Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Danielle and Jim Beaudoin & Nola

Who is in the photo at right?

Mr. and Mrs. of M&M&NK are Danielle and Jim Beaudoin. We work and live in Portland, ME. We started our blog in March of 2012, after we decided to start fostering pit bull type dogs to help change stereotypes about them. We wanted a place to share more information about our foster pups to get them adopted, as well as stories about and photos of our dog, Nola. Nola is a 2 ½ year old female boxer mix who loves to give us kisses, which is how the blog got its name.

What's brewing?

I’m a New England girl, so it’s Dunkin’ Donuts for me. French vanilla with skim milk is how I drink it.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Nola and I enjoy coffee together almost every day, whether it’s sitting at home on the couch, or in the car on the way to a walk. In fact, the Mr. just got me a Life is Good t-shirt with a woman drinking coffee with her dog, which is perfect!

Today, we got breakfast from one of our favorite Portland diners, Becky’s, and stopped for coffee on the way home.

Any treats for you or Nola on this occasion?

Nola gets treats on every occasion. Today, since we got breakfast take out, Nola got to enjoy some of the Mr.’s ham.

How did Nola get her name? Any aliases?

Nola was named after the city of New Orleans (its nickname is NOLA: New Orleans, LA) because that is where the Mr. and I got engaged. We wanted to name our dog something that had meaning to the both of us.

Nola has a million nicknames, including, but not limited to: Nola Muffin, Muffin, Pumpkin Muffin, No-No, Nols, Wiggle Butt and Baby.

How were you and Nola united?

Nola was a rescue from Alabama. The Mr. and I had been talking about getting a dog for years, but we were nervous since neither of us had ever had one. When we felt like we were finally ready we applied to several rescues here in Maine, but we were denied because we both worked 8 hours a day. We finally found a rescue that would give us a chance, and we are so grateful. The day before Halloween in 2010, we met a transport truck at a rest stop in New Hampshire and they handed us 12 week old Nola. The instant I saw her and got my very first Nola kiss I fell in love. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into raising a puppy. But after two and a half years, two obedience classes and dozens of ‘how to’ books, we have the best dog we could have ever asked for. She has brought so much joy to our lives that we can’t image what it would be like without her.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

She used to be very interested in squirrels, but she’s outgrown that. She is not sure about cats; she wants to play with them but they always run away. In fact, she has taken off down the street after the neighborhood cat Sammy on a couple occasions. Good thing she has decent recall! She loves our mail lady. She’ll gruff when she sees her coming, but as soon as she gets close it’s all butt wiggles and kisses.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

All of the above with the addition of Frisbees, she loves those.

Who is Nola's best pet-pal?

Nola’s best pal is Payson, a lab/boxer mix who is 50 pounds larger than her. They had Tuesday night walk dates all last winter and they love to walk in the Evergreen Cemetery together. Payson recently underwent two ACL surgeries and is just getting back in shape. Nola missed him and can’t wait to start her regular walks with him again!

What is Nola's best quality?

Nola’s best quality is her easy going personality. She loves everyone and every dog. We have taken her everywhere with us since she was a puppy; so she is happy doing anything as long she is with her people. She enjoys exploring and is great in new places, crowds, etc. She greets everyone with so many kisses that you just can’t help but smile. If she had a tail, it would always be wagging, but since it’s cropped, her whole butt wiggles when she is happy. Because she is so easy going, she is very tolerant and submissive, and these are the main reasons we have been able to bring other dogs into our house to foster. She is such a good foster sister, and really puts up with the pups that generally have no manners when they first come to our house.

[photo left--Nola & Anna]

We’ve had two fosters so far, Laynie and Anna, both female pit mixes. Nola tolerated their attempts to cuddle with her, sit on her, sit in her spot, take her toys and their all-around pushy personalities like a champ!

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

I worry, a lot, and a good amount of it is directed to Nola. Does that bump feel normal? Is she hungry? Do her nails need to be trimmed? Is she limping? Why doesn’t she want to sleep in our bed? So, I would have to say, if Nola could change one thing about me I would think it would be to worry less about her. (I also think the Mr. would agree with her!)

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

I would love to add another permanent four-legged baby to the family, so I would ask her if she wants a brother or sister. Something tells me she would prefer to be an only child for a bit longer!

Visit the Mr. & Mrs. & Nola Kisses blog, and follow them on Facebook.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ohio Farmgirl & Ti and Lucky

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Ohio Farmgirl, or OFG for short, and my hard workin' farm dogs. We live here on a small farm/homestead in an Amish town in Ohio. I used to be a city gal working in high-tech. Now I work in the dirt. Its fantastic.

My dogs Ti and Lucky are my right hand man and my leftenant, respectively. They are brothers from the same litter, 7 years old, and are white German Shepherds.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Life starts early on the farm - so my morning coffee with the hard workin' dogs is what we call "first breakfast." After chores we come in for a real meal ("second breakfast").

What's brewing?

I make one perfect coffee a day, usually Starbucks Verono blend, in my stove top espresso maker. When it's hot outside I make a poured over frozen milk from our goats shaken in a pint mason jar.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

I usually have pie for breakfast. Or bacon. The dogs don't eat until after we get our chores done. We don't do a lot of treats for the dogs - other than some meat to supplement their dogfood.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

We knew my #1 dog would be big so he is named Titan or Ti for short. When we are working I call him "Sir" as in "Good work, Sir! You give them pigz the business!"

Lucky [photo left] came to us already named at about a year old. He thinks his nickname is "put that down."

How were you and your dogs united?

I happened to be in the car with some folks when they went to pick out a puppy. Of the litter I would have chosen Lucky...but that's who they picked. Ti picked me. My husband and I weren't really looking for a dog. However we went back the next day and Ti picked me again. You could say he's my Jerry McQuire dog - he had me at "hello" and he completes me.

About a year later Lucky came to live with us after his original humans determined he was "too much dog" for them. We feel very lucky to have him - he's who I would have picked!

You have a sub-heading on your blog: "Our Hard Working Farm Dogs - the good, the bad,... and the adorable." What is one example of the good, the bad, and the adorable?

I couldn't do this farm work without the dogs - they are like another pair of hands. The dogs do everything from patrolling the borders, protecting me from marauding pigz, and helping me round up the chickens at night.

The good has to be Ti's [photo right] work with me on our last round of baby goats. He helped me bottle feed them. Bottle feeding skippy, bouncy, pip poppin' baby goats is not as easy at it sounds. Here he is in action using our command "watch the gate."

The bad... has to be the mocking. They think my hatred of the pigz is hilarious.

The adorable has to be how my big, tough, hard workin' dog Ti still sometimes acts like a puppy. Lucky always looks adorable.

Rabbit, postman, cat....?

Varmints and bad barnyard occupants. Ti has ridden to battle with me against a variety of barnyard foes including that demon gander, an evil rooster named Fred, and a particularly wily varmint. This is how I got my Viking name, OFG BloodAxe Varmint Killer...with Ti by my side.

Lucky hates our big tom turkey, TurkZilla.

Goes without saying that the UPS guy hates our house.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Each other mostly. They tolerate our inside cats - The Insane Cat Posse. They think our barncat Shine is pretty awesome tho.

What is each dog's best quality?

Ti's best quality is that he knows what I'm thinking before I do. We are a great team and I can count on him entirely. He's also wicked smart. We use a lot of hand signals instead of verbal commands.

Lucky has the best nose I've ever seen - he can find a black chicken on a starless nite. He is also extremely good-natured.

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

That I would give them more meat. We raise most of our own meat on our farm and do the butchering here on our property. They'd love it if they got even more of that delicious meat. (They get plenty by the way....)

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

Ti would be played by Gerard Butler from the 300. There would definitely be a scene where he would yell "This is my barnyard!" instead of "This is Sparta!"

Lucky would be played by Scooby-Doo. He's pretty goofy.

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

OFG: Titan, what is best in life!?
Ti: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.

OFG: Hey Lucky, do you want some snacks?
Lucky: Do bears wear funny hats? Yeah sure!

Visit Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures In The Good Land blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 25, 2013

Amy Vansant & Gordon

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Amy Vansant of humor blog Kid-Free Living (Twitter: @kidfreeliving), my husband Mike, and Gordon Labradoodle, 7-years-old.

After we got Gordon we loved him so much we actually started a dog store, DoodleSport. The idea was to sell all Doodle embroidered items, but then we figured, why not add 200 other breeds? We bought a huge embroidery machine and all the first items we did came out looking like Salvador Dali squirrels. We'd threaded it wrong. But that was 5 years ago - everything is very professional now!

What's brewing?

I switch brands, picking up different beans from wherever I roam, but I always grind my own as needed each morning. It tastes better that way, and as an added bonus it annoys the hell out of my husband.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Generally, while I'm drinking coffee in the morning, he's staring holes through the back of my head waiting for us to take him for a walk. We made the mistake of doing it two days in a row several years ago and he's been insufferable ever since.

His stare [photo left] is ... intense.

Any treats for you or Gordon on this occasion?

While I drink the coffee, no. But after the walk I must get him water from the water cooler in his special cappuccino mug, which we call his "special water" and which he thinks is a treat. Again, we did it twice in a row once, and now if we don't do it he gives us a look that would melt flowers.

How were you and Gordon united?

We adopted him when he was small enough to fit in a cappuccino mug. Mike, my husband, and I literally just woke up and said, hey, let's get a Labradoodle, got in the car and did so. We don't lead the most structured life.

How did Gordon get his name? Any aliases?

Mike had a cat named Flash as a kid and always wanted a dog named Gordon. Gordon, alias "Monkey," "fluffernutter," "chimichanga," "Mr. Pumpernickle," and about 1000 other nonsense words/noises we make every time we see him.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Gordon is cat blind. He'll see a feral cat outside our window well enough, but if we let him out, he'll run up to it and then stop, turn his head, and start to meander away from it as if he doesn't know it's there. In short, he's terrified of cats but refuses to admit it.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

He's most obsessed with fetching the newspaper each morning [photo right], because that gets him a treat. But he takes forever to do it. Beyond that, he loves to rip apart inflated packaging, so we have to order something from Amazon every week or so.

Does Gordon have a favorite place to go for outings?

We walk in the woods, which he loves best, because he can run off the leash and the smells are amazing.

The chances of finding a dead things and deer poop are, like, 75% better in the woods than in the neighborhood.

Who is Gordon's best pet-pal?

He's attracted to larger women. He had a Rhodesian Ridgeback girlfriend, but she moved away.

Now he most loves Esmeralda, my friend's Pyrenees. She's enormous.

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

I'd constantly be running around the house throwing treats around like a water sprinkler. I'd probably stop taking up any of the bed, too. Oh, and the hand that wasn't throwing treats would be constantly scratching him.

He's pretty self-centered, now that I think about it.

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

I'd probably ask him to tell me any problems he has. As he gets older, I hate not knowing if he is sore anywhere that I don't know about. It isn't a very fun answer, but it's what I worry about.

Plus, I think the answer to just about ever other question would be "treat" or "walk."

If Hollywood made a movie about your life in which Gordon could speak, who should voice him?

My husband or myself. I can't imagine him sounding any other way than how we make him sound. And he talks constantly. Curses quite a bit, as well.

Check out the DoodleSport website, and visit the Kid-Free Living humor blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

M. Elizabeth Evans & Oliver

Who is in the photo at right?

The person on the right would be M.E. and my well disguised demon poodle, Oliver. He's an "unaltered" male, though we'll be fixing that shortly. He's two and a half years old though he resembles a much younger dog in terms of overall excitability. He hasn't been jaded yet.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I drink an excessive amount of coffee every morning and since Oliver has life-ruining separation anxiety he's always with me. I can't write without coffee, I can't wake up without it. I've read that it's purely psychological and not at all physically rooted, but whatever, I need it. Don't judge.

What's brewing?

Well, since I live in Italy I drink a Cappuccino first thing and then an "Americano" the rest of the day, which is basically just "normal" coffee for us Americans.

Any treats for you or Oliver on this occasion?

I always eat chocolate with my coffee in the morning because I'm super healthy. Oliver's treats come later in the day during his separation anxiety training. Then he gets to overdose on these mini bone-shaped meaty things cause we're doing the positive reinforcement thing.

How were you and Oliver united?

Sigh. My husband, (who was not raised with dogs, which will be obvious in a second) bought Oliver for me for my birthday in 2010. I've never had a puppy, I've only ever had rescue dogs so it was a bit of a shock to me. Anyhow, my husband called me one day, while I was home visiting my parents in Utah, and said, "Babe, I bought you a puddle for your birthday." I said, "Well, two things: One, that's rude. Secondly, how are you going to wrap that?" He said, "Wait, what? Let me send you a photo." And the photo was of an 8 week old poodle not puddle. I told him it was a horrible idea because dogs are like children. He said, "No babe, dogs are like plants." Not wise words, and something he still regrets saying to this day.

How did Oliver get his name? Any nicknames?

Uhm, he just looked like an Oliver. Like, little, and sad, like "please sir, can I have some more." But that's not his personality at all. He's more like a mob boss.

Does Oliver play any role in your writing?

Uhm, yes. My friends make fun of me for writing about my dog but how can I not? Right now it's just my husband, myself and Oliver. He's our terrible, terrible baby, and we love him. Also he makes my life incredibly difficult in a "Marley and Me" kind of way. I want to kill him but I love him to death at the same time. He's great fodder for a funny story.

Does Oliver have a favorite place to go for walk?

Anywhere outside is his favorite place. But he prefers running to walking and he's fast. He loves the park because he gets to be off-leash.

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

He likes soccer balls, and stuffed animals. He's been carrying around a stuffed cow for about two years. It used to squeek but my husband's mum is a clean freak and she put it in the washer on the hot cycle. She's convinced dogs have toxicplasmosis. I keep telling her that that's cats, but she thinks it's some kind of conspiracy.

Cat, il postino, squirrel...?

He likes to bark at every human being who comes into our building. It's his favorite. He's also very fond of leg rape. We cannot get him to stop (hence the neutering coming shortly).

What is Oliver's best quality?

He's incredibly cute and happy he's also super smart. He's aaalways happy in this unbearably hyperactive way. Even people who hate animals love him.

If Oliver were a talking dog in the movie of your life, who should do his voice?

Ice Cube.

If Oliver could change one thing about Italians--I mean, beside cutting you some slack while you clean up the sidewalk after him--what would it be?

Ha-ha! Uhm, I don't think he would change anything. We live in Florence which is incredibly dog friendly. They are allowed in all the restaurants and coffee shops. There are dozens and dozens of dog parks in the city, and every place that we go people pet him and play with him. To give an example of the dog craze in this city, once he was soaked from the rain and my friend and I ducked into Prada because she wanted a gift or something. These really stuffy women all wearing Prada, ran over and snatched Oliver from me and were carrying him around the store playing with him. He was destroying their clothes, they didn't care. Another time we were in Cartier asking about a wedding band for my husband (which we did not buy!) and the sales human brought Oliver a water bowl, a toy, and a biscuit from the back. Actually, every business seems to keep dog treats behind the counter. When we go to the butcher shop the man brings pieces of meat out for him. These people love dogs. But, they are super annoying about sidewalk space.

What's Oliver's proudest moment so far? His most embarrassing?

Proudest moment...uhm...he's improving with his training so we're pretty proud of him. He's smart, but he's stubborn, and again, separation anxiety. His most embarrassing? That's easy! I took him to one of my husbands football (soccer) games and the little shit got away and broke onto the field. He stole the ball and it took about 10 minutes for them to catch him. Two teams of grown men were running around like crazy after this tiny dog who was cruising down the field with their soccer ball. They were not happy, but personally I think they were just jealous because he is way better at soccer than everyone else. Actually, maybe that's also a proud moment.

Visit M.E.'s "Surviving Italy" blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 21, 2013

Nicole J. Georges & Beija

Who is in the photo at right?

Me, Nicole J. Georges, and Beija Georges, my fifteen year old corgi/sharpei mix.

I'm an illustrator, cartoonist & pet portrait artist.

Beija doesn't have a job, but since she has become a teenager I've given her a sort of teen persona, so she is really into Justin Bieber and she can't wait to get her her learner's permit.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have coffee near Beija every day, we just decided to have it together this morning. I got an espresso machine for Christmas, so every day is a reason for celebration.

What's brewing?

I'm having an Americano from my home espresso machine, with soy creamer. Beija does not drink coffee because of all the caffeine.

Any treats for you or Beija on this occasion?

Beija is having a bowl of turkey stew this morning. She had a cancerous bump removed in October, and since then her road to recovery has included a homemade diet. I've been vegan for sixteen years and
have never cooked meat in my adult life, so sacrificing a stew pot to my dog was something I did grudgingly. But after feeding her stew, she's got a new lease (leash) on life. She gets so excited every morning for her turkey stew, and she hangs out in the kitchen Sunday nights when I make her batch for the week.

How were you and Beija united?

I got Beija for my high school boyfriend when I was 16. I got a job at Toys R Us to afford a dog (fun fact: in 1997, minimum wage in Kansas was about $3.75 I think?), and got her from a run-down shelter in Kansas City, Kansas, where she exhibited all the qualities dog books tell you to avoid in a shelter dog. She was in the back of her kennel, scared and huddled, but when I talked to her, her tail started thumping against the metal walls. I took her out for a walk and her ears inflated, and I knew I needed to get her! Also, they said she was part dachshund, which was a lie, but it worked.

My boyfriend's family changed their minds at the last minute (about allowing their son to have a dog), and after trying and failing to rehome her several times, I was stuck with Beija. She kept getting returned to me because she was so bad, but I would never take her back to the shelter. It was fate! She is my horcrux.

How did Beija get her name? Any aliases?

My high school boyfriend named her. He said it was Polish for "stranger" (he was really into Camus), but I don't think that is actually true. But it does mean "kisses" in Portuguese, which is sweet.

How long have you been creating pet portraits? Do you have a favorite?

I made my first pet portrait in 2003 or 2004, as an apology gift for a friend whose dog Beija jumped. I started making them professionally a couple of years later. I just finished one for my recently departed friend, Wishbone [with Nicole, photo right], which is my current favorite. Other than that, one that sticks out in my mind is this dog Fred, whose person asked that he be painted with his owners each in little frames around him that said "Mommy" and "Daddy". I thought that was funny.

Does Beija figure prominently in your new book, Calling Dr. Laura?

She does. The book is autobiographical, and Beija was around for everything that happened.

When we were soliciting blurbs, we got one from Rachel Maddow, and the first line said: "I would please like to adopt Beija, or at least apply for dogsitting duties."

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

Beija loves to go to the beach, where she can get great traction and runs like a puppy. She is actually very fast, in case you couldn't tell by her small legs.

Squeaky-toy, ball, stick...?

She has a long stuffed dog toy that my mom ("Grandma") gave her probably five years ago. She takes good care of her toys, and likes to hoard them in her bed when she is not mouthing them for guests.

Who is Beija's best pet-pal?

Beija has a friend named Emmett, a pit-bull mix, who is her true love. I don't know about romance, but he is balanced and friendly and when they are together she is constantly bowing and wagging her tail, requesting play.

It's rare for her to find a dog that doesn't want to kick her butt. She throws shade to other dogs in ways that humans can't see.

What is Beija's best quality?

Beija is very intelligent & intuitive, and behind closed doors, the sweetest and most loyal dog.

If Beija could change one thing about Portlanders, what would it be?

She would ask them to please respect her boundaries and stop trying to pet her, even after I tell them not to. People love to push past my warnings with "But she's so cute", or "she's wagging her tail", and then she leaps at them, barking. I tell them, "If she was ugly, I wouldn't have to tell you not to pet her!"

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

Someone like Taylor Swift, but more valley girl. She'd say: "Nicole's, like, really cool."

If Beija could answer just one question in English, what would you ask her?

"Will you please just trust that I am not abandoning you when I tie you outside of a place? It's been fifteen and a half years and I've never abandoned you! You don't need to bark and scream every time I walk inside to get a coffee!"

Visit the official Nicole J. Georges website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 18, 2013

Marni Mann & Codi and Bella

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Marni Mann, author of Memoirs Aren’t Fairytales and Scars from a Memoir, wife, reader, pretend-to-be-baker, traveler, and dog lover. Codi, my little man, is seven and he’s a spunky Maltese.

Bella, my little lady [pictured below], is four and she’s a super-loving Yellow Lab.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I have coffee with my dogs every morning. They don’t enjoy the hot blend as much as I do, but while I’m hugging my mug, they love the one-handed scratches and cuddles.

What's brewing?

A mocha fudge nut, Green Mountain, K-Cup (Keurig), with white chocolate creamer. Yum!

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Nothing for me, but they’re not ones to turn down food. Ever. They just finished breakfast, so it’s not quite time for a snack yet.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Codi was named after an old friend of mine, but I changed the “y” to an “i”. Bella was named during the Twilight fad. She really is beautiful, though. (Bella is beautiful in Italian) No, I’m not biased. Not even a little. Ha!

Codi goes by C-Unit and Tiger. Bella goes by Little Lady and Roam. She’s quite the roamer.

How were you and your dogs united?

My husband and I grew up with dogs and wanted one of our own as soon as we graduated from college. We found Codi’s breeder in the newspaper. We spent several hours at their house and left with Codi; he chose us. As for Bella, the story is about the same, but she chose us within seconds. She came flying out of the house (we met the puppies in the backyard) and jumped straight into my husband’s arms. Literally.

Do your dogs make any contribution to your writing?

Both of their names have appeared in my novels and they constantly offer inspiration, but I don’t write about animals. Dark literary fiction, my genre, is quite gritty. My love for dogs and other animals is anything but, so they don’t overlap.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

It’s easier to list what Bella doesn’t like, which is balloons, lettuce, and hairdryers. Everyone and everything else she loves.

Codi’s just the opposite; he’s very selective with who he shows love to and everyone else he barks at.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

All of the above. Stuffed toys don’t last too long in our house because Bella makes it her mission to find and destroy the squeaking element.

Codi could care less what he plays with, but the toy he always wants is the one in Bella’s mouth.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Their best friends are Comiskey, a Puggle, and Klyde, a Dachshund. We have puppy dates and sleepovers with Comiskey and Klyde all the time.

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

I wish Codi and Bella could make Floridians better drivers. I don’t know how that would be possible, but I’m sure my Little Loves could figure out something.

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

Goldie Hawn would be perfect for Bella. She’s so motherly, loving, and her voice is warm, and Bella is all of these and more.

Russell Crowe would be perfect for Codi because he’s our little gladiator, super intelligent, independent, and manly.

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

You love Mommy more than Daddy, don’t you? (Wink, wink)

Visit Marni Mann's website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Kevin & Cynder

Who is in the photo at right?

I'm Kevin, also known as "that dog dancing guy." Pet blogger and also Social Media Officer at The Lost Dogs' Home (one of Australia's largest animal shelters. With me is Cynder, she is a 10 month old Black and White Border Collie.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

End of the work day, just relaxing with a couple of friends showing them our new house.

What's brewing?

Just a tea for me!

Any treats for you or the dogs on this occasion?

Cynder got to enjoy some of her Jollie biscuits that she received as part of her Christmas stash!

When you were last here with your dog Luna, Cynder hadn't been born. How did Luna take the introduction of a new puppy in the household?

To say that Luna was excited to have a new friend is a bit of an understatement. She welcomed Cynder into the family quite well, in fact she was a little overzealous with her love to begin with!

Unfortunately for the girls not everything continued so peachy keen at home and I am now separated from their other dad. Luna has stayed living with him and Cynder moved with me. I'm currently writing a series of articles on relationships ending and moving out with one of the dogs.

How did Cynder get her name? Any nicknames?

Trying to choose a name for her was proving quite difficult. We wanted something that would sound nice next to Luna's name and yet we were struggling to choose something. We had quite a few Skylanders around (which are characters from a Wii game) and I was listing them off. One of the dragons is named Cynder and seeing as I have quite a fondness for Dragons I decided that was that!

Who are Cynder's best pet-pals?

Cynder absolutely loves her sister Stella, they see each other at workshops with Melbourne Canine Freestyle (Dances with Dogs) as well as her Border Collie friend Lily. Luna just absolutely loves anyone she meets! Cynder is also fascinated by my frogs, Froggle and Marshie.

What is Cynder's best quality?

Her brains. She is incredibly smart and learns very very quickly. She also manages to teach herself a few tricks here and there which I just need to keep an eye out for.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Ball... Anything that is round, that she can fetch, and possibly squeaks and you have Cynder's undivided attention. It's the first thing she wants to do when she gets up and the last thing she wants to do before she sleeps.

If Luna and Cynder could change one thing about Australians, what would it be?

They would change the attitude of those that don't care for their pets properly. They would love to see a world where there is no need for animal shelters or rescue groups because every animal is in a loving and caring home.

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

This is a bit of a hard one for Cynder! I would have to say Anna Kendrick or maybe even Rebel Wilson... She is quite a clown at times.

If Luna and Cynder could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

Do you understand why you don't live together anymore?

See--Coffee with a Canine: Kevin and Antonio & Luna (October 2011).

Visit Kevin's "that dog dancing guy" blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sue & Oscar and Sheba

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Sue, I am married to Steve and we have to sons, one out flatting and one still at home but just started working. I work only on Mondays in a vintage/collectable shop so I have plenty of time to spend with my two dogs, Oscar, a Maltese/Bichon age 6 and a 1/2, and Sheba, a Lab/Border Collie aged 2 and ¾.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We live in Suburbia with a huge back yard that is heavily planted and park like with a few different seating areas. On this occasion I was about to read my book while relaxing on my garden swing chair. Both dogs decided to join me like they usually do. Oscar is either on my lap or next to me, but always close. Sheba is always hanging around but with one of her balls waiting for me to start a game on “you kick and I will chase it”.

What's brewing?

I am not a coffee drinker although I am trying to like Moccha as I need to part take in being grown up. I am a devoted Earl Grey drinker.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

No treats on this occasion other than being able to share some quality time with their mother, on the swing chair.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Both dogs are adopted so came pre named. Oscar sometimes gets called “Ozzy” and Sheba gets the occasional “She-be-be”.

How were you and your dogs united?

We used to be the proud owners of the most lovely Labradoodle named Ben that we adopted from animal rescue when he was one. He was with us for 12 years and when he passed away he was terribly missed. He hasn't been replaced in our hearts or our memories but we have adopted the two current dogs since he has gone. Both came to us via Trade Me and both were dogs that were well loved but needed to be re homed due to family situations.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Oscar has one of those soft toy ducks you get from pet shops that he likes to throw about. Sheba is not allowed to play with this as she basically destroys soft toys. Sheba has two soccer balls. She likes to have one in her mouth while she dribbles the other one “soccer styles” with her head and feet. Both of them are rather partial to the odd dirty sock usually found on the teenage sons' bedroom floor. These make for great fun in the form of tug of war. Sheba mainly drags Oscar around the house so not a lot of tugging going on.

Who are your dogs' best pet-pals?

Oscar and Sheba are best pals and play a lot of the time. But I am Oscar BFF as he is one step behind me when I am moving and on me or next to me if I sit. If I strapped him into one of those baby front packs I think he would be one happy small dog. Sheba's BFF would have to be Steve as he is the most willing partner in kicking the ball for her.

What is each dog's best quality?

Both dogs' best quality would have to be their unconditional love they have for the entire family and their loyalty.

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

If they could change one thing about me it would be that I sit still longer. Every time I get up and move they feel the need to follow me, even if it is just across the room.

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

My life to date hasn't been worthy of a movie but if they were going to have actors to play their voices then Oscar would get George Clooney and Sheba would get Angelina Jolie, then I could get to meet Brad. Call me shallow but I would be smiling!!

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

I would ask them if they feel as lucky as I do to be sharing their life with me as I do with them.

Visit the "You can call me Sue" blog.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 11, 2013

Linda Lombardi & Lilly and Rose

Photo credit: Paul McRae
Who is in the photo at right?

That is a photo of me, Linda Lombardi, and my Number One Pug, Lilly, in which I'm signing a copy of my second book, Animals Behaving Badly.

Lilly is going to be 14 in a few weeks.

I am a writer, unemployed zookeeper, and recovering academic.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Right now this is a daily routine, as I am writing more or less full time, and also I am stuck at home with a broken wrist. Unfortunately I was injured while ice skating rather than by tripping over a pug, which would have made a great story for the blog. Did you know that 86,000 people a year end up in the emergency room after falls caused by pets?

But you know, I'm a fiction writer, and that reality is kind of boring, so let's make something up. I'm going to pretend it's June and Lilly and Rose and I waiting for croissants at our favorite place in Rehoboth Beach [photo left].

What's brewing?

Tea. Darjeeling. Hot.

I'm not a regular coffee drinker. I save it for a special treat, or for when I really need to be awake. It is an amazingly effective drug when you're not accustomed to it.

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

We are trying to resist opening this box of Girl Scout cookies. The peanut butter sandwich kind.

How did Lilly and Rose get their names? Any aliases?

My husband finally agreed to get a dog one day when we slid into the ditch on the side of the road on our way to a cross-country ski center. We made some kind of deal - I can't recall the details - about what kind of car he could buy next if I could get a dog.

So when we got to the ski place I started thinking of a name for this theoretical dog, and they had a poster announcing an event called Tour de Lilly. It was named after the mother of the guy who owned the ski place, an independent cross-country skiing woman back in the days when women didn't do those things. Fitting, I guess, for the independent, sassy girl pug I ended up with.

Rose was already named Rose by the pug rescue we adopted her from. I would never have given them a cute pair of matching flower-sounding names on my own, but it seemed like fate. In her foster home there were two Roses so they called her Piggy Rose, because she made a particularly piggy noise when sniffing at things. We still call her that sometimes. I have always been fond of pigs.

How were you and your dogs united?

After we got the car out of the ditch, I tried to get a pug from breed rescue. Nowadays rescue pugs are (sadly) very easy to find, but back then, the breed was much less popular. For the first few years I had Lilly, people would stop me and say "My grandmother had a pug!" because that was the last time they'd seen one. Now they're more likely to stop me and tell me about all their friends and relative who have one.

But things were very different 14 years ago, so the rescue had very few pugs, and wouldn't adopt to me because I had cats. They said this was because of the danger of claws to big puggy eyes. Which made sense to me until I actually got a puppy and discovered that puppies play by biting each other's faces. Live and learn.

So I got Lilly as a puppy from an ad in the newspaper. This was very controversial among my friends who said I should go to a responsible breeder, but the show dogs have such flat faces that it causes health problems, and I was reluctant to support this trend.

I wouldn't do it this way today and wouldn't recommend it to anyone, but times have changed a lot - I could probably adopt ten great pugs tomorrow from the regional pug rescue.

I didn't get another dog till Lilly was 7, because I was pretty sure she wanted to be an only child. But I had gotten a dog partly because my husband wouldn't go for walks with me, and now Lilly had started to be reluctant to go for walks with me, if I wasn't offering a ride to somewhere exciting to buy dog cookies.

So I decided it was time for an emergency backup pug whether Lilly liked it or not. My argument to her was that now she would have a staff to delegate walks to.

Rose came from pug rescue. She had been a breeder dog in what sounded like a small-scale puppy mill. She was blind in one eye and mostly blind in the other, from an untreated eye condition. She didn't know how to walk on a leash or go up and down stairs. But the adoption listing for her had the most adorable picture you have ever seen, and the description said she was "perfect." I thought, these people must know their pugs. Surely that's not a word they use lightly. So we asked to meet her.

I should say, I am not the sort of person who rescues animals because I feel sorry for them. She was cute and sweet and the right dog for the household at the time - more laid back than Lilly. So it wasn't some kind of good deed. She is in most ways a much easier dog to own than Lilly is, and a really good example of how resilient dogs are and why everyone should consider adopting an adult dog.

Do Lilly and Rose appear in Animals Behaving Badly?

Lilly probably ought to, but no, since the book is not based on my personal experience, but on extensive research. I am pretty sure it's the only book you'll find shelved under Humor that has a twenty-five page bibliography. There is a whole chapter about dogs, though, which I highly recommend as a caution to all dog owners.

My first book, the mystery The Sloth's Eye, features a zookeeper who has two pugs, and they're not exactly mine (for one thing, they're a boy and a girl). But like all the animals in that book, the characterizations are definitely based on my personal observation.

What contribution do your dogs make to your writing?

I generally give Lilly credit for the fact that I have a nonfiction writing career. My first paying gig was writing a pets and animals column for the Associated Press. I appeared to be qualified for this partly because I had worked as a small mammal keeper at a zoo. But I was actually qualified more because of the years I had spent seriously studying dog training on my own, starting when Lilly was a puppy.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

They love the mailman. They announce his arrival with great enthusiasm. Even now that Lilly is mostly deaf, she joins in when Rose hears him.

Cats... we also have two cats. If they had Facebook pages they'd have that "It's Complicated" relationship status with everyone else in the household.

Who are Lilly and Rose's best pet-pals?

Rose thinks that Lilly is her best friend. She loves to cuddle with her. This is kind of pathetic because Lilly actually doesn't seem to care for this much, but poor Rose, with her deprived background, has never had another friend. So she doesn't know what a crummy best friend Lilly is.

What is each dog's best quality?

Lilly is dangerously clever, opinionated, bossy... oh, you said "best"? Actually, I like those things about her. I like a dog that is a bit of a challenge, one that talks back. We're a good match.

Rose is a perfect complement because no matter how much you love the kind of dog Lilly is, two of her would be a bit much. Here's the difference between Rose and Lilly: When I first got Rose, when I came home, she would actually greet me at the door! Just like everyone else says dogs do! I'd never seen that before. Lilly would lie on the couch and thought it was my job to walk over there and pet her.

Rose will also still come for walks with me most of the time because she thinks that anything I suggest will be fun! Whereas Lilly wants to know exactly what's in it for her before she makes up her mind.

If Lilly and Rose could change one thing about you, what would it be?

They would want me to take them to the farmers' market for a brioche every morning instead of just on Saturdays. I'm pretty sure they blame this on me because they don't understand that the market is only there on Saturdays.

If Lilly and Rose could answer only one question in English, what would you ask them?

I know what Lilly wants me to ask: "Is there any other way I can serve you, madam?"

Visit the Animals Behaving Badly Blog. To read Linda's newspaper and web writing and sample chapters of The Sloth's Eye, visit her website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Kristen Brakeman & Buddy and Chopper

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Kristen Hansen Brakeman, and my dog, Buddy. He is about 7-years-old and he's a German Shepherd/Hound mutt.

The second photo [below left] is of me and Chopper, the stinky geriatric dog we inherited from my in-laws. We don't know what he is, but I've guessed that he's half German Shepherd, half hedgehog, and I believe he's about 112.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

We have coffee every morning. I like coffee.

What's brewing?

That's some Peet's Italian Roast I'm enjoying. Santa put it in my stocking.

Any treats for you or Buddy on this occasion?

Yes, we had to get him some dinner kibble to cooperate. He doesn't like paparazzi.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Buddy came to us from Downtown LA Rescue and they had named him Aldo. We didn't like that much so we changed it to Diego. But after a few days we realized he wasn't manly enough for that name (since he peed whenever we looked at him crossly) so we changed it to Buddy.

Chopper - we have no idea. I sometimes call him "Stinky" but my kids get mad at me.

How were you and your dogs united?

The rescue organization said the Buddy was mild-mannered and probably good with kids and cats. We have a surly cat, Mario, who needs to be in charge so that was key. Mario is the alpha dog in the house.

Chopper came to us after my in-laws' passing. He's pretty old and is pretty arthritic, but the kids love him - and he's the last connection to their grandparents.

Are your dogs more help or hindrance to your writing?

They are a big help, as long as it's just them and me. I tend to speak in Buddy's voice a lot and also, I like to read my stuff out loud - so I don't feel quite so insane when I pretend that the dogs are listening.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Buddy loves squirrels. That is an understatement. The voice we do for him is the one of Dug from the movie Up mostly because he becomes singularly obsessed with watching the squirrels.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

He loves to chase tennis balls, but he gets easily distracted (doggie ADHD) and tends to drop the ball out on the street. We're at the top of a hill so the ball then rolls down the street and is lost forever. We've probably lost about 85 tennis balls this way and likely have polluted the Pacific Ocean with them.

What is each dog's best quality?

Buddy is friendly to everyone, and he doesn't beg much, bark much, or steal food. Even non-dog lovers say they like him. Chopper's best quality - hmm. May have to think on that one.

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

Buddy would like it if I never left the house.

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

Well, Buddy would have to be done by the guy who voiced Dug in Up and my husband does Chopper's voice as an old Jewish man so maybe Topol, the star of Fiddler on the Roof.

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

I wish Buddy could tell me where and how he spent the first two years of his life.

Visit Kristen Hansen Brakeman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Monday, January 7, 2013

Dianna Graveman & Polly and Georgia

Who is in the photo at right?

My name is Dianna Graveman, and I own a small business called 2 Rivers Communications & Design, which provides writing, editing, and design services for small businesses, authors, and publishers. I'm also a writer, and I occasionally teach workshops and college classes. Polly is a chihuahua, and Georgia is a beagle. We really are not sure how old either dog is, because they both came to live with us when they were already seniors. We call them our "Golden Girls."

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

I had planned a little walk around the lake by our house or along a path by the Missouri River. Georgia is a hound and loves all the smells. But when it turned really cold and started snowing, I knew I couldn't keep Polly outside too long, so we just spent a little time outside in the backyard. Polly hates the cold. Even with her sweater and coat on, she was shivering, so we didn't stay outside long.

Georgia loved our play date because I don't play outside with her very often. (I need to change that.) So she started running around in frantic circles and darting behind trees to tease me. Polly just stood in one place and shivered, so I picked her up and held her close until we went back inside.

What's brewing?

My daughter's boyfriend works at Starbucks and gave me some for Christmas. The coffee was brewing in my office upstairs while we played outdoors. I added a touch of Baileys Irish Cream to make a yummy Irish coffee after we came indoors. Warmed me right up!

Any treats for you or your dogs on this occasion?

Santa brought Georgia and Polly some all-natural, handmade treats from Treats Unleashed (Cheese Quackers and Smoky Beef Bones). Earlier this year, Georgia got sick from what we think were tainted dog treats. So we don't buy boxed treats at the grocery store anymore.

How did your dogs get their names? Any aliases?

Both Georgia and Polly already had names when they came to us. That hasn't stopped us from giving them nicknames! Our favorite nickname for Georgia is "Georgie Porgie" or "Puddin 'n Pie." Sometimes, we'll say, "Hey, there, Georgie Girl!" And my 84-year-old dad (who lives with us) likes to sing the old Willie Nelson song by the same name to her.

Polly's nickname is "Polly-Wolly Doodle All the Day" (you can tell we sing a lot at our house) or just "Polly Girl." She came from Florida with a nickname, "Wee-wah," but I'm not sure of its origin.

How were you and your dogs united?

Georgia was a stray. My husband Don found her at a shelter in November 2009. She had several health problems (mange, infected ears, missing teeth and a crooked mouth -- likely the result of some kind of physical abuse). Nobody knows where she came from or how old she is. The vet techs named her Georgia. After we fell in love with her and signed the papers to bring her home, we had to wait several weeks while she was treated for mange. We went back to the shelter every couple of days so she would get to know us before we brought her home.

Polly came to live in Missouri in September 2011. Our youngest daughter, Teresa, brought her home from Florida, where she'd been living for a short time. Since Teresa works long hours as a vet tech, Polly stays with us most of the time. We've grown very attached to her, and we think the feeling is mutual! Like Georgia, she has some health problems, including a heart ailment. Both dogs take medicines for their conditions.

Before Georgia and Polly came to our house, we were the family for two other geriatric dogs: Tramp and Penny. Tramp came to us as a puppy (beagle/German Shepherd mix) and lived until age 18. About two years before he died, Teresa adopted Penny, a miniature poodle) from a vet's office where she'd been surrendered by her owners due to advanced age and multiple health issues, including a heart condition. Penny died about nine months after Tramp. We were "dog-less" for only a month when Don found Georgia.

We've decided that caring for geriatric dogs is our passion. We love them and feel so good about providing a warm, loving home for dogs in their later years. It is a bittersweet experience, because we know our time with each of our four-legged friends will be limited. But caring for older dogs who really need us is so rewarding. We get a kick out of spoiling them and imagining they probably never had it so good in their younger years. Don likes to say that if they had thumbs, they'd be pinching themselves!

How do your dogs help, and how do they hinder, your writing?

Polly and Georgia are my office buddies. They each have a bed in my office and spend most of every day asleep. I guess it kind of helps me because they always look so peaceful and happy to be here, which adds to my contentment. The funny thing is that Polly sometimes curls up in the middle of Georgia's big bed, while Georgia spills out of Polly's little one. Whatever makes them happy.

Squirrel, postman, cat....?

Georgia likes to chase an occasional rabbit out of yard. She ignores the squirrels. Now that she's gotten older, she has to take it kind of easy. Sometimes she strains a muscle if she takes off too fast.

Squeaky toy, ball, stick...?

Neither dog has much interest in any kind of toy, so we quit buying them. Georgia occasionally enjoys a tug of war with an old rag towel or sock.

What is each dog's best quality?

Both dogs have endearing little quirks that we just love. Georgia is the only dog we've ever owned who will greet us by putting her head on the floor and her rump in the air. She'll even scoot across the floor like that. She also has what we call her "Elvis sneer," due to an injury she suffered before we knew her. One side of her mouth was apparently bashed in at some point and remains disfigured. Possibly someone kicked or hit her with something. So now her jaw is a little crooked. When she first came, she would not bark. She cowered constantly. We started trying to encourage her to bark when she needed or wanted something, which the vet thought was pretty funny. He said he'd never had a client bring in a hound and ask him how to teach her to bark! Usually people ask how to make them stop barking!

Polly has her little quirks, too. She squeaks like a little mouse when she's warm and comfortable and doesn't want to be moved. She also burrows headfirst under anything she can find (pillows, blankets, etc.). We've learned to be very careful never to sit down anywhere without checking first to make sure Polly isn't beneath an afghan or a couch pillow. She reminds me of a little desert animal.

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

Polly would want us all to live somewhere warmer, so she could be there, too. I think both dogs would be happy if everyone carried around bits of meat or treats to handout whenever they did something "good" (which at our house, is pretty much anything).

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

This is tough...I really don't imagine them with people's voices. Wish I could answer...but I just came up empty on this one.

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

What was your life like before we knew you?

Visit the 2 Rivers Communications & Design website.

--Marshal Zeringue

Friday, January 4, 2013

Margaret Simon & Charlie

Who is in the photo at right?

That's me, Margaret Simon, and my male schnoodle Charlie, 5 years. I teach gifted elementary students. I released my first novel for young readers, Blessen in April 2012.

What's the occasion for Coffee with a Canine?

Charlie and I have early morning coffee every morning. He warms my lap while I wake up and warm up.

What's brewing?

I start with warming organic milk in the microwave, froth it, and add Community Coffee, Between Roast.

Any treats for you or Charlie on this occasion?

While I go through my coffee making routine, Charlie sits and stares at the cabinet where his treats are kept. He gets an organic doggie biscuit.

How were you and Charlie united?

Charlie is my “empty nest’ dog. My third daughter was a senior in high school when we found an ad for schnoodles in the Quick Quarter. I was looking for a poodle mix. When we went to pick out a puppy, Charlie was the one who completely calmed down in my arms. It was meant to be.

How did your Charlie get his name?

My husband and I have three daughters. We had picked out boy names, but never had the chance to use them. When we were brainstorming names for our new puppy, we said aloud the boy names. Charles was my maternal grandfather’s name. Charlie was just right. Charlie loves his name. You can make the “ch’ sound and he comes running with his tail wagging.

Does your dog do more to help or to hinder your writing?

Charlie lies on my lap when I write. He usually sleeps warming and comforting me.

Cat, postman, squirrel...?

Charlie loves cats. We adopted two grey kittens a few years ago and Charlie treated them like his own babies. They would even try to nurse on him. (He was not too tolerant of that, though.) Last May I came home with another rescue kitten [photo left, with Charlie]. Mimi and Charlie play together, cuddle together, and love each other.

Ball, squeaky-toy, stick...?

Charlie plays ball. He will drop the yellow tennis ball at your feet 24 hours a day. When I am on the sofa watching TV, he will jump up and drop the ball right in my lap. Anyone who visits is invited by Charlie to play ball. We have a balcony overlooking our living room. He made up a game. He goes upstairs and tosses the ball off the balcony. If you play, you get more exercise chasing the ball and throwing it upstairs trying to get it between or over the railing.

Does Charlie have a favorite place to go for outings?

Charlie loves to go walking. He knows when I put on my tennis shoes. He gets excited and runs to the door. We walk with my mother-in-law and her dog, Petey, a poodle. They are best friends. We often walk to the park.

Who are Charlie's best pet-pals?

If Charlie is being stubborn about coming to me, I just say “Petey’s here!” and he comes running hoping to go for a walk with his best pal.

What is Charlie's best quality?

Charlie is the perfect dog. Over the years we have had many dogs, a beagle, a mutt, a greyhound, and a miniature dachshund. Out of all these dogs, Charlie, the schnoodle has been the easiest to train and the best behaved. His best quality is how he immediately melts in your arms. He loves to be held.

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

He would want me to stay home all day, so he could be near me.

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

Charlie’s one vice is he eats fabric. Any bedding we give him gets eaten to shreds. I would ask him and I do often, “Why do you eat your bed?”

Visit Margaret Simon's blog, Reflections on the Teche.

--Marshal Zeringue