple of milk bones after their walk though.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Tate got his name from a movie I was watching, it was not Little Man Tate; it was a cowboy movie and I can't remember the name of it.

I have always had my dogs' names picked out years in advance; if I like a name I write it down.

Kort (right) got his name from my favourite Stephen King series, The Gunslinger, one of the characters in the book was named Cort. I changed my boys spelling to a *K*.

How were you and your dogs united?

I got Tate from a breeder in Northfied Mass. Mariner Kennels. Tate was my second collie from her. He had a 5 hr flight to reach me.

Kort came from a breeder here in Alberta, Davenloch Kennels . Both dogs were picked out for me by their breeders. I love them to death!!

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Tate is quite the loner, he sticks to himself a lot. Kort is a funny guy, he likes to play with puppies. We dog sit a mini daschund by the name of Perkins. Kort and Perkins are good friends.

Squirrel, postman, cat....

Kort is nuts about rabbits!!!!!!!! He screams and whines when he sees them; there are tons of rabbits around my place.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Tate has a toy that he got as a puppy -- it was a spider with 10 furry legs. He pulled off all the legs, just leaving the body, so I named it Clam. He still plays with his clammy 10 yrs later!

Kort is more of a food hound but he does love the fluffy type tug toys.

What is each dog's proudest moment?

Oh we have so many! Both my dogs are Canadian show champions. I have put a Tracking title on Tate. Both dogs have numerous Obedience, Rally Obedience, Agility, and Herding titles. Kort is a Scenthurdle Dog Champion as well.

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

I think that I would walk them more.

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

Tate has always had the voice of Eyore from Winnie The Pooh. He does everything in slow motion at his own time.

Kort really never got a voice.

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

Are you happy with your life with me?

Learn more about Jolene, Tate, and Kort at the One Collie blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bev Kaye & Roxy

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Bev Kaye, the founder and Co-CEO of a Talent Management consulting organization called Career Systems International. I lead a group of 40 professionals in delivering learning solutions and consulting to Fortune 1000 companies on the subject of engagement, retention and career development. I live in Sherman Oaks with my husband Barry, Roxy, and our sometimes visitor, my daughter Lindsey.

I've just finished co-authoring my latest book titled Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want. Any manager of talent reading this blog should get the book and read it to your dog!

Next to me in the picture is my good friend, Roxy! As you can see she has an unusual look! (And that's what attracted me to her in the first place!) Roxy is 13 and is a Dalmatian/Terrier mix. I love black and white...may favorite colors in what I wear and in my home! Roxy always matches!

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Roxy and I have coffee together every morning that I am home. (Keurig Coffee Maker...any bold dark blend!) Alas, I travel a great deal, so it's not a regular thing. Roxy knows what it means when I put my suitcase on the bed, she's been known to go into a depression and refuse to eat after I leave.

Any treats for you or Roxy on this occasion?

My dog loves Nestle Purina anything! Since they are a client of ours, I make sure that we always have their products on our shelves! (I was there recently to meet with the client and brought pictures of all the dogs in our organization.) Over coffee, Roxy prefers Beggin’ Strips or Dental Chewz!

How did Roxy get her name? Any aliases?

My daughter named Roxy after her favorite clothing store (at the time!). It was Lindsey (now a professional dog walker!) who insisted we get a dog. (For expert dog-walking in the LA me and I'll pass your name to Lindsey!)

As the (ever-creative) mom...I told Lindsey she had to get 500 "attitude" points in order to get a dog. (She could get up to five points a day....and I could not deduct points...but I could stop the clock! What could have taken 100 days....took a full year....and at 490...I knew I was going to become a dog "grandma"...since Lindsey is the mom!) I owe Lindsey a big thank you because Roxy has become a wonderful granddaughter and member of our household!

How were you and Roxy united?

We adopted Roxy from the Lange Center in West LA. Roxy was the first dog any of us had ever had. She was about one year old, and we were told that she would not shed and that she would stay about 25 pounds. will find Roxy hair all over our house and us....and she is 60 lbs!

Does Roxy make any contribution to your work?

She reminds me when it is time to stop and take her for a walk. She comes into my office every day at 4:30 and stares at me until I relent! She must wear a watch because she knows our schedule and precisely who to "lick” up to, to get what she wants.

What is Roxy's best quality?

Her eyes....all knowing....all seeing....right into our hearts. Knows when any of us are unhappy....does all she can to cheer us up. Very protective! (In fact, overly so. Neighbors hide behind trees when they see me walking her because she will lunge after every dog that walks nearby. We have never been able to change this habit.)

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

She would not allow us to ever go on trips without her. She would eat my suitcases...and keep us from ever being out of sight!

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

I can't decide between: What makes you happiest? Which of the many meetings we have in our home is your favorite? Did Lindsey really walk you all those years when she lived at home?

Learn more about Beverly Kaye and her new book, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 14, 2012

Lanier Scott Isom & Sparky, Dakota, and Bear

Who is in the photo at right?

Lanier Scott Isom, author and journalist. Sparky, male, five, terrier/chihuahua mix.

Picture of dogs [bottom right] in back of truck:
Dakota, male, one year, Australian shepherd/golden retriever mix.
Bear, male,13, chow/rottweiler mix. (In the background in the truck.)

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

During the week, I love to go to the Continental Bakery, an eclectic gathering place decorated with velvet art and a hodge podge of different chairs and mismatched tables, known in Birmingham for making incredible breads and pastries that are true works of art. I avoid the Starbucks down the street teeming with the beautiful people---young college students, housewives in lycra and slick business men.

At Continental Bakery you find real people engaged in real conversations---professors and retired men talking politics, professional men and women stopping in as they head over the mountain and down the hill into the city, mothers and children, artists, folks from the neighborhood. But more importantly you find people with their dogs. On the weekends, I like to take our dogs for a special treat. Sparky can hang out with me on his leash while Bear and Dakota stay in the back of the truck as we visit, drink coffee and eat chocolate croissants.

What's brewing?

I’m simple when it comes to drinking coffee. I like a decaf with milk and brown sugar.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Dakota likes to bring his stuffed chew toy that squeaks. Just riding in the back of the truck is a treat for Bear, who starts barking and whining the minute he hears the truck crank up in the driveway. Sparky gets car sick easily so no treats for him.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

All of our dogs are rescue dogs. When we brought Bear home from the Humane Society, he was already named. We thought we’d change it, but we never did because he did indeed look like a bear.

Right before Christmas last year we decided to find a dog for my daughter Frances, partly because our beautiful, sweet dog Sophie was declining; partly because my son Clint and Sparky had become a team and Frances wanted her own companion; and partly because she was having trouble sleeping in her room alone and we thought a dog would make her feel safe. It just so happens at Christmas we have elves who visit Frances. When we adopted Dakota, she wrote a note to the elves asking them whether she should name her new puppy Cassidy or Dakota. The elves chose Dakota.

How were you and your dogs united?

I have to go back to the beginning of my married life to set the stage for Bear. My husband and I got married the year after we graduated from college. It wasn’t a fancy ring or amazingly romantic proposal that hooked me: he reeled me in with two black puppies he bought from the Nashville Humane Society when he was supposed to be studying for his last exam. There I was sitting in the living room of my apartment one block off St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, listening to the Grateful Dead, when I look up and two black puppies---named Samson and Delilah---come scrambling through the open French doors and skid across the hardwood floors. We added Bud, Chad and Max (also known as Che Guevara) to the mix and Bear came along when the last of our original dog family, Max, had lost his all of his companions.

Do your dogs contribute to your writing?

Heck yeah. When I have those blissful moments of uninterrupted time to write while my children and husband forge their separate destinies, I hunker down in my home office and the dogs settle in around me, taking a morning nap. All is well until the neighbor’s dog starts barking, the garbage truck rumbles its impending arrival or a woodpecker mistakenly starts pecking the side of my house and then, outside they go, to leave me in quiet solitude. Their presence gives me a sense of protection and even spiritual support as if they know I’m embarked on an important journey I couldn’t take without their peaceful companionship.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Bear: The squirrels he chases.
Dakota: Dirty socks he steals from the laundry.
Sparky: His neighborhood nemesis, another yappy dog, next door.

What is each dog's best quality?

Bear: His loyalty.
Dakota: Being laid-back and going with the flow.
Sparky: His wisdom and compassionate humor that emanate from his Yoda-like eyes.

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

Bear would insist I take him on more walks and adventures in the creek.
Sparky would ask me to give Clint a break on his homework.
Dakota would tell me to relax more.

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

I’m not sure these actors would be the perfect voice for my dogs, but they could play them in a movie.

Dustin Hoffman would be Sparky. Short and fiesty.
Val Kilmer would be Dakota. Cool but a little goofy.
Robert Downey Jr. would be Bear. Sensitive but tough, and a little bit unpredictable in a frenetic kind of way.

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

Bear: What was your life like before we adopted you from the Humane Society?
Dakota: What was your life like before we adopted you from the Humane Society?
Sparky: What was your life like before we found you, alone and homeless?

Visit Lanier Scott Isom's website and blog.

Writers Read: Lanier Scott Isom.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Joanne Anderton & Gully

Who is in the photo at right?

Well, the human person there is me -- Joanne Anderton. I'm an award-winning author of science fiction, fantasy and horror. I've had short stories published all over the place, and my debut novel Debris was published by Angry Robot Books in 2011, followed by Suited in 2012.

And this is Gully! He's a mutt -- he's got some cattle dog in there, and definitely staffy, and we reckon labrador, and the vet even said greyhound. His body is six years old, but his mind lives in perpetual puppyhood.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It's time for our Saturday morning coffee. I go to personal training every Saturday morning, and stop by the local café for a takeaway coffee on my way home. Then I sit out on the patio with Gully, and he tries to convince me with his eyes that he can, in fact, drink coffee and I should definitely give him some. Lucky for him, it never works.

What's brewing?

Large flat white. A nice strong one.

Any treats for you or Gully on this occasion?

I have a slice of rather delicious banana bread. Gully has at least three bones on the go at one time -- in various stages of disgusting.

How were you and Gully united?

Gully was actually a gift for my husband. Hubby's always wanted a dog, so one year, just before his birthday, I travelled out to the RSPCA and found Gully. I knew as soon as I saw him that he was the dog for us. When we collected him, he spent the whole car ride home in my husband's lap, happy and calm. Definitely love at first sight (or maybe smell) for all of us.

How did he get his name? Any aliases?

He's named after Gully Foyle from The Stars My Destination which is kind of ridiculous, because Foyle is a horrible character, and Gully's the sweetest, sookiest creature ever. He's "Gulliver" if he's done something naughty. But mostly he's just "Gully". Or "doglet".

What role has Gully played in your writing?

I think he helps keep me sane. He's always up for a run, or a walk, or a cuddle -- all of which are necessary for a healthy writing brain. Or I'll talk to him about plot points that are bugging me, because he's always happy to listen.

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

His favourite place is definitely the golf course at the back of our house. He gets to play with other dogs there, and chase rabbits, or run in sprinklers, or swim in ponds. Best place ever.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

Pinecone. Because they're crunchy and we can play puppy soccer with them. Gully's a great goalie.

What is Gully's best quality?

He's such a loving dog. He looks tough to people who don't know him (particularly when he's running a million miles an hour right at them) but he's the biggest sook. He'd rather have a cuddle than eat his breakfast. He'll let little kids and young puppies crawl all over him without protest, even the ones who insist on grabbing his ears.

On his first holiday away from home he was too scared to sleep outside, and stayed at my husband's side the whole night, periodically licking his elbow just to make sure he was there. He's a giant sweetheart, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

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

I'd spend less time inside on the computer, and more time outside with him.

What is Gully's proudest moment?

I think that depends on who you ask. I'm sure Gully would say something like finding the dead thing (it might have been a fox) on the golf course and rolling in it until he stank. He's always very proud of himself when he reeks.

I'd say it was when his beagle friend Hunter went missing. Gully and Hunter used to love to play together, but sadly Hunter's family have moved away. Hunter's owner was a young girl and she lost him late one evening on the golf course. We met her on our walk and she was distraught -- but she couldn't stay out in the dark to look for him. So we put Gully on the case: "Where's Hunter? Find Hunter!" And he did! In the middle of the scrub. We were happy to reunite them, although I think Gully wanted Hunter to stay over for longer -- they were having a great time wrestling in the backyard.

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

You know that dog in Up? The one with the goofy mechanised voice box? That's Gully all over. Including the random "Point!" at nothing.

Writers Read: Jo Anderton.

Visit Joanne Anderton's website, Twitter perch, and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, September 10, 2012

Stefanie & Blueberry

Who is in the photo at right?

That is me - Stefanie aka Blueberry's human. I am an administrative assistant at a university. But I'd always, always rather be hiking! Blueberry is a 4 1/2 year old spayed female blue heeler mix.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Actually - I am not a coffee drinker, I prefer water (I know, crazy, right?).

What's brewing?

Water straight from the tap!

Any treats for you or Blueberry on this occasion?

Blueberry is snacking on Wet Nose treats - apple cinnamon bones.

How did Blueberry get her name?

The rescue named her - since she sort of resembles a blueberry muffin. Her name was too cute to change!

Does she have any nicknames?

Blueberry Fooberry, Blue Bell, Blue Bonnet, I Found My Thrill on Blue Blue Blueberry Hill.

How were you and Blueberry united?

I saw her picture on petfinders and contacted the rescue. I had lost my cattle dog mix to cancer the year before and when I saw Blueberry's pic and read her profile - I knew she was the one for me.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?


Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?


Who is Blueberry's best pet-pal?

That would be just about any male dog she encounters! She's a bit of a flirt!

What is Blueberry's best quality?

Her willingness to try new things!

If Blueberry could change one thing about Arizonans, what would it be?

They would all carry treats just for her.

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

Mary Stuart Masterson - with a southern accent of course.

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

How can I make you happier?

Visit the Spotty, Spotty, Polkadotty blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, September 7, 2012

Julie Winkle Giulioni & Pixel

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Julie Winkle Giulioni, a learning and performance improvement expert. Through my company, DesignArounds, I consult with organizations to develop and deploy innovative instructional designs and training worldwide. My new book, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go (co-authored with Beverly Kaye) is a practical quick-read for managers who’d like to figure out how to fit career development into their already-full dance cards.

Pixel is our six month old Black Labrador/Pitbull mix little girl. Except for the ‘girl’ part, the rest is a guess. My daughter fell in love with her at our local Humane Society and, as you can imagine, they didn’t know a lot more.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Pixel is enjoying her first summer vacation with us on Catalina Island. Catalina is 26 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. My family vacationed here when I was a kid... and my kids have grown up spending summers here. Pixel has come to love the morning ritual of coffee on the deck.

What's brewing?

Jone’s is a small local roaster in Pasadena, California. Madison Blend is a rich, dark brew and my personal favorite.... even just running through our little Mr. Coffee!

Any treats for you or your dog on this occasion?

We keep it pretty simple...just coffee.. and just for me...since we wouldn’t want anything to stunt Pixel’s growth.

How did your dog get her name? Any aliases?

Our 14 year old daughter (Jenna) got to pick Pixel out so she graciously deferred to our 21 year old son (Nick) to name her. At the time, she had just one hair’s width of white on her otherwise black forehead. Nick thought it looked like a pixel on a computer or TV screen... and the rest is history.

How were you and Pixel united?

I’ve had dogs for as long as I can remember. But, earlier this year we had to help our 14 year old Yellow Labrador transition from this life as a result of his deteriorating health. I thought it might be time to take a break... but that didn’t last long.

Our house just doesn’t feel right without a long-nosed kid around. My kids’ nagging just accelerated the inevitable and before long I was face-to-face in the Humane Society meeting room with our next family member.

Does Pixel make any contribution to your work?

I’m fortunate to work at home, so Pixel is with me all day long.

I just love looking over to see the sweet abandon with which she approaches sleep, devouring her chew toys... and just about everything she does. And, with her around, there’s no need to set a timer to get up and away from the computer... she announces that it’s time for a break with a ball in my lap, toy on the desk, or a friendly nudge of my arm away from the keyboard.

Who are Pixel's best pet-pals?

Pixel has really bonded with our daughter, Jenna. It’s so sweet. But she’s really friendly and anyone who happens upon that spot under her chin becomes a friend for life.

So far, we’ve been reluctant to introduce her to other dogs. After only 6 weeks of training, we’re not sure that we’re prepared for that. Although earlier this week, she did come face to face with a deer and let’s just say that I don’t think they’ll be ‘best pet-pals’ anytime soon.

What is Pixel's best quality?

There’s so much to love about Pixel but one thing that’s really charming is how she assumed her role as protector of our home.

Within days of joining us, she decided that protecting us (sometimes from the postman, contractors, etc.) was her job... and she assumes it with great dedication and commitment.

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

Pixel likely wishes that I had more time to play... and a stronger grip for her favorite pastime, tug-of-war.

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

This is a hard one... and the family is split. My husband votes for Ellen DeGeneres but Jenna thinks Betty White would be a good casting decision.

If I got to make the final choice, Whoppi Goldberg would get the job.

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

What was life like before you joined us?

Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want launches September 18th, 2012. Learn more about Julie Winkle Giulioni’s consulting and speaking at her website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Chuck Sambuchino & Graham

This is me, Chuck Sambuchino, sharing a cute moment with Graham, our six-year-old mischief lover. He is a rescued poodle mix of unidentified origin. When a highly sophisticated lab inspected him to determine his makeup, they confirmed he is 20% fluffy, 20% flabby, 20% mooch, and 40% pure sweetness.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

It's just a great way to wrap up a day -- wife, dog, Netflix, coffee. Heaven.

What's brewing?

Tall Pike Place Roast at Starbucks is my usual grab-on-the-go.

Any treats for you or Graham on this occasion?

He is just in heaven on days like today when I happen to slip him a french fry or two from a fast food meal I've brought home. I'm convinced that he will break down my office door just to get one fry. He's been getting a lot of treats lately in celebration of my new humor book coming out. Red Dog / Blue Dog is a humorous photo collection of dogs doing stereotypical liberal and conservative things. Graham actually appears in the book not once but twice. We're super-excited to give a portion of the book's proceeds to no-kill shelters and rescue organizations.

How did your Graham get his name? Any aliases?

My wife and I absolutely love Best in Show, so I suggested naming him after a character in the film. I wanted a name that was a bit obscure, so I suggested "Graham" after the character of Graham Chisholm, the tall, serious man who oversees the arena preparation and encouraging the stagehands to keep the huge banner from getting dusty. I think my wife agreed to the name quickly because our new dog was, in fact, the color of a graham cracker. (In fact, "cracker" is actually Graham's middle name.)

How were you and Graham united?

My wife grew up with dogs and pleaded with me for years to get one. I kept saying no. Then she pretty much held me at gunpoint until I said yes. (That's an exaggeration, but only slight.) My wife searched PetFinder and voila. The first dog we went to see was Graham over in Portsmouth, OH. The moment he saw my wife enter the house, he peed in happiness all over here. Love at first sight.

What role, if any, did Graham play in crafting your new book?

A massive role. I've always been intrigued by the subject of politics, but only became a lover of dogs after Graham warmed his way into my heart. My wife suggested I combine the subjects of dogs and politics for a unique book idea, and Red Dog / Blue Dog was born. To thank Graham, I dedicated the book to him.

Who is Graham's best pet-pal?

Probably Sofie, a friend's dog.

Squeaky toy, ball, Frisbee...?

Squeaky toy junkie, this guy. He played with this one goose toy for years (Graham named it "Mr. Quacks"), and now we have to keep replacing it every time he tears one to shreds. I feel like an irresponsible parent in the future who keeps cloning the pet cat for a distraught son.

Squirrel, cat, postman...?

Too much effort to chase any one of these. That's precious time better spent snoozing.

What is Graham's best quality?

I could say he's sweet or kind, but that's too unoriginal. I would say that Graham has an uncanny ability to sense when my wife is having a rough day, and he will cuddle with her all day if she needs him. He just knows when to turn into a huge cuddlemonster.

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

He would get way, way, way more human food. In fact, sometimes when I catch him just staring at me in the kitchen, I know he's hoping I trip or have some kind of minor aneurysm so I fall and the meal I'm cooking happens to go everywhere on the floor.

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

Some 10-year-old boy actor. See, my wife is pregnant with our first child, but for the past 5 years, Graham has absolutely 100% been the baby in our little family. I think he relishes it (and is in for a big surprise when that little girl comes in November 2012). So whenever I picture Graham talking, it's always the voice of a child.

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

"You gonna eat the rest of your dinner?"

Visit the Red Dog / Blue Dog Amazon page,, Chuck Sambuchino's Twitter perch and official writer website.

--Marshal Zeringue